In which may be seen,

I. That Christ hath forbidden all sorts of Oaths.

II. What Christ hath substituted instead of an Oath.

III. Reasons for that Prohibition and Substitution.

With an Answer to all the material Ob­jections that are, or may be, alledged from the Scriptures.

London: Printed in the Year, 1692.


To the READER.

COnsidering the Testimonies and Sufferings of several Christians and conscientious Per­sons formerly, against all Swearing; and now observing of late, that not only the Lawfulness of Oaths themselves has been disputed and pleaded for, as by the Athenians and others, but also the Definition and Nature of an Oath; and what an Oath is and what not, have been started and took notice of more than formerly; and also consider­ing, on one side, of the abounding of Swearing and detestable Oaths, among many in this Nation, enough to draw down Judgments and divine Ven­geance upon it, as have been lately, for an Ex­ample, in other places beyond the Seas; and also, on the other side, observing the Moderation of many, and that in Authority too, in Condescention to a People that have formerly suffered, because they durst not Swear at all. I could not be easy in my mind, until I had Written and Publish'd this to the World, hoping it may be of some use and service to most, if not all Men. As first to the common and prophane Swearers, that now so much abound upon the Earth, by shewing such the great [Page] danger they hazard thereby to their Souls (besides the Judgments in general they may draw down upon themselves and others in the Land) And, Se­condly, to such as are in Authority, by proposing and demonstrating to them, by evident Reasons and eminent Authorities, the danger of imposing Oaths, or any higher Asseverations or Expressions (instead thereof) than plain and simple Speech; which I desire all moderate Magistrates, that love and truly affect Liberty of Conscience (for whom I have great Respect and Affection) seri­ously to consider of. And, Thirdly, to those that conscientiously scruple any Oath, by shewing such the danger of venturing to use, instead of an Oath, any higher form or manner of Speech, than Christ hath prescribed and allowed them, lest they be drawn into an Oath unawares. So wishing and desiring the good of every one, and that the com­mon Swearers may leave off Swearing, and the legal or more solemn Swearers be satisfied with Evangelical Truth speaking, and those that are come to such Truth speaking, may never look back from the simplicity of that Testimony: I re­main a Friend to all, especially the moderate, sin­cere and ingenuous, of what Profession or Per­suasion soever they may be.


The Position.

No Man ought to Swear (under the Go­spel-dispensation) any kind of Oath, in any Case; neither by reason of any Command from a lawful Magistrate; nor upon any other occasion or respect whatsoever; for these following Rea­sons.

I. BECAUSE Christ Jesus, whom all Men ought to obey, and fear to break his Commands, hath commanded, Not to Swear at all, Mat. 5. 34. and instead thereof, in Verse 37. commands, That our Speech be Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; and saith, That whatso­ever is more than these, cometh of evil. Now any Oath is more than these; and there­fore [Page 2] being also forbad before, it must be of evil.

II. In Mat. 18. 16. in Case of Trespass, where Evidences of Witnesses is required, Christ's Command is, That in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses every word may be esta­blished: And not by the Oath of two or three Witnesses; nor yet in the Mouth of two or three Swearers.

III. In James 5. 12. The Apostle com­mands, Above all things not to Swear, neither by Heaven, nor by Earth, nor by any other Oath; but instead thereof bids, That our yea, be yea, and our nay, nay; lest ye fall into con­demnation. Here the Apostle James is also very express to the purpose, agreeing with Christ's Command before in Mat. 5. 34. Therefore he that Swears any Oath, does quite contrary to the Apostle's express Com­mand, and must hazard Condemnation.

IV. A true Christian's Oath is needless; because such an one dare no more tell a Lie, than he dare to Forswear himself (if he should Swear:) And an evil Man's or false Christian's Oath, is worthy of no more Credit than a Lier; because he that dares to break his Word or be a false Witness, in a solemn affirming or denying of any thing, has no fear of God nor awe upon his Con­science; and therefore, what should make [Page 3] such an one fear or scruple to break his Oath, if he Swears? Therefore, now, to what pur­pose is the use of Oaths or Swearing, among those that profess Christianity?


Objection 1. In Deut. 6. 13. and in 10. 20. God commanded to Swear by his Name; therefore Christ did not forbid such Oaths as was by the Name of God; for the Father and the Son are one, and Immutable (or unchangeable) in their Nature and Will; and therefore how could the Son forbid that which the Father had commanded?

Answer, That Command of God was to them that were under the Law, to prevent them from swearing by Idols; and not to such that are under the Gospel, to whom Christ spoke: And therefore this proves no contrariety between the Father and the Son, any more than the Sons taking away the first Things, that were commanded by God un­der the Law, that he might establish the se­cond, which he himself commanded under the Gospel, as in Heb. 10. 9. See also in Heb. 7. 12, 18. and 8. 13.

Object. 2. In Isaiah 19. 18. In a Prophecy relating to Gospel times, as seems manifest from Verse 20. it is said, That five Cities [Page 4] in the Land of Egypt shall speak the Language of Canaan, and Swear by the Lord of Hosts; there­fore how can Swearing, by the Lord of Hosts, be forbidden by Christ in Gospel times?

Answ. If Swearing by the Lord of Hosts be here prophesied of to be in Gospel times, then by the same Reason from Verse 21. to do Sacrifice and Oblation, must be also in Gospel times, as is there said the Egyptians shall do; and if so, how is the old Testament, wherein were the Sacrifices and Oblations, abrogated and disannulled when the new Testament came? As in Heb. 8. 13.

Object. 3. In Isa. 45. 23. The Lord speaking concerning such times, as wherein all the ends of the Earth shall be saved (which surely must be in Gospel times) said, That every Knee shall bow to me, and every Tongue shall Swear: Therefore some Swearing must be lawful in Gospel times.

Answ. The Apostle Paul, in Rom. 14. 11. who, without doubt, knew how to interpret this Prophecy, yet he would not express it in such Terms as might contradict Christ's general Prohibition to Swear in Mat. 5. 34. therefore he words it thus, Every Knee shall bow to me, and every Tongue shall confess to God: Here the Apostle hath changed the word Swear, that was figuratively spoken in [Page 5] the time of the Law, into Confess, in which it was to be fulfilled in the time of the Gospel. Therefore now it may be evident from hence, that no Sentence or Prophecy spoken by the Prophets, tho' expressed in Mosaical Terms, or in such Terms as were under the Law, ought to be expounded in any wise, to con­tradict any of Christ's general Commands or Prohibitions; but on the contrary, they must be expressed in Gospel Terms, that agree therewith; as is manifest by the Apostle's Example aforesaid.

Object. 4. In Isa. 65. 16. In a Prophecy relating to such times wherein new Heavens and a new Earth shall be created (which must be in the last times) it is said, He that Sweareth in the Earth, shall Swear by the true God: Therefore it is lawful in the last times, which are under the Gospel, to Swear by the true God.

