A DISCOURSE Concerning Publick Oaths, AND The Lawfulness of SWEARING in Judicial Proceedings.

Written by Dr. GAUDEN, Bishop of EXETER.

In order to answer the scruples of the QUAKERS.

1 Cor. 13. 2. Without charity I am nothing.
2 Tim. 2. 25. In meekness instructing those that oppose.
Ne putemus in verbis Scripturarum esse Evangelium, sed in sensu; non in superficie, sed medulla; non in Sermonis cortice, sed in rationis ra­dice. Hieronym. in Ep. ad Gal.

LONDON, Printed for R. Royston, Book-seller to the Kings most Excellent Majesty, at the Angel in Ivy-lane, 1662.

To the truly Honourable, ROBERT BOYLE, Esquire, Son to the Earl of Cork, &c.


SUch as have the happiness to know you, need no more then the mention of your Name, to put them in mind of your merit upon man-kind; whose learned, industrious and pious ac­complishments, have, as with the greatest modesty and civility, so with the least austerity or reproach, given the Nobility, Gen­try, (yea and Clergy too) of these three Kingdomes at once to see in your studious and vertuous example, the best way of proportioning their lives and manners to the eminency of their Names and Stations; thereby to preserve or redeem themselves from that Civil war and sad captivity to which idleness, fermented by inordi­nate passions, or vain and vicious affections, is prone to expose not only their estates, healths and honours, but their religion, consciences and soules, while men of Noble birth, good breeding, ingenious parts and generous estates, do miserably debauch their Dignity, and squan­der [Page] away those noble advantages they have above other men, to do well and worthily. As if one should cut out goodly Timber-trees into Loggs or Chips; and in­stead of stately Pillars or Beams, make only Bed-staves, or Cat-sticks, or Tooth-picks of them. So degenerating from all true sense of honour becoming Gentlemen and Christians, as to glory in their shame (I mean their sin and folly;) and to be ashamed of their true glory, which is, to be as rationall and religious as they can be in this state of mortality.

Your Nobleness will excuse me, if I venture to of­fend you, by telling the world (what I have many years longed to do) how high a value I have for you, of whom I have so pleasing and complete a prospect; not more for your rare endowments of Nature and Art, then for your rarer Ornaments of Grace and Vertue; while you neither superciliously fancy Learning to be any diminution to your Noble Birth, nor yet Piety to be any disparagement to your great Learning. I must not (now) in my maturer years compare you to our so famous Sir Philip Sidney (whom I heretofore valued very much, nor do I yet undervalue him) because I think you have out-vied his Eloquent Valour and Heroick Romances, with greater Essayes and more useful At­chievements both in Philosophy and Divinity.

The more retired and solid grounds of the first (Phi­losophy) you are daily searching and discovering, with your generous Associates, by accurate and real Experi­ments; which are the Anatomies of Nature, and the Keyes to her Cabinets, opening a Door to the true pro­spect as of the causes, so of the virtues, operations and efficacies of things, and by them to the Creators glory; which is much eclipsed by that occult, conjectural and [Page] sceptical Philosophy, which is rather imaginary then real, a parturiency without birth, a meet abortion as to knowledge; indeed, a kind of Legerdemaine in Lear­ning, and Sophistry, rather then Science verified by Experience.

The fountains also of the second (that is, Divinity) your selfe have lately cleared, in vindicating by your Pen the Sacred, yet unaffected style of the Scriptures, with a most Eloquent and Learned Zeal, against some mens profane and Atheistical cavils, who are so witti­ly wicked, as to disdain even salvation it selfe, in that plain, but sure way, which the wisdom of God sees fit­test for humane capacities: whereas few (I believe) of those curious Gallants would be so foolishly morose, as to refuse a faire Estate which were setled upon them in the ordinary legal way of Deeds, because it is not conveyed to them in such oratorious Harangues and flourishes of speech as they most fancy.

I have dedicated this little Piece to your great Name, because it covets a resemblance to, yea and hath an emulation of, your candor and humanity toward all per­sons that are not wholly profligate in their opinions, or desperate in their actions. The design of this Tract is to correspond, as much as I may, with your principles and genius, who have the happiness to render the se­verest vertues amiable, and to confute the grossest Er­rors with the gentlest Truths.

I confess both in Religion or Charity, and in reason of State or Policy, I am not for inflicting at first dash sharp Penalties on seduced or simple people, meerly upon the account of their Opinions, (modestly dissenting in some lesser things from the Religion or Laws esta­blished; yet without any rude blaspheming or op­posing [Page] them as to the main of Faith, Morality and Civil subjection) until such rational and charitable means have been used to convince them of their errors, as may at once discharge those duties of Humanity and Charity which we owe to all men, specially to our Country-men and fellow-Christians.

The Cudgel and Sword, Prisons and Banishments, Plunderings and Sequestrations were the late cruel and flagellant Methods of our most tyrannous times; which had nothing of Reason, Law or Religion to support them: but these are not (in my judgment) either the first or the fittest means to confute the falsities of mens private opi­nions, or to rectifie the obliquities of their inconform but innocent actions, flowing from them upon the account of Conscience and plea of Religion. (Although it may be as just as necessary to repress by legal coercions and penal­ties those petulant obstinacies, which do resist all softer applications, and endanger the publick tranquillity by giving affronts to settled Religion, or obstructions to the proceedings of Justice by established Laws.) I am indeed for (cuncta prius tentanda) those Divine Essayes and Appeals first, which render men most unexcusable (quid amplius poteram, what could I have done more, &c.) using lenitives before lancings, & fomentations before incisions or amputations, until there be no other remedy; then ri­gor and severity to some parts; becomes the greatest Charity to the whole; where not the scratch of a pet­ty opinion, but the gangrene of an obstinate and rebel­lious humor forceth the abscission of one part, to pre­vent a deadly contagion to others, yea to the whole Body.

Not that I think it any Religion to have an indifferency to that true Religion which is once established by pub­lick [Page] consent and Law, as best and fittest for the Nation; nor is it any part of Mercy alwayes to suffer publick Ju­stice to be baffled by the refractoriness of any persons or parties. No, I am far from a tame permitting Tares to be openly scattered by the bold and evil hands of any men, who seek, as enemies, to choak that good seed of Religion which is sown by the publick Ministry, and fenced by legal Authority.

As I would have that Religion only setled in its Do­ctrinals, Devotionals, Discipline and Government, which is by publick consent (according to the word of God and Catholick prudence) judged to be the best for Truth, Sanctity, Order & Decency (which, blessed be God, is in England:) so I would have It (and It only) to en­joy all publick countenance and encouragements, by the injunction and protection of the Laws, by the favour and example of the Prince, by publick maintenance and honour, by the use of publick Churches and Oratories: To the Preachers and professors of this, publick Offices and Employments of honour and authority, foraign and do­mestick, ecclesiastical, civil and military, should be chiefly appropriated; of these advantages dissenters should be ge­nerally deprived, because they are the proper honoraries of those who most serve the publick Peace, by their due observance of the Religion and Laws established; from which whoso openly va [...]ies and dissents, layes the foundations, as of distraction and division, so of destru­ction and confusion.

With these outward advantages added to that inter­nal power of truth & holiness which are in the established Religion, it may (as I think) not only be happily suppo [...] ­ted, but easily prevaile in a short time (by Gods blessing) against all factious and feeble oppositions; unless the scan­dal, [Page] negligence, levity and luxury of its Ministers, Bi­shops, Presbyters and Professors overthrow it, by casting such immoral disgraces upon it as make people dis­sbelieve and abhorre both it and them; as was in the case of Eli's Sons.

But I confesse I would not have this legal and avowed Religion of the Nation so rigorous, sharp and severe (as Sarah to Hagar) by the suddain over­awing or violent overlaying of all other different perswasions in peaceable men, as not to let them breath in the same common Air, or not to enjoy their lives, civil liberties and estates, with their dissenting consciences, in all modest privacy and safety: I abhorre (as much as I dread) all racks and tortures of mens souls, or those cruel no less then curious scrutinies of mens con­sciences, which covet, first (like God) to search mens hearts, and then (like the Devil) delight to torment them in their Estates and Liberties, only because they are not so wise or apprehensive as themselves, but as honest (perhaps) and sincere in the sight of God.

True; I think that some little pecuniary mulct, as one or two Shillings to the poor, for every Lords dayes absence from the publick Church or As­sembly, may be justly (laid as a mark of publick dis­like) upon Dissenters and Separaters from the establi­shed Religion; not for their private difference in judg­ment, (which possibly is not their fault) but for their publick deformity in practise, to the scandal of the established Religion, and to the endangering of the pub­lick welfare, whose strength and stability consist in unity, and this in uniformity to the setled rule, and in conformity, to outward practise: yet still no Inquisi­tion to be made into free mens Consciences, nor any [Page] great penalty laid upon them for their perswasions, further then their words and actions do discover their Principles, Opinions, Correspondencies, and Adheren­cies to be contrary and dangerous to the publick Peace, Order and Justice, which all are founded in, and flourish by our setled Laws and Religion: Thus permitting sober men not a declared toleration, or publick profession, by way of open rivalry to the established Religion, but only such an arbitrary con­nivence and conditional indulgence as gives them no trouble for their private and untroublesome Opi­nions, while they are kept in their breasts and clo­sets; or in their private houses and families: to which all dissenters ought in reason to be confined on the Lords day, without any convention of strangers to them; though (perhaps) on the week-day they may have their meetings allowed, yet so as to be kept within parochial bounds, or to such a number of persons and families as shall be thought safe.

But for Dissenters to have multitudinous Conventi­cles, as it were musterings of their forces, when, where, and as many as they please, cannot be safe: for there­by they not onely affront the established Religion, but confirm each other in their opinions; yea and (as Charcoals in heaps) they more kindle and en­flame each, other by their numbers, to such proud ani­mosities and rebellious confidences, as may hope to set up their Faction supream, not only in the repute of Reli­gion, but in civil power; which is the ambitious aim of all parties, (except that which is purely Christian, & wholly resolved into suffering principles.) All others (we see) whether Papists, or Presbyterians, or Anabaptists, or Independents, affect (summam Imperii) as Diotrephes, to [Page] have the preeminence; as Lucifer and Antichrist, to ex­alt themselves above all: and therefore they must by wise and vigilant power, as well as by good preaching & living, be kept▪ as fire, within the hearth of their pri­vate opinions and parties, left they prevaile by popu­lar Arts against the publick established Religion, which is the Palladium or Conservator of civil peace and pro­sperity, and never to be rashly changed, or rudely con­temned while it is authorised.

The great Charity to which includes even a charity to all those which differ from its present settlement; who commonly are more miserable in the riotous mutations which their folly and rudeness affects, then in those so­ber restrictions of which they are so impatient, that from different perswasions they break out to petulant oppositions by Tongue and Pen; thence they are betray­ed to seditious projects; and at last these must be brought forth in tumultuary and violent actions; which are so intolerable, that the very first sparks of their insolent and seditious Expressions, especially in Pulpits and Presses, ought by great penalties to be suppressed: there being nothing more unreasonable, then for any man rudely to blaspheme and reproach that Religion which his Prince and Countrey professe; unless he be so impudent (as many are) to blaspheme that also which himselfe owneth as the true Religion with them. This tenderness, moderation and indulgence I bear only to humble, modest and innocent dissenters, upon the ac­count of Christian Charity, which ought in all things, becoming humanity, to exceed all other men, as Ter­tullian well observes.

To which Christian Charity of mine towards sober dissenters, (besides the confidence I have of Truth [Page] and its prevalency) perhaps my native temper and can­dor may contribute something, which abhors, after the genius of Primitive Christians, all severity or rigors only upon the score of Religion, farther then is necessary for the cure of offenders, and the conservation of the pub­lick Peace. I know the roughness or smoothness of mens educations and complexions, like Esaus and [...]acob's, have much influence upon their opinions and conversati­ons; yea, and upon their consciences too. If this may seem to some too great a facility and gentleness in me, yet it is an error on the right hand, and nearest the me­dium both of humanity as a man, and of charity as a Christian, measuring all Policies by Christs golden Rule, To do as I would be done unto.

Secondly, In point of State-Policy also, or methods of true Government, I do conceive that meer plagiary counsels and punitive courses are never likely to obtain the main End, which is to stop the contagion of errors, and to extirpate those depraved opinions, which are just­ly thought to be the spawn of dangerous actions: For, unless the generality of credulous people, who are specta­tors of those that differ and suffer for their opinions and consciences, do also see so much light of Reason and clear Religion, as may justifie the severity of the Laws executed upon those offenders, who profess Conscience for their Disobedience, and Scripture for their Consci­ences; it is most certain, that the spectators of their sufferings will very much soften to a compassion for them; and by sympathizing with their persons in afflicti­on, they will, by degrees, symbolize with their opinions; easily running, as metal that is melted, into the same mold: at length the populacy, if not fortified by preg­nant demonstrations of Truth against those spreading [Page] errors and their Pseudo-Martyrs, will mightily cry up their Piety, admire their Courage, & magnifie their Con­stancy: At last they will conclude those sufferers to have some special support, or diviner Spirit above or­dinary men, because they seem to be so much above the ordinary passions of fear and hope, self-love and pre­servation; which prospect of patience Justin Martyr tells us, was the first occasion of his examining the Doctrine of Christians, that he might see on what ground so fixed a constancy grew, which shewed a Di­vine security midst humane infirmity.

By such popular pity and applause, not only sufferers will be confirmed in their pertinacy, but their spectators also will dayly encrease and multiply, as the shootes of Trees do by the lopping off their branches: especially if the lives and actions of such dissenters and sufferers be morally just and civilly innocent. For nothing soo­ner discovers and blasts such cross opinions, and withers the glory of their factious spectators, then vile, injuri­ous and insolent demeanor either in words or deeds; such as all men confess to deserve the Gaole and Gib­bet. This indeed (as in the mad pranks of John of Leyden and his Anabaptistick crew in Germany, and so in our Hacket and other Disciplinarians in England; in the late presumption of the Presbyterian Reformati­ons, and Independent Confusions, full of Perjury, Sacri­l [...]dge, Treason and innocent Blood) This, I say, will, as the barking of Trees round, presently bring any Opi­nionists and Factionists to publick scorn and hatred; as it did those Papists who heretofore in the Marian Persecutions, in the horrid Powder-Plot, and in the late Irish Rebellion, full of perfidy and cruelty, have so ble­mished the repute of that Catholick cause, as it can [Page] never be redeemed from just jealousies, but by acti­ons of extraordinary Loyalty, Meekness and Huma­nity; besides the renouncing of some opinions.

