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kindled in the thatch, never stoppeth till it have consumed all the house. Though "the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just »;" yet among all the wicked, there are few so commonly marked out with their families to shame and ruin, as the perjured. Whatever nation is stigmatized with a ' fides Punica vel Graeca,' 'with the brand of perjury,' it is not only their greatest infamy, but like ' Lord have mercy on us' written on your doors, a sign of a destroying plague within'. Saith Silius,
Non illi domus nut conjux aut vita manebit
Jn prolem dilatarunt perjuria patris, Et pcBiiam merito filius ore luit. So Tibullus, Ah miser: et siquis primo perjuria celat, Sera tamen tacitus poena venit pedibns.
Saith Pausanias,' The fraud that is committed by perjury, falleth upon posterity.' 6. Perjury and perfidiousness are virtually treason, rebellion, and murder against kings and magistrates, and no more to be favoured in a kingdom, by a king that loveth his life and safety, than the plague in a city, or poison to the body. 'Tristissimum et domesticum regibus omnibus pharmacum liberorum, amicorum et exercitus perfidia,' saith Appian. What security have princes of their crowns or lives, where oaths and covenants seem not obligatory? There is then nothing left but fear of punishment to restrain the violence of any one that would do them mischief: and craft or strength will easily break the bonds of fear. He that would dissolve the bond of oaths, and teach men to make light of perjury, is no more to be
I iifll' ,M . ' :.
» Prov. iii. 33.
1 Haud amentum justitiae est fides, i. e. dictorum conventorumque constantia et Teritas. Cicero.
endured in a kingdom, than he that openly inviteth the subjects to kill their king, or rise up in rebellion against him. If he that breaketh the least of God's commands, and teacheth men so to do, shall be called least in the kingdom of God, then surely he that breaketh the great commands by the most odious sin of perjury, and teacheth men so to do, should neither be great, nor any thing, in the kingdoms of men. 7. Perjury is the poison of all societies, and of friendship, and of human converse, and turneth all into a state of enmity or hostility, and teacheth all men to live together like foes. He that is not to be believed when he sweareth, is never to be believed: and when oaths and covenants signify nothing, and no man can believe another, what are they but as so many foes to one another? How can there be any relations of governors and subjects? of husband and wife? of masters and servants? Or how can there be any trading or commerce, when there is no trust? Perjury dissolveth all societies by loosening all the bonds of association. Well might Dionys. Halic. lib. iii. say, 'The perfidious are far worse than open enemies, and worthy of far greater punishment. For a man may more easily avoid the ambushments of foes, and repel their assaults, than escape the perfidiousness of seeming friends.' Saith Val. Max. lib. ix. c. 6. ' Perfidiousness is a hidden and ensnaring mischief; whose effectual force is in lying and deceiving: its fruit consisteth in some horrid villany; which is ripe and sure when it hath compassed cruelty with wicked hands; bringing as great mischief to mankind, as fidelity bringeth good and safety.' He that teacheth the doctrine of perjury and perfidiousness, doth bid every man shift for himself, and trust no more his friend or neighbour, but all take heed of one another as so many serpents or wild beasts. Lions and bears may better be suffered to live loose among men, than those that teach men to make light of oaths. 8. Thus also it destroyeth personal love, and teacheth all men to be haters of each other: for it can be no better, when men become such hateful creatures to each other, as not at all to be credited or sociably conversed with. 9. Perjury and perfidiousness do proclaim men deplorate; and stigmatize them with this character, that they are persons that will stick at the committing of no kind of villany in the world, further than their fleshly interest hindereth them: no charity bindeth a man to think that he will make conscience of murder, rebellion, deceit, adultery, or any imaginable wickedness, who maketh no conscience of perjury and perfidiousness. Such a person alloweth you to judge that if the temptation serve, he will do any thing that the devil bids him: and that he is virtually a compound of all iniquity, and prepared for every evil work. 10. Lastly, As perjury doth thus dissolve societies, and turn mankind into enmity with each other, so it would make the misery incurable, by making even penitents incredible. Who will believe him, even while he professeth to repent, that hath shewed that when he sweareth he is not to be believed? He that dare forswear himself, dare lie when he pretendeth repentance for his perjury. It must be some deeds that are more credible than words and oaths, that must recover the credit of such a man's professions. If perjury have violated any relations, it leaveth the breach almost incurable, because no professions of repentance or future fidelity can be trusted. Thus I have partly shewed you the malignity of perjury and covenant-breaking. ed by keeping it, are habitually and reputatively perjured persons, even before they break it: besides that, they shew a base, hypocritical, profligate conscience, that can deliberately commit so great a sin. you will not stick at the greatest wickedness; nor know when you have done it, what you did. If faith see not God continually present, and foresee not the great approaching day, perjury or any villany will seem tolerable, for worldly ends; for when you look but to men's present case, you will see that " the righteous and the wise, and their works are in the hand of God: no man knoweth love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sa
Direct, n. 'Be sure that you make no vow or covenant which God hath forbidden you to keep.' It is rash vowing and swearing which is the common cause of perjury. You should, at the making of your vow, have seen into the bottom of it, and foreseen all the evils that might follow it, and the temptations which were like to have drawn you into perjury. He is virtually perjured as soon as he hath sworn, who sweareth to do that which he must not do: the preventive means are here the best.