Answ. If according to the Apostle Paul's Example, before noted in Rom. 14. 11. we change the word [Swear] by the true God, into [Confess] unto the true God, we may interpret it right, and in Gospel terms, and then we shall not make the Prophet seem to contradict Christ, in Mat. 5. 34. who is Lord of all the Prophets, Apostles and Angels, And whom we are especially to hear and obey in all things, Act. 3. 22. And also to [Page 6] confess him, Phil. 2. 10. And therefore if there should seem at any time a disagreement be­tween the Sayings of Christ and the Pro­phets, or the Apostles either, Christ's Sayings ought not be strained to comply with theirs (who were his Servants) but on the contrary, their Sayings must yield and comply to his, who is their Lord, and whom we ought especially to hear and obey in all things, as aforesaid.

Object. 5. In Jerem. 12. 16, 17. it is said, concerning the Gentiles, That if they will learn the ways of my People, to Swear by my Name (the Lord liveth, as they taught my People to Swear by Baal) then shall they be built in the midst of my People; But if they will not obey, then will I utterly pluck up and destroy that Nation, saith the Lord. Now here is a Promise of Acceptance to those that will learn to Swear by God's Name, and a Threatning of utter Destruction to such as will not; therefore, now, how dare any refuse to Swear by the Name of God, upon a solemn and a lawful Account?

Answ. This was spoken under the Law, wherein Swearing was; and though it was spoken to the Gentiles, yet it was to such Gentiles as taught Israel to Swear by Baal; and which must be in Baal's time, that was long before the Gospel times: [Page 7] Therefore what is this to Christians under the Gospel? But if it could be proved that this Prophecy did relate to the Gentiles under the Gospel, then, according to Paul's Exposi­tion of the word Swear under the Gospel dis­pensation, it must be expounded, that they must learn the ways of his People to Confess to his Name, and that he liveth; which is the duty of all Christians to do, as in Mat. 10. 32. Rom. 10. 9, 10. and 14. 11.

Object. 6. If Christ's Prohibition to Swear be so general, that no Oath is lawful to Swear, in any Case, under the Gospel; why did the Apostle in Heb. 6. 16. say, For Men verily Swear by the greater, and an Oath for Confir­mation is to them an end of all Strife?

Answ. The Apostle spoke of such Men as were under the Law, and by way of Similitude why they used an Oath, in such times as God confirmed his Promise to Abraham by an Oath: Now here is no Command in these words of the Apostle for Men to Swear; nor any more tolleration for Men to Swear any Oath, that live according to the Gospel, than there is tolleration in Jam. 3. 9. for any to Curse Men, because the Apostle there saith, With the Tongue we bless Men, and therewith curse we Men; yet this ought not so to be; as is manifest in the next Verse.

Object. 7. If Christ's Saying in Mat. 5. [Page 8] 37. Whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil, proves all Oaths to be evil, because they are more than barely Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; how is it that God hath Sworn himself, and commanded Men to Swear, as in Gen. 22. 16. Deut. 16. 13? Surely God never did, or com­manded any thing that came from evil.

Answ. The doing of any thing after Christ hath forbidden it, is from evil, though not before; because the breaking of Christ's Command is from evil, and from the Devil; for none else will tempt any one so to do (except such as are his Servants and obey him.) Under the Law, God allowed an Eye for an Eye, and a Tooth for a Tooth, which then could not come from evil, because God never allowed any thing that came from evil; but after Christ had forbidden this, with other things that were allowed under the Law, and commanded the contrary instead thereof, the breaking of his Command cometh of evil, and from the Devil that tempts Men thereunto.

Object. 8. If all Oaths are forbidden by Christ, and accounted then to be from evil; how could the Angel have Sworn, in Rev. 10. 6? Which was after Christ's Prohibition, in Mat. 5. 34.

Answ. That Angel had a peculiar Com­mission that extended through the Law and the Prophets, wherein Swearing was, and [Page 9] spoke as God's Representative or Ambassador (which would be a presumption for Men to imitate;) for as God aforetime con­firmed his Promise unto Abraham, and to his whole Seed, by an Oath, Gen. 22. 16. so again by his Angel in Rev. 10. 6, 7. he seems in like manner (as by an Oath) to confirm the same Promise, that it should then quickly be fulfilled, viz. that Time should be no longer; but that the Mystery of God should be finished, as he had declared to his Servants the Prophets; therefore that was no Example for us to follow. However, if any shall still think this Answer not sufficient or full enough to the Matter, let it be fur­ther considered, That we read no where that Christ forbad Angels to Swear; but he plainly commanded Men not to Swear at all: So the evil lies in breaking Christ's Command, and in Men that so do, to whom his Command extended.

Object. 9. Christ in Mat. 5. 34. forbad only such Oaths as are made by the Crea­tures, as by Heaven, Earth, &c. because he enumerates and mentions some such created things, and all vain and rash Oaths in familiar Discourse; because he saith, in Verse 37. Let your Communication be Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; and whatsoever is more than these (viz. in our Communication) cometh of evil.

[Page 10] Answ. To Swear by the Creatures was forbidden in the Law, because then none ought to Swear by any thing but by the Name of God; and to Swear by God's Name, in common Discourse, is a taking of his Name in vain: But Christ, in the first place, before he mentioned any Creature, forbad such Oaths as were to be performed unto the Lord, in old time that was under the Law; which surely were not by any Crea­ture; but by his Name; nor yet vain and rash Oaths, for such were never commanded to be performed unto the Lord. Moreover Christ forbad Swearing by God the Creator, when he forbad Swearing by Heaven, Earth, &c. because he gives that for the Reason why we should not Swear by these Creatures, (viz.) because Heaven is the Throne of God, and the Earth is his Footstool; and none can Swear by the Throne of God, but he must Swear by his Creator that sits thereon; as is manifest in Mat. 23. 22.

Object. 10. If no kind of Oath be lawful to Swear; why did the Apostle Paul use such a form of Oath, in 1 Cor. 15. 31. as in saying, I protest, by your rejoycing, I die daily?

Answ. There is no word for I protest in the Greek: Moreover if these words could be made an Oath, then the Apostle must of [Page 11] necessity have Sworn by their Rejoycing, and so by a Creature which was always unlawful; and therefore this cannot be accounted an Oath, without reflecting upon the Apostle as a Transgressor, both against the Law and Gospel.

