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IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservations. It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man's own hurt'; nor is it to be violated, although made to hereticks or infidels.
V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory cath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness". or driven away, no man seeing it; the oath, by breaking the covenant, Ver. 11. Then shall an oath of the (when, lo, he had given his hand,) Lord be between them both, that he and haih done all these things, he shall hath not put his hand unto his neigh- not escape. Ver. 19. Therefore thus bour's goods; and the owner of it shall saith the Lord God, As I live, surely accept thereof, and he shall not make mine oath that he hath despised, and it good.
my covenant that he hath broken, even IV. & Jer. iv. 2 (See letter 8 ] Psal. it will I recompense upon his own xxiv. 4, He that hath clean hands, head. Josh. ix. 18. And the children and a pure heart: who hath not lift of Israel smote them not, because the up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn princes of the congregation had sworn decei: fully.
unto them by the Lord God of Israel: | 1 Sam. xxv. 22. So and more also and all the congregauon murmured do God unto the enenies of David, if against the princes. Ver. 19. But all I leave of all that pertain to him by the princes said unto all the congrethe morning-light any that pisseth gation, We have sworn unto them against the wall. Ver. 32. And David by the Lord God of Israel: now theresaid to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord fore we may not touch them. With God of Israel, which sent thee this 2 Sam. xxi. 1. Then there was a faday to meet me: Ver. 33. And bless- mine in the days of David ihree years, ed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, year after year; and David enquimed which hast kept me ihis day from com- of the Lord; and the Lord answered, ing to shed blood, and from avenging It is for Saul and his bloody house, myself with mine own hånd. Ver. 34. because he slew the Gibeonites. For in very deed, as the Lord God of V. n Isa. xix. 21. And the Lord Israe) liveth, which hath kept me back shall be known to Egypt, and the from hurting thee, except thou hadst Egyptians shall know the Lord in hasted and come to meet me, surely that day, and shall do sacrifice and there had not been left unto Nabal oblation, yea, they shall vow a vow by the morning-light any that pisseth unto the Lord, and perform it. Eccl. against the wall. Psal. xv. 4. In v. 4. When thou vowest a vow unto whose eyes a vile person is contemn- God, defer not to pay it: for he hath ed; but he honourerh them that fear no pleasure in fools; pay that which the Lord: he that sweareth to his thou hast vowed. Ver. 5. Better is it own hurt, and changeth not.
that thou shouldest not vow, than that m Ezek. xvii. 16. As I live, saith thou shouldest vow and not pay. Ver. the Lord God, surely in this place 6. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy where the king dwelleth that made flesh to sin, neither say thou before the him king, whose cath he despised, angel, that it was an error : whereand whose covenant he brake, even fore should God be angry at thy voice, with him, in the midst of Babylon, he and destroy the work of thine hands? shall die. Ver. 18. Seeing he despised Psal. Ixi. 8. So will I sing praise unto
VI. It is not to be made to any creature, but to . God alone o: 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 the 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.
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 9, In which respects, Popish monastical vows of perpetual sin'thy name for ever, that I may daily free-will-offering, according as thou perform my vows. Psal. Ixvi. 13. I hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, will go into thy house with burnt-of- which thou hast promised with thy ferings : I will pay thee my vows, mouth. Psal. 1. 14. Offer unto God Ver. 14. Which 'my lips have uttered, thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto and my mouth hath spoken, when I the most High. Gen. xxviii. 20. And was in trouble.
Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God VI. o Psal. Ixxvi. 31. Vow, and will be with me, and will keep me in pay unto the Lord your God : let all this way that I go, and will give me that be round about him bring presents bread to eat, and raiment to put on; tinto him that ought to be feared. Jer. Ver. 21. So that I come again to my xliv. 25. Thus saith the Lord of father's house in peace; then shall the hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Ye Lord be my God. Ver. 22. And this and your wives have both spoken with stone, which I have set for a pillar, your mouths, and fulfilled with your shall be God's house : and of all that hand, saying, We will surely perform thou shalt give me, I will surely give our vows that we have yowed, to burn the tenth unto thee. 1 Sam. i. 11. And incense to the queen of heaven, and she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord
ut drink-offerings unto her: of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on ye will surely accomplish your vows, the amiction of thine handmaid, and and surely perform 'your vows. Ver. remember me, and not forget thine 26. Therefore hear ye the word of the handmaid, but will give unto thine Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land handmaid a man-child, then will I give Sof Egypt. Behold, I have sworn by him unto the Lord all the days of his my great name, saith the Lord, that life, and there shall no razor come upmy name shall no more be named in on his head. Psal. Ixvi. 13, 14. [ See the mouth of any man of Judah in all letter n.] Psal. cxxxii. 2. How he the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord ' sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto God liveth.
the mighty God of Jacob. Ver. S. p Deut. xxiii. 21. When thou shalt Surely I will not come into the tabervow a vow unto the Lord thy God, nacle of my house, nor go up into my thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the bed ; Ver. 4. I will not give sleep to Lord thy God will surely require it of mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyethee ; and it would be sin in thee. Ver. lids, Ver. 5. Until I find out a place 22. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, for the Lord, an habitation for the it shall be no sin in thee. Ver. 23. mighty God of Jacob. That which is gone out of thy lips - VII. q Acts xxiii. 12. And when thou shalt keep and perform ; even a it was day, certain of the Jews banded
gle 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".
