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Old Church Life in Scotland
Appendix C.—Old Oaths of Purgation


The oath of purgation, as given in the form of process approved by Act of the General Assembly in 1707, is of a very solemn tenor, and it might well be directed that in taking that oath "all tenderness and caution is to be used." But there were more ancient oaths of purgation in use in the Church of Scotland before the present form of process was enacted. In a fly leaf of a volume of the records of the Presbytery of Ayr, commencing at the date 3rd August, 1687, there is a copy of the Presb)tery's -'oath of purgation," written out in full, and the terms of this old oath of the Covenant times are as follow :—

"I do, therefore, in the presence of the great and dreadfull Majestie of the etternall, ever living and ever blessed God, the searcher of hearts and reins, in his holy sanctuary, humbly upon my knees, with my hands lifted up to heaveh, protest and swear by the holy and dreadfull name of the Lord, the only true God, and as I shall be answerable to his Majestie in that great and terrible day, when he shall judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, whom he hath appointed the judge of quick and dead, that I never committed the abominable sin of with, &c.

And this oath I take in presence of the all-seeing and sin-revenging God, as said is, with a clean and innocent conscience, in righteousness, truth, and judgment, without all equivocation or mental reservation, that is to say, without all deceitfull meaning, dissembling in or concealling of any part of the truth of this matter, and I take God to record on my soul, of my truth and sincerity herein, whom I know to be a swift witness against him that sweareth falsely by his name, and who hath threatened that his curse shall enter into their house and consume it, with the stones and timber thereof, and who hath brought on very terrible, tremendous, and dreadfull judgments in this life upon such, and who may bring forth his everlasting curse upon me if I have so done, wishing the Lord may no otherwise help me in my greater need, nor prosper me in any thing I have to doe, but exemplarly punish me in this lyfe and with the everlasting fire of his wrath in the lyfe to come, if I be not every way free in this matter. So be it."

The following is the oath of purgation in use in the West Kirk of Edinburgh in 1680:— I------do swear by the great Eternal God, as I shall be judged at the last and most terrible day, that I never------:wishing that all the plagues threatened and pronounced against the breakers of the law may be inflicted on me, both in this life and the life to come, if this be not the truth as I have sworn."


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