Order of Contents
Calamy, Edmund – A Practical Discourse Concerning Vows, with a Special Reference to Baptism & the Lord’s Supper (London, 1697) 310 pp. ToC
Calamy (1671–1732) was an English presbyterian and church historian, significantly influenced by Baxter.
All Vows are Qualified
The Synod of Dort
Jer. 35 gives the account of the Rechabites. At the command of one of their forefathers who had so charged them and their descendants, they were to dwell in tents all their days and drink no wine. The prophet Jeremiah highly commends them for keeping “all that he hath commanded you” (v. 18).
However, in verse 11 of the chapter, it is described how the Rechabites, who dwelt in tents in the peripheral areas, at the coming of the King of Babylon in war towards them, came and dwelt in the walled city of Jerusalem, “for fear of the army of the Chaldeans”. Dort explains how this action was just.
The Dordrecht Bible Commentary trans. Theodore Haak ed. H. David Schuringa (1657; North Star Ministry Press, 2019), vol. 4, p. 279 on Jer. 35:11
“In this verse they [the Rechabites] give a reason why in this one thing, namely that now [they] did not dwell in the tents but lived in the city of Jerusalem: that at this present [circumstance they] followed not their father’s charge, showing thereby that it was a human ordinance which in time of need and as occasion required, they might without breach of duty very well wave [it,] that they might not transgress the law of God, this was also Jonadab’s intention and was pleasing and acceptable unto God.”
Lex Rex… (1644; Edin., 1843), p. 118
“Exigencies of the law of nature cannot be set down in positive covenants, they are presupposed.”
Protesters No Subverters… (1658), p. 60
“But if they [the Resolutioners] will extend it [the ordination vows] further, and say that it is meaned of absolute subjection to the sentence of his brethren, whether he have offended or not, they may as well, and with more color of reason, say that he is bound by his oath, not only to give subjection, but also obedience† to all their admonitions, whether just or unjust, lawful or unlawful;
because there is no express limitation in the words of the oath, these qualifications, being as we said before, amongst the praecognita [things having been foreknown] and praesupposita [things having been presupposed] of all such questions and answers, and there being no need to express them, except where there are grounds of jealousy.”
† [Notice Guthrie’s distinction between subjection in things lawful (e.g. Rom. 13), versus obedience to all commands.]
Commentary on Jer. 35, verses 1-11
“Note, the rules of a strict discipline must not be made too strict, but so as to admit of a dispensation when the necessity of a case calls for it, which therefore, in making vows of that nature, it is wisdom to provide expressly for, that the way may be made the more clear, and we may not afterwards be forced to say, ‘It was an error,’ Eccl. 5:6.
Commands of that nature are to be understood with such limitations. These Rechabites would have tempted God, and not trusted Him, if they had not used proper means for their own safety in a time of common calamity [which they did, Jer. 35:11], notwithstanding the law and custom of their family [Jer. 35:7-10].”
On Laying One’s Hand on a Bible while Swearing
Willard, Samuel – A Brief Discourse Concerning that Ceremony of Laying the Hand on the Bible in Swearing (London, 1689) 8 pp.
Willard was a New England puritan. Willard argues that the practice is unlawful as it enters into the act of worship, which worship is only acceptable if warranted by God’s Word.
“That many good and very learned men have doubted the lawfulness of kissing or touching the book in taking a solemn oath, cannot be denied; those great and famous divines, Rivet, Pareus, Voetius, have all written against it; and that worthy confessor and martyr, Mr. William Thorp, did refuse to comply with the mentionedmode of swearing; and he says that Chrysostom was against the book-oath, as he styles it; he thus argues,
…It is well known that those famous divines, Dr. Thomas Goodwin, Mr. Philip Nye Mr. Jeremiah Burroughs did judge the impleaded rite to be unwarrantable by the Word of God;” – To the Reader
In connection to this, see our page, On Natural Gestures, Signs & Customs about Worship, & of Reverence & Veneration as Distinguished from the Worship of Adoration.
On Taking God’s Name in Vain
The Divine Right of Church Government… (1646), p. 88
“…a bearing testimony by word that God is true and knows all secrets, and will be avenged on perjury, is inseparable from vocal swearing by the name of God…”
On Minced Oaths
Seville, George H. – ‘Minced Oaths’ 1953 10 paragraphs with a historical introduction.
Seville (1876-1977) was a UPCNA minister, a missionary to China and a seminary professor.
The articles Scripturally addresses using exclamations like ‘Gee’, ‘gosh’, ‘darn’, ‘mercy’, ‘goodness’, ‘gracious’, etc.