CHAP. XXIII. Of the Civil Magistrate.
ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory, and the publick 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 *. together, and bound themselves under them, All men cannot receive this say. a curse, saying, that they would nei. ing, save they to whom it is given. ther eat nor drink till they had killed Ver. 12. For there are some eunuchs, Paul. Ver. 14. And they came to the which were so born from their mo. chief priests and elders, and said, We ther's womb; and there are some have bound ourselves under a great eunuchs, which were made eunuchs curse, that we will eat nothing until of men; and there be eunuchs, which we have slain Paul. Mark vi. 26. And have made themselves eunuchs for the the king was exceeding sorry ; yet for kingdom of heaven's sake: he that is his oath's sake, and for their sakes able to receive it, let him receive it. which sat with him, he would not re- 1 Cor. vii. 2. Nevertheless, to avoid ject her. Num. xxx. 5. But if her fa- fornication, let every man have kis ther disallow her in the day that he own wife, and let every woman have heareth, not any of her vows, or of her own husband. Ver. 9. But if they her bonds, wherewith she hath bound cannot contain, let them marry: for her soul, shall stand : and the Lord it is better to marry than to burn. Eph. shall forgive her, because her father iv. 28. Let him that stole, steal no disallowed her. Ver. 8. But if her more: but rather let him labour, work. husband disallow her on the day that ing with his hands the thing which is he heard it, then he shall make her good, that he may have to give to vow which she vowed, and that which him that needeth. 1 Pet. iv. 2. That she uttered with her lips, wherewith he no longer should live the rest of his she bound her soul, of none effect; and time in the Hesh, to the lusts of men, the Lord shall forgive her. Ver. 12. but to the will of God 1 Cor. vii. 23. But if her husband hath uiterly made Ye are bought with a price, be not ye them void on the day he heard them; the servants of men. then whatsoever proceeded out of her I. a Rom. xii. 1. Let every soul be tips, concerning her vows, or concern- subject unto the higher powers. For ing the bond of her soul, shall not there is no power but of God: the Stand: her husband hath made them powers that be are ordained of God. void; and the Lord shall forgive her. Ver. 2. Whosoever therefore resisteth Ver. 13. Every vow, and every bind- the power, resisteth the ordinance of ing oath to affict the soul, her hus. God: and they that resist shall receive band may establish it, or her husband to themselves damnation. Verr. For may make it void.
rulers are not a terror to good works, r Matt. xix. 11. But he said unto but to the eyil. Wilt thou then not be
II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto b: 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. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heavene : yet he hath auafraid of the power? do that which is fear of God. 1 Pet. ii. 13. (See in letgood, and thou shalt have praise of ter a.] the same: Ver. 4. For he is the mi- d Luke iii. 14. And the soldiers nister of God to thee for good. But likewise demanded of him, saying, if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: And what shall we do? And he said for he beareth not the sword in vain : unto them, Do violence to no man, for he is the minister of God, a re- neither accuse any falsely, and be convenger to execute wrath upon him tent with your wages. Rom. xiii. 4. that doeth evil. 1 Pet. ii. 13. Submit [See letter a.] Matt. viii. 9. For I am yourselves to every ordinance of man a man under authority, having soldiers for the Lord's sake : whether it be to under me: and I say to this man, Go, the king, as supremie; Ver. 14 Or and he goeth: and to another, Come, unto governors, as unto them that are and he cometh : and to my servant, sent by him for the punishment of Do this, and he doeth it. Ver. 10. evil-doers, and for the praise of them when Jesus heard it, he marvelled, that do well.
and said to them that followed, VeriII. 6 Prov. viii. 15. By me kings ly I say unto you, I have not found reign, and princes decree justice. Ver. so great faith, no, not in Israel. Avis 16. By me princes rule, and nobles, x. 1. There was a certain man in Ceeven all the judges of the earıh. Rom. sarea called Cornelius, a centurion of xiii. r', 2, 4. [See in letter a.]
