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fel privately for their fouls' health: all these manners of fwearing, for caufes neceffary and honeft, be lawful. But when men do fwear of cuftom, in reafoning, buying, and felling, or other daily communication, (as many be common and great fwearers,) fuch kind of swearing is ungodly, unlawful, and forbidden by the commandment of God: for fuch fwearing is nothing elfe but taking of God's holy name in vain. And here is to be noted, that lawful fwearing is not forbidden, but commanded by Almighty God: for we have examples of Chrift and godly men, in holy Scripture, that did fwear themselves, and required oaths of others likewife; and God's commandment is, Thou shalt dread thy Lord God, and fhalt fwear by his name. And Almighty God by his Prophet David Pfal. Ixiii. faith, All men fhall be praised that fwear by him.
John iii. 2 Cor. i.
Thus did our Saviour Chrift fwear divers times, faying, Verily, verily and St. Paul fweareth thus, I call God to witness and Abraham, waxing old, required an oath of his fervant, that he should procure a wife for his fon Ifaac, which fhould come of his own kindred: and the fervant Gen. xxi. did fwear that he would perform his mafter's will. Abraham alfo, being required, did fwear unto Abimelech the king of Geraris, that he should not hurt him, nor his pofterity; and fo likewife did Abimelech swear unto Abraham, And David did fwear to be and continue a faithful friend to Jonathan; and Jonathan did fwear to become a faithful friend unto David.
Alfo God once commanded, that if a thing were laid to pledge to any man, or left with him to keep, if the fame thing were ftolen, or loft, that the keeper thereof fhould be fworn before judges, that he did not convey it away, nor ufed any deceit in caufing the fame to be conveyed away, by his confent or knowledge. And St. Paul faith, That in all matters of controversy between two perfons, whereas one faith yea, and the other nay, fo as no due proof can be had of the truth, the end of every fuch controverfy must be an oath ministered by a judge. And, moreover, God by the Prophet Jeremy faith, Thou fhalt fwear, The Lord liveth in truth, in judgment, in righteoufnefs. So that whofoever fweareth when he is required of a judge, let him be fure in his confcience that his oath have these three conditions, and he shall never need to be afraid of perjury.
First, he that fweareth must swear truly; that is, he ditions an muft (fetting apart all favour and affection to the parties) oath ought have the truth only before his eyes, and, for love thereof,
fay and speak that which he knoweth to be truth, and no further. The fecond is, he that taketh an oath must do The fecond. it with judgment; not rafhly and unadvisedly, but foberly, confidering what an oath is. The third is, he that The third. fweareth, muft fwear in righteoufnefs; that is, for the very zeal and love which he beareth to the defence of innocency, to the maintenance of the truth, and of the righteousness of the matter or caufe: all profit, disprofit, all love and favour unto the perfon for friendship or kindred laid apart. Thus an oath (if it have with it these Why we be three conditions) is a part of God's glory, which we are willed in bound by his commandment to give unto him: for he Scripture to fwear by willeth that we fhall fwear only by his name; not that he the name hath pleasure in our oaths; but like as he commanded the of God. Jews to offer facrifices unto him, not for any delight that he had in them, but to keep the Jews from committing idolatry; fo, he commanding us to fwear by his holy name, doth not teach us that he delighteth in fwearing, but he thereby forbiddeth all men to give his glory to any creature in heaven, earth, or water. Hitherto you Isaiah xlii. fee, that oaths lawful are commanded of God, ufed of pa- Pfalm xv. triarchs and prophets, of Chrift himself, and of his Apoftle Paul. Therefore Chriftian people must think lawful oaths both godly and neceffary. For by lawful promife Commodiand covenants, confirmed by oaths, princes and their ties had by countries are confirmed in common tranquillity and peace. oaths made By holy promises, with calling the name of God to wit- and obnefs, we be made lively members of Chrift, when we pro- ferved. fefs his religion receiving the facrament of baptifm. By like holy promise the facrament of matrimony knitteth man and wife in perpetual love, that they defire not to be separated for any difpleasure or adverfity that fhall after happen. By lawful oaths, which kings, princes, judges, and magiftrates do fwear, common laws are kept inviolate, juftice is indifferently miniftered, harmless perfons, fatherless children, widows and poor men, are defended from murderers, oppreffors, and thieves, that they suffer no wrong, nor take any harm. By lawful oaths, mutual fociety, amity, and good order is kept continually in all commonalties, as boroughs, cities, towns, and villages: and by lawful oaths malefactors are fearched out, wrong doers are punished, and they which fuftain wrong are reftored to their right: therefore lawful fwearing cannot be evil, which bringeth unto us fo many godly, good, and neceffary commodities. Wherefore when Chrift fo Vain fwear earneftly forbad fwearing, it may not fo be understood as ing is for
though he did forbid all manner of oaths: but he forbid deth all vain swearing and forfwearing both by God, and by his creatures, as the common use of swearing in buying, felling, and in our daily communication, to the intent every Chriftian man's word fhould be as well regarded in fuch matters, as if he should confirm his communication with an oath: for every Christian man's word, faith St. Hierom, fhould be fo true, that it fhould be regarded as an oath. And Chryfoftom, witneffing the same, faith, It is not convenient to swear: for what need we to fwear, when it is not lawful for one of us to make a lie An objec- unto another? Peradventure fome will fay, I am compelled to fwear, for else men that do commune with me, An anfwer. or do buy and fell with me, will not believe me. To this
anfwereth St. Chryfoftom, that he that thus faith, fheweth himself to be an unjust and a deceitful perfon: for if he were a trufty man, and his deeds taken to agree with his words, he should not need to fwear at all: for he that ufeth truth and plainness in his bargaining and communication, he fhall have no need, by fuch vain fwearing, to bring himself in credence with his neighbours, nor will his neighbours miftruft his fayings. And if his credence be fo much loft indeed, that he thinketh no man will believe him without he fwear, then he may well think his credence is clean gone: for truth it is, as Theophylactus writeth, that no man is lefs trufted, than he that useth much to fwear and Almighty God by the Wife Man faith, That man which fweareth much shall be full of fin, and the Scourge of God fhall not depart from his houfe.
