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uses of things dedicated to God.? Josh. vii. 11. "they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also.” Prov. xx. 25. “it is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.” Mal. iii. 8, &c. “ will a man rob God ? yet ye have robbed me : but ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? in tithes and offerings : ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” i. 8. "if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil ?”
Thus far of prayer and its auxiliaries.
Thanksgiving consists in returning thanks with gladness for the divine benefits. Job i. 21. “ Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away ; blessed be the name of Jehovah.” Eph. v. 20. “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”.
Addresses to God, and particularly thanksgivings, are frequently accompanied by singing, and hymns in honour of the divine name.
Mark xiv. 26. “when they had sung an hymn-" Eph. v. 19, 20. "speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always.” Col. iii. 16.
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” James v. 13. “is any merry ? let him sing psalms."
CHAP. V.-OF OATHS AND THE LOT. ANOTHER species of Invocation consists in Oates, and in THE CASTING OF THE Lot,
An Oath is that whereby WE CALL GOD TO WITNESS THE TRUTI OF WHAT WE SAY, WITH A CURSE UPOŃ OURSELVES, EITHER IMPLIED OR EXPRESSED, SHOULD IT PROTE FALSE. Ruth i. 17. “ Jehovah do so to me and more also.” See also
2 Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would take
Paradise Regained, III, 140. 3 In the hymn of our first parents, when
• prompt eloquence
.... ye behold him, and with songs
Paradise Lost, V. 161.
1 Kings ii. 23, 24. 2 Cor. i. 23. “I call God for a record upon my soul.” See also Philipp. i. 8.
The lawfulness of oaths is evident from the express commandment, as well as example of God. Deut. vi. 13, “thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
See also x. 20. Isai. lxv. 16. “ he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth.” Jer. xii. 16. “if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name.” Gen. xxii. 16. “ by myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah.” Exod. vi. 8.“ concerning the which I did swear to give it.” Deut. xxxii. 40. I lift up my hand to heaven and say,
I live for ever.” Psal. xcv. 11. “ unto whom I sware in my wrath—.” cx. 4. “ Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent.” Heb. vi. 13. “ because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.”
Agreeable to this is the practice of angels and holy men. Dan. xii. 7. “ he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever.” Rev. x. 5, 6. “ the angel sware by him that liveth for ever and ever.” Gen. xiv. 22, 23. “ I have lift up mine hand unto Jehovah... that I will not take from a thread,” &c. xxxi. 53. “ Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac;" that is, by God.
It is only in important matters, however, that recourse should be had to the solemnity of an oath. Exod. xx. 7. “thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain.” Heb. vi. 16. “ men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them the end of all strife.”
An oath involving a promise is to be observed, even contrary to our interest, provided the promise itself be not unlawful. Josh. ix. 19. we have sworn unto them by Jehovah God of Israel ; now therefore we may not touch them.” Judges xxi. 7. “ how shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by Jehovah that we will not give them of our daughters to wives ?” Psal. xv. 4. “he that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not."
In connexion with this subject, it has been made matter of discussion whether an oath sworn to a robber for the observance of secrecy, or for the payment of a stipulated ransom, is binding. Some answer, that the oath only which relates to
4 See Paley's Moral Philosophy, B. ii. Part 1. Sect. 5. Taylor's Ductor Dubitantium, Book iii. Chap. 2. Rule 5. Works, vol. xiii. 350--388.
