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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 deceit e' “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 f.”
Rule viji. “He that juggleth or stretcheth his conscience by fraudulent shifts and interpretations afterwards, is as bad as he that dissembleth in the taking of the oath. To break it by deceit, is as bad as to take it in deceit. “Lord who e Sanders. pp. 30, 31.
Psal. xxiv. 3.-5.
shall abide in thy' tabernacle-- he that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not f.” Saith Dr. Sanderson 8, “ Ista mihi aut non cogitare," &c. “It seemeth to me that the greater part of the men of these times either think not of these things, or at least not seriously: who fear not, at large and in express words, without going about, to swear to all that, whatever it be, which is proposed to them by those that have power to hurt them: yea, and they take themselves for the only wise men, and not without some disdain deride the simplicity and needless fear of those, that lest they hurt their consciences forsooth, do seek a knot in a rush, and oppose the forms prescribed by those that have power to prescribe them. And in the meantime they securely free themselves from all crime and fear of perjury, and think they have looked well to themselves and their consciences, if either when they swear, like Jesuits, they cán defend themselves by the help of some tacit equivocation, or mental reservation, or subtle interpretation which is strained and utterly alien from the words; or else after they have sworn can find some chink to slip through, some cúnning evasion, as a wise remedy, by which they may so elude their oath, as that keeping the words, the sense may by some sophism be eluded, and all the force of it utterly enervated. The ancient Christians knew not this divinity, nor the sounder heathens this moral philosophy. Far otherwise saith Augustine, . They are perjured, who keeping the words, deceive the expectation of those they swear to :' and otherwise saith Cicero,” &c. He goeth on to confirm it at large by argument.
Rule ix. * An oath is to be taken and interpreted strictly.' Sanderson saith “, “ Juramenti obligatio est stricti juris;” that is, “non ut excludat juris interpretationem æquitate temperatam ; sed ut 'excludat juris interpretationem gratia corruptam :” “not as excluding an equitable interpretation, but as excluding an interpretation corrupted by partiality:" that it be a just interpretation, between the extremes of rigid, and favourable or partial ; and in doubtful | Psal. xv. 1.4.
8 Sanders. pp. 32-41. h Sanders. pp. 41–44. Ubi de justo sensu ambigitur, longe satius est et natua ræ rei accommodatius, strictiore quam benigniore uti interpretatione. ibid. p. 44,
cases it is safer to follow the strict, than the benign or favourable sense. It is dangerous stretching and venturing too far in matters of so sacred a nature, and of such great importance as vows and oaths.
Rule x. “In the exposition of such doubtful oaths and vows, 1. We must specially watch against seif-interest or commodity that it corrupt not our understandings. 2. And we must not take our oaths or any part of them in such a sense, as a pious, prudent stander-by that is impartial, and no whit interested in the business, cannot easily find in the words themselves i.'
Rule xi. ' In doubtful cases the greatest danger must be most carefully avoided, and the safer side preferred: but the danger of the soul by perjury is the greatest, and therefore no bodily danger should so carefully be avoided : and therefore an oath that in the common and obvious sense seemeth unlawful should not be taken, unless there be very full evidence that it hath another sense.' Sand. p. 46. “Nititur autem, &c. This reason leaneth on that general and most useful rule, that in doubtful cases we must follow the safer side: but it is safer not to swear, where the words of the oath proposed, do seem according to the common and obvious sense of the words to contain in them something unlawful; than by a loose interpretation so to lenify them for our own ends, that we may the more securely swear them. For it is plain that such an oath may be refused without the peril of perjury; but not that it can be taken without some danger or fear. The same rule must guide us also in keeping vows.
