HEAD III.-The Refusing to Swear & Subscribe the many unlawful imposed Oaths, for which many have suffered great Cruelties;
Chiefly that of Abjuration which was the Cause of Several their Suffering to Death, Vindicated.
ANOTHER Great Head of Grievous Sufferings in this fatal Period, hath been, that during this Stated War between Christ and His Enemies in Scotland, He hath no wanted Witnesses, who in their Wrestlings for the Word of God and the Testimony which they held, thought it their duty to refuse all illegally imposed & wickedly required Transactions with His Declared Enemies, and tampering any manner of way with them, in taking or subscribing any of their conscience-cozening Impositions of deceitful & destructive Bonds & Oaths, obtruded by men who have cast off all sense of a Deity or regard to Humanity, upon the Consciences of poor people, to debauch them and cast them down from the only excellency, or integrity, that was left them: Whereby (though they have missed of their design as to some, who through grace have escaped the snares of these fowlers, and in resisting have overcome through the blood of the Lamb) they have prevailed to inveigle the Generality, even of the Professors of this Generation, into such a degree of defection & wretched Compliance with all their snares, that as it Prognosticates universal desolation ineluctable (if it be not prevented by Repentance, as universal as the Compliance hath been) So it proclaims the infamy of the Compliers perjury, as indelible as their perfidy with whom they have complied. The Consideration of which woeful Apostasy, in its various steps by which it hath been propagated & promoted, ought to deter & demur all the fearers of God, that would not partake of its threatened punishment, from venturing any more to come near the brink, or border of such precipices, and paths of the destroyer, when so many have stumbled, & fallen, & been hooked, & snared, & taken; yea not so much as to look near them, lest they be left to follow their look, but to stand aloof from every appearance of Transacting with these Man-Catchers, yea Conscience-Catchers, who are so cunning to ensnare & destroy; as their predecessors, to whose sins & Judgments also they serve themselves heirs, are described by the Holy Ghost Jer. 5. 26.—29. They lay wait as he that setteth snares, they set a trap, they catch men—their houses are full of deceit, therefore they are become great & waxen rich—shall I not visit for these things saith the Lord? Many and manifold have been the snares, traps & gins, laid in the way of Professors of this Generation & Nation, by these Mischief-hatchers, these keen & cunning persecutors, the party now regnant or rather raging, in madness & malice against Christ and all that are Loyal & zealous for His Interest against their Encroachings thereon; Where by they have caught & cozened many out of their Conscience, & have broken the neck of some, the Peace of others, & the heart of not a few. Yea no Nation can be instanced, wherein so many Oaths & Bonds, have been imposed on peoples Consciences, so nauseating for naughtiness & number as well as noxious in their nature, in an Age, as have been in Scotland within these 27 years past; on design to waste all remainder of Conscience, or sense of Religion among people, that so having worn out the awful impression of it, they might introduce what they would, upon a people involved in the same Apostasy with themselves: And either to incorporate all with themselves in the same Combination against the Lord, or to extirpate all Dissenters, who should discover any tenderness of Conscience, in not going along with them in the same excess of riot. And to the end they might have the greater concurrence & countenance, with the help of hells Policy, they contrived them in such terms, as might engage many to take them, and load the Recusants with odious obloquies, either as silly Scruplers, or seditious Schismatics, or Rebels. For this hath been all along their grand project, to Level their designs against Religion, not directly & formally under that notion, but obliquely to the destruction of the Lovers & Professors of it, under the Nick-name of fanatical Enemies to Government. Of these ensnaring Engines levelled to these ends, some have been more patent & open, others more latent & hidden; both have made a prey of people, the last chiefly. For a snare, the more latent & hidden it be, and the more varnished over with the vermilion of pretended honesty & innocence, it is the more dangerous; and will be so accounted by all the Circumspect & Cautious, as in its design more destructive, and in its effects when discovered more dolorous, than that which is more open & manifest. A hook, the braver [showier] that it is busked [wearing a busk, or corset]; and the better that it is baited, the surer and more successful it is to catch the simple fish; if it want its busking, they will not so readily bite at it. In vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird: yet, though this is a Truth, such silly birds have the bulk of us been, such silly doves without a heart, and so senselessly stupefied, as to suffer ourselves to be blind-folded & hood-winked into snares, of such a manifest baseness, as none could be readily supposed might fall into, who did not brutishly abandon all common sense of Reason, besides Religion: As the Test, and Oaths of arbitrary Allegiance, Bands of Conformity & irregular Regulation &c. Some again, and these Alas! too many, have been ensnared with snares of a more smooth, soft, & subtle Complexion, and poisoned with gilded arrows, coloured over with the specious pretexts of the enemies relenting Condescendency & tenderness, stooping now to universal & general terms, obviously thought capable of a very good Construction, and daubed over with the untempered mortar of the frequency of the almost universally unscrupled subscription of very good & Conscientious men, and the rarity of Recusants lying under the reproach of some few, wild, fantastical fools. These well busked hooks have caught many; of which sort have been many banded Indemnities, and easily swallowed Oaths thereunto appended. Though the present indeed is contrived without gins of this sort, and now all these snares of Oaths and Bands are as illegally taken away as they were before imposed; upon the same design, to catch silly fish by other methods; not with hooks as before, but with a large spread net, to hale the whole School to Antichrist’s shore; And to put to proof & practice the vastness of that Leviathan Prerogative of Absolute power, to dispense with all Oaths; especially because, in all of them even the most monstrous, people might think there was some tie Obliging them to maintain the Protestant Religion, therefore to obliterate that, & bury it in oblivion, all now are taken away; But the guilt of them still remains upon the Land, and the grievous Cry of sufferings for refusing them still continues; And therefore the iniquity of them must be looked unto & lamented, and that with an eye to the account & reckoning must be rendered for them, to a Greater Judgment than that of Creatures. But among all these destructive & diabolical devices, there have been none more charming & cheating, than that Cunningly Contrived Oath of Abjuration, as it is called, enjoined to be taken by all within the Kingdom, by a Proclamation about it Representing a late Declaration, emitted by that party whose sufferings I am vindicating (as a Manifesto of their Grievances, and necessities to fall upon severe Resolutions towards their Enemies) under the most odious Character, that the malice of men helped with hells hatred could devise; And requiring all to Abjure it in the most peremptory manner, and under the severest penalty, that ever was heard. This Oath, I say, was contrived with such cunning, and followed with such keenness, that it hath involved more under its obligation, and engaged more to subscribe it, than any other that went before it: because it hath been painted over with such pretexts, as never any before was capable of. The pressing of it hath been so impartial, upon all travelling in the Country &c. And their acceptance of the Pass annexed to it thought so necessary, as without it no business could be gone about. Its subscription so universally unscrupled, even by the Generality of great Professors & Ministers too; the thing abjured represented so odious, as