Object. 11. If no Oath must be used, in any Case; how can Justice be administred according to the Rule of the Gospel (viz.) by the Testimony of two or three Wit­nesses, Mat. 18. 16. in many Cases where there is but one single Witness, by which the Controversy can be decided? As for Example, in one Case instanced in Exod. 22. 10, 11. If a Man deliver unto his Neighbour an Ass, or an Ox, or a Sheep, or any Beast to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no Man seeing it: Then shall an Oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand to his Neighbours Goods; and the Owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good. Now if in this, or such a Case, the Man's bare word be taken for the Proof of his Innocency, the Controversy will be decided by one only Witness, directly against Christ's Precept in Mat. 18. 16. That in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses every word may be established. Therefore, in such Case, the guiltless Party must take in God to Witness with him (viz. by his Oath) that so the [Page 12] Matter may be decided by two Witnesses, at least, according to Christ's Precept afore­said, to wit, by him that makes the Oath, and by God, whom he calls to Witness with him.

Answ. In such a Case if a Man doth Swear, and call God to Witness with him unto the Matter, yet this will not make it to be de­cided according to Christ's Precept; for Christ saith, Take with thee one or two more; that in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses, every word may be established. Now the one or two more, besides himself, must be humane Persons, and not Gods; except the Party can call two Gods to wit­ness with him, which is absurd to suppose; and also, in such a Case, where there is two or three Witnesses, it may be decided by Christ's Rule, without their Oaths: There­fore Christ's Rule, to have two or three Wit­nesses, extends only to such Cases as is possible to have so many Witnesses, and lays no necessity upon Swearing to the deciding thereof, according to, or by, his Precept. And, moreover, if one Swearing, calls God to witness with him; how is the Matter in Controversy decided, by the Mouth of two Witnesses, according to Christ's Precept, when only by the Mouth of one Man, every word is spoken, to testify the truth in [Page 13] question? For if God should testify or reveal the truth of such a Matter in question im­mediately by his own Mouth, there would be no need of any Man's Testimony to streng­then his Evidence; because no Man can add any thing to Gods immediate Revelation or Testimony, which is perfect of its self.

Object. 12. If Christ's Prohibition to Swear in Mat. 5. 34. be so general, that it admits of no limit or exception to the Sen­tence, so that none ought to Swear, in any Case, because the words are general; then, by the same Reason, none can lay up for himself any Treasure on Earth, nor take thought for his Life what to eat or drink, &c. nor yet take thought (or care) for the Morrow, in any case, without breaking some other of Christ's express Commands in the same Sermon, as in Mat. 6. 19. 25. 34. all which are as general as that against Swear­ing, in Mat. 5. 34. and then if it be so; how can any be industrious in their Imploy­ments and Trades, and take care to provide for their Families; which he that doth not is worse than an Infidel, 1 Tim. 5. 8? There­fore for any Persons to put such a general and unlimited Construction on any of Christ's Commands, when, according to such of their own unlimited sense, they themselves are daily guilty of breaking some other of Christ's [Page 14] Commands, and so condemn or dissallow that in one Case which they do and must of necessi­ty allow in another Case, is ridiculous and great disingenuity and confusion.

Answ. Christ forbidding us to lay up Trea­sures for our selves on Earth, &c. extends only to such laying up earthly Treasure as to set our Hearts on it; for our Hearts ought only to be with our heavenly Treasure, as is manifest from Verse 20, 21. Therefore, if any one can lay up things on Earth, where his Heart is not with them, Christ's Com­mand extends not to him, because such things are not properly his Treasure; for the word Treasure most properly signifies, that which is most precious in his esteem. Likewise, Christ forbidding us to take thought (or care) for our Lives, &c. and for the Morrow, is not to be anxious or too much careful, or distracted or over-troubled in ones mind about them (which is also a setting our Hearts upon them) for so the words in the Greek [...] and [...], properly signify; and therefore these Prohibitions are not so general, as that in Mat. 5. 34. concerning Swearing, which is also as full against all Oaths whatsoever, both in the Greek and La­tin as in the English: However if it should be granted (for Argument sake) that those Pro­hibitions aforesaid, are as general in all Cases [Page 15] as that of Swearing; yet this will not prove that of Swearing any whit the less general, nor that any Person ought to commit Sin, in breaking a Command of Christ's in any one thing, because they may do so in some other things; but rather such ought to repent and leave off those things wherein they do, or have broke his Commands (if it plainly so appears) and be more careful afterwards of keeping all his Commands. But if it be im­partially and ingenuously considered, there is but little sign that those Persons are very careful of laying up for themselves Treasures on Earth, or taking thought for their Lives, or for the Morrow, who hazard the losing of all their earthly Things and Enjoyments, and their Lives and Liberty too, because they dare not do that, which they believe, will be a breaking of Christ's Command, as aforesaid.

Object. 13. If all Oaths are forbidden by Christ in Mat. 5. 34. how could the Apostle Paul (who without question) understood the extent of Christ's words, and would not do any thing contrary thereunto, so often call God to witness to the Truth of what he said (which is a formal Oath) as God is my Witness, Rom. 1. 9? I call God for a Record upon my Soul, 2 Cor. 1. 23. Before God, I lie not, Gal. 1. 20. God is my Record, Phil. 1. 8. [Page 16] Ye are Witnesses, and God also, 1 Thes. 2. 10. I say the truth in Christ, I lie not; my Consci­ence also bearing me Witness in the Holy Ghost, Rom. 9. 1.

Answ. If simply the saying God, or any thing else, is my Witness; or only the meer calling God, or any Creature for a Witness or Record, &c. on any Account, be a for­mal Oath, then Paul Swore by the Men he wrote to, in 2 Thes. 2. 10. as well as by God, when he said, Ye are Witnesses; and God al­so. And by the same Reason he Swore by his Conscience in Rom. 9. 1. when he said, My Conscience also bearing me Witness, &c. And also by the like Reason, Moses Swore by Heaven and Earth, in Deut. 41. 26. when he said to the People, I call Heaven and Earth to Witness against you this day: All which would render Paul and Moses too, to Swear by the Creatures; which those that plead against the universality of Christ's Prohibi­tion themselves, confess, were always un­lawful, and a breach of Christ's Command in the Gospel, and also of God's Command under the Law; when he permitted Men to Swear only by his Name, according to their own Explication and Interpretation of them.

So if such Expressions could be proved Oaths, it is manifest that we ought not to [Page 17] imitate them for the Reasons aforesaid; nei­ther are such Examples of the Prophets and Apostles sufficient or enough then, to invali­date to us now the Command of Christ, for the abolishing all Swearing, no more than Paul's then shaving his Head at Cenchrea, be­cause he had a Vow, Acts 18. 18. or his pu­rifying himself in the Temple, and offering with the four Jews that had a Vow, Acts 21. 26. or his circumcising of Timothy because of the Jews, Acts 16. 3. can warrant us to the Observation of those legal Rites and Ce­remonies now; nor indeed ought we to imi­tate the Prophets or Apostles in any parti­cular thing, without having any Warrant or Precept to us for the same, especially when it seems against any general and posi­tive Command in Scripture, and most espe­cially when it seems directly against any po­sitive Command or Prohibition of Christ, who is Lord of all the Prophets, Apostles and Angels, and whom we are especially to hear and obey in all things, Acts 3. 32. for though they were exemplary for us to imitate and follow, vet it must be in such things that we are sure they were followers of Christ, and that are alike binding to all Christians, according to the Apostle Paul's own Exhortation, in 1 Cor. 11. 1. and not otherwise, as in Gal. 1. 8, 9.

