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E. J. B. Rathéry, Histoire des Etats généraux de France, &c., &c. Paris.
William Cureton, &c., &c., Corpus Ignatianum: a Complete Collection of the Ignatian Epistles, &c., &c., in Syriac, Greek, and Latin, &c., &c., with copious notes and an Introduction. London. 1849. 1 vol. royal 8vo.
Armand Saintes, a Critical History of Rationalism in Germany, from its origin to the present time. Translated from the second edition of the French original. London. 1849. 8vo.
William Johnson Fox, M. P., On the Religious Ideas. London. 1849. 8vo. Friends in Council: A Series of Readings and Discourses thereon. Book the Second. London. 1849. 12mo.
James John Garth Wilkinson, Emanuel Swedenborg; a Biography, &c., &c. London. 1849. 1 vol. 12mo.
Charles Bray, The Education of the Feelings. 2nd Edition. London. 1849. 12mo.
The History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent to the Organization of Government under the Federal Constitution. By Richard Hildreth. In three volumes. New York. 1849. Svo. [An article in the next Number.]
The Wrongs of Poland: a Poem in three Cantos, comprising the Siege of Vienna, with historical notes. By the author of "Parental Wisdom." Aliquando dormit jus moritur nunquam. London. 12mo.
G. C. Hebbe, LL. D., An Universal History in a Series of Letters, being a complete and impartial Narrative of the most remarkable events of all Nations, forming a complete History of the World. New York. 1848-9. Vols. I. and II. 8vo. [This is an original and valuable work. The author is a Swede, an independent and original thinker. The work will be complete in twelve or fourteen volumes. We shall speak at length of it in a future number.]
William H. Seward, Life and Public Services of John Quincy Adams, &c., &c. Auburn. 1849. 12mo.
History of the French Revolution of 1848. By A. de Lamartine, Translated by Francis A. Durivage and William Chase. 1st American Edition, in two volumes. Boston. 1849. 12mo.
David Hume, The History of England, &c., &c. Boston. 1849. Vols. III. and IV.
Henry William Herbert, The Prometheus and Agamemnon of Aeschylus. Translated into English verse. Cambridge. 1849. 12mo.
C. A. Bartol, Discourses on the Christian Spirit and Life. Boston. 1850. 12mo.
E. G. Holland, Reviews and Essays. Boston. 1849. 12mo.
Exercises in Rhetorical Reading, with a Series of Introductory Lessons. By Richard Green Parker, &c., &c. New York. 1849. 12mo.
Charles T. Porter, Review of the Mexican War, &c., &c. Auburn. 1849. 12mo.
Angel Voices, or Words of Counsel for Overcoming the World, &c., &c. Second Edition, revised and enlarged. Boston. 1849. 16mo.
William W. Bowditch, Slavery and the Constitution. Boston. 1849. 8vo. pp. 156. Philip Berry, A Review of the Mexican War on Christian Principles, and an Essay on the Means of Preventing War. Columbia, S C. 1849. 8vo. pp. VI. and 87. [He thinks "that our national course was morally and politically objectionable," but the persons "officially concerned" in mak ing or conducting it “may be acquitted of peculiar personal blame in their contribution to the national error."-p. 2. The book has some good things.]
List of New Publications Received.
S. E. Brownell, The Herman and Dorothea and the Alexis and Dora of
John Pierpont, "The Address to the People," at the Installation of Rev.
Report of the Committee on the Library in Relation to the Donations
for the Pecuniary, Intellectual, and Moral Intercourse of Mankind, -
Robert C. Winthrop, An Address
before the Maine Historical September 5th, 1849. Boston. 1849. 8vo. pp. 63. [Contains an important and valuable contribution to the history of the Bowdoin family]
Samuel J. May. The Flood; a Sermon. Boston. 1849. 8vo. pp. 13.
The Seventh Vial; consisting of brief comments on various Scriptures, &c. &c. By the author of Millenial lustitutions. Springfield. 8vo. pp. 194 and 17 with the plan of the frame of a city after Ezekiel, Chap. XL]
William W. Newman, Moral, Religious, and Sectarian Education: a Lecture .. to the Onondaga County Teachers' Institute, October, 1848. Syracuse. 1848. 12mo. pp. 36.
A Letter to a Young Man who has just entered College from an Old One
Henry M. Field, The Good and Bad in the Roman Catholic Church, &c., &c.
Equality. West Brookfield. 1849. 12mo. pp. 74.
[This is a valuable
Charles K. Whipple Sunday Occupations. Boston. 1849. 12mo. pp. 60 William B. Hayden, The Character and Works of Christ. Boston. 1849. 12mo. pp. 84.
MASSACHUSETTS QUARTERLY REVIEW.
NO. X.MARCH, 185.0.
ART. I.—JUDICIAL OATHS.
