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"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Commentary

... a now-lost French translation of the Seven Articles in his refutation of Anabaptism published in 1544.[2]

All this means is that it is a very good representative of Anabaptist teaching. Therefore, it is also representative of what it says on vows and oaths:

Seventh. We are agreed as follows concerning the oath: The oath is a confirmation among those who are quarreling or making promises. In the Law it is commanded to be performed in God’s Name, but only in truth, not falsely. Christ, who teaches the perfection of the Law, prohibits all Swearing to His [followers], whether true or false, -- neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor by our head, -- and that for the reason which He shortly thereafter gives, For you are not able to make one hair white or black. So you see it is for this reason that all Swearing is forbidden: we cannot fulfill that which we promise when we swear, for we cannot change [even] the very least thing on us.[2]

The seventh and last article goes on to answer some common objections made against the first statement. A century later (1632), the Dutch Mennonites still confessed the same of what was said by Sattler:

XV. Of the Swearing of Oaths

Concerning the Swearing of oaths we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has set aside and forbidden the same to His disciples, that they should not swear at all, but that yea should be yea, and nay, nay; from which we understand that all oaths, high and low, are forbidden, and that instead of them we are to confirm all our promises and obligations, yea, all our declarations and testimonies of any matter, only with our word yea, in that which is yea, and with nay, in that which is nay; yet, that we must always, in all matters, and with everyone, adhere to, keep, follow, and fulfill the same, as though we had confirmed it with a solemn oath. And if we do this, we trust that no one, not even the Magistracy itself, will have just reason to lay a greater burden on our mind and conscience. Matt. 5:34, 35; Jas. 5:12; II Cor. 1:17.[3]

This means that the teaching of the Anabaptists on this point was still alive. Thus the Reformed confessions added a chapter addressing this issue. This is likewise important for our forefather to confess since they were falsely called Anabaptists, as the title of the First London Confession read: “The CONFESSION OF FAITH, Of those CHURCHES which are commonly (though ) called ANABAPTISTS...” Since they confess the same as the Reformed on this subject, they distance themselves from the Anabaptists.

In paragraph 3, a passage from the Westminster and Savoy was omitted in the 1689, which said: “Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being lawfully imposed by authority.” Obviously, this is implied in what the Confession says that a lawful oath is and what is not. See the comparison here.

Thus, this chapter was added in the Reformed confessions in times of controversy and in order to clarify their stance upon oaths and vows made the government and the church.

§1 Lawful Oaths

  1. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person Swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly call...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary

...s “And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (Heb. 6:14-15). He had the promise partially in the sense that in his old age he received the child of promise, but the promise of Abraham has spread to the whole world in Christ and Abraham’s offspring have become as the stars of heaven and sands of the sea. His offspring not from the flesh, but from faith, both Jewish and Gentile (Rom. 9:6-7; Gal 3:7, 29; 4:28). God has desired to ensure those who are the heirs of the promise, namely, the elect know the purpose of God. This God has done in two ways. First up, He gave an oath to Abraham concerning His promise for confirmation. Second, He gave this oath by Swearing by Himself and thereby pointing to His character–a God for Whom it is impossible to lie. God gave His word and promise to Abraham that He will fulfill His promise which He made concerning his innumerable offspring. But not only that, as if that was not strong enough, but He does so by Swearing by His own Name, putting His own glory and reputation on the line. Why did God do this? Verse 18 says so that “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” First, the author exhorted the believers “to have the full assurance of hope until the end” (Heb. 6:11), but now he further exhorts them to “have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope”. They are to have a strong encouragement, not based on their performance, but based on the character of God’s purpose. Based on God’s oath and His own nature. Notice also that v. 17 says that this purpose concerning the heirs of promise is “unchangeable.” How does this fit with the idea that genuine born-again believers can be lost? Were they at one time heirs of the promise or not? This hope is a sure and steadfast anchor. It is a sure and unshakable foundation for us to stand fast in trials and under persecution because our hope is based on God Who has made promises to His elect and sealed them with His own glory and reputation on the line and thereby ascertaining us that none of His promises will fall to the ground. We will go to the same place where the Lord Jesus went after finishing His work on the earth. He went before us to prepare a place (John 14:1-3) and to represent us before the Father after finishing His perfect work on our behalf. This is a very strong exhortation and support for the Perseverance of the Saints, and we must keep in mind that this exhortation is in the same chapter as the #1 apostasy text. See also Hebrews 9:15ff.

