PRIMS Full-text transcription (HTML)

A CAUTION to the ſons of SION: Being an ANSWER to Jeremiah Ives his Book, Intituled, The great Caſe of Conſcience opened.

I. Proving that every calling God to witneſſe is not Swearing.

II. Proving that Promiſſary Oaths were never commanded by God, onely practiſed as Liberty un­der former Diſpenſations.

III. Proving that Promiſſary Oaths were never commanded nor practiſed by Chriſt nor his Diſci­ples in all the New Teſtament.

IV. Shewing what an Oath is.

V. Proving the lawfulneſſe of all Promiſſary Oaths in the time of the Goſpel.

For the Land is full of adulterers, for becauſe of Swearing the Land mourneth, the pealant places of the wilderneſſe are dried up, and their courſe is evil, and their force is not right,

Jerem. 23.10.

By Samuel Hodgkin.

LONDON, Printed for the Author, in the year, 1660.


An Anſwer to Ieremiah Ives his Book Intituled The great Caſe of Con­ſcience Opened.

FOraſmuch as many of the Lords People through this Nation are impriſoned at this day for the Te­ſtimony of a good Conſcience, who rather chuſe joyfully to ſuffer than to Swear, I therefore who am a priſoner upon the ſame account, being con­ſtrained, by thoſe mani-fold perſwaſions that I have met with from the Lord upon my ſpirit, to perſwade me here­unto, I therefore have thought it my duty to ſet pen to paper in vindication of that Righteous Law of Chriſt, for which we ſuffer at this day, that ſo the Juſtice of our Cauſe may appear the more plainly to all thoſe who are willing to look on it with an unbyaſſed eye, and I am the more provoked hereunto, through conſideration of thoſe many Stars that have fallen in this evil day, who have not been contented onely to Swear themſelves, (although ſome of them have manifeſted by their ſuffering for it firſt, that their Conſcience was convinced to the contrary) yet when they ſaw no way to eſcape ſuffering, they were willing ra­ther to Swear than to ſuffer; and alſo ſome have not been contented onely to Swear, but have endeavoured not only by pleading for, but alſo writing to vindicate the ſame; and leaſt it ſhould prove to the wounding of ſome poor ſouls, I judge therefore my ſelf bound in Conſcience, for the vin­dication of the truth, and therefore I ſhall proceed,

Firſt, To anſwer as briefly as may be, what hath been aſſerted by Mr Ives, for the proof of Promiſſary Swearing in the time of the Goſpel, and that I may ſo do, I ſhall ex­amine what hath been ſaid by him in his book, called The4 great Caſe of Conſcience Opened, and to the end we way eſcape the dangen of thoſe manifold extreams, that too too many are carried away by in this our day; Let us therefore take heed, leaſt through the pretence of fear of ſplitting our ſelves on the rock of ignorance, we cry up that for verity, which is in it ſelf hereſie: I ſhall therefore take notice of the method which he takes, that ſo by tracing him in the channel wherein he goeth, I may the better take notice wherein it agreeth, or not agreeth with the Scriptures of Truth; and if through the Lords aſſiſtance I ſhall come to diſcover any thing therein contained not to be agreeable to Truth, I have what I aim at, and let God have the glory, and that I may ſo do, I ſhall firſt take notice what he un­dertaketh to prove, which is, That Aſſertory and Promiſ­ſary Oaths are both lawful and uſeful in the time of the Goſpel and the way by which he proceeds for the proof thereof is, Firſt, To ſhew what Sacred Oaths are. Second­ly To what end they were taken. Thirdly, Whether thoſe two Texts, Matthew 5.34. Iames 5.12. do forbid all Oaths in the time of the Goſpel.

As to the firſt, namely what a Sacred Oath is: ſaith he, it is a band by which a man bindes his ſoul to the ſpeaking of that which is in it ſelf true, or the doing of that which is in it ſelf lawful, unto which the living and true God is called to witneſſe, Numb. 30.2.

To this I anſwer, that every Sacred Oath by which God is called to witneſſe to the truth of a thing, or to the per­formance of a lawful thing, is a band whereby the ſoul is bound, but every calling God to witneſſe in lawful things is not an Oath.

As appears thus, if a bare calling God to witneſs be ſwear­ing by God, then calling the Heaven and Earth to wit­neſſe is ſwearing by Heaven and Earth, for then Moſes had ſworn by creatures, Deut. 4.26. I call Heaven and Earth to wit­neſſe againſt you this day; And ſo likewiſe God himſelf in Deut. 30.19. I call Heaven and Earth to record againſt you, chap. 31.28. but it was ever unlawful to ſwear by creatures, there­fore I conclude, That a bare calling to witneſs is not ſwearing.


Now wheneas Mr Ives ſaith there were two ſorts of Sa­cred Oaths under the Law, (viz.) commanded and vo­luntary.

I grant that there were, but there were no other Sacred Oaths commanded under the Law but Aſſertory, and there­fore you may take notice that thoſe Texts he hath here ci­ted, to wit, Exod 22.11 Deut. 5.3. chap. 10.20. do not in the leaſt mention any Promiſſory Swearing: Now there­fore whereas he ſaith ſome Oaths were voluntary, I ſhall not deny it, but do ſay that all Promiſſory Oaths were vo­luntary, becauſe I finde not one Text of Scripture where ever God commanded them. Now whereas M. Ives ſaith, That there were three wayes by which a man bound himſelf with an Oath.

