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meaning of the one we are taught by the other. We must not invocate the name of God in any promise in vain, that is, with a lie which happens either out of levity, that we change our purpose, which at first we really intended; or when our intention at that instant was fallacious, and contradictory to the undertaking. This is to "take the name of God," that is, to use it, to take it into our mouths, for vanity; that is, according to the perpetual style of Scripture, for a lie. "Every one hath spoken vanity to his neighbour," that is, he hath lied unto him; for so it follows, "with flattering lips, and with a double heart:" and "swearing deceitfully" is by the Psalmist called "lifting up his soul unto vanity." And Philo the Jew, who well understood the law and the language of his nation, renders the sense of this commandment to be, " to call God to witness to a lie." And this is to be understood only in promises, for so Christ explains it, by the appendix out of the law, "Thou shalt perform thy oaths:" for lying in judgment, which is also with an oath, or taking God's name for witness, is forbidden in the ninth commandment. To this Christ added a farther restraint. For whereas, by the natural law, it was not unlawful to swear by any oath that implied not idolatry, or the belief of a false god, (I say) any grave and prudent oath, when they spake a grave truth; and whereas it was lawful for the Jews in ordinary intercourse to swear by God, so they did not swear to a lie, (to which also swearing to an impertinency might be reduced by a proportion of reason, and was so accounted of in the practice of the Jews,) but else, and in other cases, they used to swear by God, or by a creature, respectively; for," they that swear by him shall be commended," saith the Psalmist; and "swearing to the Lord of Hosts," is called "speaking the language of Canaan." Most of this was rescinded; Christ forbade "all swearing," not only swearing to a lie, but also swearing to a truth in common affairs; not only swearing commonly by the name of God, but swearing commonly" by heaven," and "by the earth, by our head," or by any other oath: only let our

1 Psal. xii. 2.

a Psal. xxiv. 4.

· Οὐκ ἔλαβεν ἐπὶ ματαίῳ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ· μάρτυρα δὲ καὶ καλεῖν ἐπὶ ψεύδει θεὸν ἀνοσιώτατον. - Philo.

e Psal. Ixiii. 11.

d 1 Sam. xx. 17. Isa. xix. 18.

speech be yea, or nay; that is, plainly affirming or denying. In these, I say, Christ corrected the license and vanities of the Jews and Gentiles. For as the Jews accounted it religion to name God, and therefore would not swear by him, but in the more solemn occasions of their life; but in trifles they would swear by their fathers, or the light of heaven, or the ground they trod on: so the Greeks were also careful not to swear by the gods lightly, much less fallaciously; but they would swear by any thing about them, or near them, upon an occasion as vain as their oathf. But because these oaths are either indirectly to be referred to God, (and Christ instances in divers,) or else they are but a vain testimony, or else they give a divine honour to a creature, by making it a judge of truth and discerner of spirits; therefore Christ seems to forbid all forms of swearing whatsoever. In pursuance of which law, Basilides, being converted at the prayers of Potamiana, a virgin-martyr, and required by his fellow-soldiers to swear upon some occasion then happening, answered, it was not lawful for him to swear, for he was a Christian; and many of the fathers have followed the words of Christ in so severe a sense, that their words seem to admit no exception.

19. But here a grain of salt must be taken, lest the letter destroy the spirit. First, it is certain the holy Jesus forbade a custom of swearing; it being great irreligion to despise and lessen the name of God, which is the instrument and conveyance of our adorations to him, by making it common and applicable to trifles and ordinary accidents of our life. He that swears often, many times swears false, and, however, lays by that reverence which, being due to God, the Scripture determines it to be due at his name: his " name is to be

e ̔Απλᾶ γάρ ἐστι τῆς ἀληθείας ἔπη.-Æschyl. Οπλων κρίσις.

Ecce negas, jurasque mihi per templa Tonantis. Non credo, jura, Verpe, per Anchialum, id est, per Elohim Hebræorum.-Mart. lib. xi. Ep. 95.

Vide Harmenopulum in Plin. lib. v. c. 27. et Scalig. de Emend. Temp. in Append. Libror.

Μὴ προπετῶς κατὰ τῶν θεῶν ὀμνύειν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τῶν προστυγχανόντων.--- Interp. in Hom. Euseb. lib. vi. Hist. cap. 4.

* Vide Ecclus. xxiii. 9, 11, 13.

Dominus et Jacobus ideo prohibuerunt jusjurandum, non ut illud prorsus è rebus humanis tollerent, sed quia caveremus à perjurio non facilè jurando. -S. August. Ser. 28. de l'erbis Apost.


