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[134] And truly, as for other things, they do nothing but according to the injunctions of their curators; only these two things are done among them at everyone's own free-will, which are to assist those that want it, and to show mercy; for they are permitted of their own accord to afford succor to such as deserve it, when they stand in need of it, and to bestow food on those that are in distress; but they cannot give any thing to their kindred without the curators. They dispense their anger after a just manner, and restrain their passion. They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem it worse than perjury 1 for they say that he who cannot be believed without [swearing by] God is already condemned. They also take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of their soul and body; and they inquire after such roots and medicinal stones as may cure their distempers.

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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