no honest man could refuse to renounce; And the matter renounced, under its best aspect & Construction, esteemed only a paper Declaration, of a party very despicable, wherein the Principles, profession, or Confession of the Church seems no way concerned; and if any way concerned, yet the Concern appearing so small, as few or none durst state their Sufferings upon that head. Yet I believe, if either such as have taken it, or others that may have the temptation of the like hereafter, will impartially ponder it; so much iniquity may be discovered in it, as may oblige the one to mourn in the sense of its sinfulness, and the other to beware of its danger. And so much the rather would I offer this to Consideration, that I know one who was woefully wheedled into it, that found the bitter effects of this poisoned pill in his wounded Conscience, after reflections on the deed, in such a measure that he despaired of ever recovering Peace. And this man had as much, and more to say, to justify his deed, than any that ever took it; having it with all the advantages that ever it could be tendered with: for, being urged thereunto before the Justiciary, he expressly refused to disown that Declaration, and the Principles whereupon it was founded, and told them that it was misrepresented in the Proclamation: And when they yielded to an abstract disowning of it in so far as the Proclamation represents it, or if so be it might be so represented, he gave in a sense in writ, wherein he would take it; shewing that upon supposition the Declaration did assert such things as was represented, he would disown it: And after the sense was accepted as satisfactory, he refused to swear after the ordinary manner, following the Clerks blind manuduction, but behooved to have it written down: And when it was written, with express specification of that Apologetical Declaration, he refused to swear it, till it was altered and corrected, And the Word pretended put in the stead of it: which done, before he subscribed it, he protested it might be constructed in no other sense, than the genuine meaning of the words he delivered in, and that it might not be reckoned a Compliance for fear of his life: yet not withstanding of all this, he lost the Jewel of inward peace, and knew the terror of the Lord for many days. Therefore I shall chiefly insist on discovering the iniquities of this last Oath, called the Abjuration Oath, both because it is the smoothest, and more generally taken than any other, and approven by many that condemns the rest, and the refusing it hath been punished by death, and most illegally pressed upon all, under the penalty thereof, as none of the rest was; And because as all other Oaths successively imposed, were so contrived that the last did always imply & involve the substance of the former, So it will appear that the iniquity of none of the preceding Oaths was altogether wanting in this. But to the end, both the Complication of the iniquities of this Oath may be evidenced, and the Continued strain of all the Oaths (which have also been heads of suffering, though not to this degree) may be discovered; I shall touch somewhat of all the sorts of them, And shew that their iniquity cleaves to this last Oath: And then come to canvass this Oath itself, After I have premitted some General Concessions.
First, In a few Words some General Concessory propositions may be premitted.
1. That Oaths both Assertory and promissory are Lawful, will not be denied but by Quakers &c. It is clear, Swearing is a Moral duty, and so material, that oftentimes it is used for the whole Worship of God Deut. 6. 13. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shall serve Him, and Swear by His Name Deut. 10. 20.—To Him shalt thou cleave & Swear by His Name. The reason is, because by whomsoever we swear, Him we profess to be our God, and invocate Him as witness of our hearts uprightness, & honest meaning in the thing sworn, according as it is understood by both parties, and as avenger if we prove false. Hence every Oath which doth not bind us faster to serve & cleave to Him, is but a breach of the Third Command. Again it is not only Commanded as a duty, but qualified how it should be performed Jer. 4. 1, 2. Where it is required of a people returning to the Lord, to Swear in Truth, in Judgment, and in Righteousness. Hence every Oath which is not so qualified, and does not consist with a penitent frame, is sin. It is likewise promised in the Covenant, that Believers shall speak the language of Canaan, & swear to the Lord Isai 19. 18. every Oath then that is not in the language of Canaan, is unsuitable to Believers, that is to say, Consentaneous to the Word of God, and Confession of our faith. Again, He that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of Truth Isai. 65. 16. and therefore that Oath which is not according to Truth, is dishonourable to the God of Truth. If all the Oaths imposed upon Scotland these many years, were examined by these Touch-stones, they would be found all naught. So giving Bands for security, which for obligation are equivalent to promissory Oaths, are also Lawful materially: but with the same qualifications, otherwise they are sinful.
2. This duty when suitably discharged, truly, judiciously, righteously, in the fear of God, according to His. Will, is in many cases very necessary. Not only in vows, in which God is the party, in matters morally necessary, to keep the righteous Judgments of God, Psal. 119. 106. Nor only in National Covenants for Reformation, and promoting the Interest of Christ, whereof we find many Instances in Scripture, in Moses, Joshua, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, their making & renewing such Covenants by Oath, coming under the dreadful Curse of it if they should break it. And this may make our hearts meditate Terror, for the universal unparalleled Breach of Solemn Covenants with God, that exposes the Nation to the Curse of it. But also in humane Transactions, whereunto God is invocated as a Witness; as in National Transactions, at choosing & inaugurating their Magistrates, for security of Religion & Liberties, as we have many examples in Scripture. Seldom indeed do such bonds hold Tyrants, but it is this Generations indelible brand & bane, that without this they have come under the yoke of ineluctable slavery, and have entailed it upon posterity. As likewise in Contracts & mutual Compacts of Friendship or stricter Association, when Edification or other Satisfaction or security Calls for it, as Jacob sware to Laban, David to Jonathan &c. In which the matter must be clear, & mutually understood, & honestly meant, without (equivocation & mental Reservation, and all ambiguity, as also possible & likely to continue so: for otherwise, it were but a mocking of God & man, to swear a thing we either cannot or will not perform, according to the meaning of him in whose favours the Oath is given. But withal we ought to be sparing in such things, except where the matter of the Oath or Band is weighty & necessary, & not multiply them needlessly upon formality or Custom: for if there were suitable Confidence in one another, there would not be need for so many of these securities. And specially in Relative stipulations betwixt man & wife &c. Where an indissolvable relation is entered into. And in a particular manner, even in things Civil, when we are called thereunto by a Lawful magistrate, for deciding of Contraversies, or our own vindication, or to Confirm our Obligation to some duty, An Oath for Confirmation is an end of all strife, Heb. 6. 16. But always in this the matter must be Lawful, according to the will of God, and true, & certainly known, and also necessary, weighty, useful, worthy of such Confirmation, for the Glory of God, and the good of our Neighbour, that His Holy Name be not taken in vain; for otherwise if the matter be false, God is made Witness of a lie; if uncertain, Conscience Condemns us that we know not, nor care not, what we call God Witness to; if unlawful, then God is called to approve what He hath comdemned, and so to contradict Himself which is horrid Blasphemy. With all which Cases, if we compare & examine all these Delusory Oaths, & hell-devised Impositions on Consciences in these days, obtruded to debauch & ensnare them; Not one of them, levelling all at one design, how smoothly soever conceived, can be taken without a wound & wramp [distortion] to the Conscience.
