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I will upon them, yet the public sense of them is blasphemy; and I may not publicly blaspheme, on pretence of a private right sense and intention. Rule xv. 'If the oath imposed be true in the strict and proper sense, yet if that sense be not vulgarly known, nor sufficiently manifest to be the imposer's sense, and if the words are false or blasphemous in the vulgar sense of those that I have to do with, and that must observe and make use of my example, I must not take such an oath, without leave to make my sense as public as my oath.' As if I were commanded to swear,'That God hath no foreknowledge, no knowledge, no will,' &c.; it were easy to prove that these terms are spoken primarily of man, and that they are attributed to God but analogically or metaphorically, and that God hath no such human acts ' formaliter,' but' eminenter,' and that' forma dat nomen, ' and so that strictly it is not knowledge and will in the primary, proper notion, that God hath at all, but something infinitely higher, for which man hath no other name. But though thus the words are true and justifiable in the strictest, proper sense, yet are they unlawful, because they are blasphemy in the vulgar sense: and he that speaks to the vulgar, is supposed to speak with the vulgar: unless he as publicly explain them.
livle xvi. 'If the supreme power should impose an oath or promise which in the ordinary, obvious sense were sinful, and an inferior officer would bid me take it in what sense I pleased, I might not therefore take it: because that such an officer hath no power to interpret it himself; much less to allow me to take it in a private sense.' But if the lawgiver that imposeth it bid me take it in what sense I will, and give me leave to make my sense as public as my oath, I may take it, if the words be but dubious, and not apparently false or sinful: (so there be no reason against it, 'aliunde,' as from ill consequents, &c.) Rule xvii. 'If any man will say in such a case, (when he thinketh that the imposer's sense is bad)' 1 take not the same oath or engagement which is imposed, but another in the same words, and I suppose not inferior officers authorized to admit any interpretation, but I look at them only as men that can actually execute or not execute the laws upon me; and so I take a vow of my own according to my own sense, though in their words, as a means of my avoiding their severities:' as this is a collusion in a very high and tender business, so that person (if the public sense of the oath be sinful) must make his professed sense as public as his oath or promise; it being no small thing to do that which in the public sense is impious, and so to be an example of perfidiousness to many.'
Rule xvni. 'Though an oath imposed by an usurper or by violence is not to be taken in formal obedience, nor at all, unless the greatness of the benefit require it, yet being taken it is nevertheless obligatory1 (supposing nothing else do make it void).' Man is a free agent and cannot be forced though he may be frightened: if he swear to a thief for the saving of his life, he voluntarily doth choose the inconveniences of the oath, as a means to save his life. Therefore being a voluntary act it is obligatory; else there should be no obligation on us to suffer for Christ, but any thing might be sworn or done to escape suffering: see of this Dr. Sanderson largely Praelect. iv. Sect. 14—16. The imposition and the oath are different things: in the imposition, a thief or tyrant is the party commanding, and I am the party commanded; and his having no authority to command me, doth nullify only his command, and maketh me not obliged to obey him, nor to take it in any obedience to him; but yet if I do take it without any authority obliging me (as private oaths are taken), it is still an oath or vow, in which the parties are God and man; man vowing and making himself a debtor to God; and God hath authority to require me to keep my vows, when men have no authority to require me to make them. All men confess that private vows bind: and the nullity of the imposer's authority, maketh them but private vows; this case is easy, and commonly agreed on. Rule xix. 'If in a complex vow or promise there be many things which prove materially unlawful, and one or more that are lawful, the conjunction of the things unlawful doth not disoblige me from the vow of doing the lawful part.' Otherwise a man might make void all his vows to God, and oaths, and covenants with men, by putting in something that is evil with the good: and so God, and the
Saudcre. |>. 122—133.
