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after them : as one thief may both rob many men, and also make many thieves; and one seditious person may allure many, and noy a whole town or country. And such evil persons, that be so great offenders of God and the commonweal, charity requireth to be cut off from the body of the commonweal, lest they corrupt other good and honest persons; like as a good surgeon cutteth away a rotten and festered member for love he hath to the whole body, lest it infect other members adjoining to it.
Thus it is declared unto you what true charity or Christian love is, so plainly that no man need to be deceived. Which love whosoever keepeth, not only toward God, whom he is bound to love above all things, but also toward his neighbour, as well friend as foe, it shall surely keep him from all offence of God and just offence of man. Therefore bear well away this one short lesson, that by true Christian charity God ought to be loved above all things, and all men ought to be loved, good and evil, friend and foe; and to all such we ought, as we may, to do good; those that be good, of love to encourage and cherish, because they be good; and those that be evil, of love to procure and seek their correction and due punishment, that they may thereby either be brought to goodness, or at the least that God and the commonwealth may be the less hurt and offended. And, if we thus direct our life by Christian love and charity, then Christ doth promise and assure us that he loveth us, that we be the children of our heavenly Father, reconciled to his favour, very members of Christ, and that, after this short time of this present and mortal life, we shall have with him everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom of heaven. Therefore to him with the Father and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory now and ever. Amen.
AGAINST SWEARING AND PERJURY.
what causes it is lawful to
ALMIGHTY God, to the intent his most holy Name should be had in honour and evermore be magnified of the people, commandeth that no man should take his Name vainly in his mouth, threatening punishment unto him that unreverently abuseth it by swearing, forswearing, and blasphemy. To the intent therefore that this commandment may be the better known and kept, it shall be declared unto you both how it is lawful for Christian people to swear, and also what peril and danger it is vainly to swear or to be forsworn.
First, when judges require oaths of the people now and in for declaration (or opening) of the truth or for execution of justice, this manner of swearing is swear. lawful. Also, when men make faithful promises with calling to witness of the Name of God to keep covenants, honest promises, statutes, laws, and good customs; as Christian princes do in their conclusions of peace for conservation of commonwealths; and private persons promise their fidelity in matrimony, or one to another in honest and true friendship; and all men, when they do swear to keep common laws, or local statutes and good customs, for due order to be had and continued among men; when subjects do swear to be true and faithful to their king and sovereign lord, and when judges, magistrates, and officers swear truly to execute their offices; and when a man would affirm the truth to the setting forth of God's glory for the salvation of the people in open preach
ing of the Gospel, or in giving of good counsel privately for their souls' health : all these manner of swearings for causes necessary and honest be lawful. But, when men do swear of custom, in reasoning, buying and selling, or other daily communication, as many be common and great swearers, such kind of swearing is ungodly, unlawful, and forbidden by the commandment of God: for such swearing is nothing else but taking of God's holy Name in vain.
And here is to be noted that lawful swearing is not forbidden, but commanded, of Almighty God. For we have examples of Christ and godly men in holy Scripture, that did swear themselves, and re
quired oaths of other likewise. And God's comDeut. vi. 13. mandment is, Thou shalt dread thy Lord God, and
shalt swear by his Name. And Almighty God by Ps. lxiii. 11. his Prophet David saith, All men shall be praised
that swear by him.
Thus did our Saviour Christ swear divers times, John iii. 3, 5, saying, Verily, Verily. And St. Paul sweareth
thus, I call God to witness. And Abraham, waxing old, required an oath of his servant that he should procure a wife for his son Isaac, which should come of his own kinred : and the servant
did swear that he would perform his master's Gen. xxi. 22- will. Abraham also, being required, did swear unto
Abimelech the king of Geraris that he should not
hurt him nor his posterity: and so likewise did 1 Sam. xviii. Abimelech swear unto Abraham. And David did
swear to be and continue a faithful friend to Jo-
deceit in causing the same to be conveyed away by his con11eb. vi. 16. sent or knowledge. And St. Paul saith that in all
matters of controversy between two persons, where
2 Cor, i, 23. Gen. xxiv. 19.
3 ; xx, 12-17,
Exod. xxi. 10, II.
away, nor used
tions a law.
as one saith yea, and the other nay, so as no due proof can be had of the truth, the end of every such controversy must be an oath ministered by a judge.
And moreover God by the Prophet Jeremy saith, Jer. iv. a. Thou shalt swear, The Lord lireth, in truth, in judge ment, in righteousness. So that, whosoever sweareth when he is required of a judge, let him be sure in his conscience that his oath have these three con- What condiditions, and he shall never need to be afraid of ful oath perjury. First, he that sweareth must swear truly; that is, he must, setting apart all favour and affec- The first. tion to the parties, have the truth only before his eyes, and for love thereof say and speak that which he knoweth to be truth, and no further. The The second. second is, he that taketh an oath must do it wilh judgment; not rashly and unadvisedly, but soberly, considering what an oath is. The third is, he that the third. sweareth must swear in righteousness; that is, for the very zeal and love which he beareth to the defence of innocency, to the maintenance of the truth, and to the righteousness of the matter or cause, all profit, disprofit, all love and favour unto the person for friendship or kinred, laid apart. Thus an oath, if it have with it these three conditions, is a part of God's glory which we are bound by his commandment to give unto him: for he willetb that we shall swear only by his Name. Not that he why we be hath pleasure in our oaths : but, like as he commanded the Jews to offer sacrifices unto him, not swear by the for any delight that he had in them, but to keep the Jews from committing of idolatry, so he, commanding us to swear by his holy Name, doth not teach us that he delighteth in swearing, but he thereby forbiddeth all men to give his glory to any isai. xlii. 8: creature in heaven, earth, or water.
Hitherto you see that oaths lawful are commanded of God, used of Patriarchs and Prophets, of Christ himself, and of his Apostle Paul. Therefore Christian people must think lawful oaths both godly and necessary. For by lawful promises and Commoditics
willed in Scripture to
Ps, cl, 6.
had by lawful
orths made covenants, confirmed by oaths, princes and their and observed.
countries are confirmed in common tranquillity and peace. By holy promises with calling the Name of God to witness we be made lively members of Christ, when we profess his religion, receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. By like holy promise the sacrament of matrimony knitteth man and wife in perpetual love, that they desire not to be separated for any displeasure or adversity that shall after happen. By lawful oaths which kings, princes, .
, judges, and magistrates do swear common laws are kept inviolate, justice is indifferently ministered, harmless persons, fatherless children, widows, and poor men are defended from murderers, oppressors, and thieves, that they suffer no wrong, nor take any harm. By lawful oaths mutual society, amity, and good order is kept continually in all commonalties, as boroughs, cities, towns, and villages. And by lawful oaths malefactors are searched out, wrong doers are punished, and they which sustain wrong are restored to their right. Therefore lawful swearing cannot be evil, which bringeth unto us so many godly, good, and necessary commodities.
Wherefore, when Christ so earnestly forbad bidden. swearing, it may not be so understanded as
though he did forbid all manner of oaths : but he forbiddeth all vain swearing and forswearing both by God and by his creatures, as the common use of swearing in buying, selling, and in our daily communication; to the intent every Christian man's word should be as well regarded in such matters, as if he should confirm his communication with an oath. For “every Christian man's word,” saith St. Hierome, “should be so true, that it should be regarded as an oath.” And Chrysostom, witnessing the same, saith, “It is not convenient to swear: for what needeth us to swear, when it is not lawful for one of us to make
a lie unto another ?" An objection.
Peradventure some will say, I am compelled to
Vain swers ing is for