Of Guarded Speech

Of Guarded Speech

Sermon on the Mount. St Matthew.

(The Gospel History, Section 43*)

Again, ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.

Of Guarded Speech

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book III Poem XLII)

And spake the Lord:—
They of old time forbade a man to swear,
Save he, to keep his oath ’fore God, had care:
Swear not at all, I bid; there is no place
In universe thou see’st where oath finds grace:

Swear not by heaven; it is the throne of God;
Nor by the earth; it is the lowly sod
Whereon doth rest the feet of the Great King;
Jerusalem, His city; darest thou bring

’Gainst that is His, offence of foolish oath?
To swear by thine own head shouldst thou be loth,
That, too, belongs to God; nor canst thou make
One hair or white or black for any sake.

But thou, like duteous son, must sacred keep
Thy father’s wealth; nor rudely overleap
Restrictions He hath laid on all that good
With generous lavish hand He hath bestowed.

Assault not with rude words His holy Name,
But humble, gracious, thy true sonship claim;
Honour His Name, His Word, the things that bear,
In countless characters, signs of His care!

Why offer confirmation of thy word?
All men have test to try the truth when heard;
While they let lies deceive, the truth they know,
And bear an inward witness—“it is so.”

If, then, ye cannot prove the words ye say,
Keep ye to simple speech,—plain yea, or nay;
The man who hears, his to discern the right;
Thy flow of words will not make darkness light.

Asseveration is the way of fools;
And who his speech by God’s high ordering rules
Will shrink from oath for confirmation meant,
Nor will, to hear men’s blasphemies, consent.

Bethink thee: words thou speak’st are not thine own;
Nor aught thou see’st is for thee alone;
Bethink thee: words are things; with violence used,
They hurt and injure, as the flesh is bruised

By missile rude. Speak soft as at king’s court,—
No word so low, but God hears the report;
Speak simple truth, and who receives thy word,
The very word of God through thee hath heard.

St. Matthew v. 34-37