If any man trespass against his neighbour
By being unfaithful in a trust committed to him, or the like:
and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear;
he denying that ever anything was committed to his trust, and there being no witnesses of it, the judge obliges him to take an oath he never had any:
and the oath come before thine altar in this house;
where it was taken, as in the presence of God, and as appealing to him: hence in corrupt times they came to swear by the altar, ( Matthew 23:20 ) and so the Heathens used to take their oaths in the temples of their gods, and at their altars, as the instances of Callicrates F3 and Hannibal F4 show, and others Grotius refers to; yea, they also laid hold on the altar, at least touched it when they swore F5 to give the greater sanction to the oath.
F3 Cornel. Nep. Vit. Dion. l. 10. c. 8.
F4 Ib. Hannibal. l. 23. c. 2.
F5 Vid. Lydii Dissert de Jurament. c. 4. sect. 7.