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sacrament surpasses it in solemnity. And is it not the right, then, is it not the imperative duty, of society, to take good heed that it be not lightly or vainly administered ? Nay, does not society make its officers, (and through them, itself,) not only witnesses, but parties, to the most shocking mockery, to the most profane blasphemy, by suffering oaths to be administered to those who deny the existence of the God in whose name they are couched ?

Gentlemen will tell me, that the second section of this bill will provide against such an event. But wide as that section reaches, extraordinary and extravagant as its provisions are, allowing every man to affirm who may object to being sworn, whether his objection arise from conscience or from caprice, whether from a weak superstition, or from a wicked design to escape the imprecation of Divine wrath upon a deliberate and premeditated perjury, — it does not go far enough to prevent the profanation to which I have referred.

Suppose, Sir, a bold and barefaced infidel, an open and notorious infidel, to be summoned as a witness in our courts, and that, declining to avail himself of the privilege of the second section of this bill, and resisting all inquiry into his religious belief under the first, he should insist, for the mere purpose of ridiculing religion and mocking God, or for any other reason you choose, on having the oath administered to him,- is there any thing in this bill, or out of it, if the bill passes, to hinder him from doing so? Nothing. And if gentlemen tell me that I suppose an extreme case, I reply that it is an extreme case in more senses of the word than one, and that the very possibility of its occurrence ought to be scrupulously guarded against. And to this end, until all oaths are abolished, the right of inquiry which this bill proposes to do away, must be preserved.

Again, Sir, I maintain that the right of inquiry is essential to the ends of justice. Why are oaths administered at all? Is it not because they are believed to have peculiar efficacy to elicit and extort truth from those who might otherwise speak falsely? And is it not a mere imposition on both judges and jury, and a most gross injustice to those interested in any suit, to introduce testimony under the form of an oath, without giving them the

means of knowing whether it were taken by one who was capable of feeling its force, or by one to whom it was mere mummery and jargon ? And how but by this very inquiry can such knowledge be ascertained ? I repeat the proposition, then, that while oaths continue to be administered, it is essential to the ends of justice, as well as a religious duty of society, to maintain the right of making this inquiry. If the second section of this bill be adopted, it is not difficult to foresee that oaths will be in a considerable degree discontinued in our courts, but if the first section prevail they ought forth with to be entirely abolished.

And here, Mr. Speaker, we are brought to the question, whether we are willing, either in whole or in part, to give up oaths as the instruments of investigation in our courts of justice? Are we ready to substitute, as the sanctions of testimony on which not only the properties, but the liberties and lives of men may depend, the uncertain and merely momentary penalties of man, for the sure and fearful looking-for of Divine judgment? I appeal to those who haply may be something more than witnesses in our courts, — to those who, by some turn of fortune, by some sudden heat of passion in their own breasts, or of prejudice or persecution in the breasts of others, may, as any one of us may, stand one day or other at the bar of their country, with the awful issue to be determined whether they shall stand next at the bar of their God. Are they quite willing to take men as they come, under the influence of such motives as happen to be uppermost in their minds, and to unseal those lips upon which the name of the God of Truth never rested but in derision or as a curse? For myself, Sir, I must bow to the decision of the majority, but I protest while I can, against one hair of my head being harmed, against one day of my life being cut off or doomed to darkness, upon the mock oath or even the conscientious affirmation of an atheist.

I must be pardoned, Sir, if I put no faith in him who puts no faith in his God, - if I refuse to risk all that is valuable to me here, upon the word of one who knows nothing valuable hereafter. It may be called bigotry or intolerance, or what you please. When I regard infidelity as a state of mind wholly independent of the

sacrament surpasses it in solemnity. And is it not the right, then, is it not the imperative duty, of society, to take good heed that it be not lightly or vainly administered ? Nay, does not society make its officers, (and through them, itself,) not only witnesses, but parties, to the most shocking mockery, to the most profane blasphemy, by suffering oaths to be administered to those who deny the existence of the God in whose name they are couched?

Gentlemen will tell me, that the second section of this bill will provide against such an event. But wide as that section reaches, extraordinary and extravagant as its provisions are, allowing every man to affirm who may object to being sworn, whether his objection arise from conscience or from caprice, whether from a weak superstition, or from a wicked design to escape the imprecation of Divine wrath upon a deliberate and premeditated perjury, - it does not go far enough to prevent the

profanation to which I have referred.

