« AnteriorContinuar »
not only their great doctors, but their approved General Council at the Lateran under Pope Innocent the Third, in the third canon hath decreed that the pope may depose temporal lords from their dominions, and give them unto others, and discharge their vassals from their allegiance and fidelity, if they be heretics, or will not exterminate heretics, (even such as the holy men there condemned were, in the pope's account). To declare to many Christian nations, that it is lawful to break their oaths and promises to their lawful lords and rulers, or their vows to God, and to undertake, by defending or owning this, to justify all those nations that shall be guilty of this perjury and perfidiousness, 0 what a horrid crime is this! what a shame even unto human nature! and how great a wrong to the Christian name!
Direct, ix. 'Understand and remember these following rules, to acquaint you how far a vow is obligatory:' which 1 shall give for the most part out of Dr. Sanderson, because his decisions of these cases are now of best esteem. Rule i. 'The general rule laid down Numb. xxx. 2, 3. doth make a vow, as such, to be obligatory, though the party should have a secret equivocation or intent, that though he speak the words to deceive another, yet he will not oblige himself.' Such a reserve not to oblige himself hindereth not the obligation, but proveth him a perfidious hypocrite. Dr. Sanderson, p. 23. 'Juramentum omne ex sua natura est obligatorium: ita ut si quis juret non intendeus se obligare, nihilominus tamen suscipiendo juramentum ipso facto obligetur:' that is, If he so far understand what he doth, as that his words may bear the definition of an oath or vow: otherwise if he speak the words of an oath in a strange language, thinking they signify something else, or if he spake in his sleep, or deliration, or distraction, it is no oath, and so not obligatory. Rule II. 'Those conditions are to be taken as intended in all oaths, (whether expressed or no,) which the very nature of the thing doth necessarily imply b ;' unless any be so brutish as to express the contrary). And these are all reducible to two heads, 1. A natural, and 2. A moral impossibility. 1. Whoever sweareth to do any thing, or give any
* See Dr. Sanderson, p. 47 and 197.
thing, is supposed to mean,' If I live; and if I be not disabled in my body, faculties, estate; if God make it not impossible to be,' &c. For no man can be supposed to mean, I will do it whether God will or not, and whether i live or not, and whether I be able or not.' 2. Whoever voweth or sweareth to do any thing, must be understood to mean it' If no change of providence make it a sin; or if I find not contrary to my present supposition, that God forbiddeth it.' For no man that is a Christian is to be supposed to mean when he voweth, 'I will do this, though God forbid it, or though it prove to be a sin;' especially when men therefore vow it, because they take it to be a duty. Now as that which is sinful is morally impossible, so there are divers ways by which a thing may appear or become sinful to us. (1.) When we find it forbidden directly in the Word of God, which at first we understood not. (2.) When the change of things doth make that a sin, which before was a duty: of which may be given an hundred instances: as when the change of a man's estate, of his opportunities, of his liberty, of his parts and abilities, of objects, of customs, of the laws of civil governors, doth change the very matter of his duty. Quest. 'But will every change disoblige us? If not, what change must it be? seeing casuists use to put it as a condition in general, 'rebus sic stantibus.' Answ. No: it is not every change of things that disobligeth us from the bonds of a vow. For then vows were of no considerable signification. But, 1. If the very matter that was vowed, or about which the vow was, do cease, ' cessante materia cessat obligation as if I promise to teach a pupil, I am disobliged when he is dead. If I promise to pay so much money in gold, and the king should forbid gold and change his coin, I am not obliged to it. 2.' Cessante termino vel correlato cessat obligatio.' If the party die to whom I am bound, my personal obligation ceaseth. And so the conjugal bond ceaseth at death, and civil bonds by civil death. 3. 'Cessante fine, cessat obligatio.' If the use and end wholly cease, my obligation, which was only to that use and end, ceaseth. As if a physician promise to give physic for noc Cicero de Leg. lib. i. proveth that right is founded in the law of nature, more than in man's laws: else, with he, men may make evil good, and good evil, and make adultery, perjury, &c just by making a law for them. thing for the cure of the plague, to all the poor of the city; when the plague ceaseth, his end, and so his obligation, ceaseth. 4. 'Cessante persona naturali relata cessat obligatio personalis.' When the natural person dieth, the obligation ceaseth. I cannot be obliged to do that when I am dead, which is proper to the living. The subject of the obligation ceasing, the accidents must cease. 5. 'Cessante relatione vel persona civili, cessat obligatio talis, qua talis.' The obligation which lay on a person in any relation merely as such, doth cease when that relation ceaseth. A king is not bound to govern or protect his subjects if they traiterously depose him, or if he cast them off, and take another kingdom, (as when Henry III. of France, left the kingdom of Poland:) nor are subjects bound to allegiance and obedience to him that is not indeed their king. A judge, or justice, or constable, or tutor, is no longer bound by his oath to do the offices of these relations, than he continueth in the relation. A divorced wife is not bound by her conjugal vow to her husband as before, nor masters and servants, when their relations cease: nor a soldier to his general by his military sacrament, when the army is disbanded, or he is cashiered or dismissed. Rule m. 