[Page 18]But however, to find a better Exposition of the Expressions, supposed to be Oaths a­fore-mentioned, than to make the Apostle and Prophets transgressours, as aforesaid, let it be seriously observed what the Defini­tion or Nature and Substance of an Oath is, which I here propose to all Men, as well to the Ingenious and Learned, as to the Un­learned, to consider of, with my Reasons hereafter following.

An Oath, or the Substance of an Oath, is a Religious Tye, or a Sacred Bond, when it is gi­ven for a Temporal or Earthly Thing: As the be­seeching or invoking of God, or any thing reve­renced and esteemed for a Deity, or the expres­sing or naming any superiour thing as a Surety, that most properly belongs to God, which is not in any Man's power to dispose of, and thereby bind­ing the Soul as a Pawn or Pledge for a Security to an Inferior, for confirming the truth of any Hu­man or Temporal Matter in question is a Swear­ing.

And this is also confirmed by the Original, or Etymology of the Word Juro, to Swear, from the best Authorities, viz. Juro ex Jure vel quasi Jovem Oro, aut testem invoco—Quod jurare proprie sit ita sancte promittere ac si jus esset.—Seu juris servandi causa reli­giose assevero. By which it seems, that Swear­ing [Page 19] being first among the Heathens, was an invoking or using the Name of their God (or that which they reverenced as a Deity) for a Bond-tye or Security of their Affirmations and Promises, whereby they bound their Soul to their Idol as a Pledge, for the truth and certainty thereof; so likewise when the Israelites were permitted to Swear by the true God, only for a time, to draw them off from their Idols; they, by the same reason, bound their Souls to him as a Pledge for a Security (which was better than to be bound to an Idol). And also by the Latin definition of the word Juramentum; viz. Juramentum est aliquod mente Juratur. An Oath is a bond or security of something understood in the Mind, binding the Soul and implying a Curse, in case of not then speaking the truth, though not perhaps so plainly expressed in Words at length, as it is but in few Oaths.

And this seems further manifest, from Mat. 5. 34, 35, 36. where Christ gives some rea­son why they should not Swear by Heaven, Earth, nor Jerusalem, viz. because one was God's Throne, and the other his Footstool, and the last his City; and none could Swear by any of these Creatures, that most pro­perly belonged to God, but he must Swear by the Creator, as is plain from Mat. 23. 22. [Page 20] He that Swears by Heaven Swears by the Throne of God, and by him that sits there­on: So here is a Swearing by God implied, and consequently a binding the Soul, when only Heaven and a Creature is used or men­tioned to Swear by; the like Reason is, when one Swears by his Head, because our Head and Body too are none of our own, but the Lords, Rom. 14. 8. and so properly belong to God. And, therefore, this is plain to all Men, That none ought, in any Case, to as­sign that for a Surety, Pawn or Pledge (tho' but an Earthly one, and much more a greater and higher) which is anothers and none of their own; nor that any one can lawfully give any thing which is not in his power to dispose of.

And so now seeing the nature of an Oath is such a binding of the Soul, for a Pawn or Pledge in temporal Affairs; was there not great reason why Christ discontinued the use of them, among Christians, by his Prohibi­tion in Mat. 5. 34? For let it be considered, whether it would not be an unreasonable thing for any one to pawn his Soul for, or upon, any temporal matter, where there is no visible or intelligible proportion between the value of the Pawn or Pledge, and of the thing it was pawned for? And also, would it not be a dangerous thing to run such a [Page 21] great hazard, in case of any mistake, as hu­man Sense and Understanding is subject to, (tho' not designedly) as is frequently seen among those that Swear in Courts and before Magistrates, notwithstanding the Bond of their Oaths? And, also, might not this be one Reason too, why the Apostle James com­manded the Brethren, That, above all things, they should not Swear, seeing it is one of the most dangerous of all things, for any one so slightly to put his Soul into such a hazard, (like laying ones Soul for a Wager) by his own consent and agreement? And would not all esteem it a very unreasonable thing of any Man that should require a thousand Pounds for a Pledge or Pawn, for any thing but of the value of a Shilling? And yet this would be far short of the Proportion of the value of a Soul, to any earthly temporal Matter. And doth it not also shew, that such as will give such an extraordinary Pledge for a small and trivial matter (in comparison of the Pledge) when duly considered, esteem but lightly of their Souls, or of what they Pawn; as Esau did, when he sold his Birth-right for a Mess of Pottage?

And to prove that a Surety, Pawn or Pledge of the Soul, or of eternal and heaven­ly things, only makes or is properly called an Oath, when it is applied to, or offered, or [Page 22] given for temporal and earthly Matters: Observe, That an Oath, according to the Apostle in Heb. 6. 16. is such a Bond as is made by a greater; which, consequently may not be so when made by a lesser. Therefore, the same kind of Speech or Expressions, that are an Oath, being made b [...] a greater, may not so be when made by a lesser; as by these following Instances.

First, The calling God to Witness, to bind any Affirmation, Promise or Denial, especially when relating to temporal and lesser Matters, most understanding Men, and especially the Learned, in most Ages, accounted it an Oath; but the calling a Man to Witness to any Mat­ter or Fact, or to any Affirmation, Promise or Denial; who counts it a Swearing? Or that one Swear by the Man so called?

Secondly, To say, So do God to me, and more also if I do not such a thing, is an Oath, 2 Sam. 3. 35. But to say to a Man, So do thou to me and more also, if I do not such a thing, who will account it an Oath by the Man?

Thirdly, To say, Our Life for yours I will do such a thing, is an Oath, Josh 2. 14, 17, 20. But for one to say, My Horse for thine I will do such a thing; who will say that such an one Swears by his Horse? Except any will say, That every one that lays a Wager al­ways Swears by the Wager that he lays.

[Page 23]Hence may be seen that a temporal Surety and Security is only proper for temporal Matters, and such a Bond or Security is not accounted an Oath; but whatsoever is higher, as things of a divine and eternal Nature, are too high and great to be offered for a Surety and Security for temporal and earthly Things; and therefore such an extraordi­nary Bond or Security for such an improper use is accounted, and properly called an Oath.