Suppose, Sir, a bold and barefaced infidel, an open and notorious infidel; to be summoned as a witness in our courts, and that, declining to avail himself of the privilege of the second section of this bill, and resisting all inquiry into his religious belief under the first, he should insist, for the mere purpose of ridiculing religion and mocking God, or for any other reason you choose, on having the oath administered to him, - is there any thing in this bill, or out of it, if the bill passes, to binder him from doing so? Nothing. And if gentlemen tell me that I suppose an extreme case, I reply that it is an extreme case in more senses of the word than one, and that the very possibility of its occurrence ought to be scrupulously guarded against. And to this end, until all oaths are abolished, the right of inquiry which this bill proposes to do away, must be preserved.

Again, Sir, I maintain that the right of inquiry is essential to the ends of justice. Why are oaths administered at all? Is it not because they are believed to have peculiar efficacy to elicit and extort truth from those who might otherwise speak falsely ? And is it not a mere imposition on both judges and jury, and a most gross injustice to those interested in any suit, to introduce testimony under the form of an oath, without giving them the means of knowing whether it were taken by one who was capable of feeling its force, or by one to whom it was mere mum. mery and jargon ? And how but by this very inquiry can such knowledge be ascertained ? I repeat the proposition, then, that while oaths continue to be administered, it is essential to the ends of justice, as well as a religious duty of society, to maintain the right of making this inquiry. If the second section of this bill be adopted, it is not difficult to foresee that oaths will be in a considerable degree discontinued in our courts, but if the first section prevail they ought forth with to be entirely abolished.

And here, Mr. Speaker, we are brought to the question, whether we are willing, either in whole or in part, to give up oaths as the instruments of investigation in our courts of justice? Are we ready to substitute, as the sanctions of testimony on which not only the properties, but the liberties and lives of men may depend, the uncertain and merely momentary penalties of man, for the sure and fearful looking-for of Divine judgment? I appeal to those who haply may be something more than witnesses in our courts, to those who, by some turn of fortune, by some sudden heat of passion in their own breasts, or of prejudice or persecution in the breasts of others, may, as any one of us may, stand one day or other at the bar of their country, with the awful issue to be determined whether they shall stand next at the bar of their God. Are they quite willing to take men as they come, under the influence of such motives as happen to be uppermost in their minds, and to unseal those lips upon which the name of the God of Truth never rested but in derision or as a curse? For myself, Sir, I must bow to the de

, cision of the majority, but I protest while I can, against one hair of my head being harmed, against one day of my life being cut off or doomed to darkness, upon the mock oath or even the conscientious affirmation of an atheist.

I must be pardoned, Sir, if I put no faith in him who puts no faith in his God, if I refuse to risk all that is valuable to me here, upon the word of one who knows nothing valuable hereafter. It may be called bigotry or intolerance, or what you please. When I regard infidelity as a state of mind wholly independent of the

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will, I may feel differently disposed. Now it seems to me to be wilful and wanton. There is nothing more beautiful in the system of Providence, nothing more worthy of the devout gratitude of man, than that God has so adapted the Gospel of his Son, and the knowledge of Himself, to the nature and the necessities of the human heart. It is against man's reason, it is against his instincts to deny or disbelieve them. And it seems as if such disbelief or denial could result, at some stage or other of its existence, from nothing but a perverse shutting of the eyes and the ears to those streams of light and those sounds of truth, which come up alike from every pore of nature and from every page of revelation. Or perhaps, Sir, I may be more charitable

. in this respect, when I consider the belief in a Supreme Being as having no efficacy to promote purity of life or truth of language, - when I regard atheism as having no concern with a man's character for truth and veracity. Now I consider it as the very test and criterion of that character, or rather as that character itself.

I speak generally, Sir, and not without remembering that there are exceptions to all rules. And I was particularly struck with the paragraph from Washington's Farewell Address, which my friend from Newbury read to us the other day, as containing a clear and true statement of both the rule and the exceptions. After asking, as he emphatically does, “ where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ?” he proceeds, “ let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” As if he had said, whatever may be the influence of refined education on the Humes, the Gibbons, the Jeffersons, (if, indeed, Jefferson is to be so classed, as I am by no means ready to admit,) — whatever may be the influence of refined education upon minds of this peculiar structure, the morality of men in general can only result from religious principle, preceded, of course, by religious belief.

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