There are thousands of men who are having all their moral nature pulled down by the fiery fingers of this habit. At last, pinched, shrivelled, and consumed, they will get down on their beds to die, and at the step of the doctor in the hall, or the shutting of the front door, they will start up, thinking they hear the sepulchral gates creak open.
Who is this God that you should maltreat his name? Has he been haunting you, starving you, or freezing you all your life? No! He is your Father, patient and loving. He rocked your cradle with blessings, from the time you were born. He clothes you now, and always has clothed you. You never had a sickness but he was sorry for you. He has brooded over you with wings of love. He has tried to press you to his heart of kindness and compassion. He wants to forgive you. He wants to help you. He wants to make you happy. He watched last night over your pillow while you slept. He will watch to-night. He was your father’s God, and your mother’s. He has housed them safe from the blast, and he wants to shelter you. Do you trifle with his name? Do you smite him in the face? Do you thrust him back by your imprecations?
Who is this Jesus Christ that I hear men swearing by? Who is he? Some destroyer, that they so treat his name? What foul thing hath he done, that our great cities speak his name in thousand-voiced jeer and contempt? Who is he? A Lamb, whose blood simmered in the fires of sacrifice, to save you. A Brother, who put down his crown of glory that you might take it up. For many years he has been striving, night and day, to win your affections. There is nothing in heaven that he is not willing to give you. He came with blistered feet and streaming eyes, with aching head and broken heart to relieve you. On the craft of a doomed humanity he pushed out into the sea, to pick you off the rock. Who will ever again malign his name? Is there a hand that will ever again be lifted to wound him? If so, let that hand, blood-dipped, be lifted now. Which one of my readers will ever again utter his sacred name in imprecation? If any, now let them speak. Not one! Not one!
One summer among the New England hills there was an evening memorable for storm and darkness. The clouds, which had been all day gathering, at last unlimbered their batteries. The Housatonic, that flows in silence save as the paddles of pleasure-parties rattle in the row-lock, was lashed into foam and its waves staggered, not knowing where to lay themselves. The hills jarred at the rumbling of God’s chariots. Blinding sheets of rain drove the cattle to the bars, and beat against the window-pane as if to dash it in. The corn-fields crouched in the fury, and the ripened grain-fields threw their crowns of gold at the feet of the storm-king. After the night shut in, it was a double night. Its black mantle was rent with the lightnings, and into its locks were twisted the leaves of uprooted oaks, and shreds of canvas torn from the masts of the beached shipping. It was such a night as makes you thank God for shelter, and bids you open the door to let in even the spaniel howling outside with the terror. We went to sleep under the full blast of heaven’s great orchestra, and the forests with uplifted voice, in choiring hosts that filled all the side of the mountains, praising the Lord.