Therefore, according to the definition and nature of an Oath, before mentioned, The invoking or calling God for a Witness, and many other high Expressions of the Apostle's, that he used only in treating of divine Matters; and in­deed the appealing (after any manner) to God as Judge, or any ways using his sacred Name, or mentioning any thing whereby it may be imployed, as by Heaven, Earth, &c. being only designed for a further strengthning and confirming the Truth of any Speech, Affirmation, Promise or Denial, when relating only to humane, worldly and inferiour Matters, may be granted to be an Oath; but otherwise not so, when used only upon a divine and religious Account. For the same Words and Expressions, either such as are found in the Scriptures, or others that are commonly used in some Cases, which are good and lawful in themselves, when rightly [Page 24] used, may be an Oath or no Oath, accord­ing to their application, design and intent in using them; as will further appear by the In­stances, Reasons and Demonstrations fol­lowing.

1. If one should say in Prayer, So help me God, that I may walk in thy ways; here the words [So help me God] who will say are an Oath? But when these words [So help me God] are used to bind or confirm any Speech, or the truth thereof, in humane and temporal Affairs, they make up the common National Oath, for Jury-men, Witnesses, &c.

2. Likewise if one should say (religiously speaking) By Christs Blood the Saints are justified, or By Christs Life they are saved, Rom. 5. 9, 10. Who will say, That there is the least Sign of any thing of the nature of an Oath in these Affirmations, or in them words soused? But if any one should use these words [By Christs Blood] or [By Christs Life] in Affirmation or Denying, or in pro­mising any thing relating to humane, world­ly or temporal Matters; it would amount to an Oath of an high degree, or of the worst sort, that would be very irksome and bur­thensome for all sober and religious Persons to hear.

[Page 25]3. Also, if one should say simply, in a religious and serious manner, upon some good occasion, By God I am still alive and enjoy my health (meaning his Power, Favour or Mer­cy) who will account this an Oath? But if a Drunkard or common Swearer should use these very words in his usual manner of Speak­ing, when only to confirm the truth of his Speech; or in his accustomed manner of Swearing, and express all the same Sentence too; would not all that should hear him, grant that he Swore by his Maker, that he was still alive and enjoyed his health?

4. To say or religiously to affirm, As the Lord liveth he will preserve those that fear his Name, and continually trust in him from the snares of the evil one; who will account it an Oath? But for one to say, affirm or promise, any thing relating to humane and temporal Matters, in this manner; As the Lord liveth such a thing is, or shall be done, &c. is called an Oath; as is manifest in 1 Sam. 19. 6, 20. 3. and 28. 10. and also in Jer. 38. 16.

5. To assert or promise any thing, by the words [God is my Witness or Record] when it relates only to humane and temporal Mat­ters, and to satisfie such incredulity or di­strust, that will be content with no less secu­rity than by the Name of God, may be an [Page 26] Oath, because his Name is here mentiond and used as a Bond or Surety for an earthly and inferior Matter; but for one sensibly and sin­crely to say, God is my Witness or Record that I have lived in his fear; who can ac­count it an Oath?

6. Though the Apostle Paul, Called God for a Record upon his Soul, to confirm his As­sertion of sparing the Brethren, being in some divine and religious respect, as seems manifest in the next Chapter, and therefore might not then be an Oath in the Apostle: Yet what good Christians, in imitation of these words, durst promise or say in any thing relating to common and humane Affairs, I call God for a Record upon my Soul, that I will do, or I will not perform, such a thing; would not this be as great an Oath, as if he had instead thereof used the words [As the Lord liveth] or the words [So help me God?]

7. Likewise, though the Apostle's saying, Now the things which I write unto you, Be­hold, before God, I lie not, might not be an Oath in the Apostle, because he treated and wrote of religious and divine Things, in which respect Gods Name, and the appealing to him too, may be lawfully used by sincere Christians, in many Cases: As for Instance, one may truly say, I speak or do a thing be­fore, [Page 27] or in the presence of God, if he be then livingly sensible thereof to assist him in the performing it; yet if another should speak the same words, that was not livingly sensible of his presence at that time, he would Speak (if not Swear) falsly, as well as he that said, The Lord liveth (when he was not sensible thereof) Swore falsly; though the Lord liveth, is as true in it self, as that nothing can be spoken or done but it must be so before God, as that it cannot be hid from his Presence. And, further, for one to pro­mise or say, Before God, I will pay thee that Mony; or, Before God, I will not stay here; who will not account either of these Expres­sions to be an Oath?

And, moreover, it may be observed, that being the Apostle used the word [behold] before the words [before God] and which, in the Greek, is without any Point or Com­ma after the word [...], for behold, and hath also the word [...] signifying because, or that, which is omitted in the English, as [...]. This Expression may be translated or understood in a moderater sense than it is commonly taken in the English; as, Behold, before God, that I do not lie or speak false; as much as to say, I do not speak false in these things I write unto you, be­cause I am now sensibly before, or in the [Page 28] Presence of God, and therefore I cannot mi­stake (or be disappointed in the truth there­of, as the Greek word [...] may also signifie) at such a time. And let it be further considered, that to use the words [before God] to promise any humane, terrene or earthly Matter by, cannot be lawful or safe, in any sense however; for in the first place, altho' a Christian may sometimes say, or hath truly used them words in the Present and Preter Tense; yet who can appoint a time in the future, when he will approach to, or be sensibly before God, to perform any humane Matter in his presence? And if in saying, Before God I will perform such a Matter, could be only understood in such a common sense, as that all things are and must be per­formed before him, because nothing can be hid from his presence, it would be superflu­ous and using his Name in vain; because no­thing can be done, but it must be before him; as well the breaking of the Promise, as the performing it: Or if such a Sense be exclud­ed (the possibility of which is not easily to be conceived) whereby God is appealed to, or invoked to take notice thereof, as a Judge, and so consequently as a just Revenger, in case of non-performance of the Matter pro­mised, which is of the nature of an Oath; to what purpose would it be for any one to [Page 29] use or require such words for a strengthning or confirming the said Promise? So by this Reason also it would be an using or taking God's Name in vain.

8. And also, though the Apostle Paul in Rom. 9. 3. after having just before mention­ed his godly Sorrow and Exercise for the Is­raelites, &c. said, I could wish my self Ac­cursed from Christ for my Brethren, &c. Yet what good Christian durst imitate or use these words of the Apostle, in such a diffe­rent sense as he used them, as to wish himself Accursed from Christ to confirm the truth of any Affirmation or Promise, and most especially when relating to humane and temporal Af­fairs? And if any one should promise or say, I wish my self Accursed from Christ, if I speak false, or if I do not perform such a thing; what sort of Oaths would any sincere Chri­stian count worser than such an Expression, though the Party should excuse himself, by improperly pleading the Apostle's Example for it, as before-mentioned?

So it is plain, from what hath been before­mentioned, That we are not to imitate the Apostles in any such extraordinary Expressi­ons, nor yet in every particular and extraor­dinary thing they might say or do, except upon such like occasion, and that we had the same Authority or Permission, or a Com­mand [Page 30] or Precept therefore; for we are only to imitate and be Followers of them, and all Christians one of another, in all such general Duties, as is plain we are all alike command­ed by our, and their Lord and Master, and not otherwise: For because one Christian has a Gift and Command to Preach, it doth not therefore follow, that all other Christians must imitate him and be Preachers too; nor because another may have a Gift of Prophe­cying, it will not follow, that all the rest must be Propheciers too, by only imitating him.