3. Of all these Cases, only two are applicable to our imposed Transactions with our wicked Rulers, to wit, in the matter of friendly Contracts, or in the matter of Judicial Appearances before them, and Swearing and Banding before them, and to them. In both which, there must be a sort of Confederation with them. In Contracts with them it will not be doubted: And in Judicial submitting to their Authoritative Impositions of such Securities, it is evident, there must be also a Confederation with them, not only in acknowledging their Authority, but in coming under mutual exacted stipulations; wherein, by taking these Oaths & Bands, we give them security of orderly subjection, as members of the Community whereof they are Judges, and get their security of acquittance, and that we shall not be molested nor prosecuted among the Recusants. Now concerning this Confederation, I shall concede in two cases it may be owned, and Consequentially Oaths & Bands may be given to men of their stamp. 1. A Confederation which is more Discretive or Discriminative may be allowed to them; that is, such bargains wherein they and we are kept still divided as two parties, and not under one Incorporation, as in Contracts of Conhabitation, living under them as Tenants, buying & selling, and the like. But we cannot enter into a Confederation unitive with them, which may make us one body or party. 2. A Confederation which is necessary & unavoidable; when either an unavoidable strife or contention doth arise between them & us, whereupon we are compelled to answer in Law, and can no otherwise be decided but by our Oath of Confirmation, which is an end of all strife; or when we are falsely accused of some odious & heinous Crime, as of Murder or Adultery: It is then Lawful & necessary to vindicate ourselves, by giving all these Legal Confirmations that we are free of these things; for otherwise to lie under the imputation of such enormities, were shamefully scandalous to Religion. But we cannot allow any Transactions of this sort, which are elective & voluntary, to make or pursue either peace or pleas with them, when our own Interest or benefit draweth us thereunto, but ere we go to Law or give Oaths & Bonds to and before the unjust and perfidious, and such also as we cannot own as Magistrates, we would rather take wrong & suffer ourselves to be defrauded, as the Apostle adviseth 1 Cor. 6. 1, 7. It was not unlawful, as Expositors shew from that place, for the Corinthians to answer in Law for their own vindication, being pursued by a Heathen, but it was utterly a fault to go voluntarily one with another. And if to pursue a brother was a fault, then much more to go to Law with an Apostate, with whom there should be less meddling. And if to go before the unjust Magistrates, as these Heathen Judges were at Corinth who yet were Magistrates, was utterly a fault, then much more to go before such as have neither rightful nor righteous Authority at all: Which yet must be acknowledged, if we take Oaths & Bands before them; for none can exact these but acknowledged Magistrates. Hence it is apparent, it would be an Elective Confederation with these wicked Usurping Judges, when brought before them to take their tendered Oaths and Bands, not as parties pursued before them, but as transacting with them, with whom as well as before whom we must give these Confirming Securities: And so not only must we acknowledge them to be Gods, among whom the Lord sitteth, whose Holy Name is interposed in such Solemn Transactions, but also we must swear & enter in bands to them as they require. This indeed is necessary when called before them against our will, and accused of horrid Crimes; as was always in the imposition of the Oath of Abjuration audaciously imputed to the Refusers, that they asserted Murdering Principles, and owned it Lawful to kill all that served the King; In such a Case, to declare with the most solemn Asseverations, for vindication of Truth, that we disown not only all such Assertions, but all such thoughts as that it is Lawful to kill all that serve the King, or any that serve him because they serve him, or because they have injured us any manner of way, & to declare our abhorrence of all Murder & Assassinations. But to swear such things to them, when we are altogether innocent, would be a granting that we were legally suspect, by offering a legal purgation. And so all the Subjects of Scotland should take upon them to purge themselves from a suspicion of Murder, which were odious. And to abjure a Declaration as asserting such things, when it asserts no such thing, is a Swearing to a lie.
4. All Solemn Securities of Oaths, or Bonds that are Sacred Promises, are stricti juris [by strictness of law] of most strict & indispensable obligation, as Mr. [James] Durham on the Third Command shews in many cases: No man’s loss or private prejudice can make it void (though we swear to our own hurt we must not change Psal. 15. 4.) Nor indifferency in the matter, if once engaged in (for then our Souls are bound Numb. 30. 2.) Nor deceit of others, if the deceit be circumstantial only, as in the Gibeonites case: Nor the extortion of it by fear or violence, if the matter be Lawful: Nor rashness and sin in the manner, if Lawful in the matter, as with the Gibeonites: Nor another meaning afterwards devised, not according to the Imposers mind, nor our own at first who took it (that’s but a swearing deceitfully Psal. 24. 4.) Nor any good meaning or design in reversing the Oath (Saul was punished for breaking his Oath with the Gibeonites, out of zeal 2 Sam. 21. 2.) Nor though the Oath be conceived by Creatures, (as by the Altar or Temple &c. Math. 23. 20–22. Nor when the thing becomes impossible, if that possibility could have been foreseen or prevented: Nor any other secret meaning, by equivocation or mental reservation, which are abominable: Nor any Dispensation from Pope Or King: Nor any other posterior Oath. None of these things can make an Oath void, but if we have bound ourselves God will require it; for who so despises an Oath, by breaking the Covenant, when lo he hath given his hand be shall not escape, God will recompense it Ezek. 17. 18, 19. They are null indeed & of no force, when they become bonds of iniquity tying to things unlawful or impossible; or when the thing sworn is not in our own power Numb. 30. 