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manner of some is, he is satisfied to “make out what he takes in hand:” showing in different points of light, and corroborating by the strongest arguments, the specific doctrine of the text, or the peculiar topic under consideration. In his style there is none of the stateliness of Foster, the gorgeousness of Chalmers, the grandeur of Hall, or the magnificence of Watson; and equally distant is it, on the other hand, from the ruggedness of Butler, the verbosity of Leighton, the dryness of Blair, and the egotism of Finney. His manner is easy, unrestrained, natural; apparently more careful about what he says than how he says it; not by any means destitute of ornament, but giving ample evidence that ornament is never introduced for its own sake. There are, to be sure,
faults that may be discovered by the eye of the critic, and some that will not escape the casual reader,--verbal inaccuracies, trifling inelegances, complicated sentences. What then? We are not in the humor to point them out. There are specks in the sun. To many of the doctrines advanced in the volumes before us we are, of course, opposed; and the probability is, that we shall always be opposed; but while we feel satistied with the correctness of our own creed, we are perfectly willing that those who differ from us should be satisfied with theirs. It has never yet been our fortune to meet an individual converted from one to the other of the great divisions of the Christian family by the religious polemics of the day. We are willing patiently to await that hour when ourselves and our opponents shall no longer see through a glass darkly. We are content to differ here, because we know that there we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known. Now we are distinguished by different names, ranged under various banners. Then there will be one fold and one Shepherd, and all the disciples shall be one with Christ as he is one with the Father.
From the London Quarterly Review.
ART. IV.-TYLER ON OA THS.
Oaths: their Origin, Nature, and History. By JAMES Endell TYLER, B.D., Rec
tor of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and late Fellow of Oriel College. London. 8vo. 1834.
Mr. TYLER's book is the work of a good and conscientious man, who is more anxious to direct public attention to a very important subject than to offer any new views of his own. It is rather an historical sketch, not indeed very complete, of the practice of oaths, than a philosophical inquiry into their use and obligation. But he has collected some interesting materials from Puffendorf, Grotius, Heineccius, and other writers on the subject, and will probably have the satisfaction of finding that his work has at least contributed to promote discussion and inquiry.
Every one must be aware that the subject of oaths at the present moment requires very serious consideration. Englishmen cannot forget that, not many years back, the most sacred interests of this country were stripped of their ancient securities, and placed under the simple protection of an oath, as a sufficient safeguard- a safeguard which we know from experience has proved wholly futile and
useless. Still more recently charges have been made and repeated upon individuals, and upon bodies of great eminence--charges which, however they may be softened down by the courtesy of language, cannot amount to less than accusations of a grave offence against the most solemn obligations.
The administration, also, of oaths has been for many years, especially in this country, employed almost to an unlimited extent, as an instrument of the most important functions of government. It has been used to extort truth in judicial cases ; to secure the performance of official duties; to exclude suspected parties from dangerous privileges, by acting as a test of their opinions; to maintain in societies great principles of conduct inviolate, by binding men down to the observance of them; and in a great number of cases almost to supply the place of a police establishment, and to prevent frauds on the revenue of the country by placing men in the dilemma or either criminating themselves, or risking the crime of perjury. The multitude of oaths imposed for these various purposes has at last startled and alarmed all right-thinking men, and every one ought to rejoice that inquiry is likely to be aroused. It is not merely the common interests of truth which are at stake. But men begin to feel; and when religious sanctions, and the name of the Deity, and not only his name but his judgments, and those judgments supposed by many to be administered with an immediate providential jealousy over every violation of his honor,—when such solemnities as these are forced into all the details of life, mixed up with its most trivial concerns, and hazarded in the mouths of the least religiously disposed of men, there is a danger and a guilt both in those who are tempted to irreverence, and those who tempt.
“ He that compelleth to swear,” says Chrysostom, "is more to be punished than he who is compelled." They have experienced, what all men conversant with human nature soon discover, that the too frequent application of strong excitements is as deadening to the moral as it is to the physical sense; and that indifference to the obligations of religion has naturally followed an ill-regulated and prodigal appeal to them. Even where no such indifference has been openly professed, it has been found that oaths have often failed in securing the objects for which they were imposed, and that with bad men there is no possibility of framing any form of words from which an ingenious special pleading may not contrive an evasion. And this evil is perhaps worse than the former, because with no less guilt of perjury there is less to shock us openly, and more to encourage imitation and secure impunity. The public mind is infinitely more corrupted by the triumph of subtle caviling over plain simple truth, than by an open defiance of principle, which can at once be exposed and punished.
