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1 This practice of the Essens, in refusing to swear, and esteeming swearing in ordinary occasions worse than perjury, is delivered here in general words, as are the parallel injunctions of our Savior, Matthew 6:34; 23:16; and of St. James, 5:12; but all admit of particular exceptions for solemn causes, and on great and necessary occasions. Thus these very Essens, who here do so zealously avoid swearing, are related, in the very next section, to admit none till they take tremendous oaths to perform their several duties to God, and to their neighbor, without supposing they thereby break this rule, Not to swear at all. The case is the same in Christianity, as we learn from the Apostolical Constitutions, which although they agree with Christ and St. James, in forbidding to swear in general, ch. 5:12; 6:2, 3; yet do they explain it elsewhere, by avoiding to swear falsely, and to swear often and in vain, ch. 2:36; and again, by "not swearing at all," but withal adding, that "if that cannot be avoided, to swear truly," ch. 7:3; which abundantly explain to us the nature of the measures of this general injunction.
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