5. Or when there is deceit in it, not in Circumstantials only, but in Essentials; Or when it hinders a greater good; when the case Materially altereth; or when the party sworn to relaxeth us. All these do condemn the horrid breach of the Sacred & Solemn League & Covenant, and Confutes the perverting & wresting the words of it in the third Article, as if it did oblige to Allegiance to Tyrants; for in that case the obligation is unlawful, and there is a deceit in essentials, and the case materially altereth (for in the Covenant we are bound to the King, not to a Tyrant) and the party sworn to hath relaxed us long ago, by annulling the Covenant yet all these things prove, that the Covenant is still in force: And that all the Oaths & bonds contradictory to it, are sinful: and yet, though it be sinful to take them, and sinful to keep them, it is nevertheless perjury to break them, especially to them whose erroneous conscience is bound by them, under a Notion of their Lawfulness. And in a special manner, it is here conspicuous, how deceitful a juggle that sinful shift of many hath been, that they could subscribe an unlawful bond under a penalty; As for example, to answer to their Courts, or to go to Church, or separate from the persecuted Meetings of the Lord’s people, under such a penalty, which they thought to pay the penalty would clear them of, as if it were only an Alternative band. The iniquity of this Juggle will appear, if we consider, such Bonds cannot be Alternative: for Alternatives are always disjunctive, binding equally either to this or that; and the one Alternative is no more determinately enjoined by the Imposer, than the other. And so, if these Bonds were Alternative, it should be in the binder’s choice, whether to Answer the Court, go to Church, to separate Meetings; Or pay so much money. But it is not so, for the Stipulation & promise is determinate to the obligation, for which the bond is required, and the penalty is annexed, as a punishment of the breach of that obligation. And that fancy of eluding the bond by paying the penalty, would quite enervate all security among men, in their mutual compacts of that nature; and under that pretense, they might give a satisfactory Compliance to the most wicked imposed obligation imaginable, to subscribe the Turks’ Alcoran [Koran], with a reserved intention only to pay the imposed penalty. Which Reservation is so far from being suitable to that Christian Simplicity the Gospel requires, that it does not answer that Moral honesty that our concern in the good of human Society calls for. Its incumbent on all that expect to Dwell in God’s Holy hill, to have this requisite qualification for one, though they swear to their own hurt they will not change it, and they must be far from swearing deceitfully: And Consequently, if they bind themselves by a promise, which a Christian should be no less tender of than of his Oath, they must keep it. And besides, to condescend that that penalty or fine should be paid, by ourselves or friends in our behalf, were to condescend that these Enemies should be enriched by our own or the spoil of our friends, upon the account of the forfeiture of our promise; which seems such a dishonest & dishonorable thing, that an honest heart would disdain it. And though this should be flouted as foolish preciseness, to choose rather to lye still & suffer in such a case; yet it may be considered that Christ’s Cross, even with reproaches, is always a better Choice, than the works Ease, purchased at any price which is a hire for Christ’s enemies.
5. All Divines and Casuists do grant, that an Oath must be taken in his sense & meaning who tenders it, and in whose favours it is conceived: because Oaths and Bonds are for security, and therefore whosoever would deal honestly & Christianly in taking an Oath, must take in the sense that it is understood by such as impose it: Otherwise the Holy Name of God should be taken in vain, and the swearers & promisers shall deal deceitfully, in frustrating the end of the Oath or bond, and the design of the tenderers thereof. And therefore, as Reason & Religion requires, that all Oaths or Bonds be so conceived and enunciated, that all concerned may understand them, and if there be any doubt how far they bind, the Imposers should explain the same, as Abraham did to his servant: So Conscience requires, that they be always taken in the Imposers sense, and as they discover their sense & sentiments of them, and not according to the meaning that we may think the words Capable of; Nor yet according to the wheedling explications that they may give or allow, which are as deceitful & ensnaring as the things themselves. Nor is it to be looked upon as a favour to get a Liberty to put a sense upon them, contrary to their known meaning; for that is but a Liberty to mock God, to mock others, and our selves too, and nothing but a snare to the Conscience. And to put a Gloss upon printed Oaths or Bonds, which in strict Construction they will not bear, and then to subscribe them in terminis [in the terms] as offered, is not only an entangling ourselves into the bond of sinful Oaths & Bonds, but to stumble the Godly, and harden the wicked in the present, and to mock posterity in future ages; who shall see the Oaths in terminis [in the terms] subscribed, but not the sense they were taken in, See Apolog. Relat. Sect. 14. It is known by manifold experiences that it is dangerous to hearken to their overtures who study to ensnare us, but far more hurtful & hateful to propound overtures to them. For they interpret it a Ceding and giving ground, and when they see a man beginning to yield, then they will seem to be very condescending, even to accept of little at first that they may draw him on to more: like cunning Anglers, sometimes recoiling & drawing back the well baited & busked hook, to invite the poor unwary fish to pursue, and sometimes letting it run away with the hook, when it begins to bite kindly: So when thy find a man offering & ready to accept of Accommodations, they will be very yielding and easy, but with a design to hook him. But Conscience can find no safety at present, nor satisfaction afterwards in accommodations with them. For it is plain to all that are not blinded with Ignorance, or partiality, or a Judicial stroke, that our Imposers are such sons of Belial as cannot be taken with hands, or by the hand; And if we reflect upon the matters upon which these Accommodations are to be offered or accepted, they are not things upon which we may come & go, upon our discretion, as we do with our own particulars, or with Problems to be disputed, or ambiguous propositions capable of different senses; but matters so & so circumstantiate, as do require the positive determinate Judgment of the Conscience, Concerns of Truth & falsehood, duty & sin, which cannot admit of Accommodation, or dispensation, or Reservation, or any other sense than the Imposers and they that state their Inquisition about such things do own, and are observably known to have & maintain about them. Otherwise, all other forged Accommodations are but tampering tricks, juggling with jugglers, deceiving the deceivers, in such a way as does not well consist with the simplicity of the Gospel, or the doves innocency: for what is that but a swearing or promising deceitfully! Psal. 24. 4. a conceiving & uttering from the heart words of falsehood Isai. 59. 13. a false Oath Zech. 8. 17. which are hateful to God, who will be a swift Witness against false swearers Mal. 3. 5. Neither will they be so easily deceived, for they will readily yield to accommodations, or any tolerable sense that we can put upon their snares; for they reckon that a yielding in part, and are glad to find us so far justifying their acts & impositions, as by our offer practically to declare they bear a good sense, and they will come many ways to our hand to get us hooked so.
Secondly, These things being premitted, I shall offer Reasons why it was necessary in point of Conscience, to Refuse all the Oaths hitherto tendered, and Consequently Conscientious Sufferers upon this Account will be vindicated. And first some General Reasons against all of them together, and Then a Word to each sort of them.