But where harmlesness of life sets a glosse on Opi­niont, and Errors thereby grow more lusty and rank, (as ill weeds in good ground:) there meer robust power or punitive severity can no more pull them up, then a strong arm doth thorns and bushes when they are deeply rooted; breaking off the stem or top of them, but leaving the roots still in the ground, which will spring again, and spread farther. Here nothing is so effe­ctual to do execution upon errors, as clear demon­strations of Reason and Religion; which reaching mens Consciences, by the proper methods of conviction, do, like a sharp Spade and Mattock, fetch up the very roots and fibres of evil opinions, to the utter extir­pation of such noxious plants in a short time, ex­cept where knavery and hypocrisie do husband Opi­nions to the best advantage of secular ends and in­terests of reputation, profit or power.

After this charitable method and temper were those many learned Works and elaborate Tracts of the An­cient Fathers of the Church, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Saint Austin, Prosper, Cyril, Hilary, Opta­tus, Saint Jerom and others, written, conforme to the Canons and Decrees of Ecclesiastical Councils, guided by the Word and Spirit of God; and sea­sonably applied by their skilful and charitable hands, to cure the maladies and stop the Gangrenes of such pestilent opinions as sprang up in their dayes from Hereticks, Schismaticks and Fanaticks. Nor did those holy men at any time so despise the meannesse of any Christians outward condition, or the fatuity of their [Page] opinions, as not to set a great value on their souls, for which Christ had died; ever applying, first the sword of the Spirit, the Word of Truth, in meekness of wisedom, before they craved the assistance, or incouraged the severity of the secular Sword, from Christian Emperours and Magistrates; using all ra­tional and religious means, untill they found, that depraved opinions put men upon desperate actions, as in those of the Novatians, Donatists and Arrians, also of the Manichees, Euchites and Circumcellians, (a primitive kind of Quakers) who by a specious constancy in praying, and affectation of suffering, so seduced the vulgar people, that the numbers of their devout, idle and hungry associates, at length, gave them confidence to make a prey and spoile of other mens goods, estates and lives too; till by armed Forces they were repressed, and by just Laws prohibited, in Honorius and other Emperors times.

Then indeed Charity to the publick peace and welfare must be preferred before any pity, charity, for­bearance or indulgence to private persons, parties and opinions, which growing rude and insolent in their words or deeds, sufficiently discover they are not up­on the pure account of Conscience, or principles of true Christian Religion; which is as farre as Hea­ven from Hell, or Christ from Belial, from teach­ing or impelling men to any actings or approvings of private sinnes and immoralities, much more from publick conspirings and practisings of Factions, Schisms, Sedition and Rebellion in Churches and Kingdomes: for which Christ never gave any Commission to his Disciples, nor the least countenance; but on the contrary, most eminent precepts and examples of [Page] humility, meekness and patience under any sufferings for conscience sake; sufficient for ever to confute the most specious pretensions of any, who violently carry on their private Opinions and pretended Re­formations, against the will and power of lawful Ma­gistrates and settled Churches.

I do judge it both Piety, Charity and Policy, to establish the rule of publick Religion by L [...]wes for uniformity in Doctrine, Devotion, Discipline and Decency, accompanied, as with Rewards and Privi­ledges to the Conformers, so with some mode­rate pecuniary Penalties on Dissenters, according to mens estates and influences: but, I confess, I am not for heavy mulcts, and rigorous exactions, which shal imprison, banish, impoverish or destroy modest Dissen­ters and their families onely for the variety of their judgment; when their civil actions are otherwise moral, just and inoffensive. This severity would in some Coun­tries (and possibly now in England) be not only de­structive to many thousands, but very disadvantagi­ous to the King and Kingdome, to the Trade and Commerce of the Nation, by opening a little Wic­ket of Royal Clemency only to some few, and shutting the great Gate to many, whose tender and unsatis­fied, or scrupulous Consciences do as much expect, need and deserve it, as those that have it in pet­ty matters; while all others scruples are driven to discontent and despair by denial of all▪ indulgence to them in greater scruples.

There are but these four wayes of treating any party that dissents from the publick establishment of Religion and its Lawes in any Church and King­dom. 1. Either to impoverish, imprison, banish and [Page] destroy all Dissenters, as the King of Castile did the Moores of Granada; which is a very rough, barba­rous, unwelcome and unchristian way, disallowed by all wise men of all perswasions: Or, Secondly, by ra­tional convincing them of their errors; which is a work of time and dexterity, not to be done on the sudden, no more then bodily cures, without a mira­cle; though very worthy to bear a part in the Dis­cipline of the Church, which should require of every one a reason why they differ from, or forsake the established Religion, and treat them according as their perswasion, passion, or pertinacy shall appeare to the Conservators of Religion: Or, Thirdly, by changing established Laws for their sake; which is not for the Piety, Prudence, Honour and Safety of a Nation and Church, when it judgeth its Con­stitutions to be religious, righteous and convenient: Or, Fourthly, by way of discreet connivance and charitable indulgence, so farre as the civil peace of the Nation will bear; until Reason and Religi­on (of whose prevalency wise and good men never despair) have by calme and charitable methods re­covered people from the error of their wayes, by the sacred Doctrine and good examples of those who conforme to the established Lawes in Church and State. This being first done, will render Dis­senters unexcusable, and justifie any severity which shall be inflicted upon the extravagancies of those opinions and actions which do any way perturb the publick peace, or affront the established Religion.

And in this particular case of the Quakers (who refuse all legal Oathes, upon scruples of Conscience, and so threaten either to subvert our Laws, or to ob­struct [Page] all judicial proceedings, pleading for their dis­obedience to mans Laws, the express command of Christ and his Apostle Saint James) no sober man can think by meer penalties to reduce them to a con­formity with our Laws, or to stop the spreading of their Opinions, untill it be plainly shewed, that it is not true Religion, but onely Superstition in them; a fear where no fear is; a being righteous over-much, by a mistake of Christs meaning; a wresting of those Scrip­tures, by their own unlearnedness and unstableness, to their own destruction, as well as to the publick per­turbation.

Noble Sir, this great work (for so it is, to convince weak and wilful men of the error of their wayes) I have undertaken in this little Treatise, by Gods bles­sing, not unseasonably (I hope) as to our times, nor unsuitably, as to my profession. If I may be happy to do any of them good (who possibly may erre in this with no evil mind) by redeeming them from their mistakes, and so from the penalties of the Law, I shall more re­joyce in that success, then those Souldiers did, who among the Ancients were rewarded with Civick Gar­lands for preserving any of their Countrey-men and fellow-Citizens: which Honour (you know) the Roman valour esteemed more, then any victorious Laurels for destroying their Enemies. And in this charitable en­deavour (prospered by Gods grace) I shall the more se­riously triumph, because I believe it most agreable as to my Saviours preoept and primitive examples of Christian Bishops, so to your generous Soule, whereby this piece may probably be fortified with the approba­tion of so pieus and judicious a person; whose single suf­frage [Page] is to me more valuable then the sequacious and vulgar votes of thousands, whose empty brains and clamorous mouths, like hollow places where Echo hides her self, do commonly receive and report things, not as the Truth is in them, but as the noise and cry is low­dest. I know you are as much above plebeian censures, as titular Honours, traditional Philosophy, and popular Religion; being every way judiciously devoted to God and his Truth, full of Loyalty to the King and Laws, also of sober Conformity to the established Religion of this Church, whose royal Law is that of Charity, the bond of perfection, and centre of Peace: In all which respects you deserve and have the love and honour of all worthy Persons, and particularly of him, who may, without vanity, own this as an instance of some worth in him, that he is,

Your most affectionate Friend and humble Servant, JOH. EXON.

A DISCOURSE, Concerning Publick Oaths, and the Lawfulness of Swearing in Judicial Proceedings, &c.

FInding lately in the most Honourable House of Peers, The Occasion of writing this piece. that a Law was likely to pass in or­der to punish, with great Penalties, those English Subjects, who, under the name of Quakers, shall refuse to take, as other le­gal Oaths, so those which are usually required in Judicial proceedings, thereby to prevent, either the alteration of the good Laws and Customs of England, according to private mens fancies, or the obstructions and violations of publick Justice; (the free course of which (as that of the Blood and Spirits to the Natural) is the preservation of the Life and Health, the Peace and Honour, the Happiness and very Being of the Body Politick) which by the Laws and ancient Customs of this Kingdom of England cannot be duly administred, but by those forms of solemn and religious Oaths in the Name of the [Page 2] true God, which are the highest Obligations to Truth and Ju­stice upon them that swear; also the greatest satisfactions or assurances that can be given to others, for the belief of what is so attested, and for acquiescency in what is so decided:

I was hereupon bold thus far humbly to intercede with that Honourable House, My interce­ding for some respit of Pe­nalty, till bet­ter informati­on is offered to the Qua­kers. in the behalf of those poor people who are likely to fall under the Penalties of that Law,

That however I might consent to the passing of that Bill, out of that justice and charity which I owe to the publick peace and welfare (to which all private Parties, Interests, and Chari­ties must submit;) yet I craved so far a respite for some time as to the execution of those Penalties upon any of them, as Offenders, until some such rational and religious course were taken, as might best inform those men of the lawfulness, by God's as well as Man's Law, of imposing and taking such publick Oaths: That so answering first their Scruples, and fairly removing their difficulties, either they might be brought to a chearful Obedience in that particular; or else be left without excuse before God and man, while the truth of the Law was justified against their error, and the severity of it only imputable to their own obstinacy.

I further recommended this previous method of Christian Charity or meekness of Wisdome, as best becoming the Piety, Humanity and Honour of that House; 2. as most agreeable to the wonted Clemency of His Majesty to all His good Sub­jects; 3. as the aptest means to reclaim such as were gone astray from their duty, by the error of their fancy; 4. and to stop for the future the spreading of this and other dange­rous Opinions, which are usually known under the name of Quakerisme; the Cure of which is easilier done by rati­onal applications, then by only rigid inflictions upon those, who pleading Conscience, will by the Vulgar be thought Mar­tyrs for their Sufferings; their patience spreading a love and esteem of their Opinions, by that pity and sympathy which people will be prone to have for their persons. 5. I further asserted this humble motion as very sutable to my Profession, as a Minister of the Gospel, as the special care of the Bishops and Fathers of the Church; relations which [Page 3] carry in them great obligations to Humanity, Charity, Mi­nisterial Duty, Episcopal Vigilancy, and Paternal Compassion to any men, specially Christians who are weak or igno­rant, erroneous in their judgement or dangerous in their actions. 6. Lastly, I urged the paterne of Divine Justice, whose usual fore-runner is Mercy; Vengeance rarely fol­lowing but where Patience hath gone before, instructing men of their duty, warning them of the danger of their sins, bearing with their manners for a time,Zeph. 2. 2. and calling them to repentance, before the Decree come forth to execution.

To this purpose I am sure I spake; how I worded my mea­ning I cannot exactly recollect; confessing, that I never found my self (who am thought neither a barren nor a diffi­dent speaker) more surprised with an ingenuous horror in any Audience, then when I adventured to speak in that most august and honourable Assembly of the Lords in Parliament, where there are so many excellent Orators, and accurate Cen­sors; among whom it is safer to hear then to speak, and easier to admire then imitate their judicious Eloquence.

As the Motion seemed to have some favourable Acceptance in that Honourable House from many Lords Temporal, The Accep­tance of the Motion. and from some of my Brethren the Bishops; so I presume it will not be displeasing to their Piety and Charity, if I do that by a private and single hand, which I perswade my self all of them would readily assist me in by their joint suffrages and consent, if their leisure would permit them in common to consult and determine of this point. Nor can I but believe that His Majesties Royal Clemency, which hath sought in the gen­tlest way to convince and conquer all His Enemies (whose Pride and Folly hath not made them desperate, and so the se­verest punishers of themselves) will graciously approve this my charitable endeavour, to redeem many of his well-meaning Subjects from those mistakes in Opinion, and mischiefs in Practise, which must either expose His Majesty and his Kingdomes to great troubles and dangers, if unpunished and permitted; or else compel His Native Gentleness to use at last (and it may be too late) those Severities, which not His own Benignity, but the publick Necessity, will require of a [Page 4] Wise and Just King, whose Lenity to any party of his Subjects, contrary to Law, will soon become an injury to the Commu­nity, which cannot be safe or happy but by an uniform obedi­ence to the same Laws, which must be the rules and measures of all mens publick Actions, the tryers of their failings, and the inflicters of their punishments.

This Office of Christian Charity I have undertaken for Christ his sake,Charity the only motive to this Interces­sion. by whom I have received many mercies; not bespoken, or in the least sort obliged, by any of that Sect called Quakers, with whom I have so little correspondency, that I have not any acquaintance, not knowing any of that way by Face or Name, or one hours conversation: They being a Generation of people so supercilious, or so shy, that they are scarce sociable or accessible; speaking much in their Conventicles behind mens backs, but seldom arguing any thing in presence of those that are best able to answer or satisfie them; seeming wiser in their own conceits then seven men that can render a reason. I have seen indeed some of their Papers, and received some of their Letters written to my self; truely, not very rudely, nor malapertly; yet with so abrupt and obscure a way (so blindly censorious, and boldly dictating,) that saving a few good words and godly phrases in them, I found ve­ry little of rational or Scriptural demonstration, many passages so far from the beauty and strength of Religion, that they had not the ordinary symmetry of Reason, or the lineaments of common sense in them; at least in my apprehension, who am wholly a stranger to any Canting or Chymical Divinity, which bubbles forth many specious Notions, fine Fancies and short-lived Conceptions, floating a little in an airy and empty brain, but not induring the firm touch or breath of any serious judgement.

Nor do I expect any thanks for my pains from any of that Faction, The general m [...]roseness of the Quakers. while they continue in their morose Opinions, in their surly, rude and uncourteous Manners. I do not hear that they are generally a people of so soft and ingenuous tempers, as to take any thing kindly or thankfully from those that are not of their own Perswasion: many of them seem to affect a ruserved and restical way of clownish, yea scornful, demeanour; [Page 5] prone to censure, despise and reproch not only their betters, but even their Benefactors and Instructors. Their rude and level­ling humour denies to shew common courtesie and wonted to­kens of civil respect to their Superiours; contrary to the re­verent, gentle and humble behaviour of all God's people, in all Ages, Jews and Gentiles, then whom none were more full of inward humility, or of outward respect and civility, according to the custom of their Countries. Possibly, these Quakers may in a fit fear and flatter some men in power; but they do not seem much to regard any man with any true love or honour as to real worth, unless they be of their Fraternity; who pretending to a diviner spirit and higher lights then either Reason, Law or Scripture afford to other men, do think they have cause to glory in their own imaginations, and to despise all those who are not yet arrived to the pitch of their pre­sumption.

