"fure of the truth, and very punctual in the performance of whatever ye have fworn. If due care be taken of this, ye conclude the law is "ftrictly enough obferved, and fully fatisfied. But, "I who come to declare to you the divine will " and law more perfectly than ye have yet been able CC to difcern, or willing to apprehend it, require ❝of you much more than this; that ye not only "fwear not falfly, but not at all; that in your

common converfation, ye, upon no account, and ❝in no manner or form of fpeech, invoke the fa"cred name of God, tho' the matter concerning "which ye have occafion to fpeak be never fo "true. Nor yet think, that the fin of fwearing વ may be evaded by indirect oaths: For fwearing "by God's creatures is in effect fwearing by him "who created them, and for whofe glory they are, "and were created. For inftance, fwearing by "heaven, is fwearing by him whofe throne and "palace it is; and as the fplendor of his Majefty "thines chiefly there, fo do's the glory of his pro❝vidence in this lower world; the whole earth is "but one mighty kingdom, under the infpection ❝ and government of God; and therefore he that "fwears by the earth, fwears by that fovereign 66 power that form'd, fupports, and governs it. "What has Jerufalem in it that is venerable, but "the ark and temple, the fignals of God's fpecial ❝ prefence? 'Tis this peculiar relation to God, as "the capital city of his refidence in the Church, "that ftamps a facred character upon it; and there❝fore whofoever fwears by Jerufalem, fwears by that 66 great God, who has chofen to place his name. ❝and worship there. And the cafe is ftill the "fame, when ye fwear by creatures, which have "not that peculiar fanctity and relation to God, "as when ye fwear by your own heads: For the object of an oath must be fome powerful being; R 3

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CHAP. XIII. "now ye your felves cannot change the colour of "one hair upon your heads, and therefore the oath muft be understood to be by him that can, and that is no other than God. If then ye have occafion in your familiar converfe to affirm or "promife, or deny any thing; let a fimple affirmaCC tion, affurance, or negation, fuffice: 'tis enough "to fay it is, or it is not; fhall be, or fhall not be "fo; for whatfoever is more than thefe, is finful.


THE general terms in which our Saviour has couched this prohibition, wear not at all, &c. have occafioned fome to imagine, that he prohibits, and condemns therein, as unlawful, all manner of oaths, without diftinction; not only fuch as are rafh, needlefs and prophane; but fuch alfo as are adminiftred for the peace and good of human focieties, the fecurity of governments, and the judicial dif covery of truth. But that this is an inconfiderate and erroneous extending of the precept beyond the real defign, is evident, because an oath religioufly, and folemnly taken in truth, in judgment, and in righteoufnefs, as the Prophet expreffes it upon weighty occafions, or for the public good, is an tact of divine worship, and the name of God is


reverenced, not prophaned thereby. The author to the Hebrews alfo acknowledges, that an oath for confirmation is an end of all firife; and therefore furely controverfies may be determined by it, and cannot be determined any other way more properly, or more effectually. The Apoftles and primitive Chriftians, never fcrupled to take an oath on fuch occafions as deferved it. Nay, our Saviour himself, who to be fure would not do any thing unlawful, anfwered upon oath, when it was required of him in the high-priefts court of judicature. All which being confidered, I fhall need

Deut. x. 20. . Mat. xxvi. 63, 64,


Jer. iv. 2.
Heb. vi. 16.

† Deut. vi. 13.


to enlarge no farther against the opinion of fuch interpreters; but proceed to fhew, what ufe of God's name, or what fort of fwearing it is which is indeed forbidden (over and above the cafe of perjury) in this third commandment... And here is forbidden,

