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This only may be added to this consideration; that although an oath, which is properly calling God or God's relative into testimony, is to be understood according to the former discourse; yet there may be great affirmations or negations respectively, and confirmed by forms of vehement asseveration, such as the customs of a nation or consent shall agree upon and those do, in some cases, promote our belief, or confirm our pretensions, better than a plain yea or no; because, by such consent, the person renders himself infamous if he breaks his word or trust. And although this will not come under the restraint of Christ's words, because they are not properly oaths, but circumstances of earnest affirmation or negation; yet these are human attestations, introduced by custom or consent; and as they come not under the notion of swearing, so they are forms of testimony and collateral engagement of a more strict truth.
The Fourth Commandment.
24. The holy Jesus having specified the great commandment of" loving God with all our heart," in this one instance of hallowing and keeping his name sacred, that is, from profane and common talk, and less prudent and unnecessary intercourses, instanced in no other commandment of Moses: but having frequent occasion to speak of the sabbath, for ever expresses his own dominion over the day, and that he had dissolved the bands of Moses in this instance; that now we were no more obliged to that rest which the Jews religiously observed by prescript of the law; and by divers acts against securities of the then received practices, did desecrate the day, making it a broken yoke, and the first great instance of Christian liberty. And when the apostle gave instructions that "no man should judge his brother in a holy day, or new moons, or the sabbath-days," he declared all the Judaical feasts to be obliterated by the sponge which Jesus tasted on the cross; it was within the manuscript of ordinances, and there it was cancelled. And there was
· Καὶ μετὰ τὸ σαββατίσαι ἑορταζέτω ὁ φιλόχριστος τὴν κυριακήν. ̓Ανὴς ἀγαθὸς πᾶσαν ἡμέραν ἑος τὴν ἡγεῖται. Ignat. Ep. ad Magnes.
Diog. Clem. Apost. Constit. lib. vii. c. 24, et lib. viii. Tertul. Monog. Canon. Apost. 65. et Zonar. in eund. Vide etiam Syuod. Laodic.
z Col. ii. 16.
nothing moral in it, but that we do honour to God for the creation, and to that and all other purposes of religion, separate and hallow some portion of our time. The primitive church kept both the sabbath and the Lord's day till the time of the Laodicean council, about three hundred years after Christ's nativity, and almost in every thing made them equal; and, therefore, did not esteem the Lord's day to be substituted in the place of the obliterated sabbath, but a feast celebrated by great reason and perpetual consent, without precept or necessary Divine injunction. But the liberty of the church was great: they found themselves disobliged from that strict and necessary rest which was one great part of the sabbatic rites, only they were glad of the occasion to meet often for offices of religion, and the day served well for the gaining and facilitating the conversion of the Jews, and for the honourable sepulture of the synagogue, it being kept so long, like the forty days' mourning of Israel for the death of their father Jacob; but their liberty they improved not to license, but as an occasion of more frequent assemblies. And there is something in it for us to imitate, even to sanctify the name of God in the great work of the creation, reading his praises in the book of his creatures, and taking all occasions of religious acts and offices, though in none of the Jewish circumstances.
25. Concerning the observation of the Lord's day, which now the church observes, and ever did, in remembrance of the resurrection, because it is a day of positive and ecclesiastical institution, it is fit that the church, who instituted the day, should determine the manner of its observation. It was set apart in honour of the resurrection; and it were not ill if all churches would, into the weekly offices, put some memorial of that mystery, that the reason of the festival might be remembered with the day, and God thanked with the renewing of the offices. But because religion was the design of the feast, and leisure was necessary for religion, therefore to abstain from suits of law and servile works, but such works as are of necessity and charity, (which, to observe, are of themselves a very good religion,) is a necessary
* Feriis jurgia amovento, easque in famulis operibus patratis habento. →→ Cicer. de Leg. lib. ii.
duty of the day; and to do acts of public religion is the other part of it. So much is made matter of duty by the intervention of authority: and though the church hath made no more prescriptions in this, and God hath made none at all; yet he who keeps the day most strictly, most religiously, he keeps it best, and most consonant to the design of the church, and the ends of religion, and the opportunity of the present leisure, and the interests of his soul. The acts of religion proper for the day are prayers and public liturgies, preaching, catechizing, acts of charity, visiting sick persons, acts of eucharist to God, of hospitality to our poor neighbours, of friendliness and civility to all, reconciling differences; and after the public assemblies are dissolved, any act of direct religion to God, or of ease and remission to servants, or whatsoever else is good in manners, or in piety, or in mercy. What is said of this great feast of the Christians is to be understood to have a greater severity and obligation in the anniversary of the resurrection, of the ascension, of the nativity of our blessed Saviour, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost. And all days festival to the honour of God, in remembrance of the holy apostles, and martyrs, and departed saints, as they are with prudence to be chosen and retained by the church, so as not to be unnecessary, or burdensome, or useless; so they are to be observed by us, as instances of our love of the communion of saints, and our thankfulness for the blessing, and the example.
b Quippe etiam festis quædam exercere diebus
Religio vetuit, segeti prætendere sepem,
Insidias avibus moliri, incendere vepres,
Balantumque gregem fluvio mersare salubri.— Virgil. apud Macrob. De ferocia Tiberii dedit testimonium Tacit. lib. iii. Annal. his verbis: Quemne diem vacuum pœna? ubi inter sacra et vota, quo tempore verbis etiam profanis abstineri mos esset, vincula et laqueus inducantur.