Some men I find look upon these Quakers with an eye of publick Fear and Jealousie, The fears and jealousies had of the Qua­kers. lest the leaven of their Opinions and Practises, spreading far among the meaner sort of peo­ple (to whose humour that rude and confident way is very agreeable, while in a moment all their defects of Reason, Learning, Education, Religion, Loyalty and Civility are made up by a presumed spirit and light within them) lest, I say, it should, after the pattern of other Sects, both later and elder (such as were the Montanists, Manichees, Circumcellians, Euchites, Samosatenians, Anabaptists, Familists, Presbyterians and Independents) give occasion and confidence to common people to run to Tumults and Commottons under pretence of set­ting up God, and Christ, and the Spirit, by the way of new Powers, new Lights, and new Models in Church and State. Of which rare Fancies we have had of late so many Tragical Experiments in England, under other Names, Notions, and Pretensions.

Certainly, it will become the publick care and wisdom, A just cause to be had of any new Sect or Faction. as not easily to permit the rise and spreading of any novel humors and wayes contrary to the good Constitutions and well-tried Laws of this Church and Kingdom: so never to trust them, though never so soft and seemingly innocent at first. Hornes, [Page 6] as in other Creatures, grow out of mens heads and hands too, as their Bones and Smews grow stronger, as their strength and members increase. Nothing but truly Christian and Evange­lical Principles (which are in the good and old way) do secure Kings, or sufficiently bind Subjects to their good behaviour. Though Factions at first may seem but as a Cloud of an hand­breadth; yet they will in time grow big and black, covering the whole face of Heaven, and pouring down showres of Civil troubles upon any Church and Nation, if they be not dispelled by Authority. Let them go never so soft and silently at first, as Cats and Lions do on their Paws; yet they have all of them sharp Fangs, hidden and reserved Talons, till they find a fit prey and opportunity for their designs: then you shall see what cruel Clawes they have. We see not only the greater Hornets of rigid Presbyterians, but the lesser Wasps of Indepen­dents, and the Gad-flies or muskeetos of Anabaptists, with o­ther Insects, after their pious buzzing at first, used their stings at last, and in their season, both jointly and severally, they sought to sting to death this Church and Kingdom: though at first, like Serpents in Winter, they seemed very tame and meek, as to their principles and practises. There is a Wolf under the Sheeps clothing of all Novelizing Humorists. All of them did either begin, or continue, or increase our late Mise­ries, and will renew them by their emulations and ambitions, from which the miraculous mercies of God have delivered us. The only advantage which these our late Tragedies can afford us, is, to learn wisdom by them, to govern our hearts and affections with greater evenness and exactness, also to look to the Peace of Church & State with all possible circumspection and vigilancy; never to trust the most innocent smiles and harm­less simplicities of any Innovators, dissenters and repugners a­gainst well-setled Laws and ancient Constitutions, no way contrary to Reason or Scripture.

For my part,Quakers may be pitied, but not trusted. though I have pity and charity for these silly Quakers, as they may now appear wrapped up in a kind of clownish garb, and ignorant plainness; yet I should forfeit my prudence much to trust their Hands: because I find the Tongues and Pens of some of them are full of bitterness, scorn and re­proch; [Page 7] arguing much pride and presumption in their spirits, not beseeming truly mortified Christians, and least of all such as are, for the most part, but mean people for birth or breed­ing, for reason and understanding, as well as estates. And for the pretended Inspirations or inward Lights of which they vapour, I never yet saw any beams or effects of them, that might give the least cause to think of them above other poor men, who live by the more sure and sufficient light of the Scrip­tures and our Laws, which raise them to much a higher pitch of knowledge and prudence, sanctity and due obedience, then ever yet I observed in any of this way, who seem very much infe­cted with affectation and self-conceit.

I never conversed with any of their persons; and for their Writings, private or publick,The usual manner of their writing and discourse. (in which I suppose they shew their best abilities) I must profess there appears to me so no­thing of an excellent or extraordinary spirit in them, that there is much of silliness, and never well-catechised ignorance, [...]et off with great confidence; an odd way of folly dressed up with some Scripture-phrases: like Sepulchres painted with sweet flowers and fair colours, but void of any true life and beauty within; either as convincing of sin and error, or as vin­dicating any truth or necessary point of duty and morality. They generally seem a busie, petulant and pragmatick sort of people, measuring themselves by themselves, admiring each other, even in their most ridiculous affectations and falsities: a kind of Dreamers, at once deceiving and being deceived, doting and glorying in their rude and contemptuous carriage toward all men that do not either favour or flatter them in their rusticity and petulancy, which hath in it a great seed of pride and ambition.

Nor do they seem wholly void of other evil principles, Their Cove­tousness and Injustice in refusing to pay Tithes. which look very like Covetousness and Injustice, while they deny to Ministers of the Gospel, never so able and faithful, that maintenance by Tithes, which by the Laws of the Land are as much due to them as any mans Estate, and by no Law of Christ forbidden, but rather allowed▪ yea,1 Cor. 9. 13. ordained and pro­portioned by the Lord under the Gospel, by a paritie of justice and gratitude, in way of homage to Christ, and of due wages and hire to Gods labourers, as the livelihood of those that serve [Page 8] God and his Church in holy ministrations. Nor is it a small insolence in them to endeavour, in an age of so much light and learning, to obtrude, yea oppose, the rudeness and silliness of their covetous and crude fancies, against the Prudence, Justice and Piety of this Church and Kingdom.

But my design in this place is not to ravel into all the pettie Opinions, My pity for them on a tre­ple account. Enthusiastick Raptures and odd practises of the Qua­kers: nor will I here severely perstringe them, because I have a great pity for them upon a threefold account. First, because I perceive them to be so very unlearned and unstable people; ever learning, but never coming to any solid knowledge of Truth, or any great improvement in Christian gifts; men of low parts, and small capacities as to any point of true wisdom or understanding in things Humane or Divine; tossed to and fro with every wind of Doctrine; easily seduced with specious pre­tensions and strange notions, even to Raptures and Enthusiasmes, which are presented to them as rare novelties by some that are Masters of that Art, and Agitators for that Party; for what design, private or publick, forraign or domestick, God knows. Some suspect Jesuitick Arts to be among them.Quakers su­spected of Je­suitick Arts and designs. Indeed they seem so far to conspire with the craftiest Lotolists, as they bear a most implacable hatred against the Church of England: and under religious pretensions they may in time undermine the civil Peace, as other Factions formerly have done. The way to make them better Subjects is to make them wiser men and se­berer Christians, by some publick care to have them better instructed as well as justly restrained.

My Second ground of pity to them is,The first life or breeding of Quakers. because they are a Sect lately bred by a kind of equivocal generation, as Vermine out of the putid matter and corruptions of former times, in which so many Factions cast forth their spawn and filth to the deformity and confusion of all things Civil and Sacred in this Church and Kingdom. They had their beginning from the very rabble and dregs of people, uncatechised, undisciplined and ungo­verned in England. No wonder to find these people fly to inspirations and new lights, when they were hatched in dark times, which sought to put out all the old light of Law and Go­spel. They might easily run to Rudeness toward their betters, [Page 9] and Refractoriness against our Laws, and Obstinacy in their Er­rors, and Impatience of any just coercions, when they had their first original and extraction out of that squalor, mud, and fedity of times which destroyed all fear of God and reverence of Man, which denied the holy institution of Ministers, the orderly presidency of Bishops, the just authoritie of Magistrates, the freedome and honour of Parliaments, and the Sacred Majesty of Kings. All these being troden under the feet of profane Levellers and cruel Vsurpers, who can wonder that the impiety and scandal of those times should lead such silly peo­ple in those temptations, which sought by some unwonted waies to make even their obscurity remarkable at least by the parallel boldness of their Opinions, and the rudeness of their Actions?

3. Lastly, I pity them, because to me it is no wonder, How they were first scared from all pub­lick Oaths. if people of so plain breeding, of unpolished manners, (and possibly of no evil minds, compared to others of those times; though easie and unwary, as the Quakers for the most part are) if (I say) they were scared from all Swearing by the frequent forfeited Oaths and repeated Perjuries of those Times, in which the cruel Ambitions and disorderly Spirits of some men, like the Demoniack in the Gospel, brake all bonds of lawful Oaths, by which they were bound to God and the King; dai­ly imposing, as any new Partie or Interest prevailed, the Superfoetations of new and illegal Oaths, monstrous Vows, factious Covenants, desperate Engagements, and damnable Abjurations.

Poor men, the Quakers, as well as others, had cause to fear lest if they took an Oath to day, they should to morrow be forced to renounce and abjure it; not as to own a quiet submission and profession of passive obedience to Powers at present prevalent and protecting (which is the way of temporary and reciprocal Oaths of Allegiance, among those Subjects whose fortunes lying on the frontiers of Dominions, expose them to the vicissitudes of Wars and change of Governours) but to a formal comprobation of most unjust Actions, yea to re­nounce and abjure the undoubted rights of others, to attest even by Oath the Usurpations of those as lawful, which were most dia­metrically contrary to the Laws of God and Man.

[Page 10] This great temptation under which these Quakers then li­ved,The great temptation of those Times upon the Qua­kers. makes me have much compassion for them; it being not only easie and obvious, but venial and almost commendable, for them to be carried to an utter aversation from all Swearing whatsoever, when they saw such desperate abuse and breaking of publick and solemn Oaths in those dismal days. But as the abuse of things lawful and good must not take away the lawful use of them, no more then some mens gluttony and drunkenness may deprive us of all eating and drinking soberly: so neither may Christians therefore deny all Swearing, because some men cared not what and how they did Swear and For­swear. Here a little clearing of those superstitious fears and prejudices which first possessed these men against all Swea­ring, may at once let them see the liberty they have for doing that which our Laws require, and our Saviour in the Gospel no where absolutely forbids, but onely regulates and re­strains.

Nor do I only thus pity the Quakers, The Quakers in some re­spects com­mendable. but I praise them also in some respects; being as no enemie to their persons, so a friend to any thing that is good in them.

First,1. For chusing to suffer ra­ther then sin against their Consciences. for their chusing (as they profess in those Papers gi­ven in that day to some of the Lords) rather to suffer then sin against their Consciences, and so against God; whose holy will shining on the Soul in Reason and Religion, either see­ming or real, is indeed the present rule of Conscience: Nor may any man act contrary to these dictates which he judgeth to be Gods; though he erre as to the Truth of the Rule, yet his judgement binds so far as it represents, though in a false Glass, the supposed light of Gods will. For he that will venture to act against Conscience, though erroneous, will also act a­gainst it though never so clear and perspicuous.

Here the first care must be, that the ( [...]) judgement be according to Truth, and then to act accordingly: Else, how­ever the integrity of intention may be commendable, and so miti­gate the fault; yet the sin of the action may be great, as to the enormity or aberration from the rule of eternal Truth and Justice. As that of Paul was when he persecuted and blasphe­med the Christian Religion, being verily perswaded that he [Page 11] ought so to do, against that way. Acts 16 9. So others should think they did God good service, while they killed Christs Disciples. Joh. 16. 2. A Conscience thus erring, falls into the snare or dilemma of the Devil: if it act according to its error, The Dilemma or Snare of an erring consci­ence. it sins materially against the intrinsecal Justice and Truth of God and his holy Will, (the conformity to which is the measure of moral good and holiness:) if it act contrary to its appearing Principles, it sins formally and maliciously, as wilfully rebelling against the sup­posed will of God.

So much it concerns every Christian to be fully informed of that Divine Truth and Light, Isa. 5. 20. which alone shews the right and good way: Else they will easily be brought to call evil good, and good evil, to call light darkness, and darkness light; Eccl. 7. 16. to be over-righteous, by adding to the commands of God, or over-wicked, by making or esteeming themselves sinners, when indeed they are not so: either negatively superstitious, Of superstici­ous fears. in abstaining from that as sin which is no sin; or affirmatively superstitious, in counting that a duty which is not so. Both are injurious usurpations upon the soveraignty of God, whose Scepter is infallible Truth, as his Sword is just and irresistible Power. So dangerous are erroneous fears, where no fear is;Psal. 53. 5. or presump­tuous confidences, where is no Divine permission. Men must not set up the Idols of their own imaginations in Gods place; nor may they be falsaries, or forgers of that Coyne, which as to duty is only then currant when it hath not only good metal, but also the clear stamp of Gods express will on it. The Mint of humane fancies, either melancholy and timorous, or pragma­tick and adventurous, is but an adulteration of Religion, and a kind of stuprating of Conscience. The will of God,The perfect and sure Rule of conscience. which is clear either in right Reason or true Scripture-demonstration, is sufficient to make the man of God perfect to every good word and work, without any additions or detractions, 2 Tim. 3. 16. which are but as the Wens or witherings, the excrescencies or deficiencies of mens extravagant minds and actions; so far from advancing the peace of Conscience or the honour of true Religion, that they debase and deforme both of them. As no Laws of men con­trary to Gods Word are to be actively obeyed; so Laws of men which are not contrary to right Reason and Scripture [Page 12] must not be disobeyed, but conscientiously observed for the Lords sake, 1 Pet. 2. 13. Rom. 13. 5. in whose wisdom and authority such Laws are made and executed. The contrary will not only trouble the publick Peace, but that also of a mans own soul, at least, when after the vain flashes of light kindled from the sparks of their private fancies, they shall lie down in darkness as to their comfort and reward from God,Isa. 50. 11. whose judgment is according to righteousness and truth.

Secondly,2. Quakers commendable for their re­gard to the Scriptures. I cannot but commend the Quakers for their declared esteem in this of the authority of the holy Scripture, as the rule of Faith and holy life. For as by their instances alledged out of Scripture they profess a fear to sin against the commands there given by Christ against Swearing: so I may charitably presume▪ however they are by many suspected to slight the Scriptures, and fly to Inspirations or Lights with­in them) that they will be no less strict in doing what therein is required of them, as to Truths to be believed, Mysteries to be celebrated, and Duties to be done to God and Man.

