Swearing, a term used to denote either the uttering of impious expressions, or the judicial, and also official invocation of the Deity, to attest the truth of an assertion.
The security of oaths in important affairs, has in all ages been requited by the laws of civilized nations ; nor is swearing, on such occasions, prohibited by the Christian doctrine. But, though particular circumstances may sanction this expedient, there is no possible excuse for invoking the Creator, to attest the truth of every trifling transaction, or to witness the impertinence of idle, perhaps indecent, conversation. It has been urged, by way of extenuating this breach of morality, that a man may have been carried away by the violence of some passion; or he may probably have been aggravated by the gross misconduct of others. Such plea, however, cannot lessen the criminality of the act : for the utterance of a profane oath neither imparts pleasure to, nor dispels the uneasy sensations of, the speaker; while the wanton indulgence in such practice displays a wilful propensity to vicious habits, incompatible with the dignity of rational agents.
Sensible of the bad and contagious effects of swearing, our legislators have wisely directed certain penalties, from 6d. to 2s. 6d. (or corporal punishment), to be paid for every such violation of the law of decorum, which, however, are seldom enforced; nor will our limits permit us to detail them.