I do grant there were: namely, firſt when he pronoun­ced the Oath with his own lips, Levit. 5.4.

Secondly as a man is ſworn when he pronounced the oath with his own lips, ſo I grant that he may as well be ſworn when he is charged or abjured to ſwear by the live­ing God, provided that he ſay amen to the oath, or I take this oath upon me; I ſay then if after he hath taken the Oath upon him, he do not ſpeak the truth, he is as well guilty of falſe ſwearing, as he that pronounceth the oath with his own lips; but it doth not therefore follow, that if a man be charged or abjured to ſwear and to ſpeak the truth upon his Oath, and he give no conſent to the Oath, neither by ſay­ing amen, nor ſo be it, nor I take this upon me; I ſay then that it doth not follow that he hath ſworn becauſe he ſpeaketh the truth, for then when a man is charged or ab­jured to ſwear by the living God, and to ſpeak the Truth, it would follow, that either he muſt hold his peace, or elſe if he ſpeak the truth, he muſt be ſworn whether he will or no; I ſay therefore it doth not follow that becauſe the High Prieſt charged Chriſt to ſwear by the Living God, and to ſpeak the truth, namely, whether he were the Son of God or no; I ſay then it doth not follow that becauſe he conſented unto the truth, in ſaying thou ſaieſt it, that therefore he was ſworn; for according to what Mr Ives citeth of Mr. Anſworths writings, if he had been ſworn, he6 muſt have ſaid amen to the Oath, or ſo be it, or I take this Oath upon me; then after he had taken the Oath ſo upon him, if he had anſwered any thing, it had been upon his Oath.

Again, whereas Mr. Ives citeth, Levit. 5.1. to prove that a man was ſworn if he untered a matter, being abjured thereunto by the Living God; the text ſaith no ſuch mat­ter, for the text at moſt if we take it in his own terms, doth but ſay, if a man ſin and hear the voyce of ſwearing (or abjura­tion) and is a witneſs, whether he hath ſeen or known of it, if he do not utter it, then he ſhall bear his iniquity; as much as if the Lord ſhould have ſaid that he that could witneſs the truth of a matter, and would not when he was charged to it, ſhould be guilty of ſin, becauſe he did not diſcover it; and as Solomon ſaith, Prov. 19.24. He that is partner with a thief hateth his own Soul, he heareth curſing and be­wrayeth it not, as much as if he ſhould ſay by keeping ſilence when he ought to witneſs, he became guilty of another mans ſin; now the Text doth not ſay that if he doth not utter it, he ſhall be guilty of falſe ſwearing, but the text only ſaith he ſhall bear his iniquity.

Again, whereas Mr. Ives ſaith from the 1 King. 22. 16,17. that the Prophet Micah was as firmly ſworn when the King abjured him in the Name of the Living God, as if he had pronounced the Oath with his own lips; I much wonder that he ſhould ſo much wrong the Prophet, for if every time the King abjured him, he were ſworn, then he was ſometimes forſworn; for it is plain from the words, How many times? That the King had ſometimes abjured him be­fore, and yet we do not find that he gave the King any di­rect anſwer before; and therefore I conclude as before that, except the Prophet had firſt owned the Oath, and then anſwered, he was not ſworn; I confeſſe I cannot but much wonder that he ſhould ſo earneſtly deſire others to conſider of this, and yet ſo little conſider of it himſelf; for he firſt tells us that a man is ſworn if he doth but ſpeak the truth when he is abjured by the Living God, and yet he tells us afterwards, that an Oath like this we have in our Common Law; now I would appeal to any man that knoweth but any7 thing of the Law, whether or no when the witneſs is charged by the help of God to ſpeak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, between party and party; now if the witneſs ſhould ſpeak the truth, without laying his hand upon the Book and kiſſing it, or giving his conſent to, or owning of the Oath, I would fain know whether any ra­tional man would ſay that this man was ſworn; therefore I would deſire you for to conſider that it is one thing for a man to relate a matter when he is charged or abjured to ſwear to it, and another thing for a man firſt to own or take the Oath upon him, and then to relate it upon his Oath.

Now the third way by which a man bound his Soul by an Oath, I do grant was no leſs Sacred, though ſomewhat dif­ferent from the former, and that is called an Oath of cur­ſing, Num. 5.21. But this Oath was no otherwayes taken then the former, for either the party taking it muſt utter the curſe with his own mouth, 2 Sam. 3.35. Or elſe when the Oath was pronounced by another, the party muſt ſay amen, or a word of like import, to ſignifie that they owned the Oath, or elſe they were not bound, as appears, Num. 5.22. Nehe. 5 12, 13. And all the Congregation ſaid Amen.