7. Hebrews 9:11-12 claims that by the offering of Christ’s blood he has secured eternal redemption. For whom did Christ die? He died for the elect, those who are in the body of the covenant that He mediates. This is what the High Priest does, he intercedes for the people in the covenant, not for those outside. See here the case for Definite Redemption. What does it mean that Christ has secured eternal redemption? It is interesting to note the way that Christ secured this redemption. He secured it because He entered the holy places in heaven, not with animal blood, but with His own blood. That is why He secured this eternal redemption because He brought His own precious blood. The HSCB says “having obtained eternal redemption”, the NET says “and so he himself secured eternal redemption.” For whom was redemption secured but for those for whom His blood was shed? It is for those in the New Covenant of which He is the Mediator and...

1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...ut are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
  1. Exod. 20:8-11; Neh. 13:15-22; Isa. 58:13-14; Rev. 1:10
  2. Matt. 12:1-13; Mark 2:27-28

Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows [Return] [Commentary]

  1. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person Swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth, and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof.
    1. Deut. 10:20; Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; 2 Chron. 6:22-23; 2 Cor. 1:23
  1. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all holy fear and reverence; 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 matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken.
    1. Deut. 6:13; Exod. 20:7; Jer. 5:7
    2. Heb. 6:13-16; Gen. 24:3; 47:30-31; 50:25; 1 Kings 17:1; Neh. 13:25; 5:12; Ezra 10:5; Num. 5:19.21; 1 Kings 8:31; Exod. 22:11; Isa. 45:23; 65:16; Matt. 26:62-64; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; Acts 18:18
  1. Whosoever taketh an oath warranted by the Word of God, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he knoweth to be truth; for that by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked, and for them this land mourns.
    1. Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Jer. 4:2; 23:10
  1. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation.
    1. Ps. 24:4; Jer. 4:2
  1. A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all religious care and faithfulness; but popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
    1. Num. 30:2-3; Ps. 76:11; Jer. 44:25-26
    2. Num. 30:2; Ps. 61:8; 66:13-14; Ecc. 5:4-6; Isa. 19:21
    3. 1 Cor. 6:18 with 7:2, 9; 1 Tim. 4:3; Eph. 4:28; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 19:11-12

Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate [Return] [Commentary]

  1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.
    1. Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14
    2. Gen. 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Ps. 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Prov. 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Ezek. 7:23; 45:9; Dan. 4:27; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:2; 1 Peter 2:14
    3. Gen. 9:6; Prov. 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14
  1. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called there unto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
    1. Exod. 2...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary


Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; Swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed.

The Third Commandment

Exod. 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

See also Deut. 5:11.

General Observations On The 3rd Commandment

The third commandment calls upon us to not dishonor God and the things of God. We understand that by the “name of the LORD” is not simply meant the tetragrammaton (יהוה), but rather more fully—God and the things belonging to Him. Any shallow Bible reader will understand that in the Bible names are important. They are not merely there because they sound nice, but they have meaning. A name is not merely a designation but points to the nature and person himself. For example, in the Great Commission, our Lord says that the disciples should be baptized in “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). The singular “name” here of the three persons of the Trinity refers to their unity and common Being. It refers to Their nature, character, and authority. Likewise in the third commandment, the Name which is not to be blasphemed and not to be used irreverently does not merely refer to words like “God”, “Jesus”, “Holy Spirit”, “Yahweh” or “OMG”, but rather it refers to all things pertaining to God. In Exodus 34:5-7, God came down to Moses and “proclaimed the name of the LORD.” But how did God do that? Verses 6-7 tell us—by proclaiming His excellences and attributes.

The third commandment forbids and says that God abhors “all profaning and abusing of any thing whereby God makes Himself known”[24] (Keach’s Catechism, Q&A 61). This includes speaking disrespectfully of God and of the things of God, not taking God seriously, failing to worship God, failing to give Him thanks...