Rule xii. “It is ordinarily resolved that imposed oaths must be kept according to the sense of the imposer.' See Sanderson, pp. 191, 192. But I conceive that assertion must be more exactly opened and bounded. 1. Where justice requireth that we have respect to the will or right of the imposer, there the oath imposed must be taken in his sense ; but whether it must be kept in his sense is further to be considered. 2. When I have done my best to understand the sense of the imposer in taking the oath, and yet mistake it, and so take it (without fraud) in another sense, the question then is somewhat hard, whether I must keep it in the sense I took it in, or in his sense, which then I understood not. If I must not keep it in my own serise, which I took it in, then it would follow that I must keep another oath, and not that which I took : for it is the sense that is the oath. And I never obliged myself to any thing, but according to my own sénse : ånd yet on the other side, if every man may take oaths in their private sense, then oaths will not attain their ends, nor be any security to the impos sers.
i Sanders. p. 45.
In this case you must carefully distinguish between the formal obligation of the oath or vow as such, and the obligation of justice to my neighbour which is a consequent of my vow. And for the former I conceive (with submission) that an oath or vow cannot bind me, formally as such, in any sense but my own in which' bonâ fide' I took it. Because formally an oath cannot bind me which I never took: but I never took that which I never meant, or thought of; if you so define an oath as to take in the sense, which is the soul of it.
But then in regard of the consequential obligation in point of justice unto man, the question I think must be thus resolved. 1. We must distinguish between a lawful imposer or contractor, and a violent usurper or robber that injuriously compelleth us to swear. 2. Between the obvious, usual sense of the words, and an unusual, forced sense. 3. Between a sincere, involuntary misunderstanding the imposer, and a voluntary, fraudulent réservation or private sense. 4. Between one, that I owe something to antecedently, and one that I owe nothing to but by the mere self-obligation of my vow. 5. Between an imposer that is himself the culpable eause of my misunderstanding him, and one that is not the cause, but my own weakness or negligence is the cause. 6. Between a case where both senses may be kept, and a case where they cannot, being inconsistent. Upon these distinctions, I thus resolve the question.
Prop. 1. If I fraudulently and wilfully take an oath in a sense of my own, contrary to the sense of the imposer, and the common and just sense of the words' themselves, I am guilty of perfidiousness and profaneness in the very taking of itk.
Hi They were ill times that Abbas Uspergensis describeth Chron. p. 320. Út omnis homo jam sit perjurus, et prædictis facinoribus implicatus, ut vix excusari pos
Prop. 11. If it be long of my own culpable ignorance or negligence that I misunderstood the imposer, I am not thereby disobliged from the public sense. : Prop. III. When the imposer openly putteth a sense on the words imposed contrary to the usual, obvious sense, I am to understand him according to his own expression, and not to take the oath, as imposed in any other sense.
Prop. iv. If the imposer refuse or neglect to tell me his sense any otherwise than in the imposed words, I am to take and keep them according to the obvious sense of the words, as they are commonly used in the time and place which I live in.
Prop. v. If it be long of the imposer's obscurity, or refusing to explain himself, or other culpable cause that I mistook him, I am not bound to keep my oath in his sense, as different from my own (unless there be some other reason for it).
Prop. vi. If the imposer be a robber or usurper, or one that I owe nothing to in justice, but what I oblige myself to by my oath, I am not then bound at all to keep my oath in his sense, if my own sense was according to the common use of the words.
Prop. vii. Though I may not lie to a robber or tyrant that unjustly imposeth promises or oaths upon me, yet if he put an oath or promise on me which is good and lawful in the proper, usual sense of the words, though bad in his sense, (which is contrary to the plain words,) whether I may take this to save my liberty or life, I leave to the consideration of the judicious: that which may be said against it is, that oaths must not be used indirectly and dissemblingly : that which may be said for it is, 1. That I have no obligation to fit my words to his personal, private sense. 2. That I deceive him not, but only permit him to deceive himself, as long as it is he and not I that misuseth the words. 3. That I am to have chief respect to the public sense; and it is not his sense, but mine that is the public sense. 4. That the saving of a man's life or liberty is cause enough for the taking a lawful oath. sit, quin sit in bis, sicut populus, sic et sacerdos : O that this calamity had ended with that age! Et p. 321. Principes terrarum et barones, arie diabolicà edocti, nec curabant juramenta infringere, nec fidem violare, et jus omne consundere.