And therefore I ſhall now come unto the ſecond quſtion, (viz.) what was the end of ſacred Oaths, and here I can­not but take notice of his diſtinction between Oaths com­manded and voluntary, becauſe he ſaith that Oaths that were commanded were ordinarily ſuch as were made by God to men; and Oaths that were voluntary were made to God; I confeſſe if this diſtinction were true, it would ſomewhat clear the matter, and therefore let us take good notice of the way he takes to prove it, for faith he, this diſtinction appears plainly, if we conſider the example of Abraham ſwearing his Servant to him by the Loid, Gon. 23.4. And Abraham ſware by the Lord Abimeleoh, Gen 21.23. and the ſpies Sware by the Lord to Rahab, Joſ. 2 12.

I confeſſe if theſe texts prove that God Commanded men to ſwear one to another, they would make ſomething to his purpoſe, but if every practice or example of the Servants of God of old do prove the thing practiſed to be a Command8 of God, then have I loſt my underſtanding; But I humbly conceive that Mr. Ives will not ſay that every thing that was practiſed by the Servants of God of old was Com­manded by God, for all men that know any thing, do know that they practiſed many things, as Liberty, and not as Command; Now therefore except I could find one text of Scripture, either in Old or new Teſtament, to prove that promiſſary Swearing was Commanded,

I conclude that it was never Commanded; Now ſaith he the end of ſuch oaths as men ſwore by God to one another was, as the Author to the Hebrews tells us, Heb. 6.1. To end all ſtrife, and to confirm the truth of a matter in queſtion; an ex­ample we have of this, Exod. 22.11 If a man deliver to his neigh­bourian Ox, or an Aſs, or a Sheep, or any Beaſt to keep, and it dye or be hurt, or driven away, no man ſeeing it, Then ſhall an Oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbours goods, and the owner thereof ſhall accept it, and he ſhall not make it good; Now I grant that one end of mens ſwearing one to another, was, as the Author to the Hebrews ſaith, to end all ſtrife, and as appears by the forementioned text, Exod. 22.11. I do alſo grant that another end of one mans ſwearing to another, was to make good all Lawful promiſes, according as Mr. Ives ſaith; but you may be pleaſed to take notice that here he begs the queſtion, and ſaith, having ſpoken of the end of ſuch oaths that were Com­manded, when he hath not given one text of Scripture to prove promiſſary oaths Commanded.

I ſhall therefore conclude that not only all Sacred oaths to God were voluntary, but alſo all promiſſary oaths to men were voluntary, becauſe I know no text of Scripture Commanded them; I ſhall now proceed and take notice of what he ſaith to the end of voluntary oaths; Now ſaith he, the end of thoſe Sacred oaths that were voluntary, were to afflict the Soul by falling or otherwiſe. To this I anſwer that ſome voluntary oaths were to afflict the Soul, Num. 30.3. But it doth not therefore follow that all voluntary oaths were to afflict the Soul; For ſome Sacred oaths were between men and men, which were voluntarily, as I have already ſhewed from Gen. 23.4. chap. 21.22. Again ſaith9 he, thoſe Oaths that were made to God were called Oaths to God; I confeſſe I do not know how they ſhould be called otherwiſe, becauſe there was none elſe concerned in them; but it doth not therefore follow that God requires the per­formance of no other Oaths to him, but ſuch as were imme­diately made to him; for we find in Scripture, that God owns Oaths that were made between men and men to be his Oaths, and requires the performance thereof as well as it they had been immediately made to him, as we may ſee in Ezek. 17.19. Therefore thus ſaith the Lord God, as I live, ſurely my Oath that he hath deſpiſed, and my Covenant that he hath bro­ken, even it will I recompence upon his own head. So likewiſe the 2d. of Samuel 21.7. and 1 Kings 2.43. Now therefore, though as he ſaith, the end of Oaths made immediately to God, were to bind them to the performance of thoſe voluntary Services which they were not bound to by the Law, yet it cannot be underſtood that Chriſt hath reference in Mat. 5.33. to ſuch Oaths onely as were made immediately to God, becauſe as I have already ſhewed, that God requires the per­formance, and owns ſuch Oaths to be his, as were made be­tween men and men.

I now come to his laſt queſtion, (viz.) whether thoſe two Texts Mat. 5. and Jam. 5. do forbid all manner of ſwearing in Goſpel times, and here I ſhall grant with him, that Chriſt doth not forbid the uſe of ſuch ſwearing as was in the Law commanded, onely let me revive the fore-mentioned di­ſtinction, namely between Oaths commanded, and Oaths that were voluntary, and that becauſe Oaths that were commanded were onely aſſertory, as I have already ſhewed; now therefore I ſhall paſſe over thoſe reaſons that he hath given to prove, that Chriſt did not take away the uſe of all ſuch ſwearing as was commanded under the Law, onely by the way, give me leave to except againſt ſome particulars that he hath inſtanced in for proof in this caſe, and firſt I take notice of his firſt Reaſon, (viz.) that Chriſt uſed ſome ſuch ſwearing himſelf, in Mat. 26.63. when he was adjured by the High-Prieſt.

