Зображення сторінки

was comparatively a light thing. Not so says Jesus Christ. For he that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by Him that sitteth thereon ;" and to swear by any work of God, incurs all the responsibility, of swearing directly by the name of God its creator. How heavy then is the guilt of swearers! How solemn this admonition of our Lord!

But whether he intended, or not, utterly to forbid the use of oaths, he.without doubt presses upon his disciples the obligation they are under, of teaching the world by their example, to use only mere assertions; and thus of advancing society to that moral dignity, which commands as

It is, we believe, a general opinion among men of serious reflection, that oaths, by our laws, are unnecessarily multiplied that they have become SO common as to diminish their solemnity and usefulness, and to render them an occasion of immorality, profaneness, and irreverence for the name of God. The writer of the "Illustrations" has in the preceding article introduced the subject of swearing, and given his opinion with exemplary meekness, and candor. He has also mentioned in a

much credit by a simple affirmation, as by the most solemn oath ; and which tends ultimately to supersede the necessity of swearing at all. The quakers, on this subject, without doubt, approach far nearer to the object of our Lord's injunction, than any other part of the christian world; and if christendom shall ever become, what the gospel teaches us to hope that it will be, the practise concerning oaths, which now distinguishes the Society of Friends, will become the practise of the whole body of christians.

[Buxtorfs Synag Judaic pages 677, 682. Ainsworth on Lev. xix. 12. Lightfoot, Walzogenius, and John Jones ou the text.]


very respectful manner the opinion of the Society of Friends. We shall not assume the office of deciding the question in dispute; but that

[ocr errors]

our readers may have the sub ject more fully before them for examination, we shall give a concise view of some of the reasonings of the Quakers in support of their opinion, and in answer to the objections of their opponents.,

The passage of the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. v. 33-37, is regarded by the Quakers as containing an unqualified prohibition not merely of profane swearing but of all such oaths before a magistrate as had been authorized by the laws of Moses. Our Saviour introduced the subject by say ing "Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time. Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt per

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

form unto the Lord thine oaths." This was a prohibition of perjury or false swearing. Having quoted this, our Saviour adds, "But I say unto you swear not at all, neither by heaven, &c. But let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." As the prohibition of perjury and the reference to oaths in the 33d verse, evidently had respect to swear, ing before a magistrate, the prohibition, "swear not at all" must include that mode of swearing which had been con sidered as lawful, as well as false and profane swearing.

This opinion the Friends think is fully confirmed by the language in James, v. 12, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath." This last clause is regarded by them as extending the prohibition to every species of swearing without any exception.

[ocr errors]

Whatever might have been the manner of the Jews in administering an oath, or the intention of the high priest in saying, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God," the Quakers cannot believe that the simple affirmation of Christ, "Thou hast said," ought to be regarded as an example of swearing,

Robert Barclay, in his Apology, has stated and answered the objection from the example of Paul :—


They object," he says,

"that Paul swore and that of ten-saying, For God is my record'' As the truth of Christ is in me' I call God for a record upon my soul'I speak the truth in Christ, lie not? Behold before God I lie not'; And also requires oaths of others' I charge thee before God and our Lord Jesus Christ'' I charge you by the Lord, &c.


"To all which, says Barclay, I answer, First, That the using of such forms of speak. ing is neither swearing nor so esteemed by our adversaries. For when upon occasion, in matters of great moment, we have said, We speak the truth in the fear of God and before him, who is our witness, and the searcher of our heartsadding such kind of serious attestations, which we never refused to do in matters of consequence; nevertheless an oath hath moreover been required of us, with the ceremony of putting our hand upon the book, the kissing of it, the lifting up the hand or fingers, together with the common form of imprecation, So help me God, or So truly let the Lord God Almighty help me.


"Secondly. This contradicts the opinion of our adversaries, because Paul was neither before a inagistrate that was requiring an oath of him, nor did he himself administer the office of a magistrate, as offering an oath to any other.

"Thirdly. The question is not what Paul or Peter did, but what their and our Master taught to be done; and if Paul did swear-which we be

lieve not he had sinned a gainst the command of Christ, even according to their own (the objectors) opinion, because he swore not before a magistrate, but in an epistle to his brethren." p. p. 563—4.