But to come closer to the Matter still, if possible, and to answer the most critical Ob­jections as may or can be: If any would yet imitate any of the said Apostles Expres­sions, in their Epistles, and use Gods sacred Name for a Witness to, or a Confirmation of any thing; surely they ought to do it in the like Cases and Sense, and by the same Spirit and Authority, as the Apostles did, and wrote their Epistles in; or else it cannot have the same approbation and acceptance (seeing Gods Name may be used amiss and in vain) but the contrary.

As for Example, Would it not be a pre­sumption, for any Man, to Call or Summons an earthly King for a Witness or as a Surety, to any of the Man's own particular and tri­vial [Page 31] Causes? Yet if the same King should commissionate or require any of his Subjects, to call him for a Witness or to be a Security for a thing, wherein the King's Cause is chiefly concerned; it would be then no pre­sumption in a Subject so to do.

And, furthermore, seeing, according to several express Scriptures, that none can Worship (or Adore or Reverence, accord­ing to the Greek) God aright without his Spirit, Joh. 4. 23, 24. Nor can any ask or pray, as they ought, except in Christ's Name or by the Spirits help, Joh. 14. 13, 14. Rom. 8. 26, 27. No, nor yet so much as to truly say, that Jesus is the Lord (though nothing is more true in it self) without the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) 1 Cor. 12. 3. How can any, considering these things (that profess either the Scriptures or the Spirit, to be their Guide or Rule) invoke God for a Witness, or any other purpose, or any ways to imploy and use his Sacred Name for a Security in earthly Matters, if it was not a proper Oath (which is more than barely to ask a Petition in Prayer) in their own time? Or at the re­quirings of others, without they certainly know that they have his Commission or the Assistance of his Spirit at the time, to per­form it rightly, and with such due reverence as they ought? For if none can approach [Page 32] Gods presence to worship him, or so much as to ask a Petition in Prayer, with a fit or due Adoration or Reverence, without Christ's Name or Authority, or the Spirit's assist­ance; much more can any invoke God into their presence for a Witness or Surety, &c. with a sufficient Adoration or Reverence, without his Commission or the Assistance of his Spirit; for who are so bold, as perem­ptorily to approach the presence of, or speak to an earthly Prince, without his permission first obtained, or some one to introduce him, or to mediate for him? Much more, how dare any to invoke God into their presence, upon any account, when they please, and at any time appointed by Man, without first having obtained a divine Permission, or being required thereto by his Spirit?

Therefore, from hence it is evidently plain and clear, That we ought to have a care of using any other form or higher manner of Expressions for asserting the truth, and pro­mising any thing in all Cases, especially re­lating to temporal Matters, but what may plainly agree with Christ's Precept or form of Speech, which he prescribed and com­manded us to use instead of an Oath, Mat. 5. 37. viz. That our Word or Speech be Yea, yea; and Nay, nay (as is according to the Greek) which seems to be only a doubling of [Page 33] such words that we commonly use for affirm­ing or denying of a thing, as Christ himself often did, when he said, Verily, verily, lest we should run into an Oath unawares, or so far as to use or take God's Name in vain (that is not to be used customarily or formally) or at least into any thing which Christ count­ed was more or higher than Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; and said, cometh of evil: Not but that I believe we may use other Words or Expressions for Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; that are equivalent thereunto, as truly or verily, or such like, for Yea and Amen are the same, 2 Cor. 1. but not such as are higher; for Christ's saying, Whatsoever are more (or more full according to the Greek) than these, cometh of evil, seems plainly to intimate that there may be other Expressions higher than these, though not in the Superlative Degree, that are dangerous to use (if they can be lesser than an Oath) or else why did Christ, here only, forbid what is in the Comparative Degree to Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; after he had forbidden what was in the Superlative Degree before in Verse 34. when he forbad all Oaths?

Now for a further Confirmation of all these Reasons and Demonstrations afore­mentioned, see what several of the most learned, famous and eminent Fathers, Doctors, Christians and Martyrs, in divers and former Ages, have said and believed concerning the same; and espe­cially that we should not go higher, or exceed Christ's Evangelical Sentence of Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; in all Cases where Oaths are required.

1. SImoc [...]atus Epist. 33. F. saith, ‘Strange, that faithful Yea and Nay is stopt, when Perfidiousness, with an Oath, can pass all Guards, Courts and Offices.’

Observation, Here this Author believed, That Yea and Nay was sufficient to be taken, in all Cases, instead of an Oath.

2. Tertul. de Idololatria, Cap. 11. ‘He which signs a Bill of Security, containing and confirmed by an Oath, is guilty of Swearing as if he had spoken it.’

Observ. Here this learned Author esteem'd a Swearer guilty of something, which surely must be evil, and withal in such necessary Cases, as Bills of Security; tho' the Person himself spoke not one Word, nor yet writ one Syllable of the Oath therein contained; but only instead thereof set his Name to the Bill.

3. Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. 7. ‘It sufficeth to add unto his Affirming or Denying this, viz. I speak truly, That he begets Faith in them who perceiveth not the stability of his Answer.’

Observ. Here is the utmost Confirmation that the Author allows, and that only to such as may not at first perceive the Truth, and not to gratify such as questions it meerly from in­credulity and distrust.

4. Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. 7. ‘Neither doth he Swear, as being one who hath de­termined to put for his affirming Yea, and for his denying Nay.’

Observ. Here also the same Author counts Yea and Nay sufficient, instead of Swear­ing.

[Page 36]5. Athanasius, on the Passion of Christ, saith, ‘The Evangelical Sentence of the Lord is, Let your Yea be Yea, and your Nay, Nay; thus far we, who are in Christ, may confirm our words with Asseverati­ons; and with no further Progress let us flee to, or approach Oaths.’

Observ. What can be said plainer against rising higher, or using any greater Assevera­tion than Yea, yea; and Nay, nay, instead of Oaths?

6. Again, by the same learned and eminent Author on the same Subject; ‘If, therefore, he that Swears hath Faith and Truth; what use is there of an Oath? But if he hath no Faith nor Truth; why do we un­dertake such an Impiety, that for poor silly Men, and these Mortal too, we call to witness God, that is above Men? For if it be a base part to call to witness an Earthly King, to the lowest Judicature, as one that is greater than both Actors and Judges; why do we cite him that is un­created to created things, and make God to be despised of Men? [...] that exceeds all Iniquity and Audaciousness; what then is to be done? No more, but that our Yea be Yea, and our Nay be Nay; and, in short, that we do not lie.’