To which I anſwer, if I ſhould grant that Chriſt in this ſwore, yet it makes nothing to our queſtion, becauſe in this10 Text there was nothing promiſſary, but however I cannot but wonder, that be ſhould ſo much contradict himſelf, as to ſay that Chriſt ſwore, and yet made no anſwer to the Oath, when he himſelf ſaith in the third page of his Book, ſpeaking of Mr. Ainſworth's writings, in ſhewing, that when a man is adjured or charged to ſwear, he is not ſworn ex­cept he take the Oath upon him, by expreſſing ſome words to ſignifie the ſame, which Chriſt did not.

I now come to his ſecond Reaſon, (viz.) that Chriſt in Mat. 5. could not take away the uſe of all ſuch ſwearing as was commanded under the Law, becauſe thoſe Commande­ments contained in Ordinances, were not taken away till the death of the Teſtator, Epheſ. 2.15. and thoſe Ordinances that were contrary to us, were not taken away till Chriſt nailed them to his Croſſe, Col. 2.14. therefore thoſe Com­mandements of the Law which accommodated humane af­fairs, and reſpected morals, of which, this of ſwearing to end ſtrife was none of the leaſt, could not be taken away be­fore Chriſt died, and that therefore all ſuch Oaths as were commanded under the Law, was not forbid by that Text, Mat. 5.34.

I confeſſe this is the ſoundeſt Argument I have met with in all his Book, and had he firſt proved that promiſſary ſwearing had been commanded under the Law, this had been ſomething to his purpoſe; but foraſmuch as promiſſa­ry ſwearing was never commanded in any part of the Law; this Argument can at moſt but prove aſſertory Oaths to be excepted in Mat. 5. and ſo we are but ſtill where we were be­fore; for I do grant, that in Mat. 5. Chriſt took away nothing that was commanded, and that therefore in his prohibition ver. 34. can have reference to no other Oath but promiſſary, and becauſe no other Oath binds the perſons taking it to performance.

I come to his third Reaſon, (viz.) that thoſe Texts Mat. 5. and Jam. 5. cannot forbid the uſe of all ſuch ſwearing as was commanded under the Law, becauſe the Prophet pro­pheſied that ſome ſuch ſwearing ſhould be uſed in the times of the New Teſtament, Iſa. 65.16, 17. I muſt confeſſe Mr. Ives puts me into amaze, to think that he is already got into the11 new heavens, and the new earth, certainly he hath not been long there, for it was not long ago ſince he was in priſon becauſe he could not ſwear, but it ſhould ſeem that he is not onely got thence, but he hath forgotten all the former troubles; I confeſſe it will be well for him, if he according to the Text, never have occaſion to remember them any more; but I humbly conceive, that few men in England will ſay that the time is yet come that the Prophet ſpeaks of; and although Mr. Ives citeth the Apoſtle Peters words, 2 Pet. 3. to prove that the Prophet doth reſpect the New Teſtament time, yet I ſuppoſe that after the heavens and the earth is burnt up, then Mr. Ives will have done writing of Books, but to come unto the Text, if it did reſpect our times (as doubtleſſe it doth not) yet it doth not reach our caſe, be­cauſe it mentions nothing promiſſary. Again whereas he ci­teth Pſalms 15.4. to prove promiſſary ſwearing under the New Teſtament: To this I anſwer, that if this Text muſt of neceſſity be underſtood to have reſpect to the time of the Goſpel, then it is either becauſe ſome Text of Scripture tells us ſo, or elſe becauſe that ſwearing is in all ages a duty ſo incumbent upon Saints, that none can dwell in Gods holy Hil, that have not been found acting therein: But there is no Text of Scripture that tells us, that this Prophet in this Text hath reſpect to Goſpel times, and I am perſwaded that none will be ſo ridiculous as to ſay, that ſwearing is in all ages a duty ſo incumbent upon Saints, that none can dwell in Gods holy Hill, that have not been found acting therein; and whereas he citeth Iſa. 45.23. I muſt ſay it doth not reſpect our time, becauſe then every tongue ſhall confeſſe God, but at this preſent they do not, but however it doth not reſpect our caſe, and therefore I ſhall leave it.

