OF THE Lavvfulness of the oath OF ALLEGIANCE To the KING, AND Of the other oath To his SVPREMACY.

Written for the benefit of Quakers and others, who out of scruple of Conscience, refuse the oath of Allegiance, and Supremacy.

By Theophilus Brabourn.

Printed for the Author, 1661.

Of the Lawfulnesse of the Oath of Al­leigeance to the King, and of the other Oath to his Supremacy.
Written for the benefit of Quakers, and others, who out of scruple of Con­science refuse the Oath of Alliegance, and Supremacy.

IT is sad and grievous to me to hear, of the distur­bance in the Kingdome, by denying a lawful Oath to the King. It troubles me the more to hear, that many who I would hope are conscientious, are re­ported to be true of their word, just in their dea­lings, & of good life and conversation among men, and I am apt to beleeve it; now of all men in the Kingdome, I would not have Consciencious men to walk offensive to the State, and crosse to the Laws now in force.

I know that in Holland, there are very many of opinion, that it is unlawfull for the times of the Gospell to take an Oath, though it be before a Magistrate: yet the States there are so indulgent to them, as to condescend to their weaknesse: and instead of an oath, to take their word and promise: the which is found by experience (they being conscientious men) to be as true, and they as faithfull to the State in their promises, as other men be in their Oath. But for as much, as it is not an easie matter, to alter the Laws of our Kingdome, I shall do my endeavour, to untie the knots, and take off the fetters, where withall their weak Consciences stand bound.

For this end, I shall do two things: 1. I shall prove that an Oath is lawfull now under the Gospell. 2. I shall answer the objections: and so loosen their fetters.

Argument. I.

I Hold, that an Oath by the Creature is unlawfull, as to swear by the Heaven, Earth, head, &c. But I hold it lawfull to swear by God the Creator in a weighty matter: and thus I prove it: see Heb. 6.16. For men verily swear by him that is greater: and an oath for con­firmation, is to them an end of all strife and controversy. Here St Paul allows of an Oath made by him that is greater, that is by God; and this was in the time of the Gospell. And further, St. Paul saith, that an Oath among men, is an end of all strife and controversie: and so we find it; for the controversie between the Judge and the Pri­soner at the bar, whether he be guilty or not guilty, is determined by an Oath: wherefore to suppose that Christ hath forbidden an Oath, it is not only to make Christ to deny us one necessary means to end our controversies; but also to put us Christians in a worse condition, then the Church of the Jews were in: for they had the benefit of an Oath to end their controversies, but we are denyed it.

But to this Quakers say, that the text speaks of men, saying men verily swear, &c. but say they, we are come out from men, that is from the men of this world; and therefore we are not bound to swear. I reply, 1. By the like reason you may say, we are not bound to be obedient to Magistrates, for we are come out from men. Secondly, We are not bound to promise to bee true and faithfull to the King: for we are come out from men; and yet you will promise to be faithful to the King. Thirdly, Jacob was a godly man, and come out from men, and yet he took an Oath to Laban. Gen. 31.53. And St. Paul was come out from men, and yet he took an Oath, as in the next point I shall shew.

Argument. II

ST Paul lived in times of the Gospell, and yet he took an Oath by God: which sheweth, that Christ did not forbid Christians to swear by God, in Mat. 5.34. See 2. Cor. 1.23. I call God for record to my soul that to spare you I came not to Corinth: See Gal. 1 20. Paul said, Behold before God I lye not; and to the like, Rom. 1 9. and 2 Cor. 11 31. So then an Oath is lawfull in the times of the Gospel.

To this some say, that these are no Oaths, because they are not uttered in the form of an Oath, saying by God. I reply first, if it be no Oath, where there wants the particle by, then there is no Oath in Christs words, Mat. 5.34. Mat. 23.16. For though the words be translated by, as by Heaven &c., yet in the Greek text it is in, as in Heaven, &c. 2 It is not the particle by or in, that makes an oath, but it is the mentioning of the name of God, to be a witnesse to our minds, that the words we speak are true.


QUakers and others say, that Christ hath forbidden an Oath, saying, Swear not at all, Mat. 5.34. This text is that iron fet­ter, whereby their Consciences are so bound up that they dare not take an Oath: but my endeavour shall be by my answers to this text, to break this bond, and loosen this fetter, my answers are these.

1. We may not understand these words of Christ, to forbid all Oathes in the largest sense, so as to forbid swearing by God in a weighty matter, but to forbid all Oaths by the Creatures, as by the heaven, the earth, or the head: my reason for it is because St Paul as hath been proved, swore by God more then once or twice: this St. Paul would not have done, if Christ in this text, Mat. 5.34. had forbidden to swear by God in a weighty matter.

