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whom we ought to inform; and give any other, than the exacteft and faireft Account that we can, of any Matter, concerning which we are examined. Again, if we promise upon Oath to do a Thing, without firmly defigning to do it; or if we promise not to do a Thing, without firmly defigning to abstain from it: this alfo is forfwearing ourselves. Nay further; provided the Thing, which we promife, be lawful, if we do not ever after take all the Care, that can be reasonably expected, to make our Promise good, we are guilty of Perjury; and of living in it, fo long as we live in that Neglect. If indeed a Perfon hath fworn to do, what he thought he could have done; and it proves afterwards unexpectedly, that he cannot; fuch a one is chargeable only with Miftake, or Inconfideratenefs at moft. And if we either promife, or threaten, any Thing, which we cannot lawfully do: making fuch a Promife is a Sin; but keeping it would be another, perhaps a greater Sin; and therefore it innocently may, and in Conscience ought to be broken. But if we have promifed what we may lawfully, but only cannot conveniently, perform; we are by no Means on that Account releafed from our Engagement: unless either we were unqualified to promife, or were deceived into promifing: or the Perfon to whom we have engaged, voluntarily fets us at Liberty; or the Circumftances of the Cafe be plainly and confeffedly fuch, that our Promife was not originally defigned to bind us in them.
You see then what is Perjury. And you must fee, it is not only the directeft and groffeft Affront to God; for which Reason it is forbidden in the firft Table of the ten Commandments; but the most pernicious Injury to our Fellow-creatures; on which Account you will find it again forbidden in the fecond Table. If Perfons will affert falfely upon Oath: no one knows what to believe; no one's Property or Life is fafe. And if Perfons will promife falfely upon Oath: no one can know whom to truft; all Security of Government and human Society, all mutual Confidence in Trade and Commerce,
in every Relation and Condition, is utterly at an End. With the greatest Reason therefore are perjured Wretches abhorred of all the World. And no Intereft of our own, no Kindness or Compaffion for other Persons, no Turn or Purpose of whatsoever Sort to be ferved by it, can ever justify our fwerving at all from Truth, either in giving Evidence, or entering into Engagements. Nor must we think in fuch Cafes to come off with Equivocations, Evafions, and Quibbles; and imagine it innocent to deceive this Way. On the contrary, the more artful and cunning our Falfhoods are, the more deliberate and mifchievous, and therefore the wickeder, they are. Be not deceived; God is not mockeda: and the following are the Declarations of his facred Word to the upright Man: Lord, who fhall dwell in thy Tabernacle, and rest upon thy boly Hill? He that speaketh the Truth from his Heart, and hath used no Deceit with his Tongue: he that fweareth unto his Neighbour and disappointeth him not, though it were to his own Hindrance. But to the perjured: Seeing he defpifed the Oath, by breaking the Covenant; thus faith the Lord God: As I live, furely mine Oath that he hath defpifed, and my Covenant that he hath broken, I will recompenfe it upon his Head.
[Let us all ftand in Awe of fo dreadful a Threatening, and avoid fo horrible a Guilt. Particularly at prefent, let all, who have fworn Allegiance to the King, faithfully keep it, and that in regard to the Oath of God. And let those who have not fworn, remember however, that merely claiming the Protection of a Government implies fome Promife of being dutiful to it in Return: and that a fuccefsful Rebellion would not only tempt Multitudes of our Fellow-fubjects to Perjury, but lay our Country, its Laws and Religion, at the abfolute Mercy of a Faith-breaking Church.]
One Thing more fhould be added here; for it cannot well be mentioned too often, that next to falfe fwearing,
a Gal. vi. 7.
Eccl. viii. 2. Rebellion, 1745.
Pfal. xv. 1, 2, 3, 5.
Ezek. xvii. 18, 19. This Paragraph was added in the Time of the
falfe fpeaking and lying, whether in what we affert or what we promise, is a grievous Sin, and hateful to God and Man. Though we do not call on our Maker to be Witness, yet he is a Witnefs of whatever we say. And it is prefumptuous Wickedness to utter an Untruth in the Presence of the God of Truth. It is alfo at the fame time very hurtful to other Perfons: and very foolifh with respect to ourselves. For they who will lie, to conceal their Faults, or to carry their Ends, are perpetually found out, disappointed and fhamed, for the most Part, in a very little while: and then, for ever after, they are diftrufted and difbelieved, even when they speak Truth as indeed who can depend upon fuch, or who would venture to employ them? Many other Faults may be born, fo long as Honefty and Sincerity laft: but a Failure in these cannot be paffed over: fo juft is Solomon's Observation; The Lip of Truth shall be established for ever: but a lying Tongue is but for a Moments.
