« EdellinenJatka »
spirit on that have bu give yourse, while you d
dency, as will appear to any impartial reader, that will please to weigh them with what goes before and fol. lows. But if you call this persecution, to be sure it must be fo to fight for religion: and if it was unlawful for O. Cromwell to fight for liberty of conscience, who was of a fighting principle, what think you of punishing people because of their conscience, that would not fight with you? You are very tender of a sudden, if it may but brush at us; while you do not consider the blow you give yourselves and your own friends, that have but too signally appeared in that spirit and practice. The Lord inform, and forging them.
You justify calling us filly enthusiasts,' for be. lieving it is not lawful to swear ;' and say, you are I of the same mind, because we, without reason, by " the dictates of our own fancy, which we call God's • fpirit, oppose the saints practice of old; of which - it was prophesied it should be used under the gospel, I was so by the apostles and primitive Christians, nay, s by God himself; therefore the Quakers are filly
enthusiasts.' Thus you.
Now we think this will not prove us enthusiasts, nor filly; for we argue from a text, and not our own dreams and fancies. Had we only pretended the authority of a private revelation for this assertion, and that not true, then it had been enthusiasm, and we enthusiasts, in the worst fense: it is silly indeed, to call an opinion grounded upon an express text of scripture, either enthusiasm or filly, when there is not a plainer text for one God, than this of our Saviour's against swearing, Matt. v. 34. « Swear not at all.” But if we had overstrained it, where is the filliness of it? Is it enthusiasm, or silly, to shut out all vain swearing, by shutting out all swearing? The advantage of that exceeds the disadvantage of lying in evidence, when that lying is made as punishable as forswearing. What filliness or enthusiasm is in this, pray you? Scotland and Holland think no such things that have indulged that tenderness, Ff 3
And if the text be but seriously considered, the inference we make is beyond exception.
First, The tendency of that sermon upon the mount, is to shew, that che righteousness of the gospel excels that of the law; as in the case of adultery, divorce, revenge, &c. But the law forbad false and vain swearing; therefore this must refer to that which was not forbidden under the law. This is acknowledged by many learned men, and in particular one of our own nation, bishop Sanderson, in his “ Latin lectures, of " the obligation of an oąth :" but we, for another reason, that shall anon be mentioned, think he yet narrows the extent of that evangelical precept, for he refers to vows only, and not swearing in any case; but we, to swearing at all. And our reasons are, first, If it had been vows only, there had been no need of subftituting any way of speaking in the room of it. And, secondly, If the text cannot therefore refer to vows in particular, fwearing at all must be intended; or no. ching is forbidden, that was not forbidden under the law. Thirdly, Christ's prohibiting swearing, and subftituting something in the room of it, and that something purely referring to the way and manner of Christians declaring the truth, it is, to us, evident, that he comprehended all cases wherein the truth of a thing is in doubt, and consequently the end of swearing: so, says Christ, “Let your ó abgo, your speech, or your word, be yea, yea; or nay, nay." It is rendered communication in our translations, that it might refer only to common discourse, that word being sometimes so understood; and yet communication comprehends all acts of justice, as well as other parts of life : for if it comprehends discourse in dealing, it also comprehends the evidence of that dealing, and the laws of just dealing; and consequently the word communication cannot lessen the real force of our sense of the text ; but the words of the text do plainly express a degree, if not a form, of declaring truth, be it yea or nay. And since truth-speaking takes in and relates to controversies among men, as well as other
parts parts of human converse, this text is a measure of truthspeaking on all those occasions also. Fourthly, now how far Christian men may go in declaring the truth, or where they are to be bounded, the text is plain, viz. a double, but bare, averment, or denial : « Let your " word or speech be yea, yea; nay, nay: that is, Let e your answers, whenever you are asked the truth of a ç matter, go no farther than a fimple affirmation, or s negation, which you may double, if you please, Fifthly, The reason Christ gives for bounding his followers within yea, yea, and nay, nay, excludes all oaths, yea, all that is more than yea, yea, and nay, nay; to wit, that “ they come of evil,” because they proceed from distrust, infidelity and impatience: a simple affertion declares truth; more, is a straining of the mind, and but to stoop to unreasonable incredulity, which hath an evil rise. Now what is more than yea, yea; and nay, nay; Why imprecations are more, an out, ward sign denoting an oath is more than yea, yea, and nay, nay; and consequently cometh of evil, because below a Christian's truth and sincerity to gratify, Sixthly; and truly the text is so far from excluding judicial cases, that it serves chiefly to relate to evic dence upon differences. 1. Because it is in the room of the swearing the law allowed, which was true swear, ing: and, 2. Because of doubling the assertion yea, yea; for a single yea is enough for a Christian in ordinary cases. Well, but you oppose to this, the prophecy, Isaiah, xix, vers. 18. to which, if you please, we will add two more, chap. xlv. 23. and Jer. iv, 2. and make your best of them : for besides that it begs the question, that the propheç treated of gospel-times, and not of some happy time before the period of their dispensation, God might speak to them in the language of their time to be interpreted in a more spiritual sense ; and this the place quoted by you shews : for, vers, 21. mention is made of oblation and sacrifice, that shall be offered in that day, which, in a Jewih sense, is not true of gospel-times; but in a gospel-sense, to wit, prayers and praisings, with heart and voice, is true.. So it is in the case of swearing, they shall fwear in that day, as they sacrifice in that day; that is, ' a Chriftian's • oatb shall be his folemn word; and the difference is < not greater between them, than between the sacri( fices and oblations of beasts and birds under the law,
and the spiritual sacrifices and oblations of the bearts, I wills and affeétions of people under the gospel :' and thus, you see, that prophecy stands you in little stead.
