« AnteriorContinuar »
Evil. If the righteousness of the Law ought to be fulfilled in us, we ought not to swear, because we ought to be so righteous as not to lie. This is evangelical ; for as he that conceives not a foul or revengeful Thought, needs not to purge himself of Adultery and Murder; neither is there any reason that man should purge himself of Lying by Swearing, that doth not so much as countenance an untrue Thought.
The language of the same apostle to the Ephesians farther explains this Evangelical evidence; « But ye « have not so learned Christ, if so be that ye have heard “ him, and have been taught by him, as the Truth is « in Jesus; that ye put off, concerning the former “ conversation, the Old Man, which is corrupt, ac«c cording to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in " the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the " New Man, which, after God, is created in righte" ousness and true holiness: wherefore, putting away “ lying, speak every man truth with his neigh« bourh :" beyond which, there can be no assurance given or desired. And if Christians ought never to Lie, it is most certain they need never to Swear; for Swearing is built upon Lying: take away Lying, and there remains no more ground for Swearing; truthspeaking comes in the room thereof. And this not only the Christian doctrine teaches and requires; but Chrift, the blessed author of it, is ready to work in the hearts of the children of men, would they but come and learn of him, who is meek, lowly, filled with Grace and Truth, And we must needs say, it is a shameful thing, and very dishonourable to the Christian religion, that those who pretend themselves to be the followers of Christ, (for so true Christians ought to be) should so degenerate from his example and doctrine, as to want and use scaring asseverations, dispensed with in some of the weakest times of knowledge, and such horrible Imprecations (never known to ancient Jews and Christians) to ascertain one another of their Faith and Truth:
Ephes, iv, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.
Religion must needs have suffered a great ebb, and Christianity a fearful eclipse, since those brighter ages of its profession: for bishop Gauden himself, in his Difcourse of Oaths, confesses, That the ancient Christians
were so strict and exact, that there was no need of an « Oath among them; yea, they so kept up the sanctity ( and credit of their profession among unbelievers, that " it was security enough, in all cases, to say, Christianus fum, I am a Christian.'
But to fortify what we have hitherto urged, in defence of our judgment and practice; and to the end it may more fully appear, that our tenderness in this great case of Oaths, comes not from any four, sullen, or fuperstitious humour, or that we would trouble the world with any new-fangled opinion; we shall produce the concurrent testimonies of several famous and good men, for above these two thousand years, among Gentiles, Jews, and Christians, enough to make an Oecumenical Council: we shall cite them out of the best editi. ons we have been able to procure, and as truly and punctually as we can render them digested in order of time.
Collected out of the Writings of GENTILES,
Jews, and CHRISTIANS : Some of which were delivered to the World several Ages before Swear not at all was written by MATTHEW, or spoken by CHRIST. Which makes Swearing, among Christians, so much the more disallowable.
The whole published not only in Favour of our Cause,
but for the Instruction of the World, and to their just Honour that said and writ them, as durable Monuments of their Virtue.
1. The Sayings of the Gentiles or Heathens, in
Dislike of Oaths. UR two first testimonies shall be the practice of U Two Great People, the Persians and Scythians*.
Diodorus Siculus, Lib. 16. I. Among the Persians,' faith Diodorus Siculus,
giving the right-hand was the token of truth-speakring: he that did it deceitfully, was counted more
detestable than if he had sworn. Which plainly implies, that swearing was detested among them, as well as that they needed not to swear, who so much used truthspeaking.
* These nations were man
red years bef
Quint. Curt. in Vit. Alex. 11. The Scythians, as it is reported by Q. Curtius, in their conference with Alexander, upon occasion of an unexpected security, told him, “Think not that the < Scythians confirm their friendship by Oath: they swear
by keeping their word.' Which is not only a proof of their disuse of common oaths, but swearing at all, even in matters of greatest importance.
Plutarch, Rom. Quest. 28. III. “So religious was Hercules,' saith Plutarch, that che never swore but once. If it was religiously done to swear but once in a man's life, it had been more religiously done not to swear at all. How just and fevere a censure is this out of an Heathen's mouth, upon the practice of disfolute Christians*?
Hefiod, Theogon. p. 88. IV. Hesiod, in his Theogonia, places an oath amongst the brood of contention. An oath,' saith he, 'greatly - hurts men. Again presently, An oath goes with ? corrupt judgment;' or an oath flies away together with corrupt judgments; that is, when justice appears among men, oaths vanilh; as his scope in that place shewst.
Sociad, in Stob. 28. V. It was one part of the doctrine of the Seven Sages, so famous in Greece, “That men ought not to swear I.'
Stobæus, Serm. 3. VI. Solon, the famous law-giver of Athens, and one of those Seven Sages, exhorteth the people to observe
Honesty more strictly than an Oath. As if he had said, "Honesty is to be preferred before swearing;' as another saying of his imports, " A good man should
have that repute, as not to need an oath ; it is a
diminution to his credit to be put to swear.' Bishop Gaud, of Oaths, p. 41.
* Lived before Christ about 1280 years, being in the days of Gitaon, Judg. viü. + Before Chrift 800 years, in the days of Hola, Joel, and Amos. I Before Christ 620 years, in the laps of Jofiah,
its, Apan oath ; Bishop Tbeognis, ver. 660. VII. Theognis, the Greek poet, writing of a person swearing, faith, "Neither ought he to swear this • or any thing: this thing, (or swearing itself) shall • not be. What is this less than swear not at all*? Valer. Max. lib. 8. cap. 18. Laert. Hermip. & Orig.
contr. Cell. VIII. Pythagoras, a grave and virtuous person, being earnestly intreated of the Crotonian senators for his advice in things relating to the government, did in his oration, among other excellent sentences, with more than ordinary emphasis, lay this down in the nature of a maxim, “Let no man atteft God by an Oath, though « in courts of Judicature; but use to speak such things, ras that he may be credited without an oath ti'
H. Grot. on Mat. v. 34 IX. Clineas, a just Greek, and follower of Pythagoras, out of love to truth, and the respect he bore to his master's doctrine, that enjoined him to fear and shun an Oath, chose to pay three talents,' which amount to about three hundred pounds, rather than take any
Oath:' whose example Basilius Magnus upbraided the Christians of his time with, that were learning to swear I.
Hierocles Comment. in Carm. Pythag. p. 28. X. Hierocles testifies, " That Pythagoras, in enjoin. ing them to revere an Oath, not only prohibits
Forswearing, but requires them also to abstain from - Swearing.'
And Æschylus makes a sincere Beckon to a matter, a firm Oath ||
Stobæus, Serm. 114. XI. Socrates, that worthy Gentile, and great promoter of virtue among the Athenians, among many excellent sentences delivered this, That good men must
ne, tharn, and in a follot
* Before Chrift 593 years. t Before Chrift 590 years. These three persons lived in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. | Before Christ 560 years. . lll Before Christ 422 years, in the time of Ahasuerus, Ezra iv,
: 5 let