Other feelings have probably conspired to raise a general clamor for the abolition of oaths. There may be men who still find them an obstacle, not indeed impassable, but still one which they would willingly remove, between themselves and the objects of ambition, which those oaths were established to guard. Even as evidences and relics of an exclusive system they are obnoxious to many. There are still more persons who object to them as memorials of religion, who profess reverence for the name of God that they may wholly exclude it from the dealings of mankind, and may empty
every social institution of the spirit which hallows it. And there are others, less godless in their views, but equally godless in their acts, who, detaching morality from religion, and making every individual responsible for his creed and his piety solely to his Maker, think that the world may be carried on upon a common worldly code of vice and virtue, and that every allusion to religion should be avoided as an indelicate, unauthorized intrusion upon the right of private conscience.
But however various the motives for demanding a change in our present system of oaths, it is quite clear that the system
requires examination. And the fear is, lest this examination should be prejudiced or superficial, carried on, like most of our present criticisms on the institutions of past ages, in a conceited, discontented, or enthusiastic spirit, and ending not in the restoration of a system to its sound and healthy state, but in the entire destruction of it, as a punishment for its having been abused.
The administration of oaths in this country, as before remarked, has been long based upon fundamental principles of society, bot political and religious. From the very nature of an oath we cannot alter it, without affecting public feeling on many vital questions both of society and of Christianity itself, without touching on subjects intimately connected with our highest interests—subjects on which we are at this crisis in the midst of a great revolution of opinion. In discussing these subjects, looking to the general tenor of our public acts, we see very little to guide us at present but views of expediency, vague plans of melioration, a desire to conciliate opponents, and a suspicion of the soundness of all maxims on which we have hitherto acted.
It indicates, indeed, little good sense or good feeling to speak of the
age in which we live as wholly worse than those which preceded it, and we have no such intention. But, assuredly, thoughtlessness and conceit are the characteristics of the present times: and it is not too presumptuous to say of us, that while we have discarded the guidance of those old principles and instincts which governed almost unconsciously the movements of society in past days, we have not reached, and probably never shall reach, by our own independent reasonings, such a profound knowledge of ethical and political truths as will supply their place. There is every reason why we should listen with attention and gratitude to any suggestion of improvement, from whatever quarter it may proceed. But there are still weightier reasons why, especially in times like these, we should examine deeply every plan of change. We should look first candidly, and even favorably, at existing institutions, and endeavor to correct their defects, instead of wholly overturning them at once; and most of all, we never should perpetrate a change without going back to principles, and resting it on the first axioms of morals.
We propose, therefore, at present, to make a few observations on the theory of oaths, with reference to the fundamental laws of human nature on which they are or ought to be constructed ; and feeling that the great want in all our present proceedings is deep and accurate thought, we will make no apology for endeavoring to treat the question not superficially.
Perhaps nearly all the difficulties with which the imposition of oaths is embarrassed at the present day arise from an indistinct
view of the nature of moral obligation, and this indistinctness arises from an ambiguity in the use of the word. To oblige is to tie, to bind down, to compel to a certain course of action. Thus we find the phenomena of the material world always following a regular undeviating course, and we say that they are under the obligation of certain laws. We infer the existence of the laws from the uniform obedience to them. We know nothing of any obliging power, except by the uniform success of the obligation. But in the moral world it is very different. In this there are two kinds of laws-one which ought to oblige, the other which do oblige-one which we learn and understand long before we obey their impulse: the other which we follow, even while we protest against their right to lead. The laws of reason, goodness, holiness, of duty in general, are of the former kind; the laws of pleasure, inclination, self-interest, or habit, are of the latter. Nothing, for instance, lays, in one sense, a stronger obligation upon men than the existence of a Deity—to love, honor, and obey him. Nothing, in reality, exerts over us so little practical influence, probably, till a very late period of life. If we use the term obligatory to express that which ought to oblige; and the term obliging to express that which really does oblige, the question will be much simplified. And an oath, to state the case abstractedly, may be defined as an attempt to enforce that which is obligatory in itself by something which is obliging-to make men do that which ought to be done, but will not be done for its own sake, by some secondary motive of which they are susceptible.
