By Israel J. Contreras

I. The Nature of a Lawful Oath or Vow

        A. Is part of religious worship

        B. Things to consider for those who would take vows lightly

                1. In a lawful oath a person swearing solemnly calls God to witness what he asserts.

                2. In a lawful oath a person swearing solemnly calls God to judge him according to the truth or
                    falsehood of what he swears

II. More on the Nature of a Lawful Oath or Vow

        A. The name of God alone is that by which men ought to swear and only with all holy fear and reverence

        B. Vain and rash oaths made to the name of the Lord is sinful and to be abhorred.

        C. An oath is warranted by the Word of God both Old and New Testaments and therefore should be taken

III. Things to consider when taking a vow

        A. The weightiness of so solemn an act

        B. One who takes a vow is not to vow anything other than what he is fully persuaded is the truth.

        C. One ought not to take an oath to anything but that which is good and just.

        D. One ought not to vow something that he is not able or resolved to perform

IVa. How Vows are to be taken

        A. In the plain and common sense of the words

        B. Without equivocation ( that is intending something other than what the words mean)

        C. Without mental reservation

        D. An oath to perform sin cannot be made

IVb. Vows are to be kept even thought they are made to heretics or infidels.

V.  A vow is similar to a promissory oath and should be treated

VI. Characteristics of a True Vow and What True Vows Do

        A. Characteristics of a True Vow

                1. Is to be made to God alone, voluntarily

                2. Is to be made out of faith

                3. Is to be made with conscience of duty

                4. Is to be made in way of thankfulness for mercy received

        B. What true vows do

                1. Bind us to our necessary duties

                2. Bind us to other things as long as they may conduce to our necessary duties

VII. Certain vows no Christian may make

        A. Vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God

        B. Vow to do anything that would hinder a duty commanded in the Word of God

        C. Vow to do anything that is not within his power; that which he hath no promise of ability from God (i.e.
             popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty etc.)