Observ. Here are eminent Reasons against all Swearing, and the necessity thereof; as well for such as cannot be believed and trust­ed, as for those that can, though in Courts of Judicature: And, likewise, against the using God's sacred Name for a Surety, &c. in human Affairs: And, also, against ex­ceeding or going beyond the simplicity of Yea, yea; and Nay, Nay; in all humane Cases and Affairs.

7. Hillary, on Mat. 5. 34. ‘Faith doth remove the custom of an Oath, making the businesses of our Life to be determined in Truth, and laying aside the affecting to deceive, prescribing the simplicity of Speaking and Hearing, that what was, was, and what was not, was not that the busi­ness of deceiving might be apparent be­tween it is, and it is not; and what is more is all of evil.’

Observ. Here this Author holds, That Faith prescribes the simplicity of Speaking and Hearing, for determining the businesses of our Life; and what is more than such simplicity, he counts to be all of evil. There­fore, whom ought Christians to follow or imitate; Faith, that prescribed such simpli­city; or Infidelity and Distrust, that at first, [Page 38] instead thereof, prescribed (or was the cause of prescribing) Oaths?

8. Chrysostom, on Mat. Hom. 17. ‘Then verily, when they appeared unfaithful, they called God to witness, as giving a Surety for security for their words; for an Oath is a Suretyship, where their Be­haviours have no trust or credit. And be­cause Men so little trust one another, they seek God for a Surety; not Man. Secondly, he is in the same Crime who receives an Oath, if he draws God to be a Surety for Contracts, and say, that he will not trust except he have him. Oh monstrous thing! Oh shameful Disgrace! Thou a Worm, Dust and Ashes, and a Vapour, darest thou snatch thy Lord, who art such an one, for a Surety, and compellest to accept him?’

Observ. Here this eminent Author, whom, and whose Authority the Martyrs often quo­ted and used, shews the danger of using or invoking (or as he calls it snatching) God's sacred Name for a Surety, &c. in humane Affairs, as well to such as require it, as to those that so do it.

[Page 39]9. Further, by the Author in the same Dis­course, ‘Ye know not what God is, and with what Mouth he ought to be in­vocated. But now we vainly distract that honourable Name, which is a Name above every Name, which is wonderful in all the Earth, which the Devils hearing, do trem­ble at; Oh most contemptible Custom, which hath done that! Ought not one even to dread, when God is named? But even a­mong the Jews this Name was so Reve­verend, that it was written on the Plate of the Mitre, and none might bear these Letters of the Name of God, but only the High Priest: And now, also, we bear his Name tenderly. If it was not lawful for all to name God simply; how great Auda­ciousness is it to call it in witness?’

Observ. Now let all consider what Reasons here are; that with what Mouth, and with what extraordinary Fear and Reverence God's Name ought to be used, in any respect, which surely can never rightly be done by those that have no Faith or Credit; nor yet by all that are or may be required to use it in humane and earthly Affairs. Therefore, from hence may be seen an invincible Reason against all Swearing, and the naming or using God's sacred Name any ways, to confirm the [Page 40] truth of any Speech relating to humane and worldly Matters. As for such as are true Men, and dare not lie, there is no need of any more than a simple affirming or denial; and Swearing, and also the using of God's sacred Name, must consequently be in vain, which all Christians will grant ought not to be; and for those Men as are false, and that their simple Assertion cannot be believed; such are not worthy to have God's Name in their Mouths.

10. Likewise, still further, by the same Author; ‘Tell me now if any should call down an Angel from Heaven, and tell him, That he must stand and hear our Sermons, as if he must be thereby instructed; would it not be a ridiculous and confused thing?’

Observ. Here is a comparison against ap­plying superiour things to earthly and infe­riour uses.

11. Also, again, by the same Author; ‘Do not use thy Mouth to Swear, nor be familiar with the holy Name.’

Observ. Here is a pretty Caution against using God's sacred Name in common and [Page 41] earthly Affairs; because it is too great to be used so commonly and familiarly.

12. Jerom on Jer. 4. Book 1. Chap. 3. ‘And what is said in the old Testament? The Lord liveth is an Oath, to the con­demning of all the Dead, by whom all Ido­latry Sweareth.’

Observ. Here the words [the Lord liveth] as they were used in the old Testament, in temporal Matters, is counted an Oath by this learned Expositor.

13. Theophylact. on Mat. 5. saith, ‘To Swear or adjure more to Yea and Nay, is of the Devil.’

Observ. Here's a Reproof for such as can­not be content with the simplicity of Yea and Nay.

14. Jansenius on Mat. 5. saith, ‘Yea and Amen are the same, 2 Cor. 1. not Swear­ing but Affirming.’

Observ. Here's an Authority, that Amen or Verily is but equivalent to Yea; and so, therefore, may be used instead of an Oath.

[Page 42] Euthynnius Zagabonus, on Mat. 5. Page 43. saith, ‘But let your Words be Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; &c. Let your Speech be, when you affirm, Yea; and when you de­ny, Nay; and use only these for, or in­stead of Oaths, to Confirmation, and no other than Yea and Nay: What is adjoyn­ed besides these he calleth an Oath.’

Observ. Here this Expositor is very strict for the simplicity of Yea and Nay, and thinks that Christ esteemed any thing, which is ad­ded beyond that, to be an Oath.

16. J. Fox, Marty. V. 3. p. 910, 911. Eliza­beth Young said, ‘I understand not what an Oath is, and therefore I will take no such thing upon me. And in Answer to the Bishop about it, said, Christ saith, That whatever is more than Yea, yea; and Nay, and Nay; it cometh of evil.’

Observ. Here this sincere Christian, be­cause, not understanding the extent of Oaths, dare venture no further than Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; whatever she suffer­ed therefore, which she then run the hazard of.

17. Erasmus on Mat. 5. ‘Two words be sufficient, Nay and Yea; whereby [Page 43] thou deniest that which thou dost not promise, and whereby thou dost perform that which thou didst promise by plain word, that thou wouldst do; if there be any more, besides these, it must needs come of Evil and Sin:’

Observ. Here is this learned Man's Judg­ment of the sufficiency of Nay and Yea, and of the danger of exceeding them.

18. Jacobus Faber on Mat 5. Pag. 23, 24. ‘Unto true Men, it's sufficient that a true Man gain belief, if he say, that the Lord hath commanded Yea, yea, in affirming, Nay, nay, in denying. Who ever spoke more seriously than our Saviour? Whom more necessary things? Yet he never used other Speech, than that Verily, verily, I say unto you, or some other such like; which was a true form or manner to them that Swore not.’

Observ. Here this Author is plain concern­ing what we may only use instead of an Oath.

19. Again, further, by the same Author; ‘If it be manifest that he that is called in­to Judgment be verily good and true, it [Page 44] is enough to hear of him, Yea or Nay but if that be not evident, or that it b [...] evident that he is bad, perhaps that's required of him which ought not to be required.’