2. Another Way of taking God's Name in vain is when we fwear by it needlessly, though it be not falfely. For this alfo the Word in vain fignifies.
One Way of doing fo, is by rafh and inconfiderate Vows: for a Vow, being a Promife made folemnly to God, partakes of the Nature of an Oath. And there may poffibly be fometimes good Reasons for entering into this Kind of Engagement. But vowing to do what there is no Use of doing, is trifling with our Creator: making unlawful Vows, is directly telling him, we will disobey him: making such without Neceffity, as are difficult to keep, is leading ourselves into Temptation : and indeed making any, without much Thought and prudent Advice firft, ufually proves an unhappy Snare. One Vow we have all made, and were bound to make, that of our Baptifm, which includes every real good Refolution. That therefore let us carefully keep and frequently ratify and we fhall fcarce have Occafion to make any more.
f Pfal, xxxi. 5.
* Prov, xii. 19.
Another very needlefs, and always finful, Ufe of God's Name, is by Oaths, in common Difcourfe. Too many there are, who fill up with them a great Part of their most trifling Conversation: especially, if ever so little Warmth rises in Talk, then they abound in them. Now it is unavoidable, but Perfons, who are perpetually fwearing, must frequently perjure themselves. But were that otherwise; it is great Irreverence, upon every flight Thing we fay, to invoke God for a Witnefs; and mix his holy and reverend Name with the idleft Things, that come out of our Mouths. And what makes this Practice the more inexcufable is, that we cannot have either any Advantage from it, or any natural Pleasure in it. Sometimes it arifes from a Haftiness and Impatience of Temper; which is but increased by giving this Vent to it: whereas it is every one's Wisdom, not to let it break out in any way, much less in such a Way. But generally it is Nothing more than a filly and profane Cuftom, inconfiderately taken up: and there are the ftrongest Reasons for laying it down immediately. It will make us difliked and abhorred by good Perfons, and scarce recommend us to the very worst. No Person is the fooner believed for his frequent fwearing: on the contrary, a modeft ferious Affirmation is always much more regarded. And if any one's Character is fo low, that his Word cannot be taken; he must think of other Methods to retrieve it. For he will not at all mend Matters, by adding his Oath ever fo often over. Then if Swearing be affected, as becoming; it is certainly quite otherwife, in the highest Degree. The very Phrafes used in it, as well as the Occafions, on which they are used, are almost conftantly abfurd and foolish: and furely Profanenefs can never leffen the Folly. Befides, they make the Conversation of Men fhocking and hellifh. They are acknowledged to be difrefpectful to the Company, in which they are ufed and if Regard to their earthly Superiors can restrain Perfons from fwearing; why should
Pfal. cxi. 9.
not the Reverence, owing to our heavenly Father, do it much more effectually? But indeed the Indulgence of this Sin wears off by Degrees all Senfe of Religion, and of every Thing that is good.
Juftly therefore doth our Saviour direct: But I fay unto you, Swear not at all: neither by Heaven, for it is God's Throne; nor by the Earth, for it is his Footstool; neither by Jerufalem, for it is the City of the great King: neither halt thou fwear by thy Head, for thou canst not make one Hair white or black. But let your Communication be Yea, Yea; Nay, Nay; for whatsoever is more than thefe, cometh of Evil. That is: avoid, not only the groffer Oaths, but all the filly Refinements and Softenings of them, which Men have contrived, in Hope to make them seem innocent: for, though the Name of God be not expreffed, yet if it be implied, by mentioning fomething related to God, instead of himfelf; indeed whatever Form is ufed to difguife it; the Intent is the fame; and the Effect will be, bringing a facred Obligation into Familiarity and Contempt. Keep yourselves therefore, throughout the Whole of your common Conversation, within the Bounds of a plain Affirmation or Denial : for whatever goes beyond thefe, proceeds from a bad Turn of Mind, and will produce bad Confequences.
If indeed we be required to fwear before a Magiftrate, or public Officer, for the Discovery of Truth, and the doing of Justice, this is notwithstanding lawful. For our Saviour forbids it only in our Communication, our ordinary Difcourfe: and he himself, our great Pattern, anfwered upon Oath to the high Prieft, who adjured him by the living God. Or though we be not called upon by Law, yet if fome other weighty and extraordinary Occafion fhould oblige us to call our Maker to Witnefs; as St. Paul hath done, in more Places than one of his Epiftles; then alfo we may allow ably do it, provided it be alway with Sincerity and Reverence. For by Oaths, thus taken, Men are benefited; and the Name of God
Matth. v. 34, 35, 36.
* Matth. xxvi. 63.