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Chapter 22 - Of the Third Commandment

The Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)

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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”

Chapter 22 – Of the Third Commandment

The third commandment concerneth the glorifying of God in the affairs of our life, out of the solemn service of God.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

The Resolution.
Name. This word properly signifieth God’s title: here figuratively it is used doe any thing whereby God may be known, as men are by their names: so it is used for His word, works, and judgments. Acts 9:15, “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Psalm 8:1, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.”
Take. That is, usurp: this word is translated from precious things, which may not be touched without license. And in truth, men, which are no better then worms creeping on the earth, ate utterly unworthy to take, or as I may say, touch the sacred name of God with mind or mouth: nevertheless God of His infinite kindness permitteth is so to do.
In vain. Namely, for no cause, no matter, and upon each light and fond occasion.

For. The reason of this commandment is taken from the penalty annexed. He that abuseth God’s name, is guilty of sin before God’s judgment seat: and therefore is most miserable. Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”

Guiltiness. That is, he shall not be unpunished.

The Negative Part.
Though shalt not bereane God of that honor that is due unto Him.

Here is included each several abuse of any thing, that is used in the course of our lives out of the solemn service of God.
I. Perjury, when a man performeth not that which as he meant in his heart, he sware to do. Matthew 5:35-36, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.”

Perjury containeth in it four capital sins. 1) Lying. 2) False invocation on God’s name for a forswearer calleth on God to confirm a lie. 3) Contempt of God’s threatenings that he will most grievously punish perjury. 4) A lie in his covenant with God: for the forswearer bindeth himself to God, and lieth unto God.

II. To swear that which is false. This is to make God like to the devil. John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Zechariah 5:4, “I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.”

III. To swear in common talk. Matthew 5:37, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

IV. To swear by that which is no God. Matthew 5:34-35, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.” 1 Kings 19:2, “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.” Jeremiah 12:16, “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.” Jeremiah 5:7, “How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.”

This place condemneth that usual swearing by the mass, faith, and such like. Matthew 23:22, “And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.”

But for a man to swear by Christ’s death, wounds, blood and other parts of him is most horrible and is as much as to crucify Christ again with the Jews or account Christ’s members as God himself.

V. Blasphemy, which is against God and the least speech that savoreth of contempt to His majesty. Leviticus 24:15, “And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.” 2 Kings 19:10, “Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.” Aiax in the Tragedy hath this blasphemous speech, that every coward may overcome if he have God on his side: as for him he can get the victory without God’s assistance. That sly taunt of the Pope is likewise blasphemous wherein he calleth himself the servant of God’s servants: where as in truth he maketh himself Lord of Lords, and God subject to his vain fantasy.

VI. Cursing our enemies: as God with a vengeance or the devil go with the. Or our selves, as I would I might never stir: or, as God shall judge my soul, &c. To this place we may refer the execrations of Job 3 or Jeremiah 15.

VII. To use the name of God carelessly in our common talk: as when we say, “Good God how slow art thou!” or “Good Lord how have you been?” or “O Jesus!” or “Jesus God!” &c. Philippians 2:10, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Isaiah 45:23, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”

VIII. Abusing God’s creatures: as when we either deride the workmanship of God, or the manner of working: again, when we debase the excellence of the work, obscure God’s good gifts in our brother or discommend such meats as God hath sent us to eat: finally when as we in the use and contemplation of any of God’s creatures, give not him the due praise and glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.”

IX. Lots as when we search what must be (as they say) our fortune by dice, bones, books, or such like. For we are not to use lots but with great reverence: in that the disposition of them immediately commeth from the Lord and their proper use is it decide great controversies. Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” Proverbs 18:18, “The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.” For this cause the land of Canaan was divided by lots. Joshua chapters 14 and 15. By which also both the high Priests and the Kings were elected: as Saul, 1 Samuel 10, and Matthias into the place of Judas Iscariot. Acts 1:26.

X. Superstition, which is an opinion conceived of the works of God’s providence: the reason whereof, can neither be drawn out of the word of God, not the whole course of nature. As for example , that it is unlucky for one in the morning to put on his hoe awry, or to put the left shoe on the right foot; to sneeze in drawing on his head; to have salt fall towards him; to have a hare cross him; to bleed some few drops of blood; to burn on the right ear. Again that it is contrarily good luck to find old iron, to have drink spilled on his, for the left ear to burn, to cut our nails on a certain day of the week, to dream of some certain things. The like superstition is to surmise that beasts may be tamed by verses, prayers, or the like; that the repetition of the Creed or the Lord’s prayer can infuse into herbs a faculty of healing diseases. Deuteronomy 18:11. Here also is Palmistry condemned, when by the inspection of the hand, our fortunes foretold.
These and such like albeit they have true events, ye are we not to give credence unto them: for God permitteth them to have such success that they which see and hear such things, may be tried and it may appear what confidence they have in God.

