Jonathan Edwards and Resolutions (49): Oaths & Vows are Serious
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
Edward's 49th resolution demonstrates just how significant his 48th resolution was. Edwards was committed to confessing and repenting of personal besetting sins so that his joy in Christ and assurance of faith could continue to increase.
And notice how this 'double down' on the 48th resolution stands in sharp contrast to those commitments or resolutions we flippantly make (often at the beginning of the year) and quickly forget. This raises an important issue as it relates to an oath before God. Chapter 23 of the 1689 Confession says this:
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. ( Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 10:20; Jeremiah 4:2; 2 Chronicles 6:22, 23 )
2. 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. ( Matthew 5:34, 37; James 5:12; Hebrews 6:16; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Nehemiah 13:25 )
3. 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. ( Leviticus 19:12; Jeremiah 23:10 )
5. 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. ( Psalms 76:11; Genesis 28:20-22; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9; Ephesians 4:28; Matthew 19:11 )
Edwards would have brought his knowledge of what the Scriptures say about oaths and vows to these resolutions. Thus we can see why he would double down on the 48th resolution made. May we, like Edwards honor God with the holy oaths and vows that we make so that we may walk with a clean conscience before our God who is the ultimate keeper of His Word.