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the true nature of sin, and, in sundry instances, shows how, by these false glosses, the body of the people had been drawn into soul-ruining sins; whereby he restored the law, so to speak, to its pristine glory. Let any one of the particulars mentioned by our Saviour be considered, and it will be found, that it was before unlawful in itself, or declared so in the positive law of God.” This observation, we believe, is' just and weighty. Let us apply the principle which it embodies to the case now before us. We have seen that oaths were in use before the giving of the law, that Jehovah himself employed them, and required his people to swear on sundry occasions; we have seen, that the moral law sanctioned the use of them, as means of maintaining truth, and of binding men to the faithful discharge of duty. We are not to suppose, therefore, that when Christ says, “Swear not at all," he intends to forbid the proper use of judicial oaths, or religious vows; for“ he came," as he solemnly affirms, not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it," and establish its sanctity. What sort of swearing, then, did he mean to prohibit? We answer, all swearing in our communication," or ordinary conversation and intercourse with one another; especially such as was countenanced by the frivolous distinctions of the Pharisees, and other uninspired expounders of the law, These “ blind leaders of the blind," taught the people that they might swear by the Almighty as often as they pleased, provided they complied with their oaths. They taught, also, that if men swore by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or their own heads, such oaths were not binding. This was a manifest violation of the third commandment; and, in this way, it is extensively and shockingly violated still ; and that too by many who have been better taught than were the disciples of the Pharisees. Mark how our divine Teacher from heaven reproves these miserable expositors, and unveils their silly glosses, in the twenty-third chapter of Matt. 16-22. “ Woe unto you, ye blind guides ! who say, whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. Ye fools, and blind! for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold ? And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools, and blind! for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso, therefore, shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon; and whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein; and he
VOL. IV.NO. 7.
that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon."
If our Lord meant to prohibit all swearing, in all possible, cases, we think, (and we desire to say it reverently, for sake of the argument,) he violated his own precept, which no Christian can admit. In the gospel by Mark, viii. 12., we find this expression used by him, in reference to a presumptuous demand of the Pharisees, of a sign from heaven to demonstrate his Messiahship: “Verily I say unto you, there shall no sign be given unto this generation.” By a more literal translation, the passage would read, Verily I say unto you, if a sign shall be given to this generation ; which, as that eminent critic, Dr. Daniel Whitby, remarks, is a Hebrew form of swearing, and imports thus much: “ Let God punish me, or let me not live, if a sign be given to this generation. The words are exactly parallel to several other expressions in Scripture, which are expressly called oaths, and may fairly regarded as a form of swearing. In the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew, 63d verse, we are informed that the high priest addressed our Lord thus: “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ the Son of God." This was the form used, at that time, in putting men on oath; and criminals and witnesses were required to answer, as in the presence of God. It is perfectly plain, therefore, that our Lord here answered' upon oath; which he certainly would not have done, had he, in his discourse on the Mount, intended to forbid swearing in a judicial and solemn manner. If the use of the oath was to be entirely discontinued under the Gospel dispensation, why did the Redeemer countenance its continuance by his own practice? and why did the angel, in the Apocalypse, X. 5 and 6. “ lift his hand to heaven, and swear by him that liveth for ever and ever?” Why did the primitive Christians make no scruple on the subject? and why does the apostle Paul so frequently make use of expressions which are undeniably equivalent to oaths ? Take a few instances; and let it be remembered that Paul is the amanuensis of the Holy Spirit : “ God is my witness, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers.” Rom. i. 9.
« Now the things which 1 write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” Gal. i. 20. « The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knoweth that I lie not.” 2 Cor. xi. 31. - I call God to record upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not yet to Corinth.” 2 Cor. i. 23. “ God is my record, how greatly I long after you in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” Phil. i. 8. Now," says the learned Whitby," these examples prove that blessed Paul, and that good Spirit by which he was directed thus to write, did not conceive all swearing to be forbidden by our Saviour's words; but that it was still lawful, when the matter was of great importance to the welfare of the souls of men, and could not be confirmed any other way, to seal it with a voluntary oath. Now, undoubtedly, St. Paul well understood the mind of Christ in this, his prohibition; and, therefore, had he conceived it so universal, as some contend it is, he would not have encouraged others, by his example, to transgress it.”
Christians are warranted in the use of oaths, then, provided they use them lawfully; i. e. when regularly called upon by ecclesiastical, or civil authority, to give testimony, for the maintenance of truth and justice, and for the terminating of strife. The manner of taking an oath has been various, in different periods and nations of the world. The kissing of the Bible, requiring the witness to swear upon the holy evangelists, and the admission of simple affirmation, instead of an oath, are usages which we cannot approve of. We would prefer, in every instance, the lifting up of the hand, with a direct appeal to the omniscient Searcher of hearts
. The oath is an awful solemnity, and it ought never to be resorted to lightly or needlessly. The two most common abuses of this divine rite, are perjury and profaneness. These, indeed, are nearly allied. The man who swears falsely, imprecates upon his soul the infinite and insupportable displeasure of the Almighty God; and he who swears in common conversation, cannot fail to perjure himself *. What foolhardi. ness, -what infatuated temerity, - what a gross outrage upon the laws of decency and religion, for an intelligent and accountable creature to invoke his Maker to attest his hard speeches, his ribaldry, or his nonsense!
