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We are also sensible, that the duties of humiliation and thanksgiving are frequently incumbent upon us ; yet, from the conviction that the qualification to perform these duties, should proceed from a higher source than man, we do not consider it right to unite with those who set apart particular times, and adopt set forms, for these purposes. Besides this general reason, the occasion is often such as we can, by no means, join with. When war, or the successes or defeats attendant upon it, are the occasion of public thanksgiving or humiliation, our sentiments on the inconsistency of war with the spirit of Christianity, prevent our uniting in prayer or praises for victories, which involve the destruction of our fellow-creatures : and by which, there is too much reason to fear, many souls are sent unprepared into an awful eternity. By joining on these occasions, we conceive that we should act inconsistently with that peaceable spirit, which our blessed Lord has so strongly inculcated, and wbich will be more particularly treated of in the following chapter.
After giving these reasons for our dissent on this subject, I shall conclude with the words of the apostle Paul: “ One man es
teemeth one day above another another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it to the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”* “Let us not therefore judge one another any more : but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's
* Rom. xiv, 5, 6.
+ Rom. xiv. 13.
On Oaths and war.
Quotations from Matt. v.-Oaths unnecessary.-- Arguments in favour of them answered.- Arguments in favour of War answered.—The Christian Religion the only remedy for this evil.
“ YE have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself ; but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths : but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne ; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool :-But let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
6 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth : but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil.-Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies ; bless them that curse you ; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which despitefully use
you and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." *
After reciting these strong and unequivocal injunctions of our Divine Master, I have paused to consider, whether I should say a word more on the subject of them ; their own force and perspicuity seeming to require no comment. I shall therefore make none upon them; but, after saying that on these, and other similar passages in the Scriptures, we ground our testimony against oaths and war, shall proceed to consider the objections that are made, to the adoption of precepts so clearly conveyed to us, and the practice of which would be attended with so many benefits to mankind.
With respect to oaths, the apparent necessity of them is so small, and their real injury is so great, by profaning the Sacred Name, that, it is presumed, very few religiously minded people will be disposed to plead in their favour : and, indeed, it appears to me difficult to find an objection of any importance, to laying them wholly aside.
* Matt. v. 33-39, 43–45.
The principal arguments used by those who are disposed to plead for them, must however be considered. One of these is, that the Almighty is sometimes said, in Scripture, to make use of an oath. To this it may be answered, that the Almighty could not swear as man swears, there being none greater than Himself to whom He could appeal; or to whom He was amenable for the truth of his declaration. Besides which, we apprehend, that what He might do, as Sovereign Lord, may not be proper for us to do as dependent creatures, whose highest perfection is obedience to His will; and this will being expressly revealed to us in this instance by his beloved Son, our obvious duty is to comply with it.
Another argument in favour of swearing before magistrates, is advanced from the circumstance of our Lord's being silent before the High Priest, until be adjured bim by the Living God. That the High Priest intended formally to administer a judicial oath to our Saviour, is what, I apprehend, the context will not support. It rather appears, that Caiaphas, being irritated by our Lord's silence, made use of this expression in the violence of