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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

That oaths both assertory and promissory are lawful


First,

In a few words some general concessory propositions may be premitted,

1. That oaths both assertory and promissory are lawful, will not be denied but by Quakers, &c. It is clear, swearing is a moral duty, and so material, that oftentimes it is used for the whole worship of God, Deut. vi. 13. "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shalt serve him, and swear by his name," Deut. x. 20.----"To him shalt thou cleave and swear by his name." The reason is, because by whomsoever we swear, him we profess to be our God, and invocate him as witness of our heart's uprightness, and honest meaning in the thing sworn, according as it is understood by both parties, and as avenger if we prove false. Hence, every oath, which doth not bind us faster to serve and cleave to him, is but a breach of the third command. Again, it is not only commanded as a duty, but qualified how it should be performed, Jer. iv. 1, 2. Where it is required of a people returning to the Lord, to swear in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness. Hence, every oath which is not so qualified, and does not consist with a penitent frame, is sin. It is likewise promised in the covenant, that believers shall speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord, Isa. xix. 18. every oath then that is not in the language of Canaan, is unsuitable to believers, that is to say, consentaneous to the word of God, and confession of our faith. Again, he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God

of truth, Isa. lxv. 16. and therefore that oath which is not according to truth, is dishonourable to the God of truth. If all the oaths imposed upon Scotland these many years, were examined by these touch-stones, they would be found all naught. So giving bands for security, which for obligation are equivalent to promissory oaths, are also lawful materially; but with the same qualifications, otherwise they are sinful.

2. This duty when suitably discharged, truly, judiciously, righteously, in the fear of God, according to his will, is in many cases very necessary. Not only in vows, in which God is the party, in matters morally necessary, to keep the righteous judgments of God, Psal. cxix. 106. Nor only in national covenants for reformation, and promoting the interest of Christ, whereof we find many instances in scripture, in Moses, Joshua, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezrah, Nehemiah, their making and renewing such covenants by oath, coming under the dreadful curse of it if they should break it. And this may make our hearts meditate terror, for the universal unparalelled breach of solemn covenants with God, that exposes the nation to the curse of it; but also in human transactions, whereunto God is invocated as a witness, as in national transactions, at choosing and inaugurating their magistrates, for security of religion and liberties, as we have many examples in scripture. Seldom indeed do such bonds hold tyrants, but it is this generation's indelible brand and bane, that without this they have come under the yoke of ineluctable slavery, and have entailed it upon posterity. As likewise in contracts and mutual compacts of friendship, or stricter association, when edification, or other satisfaction, or security calls for it, as


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