I come now to his fourth Reaſon, which is, that thoſe two Texts Mat. 5. and Jam. 5. could not forbid all ſuch ſwearing as was commanded under the Law, becauſe ſuch ſwearing Jeſus Chriſt was not onely found in the practice of, but the Apoſtle Paul doth both practice and injoyn the ſame; Now to prove that the Apoſtle practiced promiſſary ſwearing, he cites 2 Cor. 11.10. and tells us that the Apoſtle ſwore, becauſe he ſaid, as the Truth of Chriſt is in me, no man ſhall ſtop me12 of this boaſting in the Regions of Achaia; I confeſſe I cannot but wonder to think that he ſhould call this ſwearing, if it was ſwearing, what did he ſwear by? In your ſtead I anſwer, that if I ſhould take it for granted, as you ſay, then he ſwore by that Truth or Belief of Chriſt which was in him; Again, if he ſwore, what did he ſwear to? I anſwer, that he would boaſt the matter, touching which he would boaſt of is evi­dent; ſo to gather this up we thus reaſon, that if the Apoſtle ſwore, that then he ſwore by ſomething that was not God, that no man ſhould ſtop him of his boaſting; Now to ſwear by any thing that is not God will be eaſily granted on all hands to be ſin, which this arguing accuſeth the Apoſtle with, and certainly it need be no wonder that men have got­ten a cuſtom in England to ſwear by their Faith, or Truth, if Paul ſwore by the ſame, for if ſwearing by the Truth of Chriſt that is in us be not to ſwear by our Faith, then I muſt confeſſe I am to ſeek; but certainly none that well conſiders what they ſay, will affirm that the Apoſtle did ſwear by his Faith, neither that he made ſo ſlight an account of an Oath as to ſwear he would boaſt; yet notwithſtanding to prove the Apoſtle did ſwear in theſe words, he refers us to the 1 Kings 1.29. and tells us that Daniel ſwore as the Lord liveth, yet if this were true, it doth not follow that the word as doth make it to be an Oath at all times; but if you look into the Text you will find that it ſaith that the King ſware and ſaid as the Lord liveth, from whence we may obſerve, that his Oath was one thing, and what he ſaid in the following words was another thing, and if we mind the 30. verſe, he tells us what the Oath was, even as I ſware unto thee by the Lord; ſo that in plainneſs we may underſtand that the King ſwore by the Lord, and ſaid, As the Lord liveth that bath redeemed my ſoul out of all diſtreſſe; again he tells us, that under the Old Teſtament they ſwore, in calling God to witneſſe, or record to the Truth of what they ſaid, Judg 11.10. Jerem. 42.5. but theſe Texts doth not call it ſwearing, though Mr. Ives doth; and though he tells us, if calling God to witneſſe be not ſwearing, he is ignorant what ſwearing is; yet let me tell you, he hath given us never a Text of Scripture to prove that it is, but I humbly conceive, that what I have already13 ſaid from Deut. 4.26. and 30.19. and 31.28. doth ſufficiently prove, that every calling to witneſſe in a ſolemn manner is not ſwearing; for then not onely Moſes, but God himſelf hath ſworn by Creatures, a thing which Mr. Ives himſelf grants was never lawful; but if it ſhould be granted, that calling God to witneſſe were ſwearing, yet it would make nothing to his purpoſe, becauſe the Apoſtle uſeth it onely in caſes aſſertory, and not promiſſary; Again he tells us, that the Apoſtle ſwore in Rom. .1. becauſe he ſaith he ſpeaks the Truth in Chriſt; I confeſſe, if ſpeaking the Truth in Chriſt be ſwearing, then this is ſwearing, but if not, I know not how he can make an Oath of theſe words; but in regard the Apoſtle alſo in this Text is aſſerting the Truth, I ſhall leave this, and come to what he ſaith concerning promiſſary ſwearing.

Now to prove that promiſſary ſwearing is lawful, he ci­teth 2 Tim. .1. where Paul charged Timothy before God and the Lord Jeſus Chriſt; but what of this? doth this prove that he charged him to ſwear? the Text ſaith onely, that Paul charged Timothy to preach the Goſpel, but it is onely Mr. Ives that tells us he charged him to ſwear; but now to make good his aſſertion, he brings us to 1 Theſſ. 5.27. where the Text ſpeaks not a word of ſwearing; but to wind up his diſ­courſe, having no Text of Scripture to prove his matter, he doth as the Prieſts of England uſe to do, and tells us that it is otherwiſe in Beza's Tranſlation; but what then? if it be otherwiſe in Beza's Tranſlation, will it therefore follow that Beza's Tranſlation is true, and all others falſe? I would appeal to all rational men, whether it be a ſufficient ground for men to ſwear promiſſary Oaths, becauſe Beza in one Text of Scripture contradicts other Tranſlators? But again con­ſider, what reaſon can there be imagined, that Paul ſhould write to the Theſſalonians to charge them to ſwear to read his Epiſtle to all the Brethren? Were it not more reaſonable to think, that if the Theſſalonians did value Pauls charge, they would as ſoon have read his Epiſtle without ſwearing, as to be ſworn, or to ſwear to read it? for doubtleſſe, if they had not valued his charging them to read it, they would14 not have valued his charging them to ſwear to read it; ſo that this conſidered, it doth not appear that Paul ſwore them.