We have given only a spec. imen of the arguments of the Quakers on this subject; but perhaps enough to show, that their opinion is not of the most dangerous character, nor so destitute of support as some have imagined; and also, that there is less danger in adopt ing this opinion from a conscientious regard to a suppos. ed command of Christ, than in becoming so familiar with oaths as to lose our reverence

for God and regard for truth. Whether the opinion of the Friends be correct or not, it is certainly much in their favor,

that their affirmation is admitted in our courts, as equiva lent to the oath of other Christians. But whether it be to

the honour of other denominations, that they are called upon to swear, while the Quakers are permitted to affirm, is a question worthy of some consideration. It must be the duty of every man to support such a character for veracity, that his word will be received by those who are acquainted with him as of equal weight with his oath; and that man whose veracity cannot be retied on, except he be under the obligation of an oath, is at best a suspicious witness, his oath notwithstanding. "For what end," says Chrysostom, "wilt thou force him to swear, when thou believest not that he will speak the truth?"


A dreadful plague, which ac cording to the most authentic accounts first made its appearance in the year 1346 in China, or the eastern part of Tartary, after making terrible ravages in Asia, spread its direful contagion into Africa and Europe. After almost depopulating Greece and Italy, it passed into Spain and France, and from thence into England, where it made such terrible ravages, that, according to some, it swept away half of the inhabitants. In London the mortality was so dreadful, that within the space of one year, above fifty thousand persons were buried in the Charter house yard. This terrible

THE TIME OF EDWARD III. pestilence raged in England from the begining of August 1348, till Michaelmas the following year; and during the time that it raged in Asia, Africa and Europe, more than half of the human race is supposed to have perished !—Walsingham says that in many parts of England nine tenths of the people fell victims to this dreadful disease.

"This tremendous visitation of heaven did not put a stop to the ambition of man. The pestilence made the saine ravages in France as in England; yet amidst those scenes of death and destruction, and during the continuance of a truce, Philip formed a plan

[ocr errors]


Remarkable Events.

for recovering Calais by brib- opinion. In the midst of the ing the governor."

storm, he turned his face towards the church of Chartres, which he saw at a distance, and, falling on his knees, made a vow to consent to an equitable peace." Bigland. The first of these calamities was common to both France and England, and had little effect in restraining the ambition of the two monarchs. The hail storm seems to have fallen on the English army only, and not on that of France. This brought the haughty Edward upon his knees, and put an end to the war.

[ocr errors]


In 1359 Edward III. England invaded France with a hundred thousand men, with intention to take Paris. "While he lay in his camp in the neighbourhood of Char ires, there arose a sudden and dreadful storm, accompanied with hail of a prodigious size, which falling upon his army killed six thousand horses and one thousand men. So tremendous a convulsion of na ture was deemed by the army a sign of the wrath of Heaven, and the king himself appeared to be impressed with the same


"The lessons of experience, rather than the suggestions of speculation, are the true Sources of wisdom and the surest foundations of policy. The right and the necessity of inflicting punishments arise from the obligation of govern. ment to afford defence and protection. Vengeance on criminals is not the design of penalties, but those penalties are surely too light, that are not sufficient to deter and restrain the atrocity of offenders."

These sentiments proceeded from a source which we highly respect, and from gentlemen whose opinions are entitled to a careful examination. It being admitted that "the lessons of experience, rather than the suggestions of speculation, are the true sources of wisdom, and the surest foundations of policy,"

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

ishments; still in the term of seven years upwards of fiftysix thousand persons were committed to prison as criminals; of whom four thousand nine hundred and fifty two were sentenced to death. Forgery and stealing goods from a shop to the value of five shillings are among the crimes deemed capital in England. They are also crimes which are very frequently committed in that country. Shall we hence infer, that death is " too light" a punishment for forgery, and for five-shilling thefts? Or shall we infer, that multitudes in England have been hardened in wickedness and inured to crime by the deleterious influence of inhuman laws and public executions?



"John Musso of Lombardy wrote in the 14th century. He says, Luxury of the table, of dress, of houses and household furniture in Placentia began to creep in after the year 1300, Houses at present have halls, rooms with chimneys, porticos, walls, gardens and many other conveniences unknown to our ancestors. A house that has now many chimneys had none in the last age. Eating tables formerly but 12 inches long are now grown to eighteen. They have got candles of tallow or wax in candlesticks of iron or copper. Almost every where there are two fires, one for the Vol. VI. No. 9.


[blocks in formation]


I called on Dr. JOHNSON one morning, (says PERCIVAL STOCKDALE) when Mrs. WILLIAMS, the blind lady to whom he had long been an affectionate friend, and whom he pro tected in his house as long as she lived, was conversing with him. She was telling him where she had dined the day before. "There were several gentlemen there, (said she) and when some of them came. to the tea table, I found that there had been a good deal of hard drinking." She closed this observation with a com.

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »