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in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.P
OF LAWFUL OATHS AND VOWS.
I. A LAWFUL oath is a part of religious worship, a wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing, solemnly calieth God to witness what he asserteth or promiseth ; and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.b
II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence;c therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful and to be ablıorred.d Yet as, in
throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. See Isa. lyiii. 13; Neh. xiii. 15–22.
P Isa. lviii. 13. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words. See Matt. xii. 1-13.
1. a Deut. x. 20. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Ex. xx. 7. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Lev. xix. 12. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. 2 Cor. i. 23. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. 2 Chron. vi. 22, 23. If a man sin against his neighbor, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house; Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head ; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.
II. « Deut. vi. 13. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
a Jer. v. 7. How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods. Matt. v. 34, 37. But
matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the New Testament, as well as under the Old; e so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to be taken.
III. Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth.9 Neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. ”
IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation.k It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sin
I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne. But let your communication be, Yea, yea ; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. James v. 12. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. See Ex. xx. 7.
e Heb. vi. 16. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Isa. Ixv. 16. That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth. See 2 Cor. i. 23.
$1 Kings viii. 31. If any man trespass against his neighbor, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house. Ezra x. 5. Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
III. 9 Jer. iv. 2. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth. in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. See Ex. xx. 7.
h Gen. xxiv. 2, 3, 9. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.–And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
Neh. v. 12. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. See Ex. xxii. 7-11.
IV. k Psa. xxiv. 4. He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart;
ful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man's own hurt:? nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics or infidels.m
V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.n
VI. It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: ° and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily; out of faith and conscience of duty; in way of thankfulness for mercy received; or for obtaining of what we want: whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties; or to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto. P
who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. See Jer. iy. 2; Ex. xx. 7.
i Psa. xv. 4. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
m Ezek. xvii. 16, 18. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die.-Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. See Josh. ix. 18, 19; 2 Sam, xxi. 1.
V. » Isa. xix. 21. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. Eccl. v. 4-6. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools : pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? Psa. lxvi. 13, 14. I will pay thee my vows, Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. See Psa. lxi. 8.
VI. • Psa. lxxvi. 11. Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared. See Jer. xliv. 25, 26.
p Deut. xxiii. 21, 23. When thou shall vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.-That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform ; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth. Psa. 1. 14. Offer unto God thanksgiving;
VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he hath no promise or ability from God.? In which respects, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself."
OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE.
I. GOD, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers, a and pay thy vows unto the Most High. See 1 Sam. i. 11; Psa. cxxxii. 2-5.
VII. 9 Acts xxiii. 12. And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Mark vi. 26. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
"1 Cor. vii. 2, 9. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.- But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. Eph. iv. 28. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. 1 Cor. vii. 23. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
I. a Rom. xiii. 1-4. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves dam
II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: 8 in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth ; C so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.d
III. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and Sacraments; e or the power
nation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme: Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.
II. • Prov. viii. 15, 16. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. See Rom. xiii. 1-4.
c Psa. lxxxii. 3, 4. Defend the poor and fatherless : do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 2 Sam. xxiii. 3. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. See 1 Pet. ii. 13; Psa. ci.
d Luke iii. 14. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages. Matt. viii. 9, 10. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Rom. xiii. 4. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
III. e Heb. 1.4. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 2 Chron. xxvi. 18. And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honor from the LORD God.