(note: This node is 22nd in a series of 33 nodes. for the entire series, please see the metanode Westminster Confession of Faith
CHAPTER 22 - Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
I. A lawful oath is a part of religious
worship, wherein upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calleth God to witness what he asserteth or promiseth; and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.
II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear
; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred. Yet, as, in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the New Testament
, as well as under the Old, so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters ought to be taken.
III. Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath
to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority
IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain
and common sense of the words, without equivocation
or mental reservation
. It can not oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance
, although to a man's own hurt: nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics
V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious
care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.
VI. It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily
, out of faith and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for obtaining of what we want; whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties
, or to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.
VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden
in the Word of God
, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance of which he hath no promise or ability from God. In which respects, monastical
vows of perpetual single life
, professed poverty
, and regular obedience
, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection
, that they are superstitious
ful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
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