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XXXIX. Of a Christian Man's Oath. As we confess that a vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus
Almighty God, to the intent his most holy name should be had in honour, and evermore be magnified of the people, commandeth that no man should take his name vainly in his mouth, threatening punishment unto him that unreverently abuseth it by swearing, forswearing, and blasphemy. Hom. vii. 1.
Q. What is it to take the name of God in vain ? A. To abuse it either with forswearing, or with swearing rashly, unadvisedly, and without necessity, or with once naming it without a weighty
They do great injury to God, which use his name only of a certain lewd custom and intemperate readiness of speech. Nowell, p. 16.
When men do swear of custom, in reasoning, buying, and, selling, or other daily communications, (as many be common and great swearers,) such kind of swearing is ungodly, unlawful, and forbidden by the commandment of God : for such swearing is nothing else but taking of God's holy name in vain. Hom. vii. 1.
Whosoever wilfully forswear themselves upon Christ's holy Evangely, they utterly forsake God's mercy, goodness, and truth, the merit of our Saviour Christ's nativity, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension; they refuse the forgiveness of sins, promised to all penitent sinners, the joys of heaven, the company with angels and saints for ever; all which benefits and comforts are promised unto true Christian persons in the Gospel. Hom. vii. 2.
a Ye have heard that it hath been earth, neither by any other oath : said by them of old time, Thou but let your yea be yea; and your shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt nay, nay; lest ye fall into conperform unto the Lord thine oaths: demnation. James v. 12. Thou but I say unto you, Swear not at shalt not take the name of the Lord all: neither by heaven, for it is thy God in vain : for the Lord will God's throne; nor by the earth, for not hold him guiltless that taketh it is his footstool: neither by Je- his name in vain. Ex. xx. 9. Inrusalem, for it is the city of the stances of rash, unnecessary sweargreat King. Neither shalt thou ing. Israel. Judges xxi. 1-18, swear by thy head, because thou Saul. 1 Sam. xiv. 24, 39, 45. David. canst not make one hair white or 1 Sam. xxv. 22. Job. 2 Sam. xix. 7. black. But let your communication Herod. Mark vi. 23. Ye shall not be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for what- swear by my name falsely, neither soever is more than these, cometh shalt profane the name of thy God: of evil. Matt. v. 33–37. Above I am the Lord. Lev. xix. 12. I all things, my brethren, swear not, will be a swift witness against false neither by heaven, neither by the swearers. Mal. iii. 5.
Christ, and James his apostle: so we judge that • Christian religion doth not prohibit but that a
Q. Is there any lawful using of the name of God in swearing? A. Yea, forsooth. When an oath is taken for a just cause, either to affirm a truth, specially if the magistrate require or command it, or for any other matter of great importance, wherein we are either to maintain inviolate the honour of God, or to preserve mutual agreement and charity among men. Nowell, p. 16.
A lawful oath is nothing else but the swearer's religious affirming that he calleth and useth God, the knower and judge of all things, for witness that he sweareth a true oath, and that he calleth upon and wisheth the same God to be the punisher and avenger of his lying and offence if he swear falsely. Nowell,
And here is to be noted, that lawful swearing is not forbidden, but commanded by Almighty God for we have examples of Christ and godly men, in holy Scripture, that did swear themselves, and required oaths of others likewise. Thus did our Saviour Christ swear divers times, saying, “ Verily, verily," (John iii.); and St. Paul sweareth thus, “I call God to witness, (2 Cor. i.); and Abraham, waxing old, required an oath of his servant, that he should procure a wife for his son Isaac, which should come of his own kindred, (Gen. xxiv.) and the servant did swear that he would perform his master's will, (Gen. xxi.) First, when judges require oaths of the people for declaration or opening of the truth, or for execution of justice, this manner of swearing is lawful. Also when men make faithful promises, with calling to witness of the name of God, to keep covenants, honest promises, statutes, laws, and good customs, as Christian princes do in their conclusions of peace, for conservation of commonwealths; and private persons promise their fidelity in matrimony, or one to another in honesty and true friendship : and all men when they do swear to keep common laws, and local statutes, and good customs, for due order to be had and continued among men; when subjects do swear to be true and faithful to their king and sovereign lord; and when judges, magistrates,
• Thou shalt fear the Lord thy Jonathan and David were sworn God, and serve him; and shalt both of them in the name of the swear by his name. Deut. vi. 12, 13. Lord. 1 Sam. xx, 13, 17, 42. (Asa Thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, with Judah) entered into a covenant and thou shalt cleave unto him, to seek the Lord God of their and shalt swear by his name. Deut. fathers with all their heart and X. 20. I counsel thee to keep the with all their soul. And they king's commandment, and that in sware unto the Lord with a loud regard of the oath of God. Eccles. voice. And all Judah rejoiced at viii. 2. David sware unto Saul. the oath: for they had sworn with 1 Sam. xxiv, 17, 21, 22. XXX. 15. all their heart. 2 Chron. xv. 12-15
man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done
and officers swear truly to execute their offices ; and when a man would affirm the truth to the setting forth God's glory, (for the salvation of the people,) in open preaching of the Gospel, or in giving of good counsel privately for their souls' health : all these manners of swearing, for causes necessary and honest, be lawful. Hitherto you see, that oaths lawful are commanded of God, used of patriarchs and prophets, of Christ himself, and of his apostle Paul. Therefore Christian people must think lawful oaths both godly and necessary. For by lawful promise and covenants, confirmed by oaths, princes and their countries are confirmed in common tranquillity and peace. By holy promises, with calling the name of God to witness, we be made lively members of Christ, when we profess his religion receiving the sacrament of baptism. By like holy promise the sacrament of matrimony knitteth man and wife in perpetual love, that they desire not to be separated for any displeasure or adversity that shall after happen. By lawful oaths, which kings, princes, judges, and magistrates do swear, common laws are kept inviolate, justice is indifferently ministered, harmless persons, fatherless children, widows and poor men, are defended from murderers, oppressors, and thieves, that they suffer po wrong, nor take any harm. By lawful oaths, mutual society, amity, and good order is kept continually in all commonalties, as boroughs, cities, towns, and villages : and by lawful oaths malefactors are searched out, wrong doers are punished, and they which sustain wrong are restored to their right: therefore lawful swearing cannot be evil, which bringeth unto us so many godly, good, and necessary commodities. Hom. vii. 1.
Q. May we therefore lawfully, whensoever we say truth, use an oath with it? A. I have already said, that this is not lawful; for so the estimation and reverence of the name of God should be abated, and should become of no price, and contemned as
But when in a weighty matter the truth should otherwise not be believed, we may lawfully confirm it with an oath. Nowell, p. 16.
• First, he that sweareth may swear truly; that is, he must (setting apart all favour and affection to the parties) have the truth only before his eyes, and for love thereof, say and speak
If a man deliver unto his neighbour 11. Men verily swear by the an ass, &c. and it die, or be hurt, greater, and an oath for confirmor driven away, no man seeing it; ation is to them an end of all then shall an oath of the Lord be strife, Heb. vi. 15. between them both, that he hath c Thou shalt swear, The Lord not put his hand unto his neigh- liveth in truth, in judgment, and bour's goods; and the owner of it in righteousness. Jer. iv. 2. shall accept thereof. Exod. xxii, 10,
according to the prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
that which he knoweth to be truth, and no further. The second is, he that taketh an oath, must do it with judgment; not rashly and unadvisedly, but soberly, considering what an oath is. The third is, he that sweareth, must swear in righteousness; that is, for the very zeal and love which he beareth to the defence of innocency, to the maintenance of the truth, and of the righteousness of the matter or cause: all profit, disprofit, all love and favour unto the person for friendship or kindred laid apart. Thus an oath (if it have with it these three conditions) is a part of God's glory, which we are bound by his commandments to give unto him : for be willeth that we should swear only by his name; not that he hath pleasure in oaths; but like as he commanded the Jews to offer sacrifice unto him, not for any delight that he had in them, but to keep the Jews from committing idolatry ; so he commanding us to swear by his holy name, doth not teach us that he delighteth in swearing, but he thereby forbiddeth all men to give his glory to any creature in heaven, earth, or water. (Isaiah xii.) Hom. vii. 1.
This Book of Articles, before rehearsed, is again approved and allowed to be helden and executed within the realm, and by the assent and consent of our sovereign Lady ELIZABETH, by the grace of God of England, France, and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, &c. Which Articles were deliberately read and confirmed again by the subscription of the hands of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Upper House, and by the subscription of the whole Clergy of the Nether House in their Convocation, in the year of our Lord 1571.
1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. | 21. Of the Authority of General 2. Of Christ the Son of God.
Councils. 3. Of his going down into Hell. 22. Of Purgatory. 4. Of his Resurrection. 23. Of Ministering in the Con5. Of the Holy Ghost.
gregation, 6. Of the Sufficiency of the 24. Of Speaking in the ConScripture.
gregation. 7. Of the Old Testament. 25. Of the Sacraments. 8. Of the Three Creeds. 26. Of the Unworthiness of 9. Of Original Sin.
Ministers. 10. Of Free Will.
27. Of Baptism. 11. Of Justification.
28. Of the Lord's Supper. 12. Of Good Works.
29. Of the Wicked, which eat 13. Of Works before Justifica
not the Body of Christ. tion.
30. Of both Kinds. 14. Of Works of Superero- || 31. Of Christ's One Oblation. gation.
32. Of the Marriage of Priests. 15. Of Christ alone without | 33. Of Excommunicate Persons. Sin.
34. Of the Traditions of the 16. Of Sin after Baptism.
Church. 17. Of Predestination and Elec- || 35. Of Homilies. tion.
36. Of Consecration of Min18. Of obtaining Salvation by
37. Of Civil Magistrates. 19. Of the Church.
38. Of Christian Men's Goods. 20. Of the Authority of the 39. Of a Christian Man's Oath. Church.
BAXTER, PRINTER, OXFORD.