I. A lawful oath is a part of
wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly callethGod
to witness what he asserteth or promiseth; and to judge him according to the
truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.b
a Deut. 10:20. b Exod. 20:7; Lev. ; 2 Cor. , 2
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 dreadfulname,
or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred.d
Yet as, in 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
c Deut. 6:13. d Exod. 20:7; Jer.
5:7; Matt. 5:34,37; James 5:12. e Heb. 6:16; 2 Cor.
1:23; Isa. 65:16. f 1 Kings 8:31; Neh.
13:25; Ezra 10:5.
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.g
Neither may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is
good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and
resolved to perform.h
Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just,
being imposed by lawful authority.i
g Exod. 20:7; Jer.
4:2. h Gen.
24:2,3,5,6,8,9. i Num. 5:19,21; Neh.
5:12; Exod. 22:7-11.
IV. An oath is to be taken in
the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental
cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to
performance, although to a manís own hurt;l nor is it to be violated, although made to hereticks or
k Jer. 4:2; Ps.
24:4. l 1 Sam.
25:22,32-34; Ps. 15:4. m Ezek. 17:16,18,19;
Josh. 9:18,19 with 2 Sam. 21:1.
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
n Isa. 19:21; Eccl.
5:4-6; Ps. 61:8; Ps. 66:13,14.
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 obtainingof 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
o Ps. 76:11; Jer.
44:25,26. p Deut. 23:21-23;
Ps. 50:14; Gen. 28:20-22; 1 Sam. 1:11; Ps. 66:13,14; Ps. 132:2-5.
VII. No man may vow to do
anything 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 of ability from God.q In which respects, Popish monastical vows of perpetual
single life, professed poverty, and regularobedience, are so far
from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and
sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.r
q Acts 23:12,14;
Mark 6:26; Numb. 30:5,8,12,13. r Matt. 19:11,12; 1
Cor. 7:2,9; Eph. 4:28; 1 Peter 4:2; 1 Cor. 7:23.