I. All fwearing in common converfation; whether directly, by God, or by his creatures; or indirectly, in any terms whatfoever, which imply an oath, and were only introduced to qualify the harthnefs of it. That the prohibition here is intended as a reftraint upon our ordinary converfation, appears from thefe words, Let your COMMUNICA TION be yea, yea; and nay, nay: And that this reftraint is not laid without good reafon, will be plain, if we confider the nature of an oath, which is an appeal for our fincerity and truth to fome fu perior being, that thoroughly knows our confciences, and will certainly punish falfhood. Now, this fuperior being, however the expreffion may difguife it, can be no other than God: And though fuch oaths may be taken, when required by authority; and then the importance of the affair makes them acts of juftice and duty, as in form and fubftance they are acts of religion; yet furely they are too folemn things to be proftituted to every trifling and flight occafion, and much more to a prophane and deteftable cuftom of filling up a difcourfe with them upon no occafion at all. Let the matter we fpeak of be never fo true, let our intention in promifing be never fo honeft and ingenuous, it is not fit that with fuch an infolent and faucy freedom, we fhould fummon the great God, whenever we please, to be a witness of it. For as no private man can of his own authority flay a malefactor, without finning against the fixth commandment, and being guilty of murder; fo neither can he, but by the command

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command or direction of the magiftrate, appeal to God as witness of his truth, without offending against this third commandment, and taking the name of God in vain. Our Saviour therefore charges us to content our felves with barely affirming or denying in our conversation; or however with repeating fuch affirmation or denial, by way of affurance, that we really speak as we mean. For whatfoever is more than this, faith he, cometh of evil; that is, (1.) From the evil one, the devil, that great promoter of wickedness: the tongue that is exercised in oaths and curfes, being fet on fire of hell; and cuftomary fwearing being fo void of temptation either from pleasure or from profit (and I may add from bonour too; for no man generally meets with lefs refpect, or is hearken'd to with lefs regard than a common fwearer) that it would be difficult to account for the practice of fo fruitless a vice, if it did not proceed from the inftigation of a malicious fpirit, who tempts men chiefly to those fins that are most affronting to God. Or, (2.) This expreffion [cometh of evil may fignify that the very use of an oath, and all occafions for it, proceeds from the evil practices of falfhood and treachery, fo very common amongst men: Or rather, (3.) That common fwearing proceeds from fomething evil and finful within our felves; an evil want of reverence to God, and of a due fense of religion, or confideration of what we fay; an evil affectation of conforming to the wicked cuftoms of our company; or from a fecret diftrust of our own credit, as when men are confcious they have ly'd themselves out of any reasonable expectation to be believed, without giving the ftrongeft fecurity for their truth by fwearing to it: For certainly continual appeals of this kind muft look as if the fwearer knew his character and veracity to be fufpicious. But in which way foever of all these, the words be taken,

it is apparently true, that fwearing in ordinary converfation cometh of evil; and that methinks fhould be reafon enough against it. Let us only now take a fhort view of the feveral kinds of swearing here prohibited. As,

1. SWEARING directly by God, by Chrift, or by the Holy Ghost, under any of their names or titles, as, Jehovah, the Lord, the Almighty, our Maker, Saviour, and the like. For the ground of the commandment being the reverence that is duc to the name of God, every perfon in the facred Trinity is equally intituled to that reverence, as God; and every way of expreffing or describing him is the name of God; whereby we make him known, and therefore is to be reverenced. To this head may be reduced the fwearing by any thing which immediately relates to the great work of our redemption, as by the life, death, blood, or wounds of Chrift, or by the facrament; wherein these awful myfteries are folemnly represented, and Christ himself is fpiritually prefent.

2. SWEARING by any creature. Now to fwear by a creature, is to fwear by any angel, by any faint, by heaven, by earth, or the like: And this, by our Saviour's express doctrine, is fwearing by God himself, in effect; for all these were created by him, depend entirely upon him, and are nothing at all without him. They have no power of their own to do juftice upon fuch as fwear falfly by them; whatever any of them can do is but as inftruments in the hands of God, and therefore God muft be fuppofed to be meant, when they are fworn by: or elfe in fwearing by them, we fet up them for Gods, by attributing a divine power to them, which is rank idolatry. And fo it is when men fwear by any of those names the heathens gave to what they worshipped. For, as I faid before, the very nature of an oath implies, that fuch an appeal is made

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