ransom is to be observed, not that which relates to secrecy; inasmuch as every man is bound by a prior obligation to the civil magistrate to denounce any known robber, and that this obligation is of more force than the subsequent one of secrecy can possibly be. They conclude, therefore, that it is the duty of such person to give information to the magistrate, and to consider his compulsory oath as annulled by his prior engagement, the weaker obligation yielding to the stronger. If however this be just, why does it not apply equally to the oath respecting ransom? seeing that it is the positive duty of every good man not to support robbers with his substance, and that no one can be compelled to do a dishonourable action, even though bound by oath to its performance. This seems to be implied in the word jusjurandum itself, which is derived from jus. Considering the robber, therefore, as one with whom (at least while in the act of robbery) we can be under no engagement either of religious obligation, or civil right or private duty, it is clear that no agreement can be lawfully entered into with one thus circumstanced. If then under the influence of compulsion we have sworn to perform any such act as that above described, we have only committed a single offence; but if from religious scruples we observe an oath extorted under such circumstances, the sin is doubled, and instead of giving honour to God, and acquitting ourselves of an obligation which we ought never to have incurred, we are only entangling ourselves more deeply in the bonds of iniquity. Hence, if we fail to perform such agreement, it ought not to be imputed to
Thou know'st the magistrates
At length that grounded maxim
Samson Agonistes, 850.
us as a crime that we deceive one who is himself guilty of deceit or violence towards us, and refuse to ratify an unlawful compact. If therefore, a man has allowed himself to be involved in such an engagement, the point for consideration is, not whether a bond of faith extorted by a robber ought in conscience to be observed, but how he may best effect his escape.
To the fulfilment of oaths is opposed, first, a superstitious denial of their legality. For the precept of Christ, Matt. v. 33, &c.
swear not at all, neither by heaven,” &c. does not prohibit us from swearing by the name of God, any more than the passage James v. 12. inasmuch as it was foretold that even under the gospel “ every tongue should swear by the God of truth,” Isai. xlv. 22, 23. and Ixv. 19. We are only commanded not to swear by heaven or by earth, or by Jerusalem, or by the head of any individual. Besides, the prohibition does not apply to serious subjects, but to our daily conversation, in which nothing can occur of such importance as to be worthy the attestation of God. Lastly, Christ's desire was that the conversation and manners of his disciples should bear such a stamp of truth and good faith, that their simple asseveration should be considered as equivalent to the oath of others.
Secondly, perjury; which consists in swearing to what we know to be false with the view of deceiving our neighbour, or in making a lawful promise under the sanction of an oath, without intending to perform it, or at least without actually performing it. Lev. xix. 12. “ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God.” Peter was betrayed into this offence, Matt. xxvi. 72, 74.
I have said our neighbour, with reference to the question discussed above. For as it would be a crime to make a sworn promise to a robber or assassin, who in committing the act has forfeited his title to the rights of social life, so to observe the oath would not be to repair the original offence, but to incur a second ; at any rate, there can be nothing wrong in refusing to ratify the promise. Cases however may occur in
Paradise Lost, IV. 94.
which a contrary decision will be necessary, owing to the degree of solemnity in the form of the oath, or to other accompanying circumstances. An instance of this occurs in the three kings, Hoshea, Hezekiah, and Zedekiah. 2 Kings xvii. 4. “the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea ...... therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.” xviii. 7.“Jehovah was with Hezekiah, and he prospered whithersoever he went forth, and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.”' 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13.“ Zedekiah also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God." The fault of Hoshea seems to have been not so much his rebellion, as his reliance on So king of Egypt. In Hezekiah it was considered meritorious and praiseworthy that he trusted in the Lord, rather than his enemy. Zedekiah, on the contrary, it was objected, first, that his defection from the enemy was not accompanied by a return to the protection of God, and secondly, that he acted in opposition to God's special command, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13, and Jer. xxvii. 6. "now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.” There is, however, this difference between a robber and a national enemy, that with the one the laws of war are to be observed, whereas the other is excluded from all rights, whether of war or social life.
Thirdly, common swearing." Lev. v. 4, 5.“ if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these : and it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing.” To this may be added rash swearing. 1 Sam. xiv. 39. “ though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die." v. 44. “God do so and more also, for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.”
Fourthly, unlawful oaths ; that is to say, oaths of which the purport is unlawful, or which are exacted from us by one to whom they cannot be lawfully taken. Of the former kind was the oath of David respecting the destruction of the house
? A law against profane swearing was passed by Milton's party during the commonwealth, inflicting penalties proportioned to the rank in life the party offending. See Neal's History of the Puritans.