SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.
Q. Which is the second commandment?
A. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Q. What is forbidden by this commandment ?
A. It is forbidden to mention the name of God in common conversation, or upon any frivolous occasion; also, cursing, swearing, or common oaths and perjury.
Q. What is an oath ?
A. It is calling upon God to witness.
Q. How many sorts of oaths are there?
A. Several, viz.: Assertory, promissory, excretory, solemn, simple, explicit, implicit, an oath by God, or by creatures. An assertory oath, is calling God to witness a thing either is, or Ls not. A promissory oath, is to call God to witness, that a person purposes either to do, or not to do a thing. An execratory oath, is to call God to witness, that a person wishes some evil to himself or others, and it is called a curse. A solemn oath, is before a court of judicature. A simple oath, is in private conversation. An explicit oath, is expressed by words. An implicit oath, is signified by signs, as holding up the hands, kissing the gospel, etc. An oath by God, is expressed by invoking God, or some of his divine attributes. An oath by creatures, is when they are called upon, as depending upon God's power and influence.
Q. Are oaths lawful ?
A. Yes, when duly performed; because they are an act of religion, publishing God's omniscience and veracity, when we call upon him as a witness.
Q. What conditions are requisite to make an oath lawful ?
A. Chiefly these three; mentioned in the Scripture. Jer. iv. 2, truth, judgment, or discretion and justice: that is to say, what we swear is to be true; secondly, it is to be upon rational inducements ; and thirdly, what we swear, must not be to do evil or indifferent things. Without
the first condition, it is perjury; without the second, it is taking God's name in vain; and there is danger of perjury and scandal, as swearing in common conversation ; without the third, it is an addition to the evil we threaten, i and accompanied with many bad circumstances.
Q. What is the just cause of an oath?
A. God's honor, our own, our neighbor's lawful good or defence.
Q. Does not the Gospel forbid swearing on any account whatever, since it says, swear not at all ? Matt. v. 34.
A. The Gospel only forbids oaths, where the necessary conditions are wanting. Again, Christ only forbids customary swearing, which was frequent among the Jews. Thirdly, he forbids them to swear things that are unlawful of themselves : for it appears by Herod and others, that they thought themselves obliged to fulfill unlawful oaths.
Q. What use can oaths be of, though lawful? A just man will do his duty without an oath, and a wicked man it cannot bind.
A. St. Paul says, oaths are used to confirm truth: Heb. vi. 16. And they are as a support for corrupted nature; and in practice are beneficial to the public: for though wicked men regard not their oath, yet their honor is engaged by it, and they are kept to their duty by temporal punishment, which they are liable to by the breach of their oaths.
Q. In what state are they, who swear often without regard to truth, or falsehood, swearing without necessity, or for trivial matters ?
A. In a very dangerous state, "for our Lord" will not hold him guiltless, that shall take his name in vain." Exod. xx. 7. " Swear not, neither by heaven, etc., that you fall not under judgment." James v. 12. "A man that swears much, shall be filled with iniquity, and a plague shall not depart from his house." Eccl. xxiii. 12. And no wonder, seeing such live in a daily profanation of God's holy name, in the violation of God's commandments, and the contempt of Jesus Christ and his Gospel, consequently in the way of perdition.
Q. What should they do, who would quit this ill custom of swearing?
A. They must, for the love of God, watch carefully over their senses, curb their passions, fly all occasions of anger, choler, company, drinking, or whatever they find occasions them to swear; resolving rather to die than swear deliberately; obliging themselves to some prayers, alms, or penal works, every time they swear, desiring others to mind them thereof; seriously considering, that, " if of every idle word that men should speak, they shall render an account in the day of judgment." Matt. xii. 36; what account have they to give for profaning the holy name of God, by swearing, cursing, blaspheming, etc.
Q. What are we commanded to do by this commandment ?
A. As in the former, we are commanded to honor God with our hearts; so in this we are commanded to honor him with our tongues; as by prayer, edifying discourse, and the like.