Ἑορτὴ οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἔστιν ἢ τὰ δέοντα πράττειν. — Τhucyd. lib. i.
̔́Εκαστος ὑμῶν σαββατιζέτω πνευματικῶς, μελέτῃ νόμου χαίρων, οὐ σώματος ἀνέσει, δημιουργίαν Θεοῦ θαυμάζων, οὐχ ἕωλα ἐσθίων, καὶ χλιαρὰ πίνων, καὶ μεμετρημένα βαδίζων, καὶ ὀρχήσει καὶ κρότοις νοῦν οὐκ ἔχουσι χαίρων.--- S. Ignat. Ep. ad Magnes.
Judæi serviliter observant diem sabbati, ad luxuriam, ad ebrietatem. Quanto meliùs fœminæ eorum lanam facerent, quàm illo die in Menianis saltarent? S. August. Tract. 4. in Joan. Et in Psal. xcii. idem ferè,
The Fifth Commandment.
26. "Honour thy father and thy mother." This commandment Christ made also to be Christian, by his frequent repetition and mention of it in his sermons and laws, and so ordered it, that it should be the band of civil government and society. In the decalogue God sets this precept immediately after the duties that concern himself, our duty to parents being in the confines with our duty to God, the parents being, in order of nature, next to God, the cause of our being and production, and the great almoners of eternity, conveying to us the essences of reasonable creatures, and the charities of Heaven. And when our blessed Saviour, in a sermon to the Pharisees, spake of duty to parents, he rescued it from the impediments of a vain tradition, and secured this duty, though against a pretence of religion towards God, telling us that God would not himself accept a gift which we took from our parents' needs. This duty to parents is the very firmament and band of commonwealths. He that honours his parents will also love his brethren, derived from the same loins, he will dearly account of all his relatives and persons of the same cognation; and so families are united, and of them cities and societies are framed. And because parents and patriarchs of families and of nations had regal power, they who, by any change, succeeded in the care and government of cities and kingdoms, succeeded in the power and authority of fathers, and became so, in estimate of law and true divinity, to all their people. So that the duty here commanded is due to all our fathers in the sense of Scripture and laws, not only to our natural, but
ε “Ο λοιδορῶν τὸν πατέρα δυσφημεῖ λόγῳ·
Τὴν εἰς τὸ θεῖον δὲ μελετᾷ βλασφημίαν. — Menand. Εμφανεῖς Θεοί, μιμούμενοι τὸν ἀγέννητον ἐν τῷ ζωοπλαστεῖν. -- De Parentibus dixit Philo ad Decal.
Vivet extento Proculeius ævo,
Fama superstes. Hor. lib. ii. Od. 2.
Cùm tibi sint fratres, fratres ulciscere læsos:
Cùmque pater tibi sit, jura tuere patris.
Necessaria præsidia vitæ debentur his maximè. — Cicer. Offic. 3.
to our civil fathers, that is, to kings and governors. And the Scripture adds, mothers; for they also, being instruments of the blessing, are the objects of the duty. The duty is, "honour;" that is, reverence, and support, if they shall need it. And that which our blessed Saviour calls, "not honouring our parents "," in St. Matthew, is called in St. Mark, "doing nothing for them;" and honour is expounded by St. Paul, to be " maintenance," as well as reverence." Then we honour our parents, if with great readiness we minister to their necessities, and communicate our estate, and attend them in sicknesses, and supply their wants, and, as much as lies in us, give them support, who gave us being.
The Sixth Commandment.
σε 27. Thou shalt do no murders." So it was said to them of old time. He that kills shall be guilty of judgment; that is, he is to die by the sentence of the judge. To this Christ makes an appendix: "But I say unto you, he that is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment." This addition of our blessed Saviour, as all the other, which are severer explications of the law than the Jews admitted, was directed against the vain and imperfect opinion of the lawyers, who thought to be justified by their external works; supposing, if they were innocent in matter of fact, God would require no more of them than man did; and what, by custom or silence of the laws, was not punishable by the judge, was harmless before God; and this made them to trust in the letter, to neglect the duties of repentance, to omit asking pardon for their secret irregularities, and the obliquities and aversations of their spirits; and this St. Paul also complains of, that, neglecting "the righteousness of God, they sought to establish their own"," that is, according to man's judgment. But our blessed Saviour tells them, that such an innocence is not enough; God requires more than conformity, and observation of the fact, and exte
e Mark, vii. 12.
d Matt. xv. 6. f 1 Tim. v. 18. Γονέας τιμήσωμεν ὑπερβαλλόντως, σώματος ὑπηρεσίας καὶ χρημάτων χορηγίαν αὐτοῖς ὑπέχοντες ὅτι μάλιστα προθυμοτάτην. Hierocl.
Φέρει δ ̓ ἐπὶ τὴν ἐπιμυθίαν αυτοὺς, καὶ τὸ τῶν δουλικωτέρων ὑπηρετημάτων ἅπτεσθαι αποτὲ τοὺς παῖδας, ὥστε καὶ πόδας ἀπονίψαι. Hierocl. apud Stobaum.
Lev. xxiv. 21. Num. xxxv. 16, 17.
Rom. x. 3.