In looking, then, into the constitution of human nature, (and without such an examination all regulation of oaths must be hazardous and precarious,) it is clear that nature has provided for us two kinds of motives, prior and preparatory to those which will influence our conduct when the law of virtue is at last written in our hearts-two which do oblige us long before we are obliged by those which are in the highest degree obligatory. These two are, shame or an instinctive submission to other moral beings above us; self-interest or any regard to our own pleasure or pain. The former principle is most strong in generous, noble minds—the latter in the lowest and worst. It would be mere pedantry to refer to ethical authorities for the illustration of these positions, upon which all ethical systems are founded.
If we examine more closely the nature of this feeling of shame, or, to use a Latin word which expresses its character more clearly, of “verecundia," it comprises many distinct sensibilities. It implies regard for the opinion of others, the fear of injuring them, bashfulness, emulation, respect for superior power, humility, personal affection: it is, in short, in morals what faith is in religion—the grapple by which 'men, during the process of education and instruction, are retained under the moral influence of others until the love of virtue, for its own sake, has been infused into their mind. Personal authority is a very different thing from the authority of goodness; and the former must be employed to enforce the latter until the latter is made intelligible and has acquired a proper power of its own.
If this principle of shame is not employed, education (and educa-, tion is a large word, comprising all the influence which is exerted on the minds whether of old or young) can only be conducted on the principle of administering selfish pleasures or pains. If a child
will not be guided to right by the love of his parent, or by instinctive submission to his teacher, or by respect for the opinion of his companion, he must be bribed or flogged into obedience. There is no other course open, because no other motives are provided by nature to influence his actions, but either the intrinsic beauty of goodness, as the last, or shame, or selfish interest, as the previous instruments of discipline.
Such being the case, it is evident that whenever men are to be bound down to a course of conduct which, though in itself good, and therefore intrinsically obligatory, they yet are incapable of liking or obeying, then one of these secondary motives must be employed; and no wise man will doubt to which he ought to have recourse. The lower, indeed, may be thought to succeed with bad men better than the higher; but applied to the better class of characters, it will not only fail to elevate, but will even deteriorate their nature. Treat men as incapable of self-respect, and their selfrespect will soon be destroyed; accustom them only to mean motives, and mean motives will soon become their only rule.
And there are many other considerations which render shame, as a motive, preferable to self-interest. It extends to the thoughts and hearts as well as to external actions. Though a virtue of an inferior class, it is in itself a virtue, and therefore encourages the growth of other virtues, instead of extinguishing them. It is one of the first sensibilities awakened, and nearly the last wholly lost; and where it is lost, as all reformation is hopeless, such cases can never into calculation. Men are not to regulate their laws or their discipline by their probable effect upon the wholly bad, who are beyond all influence, but upon the imperfectly good, who may be yet saved. These are the proper objects of wise legislation in man, as they are the objects of God's providence in nature.
One way, then, in which the principle of shame is brought to bear upon the moral government of men, is the exclusion of temptation, by keeping before them constantly persons, and personal influences, in the presence of which neither vicious actions can be indulged, nor vicious thoughts intrude. Thus children are kept under the eye of their parents. Public opinion is a perpetual check upon many proAligate tendencies. The light of day prohibits many things which are shamelessly committed in darkness. Thus the looks, language, censures, or approbation of our fellow-creatures insensibly guide and control our opinions as well as conduct. Thus a high standard of moral feeling in one class soon operates upon others. The mere presence of good men makes others good. The very sight of places, things, buildings, or objects hallowed by the personal character of other moral beings, keeps guard upon the sanctuary of the heart, and prevents the entrance of evil.
In one word, there is a moral power in the world, unseen, indeed, but not unfelt, which is hourly guiding us all, in the beautiful expression of Scripture, “not by bit or bridle,” that is, by the rough impulses of pain or pleasure, “but by the eye,” by the secret movement of its approbation or censure.
In another way this power acts, like other discipline, by its punishments and rewards; and, like all forms of government, by punishment much more than by reward. It follows up the offender,