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of Nabal, 1 Sam. xxv. 22. from which example we may also learn that the breach of such oaths is better than the performance, v. 33, 34. a rule disregarded by Herod, when he beheaded John for his oath's sake. Of the latter David's oath to Shimei is an instance, 2 Sam. xix. 23. the king sware unto him.” Hence, although David himself did not violate his oath, he forbad his son to observe it, 1 Kings ii. 8, 9. “ he cursed me with a grievous curse. ... and I sware to him. ... now therefore hold him not guiltless, for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him.” Solomon therefore committed no breach of faith in punishing Shimei with death, of which the latter was doubly deserving, as being himself guilty of perjury : 1 Kings ii. 36, 37. compared with v. 42, &c.
Fifthly, an idolatrous oath ; which consists in swearing not by God but by some other object, contrary to the prohibition Matt. v. 33. and James v. 12.
Next in solemnity to an oath is a grave asseveration, as Gen. xlii. 15, 16. “by the life of Pharaoh ;" or 1 Sam. i. 26.
as thy soul liveth, my lord;" that is, as surely as thou livest, or as I wish that thou mayest live. Such also is the expression of Christ, “ verily, verily, I say unto you ;” and that of Paul,
I 1 Cor. xv. 31. vol prvnuerépay zatynov, " I protest by your rejoicing ;” although, strictly speaking, the particle ve has the force of an oath.8 To the same head belongs what is called adjuration ; that is
1; to say, the charging any one in the name of God, by oath or solemn asseveration, to speak the truth to the best of his knowledge respecting the subject of inquiry. Thus Joshua adjured Achan, vii. 19.“my son, give, I pray thee, glory to Jehovah God of Israel, and make confession unto him.” Gen. xxiv. 3. “I will make thee swear by Jehovah, God of heaven.” Numb. v. 21. "then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing.” Ezra x. 5. “then Ezra made the chief priests to swear,” &c. Neh. xiii. 25. “I made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, &c. 1 Thess. v. 27. “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read—” There is no impropriety in adjuring even our dearest and most faithful friends. Gen. xlvi. 29. “put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh."
8 Compare Wetsteiu's note on this passage.
Adjurations are to be complied with, in matters not contrary to religion or equity. Thus Christ, Matt. xxvi. 63, 64. on the adjuration even of the impious high-priest Caiaphas, no longer kept silence, but confessed openly that he was the Christ.
Opposed to this are magical adjurations, and the superstitious or mercenary practice of exorcism. Acts six. 13, &c. “certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them,” &c.
Thus far of oaths. IN THE CASTING OF THE LOT we APPEAL TO THE DEITY FOR THE EXPLANATION OF DOUBTS, AND THE DECISION OF CONTROVERTED QUESTIONS.' Lev. xvi. 8. “Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats.” Josh. vii. 14. “it shall be, that the tribe which Jehovah taketh, shall come according to the families thereof.” 1 Sam. x. 20. “when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.” Prov. xvi. 33. “the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of Jehovah.” xviii. 18. “the lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.“ 1 Chron. xxvi. 13, 14. “ they cast lots, as well the small as the great.” Neh. x. 34.“we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people.” Luke i. 9. "according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense.” Acts i. 24, 26. “they prayed, and said, Thou Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen .... and the lot fell upon Matthias."
Against the use of the lot it has been urged, that on successive repetitions the result is not invariably the same, and that therefore it must be considered as a matter of chance. This objection is of no force, inasmuch as the Deity, even in his direct verbal communications with the prophets of old, did not uniformly return the same answer, when tempted by importunate inquiries; as in the instance of Balaam, Num. xxii. 12, 20. “thou shalt not go with them .... rise up
with them." To this is opposed the casting of lots in jest, or with a superstitious or fraudulent purpose.
To the invocation or adoration of the Deity are opposed IDOLATRY, and INVOCATION OF ANGELS OR SAINTS.
IDOLATRY consists in THE MAKING, WORSHIPPING, OR TRUSTING IN IDOLS, WHETHER CONSIDERED AS REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUE GOD, OR OF A FALSE ONE. Exod. xx. 4, 5, “thou
9 According to the practice of the puritanical party in Milton's time-a practice which was also continued to a much later period.
shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth ; thou shalt not bow
. down thyself to them, nor serve them.” See also Lev. xxvi. 1. Deut. xvi. 21, 22. “ thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of Jehovah .... neither shalt thou set thee up any image, which Jehovah thy God hateth.” xxvii. 15. “ cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image.” Isai. ii. 8. “ their land also is full of idols." xvii. 8. “ he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands—.” Acts xvii. 16. " his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." 1 Cor. viii. 4. “ we know that an idol is nothing in the world.” x. 6, 7, 14. “neither be ye idolaters,” &c. 2 Cor. v. 16. “though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Gal. v. 19, 20. “the works of the flesh.... are these, adultery .. idolatry, witchcraft.. they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” See also 1 John v. 21. Rev. ix. 20.“ that they should not worship devils and idols of gold.” Idolatry is described, Isai. lvii. 5. "enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree.” Jer. vii. 31. “ they have built the high places of Tophet.” xi. 13. "according to the number of thy cities were thy gods—" xxxii. 29, “ they shall burn it with the houses upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal.” Ezek. viii. 5, &c.“ behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy—" Hos. iv. 13. "they sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains.”
