(1) The exacting of an oath has, from time immemorial, been a customary procedure in conferring civil and ecclesiastical office and in taking legal testimony. Though often allowed to become painfully trivial and a travesty on its inherent solemnity, the taking of an official oath or the swearing of witnesses is still considered essential to the moral integrity of government, secular or spiritual. False sweating, under solemn oath, constitutes the guilt and heinousness of perjury. The universality of oath-taking is humanity’s tribute, whether pagan or Christian, to the sacredness of truth.
(2) Civilized nations administer oaths under three heads: political, ecclesiastical, legal. The sovereign of England receives the crown only as he or she responds affirmatively to the solemn adjuration of the archbishop or bishop: "Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern," etc., closing with the affirmation, "So help me God." A fundamental conviction of civilized nations was expressed by Lycurgus: "An oath is the bond that keeps the state together." It is the most solemn appeal to the inviolability of the human conscience, and the sacredness of a vow as witnessed both by God and men. See also OATH.
Dwight M. Pratt