The only Caution that here must be given them is,Caution a­gainst misun­derstanding and wresting the Scriptures. to take heed that they do not wrest the Scriptures (2 Pel. 3. 16.) by their ignorant and unstable minds; that they believe not every Spirit, or seeming and partial Allegation of Scripture; since the Devil oft feathers his temptations and fiery darts (as against Christ, Mat. 3.) with Scriptural Citations partially and prepo­sterously applied. Not the Letter in its abruptness or naked­ness of sense must be swallowed presently, but the mind of God must be searched out in the scope and end also, in the manner and emphasis of what is expressed. Scripture is indeed sufficient for the substance of all necessary Truths to be believed, and Du­ties to be done, or left undone; but it doth not stretch it selfe to the instances of every particular circumstance or ceremony, which private Prudence or publick Laws may regulate, accor­ding to order and decency, to edification.

Nor is Scripture to be well understood in retaile (that is) by single places, taken apart by themselves, but in whole-sale, by the proportion of Faith, Rom. 12. 6. the analogous or concurrent sense, which is made up or twisted from many places. Many things [Page 13] in some Scriptures are expressed darkly, metaphorically, figura­tively, parabolically, comparatively, by way of allusion, in Me­tonymies, Synecdoches, Ironies, and Hyperboles, in Vniversalities, which are limited to the subject intended. Many popular ex­pressions have special regard to particular times, places, persons, customs and usages; and must be so taken, as temporary and occasional. These must have commodious interpretations, conso­nant to that grand tenour of Gods word, which as the life and spirit runs through all the parts of it, but resides most e­minently in some places, (as the Soul in the Brain or Heart) which are as the essential, vital, integral and principal parts of Scripture; the main standards and measure of all others, and of true Religion, both as to Morals and Evangelicals, Myste­ries to be believed, and Duties to be performed.

Unless we observe these prudentials in searching the mind of God, and taking the true meaning of the Scriptures, we shall (as Saint Austin observes) draw poyson with Spiders from those sweet flowers which would afford us honey. 2 Pet. 1. 10. A depraved and pri­vate interpretation is the corruption, wrack & torture of Scripture, whose every line is as the Sun-beams, light and straight of it self; but erroneous minds, like Glasses of Refraction, or false Mediums, pervert them from their simplicity to their own de­struction, as S. Peter speaks.2 Pet. 3. 16.

It were endless to enumerate those places of Scripture which have either more or less, The true sense of Scriptures, how to be found out. or something other in their meaning and design, then the Letter seems to hold forth in the bare words of it.

Extraordinary Commands, as to Abraham for sacrificing his Son Isaac, to the Israelites to rob, by way of borrowing, and recompense the Egyptians; the heroick impulses and actions of others, as Moses, Phineas, Elias, and Sampson; Commands to do things less comely and honest, either in a reality, or in a vision and representation, as Hosea's marrying an Harlot; Hosea 1. 2. the faults or failings of others, which were holy men as to their integritie, barely recorded, but not there blamed, as Rebecca's and Jacob's supplanting by a lye and fraud; the officious lyes of the Midwives, Rahab and others, David's feigning himselfe mad; the equivocations and dissimulations of others; These [Page 14] and such like, that have any thing in them which seems or is contrary to the constant rule of Morality, Piety, Sanctity, Honesty and Veracity, must be salved by such an interpretation, and taken in such a sense, as may no way bring them into an ordinary rule or imitable example, contrary to the express and constant command of God in his Word, which is never to be allayed by the mixtures of humane Passions, Frailties and In­firmities.

So in things that are preceptive, Of commands affi [...]mative & negative in Scripture. either enjoyning or forbid­ding, by way of proverbial speaking, the meaning must not be stretched on the tenter or rack of the Letter; but as we ga­ther some fruit that grow with thick shells, only to gaine the small kernels in them, so in these, no more is to be colle­cted from the Letter then what may have due regard to the design and scope of the speaker. So in the fifth, sixth, and se­venth Chapters of Saint Matthew, Christs Sermon in the mount hath many such expressions:Mat. 5. 29, 30. 6. 16. as of anointing the Head & Face in fasting; pulling out the right Eye, and cutting off the right Hand; giving to them that ask; to sell all and give to the poor; to turn the other Cheek to the smiters. These do not run Christians upon maiming and deforming their Bodies, or expose them to poverty and stupidity; but only they teach them to bear with patience repeated injuries, rather then be put beyond the bounds of Christian patience and charity; and to sustain any outward difficulties, rather then inward enormi­ties of lust or covetousness, and the like.

So not to lay up treasure on earth; Mat. 6. 19. 25, 31, 34. to take no thought for their life, or care for to morrow; Labour not for the meat that perisheth, &c. Joh. 6. 27. to call no man Father or Master on Earth Mat. 23.9. not to salute any man by the way, Luk. 10. 4. not to put on costly Rayment or Jewels, &c. 1 Pet. 3. 3. So Hosea 6. 6. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: So, Rent your Hearts, and not your Garments, Joel 2. 13. Who hath required these things at your hands? Isa. 1. 11, 12, 13. viz. in this hypocritical fashion.Of Scripture general nega­tives limited. These seeming Negatives, are not absolutely but comparatively spoken, to such a degree of love or care, or fear, reverence and duty, as are due to Gods great Com­mands and chief Designs, which must be the main biass of [Page 15] mens affections and obediential actions, as most intent to moralitie, and not to content themselves with emptie for­malities.

So in Ironical assentings, or seeming concessions, which are the sharpest prohibitions and reproches: as,Mat. 23. 31. Fill ye up then the measure of your Fathers; He that is filthy let him be filthy still, Rev. 22. 11. and he that is unjust be unjust still. These are not spoken in a flat and plain way, but in such a dialect and emphasis of familiar Oratory as the times and country did well understand, to signi­fie other then the words sounded, either more or less. And it had been a very ridiculous childishness to have urged the Letter in its syllabical appearance, and against its rational mea­ning; which (as S. Austin long ago observed) must never be so put upon the biass of the bare words, as to sway or swerve them contrary to that Divine Verity, Morality and Sanctity which shines most clearly in other places, and whose light must be brought to enlighten those that are more involved and obscured, by reason of some proper phrase or idiotisme of ex­pressing things after the manner of men in those times: Else many things spoken even of God, and by God himself, and holy men after the manner of men, as seeing, hearing, smelling, being injured, angry, and repenting, &c. will be as blasphemies and irreconcilable (as both Jewish Rabbins and Christian Do­ctors observe) to his essential Attributes and immutable Perfections. R [...]b. Maimon. in Morch Na­bucihn. Here the words look to the appearance (as when Angels are called young men, Mark 16. 5. Joh. 20. 12. Luk. 24. 4.) but the sense must look to the essence and reality.

Men will make as mad work of Scripture as Hogs will do with Gardens and Fields, when in stead of orderly plowing and sowing, that we may reap a fair and fruitful Harvest, we inordinately and rashly root up all things by a confused rude­ness, which ends either in barrenness, or in briars and thorns, endless janglings and perplexities.

What long and sad contentions have the Papists made in the Western Churches the last 300. years,The Papists rigid urging the Letter. by rigidly urging those words of Consecration in the Lords Supper to a literal se­verity, making the Bread after Consecration so much Christs Bo­dy [Page 16] substantially and not sacramentally, which all good Christians believe) that there remains no more natural substance of the Bread, but only under the accidents of Bread, the sole and entire substance of Christs Body; the same which is at once in Heaven and in every place where this Sacrament is celebra­ted, yea in every crum of it? By which Superseraphick opinion, Faith must not only forsake the senses and look above them, but flatly deny and contradict them, in every verdict which they give of their proper objects, according to experience and right Reason, which are a part of the Creators light to man­kind. And all this by a magisterial, novel and seraphick seve­rity, beyond the judgement of the ancient Churches, is im­posed by pressing the ( [...]) rigid Letter of the words in that part of the blessed Sacrament, and allowing no Metonymy or Symbolical speaking, which is so frequent in Scripture-My­steries, and sacred correspondencies between the signs and things signified (as the Lamb is called the Passeover, and Christ our Passeover, and the Rock, Vine, Dove, &c.) While yet in the o­ther part of the same Sacrament they are forced to subdue and soften the words to their due sense by such Metonymues and Tropes as must make the Cup to signifie or mean the Wine, and the Cup or Wine to signifie the New Testament in Christs Blood.

Certainly, as in such expressions which Christ there useth, and which we read in other Scriptures of parallel sense, to set forth Divine Mysteries (by their adapted Signs and Symbols, or Emblems and Seals) there must be believed something more sublime in them then the narrowness of the words, or perhaps the hearts of men in this world can fully comprehend; so, to be sure, nothing is by Scripture imposed upon us to be belie­ved which is flatly contradictive to right Reason, and the suf­frages of all our senses, and to the Analogy of Faith in the Scriptures. But here the meaning of the words must be mea­sured by semblable places and like expressions, which are not wanting in the Scriptures; and yet are not so wrested by any Christians that are Masters of Sense, Reason, and true Religion, who do not cease by believing to be rational Creatures, or to be men by being Christians.

[Page 17] If the Quakers will fairly admit such Cautions and limitati­ons as they do to other places, in the interpreting these Scrip­tures which they chiefly alledge to justifie their denial of all Swearing whatever, I shall not doubt to reconcile them to my sense of them, nor shall I grudge to give them this se­cond commendation, for their due regard to Scripture as the sure and sufficient rule of a Christians actions for the main and substance of them. But these Scriptures must be duly examined, exactly weighed, and aptly reduced to that standard of Truth which is most constant and clear in both Morals & Fiducials.

Thirdly,A third com­mendation of the Quakers, for their fea­ring an Oath. Yea, I shall adde a third (Commendation of these Quakers (who shall rise in judgement at the last day against many of those that speak much against them) for this, That they seem to have so great a fear of an Oath, that out of a jea­lousie of Swearing amiss, they will not swear at all. Eccl. 9. 2. Although they are superstitious in the degree of their fear (which I shall prove to be not justly grounded on the words they alledge,) yet no good man can blame them to have, as God commands,Zach. 8. 17. a just abhorrence of the sin of profane, easie, trivial, familiar, false and inconsiderate Swearing, for which the Land mourn­eth, Jer. 23. 10. which so disposeth men (as Saint Austin sayes) to false Swearing and gross Perjury; Jurandi facili­tate in perjuri­um labimur. which are sins of the first magnitude. Nor can indeed much credit be given (any more then to a Lyar) to any man that swears never so solemnly and in Judicature, who is a common Swearer, August. Contemptor re­ligionis ad ju­randum facilis. and hath no reve­rence either of the Majesty of God or the sacredness of an Oath.

I formerly observed the great dread and just horror of all Swearing, Ulpian. [...], Eccles 23. 11. (even that which the Laws required) wherewith the poor. Quakers might easily be scared and posses­sed in those barbarous times of their first breeding, when so many lawful Ezek. 17. 18, 19. Oaths were despised and impudent­ly violated; nay when Perjury and Rebellion were adop­ted to the Family of Religion, and voted for Reformation; when men were grown so preposterously zealous for God, that they would both lye and forswear to advance his In­terest and Kingdom (as they pretended) in the World; till themselve [...] beca [...]e as Sodom and Gomorrah, the abhorrence and abomination of all people of common honesty, who saw the [Page 18] Land not only defiled with innocent blood, but most sadly mourning under the burden of such prodigious Swearings and hypocritical forswearings, as were not only vulgar and trivial, but solemn and authoritative.

It was and is well done of the Quakers to be wary of such Swearing, because the brands of Perjury (as the Devils stigma­tizings) are among the marks of fin hardliest to be wiped off or worne out, without a wound and scar on the conscience, no less then the credit and reputation of a Christian.

But yet I cannot consent to them,But not for their Super­stitious fear, against the good ends of Oaths in judi­cature. nor commend them, for their being righteous over-much, by their absolutely deny­ing and condemning, as sinful, the solemn, sacred and judicial manner of Swearing required by the Laws of this Kingdom, and allowed by this and all other Christian and Reformed Churches: In which Oaths either the recognition of a known Truth, or the agnition of a Right, or the profession of a loyal Duty, or a sure Testimony in matter of Fact, are required both in allegiance to the Prince, and in justice and charity to our neighbours, for the trial of doubtful Cases, and determi­ning of them in judgement,Jer. 4. 2. righteousness and truth, as with least error in themselves, so with most reverence and fear of God, the fountain of Justice, Truth, Order and Peace (whose the judgment, power, Deut. 1. 17. and authority is;) also with most security to the publick peace and welfare, which are bound up in the due execution of Justice and lastly, to the most satisfaction of all men, who can desire or expect no higher appeal or at­testation, then the Omniscience and Omnipotence of the Judge of all the earth, called as a witness upon their souls.

These grand and publick concerns, in which Gods glory and the good of man-kind are involved and carried on by the sacred solemnity of publick and legal Oaths, as they do com­mand a great strictness and conscientious cautiousness in all such Swearing, so they do, upon Scriptural, moral, and political grounds, sufficiently justifie the use of that Swearing which they thus require, and which without this method of religi­o [...]s justice cannot be obtained in the now inveterate wickedness and degeneracy of humane Nature: For a [...] and remedy to which good Laws are appointed, and these executed with that [Page 19] equity, sanctity and solemnity, which at once befits both men and Christians; that is, persons related and responsible not only to humane society and authority, but owners of, and appealers to, divine Justice and Vengeance: of whose last great and dreadful Tribunal our little Courts of Justice and judicial proceedings on Earth are previous Emblems and Forerun­ners.

For the preserving and asserting these great and good Ends is that Law now enacted against the Errors and Obstinacies of the Quakers; The end of the Law a­gainst the Quakers. seeking by just penalties to remove those Ob­structions which their contrary declared principles and avow­ed practises endeavour to put upon all judicial proceedings; yea, and to shake that mutual security which both King and Subjects have by the enterchange of their respective Oaths to each other, in the name of the blessed God. These good & necessary Ends do justifie the severity of those means which the wisdom of the Parliament applies, consonant to Gods word: nor may any Subjects complain, since, as the Law is imposed by all Estates, so upon all sorts of people without respect of persons: nor can any Nation be thought cruel to it selfe, or to inflict too severe punishments on it self, when not only the regard to the personal offence, but the care and caution for the publick welfare and indemnity is the measure of such Pe­nalties inflicted.