1. There is one General Argument, that will Condemn coming in any terms of Oaths or Bonds with that party, that have broken the Covenant, overturned the Reformation, and destroyed the people of the Lord: Because such Transactions with them (as is hinted above) are a sort of Confederacy with the known Enemies of Truth & Godliness, importing a voluntary subjection to them, Compliance & Incorporation with them, as members of the same Community, whereof they are acknowledged to be head. Now all such sort of Confederacy with such malignant Enemies of God and of the Church, is unlawful, as Mr. Gillespie demonstrates in his Useful Case of Conscience, concerning Associations & Confederacies with Idolaters, or any known Enemies of Truth & Godliness. Though Civil Compacts for common Commerce may be allowed, as Abram was confederate with Aner, Eshcol, & Mamre Gen. 14. 13. Jacob Covenanted with Laban by way of Lawburrows [a civil action designed to avoid possible violence between parties] Gen. 31. 44. But Sacred Confederations of this sort, are unlawful from these Arguments. 1. The Law of God condemns them Exod. 23. 32. Thou shalt make no Covenant with them, nor with their gods, they shall not dwell in thy Land, lest they make thee sin against me—Where not only Religious Covenants are discharged in a toleration of their Idolatry, but familiar Conversation also, they shall not dwell in thy Land. If then we must not suffer them, if in Capacity, sure we must far less be imposed upon by them; if we are not to be familiar with heathens, far less with Apostates, that calls themselves Christians: for the Apostle lays much more restraint from communion with them, than with Pagans 1 Cor. 5. 10, 11. The reason of the Law, lest they make thee sin, as long therefore as there is that hazard of sinning, the Law obliges to that caution. So Exod. 34. 12–16. Take heed to thy self lest thou make a Covenant with the inhabitants of the Land—lest it be a snare—but ye shall destroy their Altars—lest thou make a Covenant with them—and they go a whoring after their gods and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons—Here again, all Sacred Transactions are discharged, upon a Moral & perpetually binding ground, and all Toleration is prohibited, and Conjugal Affinity. Such compliance brought on the first desolating Judgment, the flood on the old world (Gen. 6. 1, 2, 3.) when the Godly conformed & incorporated themselves, and joined in affinity with that ungodly crew, from whom they should have separated themselves. Likewise Deut. 7. 2, 3, 4, 5.—Thou shalt make no Covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them, neither shalt thou make marriages with them—for they will turn away thy son from following Me—so shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against yow—but thus shall ye deal with them, ye shall destroy their Altars. Where all Transactions with a people devoted to destruction are discharged, even that of toleration of Malignant enemies; according to which precept, David resolveth to destroy early all the wicked of the Land, and cut off all wicked doers from the City of the Lord Psal. 101. 8. Mark this All, of what degree or quality so ever, without respect of persons. And lest it should be thought this is meant only of these seven Nations there enumerate, the Law is interpreted by the Spirit of God of many other Nations; where Solomon is condemned for joining in affinity with other wicked people, besides these 1 King. 11. 1, 2. So that it is to be understood generally: against Confederacies with all, to whom the Moral ground is applicable, & the danger of ensnaring the people of God. It is clear likewise, we must have nothing to do with the wicked, but to treat them & with them as enemies Psal. 139. 21, 22. with whom as such there can be no Confederation; for that supposes always the enmity is laid aside, but that can never be between the Professors of Religion and the professed Enemies thereof: but that must always be the language of their Practice, Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, for the Lord hath heard me Psal. 6. 8. The command is peremptory & perpetual, for sake the foolish, Prov. 9. 6. make no friendship with them, Prov. 22. 24. Say not a Confederacy to them Isai. 8. 12. Where it is clear from the opposition in that Text, betwixt Confederating with the wicked and the fear of God, that the one is not consistent with the other. There is an express discharge to yoke or have any fellowship with them 2 Cor. 6. 14. to the end—for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?—what Concord hath Christ with Belial?—wherefore come out from among them and be separate—2. Many fad & sharp reproofs for such Transactions & Confederations, do conclude the same thing Jud. 2. 1, 2, 3.—Isaiah—ye shall make no league with the Inhabitants of this Land, you shall throw down their Altars, but you have not obeyed my voice, why have you done this? Wherefore—I will not drive them out from before you—It cannot be expected, the Lord will drive out these enemies, if we swear subjection & Allegiance, & come under Confederations with them; for thereby we contribute actively to their settlement & establishment, and bring our selves not only under the misery, but the guilt of strengthening the hands of evil doers. So Jer. 2. the people of God are reproved, for making themselves home born slaves; how? by outlandish Confederacies vers. 18. Now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria?—The Chaldee Paraphrase hath it, Nunc ergo quid vobis contrahendo Societatem cum Pharaone rege Egyptiorum?—& quid vobis percutiendo faedus cum Assyria.—What have you to do to Associate with Pharaoh King of Egypt? and what have you to do to make a Covenant with the Assyrian? So may we say, what have we to do to take their Oaths & Bonds, that are as great enemies as they were. Ephraim is reproved for mixing himself among the people Hos. 7. 8. by making Confederacies with them; what follows? he is a Cake not turned, hot in the neither side, zealous for earthly things, but cold & raw in the upperside, remiss in the things of Christ. And this we have seen in our experience to be the fruit of such bargains, or bonds, or Oaths, that they that were engaged in them, have always in some measure fallen from their former fervor for Christ. Nay we shall find, that such Transactions are seldom or never recorded in the Book of God without a reproof, or some greater Mark of God’s displeasure put upon them; which doubtless is set purposely as beacons, that we may beware of them. And therefore. 3. We may take notice of many disallowed & condemned examples, on which the Lord sets marks of wrath, as Ahab’s Covenant with Benhadad, 1 King. 20. 32. to the end: Asa’s Covenant with Benhadad, which the Prophet calls a foolish deed 2 Chron. 16. from begin. to vers. 10. proceeding from an evil heart of unbelief; as all such Transactions are over-awed Compliances. Jehoshaphat’s with Ahab hath the same Censure, though he kept himself free of Ahab’s Idolatry, and Ahab seemed to have been penitent before he joined with him, and his relation to him was very near, the enemy of both was an Infidel, the cause was good to recover a city of refuge, the manner of his proceeding was Pious consulting the Prophets, and his end good; yet all this did not justify that wickedness, related 2 Chron. 18. and reproved 2 Chron. 19. 2. Jehu the Prophet is sent to him, Should thou love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. After this, when he joined himself with Ahaziah, who did very wickedly, the Lord brake his works 2 Chron. 20. 35. to the end: which made him afterwards mend his fault, for he would not again join with him, when he sought the like Association 1 King. 22. 49. So Amaziah’s bargain with the Israelites, when the Lord was not with them, is condemned by the Prophet, admonishing him to disjoin himself from them 2 Chron. 25. 7–10. And Ahaz his bargain with Tiglath-Pilnasser the Assyrian 2 Chron. 28. 16. &c. is plainly disallowed. 