"Swear not at all:" containing an exposure of the needlessness and mischievousness as well as anti-christianity of the ceremony of an oath: A view of the Parliamentary recog nition of its needlessness, implied in the practice of both Houses: And an indication of the unexceptionable securities by which whatsoever practical good purpose the ceremony has been employed to serve, would be more effectually provided for: Together with proof of the open and persevering contempt of moral and religious principle perpetuated by it, and rendered universal in the two Church of England Universities, more especially in the University of Oxford. By JEREMY BENTHAM, ESQ., formerly of Queen's College, Oxford, A. M. London, 1817.
2. The Oath a Divine Ordinance and an Element of the Social Constitution: Its origin, nature, ends, lawfulness, obligations, interpretations, form and abuses. D. X. JUNKIN, A. M., Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, Greenwich, N. J. New York, 1845.
Two works upon the same subject can hardly be found in the whole range of literature more diverse than those of Bentham and Junkin upon oaths. Their very titles are antagonistic, their objects opposing. The conflict is in the beginning, in the middle, and in the conclusion. Not less striking is the antagonism of their respective authors. The one is a freethinking reformer, fearless and unyielding. The other is a conservative, rigidly orthodox and fearful of all change. One
might as well mingle oil and water, and we will not attempt the commixture. Yet these works are both of value as affording the means of readily weighing the opposing considerations which affect the subject, and we propose to make free use of their contents in what we are about to offer.
It is a noticeable fact, that in the earliest stages of civilization the belief of the special interference of the Deity in the affairs of men, is a prevailing and all but universal idea. Man, it was thought, by certain mystic forms and hallowed ceremonies, could compel the interference of the Divinity either to establish innocence, or to detect guilt. Hence came ordeals and trials by battle and by lot; hence the belief that by the eating of bread, or the drinking of water, by walking barefoot over burning ploughshares, by thrusting the hand amid poisonous serpents, or throwing the accused, bound hand and foot, into the water, amid prayers and the imposing forms of antique superstition, that God would manifest the truth by a miraculous violation of the the laws of Nature. So extensively diffused was this idea, that it was alike believed by the polished Athenian on the banks of the Ilissus, the stern Israelite amid the hills of Judea, the African dwelling under the burning heat of the torrid zone, and the Scandinavian worshipper of Thor or Odin, amid the fastnesses of the North. All nations, barbarous, or just emerging from barbarism, have resorted to the Divinity for the decision of disputed questions with somewhat similar ceremonies, and undoubtedly with like success.
Part and parcel with ordeals, whether of bread or of water, of poisons or of ploughshares, whether of Grecian, Jewish, Hindoo, or Scandinavian form and origin, based upon the same principle, involving the same leading idea, is the oath by which divine vengeance is imprecated upon falsehood, and, by the use of which ceremony, if it be effective, the Deity is, specially and for that cause, bound to inflict the requisite and appropriate punishment, in case of its violation. As the analogies traceable amid the radical words of different languages all point to a common origin, a primal language, so the innumerable resemblances discernible amid the elemental forms of jurisprudence, among nations diverse in their local habitations, with varying customs, and sympathies, and languages, would equally seem to indicate a common source, from which at some point of time, now uncertain or lost in the darkness of a remote antiquity, they originally sprung.
The oath, either assertory or promissory, is found among all nations, with the exception of those so barbarous as to have no conception of the existence of a God. Its antiquity seems almost coeval with man's existence. Indeed, according to classical mythology, its antiquity is still greater; for as the Gods and Goddesses swore more or less according to the emergency of the case, after, so it is fairly inferrible, that they did before his creation. At any rate the custom reaches back to the earliest recorded history.
"An oath is a religious asseveration, by which we either renounce the mercy, or imprecate the vengeance of Heaven, if we speak not the truth." Oaths have usually been divided into promissory or oaths of office, and assertory or oaths uttered judicially or extrajudicially, for the purpose of compelling truth on the part of the witness, and enforcing belief on the part of the hearer.
So extravagantly profuse and wasteful is the use of oaths amongst us, so utterly at variance are they with the command, "Swear not at all," so powerless are they for all good, so potent for much evil, that we have thought it might not be uninteresting briefly to notice the purposes for which, and the occasions upon which they have been in use, their different forms and ceremonies, the various punishments for their violation, the theory which justifies and requires their adoption as a sanction for truth, and their real force and efficiency in the administration of judicial affairs.
In the earliest records of the Jews, we find not only oaths but the very form of the uplifted hand, which is every day witnessed in court. It is the form adopted by the Deity: "I lift up my hand to Heaven and say, I live forever." To swear and to lift up the hand, are indifferently used as translations of the same Hebrew word. "The Lord lifted up His hand to the House of Israel," or "sware," as is subjoined in the margin. So in Revelations, "the angel which I saw, lifted up his hand to Heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever, who created Heaven and the things that therein are, and the sea and the things that therein are, that there should be time no longer."
The person to be sworn did not pronounce the formula, but the words of the oath were repeated to him, or, when heard, he ratified them by uttering the words "amen, amen;" thus imprecating upon himself the curse. The most solemn oaths were taken amid sacrifices, the person who imposed the