Against all this the Quakers plead their consciences, The ground of the Qua­kers plea for their not Swearing. which they say will not permit them in any case to Swear. The ground of this their consciencious Resolution of not Swearing, lest they should sin, is produced, as appears by their Papers, from those too pregnant places, Mat. 5. 34. where our Saviour citing the old Law from Exod. 20. 7. Lev. 19. 12. & Deu. 5. 11. as allowed by the Jews, commanding them to swear only by the name of the Lord; and in those cases not to forswear them­selves, but to perform their Oaths to the Lord; adds by way of reformation, But I say unto you, Swear not at all: and Saint James 5. 12. where the Apostle to the same sense and words repeats the command of Christ, Above all things, my Brethren, swear not at all.

Both places indeed seem at first sight point-blanck (as [Page 20] some Commentators observe) to forbid all manner of swearing among Christians,P [...]má facie ille videtur seas [...]s Ev [...]ng [...] ­licus, [...] Christianos [...]. both have emphaticall or vehement words. The first, Christs Authority, reforming not only the Pharisaick corruptions of the Times, but even the Mosaick indulgences in some things, which were rather not de [...]ed for the hardness of the Jews Hearts, then positively granted: I say unto you, Swear not at all; Mat. 19. 8. that is, not by those Oaths in which you make now no scruple to swear and forswear.

So the Apostle Saint James, writing to the dispersed Jewes; Above all things, my Brethren, swear not: evidently referring to the words of our Saviour, and the same ends.

Nor are the fears and scruples of the Quakers in point of swearing to be wholly despised; when they have two such notable Texts in their way, which seem to stand, as the An­gel of the Lord against Balaam, with a Sword in their hand to stop the way of any Swearing whatsoever. Both Texts are al­lowed on all hands, as the word of God; All are agreed that the words are a divine and strict prohibition against the sin of Swearing; and therefore in all charity the words ought to be cleared, and their scruples removed.

The Questions about the interpretation,Three Que­stions. scope, and meaning of the words are: 1. Whether all Swearing be utterly forbid­den, because it is and ever was in its nature a sin against morality.

2. Or whether all Swearing is therefore now a sin, because thus forbidden by a positive Law of Christ under the Go­spel.

3. Or whether only some sort of Swearing, which is a sin, is forbidden, but not such Swearing as is no sin, but rather an act of special veneration, or sanctifying Gods name, also an act of justice and charity to our neighbours or our selves.

As to the first Question, 1. Question answered: Swearing was lawful among the Jews. whether all Swearing be now by Christ forbidden, because it is and ever was in its Nature a sin against Morality, that is, against the eternal rectitude and goodness of the Divine Nature and Will:

I suppose the Quakers are not herein positive; nor dare they condemn as morally and alwayes evil, all swearing by the Name of the most high God. For which practise of old among the [Page 21] Jews we have not only so many precedents or examples of holy men, approved by God, as Abraham, Jacob, David, and others, (yea and the example of God himself (as I shall after instance in) swearing by himself, as the high and holy one, whose su­pream power and inimitable excellency is the highest asseve­ration or ascertaining of what is so spoken, either to win us to belief, or to strike us with terror, leaving men without ex­cuse, if being so happy as to have the Oath of God to assure them of a truth, yet they will not believe God, no not swearing for their sake, as Tertullian speaks) But also we have express commands of God: First, that great one in the Decalogue, where the Negative, of not taking Gods name in vain, or falsly, doth include the Assirmative, of using the name of God in thinking or meditating, in reading and writing, in speaking, praying, blessing, praising, promising or attesting, vowing or swearing, with due reverence and adoration to his Divine Ma­jesty, which is intimated by his holy name, as the summary of all his Attributes. And agreeable to this great Command are those many other places so frequent in the Old Testament, which command the people of God to swear only by his Name, Deut. 6. 13. and this in righteousness, judgement, and truth, Jer. 4. 2. of which I shall after give more particular ac­count, when I prove that moral, divine and eternal good which is in lawful swearing.

Hence Gods frequent reproof, Zach. 5. 4. Mal. 3. 5. threatning and punishing with a curse, not all men that did swear, but only such as sware fals­ly, either as to their present judgements and intentions, or as to their after violating of their Oaths, to the pro [...]aning of the name of God; yea, and those who by trivial, light, and in­considerate swearing, took the name of God in vain, having no reverence to his Majesty when they made mention of his name with their lips: lastly, those that sware, though truly, Jer. 12. 16. Zeph. 1. 5. by false Gods, as Baal, or by any Creature, as if it were to them in stead of God.

This then I suppose is so clear, even to the sillicst and most scrupulous Quakers, that they cannot doubt of the lawfulness of swearing lawfully among the Jews, not only as permitted, but commanded.

[Page 22] Nay (perhaps) they will grant that a Christian in some cases may give his Oath to an Heathen Prince, or others of different Religion from Christianity, when in cases of safety, or ransome, or life, or other great concerns, they may be thereto required of them, and will by no other way be satisfied: It being a Principle of natural Divinity bred in the hearts of all mankind, that the invocation, attestation and adjuration in the name of the God which they respectively own, is the greatest assurance which can be given or desired; as I shall make to appear after­ward, when I come to shew the consent and practise of Na­tions as to deciding of Controversies by swearing.

The scruple then lies only upon these prohibitions in the Go­spel given by Christ and the Apostle Saint Iames; [...], whe­ther among Christians all Swearing be so bidden. forbidding absolutely (as they suppose) all swearing, at least among Christians, whatever was used or indulged among the Iewes (as were Revenge, Polygamy and Divorces, and other political dispensations, for the uncharitableness, wantonness and hardness of their hearts) Christ, as they presume, restoring the communication of Christians both publick and private to that integrity of mind, simplicity of speech and sanctity of manners, which may deserve of one another as much credit as if they sware; [...]. Ioseph. de Essenis. according to that strictness which the Esseni among the Iewes used, whose word was, As sure as an Oath. So that they say, we may not in charity either exact of our Brethren, or give to them any Oath; since they deserve to be believed upon the same terms which they believe others, that is, their bare Yea or Nay, simple affirmings or denyings, without any swearing; which they think an old Iudaick superfluity of speech now circumcised, and precisely cut off from the lips of Chri­stians: No man deserving to be believed on his Oath, [...]. Cl. Alex. who hath lost by lying the credit of his bare word; nor any man deserving to be confirmed by any honest mans Oath, who hath not the charity and humanity to believe him without it.

And certainly the affairs of Christians, both publick and private, would be no less to their honour and ease, if there were in no case any need or use of any Oaths or Swearing; but such an authentick veracity and just credulity on all sides, as might well spare even the most true, sincere and lawful Oaths, [Page 23] keeping on all sides as great a distance from lying as from false swearing. And certainly as these two, true speaking and true swearing, are near of kind, of the same Father, God, and the same Mother, an honest and veracious heart; so the other two, lying and false-swearing, are progenies of the same parentage, of their Father the Devil, and from a persidious heart. Perjury and Lying are of the same Web or Spinning; only the first hath the stronger twist, and the deeper dye or tincture of Hell, being more the Devils colour and in gram.

The Eutopian desire and aim of these Quakers is not to be found fault with, if it were feisable. Yea,The specious design o [...] the Quakers not practicable. it were to be wished that the evils of mens hearts and manners, the jealousies and distrusts, the dissimulations and frauds of many Christians,Quamvis jura­to nollem tibi credere. their uncharitableness, unsatisfactions and insecurities, were not such, as by their diseases do make these applications of solemn Oaths and judicial swearings necessary; not absolutely, Juram [...]ntum non aliter qàam medicamentum urgente necessi­tate usurpan­dum. and morally, or preceptively (as the Schoole-men note well) but by way of consequence and remedy; as good new Laws are necessary for the curb or cure of new evils in Polities and Kingdoms. Possi­bly as Christians (truly such) we should need no swearings in publick or private: but as men, weak and unworthy, Non adhib [...]tur ju [...]jurandum nisi ad subve­niendum dese­ct [...]i. we can­not well be without such Oaths to end Controversies, and to secure, as much as man can do, the exact proceedings of Justice.

If it do appear that all swearing is absolutely by our Lord Christ forbidden to his Disciples, Levitas homi­num & incon­stantia diffi­dentiam geau­it, cui reme­dium quaesitum est ju [...]ejucando. Grotius. God forbid we should not obey his word, and rather change the Laws of man, then vi­olate his commands, to whom we Christians owe the highest love, loyalty and obedience. But if it shall appear to religious Reason, that the words of Christ do not import any such ab­solute forbidding of all use of swearing, [...]. Cle. but by the scope of them and the analogy of Scripture they have another true interpretati­on and limited meaning, we must not be so much slaves to the Letter, as to lead Truth and Reason captive, or to deprive our selves of that religious liberty which is left us, and so is not on­ly lawful for Christians to use, but in some cases it may be prudentially necessary, as to the expediences of mens jealousies, lives, liberties, estates, and good names, even in private; much [Page 24] more in the dispensations of justice to the publick peace, and ge­neral satisfaction of whole Polities and Communities, wherein men live socially, under law and government.

The Controversie therefore which is risen between the Quakers and almost all other Christians will come into this narrow room.The true state of the Con­troversie.

1. Not whether a Christian may swear vainly and rashly, Not whether vain swearing be forbidden. by a spontaneous and occasional easiness, either promising or asser­ting, although it be a truth, and by the true God, but with­out reverence to God, and in matters of so little, yea no im­portance or difficulty, as neither deserve, nor need, nor re­quire an Oath. To this we all agree with the Quakers, Christs words condemning all such profane and trivial swearing; much more if it be in fraud and falsitie, which makes such Oaths, as the Coyn of an Usurper, which is false metal and stamp too, a complicated sin, and one of the strongest chains of darkness which the Devil and a mans own lusts hamper the Soule withal.

2. Not is it any question whether Christians may swear in any case by any Creature as such,No [...] whether one may swear by any Crea­ture. not relating by it and through it to God above all, who is the Alpha and Omega, the center and circumference of all things, from whom they have their being, and in whom is the Idea or Prototype of all their perfections. To terminate an Oath in a Creature, is to put the stamp of Divinity on it, to make it an Idol in Gods stead, and to profane his holy name, by swearing by it as by a false God. The swearing by any Creature as such, we all own to be a great sin, according to those instances which our Lord Christ, and Saint Iames from his mouth, give us, when they explain their meaning of Swear not at all, &c.

3. Nor is it a question whether an Oath made by the name of any Creature, Nor whether an Oath by a­ny Creatures name may be broken. and in a thing lawful, may yet be broken; or whether it be a sin to swear falsly by them. All agree, that though the Oath be rash, as by a Creature, yet it binds in things lawful no less at least to truth and justice then any simple promise; and it may be something more. Here that is true, Fieri non debuit, factum valet: Like Bastards, they should not have been begot, but they must be kept; unless the matter [Page 25] be sinful, as Herod's Oath was which beheaded Iohn Baptist, Mat. 14. 9.

4. But the question is,4. The only question is, whether all Swearing is forbidden to Christians. Whether those words of Christ and the Apostle do utterly forbid all Swearing in any case whatso­ever to all Christians; so that by the Law of Christ it is a sin to swear, as in private, so in publick transactions, or any Courts of Judicature, be the matter of the Oath never so just and true, and the manner of it never so solemn and sacred, and the Authority requiring them never so lawful in civil respects.

This the Quakers affirm, led thereto, as they profess, meerly by the Conscience of that obedience they oweto Christ, whose will they say is expresly declared in those words to all his Disciples, Not to swear at all, in no case, at no time, upon no mans command. Nor do they argue any thing further by way of rational deduction, moral grounds, or religious principles, either from the nature of an Oath, or from the consent of other Scriptures, or from the Divine Attributes and glory; but barely insist upon the words, and urge the ( [...]) Letter, as an absolute or universal Negative, without any limitation or dispensation: So feeding on the rinde or shell of the Letter, and gnawing the bone of the bare words, that they never come at the kernel and marrow, or true meaning of them.

On the other side, I do deny,All Swearing is not by Christ or the Apo­stle Saint James forbid­den. in the behalf of my own Conscience, and the consentient sense of this Church and King­dome, yea, of all Christian and Reformed Churches of any re­nown, That all swearing is forbidden by those words of Christ and his Apostle: But that our Saviours words are to be under­stood with such a limited sense and strict interpretation as suited to his scope and design, which was to rectifie popular errors, and remove common abuses in Swearing, but not wholly to for­bid the use of it in a religious and lawful way.

And because it is not sufficient in order to my design (which is to justifie the legal proceedings of this Kingdoms Iustice by Oaths, and to satisfie the scruples of the Quakers) to oppose my Nay to their Yea, or to offer the husk and chaff of words void of such Reasons as either slow from the nature of all things and all actions as good or evil morally, or from the [Page 26] will of God revealed in the Scriptures, which is a Treasury of right Reason as well as a Rule of true Religion; I will endeavour to give those Reasons which induce me to believe, that the Quakers (as Christ said to the Saducees) do erre not knowing, or not right understanding, Mat. 22. 29. the mind of Christ in those Scriptures, which is not to forbid all Swearing, nor such as the just and religious Laws of England do require of all under its subjecti­on in some cases.

I will not seek to oppress or confound the Quakers with the shew of many Reasons, as if I would carry the cause by number and not by weight; but content my self with those few which are most pregnant, plaine, and easie to be understood by them.

1. Reason; Reasons to prove all swea­ring is not forbidden by Christ. From the occasion of Christs and the Apostles words, and the scope or end of them, to which his own instan­ces by way of explication of his meaning do best direct us, both as to what he forbids and enjoynes: to some of which the Qua­kers themselves do consent.

2. Reason; From the moral and religious nature, end and use of Oaths, which God had instituted and approved, with­out any repeal by Christ or his Apostles.

3. Reason; From other places of the New Testament which give light to these, both by principles granted and suitable ex­amples expressed.

To these Reasons I will add (by way of full measure hea­ped up and running over the concurrent judgement of other Chri­stians and Churches, ancient and modern, in their interpreta­tion of these words; with answer to the Allegations made from the sayings and manners of some Primitive Chri­stians.

This done, the conclusion will easily follow with great clearness and good authority to all that are truely wise, and have their eyes opened and senses exercised to discerne good and evil.