We close our remarks, on this subject, by subjoining a solemn admonition to profane swearers, from the pen of the late Dr. Dwight, president of Yale College, (Con.)
You, unhappily for yourselves, are those who take the name of God in vain; and, of course, are now, or soon will be, subjects of all the guilt and danger which I have specified. Now, therefore, thus saith the Lord, consider your ways. Re
* In common conversation, in England at least, oaths are not generally used as asseverations; but as idle, though impious, expletives; for which, much as we detest so ungentlemanly and unchristian a practice, it would be hard to charge those who use them with perjury. We hope this habit, as foolish as it is wicked, is fast going out of fashion.-EDIT.
member what you are doing; against whom your evil tongues are directed; who is the object of your contempt and mockery. Ask yourselves what you gain—what you expect to gain - what you do not lose. Remember that
lose your reputation, at least in the minds of all the wise and good, and all the blessings of their company and friendship that you sacrifice your peace of mind that
break down all those principles on which virtue may be grafted, and with them every rational hope of eternal life that you are rapidly becoming more and more corrupted, day by day —and that, with this deplorable character, you are preparing to go to judgment. Think what it will be to swear and curse, to mock God, and insult your Redeemer, through life — to carry your oaths and curses to a dying bed ; – to enter eternity with blasphemies in your mouths - and to stand before the final bar, when the last sound of profaneness has scarcely died upon your tongues.” “ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain.”
Narrative of a Visit to the Island of St. Helena ; with Minutes
of a Conversation with Buonaparte at Longwood, in the Month of March, 1816. By an Officer in the Honourable East India Company's Service.
Yesterday his name
H. K. White. It was just on the eve of that season when the French emperor, with his numerous armed myrmidons, set out from his capital, in order to watch the movements of the allied armies, then occupying important posts in various parts of Flanders, that our ship weighed anchor; and a brisk wind carrying her out to sea, deprived us of an acquaintance with the results of the bloody strife at Waterloo till the following year. It was not, indeed, till we arrived at Canton, that we heard that a war had actually been commenced; but of its events we could learn nothing - but were doomed to be tortured by a thousand reports, all equally absurd, but all testifying that a blow had been somewhere struck. The tale remained to be fully told, and the victorious issue of British valour and perseverance to be developed, till the lofty foeman of our country should meet our wondering gaze, a captive in the island of St. Helena ; and we there should
learn the particulars of the battle of Waterloo, the capitulation of Paris, the déchéance of Napoleon, and the subsequent reinstatement of the Bourbons.
St. Helena, the refreshing place between one world and another, of which an old writer says, “ placed in the crystalline centre of the hemisphere, lies a small isle of pearl of the sea,” is situated in latitude 16° south of the line, and in 6 degrees west longitude. An immense sea rolls between it and every other land, except the small unpeopled island of Ascension, which lies 800 miles to the north of it. On making safe anchorage in the roads, we soon discovered the changes in an island hitherto open to every visitor.
Cannon were placed around it, whence some shots were fired at us, ere we understood the alteration which had taken place in its government, since we last touched there. Encamped bands of soldiers were every where seen; the shipping was more numerous than we had before witnessed, and an admiral's flag was flying at the mast of one of a larger description than was usual on this station. Several boats, from the shipping and the shore, soon hovered around us; whose crews communicated to us the wonderful news of the day, the state of the island, and the regulations then in force. These all appeared strange, and particularly those which ordained, that nothing but the most urgent necessity would be received as a plea for landing on the island, and this only to the superior officers. As we were likely to remain three or four days, to take in water, &c., I was so fortunate as to obtain permission to go ashore with our first mate, Nin order to visit my friend, captain of the 53rd regiment. At the usual landing place, we effected a footing, and soon found ourselves in James' Town. It hardly deserves the name of a town, being rather a deep ravine, or ditch. At the mouth it is extremely narrow, hardly 400 yards in breadth; it then becomes narrower, till it ends in a point, about half a mile from the sea, bounded on each side by almost perpendicular cliffs, called Rupert's and Ladder Hill. Before the arrival of Buonaparte, a considerable trade was carried on in the island ; but now “ o'er its marts, brooded silence." I slept at the house of captain R-, and when awoke in the morning, was alarmed at the singularly stupendous rocks which hung over my head, and seemed ready at each passing wind to form a cairn for my burying place. Cannon were placed in front of the town, and the soldiers who guarded them lived in little houses cut out of the solid rock. These, with the numerous forts, formed a singular