4. The complaints, Confessions, & Lamentations of the Lord’s people, mourning over this sin, demonstrate the evil of it Ezra, 9. 14. Should we again break thy Commandments, & join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldst not thou be angry with us, till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? Psal. 106. 35. They were mingled among the heathen and learned their works. All these commands, Reproofs, Examples, & complaints, are written for our learning; and being seriously laid to heart, will sufficiently scare all the fearers of God, to Join but stand aloof from all compliances, conjurations, or confederacies with the enemies of God, directly or indirectly, formally or interpretatively, for fear of partaking of their sins and receiving of their plagues. I insist the more largely on this Argument, both because it will conclude that for which these proofs are adduced, to condemn all bonding or bargaining with Malignant Enemies; And because it will vindicate the aversion of this poor persecuted Remnant, from associating in expeditions of war, with promiscuous subverters & perverters of the cause, on which it were not so proper to my purpose to dilate any discourse in a distinct head, while I must confine myself only to the heads of Sufferings. Only because it may be Objected, and it will be profitable to consider it, that these Scriptures disprove only voluntary & elective confederations with the wicked, but cannot condemn necessitated subscriptions of Lawful Obligations, when the matter is not sinful; Nor come they home to the case of Prisoners, who are constrained to transact & treat, and have to do with the men in power: Otherwise, if all bonds were unlawful, then Prisoners might not procure Liberty for longer or shorter time, upon bond & bail to answer again when called; Which yet is generally approven, and practiced without scruple, and seems not to want a precedent in Scripture, in that Jason gave such security Act. 17. 9. I shall therefore subjoin here some considerations, by way of Answer to this. 1. These Scriptures disprove all Covenants Exod. 23. 32. All confederacies Isai. 8. 12. all concord or agreement with the men of Belial 2 Cor, 6. 15. and, without distinction of voluntary or over-awed Transactions, all Unitive agreements of whatsoever sort are discharged, and can no more be restricted to the particulars there specified, as if any other Covenant, confederacy, or concord might be Lawful that were not a joining in Marriage, an associating in war, or communion in Worship with them, than the Moral grounds of these Prohibitions can be so restricted: for the hazard of sin & snares, the hurt of faithless fears, from whence they flow, and the hatefulness of such unequal Conjunctions, which are the grounds & reasons of these Laws, as may be seen in these forecited places, cannot be restricted to the particulars specified. But now all the tendered Oaths & Bonds of our Adversaries, when subscribed as they require, yea even those Transactions of Prisoners for procuring their Liberty, on terms of engaging to re-enter themselves according to agreement with their persecutors, are Unitive Covenants or Conditional agreements, giving solemn securities for their respective obligations, upon terms wherein both parties accord: for these bonds are given to them, and not only before them, as was said. They are confederacies of the Subjected, seeking the peace & favours of their superiours, which when over-awed are sinful to be made with wicked Enemies of Religion, as well as when unconstrained, for Ahaz his transaction with the Assyrian, was forced out of fear, and yet it is called a sinful confederacy, not to be homologated by any of the fearers of the Lord Isai. 8. 12. They are concords and agreements with the unrighteous sons of Belial, and not about common matters, but matters wherein Religion & Righteousness are nearly concerned: Can any think that these Commands are given with exception of Prisoners? And that if any Israelite was Prisoner to these Nations, he might make a Covenant with them for his Liberty, upon an engagement to render himself Prisoner to them again? Then he might give bond to God’s devoted enemies, to bind up his hands from prosecuting the war with them, which all Israel was obliged to do: for if they might Covenant subjection to them, then it would have been their sin to rebel, as it was Zedekiah’s sin to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, because it was breach of Covenant: And so there might be a case, wherein the Israelites, notwithstanding of all these Prohibitions, would bee obliged not to destroy, nor break down their Altars, to wit, if they made such a bargain with them for their Liberty, to surrender themselves as their subjects. Now we read, many times they were brought under subjection, and that as a punishment of their leaguing with them, and yet they broke the yoke, when they cried unto the Lord, and never submitted any longer than they were able to deliver themselves. Whence it is plain, that they never bound themselves to such subjection by Oath, bond, or promise, for that would have been no mercy which was purchased by Treachery. 2. It is a voluntary compact with the men in power, to procure Liberty upon bond to answer again, and cannot be called necessitated; or if it be, it is but a necessitated sin. It must be voluntary, because it is an act of the will, and the will cannot be forced; It’s the Consent of the will, and the Consent cannot but be voluntary, in so far as it is a Consent; and by this, whereas before their so procured Liberty they were prisoners by Constraint, now when they must return to prison, they are prisoners by Consent: It’s the prisoner’s Choice, whether he will come out upon these terms or not, and every Choice in so far as it is a Choice, is elective & voluntary: It’s put to the man’s choice whether he will continue under the Cross, and continue his Testimony for the cause, or surcease from it for a time, the Latter in the case is chosen. It’s the prisoner’s desire and petition, to transact with them in these terms for Liberty without which no benefit of any such bond can be procured, and every desire is voluntary. Yea it is a formal Compact & Capitulation with them, binding & obliging these bonders by their own word & writ, at least to be at their Call & Command, not by Compulsion & force now, but by the Moral obligation of their own compact: Now every such compact is voluntary. And therefore, if all voluntary Covenants, Confederacies, & Agreements be discharged in Scripture, then this bond of Comperance also must be discharged. The Judgment of famous Mr. [Samuel] Rutherfoord, of a draught of a petition to have been presented to the Committee of Estates, by those Ministers who were prisoners in the Castle of Edinburgh, will confirm what is said: we find it in the Third part of his Letters Numb. 63. where are these words, ‘I am straitened as another suffering man, but dare not petition this Committee. 1. Because it draws us to Capitulate with such as have the advantage of the mount, the Lord of disposing for the present, and to bring the matters of Christ to yea and no (yow being prisoners, and they the powers, is a hazard.’ 3. This Agreement with the Enemies for Liberty, upon these terms, is sinful. For it is not only an acknowledgment of a wicked power, in owning & transacting with them as Judges, who can free them and bind them as prisoners by Law, which is disproved above: But it is a binding themselves over to a pacqued [packed], perverse, & Law-perverting Judicatory, not as prisoners by forcible constraint, but a willing consent, acknowledging the Legality of their imprisonment, and obliging themselves to observe it when demanded: yea it is a Covenanted & bonded obedience to a wicked Law; for it is a wicked Law, to exact from a Sufferer for Truth, his re-entry to prison, for no crime but his duty. As also it is a justifying of a wicked sentence, for it is a wicked sentence, that an innocent man shall return to prison when they please; which is justified when they bind themselves to obey it. This is nowise like a man’s going to the Gibbet on his own feet; for the man does not bind himself to do that, neither is it exacted of him as an obedience to a Law, nor is it given forth as a part of his sentence, Only he chooseth it for his own ease: But if all these did concur, it were unlawful for a Martyr for Righteousness to obey such a Law, or voluntarily to submit to such a wicked sentence. Neither is it of any pertinency to urge, that it is Lawful for a man to submit so far to a Robber, as to bind himself to return to him against such a day with another purse to him: For this is a necessitated bargain, to give what a man hath and promise more to save his life, and is like a man’s casting his goods out at sea to save the ship; The other is not so but elective: This is only a Choice of the least of two evils of suffering, but the other is a choice of one of two evils which is sin, which cannot come under a Christians election at all: This is a compact with the Robber, which is still discretive, and nowise unitive of the Robber & him, in any bargain of concord or confederacy or acknowledged subjection, only a passive surrender to his greater force as an enemy; But the other is unitive, as between Rulers & Ruled: This is not any obedience to a Law, nor is the man’s purse required to be given or promised under that notion, as the other is, I shall here also subjoin some more of that foresaid Letter of Mr. Rutherfoord’s, In the 2 place, says he, ‘A speaking to them in writ, and passing in silence the sworn Covenant & the cause of God, which is the very present Controversy, is contrary to the practice of Christ and the Apostles, who being accused or not accused avouched Christ to be the Son of God, and the Messiah, and that the dead must rise again, even when the Adversary misstated the question;’ Now plain it is, that neither in the bonds nor petitions, is there any word of the cause or Testimony suffered for. 4. As it is sinful, so it is very scandalous in several respects; in that at least it hath the appearance of evil, which Christians should abstain from 1 Thes. 5. 22. and seems to be a voluntary subjecting themselves to their Impositions (at least of that to return to prison again) a willing acknowledgment of their unjust Usurpations; a spontaneous consenting to their Mischiefs framed into a Law, & exacted under the Notion of a Law; A gratifying of the enemies of Religion, and pleasing them more than anything a prisoner can do, except he should wholly deny the cause; and therefore chiefly always this overture is most acceptable from those that durst give any Testimony, because they look upon it as some indication of their fainting or falling from it, or of their wearying of the Cross of Christ, of which they are very glad; And an offending and making sad the hearts & condemning the practice, of some truly tender & zealous Confessors of Christ, who have had strong temptations to make such transactions, and durst not yield so far for a world; yea it is certainly an Argument of faithless fear, & impatient wearying of the Cross because of the fury of the Oppressor, which the Lord taxeth, when the Captive hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail, which is a dishonour to Him who hath promised to bear their charges, and hath given them many encouragements to trust, that He will open a door in His own time & way, see Isai. 51. 13, 14. Of this Rutherfoord addeth in that forecited Letter, ‘Silence of the cause of God which Adversaries persecute, seems a tacit deserting of the cause, when the state of the Question is known to beholders, and I know the Brethren intend not to leave the cause. And a little after, says he, The draught of that petition which yow sent me, speaks not one word of the Covenant of God, for the adhering to which yow now suffer, and which is the Object of men’s hatred, and the destruction whereof is the great work of the times; and your silence in this nick of time) appears to be a not confessing of Christ before men, and you want nothing to beget an uncleanly deliverance, but the profession of silence:’ which is professed by all, that petition for such a bond, when their address & transaction speaks no more in favours of the cause, than if they denied it. It is plainly a coming out of prison without a Testimony, which cannot consist with faithful & zealous suffering for Christ, and is far from the choice of Christ’s Witnesses, who overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of their Testimony, recorded Heb. 11. 35.—who were tortured not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 5. As it is Scandalous, so it is very inconvenient & unsuitable for the Confessors of Christ. In that not only they may be ignorant, and much troubled to know, what underhand dealings their friends may use sometimes to procure that Liberty without acquainting them, and how odiously their Act of deliverance may be worded & registered to the prejudice of the cause, which they dare not testify against afterwards when they do know it, for fear of many inconveniencies. But also it cannot be vindicated from being a dishonourable shifting, and putting off, or casting off the Call of a Testimony; and confessing either an inconstancy, or impatience or unreadiness, or want of resolution, to confess or profess the Testimony for Christ, without some respite to gather new defenses for it: Whereas Christ’s Witnesses should be ready always to give an Answer, to every man that asketh them, a reason of the hope that is in them 1 Pet. 3. 15. And besides they involve themselves into the incumbrances of a doubtful suspense about the event, whereas if they keep their first resolution & condition with cheerfulness, aloof from such bargains, they know the utmost they have to fear or hope from men. But now, as it is Hard for them to come off without some sinful engagement, and to continue any measure of faithfulness when they are out, for fear of being soon called again; so they bring themselves into many sad difficulties, how to behave, and cast themselves into many temptations unavoidably. However except of late, a precedent of this practice can hardly be instanced among the Sufferers of Christ in former times, but on the contrary many have refused such offers. I shall only name one; In the persecution of Queen Mary of England, Dr. Sands Prisoner at London, had the offer of Liberty, upon the terms of such a bond, finding bail to appear when he should be called, but refused it absolutely; and when a Gentleman without his knowledge, having procured it by giving a thousand pound Bond for him, brought him forth and required his consent and observance of the obligation, he would not consent to give any security, and denied his resolution to observe it in the least; whereupon the Gentleman very courteously told him, he would stand to his hazard. This was far more like the innocency of the dove, but this new prudence resembles more the wisdom of the serpent. Finally as for Jason’s business, which is so much harped upon by these Bonders. (1) These were Rulers that he had to deal with all, and not raging Tyrants (2) They were indifferent Arbiters between Jason and the Lewd fellows that troubled him, and not both Judge & party; he gave no security to his persecutors, as these Bonders do, but to the true Judges of the cause, who impartially took cognizance of it, from whom Jason might & did expect right (3) This was before he was Prisoner, being as free as his accusers, and having the Law as free for him as it was for them; whereby he could vindicate himself and abide the Law, and be absolved by it: which does not answer the case of Prisoners, actually engaged in & called to a Testimony for Christ, when there is no Law but what is established in opposition to Christ. (4) In the Original it is, when they got satisfaction from him, that is, when he so cleared himself, that they could not fasten any transgression upon him, then they absolved him.