The first Reason is from the occasion, 1. First Rea­son from the occasion, scope and end of Christ [...] words. scope and end of our Saviours words, and so of the Apostles. For these, as the biass of all speech, do best discover the speakers mind; there being no surer way to wrest and pervert Scriptures, then to take them [Page 27] abruptly and absolutely, when they have a relative, comparative, or limited sense in the aim and purpose of the speaker.

Our blessed Saviour in this Divine Sermon on the Mount (of which Saint Matthew gives us so large an account) makes it his main aim and scope,The end or design of our Saviours Ser­mon in the Mount to re­form abuses; not to take a­way the right use of things. first, to set forth those spiritual, hea­venly and eternal blessings, which beyond those sensible, earthly and temporary ones (which were so much of old set before the Jews to invite them to obedience of Gods Laws) were now to be chiefly regarded by Christians, as their peculiar comforts, hopes and rewards under the Gospel; which though atten­ded with many persecutions, yet was not without many blessings peculiar to true believers: from vers. 3. to vers. 12.

Secondly, our Saviour gives many singular lessons or pre­cepts of more eminent deligence, patience, charity, mortification, self-denial, sincerity, conspicuity, perseverance and perfection of obedience required now under the Gospel, above what either the Letter of the Mosaick Law seemed to exact, or by the Pha­risaical Interpretations were taught to the Iewes. So that un­less their righteousness did exceed that so popularly admired of the Pharisees, they could not enter into the Kingdom of Hea­ven, vers. 20.

Thirdly, our Saviour with much earnestness and exactness applyes in this Sermon to reform those abuses, which either by the Pharisaical glosses (either too much loosning or restrai­ning the meaning of Gods Law) or by their depraved exam­ples, or by popular custom had prevailed among the Iewes, contrary to the true meaning of the moral Law of God, and the primitive Institution, which gives us the clearest view of the Law-givers intention.

For the exact observation of which, however by Divine in­dulgence and connivence, or by the hardness and uncharitableness of their own hearts, and the customary depravedness of times and manners, they might seem to have had some temporary dispensation heretofore granted to them, or at least had pre­sumed to take it to themselves; yet now under the Evangeli­cal strictness to which Christ came to restore or raise the Church, they might not fancy to themselves any such liberty, but were to keep themselves in thought, look, desire, word [Page 28] and deed, to that sanctity and severity which was required by the Law, and most conform to the holy Will, Attributes and Nature of that God whom they ought to imitate as their hea­venly Father in all sacred perfections, which humane Nature, assisted by the light of the Gospel, Mat. 5. 45, 48. the grace of Gods Spirit, and the visible example of Christ, was capable to attain, at least sincerely to aim at and endeavour.

So vers. 22. He tells them that not only wilful murder, or malicious killing, was forbidden, but rash, unreasonable and irreconcilable anger.

Vers. 28. That not only Adultery, but all lust inordinate after a Woman (that is not in order to marriage, and the ho­nest ends of it) were so severely forbidden, under pain of Hell fire, that it were better to deny those sensual pleasures of the flesh, which seem as dear to men as the delight of their eyes, or the strength of their hands, then to indulge them with the danger of their souls.

Vers. 32. So in the case of humorous and lascivious Divor­ces usually given to Wives upon no just cause, Christ restrains that indulgence only to the case of a Wives deserving to be put away, for having broke her conjugal vow and band of Matri­mony by her Adultery.

Not to instance in many other particulars of abuses which Christ reckons up and reforms in that Sermon; (as touching private Revenge, vers. 39. not publick and vindicative Iustice; so of loving our enemies, vers.44. of almes, prayer and fasting, without ostentation, pride or hypocrisie, against immoderate love and care for things of this world, and the like) the immedi­ately next is this of Swearing, vers. 33, 34. In which, as in many other things, the Iews had much depraved both the true nature and use of Oaths.

1. They pretended indeed (as Philo and Iosephus tell us) a great reverence of the Name of God, The depra­vedness of the Jews in this point of Swea­ring. Indicorum est in levicu [...]is ad Deum trans [...]urrere; sufficit per creaturas jurare. Ex Philon. [...]. and seemed to make great con­science of swearing in small matters by the name of the Lord, according to the Letter of the Scripture; yea, they made scruple to swear at all in any case by ( [...]) the Lord liveth. [Page 19] For which the Heathens mocked the Iewes; [...]. as in that of Martial, Jura, verpe, per Anchialum. These Oaths they thought binding; nor would they in these easily swear or for­swear themselves. Which regard to their Gods was in use a­mong the gravest Heathens; as is observed out of Homer: therefore they took any obvious thing to swear by.

2. But they indulged themselves in other familiar Oaths, Probatieres Ju [...]ae [...]um magistri absterreb [...] bemines a fa [...]ilitante jurandi in qua D [...]us nominaretur; at quo minus in quotidiano usu purres minores jurarent, non in­terdicebant. Grotius. or forms of common Swearing (as many Christians now do) by whatever came next to their minds or tongues: as by the Temple and holy City, by their own or o­thers Heads, Hands, Lives and Souls; so by Hea­ven, and Earth, and the Light. Thus waving the attestation of Gods omniscient Justice, and the swearing by his name (as was commanded) in righteousness, judgement and truth, they put this Character of Divinity on the Creatures, no way compe­tent for them, unless as they are in relation to, depending on, and derived from the blessed God.

3. These vulgar Oaths they used not only in a familiarity and facility of inconsiderate swearing, upon small and light oc­casions, yea, and in asserting of things not true, as to their know­ledge and intention, which was doubly a false swearing; but in things of weight and concerne, as to that charity, justice, and equity which they owed to others, they chose this way of Creature-Swearing, both promissory and assertory,Jurabant Ju­daei per creatu­ras obvias; n [...]c se istis teneri cred [...]bant, quum tamen omne jus­jurandum in Deo terminatur, in quo & agno­scunt omnia. B. August. because they fancied such Oaths, being not with the solemnity of invo­cating Gods name, were not binding upon their Souls either as to truth or right; but they might play with them at fast and loose, according as their own interest or pleasure did sway them. Hence as they sware amiss in point of form, so also as to the matter, without any regard in these cases to that Command of God against forswearing, and for the performance of Oaths to the Lord (which places Christ cites, and to which Law they professed to adhere, so far only as they used the name of God; else they dispensed with their Oaths, and easily digested even perjury it self.)

Upon this occasion, and to reform these gross abuses, our blessed Saviour gives this Command, Swear not at all; that is, [Page 30] (as Erasmus paraphraseth) not after those usual, Christus non simpliciter ju­rare ve [...]uit, sed [...]o m [...]re qu [...] vulgato si [...]bat. E [...]asm. presumptuous and unlawful forms, by the names of Creatures, of which he gives so many following instances to express his meaning. For he doth not instance in the lawful use of religious Oaths, by the name of the true God, which was not only allowed, but, in such cases as did require an Oath, with its due circumstances of Judgement, Justice and Truth, commanded.

2. He tells them, that even in those Oaths which were at­tested only by the naming of any Creature, as by Heaven, or Earth, or Jerusalem, or their Head, &c. there was a tacit cal­ling of God to witness, In omnibus ju­rande modis ta­ci [...] D [...]us conti­netur. since every Creature depends on God, and relates to him as the Center and Circumference, the Source and Sea of all things. Heaven is Gods Throne, Earth Gods Foot-stoole, the Temple Gods Sanctuary, Jerusalem the City of God, the most eminent place of the great King of Heavens residency on Earth.

3. He implyes,Unlawfull Oaths as to form do bind in things law­ful. that however such various and irregular forms of Oaths, by the name of any Creature, were as to the manner of them unlawful, yet they obliged men to perform them, if the matter of them were lawful; nor were they ex­cused from perjury or false-swearing in those cases, if in assertory Oaths they sware falsly, Non putabant Judaei se teneri jurejurando si per ista juras­sent; nic reddendum Domino tale juramenum: Quum ta­men n [...]hil tam vile in creatu­ris Dei ut per hoc quisquam pejera [...]dum arbitretur; quum á summis ad insima. Dei pro­videntiâ reguntur creata. Aust. Ser. 18. de Verbis Apost. or in promissory, either not intending to perform what they so sware, or not after performing them, so far as was in their power. But the Yea and Nay, the Affirmative or Negative of such swearing in word, ought to be also Yea and Nay in the purpose and perfor­mance. And although they ought not so to swear, yet having so sworn they were obliged to the moral ends of an Oath, Qui per salutem suam jurat Deum jurare videtur; resp. [...] en [...] m Divini numinis jurat. Ulpian. which is to make it good in Truth and Faith.

Agreeable to the same end and scope, and al­most in the same words, Saint Iames writes to the dispersed Christian Iewes, who still retained that evil Custome of ordinary Swearing by the Creatures, as Hea­ven and Earth, and other such like Oathes, without any conscience of the manner or matter, or making good in effect such Oaths.

[Page 31] The meaning therefore of both places (as the learned Grotius and others observe) is no more then to take away the ordinary abuse of such swearing,The meaning o [...] Christs words against Swearing. but not that right use which God had allowed and commanded in his word:Non vetat Chri­stus ju [...]juran­dum ut rem in se [...]; sed ut rem quà nisi in negotiis maxi­mi momenti u­su pare non li­ceat; & in illis quam potest re­ligi [...]sissime. Grotius. Erasm, in loc. Multos uno ictu solvit nodos; non simpl [...]citer vetan­do juromentum, sed eo modo qualiter vulgo fi [...]bat: quemadmodum vetuit iram, laborem, [...] ­ram de terrenis, vindictam, &c. Nor is there more implied in these words, as to the subject matter, then in those, where God complains, that because of Swearing the land mourns, Hos. 4.2, 3. that is, by unlawful Oaths; and the curse shall come into the house of the Swearer, Zach. 5.4. that is, such as use idle, false, and forbidden Swearing, Zach. 8.17. Not those who swear as they might do by the name of the Lord in righteousness, judge­ment and truth, which God no where reproves.

As if one should inveigh against drinking and feasting, and singing, and danoing and dalliance, there where the usual viot, excess and wantonness of any people had generally run these things to an inordinacy; which doth no way condemn the sober, modest and seasonable use of them.

That this thus limited sense of Christs words against the abuse of Swearing, This limited sense of Christ against some, not all Swea­ring, proved by his affirmative command of Yea and Nay. so familiar among the Iewes, was Christs mea­ning in the negative part of his words, appears by the affirma­tive part of them, which the Quakers themselves will, I sup­pose, confess must not be taken in an exclusive latitude, or such a broad universality of command, as enjoynes us to use no other words in any communication by way of affirming or de­nying any thing, but only Yea, Yea, and Nay, Nay. Which words the Quakers so much affect to use, as if they would fancy themselves literally or verbally tied to those Monosylla­bles, and those to be repeated in all their assertions or promises: yet none of them in case of more full declaring their assent or dissent upon any matter, do seruple to use such paraphrases or enlargements of speech as the matter or the parties understanding or diffidence may require. For if they would keep all their communication to those precise words, Yea, Yea, Nay, Nay, they would be no less obstructive to civil and private conversation, then they seek to be to judicial proceedings by their refusing at all to swear.

[Page 32] Doubtless our Saviours own larger expressing of himselfe in many cases,R. Maimoni­dis dictum, [...] S [...]picus ubi ne­gat, dicit Non; ubi affirmat, Etiam. D [...]cte­rium erat illo­ [...]um temporum, [...]. by such periphrases or commentaries of words as amount to affirmations or negations (besides and beyond the bare terms of Yea, Yea, and Nay, Nay) do abundantly justifie (together with the practise of all the Apostles) that these proverbial Phrases or Epitomes of speech here commanded under the words of Yea and Nay, do only import that plain­ness or simplicity of Christians meaning and doing as may be consonant to their words, in truth and honesty, without fraud or falsity in common speech: not at all forbidding either more ample expressions of their sense in private converses, nor yet forbidding such religious and judicious use of Swearing in great and publick matters,Hinc naucus dicitur homo le­vis & incon­stans, cujus [...] erata [...]. Festus. as are necessary to carry on humane affairs with iustice and Peace; but only such false, frivolous and fraudulent Oaths, as for the matter, manner and meaning are by the Law of God, by all right Reason and Religion prohibited; and which then were so familiarly used and abu­sed by the Iewes, Justorum Eti­ame st etiam, & Non est non. Dius. int. Pro­verb. Hebr.—Contra om­nia solum Et respond bat, vel Non—Ausonius ad Paulinum. upon those presumptions and dispensations which they had taken up. As then the affirmative part of Christs words are not to be understood literally, as a confining of all Christians communication to Yea and Nay, but only to that truth and honesty of mind, intent and action which Christ aimes at, and beyond which whatever is of fraud and falsity is from evil in mens hearts: so as to the negation of swearing not at all, it cannot in Reason or Religion be extended further then that swearing which is from evil, and tends to evil; not that which is from good, Concordent di­ctis sacta; pa­ctis promissis (que) v [...]stris idem robur & veri­tas esto, as si sirmata essent juramentis. Coram Deo negatio vel affirmatio simplex loto jura­menti habetur. V [...]tatur om [...]is disconvenientia aut animi aut facti cum juramento. Grot. in loc▪ [...] non [...], nec [...], Philo. and tends to good; namely, the ve­neration of God, and love of Truth and Iustice, which are not from the evil one, the Devil, nor from evil principles in men, nor for evil designs.

As for that absolute and universal Negative which they urge from the words of Christ,Negatives & Affirmatives in Sc [...]pture li [...]ited in the sense, though seeming universal in the Letter or words. of not swearing at all, nothing is more clear and usual in Scripture then to confine the mea­ning [Page 33] of such Generals to the particular subject and scope intended, as I formerly shewed in many instances out of the holy Scrip­tures: but yet further to clear this truth from the most short and exact way of the Scripture-style, which is in the com­mands of the Decalogue,

In the second Command we are forbidden to make to our selves any graven Image or similitude of Creatures in the way of Wor­ship or Religion: yet we read, that Moses in the Tabernacle made the Cherubins; so did Solomon several Images of Flowers and Beasts in the Temple, and for his Throne, and without sinne.

So in the fourth Command, All manner of work is forbid­den on the Sabbath day: yet the intent is only against ordi­nary works of our civil callings, not against works of Religion, or decency, or charity, or necessity; against which the Pharisai­cal rigor and severity had stretched the Letter of the Law be­yond the meaning: as our Saviour convinceth them, Mat. 12. Mark 2. 27. Luk. 14. 3.

