Imatges de pàgina


Our new Lawgiver proceeds: Again ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. Ex. 20: 7. But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King: neither shalt thou swear by thy head; because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Verses 33 to 37. Here we see that Christ has totally and explicitly prohibited his followers the employment of an oath, and has given them permis+ sion to ratify their cause with nothing more than a yea, yea, or a nay, nay.

For they ought to be children of truth, children of peace, children of God, wrought up after his image into new creatures; for the spiritual likeness, which faded and was lost in Adam, has been restored by Christ: before Adam fell, when he yet lived in paradise, there was no necessity for an oath; for contention and discord were entirely unknown; but when sin and transgression made their entrance and came upon all men, they brought in their train strife and contention; and to adjust the differences arising in con

sequence, God granted men permission, in the law, to swear a legal oath.

But Christ has come and redeemed his people from their sins, and has translated them from the kingdom of satan through the blood of the everlasting testament to become new creatures, and has blessed them with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, (Eph. 1: 3,) and has made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, (Col. 1: 12,) that they may again have access (by the new and living way of faith which entereth within the vail into the holiest of holies) unto the tree of life, Christ Jesus, and may receive of him grace for grace. John 1: 16. Hence contention is unknown among them, if they only abide in this grace; they live in peace and concord with one another; they cherish mutual love and unanimity, and do nothing out of a spirit of strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind each esteems the other better than himself; if any one, being overcome by the weakness of the flesh, is overtaken in a fault, the others restore him in the spirit of meekness. Phil. 2. Gal.

6: 1.

As we see on the day of pentecost: After they received the spirit of grace, they were all of one heart and one mind, united by the law of love and the power of the Holy Spirit, as one in Christ Jesus; they had no more.

use for oaths, but transacted their business with yea and nay; and he who spake not the truth, but said yea for nay, and nay for yea, did not escape with impunity, as is instanced in the case of Ananias and his wife, who fell down dead on the spot, because they had not lied unto men but unto God, (Acts 5,) as an awful warning unto all christians that they may not say yea for nay, and nay for yea, but that their yea be yea, and their nay, nay; knowing that whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil. Therefore James says, (chap. 5: 12,) 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 temp

Now, many are ready to say, that Christ has not forbidden a lawful oath before the magistrate, but only unnecessary and profane swearing.

I answer first: In what way was it necessary for Christ to forbid useless and profane swearing, when it was so strongly prohibited in the law? For it says in the third commandment, 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. Ex. 20: 7. Also in Lev. 19: 12, it stands written, Ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord; also

Deut. 5: 11. And in Lev. 24th, we read that an individual blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed, and had to be stoned to death. Sirach also says, 23d chapter, Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One.

man that useth much swearing, shall be filled with iniquity, and the plague shall never depart from his house; if he shall offend, his sin shall be upon him: If he acknowledge not his sin, he maketh a double offence; and if he swear in vain, he shall not be innocent, but his house shall be full of calamities.

From this it is evident, that all unnecessary and false swearing was forbidden in the law; therefore Christ said, Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, swear not at all. If now Christ had approved of a legal oath before the magistrate, why did he not express himself in this manner, Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, &c., I say unto you likewise, that ye shall not swear an unnecessary, false, or profane oath, but shall perform unto the Lord your oaths? But he said, I (as a new lawgiver, give you a new commandment) that you swear not at all; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, commeth of evil, !

Here thou wilt reply by bringing in the words of Paul, (Heb. 6: 16,) men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

I answer, that Paul wrote this epistle to his brethren in the faith, and speaks in this place of men that were not members of the christian church, namely the Jews and Gentiles, to whom an oath of confirmation was an end of strife; for he does not say to his brethren in the faith, ye swear by the greater, and an oath of confirmation is to you an end of all strife; but he says, men (observe this) swear by the greater, and an oath of confirmation is to them (mark) an end of all strife. This, therefore, is no proof that a follower of Christ may swear an oath; but it is his duty, in obedience to the command of Christ his king, to testify to his cause with a simple yea or nay, and confirm it with an upright heart before God and man; and there he should let the matter rest.


Christ, our lawgiver, says in continuation, Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth (Ex. 21:23, 24. Lev. 24: 19, 20); but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Verses 38, 39.


Here Christ prescribes to his followers a

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