To proceed, I come to the fifth Reaſon, where he tells us that Mat. 5. and Jam. 5. could not forbid all ſuch ſwearing as was uſed under the Law, becauſe there is as much reaſon for the uſe of ſome Oaths now, as ever there was to this; I an­ſwer, that as to Oaths aſſertory, I ſhall leave it, becauſe it is not our caſe, but as to Oaths promiſſary, I anſwer, and ſay that the Law of Chriſt muſt be above reaſon; for when Chriſt commands, we muſt not enquire whether his Commands be reaſonable or no; if we do, it's poſſible our carnal reaſon may come ſhort of the mind of Chriſt; as for inſtance, what reaſon was there that Abraham ſhould ſlay Iſaac, onely the command of God? Again, what reaſon was there that all the Males ſhould be circumciſed, onely the command of God? Again, what reaſon is there that a man or woman ſhould go in a cold froſty morning to be baptized, onely that the Servant of the Lord ſaith to perſons when conver­ted, ariſe, why tarrieſt thou, and be baptized; and why may we not as well ſay ſwear not at all promiſſary Oaths, though there were no more reaſon why we ſhould refrain, then there is for the former caſes cited, ſeeing we have for this as for the former, the command of Chriſt? and therefore let us take heed how we conſult with reaſon in ſuch caſes; but I might prove ſufficiently from Scripture, that there is not ſo much reaſon in our day for promiſſary ſwearing, as was in the time of the Law; but ſuppoſing that what I have ſaid already may be ſufficient, I ſhall onely refer the Reader to Mat. 24.6, 7, 8, 9. verſes, and Ezek. 24.17. deſiring them to conſider of them, (not that I would here be miſtaken) as if I did believe from theſe Texts, that it is the Saints work to overturn Government; but onely this I could wiſh, that Saints would have a care of ſwearing, to uphold and main­tain any power, leaſt that power ſhould act wickedly, and God ſhould have a controverſie with them, even to the over­turning of them, which may fully by Scripture be proved to be the manner of Gods dealing with powers that he15 himſelf hath ſet up, and ſo may be found fighters againſt God.

I ſhall now briefly take notice of what Mr. Ives further ſaith as to Mat. the 5.34. where Chriſt ſaith, but I ſay ſwear not at all, which words ſaith he doth admit of a re­ſtriction; To which I anſwer, that I do believe that Chriſt did not intend in that text to take away ſuch ſwearing as was injoyned by a Law, (viz) aſſertory ſwearing; There­fore I ſhall paſs what he hath ſaid as to this particular; and whereas he tells us that Chriſt forbids all ſwearing in our Common Communication, and alſo ſwearing by Creatures, now theſe kind of ſwearings being alwaies unlawful, I ſhall love what he hath ſaid to this, only I cannot but take no­tice of what he ſaith in the Concluſion of his book, where he tells us that the Apoſtle James had reference to thoſe paſſionate oaths that the twelve Tribes did uſually make in affliction, for ſaith he, it was uſual for them to make paſſio­nate Oaths in affliction, and to prove this, he cites Pſal. 13.2.12. Lord (ſaith the Pſalons) Remember David in all his afflicti­on, how he ſware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the Mighty God of Jacob, Saying, I will not enter into the Tabernacle of my Houſe, her climb up to my Bed, nor ſuffer my eyes to ſleep, nor my eye-lids to ſlumber, till I have found out a place for the Lord, an Habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob. Now becauſe that God hath ſaid that David ſhould never build him an Houſe, Mr. Ives is pleaſed to ſay that this Oath was paſſionate, but I humbly conceive that his opinion in this caſe was not grounded upon Scripture, for the Scripture tells us that it was ſuch an Oath as the Lord will accept of, 2 King. 6.8. But the Lord ſaid to David my Father, for as much as it was in thy heart to build an Houſe for my Name, thou dideſt well in that it was in thine heart.

And although the Lord would not ſuffer David to build him an Houſe, yet he ſuffered them to fulfill his Oath in every title; for he did not only find out a Place for the Houſe to be built, but alſo he gave the Pattern, 1 Cro. 28 10.11. chap. Thus having anſwered what Mr. Ives hath writ­ten to prove promiſſary oaths lawful, I ſhall conclude what16 I have ſaid with the ſame cauſion which he gives; but let every man take heed how he ſwears.