In the sixth Command, Thou shalt not kill, Sicut Non occi­des est generale praeceptum, cum debitis tamen circumstantiis occisio potest & licita esse & ne­cessaria. Caje [...]. the putting men to death in just and legal wayes, or in self-defense, is not for­bidden, but only as to private revenge and malice.

So the tenth Command, Thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy Neighbours, is to be understood only of an* evil and injurious coveting of what is our Neighbours; but not of such a desire as is commensurate to Justice and Charity, which desires, in ho­nest wayes of buying or exchanging, to get those things which our want requires, and our Neighbours sufficiency willingly affords us: Else we must always want, but never wish, or fairly endeavour for supply, by those wayes of commu­tative justice,Societatis com­mune vinculum mutua indi gen­tia. which by mutual necessities invite men to society.

Such commodious Interpretations of Scriptures are as necessa­ry to attain their true meaning, Talibus benig­na interpritatio adhibenda. as the contrary wrestings of them upon a bare Letter are pernicious to all Reason, Justice and true Religion;Decalogus sum­ma peccata no­minat; catera ex mente auth [...] ­ris vult colligi. and indeed contrary to the very word of the Law, and the intent of the Law-giver: Else what shall we make of that seeming contradiction, Jer. 7. 22. I spake not to your Fathers, nor commanded them in the day I brought them out [Page 34] of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings, &c. But this thing I I commanded them, Obey my voice, &c. Here the principal in­tention of God must give the Interpretation, and take away the Contradiction.

Nor are affirmative places of Scripture to be many times less limited from their seeming Latitude, Limitations of general affir­matives in Scripture. Indefinite­ness and Universality. As, All things are yours, takes not away meum and tuum, 1 Cor. 3. 21. the properties of Christians, as to what they have by private right and possession. 1 Cor. 6. 12. 10. 23. So, All things are lawful, must not be stretched to any immoral licentiousness; but confined to such things as are by no word of God forbidden, but left in an indifferency, and to be used as Reason and Religion requires, or the moral end of all things doth permit.1 Cor. 10. 33. So, I please all men in all things. Tit. 1. 15. So, To the pure all things are pure; the meaning must not be, after the Manichean and Familistical imagination, as if such as are pure might do or use any thing, even to those mixtures which are morally impure or sinful; for these are al­wayes and at all times forbidden to all men, who may not fancy that pure which God hath marked with the brand of sinful impurity; nor may they count that sinfully impure on which God hath set no such stamp, [...]y any Law forbidding it.

If Scriptures (as I have largely shewed) must be understood only by the bark or shell of words, and not by the kernel and intent, we shall make those expressions to be approbations which are the sharpest reproofes and prohibitions, yet by way of Irony and seeming concession. As Eccl. 11. 9. Rejoyce, O young man, in thy youth; walk in the wayes of thine heart and the light of thine eyes.

So Christs commending the unjust Steward doth not import his justifying of his [...], Luk. 16. 8. but of that prudence (though sini­ster) which he shewed to preserve himself from temporal extre­mities: the more to reproach the improvidence, negligence and supineness of those who will not use honest means for their eternal preservation.

It were easie by many more parallel instances (besides those I for merly gave) to▪ manifest to the Quakers, or any men (not wilfully shutting their eyes against that light of Reason and Religion which shines in the Scriptures) That since the [Page 35] Holy Oracles of God are spoken or written for the instruction of men,Non tam ex verborum api­cibus, quam ex rei ipsius natu­ra m [...]tienda sunt multa Scri­pturae loca. Grotius. and in such a familiar style or mode of speech as was used among men in the several times, languages and occasi­ons of writing them, which the Hearers or Readers then easily understood; it cannot be any part of Religion so to urge any Letter, Phrase or Form of speech, as to swerve the sense of words from the evident scope, intent or end of the spea­ker, which is gathered both from the rise or occasion and end why he spake, and any additional instances which are oft gi­ven as explications and special marks or boundaries of the speakers meaning; which are here evident. For the Jewes were not blamable for swearing by the name of the true God, as by the Law and Prophets they were commanded, in righteousness, judgement and truth, (nay they even superstitiously waved this kind of swearing) but for their new and customary forms of swearing by the Creature, and fancying it no forswearing themselves in case they were false, either in intention or execu­tion. This being the usual and almost only swearing in fashion among them, it is no wonder that our Saviour aiming only at this, gives such a prohibition of Swear not at all; that is, not at all for matter or manner as you have accustomed your selves to swear, contrary to, or beyond what God allowes in his Law: which was the thing I was to prove.Second Rea­son for the lawfulness of some Swearing from the light of Nature.

2. My second Reason to prove that our Saviour and the A­postle do not forbid all swearing, with its due reverence and in­tegrity, is from the moral nature, end and use of an Oath.

First, by the light of Reason, and principles of innate Di­vinity (yet unextinguished in the heart of man-kind) it hath ever been and still is owned and used as a special part of Reli­gion, Inter Aegyptios [...]. Diod. Sicul. a solemn agnition of the Divine Being and Attributes, in Omniscience, Justice and Power; which all men attest, as be­lieving that none can escape that Witness and Judge of all things. Thus Egyptians, Scythians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, [...]. Nullum vinculum ad astringendam fidem jurejurando majores sanctius esse voluere. Tullius. Offic. l. 3. [...], Hierocles. and all Nations that had any thing Civil and Religious among [Page 36] them, have used some form of Swearing by their respective Deities, as a special honour and appeal to their Soveraignty; as the only means in cases dubious to give satisfaction, gain cre­dit, and make men assured of the veracity and honesty of the speaker, in their promises and testimonies, in their leagues and contracts.

And however the noblest and wisest of the Heathens requi­red no less veracity and certainty in the bare words then Oathes of men;Phala. Ep. [...] Perjurus est, 1. [...] 2. [...]. yet they highly distinguished between swearing and forswearing, ( [...] and [...].) This last they thought a great sin, and to be punished by the Gods; if either they meant not as they sware, or performed not what they had justly sworn: yea, and they oft brought in their Gods, and Jupiter himselfe as chief, swearing.

Polybius observes, that in the better and simpler ages of the world Oathes were seldom used in Judicatures: R [...]rus apud ve­teres jurandi ususin judiciis, sed crescente perfidia crevit jurispurandi u­sus. Polyb. but after that perfidy and lying encreased, the use of Oathes encreased, as the only remedy meet to restrain those mischiefs; that where men could not see or be sure, the omniscience and vengeance of God should be invocated on mens consciences,In totum jura­re nisi [...]bi ne­cesse est, gravi viro parum convenit. Quintil. which none could elude or escape.

Hierocles also tells us,Obres egregies & necessarias, quae citra j [...]s­jarandum obti­neri nequeant. Hierocles. That men ought not to swear but for great and necessary ends, which cannot otherwaies be obtained. But where the end was good, and this a necessary means, there they thought agreeable to true Reason and Religion, that swearing was a lawful means.

Secondly, God himself, The true God commanding Swearing in Scripture a­mong Jews. the great patern of all holiness and perfection, would not have given so many express commands and regulations concerning Swearing, if all swearing had in its nature been morally and so eternally evil.

The moral precept is Exod. 20. 7. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, or upon falsity: which im­ports a lawful use of Gods name; as is explained L [...]. 19. 12. Ye shall not Swear by my name falsly, nor shalt thou profane the name of the Lord thy God. Which sense is further cleared, [Page 37] Deut. 6. 13. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God and serve him, and shalt swear by his name: which is repeated Deut. 10. 20. So of vowing by an Oath to God Num. 30. 2. Deu 23. 21. So Is. 45. 23. To me every tongu [...] shall swear. So again, Isa. 65. 16. He that sweareth in the Earth shall swear by the God of Truth. Jer. 4. 2. And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgement and in righteousness, i. e. To what we know to be and just.

Nor doth the Lord ever by the Prophets condemn the Jewes for swearing simply and sincerely, but only for vain, false, Mal. 3. 5. perfidious, and perjurious swearing; as he doth Zedekiah, Ezek. 17. 16. for de­spising the Oath he had given to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Answerably we read the unblamed practise of many holy men, Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, David, and others, who them­selves sware, and exacted Oathes and adjured others, without any sin or offence, in such serious and weighty cases which the Law of God, right Reason, Iustice and Charity did permit or re­quire. Among the Iewes all publick testimonies were ratified by an Oath, as Buxtorse, Drusius, and others observe,Apud Judaeos in judiciis om­nia jurisjuran­di religione fir­mata, Dei n [...] ­mine interposi­to. Drusius. who write of the civil administrations of Iustice among them.

Yea, we find (as I formerly touched) the Lord himself con­firming this by his own great and most holy example, * swearing more then once by himselfe, by his own life and great name, to create credit, and give confirmation to what he saith.

If then, from all these premisses it be clear,Deut. 1 8. that some swearing is morally lawful, as an act extraordinary of Religion, Jer. 22. 5. a high glorifying of God by appeal to him, Heb. 3. 11. agreeable to the express Law of God, even in the third Commandment, in which we are not only forbidden to profane the name of God, but the affirmative is also included, of sanctifying his name by all ways of praying, praising, vowing and swearing, as he allowes us; if in doing thus upon just occasion, private or publick (in a lawful manner) we sin not against any moral Law of Prety, Iustice or Charity; it must undeniably follow, that Christ did not by this procept Evangelical forbid or annul the old Law, as to the sanctity and morality of an Oath, but only take away the corruption and abuse: It being no design of our Lord to do so, as he expresly assures the Iewes, to take off their jealousies [Page 38] and prejudices in this kind, That he came not to destroy or dimi­nish, but fulfill the Law (moral.) However he came in the way of fulfilling to abrogate the Ceremonial, yea and the po­litick Laws too, so far as they were peculiar to the Jewish polity in Church and State. This speech of Christ being the Key which opens his meaning in all his following emendations of Iudaick pravities, and in all the constitutions of Evangelical re­ctitudes; it must needs be preposterous to contradict so clear and emphatick, a Scripture, in order to fix such an interpretation on these places (at which the Quakers now stumble) as is on­ly conform to their own fancy, but contrary to the evident te­nour of both Law and Gospel, [...]. Clem. Alex. in this particular of lawful swea­ring, in lawful cases and manner, which was a part of that mo­ral Law which Christ signally tells them he did not come, or ever intended, to abolish, but to maintain, so far as the love of God and our Neighbour are great accomplishments of all Laws; to both which religious swearing is most conform, it being to Gods glory and our Neighbours good. [...]. Phil. Jud. There is no danger then of doing hurt to our own consciences, any more then in serious affirmations or negations; an Oath having onely the attestation of God to it, who is witness of all we say and doe.

3. The third Reason for the limiting these words of Christ a­gainst some, Third Reason to prove some Swearing law­ful under the Gospel among Christians. but not all kind of swearing under the Gospel, is from those after-evidences in the Gospel, which sufficiently clear the meaning of our Saviour.

First, his own frequent asseverations, Amen, Amen, are by many esteemed as a solemn form of assertion, [...] In veritate, forma juram [...]n­ti apud Judae­os. Capellus è R. Jonah. next degree to swearing, by attestation of the truth of God upon the certainty of his words.

But if this amount not to so much in our Saviours form of averring what he uttered; yet we read in the Apostle Saint Paul's writings more then once, not only attestations, but ob­testations and adjurations of others, as Saint Austin observes, e­ven to the very form of Swearing. Rom. 1. 9. God is my wit­ness, &c. Gal. 1. 20. Behold, before God I lye not. 1 Cor. 15. 31. I protest by your Rejoycing; which hath the very form of common Oathes among the Greeks: [...], [Page 39] as [...], per Iovem. 2 Cor. 11. 31. The God and Father of our Lord Iesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lye not. 2 Tim. 4. 1. I charge thee before God and the Lord Iesus Christ, &c. 1 Tim. 6. 13.

As a ground to justifie his own practise in things weighty and of great concern to Gods glory, Quis credet Paulum prae­c [...]p [...]i D [...]minici suisse [...]mm [...]m [...] ­rem? Grotius. Juravit Pau­lus, at non in resu [...], non in re modica alte­rius; sed in r [...] ­bus maximi m [...] ­m [...]nti, ad D [...] ­um & aliorum salutim perti­nentibus. the vindicating of his own fide­lity, and the inducing others to beliefe, in cases that cannot o­therwise be so fully cleared, decided and confirmed to them; this great Apostle, who well knew his Masters meaning, tells us, That,Heb. 6. 16. an Oath (not was, but) is among men for an end of all controversie or strife: and therefore men swear by God, as greater then themselves, and all Creatures whatsoever: in­timating, that the sanctity and validity of an Oath still remains in use under the Gospel, as among all men, where the matter, form and ends required by the moral Law, and immutable principles of Piety, Iustice and Charity, are duly obser­ved.

Nor doth the Apostle there or any where intimate that this former liberty of Swearing by the Law of God among the Iewes was abrogated under the Gospel, as if Christians might not Swear in any case: which had been so necessary a lesson, as none more in practicks; considering that all those civilized Nations where he most preached, and to whom he wrote so many Epistles, would never have believed all swearing unlaw­ful; which the light of nature dictated, and the law of God al­lowed, with due regulation, unless they had some special precept from the Apostle, that he had so received it of the Lord: which had he written, he had contradicted himself as to his practise, and made himself an offender.

But the reproof of Christ, and so of the Apostle Saint James, was peculiar to the corrupt custome among the Jewes, to whom Christ spake, and the Apostle Saint James wrote that Epistle: especially in promissory Oaths, to which the learned Gro [...]ius thinks the words of Christ wholly and only relate.Apparet Chri­stum hoc l [...]co agere de jura­mento promisso­rio H. Grotius. Rev. 10. 56.

To conclude this Reason; we read the Angel in the Reve­lation by his example justifying the lawfulness of some swea­ring, for he is brought in thus, lifting up his hand to heaven, and swearing by him that liveth for ever and ever, &c. after the [Page 40] same manner as the Angel in Daniel did swear lifting up both his hands to Heaven. Dan, 1 [...]. 7.

