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swearing by the Name of the Lord, it will not do their business; for that Christ hath already assured us,
« Who“ foever swears by Heaven, swears by Him that fits " thereon ;” and the very next words shew, that it was not his design only to prohibit vain, but plainly to exclude all swearing, “But let your Yea be Yea; and your “ Nay, Nay, left ye fall into condemnation;" else why had he not said, “But you may swear by the Name • of God before magistrates ?? Why must « Neither " by any other oath,” be added after such plain prohibition, as, “My brethren, above all things Iwear not ?" And why must Yea and Nay be substituted in the room of an Oath, if it was yet intended by the apostle that Christians might rise higher in their evidence than a bare Affirming or Denying? That is, though their rea be never so truly Yea, and their Nay never so sincerely Nay, or the very Truth of the Matter be spoken, which is the import of the words; yet that they ought to swear. What is this but to contradict the natural tendency of the command of Christ and his apostles? Which is plainly this; · If your Yea be Yea, it is enough; if
your Nay be Nay, it is sufficient; for Christians ought
not to swear; if they do, they fall into condemnation,' in that they break their master's command, who hath told them, that « Whatsoever is more than Yea and “ Nay, cometh of Evil,” which is the ground of all oaths; for they ought to mean so simply and honestly in what they say, as that they should never need to swear, in order to tell the truth.
Our Fourth and last consideration, and that which to us seemeth of great moment to clear up our Lord and Saviour's sense, and rescue the passage from the violence of objectors, is this clause, « For whatsoever is more " than Yea, Yea, and Nay, Nay, cometh of Evil.” This cannot be intended of more words than Yea, Yea, and Nay, Nay, provided they are not of an higher strain, but of the fame degree of speech, importing a plain assertion or denial of a thing; for it is not the Number, but the Nature of the words spoken, that is here prohibited: Nor can it be only understood of
perjury; for every body knows that to be Evil in itself,
Nor will our English translation of nóg shelter our
demn the Act of Adultery, which the Law did, but
condemn Forswearing, which is done to my hand in
call Unlawful: therefore when your evidence is called
' for, Swear not at all, but let your word be Yea, Tea, 'a nd Nay, Nay; that is, Do not speak Untruth; for < that is Evil: Do not Swear; for that comes of Evil.' To conclude ; people swear, to the end they may speak Truth; Christ would have men speak Truth, to the end they might not swear; he would not have his followers upon such base reserves, but their Word to carry the weight of an Oath in it; that as others ought not to be guilty of Perjury, Christians ought not to be guilty of Lying: for such is the advance from Moses to Christ, Jew to Christian, that as the Christian needs not the Jew's curb, so his Lie is greater than the Jew's Perjury, because his Yea or Nay ought to be of more alue than the other's Oath.
X. And lastly; besides these prohibitions, swearing is forbidden by the very nature of Christianity, and unworthy of him that is the author of it; who came not to implant fo imperfect a religion, as that which needed oaths, or should leave fraud, the ground of swearing, unextirpated; but to promulgate that Gospel which retrieves ancient sincerity, builds up waste places, reftores those breaches oaths entered at, and leads into the ancient holy paths of integrity they never trod in. He is that powerful Lord, who cureth the diseases of them that come unto him, and the Mystical Serpent exalted, that relieves all that believingly look up to him: his office is to make an end of Sin, that made way for Swearing, and introduce that everlasting righteousness which never needs it; the religion he taught, is no less than Regeneration and Perfection, such veracity as hath not the least wavering; sincerity throughout, that it might not only exceed the righteousness of the Swearing Jews, but that law which permitted it till the times of Reftitution, which he brought to the degenerated world, who said, “ Swear not at all :” For the 'Law, that permitted Oaths, was given by Moses; <but Grace and Truth, that ends them, came by Jesus • Christ, who therefore prohibits them.' And not only is this Gospel of Christ, or the Holy Religion he taught, of so pure and excellent a nature, but those
who will be his disciples, are obliged to obey it; infomuch that he himself hath said, “ If ye love me, “ keep my Commandments; and if ye keep my Com- . “ mandments, ye shall abide in my Love." Again, " Ye are my Friends, if ye do whatsoever I command
you: If any man will come after me, let him deny “ himself, and take up his Cross, and follow me: for “ I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall “ exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven: “ be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which « is in Heaven is perfect.” These are the weighty sayings of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Chrift; and certainly, he who breaks not the least commandment, who can suffer rather than revenge, love enemies, and be perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect, is above the obligation of an Oath unto truth-speaking. His disciples preached not another Gospel than their Master's, who prayed, “ that those who believed, “ might be sanctified throughout, in body, soul, and « spirit,” which is a perfect removal of the ground of swearing: And they were exhorted to “press after the « mark of the prize of this high and holy calling, until " they should all come unto a Perfect Man, unto the mea« sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ Jesus : for “ even hereunto," saith Peter, “ were we called; be« cause Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an ex“ ample,” that ye should follow his steps, “ who " did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” And faith John, “ As he is, so are we in this world 3.” If no Guile be found in our mouths, then no Oaths; for they came because of guile: and if we ought to resemble him in this world, then must our communication be Yea, Yea, and Nay, Nay; that is, we must live the Life of Truth, and speak the Words of Truth, which ought to be of greater force than Oaths, that come of Evil. If the righteousness of the Law ought to be fulfilled in us, we ought not to swear, because we ought to be so righteous as not to lie. This is evangelical ; for as he that conceives not a foul or revengeful Thought, needs not to purge himself of Adultery and Murder; neither is there any reason that man should purge himself of Lying by Swearing, that doth not so much as countenance an untrue Thought.
John xiv. 15. 48. Mat. v. 19. į Pet. ii. 21, 22.
and xv. 10, 14.
Mat. xvi. 24.
Mat. v. 20, 8 i Thef. v. 23. Phil. iii. 14. Eph. iv. 13. 1 John iv. 17
The language of the fame apostle to the Ephesians farther explains this Evangelical evidence ; " But ye “ have not so learned Chrilt, if so be that ye have heard “ him, and have been taught by him, as the Truth is “ in Jesus; that ye put off, concerning the former “ conversation, the Old Man, which is corrupt, ac“ cording to the deceitful lufts; and be renewed in " the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the “ New Man, which, after God, is created in righte" ousness and true holiness: wherefore, putting away “ lying, speak every man truth with his neigh« bourh:” beyond which, there can be no assurance given or desired.
And if Christians ought never to Lie, it is most certain they need never to Swear; for Swearing is built upon Lying: take away Lying, and there remains no more ground for Swearing; truthspeaking comes in the room thereof. And this not only the Christian doctrine teaches and requires; but Christ, the blessed author of it, is ready to work in the hearts of the children of men, would they but come and learn of him, who is meek, lowly, filled with Grace and Truth, And we must needs say, it is a shameful thing, and very dishonourable to the Christian religion, that those who pretend themselves to be the followers of Christ, (for lo true Christians ought to be) should so degenerate from his example and doctrine, as to want and use scaring asseverations, dispensed with in some of the weakest times of knowledge, and such horrible Imprecations (never known to ancient Jews and Christians) to ascertain one another of their Faith and Truth:
& Ephes, iv. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.