'No vows or promises of our own can dissolve the obligation, laid upon us by the law of God.' For we have no co-ordinate, much less superior authority over ourselves; our self-obligations are but for the furthering of our obedience. Rule iv. 'Therefore no vows can disoblige a man from any present duty, nor justify him in the committing of any sin.' Vows are to engage us to God, and not against him: if the matter which we vow be evil, it is a sin to vow it, and a sin to do it upon pretence of a vow. Sin is no acceptable sacrifice to God. Rule v. 'If I vow that I will do some duty better, I am not thereby disobliged from doing it at all, when I am disabled from doing it betterd.' Suppose a magistrate, seeing much amiss in church and commonwealth, doth vow a reformation, and vow against the abuses which he findeth; if now the people's obstinacy and rebellion disable him to perform that vow, it doth not follow that he must lay down his sceptre, and cease to govern them at all, because he cannot do it as he ought, if he were free. So if the pastors of any church do vow the reformation of church abuses, in their places, if they be hindered by their rulers, or by the people, it doth not follow that they must lay down their callings, and not worship God publicly at all, because they cannot do it as they would, and ought if they were free; as long as they may worship him without committing any sin. God's first obligation on me is to worship him, and the second for the manner, to do it as near his order as I can: now if I cannot avoid the imperfections of worship, though I vowed it, I must not therefore avoid the worship itself, (as long as corruptions destroy not the very nature of it, and I am put myself upon no actual sin). For I was bound to worship God before my vows, and in order of nature before my obligation 'de modo:' and my vow was made with an implied condition, that the thing were possible and lawful: and when that ceaseth to be possible or lawful which I vowed, I must nevertheless do that which still remaineth possible and lawful. To give over God's solemn worship with the church, is no reformation. To prefer no worship before imperfect worship, is a greater deformation and corruption, than to prefer imperfect worship before that which is more perfect. And to prefer a worship imperfect in the manner, before no church worship at all, is a greater reformation than to prefer a more perfect manner of worship before a more imperfect and defective. To worship God decently and in order, supposeth that he must be worshipped; and he that doth not worship at all, doth not worship him decently. If a physician vow that he will administer a certain effectual antidote to all his patients that have the plague, and that he will not administer a certain less effectual preparation, which some apothecaries, through covetousness or carelessness, had brought into common use, to the injury of the sick; his vow is to be interpreted with these exceptions, 'I will do it if I can, without dishonesty or a greater mischief: I will not administer the sophisticated antidote when I can have better: I vow this for my patients' benefit, and not for their destruction.' Therefore if the sophisticated antidote is much better than none, and may save men's lives, and the patients grow wilful and will take no other, or authority forbid the use of any other, the physician is neither bound to forsake his calling rather than use it, nor to neglect the life of his patients: (if their lives indeed lie upon his care, and they may not be in some good hopes without him, and the good of many require him not to neglect a few). But he must do what he can, when he cannot do what he would, and only shew that he consenteth not to the sophistication. Rule vi. 'Though he that voweth a lawful thing, must be understood to mean, if it continue possible and lawful; yet if he himself be the culpable cause that afterwards it becometh impossible or unlawful, he violateth his vow.' He that voweth to give so much to the poor, and after prodigally wasteth it, and hath it not to give, doth break his vow; which he doth not if fire and thieves deprive him of it against his will. He that voweth to preach the Gospel, if he cut out his own tongue, or culpably procure another to imprison, silence or hinder him, doth break his vow; which he did not if the hindrance were involuntary and insuperable; consent doth make the impedition his own act. Rule Vii. 'In the taking and keeping of oaths and vows we must deal simply and openly without equivocation and deceite.' "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation'."
* How often perjury hath ruined Christian princes and states all history doth testify. The ruin of the Roman empire by the Goths, was by this means. Alaricus having leave to live quietly in France, Slilico conies in perniciem Reipub. Gothos pertentans, dum eos insidiis aggredi cuperet, belli summam Saulo paganoduci conimuit: qui ipso sacratissimo die Faschie, Gothis nil tale suspicanribus, super cos irruit, magnamque eorum partem prostravit. Nam primuni perturbati Gothi, ac propter religionem ccdcntes, demum anna corripiunt, victoremque virtute potiori priutrrnunt cxercitum: hinc in rabiem furoris excitantur. Cceptum iter deserentet, Komam cuntrndunt petcre, cuncta igne fcrroque vastantes: nec mora; venientes urban capiunt, devaatant, incendunt, &c. Paul Diucunus, lib.3.