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The commonest doubt is, 'Whether an error about the very person that I swear to, and this caused by his own deceit, do disoblige me?' All grant that I am obliged notwithstanding any circumstantial error, (as if I think a woman rich whom I marry, and she prove poor, or wise and godly, and she prove foolish or ungodly: yea, if the error be about any integral part; as if I think she had two eyes or legs, and she have but one:) and all grant that an error about an essential part, that is, which is essential to the relation or thing vowed, (if inculpable at least) disobligeth: as if I took a man in marriage thinking he had been a woman; or if I took a person for a pastor, a physician, a counsellor, a pilot, that hath no tolerable ability or skill in the essentials of any of those professions. But whether I am bound if I swear to Thomas thinking it was John, or if I marry Leah thinking she is Rachel, is the great doubt. And most casuists say I am not: and therefore I dare not be bold to contradict them". But I much suspect that they fetched their decision from the lawyers; who truly say, that in ‘foro civili' it inferreth no obligation: but whether it do not oblige me ethically and in foro conscientiæ et celi' I much doubt“, 1. Because it seemeth the very case of Joshua and the Israelites, who by the guile of the Gibeonites were deceived into an error personarum,' taking them to be other persons than they were: and yet that this oath was obligatory, saith Dr. Sanderson is apparent (1.) In the text itself, Josh. ix. 19. (2.) In the miracle wrought for that victory which Joshua obtained in defending the Gibeonites when the sun stood stilly. (3.) In the severe revenge that was taken on the lives of Saul's posterity for offering to violate it. 2. And this seemeth to be the very case of Jacob who took not himself disobliged from Leah notwithstanding the mistake of the person through deceit, And though the concubitus' was added to the contract, that obliged most as it was the perfecting of the contract, which an oath doth as strongly. 3. And the nature of the thing doth confirm my doubt; because when I see the per
u Sanders. p. 122.
* Sanders. p. 120, 121. This seemeth the case of Isaac in blessing Jacob: the error personæ' caused by Jacob's own deceit did not nullify the blessing, because it was fixed on the determinate person that it was spoken to. y Josh. X. 8. 13.
2 Sam. xxi. 2.
son before me there is the individuum determinatum,' in the 'hæc homo,' and so all that is essential to my vow is included in it: if I mistake the name or the quality, or birth or relations of the person, yet my covenant is with this determinate person that is present, though I be induced to it by a false supposition that she is another. But this I leave to the discussion of the judicious.
Rule XLII. The question also is weighty and of frequent use, if a man vow a thing as a duty in obedience to God and conscience, which he would not have done if he had taken it to be no duty, and if he afterwards find that it was no duty, is he obliged to keep this vow? And the true answer is, that the discovery of his error doth only discover the nullity of his obligation to make that vow, and to do the thing antecedently to the vow; but if the thing be lawful, he is bound to it by his vow notwithstanding the mistake which induced him to make it.
Rule XLIII. 'Vows about trifles (not unlawful) must be kept though they are sinfully made a.' As if you vow to take up a straw, or to forbear such a bit or sort of meat, or garment, &c. But to make such is a great profanation of God's name, and a taking it in vain as common swearers do.
Rule XLIV. “A general oath though taken upon a particular occasion must be generally or strictly interpreted (unless there be special reasons for a restraint, from the matter, end, or other evidence). As if you are afraid that your son should marry such a woman, and therefore swear him not to marry without your consent; he is bound thereby neither to marry that woman nor any other. Or if your servant haunt any particular alehouse, and you make him forswear all houses in general, he must avoid all other. So Dr. Sanderson instanceth in the oath of supremacy, p. 195.
Rule xlv. · He that voweth absolutely or implicitly to obey another in all things, is bound to obey him in all lawful things, where neither God, nor other superior or other person is injured ; unless the nature of the relation, or the ends or reasons of the oath, or something else infer a limitation as implied.'
Rule xLvI. “Still distinguish between the falsehood in the words as disagreeing to the thing sworn, and the false
a Sanders. p. 84.
hood of them as disagreeing from the swearer's mind.' The former is sometimes excusable, but the latter never.
There are many other questions about oaths that belong more to the chapter of Contracts and justice between man and man; and thither I refer them.
Directions to the People concerning their Internal and Private
Duty to their Pastors, and the Improvement of their Minis
terial Office and Gifts. The people's internal and private duty to their pastors (which I may treat of without an appearance of encroachment upon the work of the canons, rubrics, and diocesans) I shall open to you in these Directions following.