king, and our neighbours would all have their debts paid by our sin and injury done them on the bye. Rule xx. 'If some part of that which you vowed become impossible, that doth not disoblige you from so much as remaineth possible.' As if you vow allegiance to the king, and tyrants or disability hinder you from serving him as subjects in some one particular way, you remain still obliged to serve him by those other ways in which you are yet capable to serve him. So if you had taken an oath against Popery, to preach against it, and reject the practice of it, and for ever renounce it; this would not bind you from the common truths and duties of Christianity which Papists hold in common with all other Christians: nor could you preach against Popery, if you were hindered by imprisonment, banishment or restraint; but you have still power to forbear approving, consenting, subscribing, or practising their errors; and this you are ctill bound to do. Rule xxi. 'Though you are not bound to do that of your vow which changes have made impossible or unlawful, yet if another change make them possible and lawful again, your obligation doth return afresh (unless you made it with such limitation).' It is not a temporary cessation of the matter, or end, or correlate that will perpetually discharge you from your vow. If your wife be taken captive many years, when she returneth, you are bound to the duties of a husband. If the king be expelled by usurpers, you are bound at present to so much duty as is possible, and to obey him as your actual governor when he returneth. But in the case of servants and soldiers, and other temporary relations, it is otherwise; for a removal may end the relation itself. If you promise to preach the Gospel, to medicate the sick, to relieve the poor, to reform your families, &c. you are not hereby obliged to do it, while any irresistible impediment maketh it impossible; but when the hindrance ceaseth, you are obliged to do it again; the matter and your capacity being restored. Rule x Xii. 'Therefore many a vow and promise may be lawfully unperformed, which may not be renounced or disclaimed.' When you are taken captives you must forbear your duty to your king, your father, your husband or wife, but you may not therefore renounce them, and say,' I have no obligation to them:' no, not to the death, because they are relations for life: and how improbable soever it may seem that you should be returned to them, yet God can do it, and you must wait on him. Rule Xxiii. 'A former vow or promise is not nullified by a latter that contradicteth it.' Otherwise a man might disoblige himself at his pleasure. Yet he that maketh contrary vows, obligeth himself to contraries and impossibles; and bringeth a necessity of perjury on himself, for not doing the things impossible which he vowed. And in some cases a later promise to men may null a former, when we made the former with the reserve of such a power or liberty, or are justly supposed to have power to recal a former promise; or when it is the duty of a mutable relation which we vow, (as of a physician, a schoolmaster, &c.) and by a later vow we change the relation itself: (which we may still lawfully change.) Rule xxiv.' The' actus jurandi' must still be distinguished from the 'materia juramenti:' and it very often cometh to pass that the act of swearing (or the oath as our act) is unlawfully done, and was a sin from the beginning, and yet it is nevertheless obligatory as long as the 'res jurata,' the matter sworn is lawful or necessary ".' Dr. Sanderson instanceth in Joshua's oath to the Gibeonites. The nature of the thing is proof enough; for many a thing is sinfully done, for want of a due call, or manner, or end, that yet is done, and is no nullity. A man may sinfully enter upon the ministry, that yet is bound to do the duty of a minister: and many marriages are sinful that are no nullities. Rule xxv. 'The nullity of an oath ' ad initio' is ' quando realiter vel reputative non juravimus:' 'when really or reputatively we did not swear.' The sinfulness of an oath is when we did swear really but unlawfully as to the ground, or end, or matter, or manner, or circumstances. Really that man did not swear, 1. Who spake not (mentally nor orally) the words of an oath. 2. Who thought those words had signified no such thing, and so had no intent to swear
"Sanders, pp. 55, 56. Iu quo casu locum liabet quod vulgo dicitur, Fieri non debet, factum valet: possumus ergo distinguere, Juramentum dici illicitum duobus modis. Vel respectu rei jurata1, vel respectu actus jurandi: Juramentum illicitum respectu rei jurata? iuillatcnus obligat: Juramentum illicitum respectu actus jurandi obligat, nisi aliunde impcdiatur.
either mentally or verbally.' As if an Englishman be taught to use the words of an oath in French, and made believe that they have a contrary sense. 3. Who only narratively recited the words of an oath, as a reporter or historian, without a real or professed intent of swearing. 2. Reputatively he did not swear. (1.) Who spake the words of an oath in his sleep, or in a deliration, distraction, madness, or such prevalent melancholy as mastereth reason: when a man is not' compos mentis,' his act is not ' actus humanus.' (2.) When a man's hand is forcibly moved by another against his will to subscribe the words of an oath or covenant; for if it be totally involuntary it is not a moral act. But words cannot be forced; for he that sweareth to save his life, doth do it voluntarily to save his life. The will may be moved by fear, but not forced. Yet the person that wrongfully frighteneth another into consent, or to swear, hath no right to any benefit which he thought to get by force or fraud, and so ' in foro civili' such promises, or covenants, or oaths may 'quoad effectum' be reputatively null; and he that by putting his sword to another man's breast doth compel him to swear or subscribe and seal a deed of gift, may be judged to have no right to it, but to be punishable for the force; but though this covenant or promise be null 'in foro humano' because the person cannot acquire a right by violence, yet the oath is not a nullity before God; for when God is made a party, he hath a right which is inviolable; and when he is appealed to or made a witness, his name must not be taken in vain. (3.) It is a nullity reputatively when the person is naturally incapable of self-obligation, as in infancy, when reason is not come to so much maturity as to be naturally capable of such a work: I say naturally incapable for the reasons following. Rule xxvi. 'We must distinguish between a natural inpacity of vowing or swearing at all, and an incapacity of doing it lawfully: and between a true nullity, and when the oath is only 'quasi nullum,' or as null' quoad effectum; or such as I must not keep.' There are many real oaths and vows which must not be kept, and so far are ' quasi nulla' as to the effecting of the thing vowed; but they are not simply null; for they have the effect of making the man a