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4. As it is an Honour to the King, to have recourse to him as the Supreme, and that he should have the controuling of all other Judges; but it would be an intolerable Dishonour, in the first Result, to trouble him with every inconsiderable little Cause, such as might be decided by any ordinary Justice of Peace: So it is an Honour to God, in Matters of the greatest Weight and Confequence, to invoke him as the Judge and Witness, and to appeal to his Decision, but to flie to it for every trivial Matter, is a great Dishonour to his Holy Name, and a Vilifying and Prostituting of his Sacred Authority.
5. If we use Rashness and Precipitancy in swearing, it is impossible to observe the common Conditions I told you were required in an Oath, by the Prophet Jeremiah, Truth, Fudgment, and Righteousness; for all these require great Deliberation and Attention. Truth is lost, if we do not recollect it carefully in our Memory, and keep up a Presence of Mind, and restrain our felves from all Byass and Self-Interest. Judgment, in its own Nature, requires a serious weighing the Importance, as well as the Truth of what we Affert or Promise upon Oath. And Righteousness requires an Inspection into the Merits and Consequences of what we swear, that we do not involve our selves in any Bond of Iniquity, by a rafh general Oath, from which many Cases may arise that we were not aware of : As in the case of Saul's Dath, which ensnared his Son Jonathan; and in the Case of Herod, which led him to the Murder of that excellent Man, Yohn the Baptift. And therefore, since great Deliberation is requisite to the observing the Conditions of an Oath, we
may conclude, that all sudden common swearing in Conversation is out of Doors.
6. It is worth Consideration, that rath Oaths engage Men in many Inconvenient, and in many finful Practices. First, I say, inconvenient Practices, which tend very much to their Lofs and Prejudice. For if what we have sworn be ever so Detrimental, so that it be not finful, by Vira tue of our Oaths we are to comply with it, this being one Part of the Character of the Man that hall abide in God's Tabernacle, and dwell in his Holy Hill, that he weareth to his own Hurt, and changeth not. Pfá. xv. 4. But that is not the worst of these rash Oaths, they lead to Perjury, and other Sins, as appears by Saul's and Herod's rash Oaths, one of which, Sauls, was broken, and indeed better broken than kept, and yet there was the Sin of forswearing; and the other kept, and was attended with the Sin of Murder.
7. Rajh, or common Swearing, is a great lessening to the Person that uses it ; for the Meaning of it is, (if it has any Meaning) that he is not a Person fit to be credited upon his Word, and that he is so sensible of this himself, that he has recourse to Qåths; which yet, of all Things that ever were practiced, are the worst Remedy for a broken Credit : For it is not the Oath that gives Credit to the Man, but the Man that gives Credit to the Oath. The common Swearer, by giving such plain Demonstration that he has no fear of God, deferves no Credit with Men; for in all probability, fuch a one will be no better in Morals than the Law, will make him ; for if he were governed by any inward principle of Religion, that would keep him from the Profaneness of VOL. II,
common Swearing, as well as from the Immorality of Dishonesty.
8. This Sin of common Swearing is a great piece of rudeness to the Company; especially where there are any present, that have any Sense of Religion or the Fear of God. To them it is like the abusing of a Man's Friends to his Face. The Injury of the Calumny and the Back-biting is to them, but the affront is to him, and so he must needs take it. But it not being proper for him in a private Capacity to avenge it, God Almighty takes the Vengeance into his own Hands, and commonly makes terrible Examples of such profane Wretches.
9. It is a great Aggravation of this Sin of common Swearing, that it has not the excuse of strong Temptations, as most other Sins have. It gratifies no Appetite, it brings in no Profit, Pleafure, or Honour; if it is at any time fashionable, it is such a wicked Fashion, that none will take upon them to Justify, far less to praise and commend; and therefore it is the being wicked for wickedness fake, it is the selling of our selves to the Devil for nought ; naturally, no Man is inclined to such a Sin; it is only the effect of wicked Habits, and as common as it is, it is hard to tell from whence it proceeds, except from bad Example, which the Devil has taken care to propagate from one Generation to another.
The only Reason one can imagine for this Practice, is, that we may be the better believed ; but it has commonly the quite contrary Effect. A Man that is known to fear
God, will be sooner believed upon his Word, than a common Swearer upon many, repeated Oaths.
10. Laftly, If one were to examine the Occasions of these common Oaths, it would be found true what our Saviour observes in the Text, that they come of Evil; whether the Meaning of that be, as some Interpret it, that they come of the evil one, that is, the Devil, or that they are occasioned by some bad Principle, or foine wicked Temper of Mind, or some other Vice; such as Pride, Anger, Impatience, Discontent, Self-conceit, Rudeness, a Defect of Reason, and Want of better Proof, or Atheism, and down-right Profaneness; and yet one would think that it ihould be the most impertinent and absurd Thing for an Atheist, to invoke the Name of God, when he does not believe any such Being.
These and many more Reasons there were for reprehending this wicked Practice in our Saviour's Days; and Christianity has made great Improvements in the Doctrine upon this Commandmen', notwithstanding the shameless profane Practice of many that are called ChriItians. And this is the last Thing I proposed to consider from the Text, and will be properly the Subject of another Discourse upon it. I shall conclude, at present, in the Words of St James, which are properly Applicable to these Oaths in Conversation. (a) But above all things, my Brethren, swear not, neither
(a) Jam. v. 12.,