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Vows of voluntary poverty are also to be accounted superstitious: Prov. xxx. 8. give me neither poverty nor riches; inasmuch as poverty is enumerated among the greatest evils: Deut. xxviii. 48. in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things. Acts xx. 35. it is more blessed to give than to receive. Eph. iv. 28. rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
No one can make a special vow who is not his own master, and exempt from subjection to any other authority; as a son or a daughter to a parent, a wife to her husband, a male or female servant to their lord. See Num. vi. and xxx. 13. every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void. Neither can a general or special vow be made by one who has not yet arrived at the full use of his judgement. Considering how generally this rule is received among divines, it is strange that they should so far forget their own doctrine, as to require the special vow of baptism from infants,
Any one, who is in these respects qualified, may bind himself by a special vow ; when once made, however, he is not at liberty to recal it, but must fulfil it at all hazards. Deut. xxiii. 20. when thou shalt vow a vow unto Jehovah thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it; for Jehovah thy God will surely require it of thee, and it would be sin in thee. Num. xxx. 2. if a man vow a vow unto Jehovah ...... he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. Eccles. v. 4, 5, when thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools : pay that which thou hast vowed: better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
An impious vow, however, is not binding, any more than an unjust oath. Matt. xv. 5, ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by
me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Here that which ought to have been applied to the support of the parents, had been vowed as a gift to God; so that either the vow could not be fulfilled, or the support of the parents must be withdrawn. Christ therefore decides that the parents are to be supported, and that the impious vow is of no force.
The opposite of a vow is sacrilege; which consists in the non-performance of a vow, or in the appropriation to private 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
* Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would take
* In the hymn of our first parents, when
Another species of Invocation consists in OATHs, and in THE CASTING OF THE LOT.
AN OATH is that whereby we call GoD To witness THE TRUTH OF WHAT WE SAY, WITH A CURSE UPON OURSELVES, EITHER IMPLIED OR EXPRESSED, SHOULD IT PROVE FALSE. Ruth i. 17. Jehovah do so to me and more also. See also 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 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
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