And now I ſhall come firſt to ſhew what an oath is, and ſecondly to prove that Chriſt forbids all Promiſſary oachs in Mat. 5. and that I may ſo do, you may be pleaſed, firſt to take notice of what I have already ſaid from Dent. 4.26. chap. 30.19. chap. 31.28. namely, that calling God to witneſs, is not ſwearing, but when we read of the Ser­vants of the Lord ſwearing in Scripture, we find, that it was not only a bare calling God to witneſs, but they ſwear by God that they did ſpeak the truth, or that they would do ſuch a thing, as you ſee in Gen. 23.4. Abraham ſwore his Ser­vant by the Lord, 1 Sam 21, 22. David ſware to Saul by the Lord, 21 Gen. 23. and Abraham ſware by the Lord, 2. Joſh. 12 the Spies ſware by the Lord, and as it was the true manner of ſwear­ing, to ſwear by the Lord, when they prenounced the Oath themſelves, ſo it was alſo when they were charged or abjured by another; and therefore we find that it was the manner of the Jews, that when they charged or abjured one to ſwear, they did not tell them that they ſhould take God to witneſs to what they ſaid, but we find that when the High Prieſt abjured Chriſt, 36 Mat. 63. he adjured him by God; So likewiſe when the the Prophet Iſaiah Propheſied of the New Heavens, and the New Earth, Iſa. 65.16. He ſaith that he who ſware in the Earth ſhall ſwear by the God of Truth; Now to ſwear by the Lord is to ſay that they do ſpeak the truth, or will do ſuch a thing by the Lord, as much as if they ſhould ſay, that the Lord do help them in what they do, or that they do it by his aſſiſtance; and hence it comes to paſs that it was unlawful for a man to ſwear by any Creature, becauſe no Creature can help him to ſpeak the truth, or perform what he pro­miſed; and hence it is that God took it ill when they did not ſpeak truth, becauſe they did as much as ſay that God did help them to ſpeak a lye, and ſo they blaſphemed the Name of God in the higheſt nature; and doubtles thoſe that made the oath that we have in our Common Law, did un­derſtand no leſs, and therefore they charge the witneſs by the help of God to ſpeak the truth; Thus having ſhewn17 what an oath is; I come now to prove from Mat. the 5. that Chriſt forbids all promiſſary oaths, and that I may ſo do, I ſhall firſt give you theſe diſtinctions, as finding them in Scripture; firſt ſwearing in their common Communication. Secondly, ſwearing, yet by Creatures. Thirdly, aſſertory Oaths, ſwearing by God to affirm a truth by them ſpoken, in a ſolemn manner before a Judge, or otherwiſe. Fourthly, promiſſary oaths, promiſing and binding it with an oath. As to the firſt, all men that I know of will grant that it was ever ſinful. The ſecond, I know no man that will ſay that it was ever Lawful. The third was once Gods Law, Exod. 22.11. and therefore not taken away by Chriſt, Mat. 5. becauſe thoſe Commandements contained in Ordinances, were not taken away till the death of the Teſtator, Epheſ. 2.15. The fourth, an old practice, yet never Commanded, but uſed as Liberty untill Chriſt forbid it in Mat. the 5.33.34. and never in the leaſt uſed in all the New Teſtament, ſince the time it was prohibited, neither by Chriſt nor Chriſtians. Now that Chriſt did prohibit it in Mat. 5.34. appears thus, firſt, that it was promiſſary is manifeſted from verſ. the 33. in the word thou ſhalt perform, becauſe there can be no performance where there is no thing promiſed. Secondly that it was ſuch promiſſary Oaths as was ſome­times Lawful that is there forbidden, appears alſo from verſ. 33. Again ye have heard that it hath been ſaid by them of old time, thou ſhalt not forſwear thy ſelf, but ſhalt perform unto the Lord thine Oaths; Now it was Lawful both before the Law and under the Law to ſwear and perform; Therefore Chriſt forbids that which was ſometimes Lawful. But if it ſhould be objected that becauſe the text ſaith, it hath been ſaid by them of old time, that therefore Chriſt for bids only ſuch promiſſary Oaths as the Jews allowed of by their Tradition, namely, ſwearing by Creatures; To this I anſwer, firſt, that in the older Tran­ſlations it is read thus, It was ſaid of them of old time; and therefore it cannot be underſtood to be the Jews traditions, becauſe it was the Law of God that ſaid to them of old time they ſhould not forſwear but perform. Secondly, it can­not18 be reaſonably concluded that Chriſt hath reſpect in this text only to the Jews tradition, becauſe he uſeth the ſame mnner of expreſſion in this text that he uſeth in ver. 21. and 27. Now it will be granted by all that it was the Law of God that ſaid they ſhould not kill, and that they ſhould not commit adultery, and why may we not as well conclude that he intends the Law of God in ver. the 33. Now if it be objected that he doth but give the true ſenſe and meaning of the Law in ver. 21.27. and thereore he doth not take away any thing that was ever Lawful, in ver. 33, 34. To this I anſwer, that it was once Lawful in the Law to put a­way a wife, although it was not for fornication, yet Chriſt prohibits it, ver, 32. Again, it was lawful in the time of the Law to have an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but Chriſt prohibits it, in ver. 39. therefore we may plainly ſee that although Chriſt do not take away any of the Pre­ceptory part of the Law, yet he doth take away ſome of the Priviledged part of the Law. Thirdly, the third and laſt reaſon why Chriſt cannot be underſtood only to forbid ſwearing by Creatures, is taken from ver. the 34 But I ſay unto you ſwear not at all, neither by Heaven, from whence we may take notice from the word, neither, that he doth firſt for­bid ſuch ſwearing as was ſometimes Lawful, namely, to ſwear by God; and leaſt they ſhould think that although they might not preſume to ſwear by God, yet they might ſwear by thoſe inferiour things; Now to prevent this, he ſayeth neither by Heaven nor Earth, nor Jeruſalem, neither by the head, for we muſt underſtand that the word neither, hath reference to ſomething going before; But if it ſhould be objected further, that Chriſt meaneth only ſwearing, in their ordinary or Common Communication, becauſe he ſaith in verſe 37. But let your Communication be yea yea, nay nay; for what ſoever is more then theſe cometh of evil.

I anſwer that if the word Common or Ordinary were in the text, there might beſome ground for this Objection; but foraſmuch as the text only ſaith Communication, not Ordinary or Common Communication, I humbly conceive that this Ob­jection will eaſily be anſwered; for we find in Scripture19 that the moſt Heavenly or moſt ſolid diſcourſe between men and men is called Communication, as you may ſee, 2 Sam. 3.17, 18. Abner had a Communication with the El­ders of Iſrael about ſetting up David to be King, according to the appointment of God, 2 King. 9.11. now if we compare this text with the precedent verſes, we ſhall find that the Prophet declaring the Meſſage of God concerning the ſet­ting up of Jehu King over Iſrael, is called Communication; but I conceive theſe will be out of quſtion, and therefore I ſhall leave it, and commit what I have ſaid to the ingenious Reader, deſiring to leave it to the bleſſing of the Almighty, hoping that theſe who are willing to look on it with an equal eye, may thereby be enabled the better to eſcape the evil of our day.