Direct. 1. • Understand first the true ground, and nature, and reasons of the ministerial office, or else you will not understand the grounds, and nature, and reasons of your duty to them. The nature and works of the ministerial office I have so plainly opened already that I shall refer you to it to avoid repetition. Here are two sorts of reasons to be given you : 1. The reasons of the necessity of the ministerial work. 2. Why certain persons must be separated to this work, and it must not be left to all in common.
The necessity of the work itself appeareth in the very nature of it, and enumeration of the parts of it b. Two sorts of ministers Christ hath made use of for his church: the first sort was for the revelation of some new law or doctrine, to be the rule of faith or life for the church: and these were to prove their authority and credibility by some divine attestation, which was especially by miracles; and so Moses revealed the law to the Jews, and (Christ and) the apostles revealed the Gospel. The second sort of ministers are appointed to guide the church to salvation by opening and applying the rule thus already sealed and delivered : and these as they are to bring no new revelations or doctrines of faith, or rule of life, so they need not bring any miracle to
a Disput. ii. of Church Government, chap. i. and Universal Concord.
Of the difference between fixed and unfixed ministers, see my Disput. ii. iii. of Church Government, and Jos. Acosta lib. v. c. 21, 22. de Missionibus.
prove their call or authority to the church ; for they have no power to deliver any new doctrine or gospel to the church, but only that which is confirmed by miracles already. And it is impudence to demand that the same gospel be proved by new miracles by every minister that shall expound or preach it: that would make miracles to be no miracles.
The work of the ordinary ministry (such as the priests and teachers were under the law, and ordinary pastors and teachers are under the Gospel,) being only to gather and govern the churches, their work lay in explaining and applying the Word of God, and delivering his sacraments, and now containeth these particulars following: 1. To preach the Gospel for the conversion of the unbelieving and ungodly world. And that is done, partly by expounding the words by a translation into a tongue which the hearers or readers understand; and partly by opening the sense and matter. 2. In this they are not only teachers, but messengers sent from God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to charge, and command, and entreat men in his name to repent, and believe, and be reconciled to God; and in his name to offer them a sealed pardon of all their sins, and title to eternal life d. 3. Those that become the disciples of Christ, they are (as his stewards) to receive into his house, as fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; and as his commissioned officers, to solemnize by baptism their entrance into the holy covenant, and to receive their engagement to God, and to be the messengers of God's engagement unto them, and by investiture to deliver to them by that sacrament the pardon of all their sin, and their title by adoption to eternal life: as a house is delivered by the delivery of a key; or land, by a twig and turf; or knighthood by a sword or garter, &c. 4. These ministers are to gather these converts into solemn assemblies and ordered churches, for their solemn worshipping of God, and mutual edification, communion, and safe proceeding in their Christian course e. 5. They are to be the stated teachers of the assemblies, by expounding and applying that word which is fit to build them up. 6. They are to be the guides of the congregation in public worship, and to stand between them and Christ in things pertaining to God, as subservient to Christ in his priestly office: and so both for the people, and also in their names, to put up the public prayers and praises of the church to God. 7. It is their duty to administer to them, as in the name and stead of Christ, his body and blood as broken and shed for them, and so in the frequent renewals of the holy covenants, to subserve Christ especially in his priestly office, to offer and deliver Christ and his benefits to them, and to be their agent in offering themselves to God. 8. They are appointed to oversee and govern the church, in the public ordering of the solemn worship of God, and in rebuking any that are there disorderly, and seeing that all things be done to edification'. They are appointed as teachers for every particular member of the church to have personal and private recourse to, (as far as may be,) for the resolving of their weighty doubts, and instruction in cases of difficulty and necessity, and for the settling of their peace and comfort. 10. They are appointed, as physicians under Christ, to watch over all the individual members of their charge, and take care that they be not infected with heresy, or corrupted by vice; and to admonish the offenders, and reduce them into the way of truth and holiness, and if they continue impenitent after public admonition, to reject them from the communion of the church, and command the church to avoid them. 11. They are as to bind over the impenitent to answer their contumacy at the bar of Christ, so to absolve the penitent, and comfort them, and require the church to re-admit them to their communion. 12. They are appointed as stewards in the household of Christ, to have a tender care of the very bodily welfare of their flocks, so as to endeavour the supplying of their wants, and stirring up the rich to relieve the poor, and faithfully (by themselves or the deacons) to distribute what is intrusted with them for that use. 13. They are especially to visit the sick, and when they are sent for, to pray for
c Rom. x. 7.14. Mark xvi. 15. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.
e Tit. i. 7. 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. Matt, xxviii, 19, 20. Acts xx. 32. 1 Cor. iii. 11, 12.