loved and feared." And therefore Christ commands that our "communication be yea, yea," or "nay, nay;" that is, our ordinary discourses should be simply affirmative or negative. In order to this, Plutarch affirms out of Phavorinus, that the reason why the Greeks forbade children, who were about to swear by Hercules, to swear within doors, was, that by this delay and preparation, they might be taught not to be hasty or quick in swearing, but all such invocations should be restrained and retarded by ceremony: and Hercules himself was observed never to have sworn in all his life-time but once. 2. Not only customary swearing is forbidden, but all swearing upon a slight cause. St. Basil upbraids some Christians, his contemporaries, with the example of Clinias the Pythagorean, who, rather than he would swear, suffered a mulct of three talents. And all the followers of Pythagoras admitted no oath, unless the matter were grave, necessary, and charitable: and the wisest and gravest persons among the heathens were very severe in their counsels concerning oaths. 3. But there are some cases in which the interests of kingdoms and bodies politic, peace and confederacies, require the sanction of promissory oaths; and they whom we are bound to obey, and who may kill us if we do not, require that their interests be secured by an oath: and that in this case, and all that are equal, our blessed Saviour did not forbid oaths, is certain, not only by the example of Christians, but of all the world before and since this prohibition, understanding it to be of the nature of such natural bands and securities, without which, commonwealths, in some cases, are not easily combined, and therefore to be a thing necessary, and therefore not to be forbidden. Now what is by Christians to be esteemed a slight cause, we may determine by the account we take of other things. The glory of God is certainly no light matter; and therefore, when that is evidently and certainly concerned, not fantastically, and by vain and imaginary consequences, but by prudent and true estimation, then we may lawfully swear. We have St. Paul's example, who well understood the precept of his Master, and

Η Ρωμαϊκκὴ ἐπίσχεσίς ἐστι τῆς πρὸς τὸν ὅρκον ἐυχερείας καὶ ταχύτητος τὸ γινόμενον· ὡς Φαβωρῖνος ἔλεγε· τὸ γὰρ ὥσπερ ἐκ παρασκευῆς μέλλησιν ἐμποιεῖ, καὶ βουλεύσασθαι didwos.

is not to be supposed easily to have done any violence to it; but yet we find religious affirmations, and God invoked for "witness as a record upon his soul," in his epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians'. But these oaths were only assertory. Tertullian affirmeth, that Christians refused to swear by the genius of their prince, because it was a dæmon; but they sware by his health, and their solemn oath was by God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the majesty of the emperor. The fathers of the Ephesine council made Nestorius and Victor swear; and the bishops at Chalcedon sware by the health of their princes. But as St. Paul did it extra-judicially, when the glory of God was concerned in it, and the interest of souls; so the Christians used to swear in a cause of piety and religion, in obedience, and upon public command, or for the ends of charity and justice, both with oaths promissory and assertory, as the matter required: with this only difference, that they never did swear in the causes of justice or charity, but when they were before a magistrate; but if it were in a cause of religion, and in matters of promise, they did indeed swear among themselves, but always to, or in communities and societies, obliging themselves by oath not to commit wickedness, robberies, sacrilege, not to deceive their trust, not to detain the pledge; which rather was an act of direct intercourse with God, than a solemn or religious obligation to man. Which very thing Pliny also reports of the Christians.

20. The sum is this: Since the whole subject matter of this precept is oaths promissory, or vows; all promises with oaths are regularly forbidden to Christians, unless they be made to God or God's vicegerent, in a matter not trifling. For, in the first case, a promise made to God, and a swearing by God to perform the promise, to him is all one for the name of God being the instrument and determination of all our addresses, we cannot be supposed to speak to God without using of his name explicitly, or by implication: and

Gal. i. 20.

Rom. i. 9. 2 Cor xi. 31. · Τὸ καὶ καὶ τὸ οὐ συλλαβαὶ δύο ἀλλ ̓ ὅμως τὸ κράτιστον τῶν ἀγαθῶν, ἡ ἀλήθεια, καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος ὅρος τῆς πονηρίας, τὸ ψεῦδος, τοῖς μικροῖς τούτοις ῥήμασι πολλάκις ἐμπεριέXiT.-S. Basil. lib. de Spir. S.

Necessitas magnum humanæ imbecilitatis præsidium; quicquid cogit, excusat.- Sen.

therefore he that promises to God makes a promise, and uses God's name in the promise; the promise itself being in the nature of a prayer, or solemn invocation of God. In the second case, when the public necessity requires it, of which we are not judges, but are under authority, we find the lawfulness by being bound to believe, or not to contradict, the pretence of its necessity; only care is to be taken that the matter be grave or religious, that is, it is to be esteemed and presumed so by us, if the oath be imposed by our lawful superiors, and to be cared for by them: or else it is so to be provided for by ourselves, when our intercourse is with God, as in vows and promises passed to God; being careful that we do not offer to God goat's hair, or the fumes of mushrooms, or the blood of swine; that is, things either impious or vain. But in our communication, that is, in our ordinary intercourse with men, we must promise by simple testimony, not by religious adjurations, though a creature be the instrument of the oath.

21. But this forbids not assertory oaths at all, or deposing in judgment; for of this Christ speaks not here, it being the proper matter of another commandment: and since (as St. Paul affirms)" an oath is the end of all controversy," and that the necessity of commonwealths requires that a period should be fixed to questions, and a rule for the nearest certainty for judgment; whatsoever is necessary is not un-, lawful; and Christ, who came to knit the bonds of government faster by the stricture of more religious ties, cannot be understood to have given precepts to dissolve the instruments of judicature and prudent government. But concerning assertory oaths, although they are not forbidden, but supposed in the ninth commandment to be done before our judges in the cause of our neighbour; yet because they are only so supposed, and no way else mentioned, by permission or intimation, therefore they are to be estimated by the proportions of this precept concerning promissory oaths: they may be taken in judgment and righteousness, but never lightly, never extra-judicially; only a less cause, so it be judicial, may authorize an assertory than a promissory oath; because many cases occur, in which peace and justice may be

I Heb. vi. 16.

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