XI. Astrology, whether it be casting of nativities or Prognostications. This counterfeit art is nothing else, but a mere abuse of the heavens and of the stars. 1) The twelve houses, which are the ground of all figures, are made of the fained signs of a supposed Zodiac, in the highest sphere commonly called the first Movable: and therefore to these houses a man cannot truly ascribe any influence of virtue. 2) This art arises not from experience but because the same position of all stars never happens twice: and if it did, yet could there not be any observation made from thence, because the efficacy and influence of the stars is confusingly mixed both in the air in the earth, as if all herbs were mingled together in one vessel. 3) This art withdraw men’s minds from the contemplation of God’s providence, when is they hear, that all things fall out by the motion and position of the stars. 4) Stars were not ordained to foretell things to come, but to distinguished dates, months, and years. Genesis 1:14, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” Isaiah 47:13, “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” See also verse 14. Daniel 2:2, “Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.” Acts 19:19, “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” 5) Astrological predictions are conversant about such things, which either simply depend on the mere will and dispensation of God, and not on the heavens: or else such as depends upon man’s free will, are all together contingent: and therefore can neither be foreseen, nor foretold. 6). It is impossible by the bare knowledge of such cause, as is both common to many, and far distant from such things as it were to thin, precisely to set down particular effects: but the stars are common causes of those which are done upon earth, and also far removed: and therefore a man to know more surely foretell what shall ensue by the contemplation of the stars, then he which sees a hen sitting, can tell what kind of chicken shall be in every egg.

Question. Have then the stars no force in inferior things?
Answer. Yes undoubtedly, the stars have a very great force, yet such is manifest itself only in that operation which it hath in four principal qualities of natural things, namely, in heat, cold, moisture, and dryness; and therefore and altering the state, and disposition of the air, in the diversely affecting compound bodies, the stars have no small fact. But they’re so far from forcing the will to do anything, that they cannot so much as given unto it the least inclination. Not to define how great force the stars have, it is beyond any man’s reach. For all be at the effects of the sun, in the constitution of the four parts of the year, are apparent to all in the operation of the moon not very obscure; yet the force in nature of both planets and fixed stars, which are to us innumerable, are not so manifest. Therefore seeing man no with only some stars, in their only operation, and not all with their forces: it cannot be that he should certainly foretell future things although they did depend on the stars. For what the position of such and such certain stars do demonstrate such an effect to ensue? May not the aspect of such as thou yet knowest not, hinder the act and produce the contrary?

Question. Is then the use of astrology utterly impious?
Answer. That part of astrology which concerns the alteration of the year is almost all both false and frivolous; and therefore in a manner all predictions grounded upon that doctrine are mere toys, by which the silly and ignorant people are notably diluted. As for the other part of astrology, concerning the activities, revolutions, progressions, and directions of nativities, as also that which concern the election of times, and the finding again of things lost, it is very wicked; and it is probable that is of the same brood with him plus set and close magic. My reasons are these. 1) The word of God reckoning astrologers among magicians a Judge’s to them to both one in the same punishment. 2) But the astrologer says, he foretells many things, which as he said, come so to pass: Be it so, but how, I demand? And by what means? He says by art, but that I deny. For the precepts of his art will appear to such as read them not with a prejudice affection, very ridiculous. Whence then, I pray you, does this curious diviner for show the truth, but by an inward and secret instinct from the devil? This is Augustine’s opinion, in his book 5 and Chapter 7 of the City of God. “If we weighed all those things, safety, we will not without cause belief, that astrologers, when they do wonderfully declare many truths, work by some secret instinct of evil spirits, which designed to fill men’s brains with erroneous and dangerous opinions of starry destinies and not by any art, derived from the inspection in consideration of the horoscope which indeed is none. ”

XII. Popish consecration of water and salt to restore the mind and health and to chase away devils. The Reformed Missal.

XIII. To make jests of the Scripture phrase. Isaiah 66:2, “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” we have an example of such scoffing in the Tripartite history Chapter 39 book 6. “The hearers and did previously oppress the Christians: And inflicted sometimes upon their bodies corporal punishments. The which when the Christian’s signified on to the emperor he distain to assist them, and sent them away with this scoff: You are to suffer injuries patiently for so ye are commanded of your God.

XIV. Lightly to pass over God’s judgments which are seen in the world. Matthew 26:34, “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Luke 13:1-3, “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

XV. A dissolute conversation. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 2 Samuel 12:14, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.”