But you object the practice of the apostle, Rom. i. 9. “God is my witness.” 2 Cor. xi. 31. « God íc knoweth I lie not.” Gal. i. 20. “Before God I « lie not.” And you add, - If there are not formal
oaths, you would fain know what are ?" In which, if you will not be offended, we will say, as well as think, you have not been ingenuous to be so hard upon us, before you had first stated and agreed with us what an oath is ; for if that be disputable, (as it may be for what you have done to settle it) you argue at random. Premises must ever be agreed by dispu. tants, or nothing can follow clearly and satisfactorily. We may say the same thing you say, without allowing it the same force and extent; nay swear, perhaps, in your opinion, though not in our own; the same words being an oath, and not an oath, as they may be used and applied in different manners. For if you should think that an oath, which we think none, and you argue for swearing by proofs, which for that reason are none to us; how do you prove swearing lawful, or convince us that not swearing at all is filly and enthu. fiaftical, when you have not yet adjusted what is swearing at all? This had been well worth your Mercury, for it had been informing, and shown good reading.
But you put it off thus, after citing the apostle's words,'« God is my witness,” &c. "If these are not i formal oaths, we would fain know what are. In which you shift your post, and turn querifts, instead of answering questions.
But having such supposed able men to deal with, we are not willing to put it off so; and therefore re,
turn it upon you, to state what an oath is, which you fo zealously recommend; denying, on our part, any of those texts to be an oath; as did Bafil the Great, upon Psalm xv. And Gregory Nazianzen, in his
Dialogue against Swearing and bishop Sanderson, in his Defence of Joseph, in his Oxford Lectures; which will much better defend the apostle from your imputation.
For what you say of Tertullian, you wrong him extremely, and your reader also, by not telling him where to find it: for in his Apology, chap. xxxii. whence, we suppose, your objection is taken, he does equivocally and improperly own swearing, "That they
wore, though not by the genius of Cæsar, yet, for the health and safety of Cæsar, just as they did facri
fice.' Hoc falvum elle volumus, & pro magno id jura. mento habemus. Our wishing well to Cæsar, we have, < or account, for an oath, or instead of an oath. And, as the Pythagoreans say, “There is in all reasonable
creatures an oath or tie, viz. A mind not to trani
gress the law of God:' and, as Clemens Alexandrinus speaks, “That a good man swears by his deeds. So Tertullian urged upon them, “That the Chriftians
facrificed for the health of Cæsar as well as they ; but it was in the Christian way, by pure prayers. So that as he was for sacrifice, he was for swearing. Thus to Scapula. C. 1, 2.
And in his book of Idolatry, chap. xi. I speak ( not of perjury,' says he, because it is not lawful to ofwear.' And, chap. xxxi. He that signs a bill of « security, containing an oath, is guilty of swearing,
and transgreffes Christ's command, who hath commanded not to swear.' And speaking of the temptations Christians were exposed to, if they should launch into the traffick of the world, he adds, Not to speak
of forswearing, seeing it is not lawful so much as to « swear.'
We are the longer upon this, because he is one of your authorities. Your other is Athanasius, "That he purged himself by an oath, pleading the apostle's