About this transcription

TextA caution to the sons of Sion: being an answer to Jeremiah Ives his book, intituled, the great case of conscience opened. I. Proving that every calling God to witnesse is not swearing. II. Proving that promissary oaths were never commanded by God, onely practised as liberty under former dispensations. III. Proving that promissary oaths were never commanded or practised by Christ nor his disciples in all the New Testament. IV. Shewing what an oath is. V. Proving the lawfulnesse of all promissary oaths in the time of the Gospel. / By Samuel Hodgkin.
AuthorHodgkin, Samuel..
Extent Approx. 40 KB of XML-encoded text transcribed from 10 1-bit group-IV TIFF page images.
SeriesEarly English books online.
Additional notes

(EEBO-TCP ; phase 2, no. A86438)

Transcribed from: (Early English Books Online ; image set 119348)

Images scanned from microfilm: (Thomason Tracts ; 161:E1085[5])

About the source text

Bibliographic informationA caution to the sons of Sion: being an answer to Jeremiah Ives his book, intituled, the great case of conscience opened. I. Proving that every calling God to witnesse is not swearing. II. Proving that promissary oaths were never commanded by God, onely practised as liberty under former dispensations. III. Proving that promissary oaths were never commanded or practised by Christ nor his disciples in all the New Testament. IV. Shewing what an oath is. V. Proving the lawfulnesse of all promissary oaths in the time of the Gospel. / By Samuel Hodgkin. Hodgkin, Samuel.. 19, [1] p. Printed for the author,London :in the year, 1660.. (A reply to: Ives, Jeremiah. The great case of conscience opened.) (Annotation on Thomason copy: "march. 13.".) (Reproduction of the original in the British Library.)
  • Ives, Jeremiah, fl. 1653-1674. -- Great case of conscience opened.
  • Oaths -- Biblical teaching -- Early works to 1800.

Editorial statement

About the encoding

Created by converting TCP files to TEI P5 using tcp2tei.xsl, TEI @ Oxford.

Editorial principles

EEBO-TCP is a partnership between the Universities of Michigan and Oxford and the publisher ProQuest to create accurately transcribed and encoded texts based on the image sets published by ProQuest via their Early English Books Online (EEBO) database ( The general aim of EEBO-TCP is to encode one copy (usually the first edition) of every monographic English-language title published between 1473 and 1700 available in EEBO.

EEBO-TCP aimed to produce large quantities of textual data within the usual project restraints of time and funding, and therefore chose to create diplomatic transcriptions (as opposed to critical editions) with light-touch, mainly structural encoding based on the Text Encoding Initiative (

The EEBO-TCP project was divided into two phases. The 25,363 texts created during Phase 1 of the project have been released into the public domain as of 1 January 2015. Anyone can now take and use these texts for their own purposes, but we respectfully request that due credit and attribution is given to their original source.

Users should be aware of the process of creating the TCP texts, and therefore of any assumptions that can be made about the data.

Text selection was based on the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL). If an author (or for an anonymous work, the title) appears in NCBEL, then their works are eligible for inclusion. Selection was intended to range over a wide variety of subject areas, to reflect the true nature of the print record of the period. In general, first editions of a works in English were prioritized, although there are a number of works in other languages, notably Latin and Welsh, included and sometimes a second or later edition of a work was chosen if there was a compelling reason to do so.

Image sets were sent to external keying companies for transcription and basic encoding. Quality assurance was then carried out by editorial teams in Oxford and Michigan. 5% (or 5 pages, whichever is the greater) of each text was proofread for accuracy and those which did not meet QA standards were returned to the keyers to be redone. After proofreading, the encoding was enhanced and/or corrected and characters marked as illegible were corrected where possible up to a limit of 100 instances per text. Any remaining illegibles were encoded as <gap>s. Understanding these processes should make clear that, while the overall quality of TCP data is very good, some errors will remain and some readable characters will be marked as illegible. Users should bear in mind that in all likelihood such instances will never have been looked at by a TCP editor.

The texts were encoded and linked to page images in accordance with level 4 of the TEI in Libraries guidelines.

Copies of the texts have been issued variously as SGML (TCP schema; ASCII text with mnemonic sdata character entities); displayable XML (TCP schema; characters represented either as UTF-8 Unicode or text strings within braces); or lossless XML (TEI P5, characters represented either as UTF-8 Unicode or TEI g elements).

Keying and markup guidelines are available at the Text Creation Partnership web site.

Publication information

  • Text Creation Partnership,
ImprintAnn Arbor, MI ; Oxford (UK) : 2013-12 (EEBO-TCP Phase 2).
  • DLPS A86438
  • STC Wing H2333
  • STC Thomason E1085_5
  • STC ESTC R208054
  • EEBO-CITATION 99867058
  • PROQUEST 99867058
  • VID 119348

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.