2 The word God is not mentioned in the text; nor necessari­ly implyed: Christ made a large enumeration of forbidden oaths, as by heaven, by earth, by the head, Mat. 5 34. by the Temple, by the gold of the Temple, by the Altar, and by the offering upon it, Mat. 23.16. But not a word of or against swearing by God: surely ther­fore he did not intend to forbid swearing by God: the religious Jews were ever trained up with the use of an oath by God, Deut. 6.13. And did highly honour it as a part of Gods worship: now if Christ know it to be a sin, in times of the Gospel to swear by God, as it was a sin in the prophane Jews to swear by the Creatures, doubtlesse he would have reckoned up this swearing by God as a sin, as well as he reckoned up many sinful Oathes by the Creatures, it must be so, unlesse we should think, Christ was more mindfull of the good, and salvation of the superstitious Jews, then of the reli­gious Jews.

But you will say, though Christ did not mention an Oath by God, yet it is necessarily imployed; because Christ said in general termes, [...]wear not at all: I answ. it is well known by the learned, that gene­sall termes, are not alwaies used in the most large sense, as you may see, Col. 1.23. Rom. 8.22. Ioh. 12.19. and 1 Ioh. 2.2. But I shall insist upon these two texts, Exod. 20.10. On the Sabbath thou shalt do no work, Lev. 16.29. Thou shalt do no work at all; These generall ex­pressions are not to be understood in the most large sense: for ne­cessary works of mercy are excepted: and so though Christ said, swear not at all, yet an Oath by God may be excepted: so there is a generality in Christs words, as swear not at all, by any of the Cre­tures, as Heaven, Earth, Head, Temple, Alter, &c.

3. Quakers and others, do abuse these words of Christ, and so pervert the true sense of them: for they alleage these words, swear not at all: as if a period was put to them, and as if Christ had added no more words to them in that verse, or of that matter: they divide those words they alleage, to the words added to them by Christ: now so to do, is to pervert the sense of Scripture, as when Christ said, Mat. 5.6. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righ­teousnesse. If one should urge the former words only, and leave out the last words added, after righteousnesse: so he might horribly pervert Christ meaning, as if blessednesse were promised to such as are in naturall hunger and thirst: Just so, do they pervert Christ meaning, who urge his former words, swear not at all, but leave out his latter words, by Heaven, or by Earth: for Christ said swear not at all by Heaven, nor by Earth, &c. And so he forbad nothing, but swearing by the Creatures, if you take the words together as Christ spake them: and then an Oath by God is not forbidden by Christ. It is one thing to say, swear not at all, and an other thing to say swear not at all by Heaven, or by Earth, &c. it is one thing not to swear at all, and another, not to swear at all by the Creatures.

Object, Again they object, that St. James saith, Swear not by Hea­ven, nor Earth, nor by any other Oath, Iam. 5 12. I answ. 1 there are two sorts of Oathes, the one by God, the other by the Crea­tures: Now St James may be understood, as Christs was, to forbid only the oaths by the Creatures, for he mentioneth no other oaths then such, as the Heavvn or the Earth as Christ did: 2. By other Oathes, St Iames might understand the other Oathes of the same [Page 5]kind with these two mentioned by him, as by Heaven or by Earth: now here be two Oathes of this kind mentioned by Christ, as by thine head, Mat. 5.36 and by the Temple, and by the Altar, &c. Mat. 23.16. and these Oathes St James forbad, but forbad not that other Oath, by God, which is of another kind.

Oject, Again they object, that Christ said, Let your communicati­on be yea, yea, and nay, nay, whatsoever is more cometh of Evill, or of the Devill, Mat. 5.37. I answ. 1. These words are to be under­stood with Relation to swearing by the Creatures forespoken of: as if Christ had said, yee shall not swear by the Creatures, whereof I spake before, but instead of those Oathes, yee shall use yea, and nay, as no mention was made before of an Oath by God, so this Oath cannot be here implyed: 2. Whatsoever is more then yea, and nay cometh of evill, or of the devill, said Christ: Now though an Oath by God, is more than yea, and nay, yet this Oath never came from the evill one, or the Devil, but from God, Deut. 6.13. To swear by the Creatures is of that evil one or the Devil, and therefore this only is forbidden: 3 St Paul confirmed his speech by mentioning the name of God, 2 Cor, 1 23. which is more then yea, and nay; wherefore Christ intended not by these words, to forbid to name God in an Oath, but to name the Creatures in an Oath; this is the more then yea and nay forbidden. Thus I have I hope loosened the bonds, wherwith many tender Consciences have been tyed up, so that now they may safely swear the Oathes of Alliegance, and Supremacy, and before a Judge to confirm a bond, or in Point of life and death:

Now I shall remove a scruple or two concerning the Oath of Su­premacy: 1 We cannot ascribe to God an higher title then Supre­macy; which is true, but we ascribe to the King, but a Supremacy next under God and Christ; 2 Some say, what if the King command something evill? why then, as when he commands good, we must be obedient actually by doing it, so if he commands evill, we must be obedient passively by suffering: and I beleeve our gracious King, will be satisfied with a passive obedience, in such cases as this.


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