In which forms we cannot think the holy and good An­gels would have so solemnly appeared on record in Old & New Testament, as exemplary to the Church and people of God, if the great Angel of the Covenant, our Lord Iesus Christ, had pre­cisely forbidden all Swearing; either because in its nature morally and utterly unlawful (which cannot be said without blasphemy, and contradiction to the Law of God of old) or as now become evil and unlawful, because absolutely forbidden by a positive Evangelical command, without any moral reason either alledged or imaginable from any nature of sin. Which false gloss of Christs words cannot be reconciled with the other principles, places and examples, evident and authoritative, in the Gospel; or with that express and signal Oracle of Christ, which is a salvo for all that is morally good, that he came not to destroy any part or tittle of the Law, which had any moral, internal and eternal holiness in it; as being therefore expressed in his revealed will or word, because it is conform to the glory of Gods nature and essence, which all reasonable Creatures ought ever to fear, reverence, adore and admire above all things. As those do, who by religious swearing give glory to God, as the supream Iudge of all men and things, as the searcher of all hearts, and as the infallible dispenser of Iustice. Which sacred celebrations of the Divine Glory and Majesty in solemne Swearing being no way derogating from Gods honour, but highly advancing it in the world, and no way injurious to our selves or others, but advantageous to Justice, Truth, Charity and Peace, cannot be looked upon as abolished or forbidden by Christ to us Christians.

Fourthly,The judgment of all Christi­an Churches and eminent Divines. having thus examined First the occasion and in­tention of our Saviours words, Secondly, the moral nature of an Oath, Thirdly, the Evangelical practise; my Fourth and last work is to justifie this limited sense and Interpretation of our Saviours and the Apostles words, which I have given conso­nant to the practise of the Church of England, by the concurrent judgement of other Churches, and learned Interpreters, both ancient and modern.

[Page 41] Nor that I think any humane or Ecclesiastical authority swayes much, if any thing, with the Quakers, who are most­what strangers to all Learning, and not much to be moved by any such Engine: but only to confute the more evidently their singularity and pertinacy; also to satisfie others of my Countrey-men, that this is no novel Interpretation put upon the words of Christ and his Apostle, whose true meaning the ancient and later Churches might without any vanity be thought to understand, as well as any of this new Generation. And certainly we may with more modesty appeal to, and acqui­esce with conscience in their judgement of places dark and dubious, then listen to any men in later times, who supercili­ously dissent from them all. Doubtless if the Catholick Church hath been a faithful preserver of the Scriptures, it may not be suspected to have been an unfaithful Interpreter of them in any main points of Faith or of Morality, and such as this of sober, serious, reverent and judicial Swearing.

The primitive Christians were not only very cautious of Swea­ring rashly, vainly, falsly; Primitive Christians & Fathers judg­ment. but if they took any Oath, they made such conscience of keeping it, that they would sooner dye, then break it wilfully or basely.

Indeed, in private conversation Christians were then estee­med so strict, exact and cautious of their words in asserting or promising, that there was no need of an Oath among them: yea, they so kept up the sanctity and credit of their profession a­mong unbelievers, that it was security enough in all cases to say, Christians sum, I am a Christian. If any urged them further to any Oath, for matter, or manner, or authority unlaw­ful, they repeated this, as the only satisfaction they could give. There needed no more then the veracity of their bare word. They thought it not lawful for them in such cases to Swear; being in this emulators of the* Esseni among the Jews, of whom Iosephus tells us, that their word was as sure as an Oath; and that they avoided not only all forswearing, but all swearing, or that which brought their fidelity in question, and lessened the reputation of their Sect. Ios. bel. lud. l. 2. c. 7. [...].

[Page 42] Thus Christians, that they might not come short of the Es­seni among the Iewes, Just. Mart. asserit, [...] Plat. [...], Ep [...]et. [...]. Menan. Jurisjurandi fidem nec pro­mittes nec exigas. Fi micus ad Lollianum. Flamini diuli jurare nefas. Plut. Eâ esto probi­tate ut nec Iurato tibi credant. who would not swear but in Judica­ture, or of any men in this pious severity, especially in abstai­ning from all unlawful swearing, did keep themselves from all kind of swearing, especially Heathenish and Idolatrous; their profession and reputation being test enough to their words: Nor did they think any men under Heaven were so worthy as Christians to make good some of the ancient and soberest Heathens dictates in this kind. Such as were that of Menander, so to avoid evil Swearing, as not to swear, though in things just and true. And that of Solon, A good man should have that credit, that no man should believe him the more for his swearing; it being some diminution to his reputation, to be put to swear, or to need an Oath to gain credit. Diogenes Laert. tells us, that the Athenians would not suffer Xenocrates, a man of great integrity and honour, to take his Oath at the Altar, as a thing unworthy of his reputation. Nor did the Romans exact Oaths of their chief Priests; Indignum credentes, viro tanta sancti­moniae sine juramento non credere.

Hence we find some of the Ancient Fathers,Origen. Tract. 5. in Matth. Non oportet ut vir qui Evan­gelicè vivit ju­ret omnino. Chrysost. Hom. 5. Gen. Hom. 19 ad pop. Ant Mat. 5. ad Rom. 7. [...]. Vir bonus non pejerabit, ne Deum Iudib [...]io habeat; sed ne jurabit quidem, ne quando vel consuetudine in perjurium cadat. Lactantius. Evangelica veritas non recipit juramentum. Hieron. Ne facilitate jurandi in perjurium prolabamur. Aust. Ser. In Verba D [...]mini. as Origen, Chry­sostome, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Hilarie, Athanasius, S. Jerom, Theodoret, Lactantius and others, frequently inveighing with­out any limitation or reserve against Christians swearing, as to private conversation: yea and Saint Austin himself, in his Sermon on these words of Christ, adviseth to abstain from cesie and ordinary swearing in cases never so true and ho­nest; lest by wontedness of swearing we get a proneness to swear, even falsly. S. Basil commends Clinias a famous Greek, that he rather suffered a mulct of three Talents, then he would save it by swearing, to the loss of his honour; which he thought caution sufficient for his honesty.

[Page 43] Not that Saint Austin held it unlawful for a Christian in any case of great and weighty concern solemnly to give Oath, Tu autem ma­lum non facis, qui bene uteris juratione; quae si non bona & propter se appe­tenda, tam [...]n ne­cessaria est, ut alteri persua­deas quod uti­liter suades. Aust. as a further ratification of Truth and Iustice; yea he asserts it as lawful, and proves it by those instances of the Apostle Pauls swearing or obtestation in his Epistles which I former­ly produced. Not as if (faith he) Saint Paul had forgot, or were ignorant of the words of Christ; but by his practise he shews us the meaning of them is, only to forbid false and frivolous swearing.

As the graver and eminentest of the Iewes did not deny Oaths of Allegiance to Herod and their Governours (as Iosephus tells us) so neither did the Christians, Joseph. Antiq. l. 17. c. 3. however the zeal of some of the Ancients in their Sermons or Homilies to the people, wholly cry down all customary and vain swearing, especially accor­ding to the wonted forms of Heathenish swearing: as by their Gods, or Emperors, and the like.

So Polycarpus (in the first Century) answered the Prefect, Jura per fortu­n [...]m caesaris, & te dimittam. Resp. Christia­nus sum [...] Anno Christi, 205. Baron. Annal. Tertul. Apol. cap. 31. Jura­mus ut non per Genios caesa­rum; [...]ta per salutem eorum, quae est augu­stior omnibus geniis. Veget. l. 2. Mi­lites jurant per Deum, per Chri­stum, & Spiritum Sanctum, & per Majestatem Imperatoris, se strenue factu [...]os qua praecepe­rit Imperator, nunquam deserturos militiam, nec mortem recusaturos pro Rom. Rep. who promised to dismiss him if he would swear by the For­tune of Cesar; but he refused, affirming, I am a Christian.

In like manner Basilides the Martyr, when the Officers ex­acted an Oath of him, replied▪ It is not lawful for me being a a Christian to swear. So Speratus the Martyr about the same time denied to swear so, because he knew not what the Genius of the Emperor meant.

Tertullian tells us in the second Century, That Christians would not swear by the Genius, or Daemon, or Fortune of Cesar: but by the health or safety of the Emperor they did; because they understood by that, God and the Lord Christ.

And when other Christians did in publick cases swear, being required by Authority: yet the Bishops of the Church were not put to swear: as Basilius a Bishop pleaded for his privi­ledge, when in the Council of Chalcedon he was required to give Oath; the sanctity of his Life and honour of his Order being assurance sufficient for his truth.

The Christian Souldiers, as Vegetius tells us, took Oath in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to obey their Com­manders, [Page 44] not to desert their Colours, and to dye for the com­mon welfare: which was called Sacramentum militare, both be­fore and after Christianity had prevailed in the Empire. And hence the name Sacrament came to be applied to Christian Mysteries, which are special and solemn dedications of them to the true God and Saviour.

In the Nicene Council Arrius with an Oath renounced his here­tical Opinion. Concil. Nicen. So in the Ephesine Council it was ordered that Nestorius should abjure all heterodox and profane Doctrines.Ephesinum.

In the Sixth Synod of Constantinople, Constantinopo­litanum. Gregorius the Librari­an made Oath (tactis Evangeliis) upon the Bible, that he left the Books in the Library such as he found them, without any blotting out, or inserting; which Oath I wish the Romish Ex­purgators had taken and kept, as to their Edition of ancient Church-Authors, Fathers and others.

Athanasius, Athanasius Ju­ramento se pur­ [...]at à calumniis, Apologia ad Constantium. Manu exten­tâ Deum in a­nimam testor, &c. who seems and is very zealous against profane and popular swearing, yet in his Apology to Constantius purges himself by Oath from the calumnies cast upon him by impudent persons, citing for his defence the example of S. Paul.

Nor is it any news to read of Christian Kings and Magi­strates requiring, and Subjects giving their Faith by Oath, in matters civil, sacred and solemn, when the form of Oathes were such as consisted with the truth of Christian Religion, and the honour of the true God: Nor did any Canons of the Church ever forbid such Swearing.

Indeed while Christians lived in persecution, without any protection from the civil Indicatories, there can be no examples of their Swearing after the heathenish manner. But when Chri­stianity and Christians came to be wrapped up in the Imperial Laws, and defended by the Supream powers, and were enabled to vindicate their civil rights in judicial proceeding, they did not think that unlawful which God had of old commanded; Juramentum est Actus [...]. Aquin. which hath a moral, that is, an eternal, good end in it; as an act of trust and appeal, of agnition and veneration toward God, of justice and satisfaction to man, also of private and publick charity, Qui jurat aut ex [...]cratur aut colit eum quem jura [...]. Hieron. as the School-men truly observe, for the ending of con­troversies and taking away of jealousies. Only due circumstances were strictly required, according to the word of God, in judg­ment, righteousness and truth.

[Page 45] Yea we read, of old, some condemned by the orthodox part of the Church (as S. Austin and others tell us) for this error among others, Aug. Ep. 137. that they denied all swearing to be lawful. So did the Samosat [...]nians, and some Pelagians in Syracuse; so the Massilians and Euchites; Bern. in Cant. Hom. 69. so in S. Bernard's days some of the Albigenses: and of later dayes some Anabaptists, and now the Quakers: whether out of policy and art, or simplicity and igno­rance, God knows.

It were as needless as endless (in respect of the Quakers sa­tisfaction,The judge­ment of mo­dern Divines. who do not value them) to produce the consonant judgements of Modern Writers of the Reformed Churches or the Romanists, and the most eminent Divines among them; which may easily be seen in the Harmony of their Confessions, or in their particular Tracts in this Subject (Swearing.) All a­greeing, as in just severity against false, idle and profane Oathes; against all perjury, intentional and eventual:

So they do all assent to the moral good in a judicious and solemn swearing, with due circumstances, upon just occasions, by lawful Call of Authority, in cases honest and true; especially to end controversies, to secure Princes, and preserve the common well­fare in Iustice and Peace. Nor do they think that by any po­sitive Law of Christ all swearing is become now unlawful to Christians (among whom the same end, use, necessity and sancti­ty of Oaths may be and still are to be had, which was once lawful to the Jewes, and used in all Nations) but only that kind of evil swearing which then was become customary, and thought either not sinful, or venial. This is, and ever was for­bidden, as by the Law of God of old, so by the renewed vigor and force of it which Christ restored, after it had been so much depraved by the Pharisaical presumption and popular profane­ness; which imposed rigors where God had laid none, and af­fected liberties where God had given none.

Agreeably, all eminent Writers of the Greek and Roman Church, among the learnedest Papists, Lutherans and Calvinists, Canonists and Cas [...]ists, as well as those in these British Chur­ches, do assert the Authority of lawful Magistrates to require and impose religious Oathes; and the duty of Subjects to obey both God and them in taking them as becomes Christians [Page 46] with due reverence to the Majesty of God, and with fitting obedience to these commands of Superiours, who have their power from God, and are to use it to his Glory. Nor do they disallow even private and spontaneous attestations of God in weighty matters; as to quench the fire of jealousie, [...]. Hierocles. or to purge away an unjust infamy, or to give some such security as justice and charity may require for our own and others goods: as a sober Heathen tells us, [...]. Isocrates. Conclusion. to the just condemnation of Christians, who in trivial affairs venture to prostitute the sacredness of an Oath.

And thus I have with greater prolixity then I intended (my wonted fault and Apology) endeavoured to vindicate the Di­vine and true sense of our Saviours words: First, to remove the crying sin of Swearing vainly, rashly, irreverently, profane­ly, falsly, in small or great matters: Next, to shew the moral end and religious use of Oathes lawful for matter and form; and particularly those required in Judicial proceedings according to the Laws and Customes of England, both Ec­clesiastical and Civil, or common, agreeable to the word of God, and the judgement of the best Christians in all Ages.

Having herein no design, but to give Testimony to that Truth which I believe, to justifie the sanctity of our Lawes, to serve His Majesty, and to do the duty of a good Subject, a good Christian, a good Minister of Christ, and a good Bishop of this Church; dispelling the needless scruples and superstiti­ous fears of these poor people called Quakers, shewing them their safe liberty to obey, and how to escape the Penalties for disobeying the Laws and obstructing Justice by refusing law­ful Oathes.

If my paines and charity may be acceptable to those who are now distinguished by the name of Quakers or Antijurists, or to any of my Country-men, to clear their understandings, to remove their scruples, and reduce them to due obedience, safety and peace, I shall obtain my end; either by redeeming them from the Penalties of the Law, by rectifying their judge­ments, or at least by stopping the contagion of their error and superstition to others in this point; which will not [Page 47] only conduce to mens private, but to the publick Peace, in the due administration of Justice, by the right use of religious Oathes, and to the Glory of the true God, by whose name only men do Swear in judicial proceedings.

I pray God give [...] blessing to my endeavours; that true Religion, Justice and Peace may again flourish in this Church and Kingdom: to which ends I wholly devote this and all my endeavours.


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