II. (6) And some men display such easiness and indifference on the subject, that, passing over all created things, they dare in their ordinary conversation to rise up to the Creator and Father of the universe, without stopping to consider the place in which they are, whether it be profane or sacred; or the time, whether it be suitable; or themselves, whether they are pure in body and soul; or the business, whether it be important; or the occasion, whether it is necessary; but (as the proverb says), they pollute everything with unwashed feet, as if it were decent, since nature has bestowed a tongue upon them, for them to let it loose unrestrained and unbridled to approach objects which it is impious to approach. (7) When they ought rather to employ that most excellent of all the organs by which voice and speech (the most useful things in human life, and the causes of all communion among men) are made distinct and articulate, in a manner to contribute to the honour, and dignity, and blessing of the great Cause of all things. (8) But now, out of their excessive impiety, they use the most awful names in speaking of the most unimportant matters, and heaping one appellation upon another in a perfect crowd they feel no shame, thinking that by the frequency and number of their uninterrupted oaths they will attain to the object which they desire, being very foolish to think so; for a great number of oaths is no proof of credibility, but rather of a man’s not deserving to be believed in the opinion of men of sense and wisdom.
III. (9) But if any one being compelled to swear, swears by anything whatever in a manner which the law does not forbid, let him exert himself with all his strength and by every means in his power to give effect to his oath, interposing no hindrance to prevent the accomplishment of the matter thus ratified, especially if neither implacable anger or frenzied love, or unrestrained appetites agitate the mind, so that it does not know what is said or done, but if the oath has been taken with sober reason and deliberate purpose. (10) For what is better than to speak with perfect truth throughout one’s whole life, and to prove this by the evidence of God himself? For an oath is nothing else but the testimony of God invoked in a matter which is a subject of doubt, and to invoke God to witness a statement which is not true is the most impious of all things. (11) For a man who does this, is all but saying in plain words (even though he hold his peace), “I am using thee as a veil for my iniquity; do thou co-operate with me, who am ashamed to appear openly to be behaving unjustly. For though I am doing wrong, I am anxious not to be accounted wicked, but thou canst be indifferent to thy reputation with the multitude, having no regard to being well spoken of.” But to say or imagine such things as these is most impious, for not only would God, who is free from all participation in wickedness, but even any father or any stranger, provided he were not utterly devoid of all virtue, would be indignant if he were addressed in such a way as this. (12) A man, therefore, as I have said, must be sure and give effect to all oaths which are taken for honourable and desirable objects, for the due establishment of private or public objects of importance, under the guidance of wisdom, and justice, and holiness.