Is a solemn asseveration, by which one pledges his veracity that he shall perform, or cause to be performed, the thing which he mentions.

The obligation of promises arises from the necessity of the well-being and existence of society. “Virtue requires,” as Dr. Doddridge observes, “that promises be fulfilled. The promisee, i. e. the person to whom the promise is made, acquires a property in virtue of the promise. The uncertainty of property would evidently be attended with great inconvenience. By failing to fulfil my promise, I either show that I was not sincere in making it, or that I have little constancy or resolution, and either way injure my character and consequently my usefulness in life. Promises, however, are not binding, 1. If they were made by us before we came to such exercise of reason as to be fit to transact affairs of moment; or if by any distemper or sudden surprise we are deprived of the exercise of our reason at the time when the promise is made.–2. If the promise was made on a false presumption, in which the promiser, after the most diligent inquiry, was imposed upon, especially if he were deceived by the fraud of the promise.–3. If the thing itself be vicious; for virtue cannot require that vice should be committed.–4. If the accomplishment of the promise be so hard and intolerable, that there is reason to believe that, had it been foreseen, it would have been not accepted, or if it depend on conditions not performed.”


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