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dare any one “solemnly affirm and declare,” that they will “ speak the whole truth ?” “ Say not I will," &c. said that servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. ( James, iv. 13. 15.)
I object to the time of its administration: I feel fully convinced that what is required before a person give his evidence, or make his plea, would with more consisting reason and justice, be better administered after such evidence given, or plea maderm generally, after the speaker has “ given,” heard or “ read;" as in the case of “ an oath upon informa-, tion,” viz. “ you shall swear, that what you have now given,” * &c. &c, or rather, if it is indispensably necessary to be given before, it should be worded under certain qualifications~I. D. or E. “promised," or I will endeavour, " through divine assistance ;" Į will, &c. as your society has it, in their solemn (affirm. mation and) compact of marriages. v. extracts, min. adv. p 66.
I object equally to the matter, or “ Form of Affirmation," as granted, by the session of parliament 8 GEO. I, cap. 6. viz. (I. A. B. do)solemnly, sincerely, and truly, declare and affirm,” that, although it may be“ the subject matter follows, without any other addi, tion; or “no use of the sacred name "-God. To say nothing here of those dispensing objections, such as laying the right hand on the book of the evangelists, kissing the same, or any other (ancient or modern) superstitious rights and ceremonies; swearing, is
* V.“ A guide to justice; of Modern English precedents, &c. &c. p. 189.
swearing, and an oath, is an oath, let it be in what form it may: nothing of this sort can either add or diminish to the obligation and binding part of an oath.
What is (your) an " affirmation,” but a solemn form of attesting the truth; the act of strengthening or supporting any opinion, assertion; or, to tell confidently? In law, signifies the ratifying or confirming a former law, or judgment.*
What is an oath † (jusjurandum,) but a solemn affirmation in which the persons sworn invoke the Almighty to witness their testimony is true, renouncing all claim to his mercy, and calling for his vengeance if it be false : on which account, such an oath is termed sacramentum, a holy band or tie :" &c. now admit that in either the form of your “ aflirmation," or in the present form of legal oaths, none invoke the Almighty to witness their testimony ei. ther by renouncing all claim to his mercy, and calling for vengeance if it be false ; yet if that affirmation is not swearing—a form of addressing the Supreme Being for assistance, neither swearing by “ God's footstool”-by calling upon the inhabitants (the judges) of “ the earth” to witness your solemn attestation; yet, is it not such a form of swearing (ratifying and confirming a former law,) which is in direct opposition to Christ's positive command, “ swear not at all;" “ but let your communication" (or conversation) “ be yea, yea; nay, nay?"I Mat. v. 34.
* V. art. encyc. imper. † Ibd. art. oath. It is judiciously observed, by the late Granville Sharpe, (in
That your affirmation has been made equal to an oath, in civil case, I learn from your book of extracts, &c. It stands thus,~"by an act 22 Geo.II.Cap. 46. our affirmation is to operate in all cases wherein an oath is required by an act or acts of the parliament now in force, or hereafter to be made for that purpose in such act or acts, with the same force as an oath ; except in criminal cases; to serve on juries, or to bear office or place of profit in the government.” p. 1.*
The danger as well as the prostitution of an oath is so notorious, that I might swell these remarks to a considerable bulk: and tho' I am aware I shall not have the concurrence of all the serious, and all the religious, I dare not purchase their approbation
• his “ an account of the constitutional English polity," &c. &c. by diminishing the cause of truth. Is it expedient, my friends, that the greek philosophers, and heathens in the gentile world should stand as monuments against the christian world ?-As heathen philosophy became pure " says. Clarkson, “it branded the system of oaths, or swearing as pernicious to morals.”_"The Scythians in conference with Alexander the great, addressed him thus; “think not that the Scythians confirm their friendship by an oath; they swear by keeping their word ” The Phyrgions were wholly against oaths. They neither took them themselves, nor required them of others. So also the Arabs; and many others which may be seen in his “Portraiture of Quakerism,” c. 2. p. 16, vol. 3.
in p. 168---9.) on the “ refined observations" of such “speculative" writers, as the author of "thoughts on parliamentary reform"!" &c. that “ the advice of the apostle Paul to the Phillip. pians (ch. i. 5---27.) was manifestly intended to regulate their whole behaviour as a christian community, and not merely their duty as individuals. Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ.' The imperative verb," *** (greek) “in our letters polueuestbe, (rendered, let your conversation be,) included the political duty of the Phillippians in all their public transactions and arrangements for the government of their community, as well as the duty of individuals in all their dealings, public as well as private.
* The late great counsellor Mansfield observed, on a certain trial, that---" he wished, when the Stat. 7. 8. William III. c. 24. was made, that the affirmation of a Quaker had been put on the same footing as an oath, in all cases whatsoever : and I see no reason against it," says he, “ for the punishment of the breach of it is the same." Vide an article in the “ Liverpool Courier," i1th month, 25, 1812.
I am aware hue and cry, of “ innovation !" if this my departure from friends' principles be acceded to. You, my friends, acknowledge, that “our blessed Lord came to abrogate the ancient law, and perjury with it: it was his object to make the word of his disciples equal to the ancient oath :"—if then, according to the experience and advice of your worthy primitive friend, Isaac Pennington, “ every man is to act in, and according to his own measure of faith and light”-if, “the least measure of the spirit is true,” where is the innovation or departure from your tenets, if in this light and faith any one should be led to pay “priests' demands” as Cæsar's dues, or refuse to take your affirmation upon the grounds that it is inconsistent with Christ's commands ? Remember, “it is not the different practices,” says he, “that break the peace and unity, but the judging" (keeping out, and reading out) “one another because of different practices !” That we may, my dear friends, “walk sweetly, harmoniously together in the midst of different practices," is the desire of my heart, and the prayer of your tenderly affectionate and fellow labourer in the truth,