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Jews; but the obligation they carry with them, and the principle upon which they rest, are precisely the same.
THE PROPHET'S TEACHING, mentioned at the end of this article, refers to the following passage in Jeremiah : “ And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness (h).”—“God himself hath here given us directions how to swear; where we may observe the form of the oath, he would have taken, “The Lord liveth ;' and then the manner how he would have it taken, ‘in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness.' ' In truth;' that is, that the thing a man swears, be true in itself, and known to be so to him that sweareth, and that he swears it truly, sincerely, heartily, without any equivocation or mental reservation. “In judgment; that is, with such caution, prudence, direction, and reverence, as becometh those who speak of him, by whom they speak, in whom they live, and by whom their very thoughts as well as actions, are weighed. "In righteousness ;' that is, the matter of the oath must be lawful and just, agreeable to God's holy word, or at least not contrary to it: and what is thus sworn, must be righteously and faithfully performed. These rules God himself hath prescribed to be dili
gently (h) Jer. c. 4. V. 2.
gently observed with respect to oaths; and he, that takes an oath according to these rules, . may be confident he doth not sin, but doth that which is lawful and right in the eyes of God.”—Bp. Beveridge.
I have thus endeavoured to explain the meaning of “ the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion,” and to prove that they are founded in Scripture, and conformable to the opinions of the early Christians. All persons, when they enter into holy orders, or are admitted to any ecclesiastical cure or benefice, are required by law to subscribe these articles, with a design that those who are employed in the ministry of our established church, whether as curates or incumbents, should unfeignedly believe the truth of the doctrines which they contain. The avoiding of diversities of opinion, and the establishing of consent touching true religion,” was the pro
fessed object of these articles; and consequently | they lose their effect, if they do not produce a
general agreement among such as subscribe them. “ I do willingly and ex animo subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England,” is the indispensable form of subscription; and therefore it behoves every one,
before he offers himself a candidate for holy orders, to peruse carefully the articles of our church, and to compare them with the written Word of God. If, upon mature examination, he believes them to be authorized by Scripture, he may conscientiously subscribe them ; but if, on the contrary, he thinks that he sees reason to dissent from any of the doctrines asserted in them, no hope of emolument or honour, no dread of inconvenience or disappointment, should induce him to express his solemn assent to propositions, which in fact he does not believe. It is not indeed necessary that he should approve every word or expression, but he ought to believe al} the fundamental doctrines, of the articles; all those tenets in which our church differs from other churches, or from other sects of Christians. He ought to feel that he can from his own conviction maintain the purity of our established religion, and sincerely and zealously enforce those points of faith and practice, which our church declares to be the revealed will of God. This appears to me the only just ground of conscientious subscription to the articles; and let it be ever remembered, that in a business of this serious and important nature, no species whatever of evasion, subterfuge, or reserve, is to be allowed, or can be practised, without imminent danger
of incurring the wrath of God. The articles are to be subscribed in their plain and obvious sense, and assent is to be given to them simply and unequivocally. Thus only can a person offer himself at the table of the Lord as his minister with safety; thus only can he expect to receive the divine blessing upon that course of life to which he then solemnly devotes himself.
F IN IS.
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