Direct, Iii. 'Be sure you take no oath or vow which you are not sincerely resolved to perform'.' They that swear or vow with a secret reserve, that rather than they will be ruin1 Lege distinctionem Grotii inter J» ofxi7» et ^mlopA, Annot. in Matt. r. S3. Modern Policy, (supposed Dr. Sandcroft's) Princ. 7. 1. We are ready to interpret the words too kindly, especially if they be ambiguous: and it is hard to find terms so positive, but that they may be eluded indeed, or seem to us to be so, if we be disposed. 2. Some are invited to illicit promises, « qua illicite,' because they know them to be invalid. 3. Some are frighted into these bonds by threats and losses, and temporal concernments, and then they please themselves that they swear by duress, and so are disengaged. 4. Some are oath,proof, &c.
Direct, iv. 'See that all fleshly, worldly interest be fully subdued to the interest of your souls, and to the will of God.' He that at the heart sets more by his body than his soul, and loveth his worldly prosperity above God, will lie, or swear, or forswear, or do any thing to save that carnal interest which he most valueth. He that is carnal and worldly at the heart, is false at the heart: the religion of such an hypocrite will give place to his temporal safety or commodity, and will carry him no further than the way is fair. It is no wonder that a proud man, or a worldling will renounce both God and his true felicity for the world, seeing indeed he taketh it for his god and his felicity: even as a believer will renounce the world for Godu.
Direct, v. 'Beware of inordinate fear of man, and of a distrustful withdrawing of your heart from God.' Else you will be carried to comply with the will of man, before the will of God, and to avoid the wrath of man before the wrath of God. Read and fear that heavy curse, Jer. xvii. 5, 6. God is unchangeable, and hath commanded you so far to imitate him, as ' If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth *." But man is mutable, and so is his interest and his affairs; and therefore if you are the servants of men, you must swear one year, and forswear it, or swear the contrary the next: when their interest requireth it, you must not be thought worthy to live among men, if you will not promise or swear as they command you: and when their interest altereth and requireth the contrary, you must hold all those bonds to be but straws, and break them for their ends.
Direct, vi. ' Be sure that you lose not the fear of God, and the tenderness of your consciences.' When these are lost, your understanding, and sense, and life are lost; and
u It is one Solon's sayings in Laertius, Probitatemjure-jurando certiorem babe. What will not an atheistical, impious person say or swear, for advantage? * Numb. xxx. 2.
crinceth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an
oathy." But in the end, men "shall discern between the righteous and the wicked \" Therefore it is the believing foresight of the end, that by preserving the fear of God and tenderness of conscience, must save you from this, and all other heinous sin.
Direct, vn. 'Be not bold and rash about such dreadful things as vows.' Run not as fearlessly upon them as if you were but going to your dinner: the wrath of God is not to be jested with. 'Usque ad aras,' was the bounds even of a heathen's kindness to his friend. Meddle with oaths with the greatest fear, and caution, and circumspection. It is terrible here to find that you were mistaken, through any temerity, or negligence, or secret seduction of a carnal interest.
Direct, vm. 'Especially be very fearful of owning any public doctrine, or doing any public act, which tendeth to harden others in their perjury, or to encourage multitudes to commit the sin».' To be forsworn yourselves is a dreadful case; but to teach whole nations or churches to forswear themselves, or to plead for it, or justify it as a lawful thing, is much more dreadful. And though you teach not or own not perjury under the name of perjury, yet if first you will make plain perjury to seem no perjury, that so you may justify it, it is still a most inhuman, horrid act. God knoweth I insult not over the Papists, with a delight to make any Christians odious: but with grief I remember how lamentably they have abused our holy profession, while
» Eccles.ix. 1, 2. » Mai. iii. 18.
* Nunc nunc qui feeders rumpit, Ditatur: Qui sorvtit eget. Claudian.