But here fome men will fay, for excufing of their many objection. oaths in their daily talk, Why fhould I not fwear, when An anfwer. I fwear truly? To fuch men it may be faid, that though they fwear truly, yet, in fwearing often, unadvisedly, for trifles, without neceffity, and when they should not swear, they be not without fault; but do take God's most holy name in vain. Much more ungodly and unwife men are they, that abuse God's most holy name, not only in buying and felling of fmall things daily in all places; but alfo in eating, drinking, playing, communing, and reafoning: as if none of thefe things might be done, except in doing of them the most holy name of God be cominonly used and abused, vainly and unreverently talked of, fworn by, and forfworn, to the breaking of God's commandment, and procurement of his indignation.
The Second Part of the Sermon of Swearing.
You have been taught in the first part of this Sermon against swearing and perjury, what great danger it is to ufe the name of God in vain; and that all kind of fwearing is not unlawful, neither againft God's commandment; and that there be three things required in a lawful oath. Firft, that it be made for the maintenance of the truth: fecondly, that it be made with judgment, not rafhly and unadvisedly: thirdly, for the zeal and love of justice. Ye heard alfo what commodities come of lawful oaths, and what danger cometh of rafh and unlawful oaths. Now, as concerning the reft of the fame matter, you fhall understand, that as well they use the name of God in vain, that by an oath make lawful promifes of good and honeft things, and perform them not, as they which do promife evil and unlawful things, and do perform the fame. Of fuch men that regard not their godly promises bound by an oath, but wittingly and wilfully promifes break them, we do read in holy Scripture two notable would be punishments. First, Joshua and the people of Ifrael made better rea league and faithful promife of perpetual amity and Joh. ix. garded. friendship with the Gibeonites: notwithstanding afterwards, in the days of wicked Saul, many of thefe Gibeonites were murdered, contrary to the said faithful promife made: wherewith Almighty God was fo fore difpleased, that he sent an univerfal hunger upon the whole country, which continued by the space of three years: and God would not withdraw his punishment, until the faid offence was revenged by the death of feven fons, or next kinsmen of king Saul. Alfo whereas Zedechias, king of Jerufalem, had promifed fidelity to the king of Chaldea; afterward, when Zedechias, contrary to his oath and allegiance, did rebel against king Nebuchodonofor; this heathen king, by God's permiffion and fufferance, invading the land of Jewry, and befieging the city of Jerufalem, compelled the faid King Zedechias to flee, and in fleeing took him prifoner, flew his fons before his face, and put out both his eyes; and, binding him with chains, led him prifoner miferably into Babylon.
Thus doth God fhew plainly how much he abhorreth Unlawful breakers of honeft promifes bound by an oath made in his oaths and promifes name. And of them that make wicked promises by an oath, and will perform the fame, we have example in the be kept.
are not to
Scriptures, chiefly of Herod, of the wicked Jews, and of Matth. xiv. Jephtha. Herod promifed by an oath unto the damfel which danced before him, to give unto her whatsoever fhe would afk; when she was inftructed before of her wicked mother, to ask the head of St. John Baptift. Herod, as he took a wicked oath, fo he more wickedly performed the fame, and cruelly flew the most holy Prophet. A&ts xxiii. Likewife did the malicious Jews make an oath, curfing themfelves if they did either eat or drink, until they had flain Judges xi. St. Paul. And Jephtha, when God had given to him victory of the children of Ammon, promifed (of a foolish devotion) unto God, to offer for a facrifice unto him, that perfon which of his own houfe fhould firft meet with him after his return home. By force of which fond and unadvised oath, he did flay his own and only daughter, which came out of his house with mirth and joy to welcome him home. Thus the promife which he made (most foolifhly) to God, against God's everlasting will, and the law of nature, moft cruelly he performed; fo committing against God a double offence. Therefore, whofoever maketh any promife, binding himself thereunto by an oath, let him foresee that the thing which he promiseth be good, honeft, and not against the commandment of God, and that it be in his own power to perform it justly and fuch good promifes must all men keep evermore affuredly. But if a man at any time fhall, either of ignorance, or of malice, promife and fwear to do any thing which is either against the law of Almighty God, or not in his power to perform, let him take it for an unlawful and ungodly oath.
before a judge.
Now fomething to speak of perjury, to the intent you fhould know how great and grievous an offence against God this wilful perjury is, I will fhew you what it is to take an oath before a judge upon a book. First, when they, laying their hands upon the Gospel book, do swear truly to inquire, and to make a true prefentment of things wherewith they be charged, and not to let from faying the truth, and doing truly, for favour, love, dread, or malice of any perfon, as God may help them, and the holy contents of that book; they must confider, that in that book is contained God's everlafting truth, his most holy and eternal word, whereby we have forgiveness of our fins, and be made inheritors of heaven, to live for ever with God's angels, and his faints, in joy and gladness. In the Gospel book is contained alfo God's terrible threats to obftinate finners, that will not amend their lives, nor be