The affirmative part.
In all things give God His do Glory, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

To this appertain:
1. The zeal of God’s glory above all things in the world besides. Numbers 25:8, “And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.” Psalm 69:9, “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”

2. To use God’s titles only in a serious affairs and that with all reverence. Deuteronomy 28:58, “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;” &c. Romans 9:5, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”

3. All holy commemoration of the creature, whereby we, in the contemplation and adoration of the dignity and excellency thereof, yield an approbation when we name it, and celebrate the praise of God, brightly shining in the same. Psalm 64:9-10, “And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.” Luke 2:13, 19, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God… But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Jeremiah 5:22, “Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?”

4. An oath, in which we must regard: 1) How an oath is to be taken. 2) How is to be preformed. In taking an oath, before circumstances must be observed. (1) the matter or parts of an oath: The parts are in number four. a. Confirmation of the truth; b. Invocation of God alone as a witness of the truth, and revenge for a lie. c. Confession that God is revenge her of perjury when he is brought in as a false witness. d. A binding over on the punishment if we use deceit. (2) The form. We must wear, a. Truly least we forswear. b. Justly, lest we swear to that which is wicked. c. In judgment lest we swear rashly or four trifle. Jeremiah 4:2, “And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Isaiah 48:1, “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.” Therefore the oath of drunken, furious, and frantic man, also of children, they do nor impose an obsession of them, but by law or no others. 3) To say the end, namely to confirm some necessary truth, in question. Hebrews 6:16, “For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.” I call that a necessary truth, when some doubt which must necessarily be decided can another way be determined then by an oath: as when God’s glory, over neighbor safety in credit, a man’s own necessity in faithfulness is in question. Romans 1:9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.” 2 Corinthians 2:2-3, “For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all” 4) The diverse kinds of or sorts of others. And both his public or private. Public, when the magistrate, without any peril to him that swears, doth upon just cause exact a testimony under the reverence of the knoweth.

A private oath is which two or more take privately. This is so that it be sparingly and we really used is lawful. For if in serious affairs in matters of great importance it be lawful in private to admit God as a Judge, what should he not as well be called to witness? Again, the examples of holy men showed the practice of private oaths, as not unlawful. Jacob and Laban confirmed their covenant one with another by oath; the like did Boaz in his contract with Ruth.

To this place may be added an addendum, the which albeit it be like an oath, yet indeed is none: and does nothing else, but an earnest assertion of our meaning, the name of a creature being sometimes used. Such was Christ’s assertion, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” And Paul’s, “I call God to record in my spirit.” where is both an oath and addendum 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” 1 Samuel 28:3, “Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.” And surely in such a kind of addendum there is great equity: for all the did be unlawful to swear by creatures blessed gods honor and power should be attributed unto them, yet thus far may we use them in an oath as to make them pledges, and as it were cognizances of God’s glory.

The performance of an oath, is in this manner. If the oath made, be a lawful thing, it must be performed be of much difficulty, great damage, or exhorted by force of him that made it. Psalm 15:4, “In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” Yet made a magistrate as it shall seem right and convenient either annihilate or moderate such oaths.

Contrarily if a man swear to perform things on lawful and that by ignorance, error, or infirmity, or any other way, his oath is to be recalled. We may not add sin unto sinned. 1 Samuel 25:21, “Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.” See also verse 22, “So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.” See also verse 33, “And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand. ” 2 Samuel 19:23. David promises that should be should not die: but 1 Kings 2:8-9, David sayeth to Solomon, “Though I swear so, yet thou shall not counting Innocent, but causes quarry head to go down to the grave with blood.”

5) Sanctification of God’s creatures and ordinances, the which is a separation of them to a holy use. Thus ought we to sanctify our meat and drink, the works of our calling, and marriage bed.

The means of the Sanctification are to: God’s word and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”

But the word we’re instructed, first, whether God allows the use of such things, or not: Secondly, we learn after what holy manner, in what place, at what time, with what affection, and to what end we must use them, Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Psalm 116:2, 4, “Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live…Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. ” 1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Prayer, which sanctifies, is petition and thanksgiving.

By petition we obtained of God’s majesty, assistance by his grace, to make a holy use of his creatures, and ordinances. Colossians 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” 1 Samuel 17:45, “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” Here we may observe prayer made upon particular occasion. 1) For prospers journey. Acts 21:5, “And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.” 2) For blessing upon meat at the table. John 6:11, “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.” Acts 27:35, “And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.” 3) Before issuing childbirth. This did Anna, 1 Samuel 1:12. And Zechariah, Luke 1:13 and following. For good success in business, Genesis 24:12. Abraham’s servant prayed. Thanksgiving is the magnifying of God’s name even the Father through Christ, for his grace, aid, and blessing in the lawful use of creatures. Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This we may read used. 4) After meat, Deuteronomy 8:10, “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.” Job 1:21, “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 5) For deliverance of servitude. Exodus 18:10, “And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.” 6) For children, Genesis 29:35, “And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.” 7) For victory, 2 Samuel 22:1, “And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.” 8) For good success in domestic affairs, Abraham’s Servant, Genesis 24:48, “And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son.”

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