Westminster Confession, week 38

September 17, 2016

Chapter 22: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

4: An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation.[452] It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt.[453] Not is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.[454]

5: A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.[455]

6: It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone:[456] and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.[457]

7: No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God.[458] In which respects, 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.[459]

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