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of his divine master, and to believe it right to give his testimony against swearing. “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath ; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into temptation." Taking this general view of the antichristian practice of swearing, the society of Friends bear their testimony against it, and believe that, among Christians, it ought to be abolished.
It would require a considerable history, were I to give a full account of the many sufferings which our predecessors have passed through, because they refused to take oaths : and cer. tainly it is a practice which ought to be seriously considered by every man; and more especially if he professes any claim to the character of a Christian. Because there is no point of duty enjoined by the Saviour of the world, more clearly stated than this, to refrain from swearing. Nor do I know of any practice in civil government, so inconsistent with the very end to be answered by it. But lest we should be thought to start a new doctrine in regard to oaths, it may be useful to shew that an objection against the cause and practice of swearing, was made by others. Polybius has sild “the use of oaths in judgment was rare among the ancients; but, by the growing of perfidiousness, so grew also the use of oaths.” Basil the Great saith, “ swearing is the effect of sin." 'And Ambrose, that " oaths are only à condescendency for defect.” Chrysostom saith, that "an oath entered when evil grew, when men exercised their frauds, when all foundations were overturned. That oaths took their beginning from the want of truth.” And again, “ for what end wilt thou force him to swear, whom thou believest not that he will speak the truth.” Many others might be mentioned, to shew, that swearing has been condemned by others, as well as Friends. But if no one had come to own this doctrine of Christ, from the time that he delivered it until now, it would even in that case be proper that a Christian society, in conformity to his express commands, should refuse to swear. Having stated the foregoing, I will refer the reader to Barclay's Apology, where he will find this particular treated
upon at large : and where, I am of the 'opinion, all the reasons for swearing, or in favour of it, are fully and clearly refuted.
Tire society of Friends believe that all wars and fightings, whether offensive or defensive, are contrary to the peaceable spirit of Christ'; and therefore not lawful for Christians. a religion which has for its object the redemption of fallen man from under the dominion of corrupt passions and dispositions, did not forbid wars and fightings, if it could even suppose a case, either national or individual, which could not be settled among its followers with out an appeal to arms, such a religion, in the opinion of Friends, would be unworthy of the name of Christ. A main pillar in the gospel is the spirit of non-resistance: without this spirit, the whole ground of Christianity would be lost: a principle which calls upon its folJowers to love enemies, to forgive injuries, and when we are smitten upon one cheek, toturn the other also. The Saviour of the world did not only deliver such precepts, he also confirmed them by his example : because, though lie had all power in heaven and in earth, yet he submitted to the unrighteous decision of the Jews, and bore, without resistance to be: nailed to the cross ; setting us an example that we should follow his footsteps. We therefore believe that he has not left his followers at liberty to enter the field of blood and destruction. That we are to endure, with unconquerable patience, and leave our cause to the decision of a righteous judge. Praying for those who may thus injure us, after his blessed example, when suffering upon the tree, “Father
" forgive them, for they know not what they do." But we are told, if this be the duty of Christians, if they are in no case to defend themselves against an enemy, not only nations, but individuals, would trample upon the right of each other. This is saying, in substance, that Christianity, if it does not allow of wars, will be a religion not suitable for man, and consequently ought to be rejected. Those who reason thus, are not to be spoken to as Christians : if they are spoken to on the subject, it must be without any claim on their part to Christianity; and with such, the author has no prospect of reasoning here. But all those who lay claim to the Christian religion, he conceives, must believe that wars and fightings are contrary to the spirit of Christ, who has informed us, “ My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom
were of this world, then would my servants fight.” John xviii. 36. I am aware that many just observations and reasonings have already appeared against wars and fightings; and it therefore does not seem necessary to say much upon the subject. But when I consider the warlike measures which singularly engage the councils of nations, and the dependence which seems every where placed upon human force, and contrast this with what Christianity calls for, I am convinced that much more is necessary to be done, before this dark eloud will be removed from the professors of Christianity. I see no reason to expect its removal, until men shall weary themselves with their own deceivings. The probability is, that there will be wars and rumours of wars, and that, in a natio..
, nal point of view, the end is not yet. But I believe there are some in most countries, who are redeemed from the spirit of war, and I doubt not there are those who will submit to suffer any persecution that the governments of this world, in the darkness of human policy, may inflict upon them, rather than stain their hands in human blood. I feel concerned, while writing upon this important testimony, that the religious society of which I am a member, mày