WHETHER OF THE TRUE GOD- Exod. xxxii. 5. “when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah ;" compared with Psal. cvi. 19, 20. “ they made a calf in Horeb, .... thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox.” Deut. . iv. 15, 16. “ take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that Jehovah spake unto you in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire ; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female." It is indeed said, Exod. xxiv. 10. that Moses and the elders “ saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in nis sleurness ;” and v. 11. "they saw God." and v. 17. “the
sight of the glory of Jehovah was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel :" but it is clear, from the passage of Deuteronomy quoted above, that they saw the likeness of no living thing whatever. So Ezek. i. 27, 28. “I saw .. from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward;" where no mention is made of his face. Judges xvii. 4. “the founder made thereof a graven image and a molten image, and they were in the house of Micah ;" compared with v. 13. " then said Micah, Now know I that Jehovah will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.” 2 Kings xvii. 28.“ then one of the priests whom they had carried away
from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Jehovah.” Isai. xl. 18. “to whom then will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare unto him ?” xliv. 10. “who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing ?” xlvi. 5, 6. “to whom will
liken me, and make me equal .... they hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god : they fall down, yea, they worship.” Jer. ii. 11, &c. “ hath a nation changed their gods which are yet no gods ? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” Acts xvii. 29. “forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.” .
Rom. i. 24, 25. “they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible
Hence to worship the true God under the form of an idol was considered as criminal as to worship devils. 2 Chron. xi. 15. "he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves that he had made;" although Jeroboam doubtless imagined that he was appointing priests to Jehovah, while he was in reality officiating in the rites of those which were not gods. OR OF A FALSE GOD. Num. xxxiii. 52. “ then shall
destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places.” See also Deut. vii. 5, 25. xii. 2, 3. In pursuance of these injunctions, pious rulers in all ages have opposed idolatry ;' Moses, Asa, 2 Chron.
1 See the treatise Of True Religion, where after describing the twofold power, ecclesiastical and political, claimed by the Roman Catholics, Milton xiv. 3. xv. 8, &c. Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, 2 Kings xxiii. 1—25. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 4, &c, the whole people, 2 Chron. xxii. and xxi. 1.
The cherubic images over the ark are not to be counted idols ; first, as being representations not of false gods, but of the ministering spirits of Jehovah, and consequently not objects of worship; secondly, as being made by the special command of God himself.
Even the brazen serpent, the type of Christ, was commanded to be demolished, as soon as it became an object of religious worship, 2 Kings xviii. 4. “ he brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made.”
Hence the Papists err in calling idols the laymen's books ;? their real nature whether considered as books or teachers, appears from Psal. cxv. 5, &c. “ they have mouths, but they speak not.... they that make them are like unto them, so is every one that trusteth in them.” Isai. xliv. 18. “they have not known or understood, for he hath shut their eyes—.” Jer. x. 8, 14, 15. “ every man is brutish in his knowledge ; every founder is confounded by the graven image; for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them ; they are vanity and the work of errors ; in the time of their visitation they shall perish.” Habak. ii. 18, 19. “what profiteth the graven image, that the graver thereof hath graven it; the molten image and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work proceeds thus : 'Whether therefore it be fit or reasonable to tolerate men thus principled in religion towards the state, I submit it to the consideration of all magistrates, who are best able to provide for their own and the public safety. As for tolerating the exercise of their religion, supposing their state-activities not to be dangerous, I answer, that toleration is either public or private; and the exercise of their religion, as far as it is idolatrous, can be tolerated neither way: not publicly, without grievous and unsufferable scandal given to all conscientious beholders ; not privately, without great offence to God, declared against all kind of idolatry, though secret. Ezek. viii. 7, 8....... Having shown thus, that popery, as being idolatrous, is not to be tolerated either in public or in private, it must now be thought how to remove it,' &c. &c. Prose Works, II. 514.
2 • They will not go about to prove their idolatries by the word of God, but turn to shifts and evasions, and frivolous distinctions ; idols they say are laymen's books, and a great means to stir up pious thoughts and devotion in the learnedest.' Ibid. 515. Comber attributes the expression of Books of the Unlearned, as applied to images and pictures, to Porphyry, and refers to Euseb. Prepar. Evangel. lib. iii. See Rhem. Test, on John v. 21. and Hey's Lectures, Book iv. Art. 22. Sect. 18. note 6.