Observ. Here's another Testimony of th [...] sufficiency of Yea and Nay, instead of an Oath, to a true Man; and the danger of re­quiring more, though from one that is either doubtful or apparently false.

20. Suarez De quaest. Jur. Christ. p. 276 said, ‘Grant this were possible to bring God for a Witness (which this Author questioned) it seems disorderly to bring the Person of God to confirm Mens busi­nesses, Covenants or Words; because i [...] is disorderly to order things of an higher Order, to those that are inferiour: Much more is it disorderly to mix the sacred Au­thority of God to the prophane, or com­mon Words and Business of Men.’

Observ. Here is a notable Testimony a­gainst using God's sacred Name to confirm humane and temporal Affairs.

21. Joac. Camer. and P. Loseler. Villerius's Marginal Note upon Mat. 5. 37. ‘What­soever [Page 45] you vouch, vouch it barely; and whatsoever you deny, deny it barely, without any more words.’

Observ. Here is another Testimony for the keeping to the simplicity of equivalency of Speech to Yea, yea; and Nay, nay.

22. Bishop Usher, ‘If the Question be weighty, whether (saith the Bishop) the Doubt may be ended with Truly or Ve­rily; or doubtingly, with Verily, verily, as Christ did for you, by his Example, we ought to forbear an Oath, Mat. 5. 37.’

Observ. See here the utmost that this learned and eminent Bishop allows to be used instead of an Oath, although in doubt­ful Cases.

23. Bishop Gauden, in his Discourse for solemn Swearing, says or confesses thus much, ‘That the ancient Christians and Fathers, &c. (refusing to Swear) said to the Heathen, Christianus Sum, I am a Christian; to each other Yea, yea; Nay, nay; thereby keeping up the Sanctity and Credit of their Profession.’

Observ. Then it is plain, those that have went, or shall go beyond this simplicity of Yea, yea; and Nay, Nay; did, or must, decline from the Sanctity and Credit of the Profession of the Primitive Christians.

24. ‘There was a People in the City of Middleburgh that could not Swear at all, called the Menists; who profered to the then Grave of Nassau, and Prince of Orange, that their Yea might pass for an Oath; and it was granted them in the year, 1577.’

Observ. See here, that these conscientious People profered no further than the simpli­city of their Yea, &c. to be taken instead of an Oath.

So now, considering the demonstrative Reasons, and the many Authorities afore­mentioned, so wonderfully concurring to the same thing; with what face or pretence can any, that sincerely profess Christianity, take any Oath? Or use any higher Expressions, for confirming humane and temporal Mat­ters, than Christ's Evangelical Sentence of Yea, yea; and Nay, Nay; or what is equi­valent thereto? And what Christian Men, or Magistrates, or Powers of the Earth, can [Page 47] awfully prescribe or require more than Christ hath permitted herein? And who can undertake or pretend to prescribe a better form of Words or Expression, than Christ hath prescribed and allowed us, by his Com­mand and Example, to be used instead of an Oath?

And if Christ hath not limited us thereby to them bare words, or to that particular form of Speech, yet surely he has to a degree of Speech in our affirming or denying, beyond which, to be sure, Christians ought not to go. But I think it is much easier, as well as safer, for them, to practise that or such like forms as Christ hath left us, than it will be to fix and agree to Overpluses.

Here follow a few Lines, by way of Postscript, from one that took a short view of this Treatise; which I thought meet also to Insert.

I Have taken a short view of this Manuscript, with the Authorities therein quoted, and it seems to me highly to favour the Doctrin of the Peo­ple called QUAKERS, who have been, and are, exposed to great Suffe­rings, for their refusing to Swear in any Case; however, let none, therefore, slight the Authorities, Arguments and Reasons therein urged, but rather, by [Page 49] express Scripture, without undue Con­sequences and corrupt Meanings dis­prove; for how mean soever the In­struments are that God makes use of, they are not to be slighted; for the Ass was made to rebuke, with Man's Voice, the Prophets madness, and then saw more than he did, and all his Blows could not get him forward; and the Reason you know was, he saw the Angel of the Lord with a drawn Sword in his Hand. And, notwith­standing, the Sufferings that the QUAKERS have been, and are exposed to, and the Laws that on this foot have been made against them; yet who can get them any further than a bare affirming or denying, be­cause of Christ's Precept and his Apo­stles? And although they use the Name of God, and those very words in a reli­gious way, which makes up the com­mon and formal Oaths, yet are very cautious of making use of that sacred Name in their worldly or temporal Affairs; and urging, that none can [Page 50] call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost And I have heard they have been very sollicitous to the Government, to have their solemn Words taken instead o [...] an Oath, upon subjecting to the sam [...] Punishment or Penalties that's due to Perjured Persons, if they affirm o [...] deny falsly, which to me indeed seem [...] very reasonable to be granted them on those Terms: Although I have heard the Government are for obliging them to some Form of Speech in their solemn Affirmations, wherein the Name of God is made use of, as these or the like words, viz. [before] [in the presence] of God, which the tendency of this Treatise seems not to allow in any tem­poral Affair, without a particular Com­mand; and likewise to exclude that, because it so strictly contends for the literal Sense of Mat. 5. Jam. 5. That its not reasonable to conclude, that God will give a Command to any, to con­tradict his own Son's positive Precept. Upon the whole, I must confess, The plain and simple way of affirming or [Page 51] denying hath a tendency to advance the Repute of the Christian Religion; and this Cautiousness of making use of the reverent Name of God in temporal Affairs, if duly observed, would be a good step to put a stop to the breach of that Command, which forbids taking his Name in vain; though that may be done, and is too much in Matters relating to spiritual Things, as well as temporal; and if once People were come to God's Spirit, and its Leadings in all things, as their Phrases are, they would not take his Name in vain, in any wise.

And for those that look upon them­selves concerned to stand firm in this Testimony, and most clear and strict to the literal Sense thereof, it's certain that not to make use of Phrases or Words▪ [before, or in the sight, or pre­sence of God] or to name God at all, is most likely to keep clear from that which is more than Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; and cometh of evil; for if once it be allowed, that the Name of God may be made use of in affirming or denying, [Page 52] or binding the truth of our Words a­bout any temporal Matters; how shall we able to distinguish what is more than Yea, yea; and Nay, nay; that cometh of evil, and what is not? For if I say in Evidence, in relation to such an Af­fair [before God, or so help me God, in the Sight or Presence of God] this is true or false; what do I less than Swear, and imply, by such a Speech, God should judge, condemn or pun­ish me, if what I affirm be not true? And wherefore do I use it, but to beget a greater Credit to what I say, by making use of his Name that is greater than my self? Which, as the Apostle said, is the manner of those that Swear, to Swear by the greater, Heb. 6. 16.



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