the band called the Italian band, Ver. c Psal. ii. 10. Be wise now there. 2. A devout man, and one that fearfore, O ye kings : be instructed, ye ed God with all his house, which gave judges of the earth. Ver. 11. Serve the much alms to the people, and prayed Lord with fear, and rejoice with to God alway. Rev. xvii. 14. These trembling. Ver. 12. Kiss the Son, lest shall make war with the Lamb, and he be angry, and ye perish from the the Lamb shall overcome them: for way, when his wrath is kindled but a he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: little : blessed are all they that put and they that are with him are called, their trust in him. 1 Tim. ii. 2. For and chosen, and faithful. Ver. 16. kings, and for all that are in authori. And the ten horns which thou sawest ty ; that we may lead a quiet and upon the beast, these shall hate the peaceable life, in all godliness and whore, and shall make her desolate honesty. Psal. Ixxxii. 3. Defend the and naked, and shall eat her fiesh, and poor and fatherless : do justice to the burn her with fire. afflicted and needy. Ver. 4. Deliver III. e 2 Chron. xxvi. 18. And they the poor and needy ; rid them out of withstood Uzziah the king, and said the hand of the wicked. 2 Sam. xxiii. unto him, It appertaineth not unto 3. The God of Israel said, the Rock thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth Lord, but to the priests the sons of over men must be just, ruling in the Aaron, that are consecrated to burn
thority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or réforined, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed f. * For the better
incense: go out of the sanctuary, for some pastors and teachers; Ver. 12. thou hast trespassed ; neither shall it For the perfecting of the saints, for be for thine honour from the Lord the work of the ministry, for the edi. God. With Matt. xviii. 17. And if fying of the body of Christ. 1 Cor. he shall neglect to hear them, tell it iv. 1. Let a man so account of us as unto the church : but if he neglect to of the ministers of Christ, and stewhear the church, let him be unto thee ards of the mysteries of God. Ver. 2. as an heathen man, and a publican. Moreover, it is required in stewards, And Matt. xvi. 19. And I will give that a man be found faithful. Rom. unto thee the keys of the kingdom of x. 15. And how shall they preach, exheaven: and whatsoever thou shalt cept they be sent ? as it is wrirten, bind on earth, shall be bound in hea- How beautiful are the feet of them ven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose that preach the gospel of peace, and on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. bring glad tidings of good things! 1 Cor. xii. 28. And God hath set some Heb. v. 4. And no man taketh this in the church; first, apostles ; secon- honour unto himself, but he that is darily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; af. called of God, as was Aaron. ter that miracles; then gifts of heal. f Isa. xlix. 23. And kings shall be ings, helps, governments, diversities thy nursing-fathers, and their queens of tongues. Ver. 29. Are all apostles ? thy nursing mothers : they shall bow are all prophets ? are all teachers ? are down to thee with their face toward all workers of miracles ? Eph. iv. 11. the earth, and lick ap the dust of thy And he gave some apostles, and some feet, and ihou shalt know that I am prophets, and some evangelists, and the Lord; for they shall not be asha
* The Associate, or Secession Church, declares her mind on this as follows:
“ We assert and declare, that the endeavours," of the Christian Magistrate," for accompiishing these ends," stated in the Confession, chap. xxiii. sect. 3, "must all be such as are consistent with the spirit of the Gospel, not by the interposition of the civil sword, but by his own advice and examp!.." - Testimony of the Secession Church in Scotland, chap. xxiv.sect. 6.
“ To worship God atter that way and manner they judge most agreeable to his will, is a right common to ail men. They may, and often do, err. alid offend the Most High, by substítuting a false worship in place of that which he requires : but no power on earth may take from them their right. Yet this right cannot be pleaded in behalf of principles, or practices, destructive to civil society. Therefore the civil magistrate does not go beyond the limits prescribed to him when he lays those under restraint, who teach that it is their daty to destroy the lives of those whom they judge heretics; that they are not obliged to fulfil promises made to persons whom they consider in that light, and that they may lawtully break their oaths, if they obtain a dispensation for this purpose from the pope of Rome. The safety of society renders it necessary to guard against persons of this description, not because they are of a false religion, but because they are enemies to the rights of mankind, and would use their Jiberty to destroy that of other people. Thus the magistrate, in discharging his duty to civil society, is often the instrument, in the hand of God, for protecting his church from the fury of persecuting enemies," &c. &c. &c. - Testimony of the Associate Church in the United States, part I. sect. 17.
“ The public good, and common order in all reasonable society, unto the glory of God, is the great and only end which those invested with magistracy can propose. in a sole respect to that office.-And as the whole institution and end of their office are cut out by, and lie with. in the compass of, natural principles, it were absurd to suppose, that there could or ought to be any exercise thereof towards its end, in the foresaid circumstances, but what can be ar. gued for and defended from natural principles."
Declaration and Defence of the Associate Church's Principles concerning civil governa ment. Şee the Scotcu Testimony, p. 12, &c. - See the liote on chap. XX, sect. 4. of this Confession,