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IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation *. 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 to.
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".
or driven away, no man seeing it; Ver. 11. Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour's goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
IV. Jer. iv. 2. [See letter g] Psal. xxiv. 4. He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart: who hath not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceit fully.
/ 1 Sam. xxv. 22. So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning-light any that pisseth against the wall. Ver. 32. And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: Ver. 33. And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand. Ver. 34. For in very deed, as the Lord God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning-light any that pisseth against the wall. Psal. xv. 4. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord: he that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
m Ezek. xvii. 16. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in this 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. Ver. 18. 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. Ver. 19. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. Josh. ix. 18. And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: and all the congregation murmured against the princes. Ver. 19. But ail the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. With 2 Sam. xxi. 1. Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord: and the Lord answered, It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
V. n 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. 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. Ver. 5. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Ver. 6. 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! Psal. Ixi. 8. So will I sing praise unto
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 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 perform my vows. Psal. lxvi. 13. I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings: I will pay thee my vows, Ver. 14. Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
VI. o Psal. Ixxvi. 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. Jer. xliv. 25. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Ver. 26. Therefore hear ye the word of the Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt. Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the Lord, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord God liveth.
p Deut. xxiii. 21. When thou shalt 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. Ver. 22. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. Ver. 23. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a
free-will-offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth. Psal. 1. 14. Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the most High. Gen. xxviii. 20. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on; Ver. 21. So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God. Ver. 22. And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that, thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee. 1 Sam. i. 11. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but will give unto thine handmaid a man-child, then will I give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. Psal. lxvi. 13, 14. [ See letter n.] Psal. cxxxii. 2. How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob. Ver. S. Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; Ver. 4. I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Ver. 5. Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
VII. q Acts xxiii. 12. And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded L
gle life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are 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.
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 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 a curse, saying, that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Ver. 14. And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain 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. Num. xxx. 5. But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth, not any of her vows, or of her bonds, wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. Ver. 8. But if her husband disallow her on the day that he heard it, then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her. Ver. 12. But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her tips, concerning her vows, or concernang the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the Lord shall forgive her. Ver. 13. Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.
them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. Ver. 12. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake: he that is able to receive it, let him receive it. 1 Cor. vii. 2. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have kis own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Ver. 9. 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 labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 1 Pet. iv. 2. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 1 Cor. vii. 23. Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men.
I. a Rom. xiii. 1. 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. Ver. 2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Ver. For 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 : in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth ; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions".
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 au
afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: Ver. 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. 1 Pet. ii. 13. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Ver. 14 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. 6 Prov. viii. 15. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. Ver. 16. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. Rom. xii. 1, 2, 4. [See in letter a.]
c Psal. ii. 10. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Ver. 11. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Ver. 12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little blessed are all they that, put their trust in him. 1 Tim. ii. 2. For kings, and for all that are in authori ty; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. Psal. lxxxii. 3. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Ver. 4. 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. 1 Pet. ii. 13. [See in letter a.]
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. Rom. xiii. 4. [See letter a.] Matt. viii. 9. 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. Ver. 10. 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. Acts x. 1. There was a certain man in Cesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, Ver. 2. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. Rev. xvii. 14. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Ver. 16. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
III. e 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
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 réformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. * For the better
incense: go out of the sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God. With Matt. xviii. 17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him he unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. And Matt. xvi. 19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. 1 Cor. xii. 28. And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of heal ings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Ver. 29. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers are all workers of miracles? Eph. iv. 11. And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and
some pastors and teachers; Ver. 12. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 1 Cor. iv. 1. Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Ver. 2. Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Rom. x. 15. And how shall they preach, except they be sent as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Heb. v. 4. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
f Isa. xlix. 23. And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet, and thou shalt know that I am 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 accomplishing 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 example."-Testimony of the Secession Church in Scotland, chap. xxiv. sect.6. "To worship God after that way and manner they judge most agreeable to his will, is a right common to all men. They may, and often do, err, and offend the Most High, by substituting 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 duty 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 lawfully 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 liberty 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 within 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 govern ment. See the Scotch Testimony, p. 12, &c.-See the note on chap. xx, sect. 4. of this Confession.