2. All these Oaths & solemn Securities that have been imposed in these times, are dreadful & heinous breaches of the Third Command, by taking His Name in vain in the worst sort, whereby the takers cannot be holden guiltless. For it is impossible such Oaths & Bonds; however they be constructed, can ever be taken with these requisite qualifications necessary to be observed in all Oaths (and consequently in all Solemn promises or Bonds) that are mentioned once for all Jer. 4. 2. where one that sweareth must do it, in Truth, in Judgment, & in Righteousness. 1. They cannot be taken in Truth, which is a necessary qualification in all Oaths; according to the definition of a true Oath; Which is, a Solemn Invocation of God, for Confirmation of some true. Lawful, grave, and weighty, Useful, & worthy business, wherein He is attested & appealed unto, that He, as the only Searcher of hearts, may give His Testimony to the Truth of the thing, and punish the Swearer if he swear not in Truth. And this Swearing in Truth does import & require, both Sincerity of the heart, filled with Reverence and the awful apprehension of a present God; And Simplicity of the mind, well informed of the genuine meaning of the Oath, that we have clear uptaking of it, and take it not implicitly but with our own understanding; And also singleness & honesty of the intention, that it be not to deceive, by putting any other sense than the imposer hath, or will allow when he understands it: So the meaning must be clear, and such as may be obviously gathered from the Words, and according as they are supposed to be understood by others, especially them that exact the Oath; for if they mean one thing and we another, God’s Name is profaned, and the end of the Oath frustrate, and so all equivocations & mental reservations are condemned; As all Divine treating on Oaths teach, and worthy Mr. Durham particularly, on the Third Command, who Asserts, ‘that though we could devise some other meaning, that might seem to make for us; yet if that was not meant at first tendering, but otherwise understood by him that did take it, it will not absolve from the guilt of perjury; for an Oath is stricti juris [of strict law], and will not admit on any respect or account of interpretations, prejudicial to the Native Truth of it, lest it should be found to be (according to Psal. 24. 4.) a swearing deceitfully.’ And afterwards he says, ‘Much less will it exempt a man from guilt, that in swearing he had a meaning of the words, contrary to what in common sense they bear, and in the construction of all indifferent persons sine juramento [without oath] or extra [beyond it], but it should be plain, single, & clear.’ And [David] Pareus saith in Catech Urs. Part. 2. quest. 102. Sancitum est Iuramentum, ut sit vinculum veritatis inter homines, & Testimonium quod Deus sit Author & Defensor veritatis. ‘An Oath hath the Divine Sanction, that it might be a bond of verity among men, and a Testimony that God is the Author & defender of Truth,’ Now none of these Oaths & Bonds can be taken in Truth; for if they may be safely taken in any sense: it must be such as the Oath in the design of the Imposers cannot bear, and which the Imposers never intended, nor would they ever have allowed, if they had understood it; which industriously the Takers have a care they should not understand, and so they must take it in that sense cum animo fallendi [with a mind to deceive] which cannot be in Truth, but most derogatory both to the Truth & simplicity of the Gospel. And they are all unclear & ambiguous, which cannot be taken in Truth, because they have no Truth in them, as Dr. Sanderson saith De Jur. Promiss. Oblig. Prael. 6. §. 10. ‘a Proposition of an ambiguous & indefinite sense, before the matter be distinguished, is not a true proposition; yea nor a proposition at all: for a proposition, as its definition cleareth, should signify either a truth or a falsehood, without any ambiguity: And therefore, says he, such Oaths should be suspected, that there is some deceit lurking, and every pious & prudent man should refuse them, offered under such terms,’ cited by Apol. Relat Sect. 10. Pag. 118. & Sect. 14. Pag. 267. In fine, None of them can be taken in Truth: since they are all a denying the Truth, as will be evident by the induction of all of them; Which how it can consist with the fear of God, or sincerity of the heart, cannot be imagined, and if conscience be called in to Judgment it will condemn the taking them. 2. They cannot be taken in Judgment, that is, with knowledge & deliberation; minding & understanding what it is we swear or subscribe, as Mr. Durham explains it in the place above cited. For first, they cannot be taken in Judgment, because they are all ambiguous, the terms of them being capable of diverse senses, not explained by the Imposers. And if they were explained in their sense, then they could not be taken in Righteousness; And so at best they are uncertain: And that is dreadful, to invoke the Majesty of God to be a Witness to uncertainties, for that is to swear with an evil conscience & contempt of God, to dare to call Him in as a Witness of that which is in suspense, whether it be Truth or a lie; And such a swearer must make it a matter indifferent, whether he make God a Witness of a Truth or of a lie in the case. Vide Pareum Loc. supra citat. Pag. 654 Sect. 4. Dr. Sanderson ubi supra, gives these reasons further against all ambiguous Oaths: because of him who tendereth the Oath: ‘for the proper end of an Oath is, that he in whose favours it is taken should have some certainty of that whereof he doubted before, but there can be no certainty out of words which have no certain sense: Next, because of him who sweareth, who if he take such an Oath in these terms, either stumbleth his neighbour, or spreadeth a net for his own feet; for to what else should such collusion tend, but either that by our example others may be induced to take it, whereby they are stumbled; Or that afterwards, by virtue of that Oath, something may be required of us, which is either unlawful or hurtful, and this is to lay a snare for ourselves! Therefore let every prudent man beware of suffering himself to be deceived by these wiles, and of thinking so much either of the favour or of the ill will of any other, as to swallow the bait under which he is sure there is a hook: It is expedient, that in the matter of Oaths all things be done aright, and that the sense be clear to all, and that is jurare Liquido, to swear with a clear conscience.’ Apol[ogetical]. Relat[ion]. Pag. 267. But next, they cannot be taken in Judgment; because they are all imposed and extorted under a severe penalty, and some of them of death, and so must be taken out of fear. Such Oaths are by many famous Divines judged unlawful, especially Public Oaths imposed by Authority, and under colour of Law; these are worse than a man’s private Oath given to a Robber, for fear of Death, if the matter be unlawful: for, whether the matter be Lawful or unlawful, such Oaths coacted, exacted, & imposed by Law, cannot be taken in Judgment; for if they be taken out of respect to the Law, then it is the persons suffrage to the equity of that Law, and an approbation of the imposition; Which in the present case cannot be done, by any man of conscience, for whether the Oaths be Lawful or not, the Authority imposing them is naught, and the Law wicked and can never be approven; And if they be extorted out of fear, then they cannot be taken with deliberation, or voluntary & unviolented choice, unconstrained light or liberty, which are all the ingredients of Judgment. 3. They cannot be taken in Righteousness, that is according to the Law of equity as well as piety, neither wronging God nor others by our Oaths. Lawful Oaths should be in themselves vincula aequitatis [ties of equity], as well as veritatis [truth]. And Pareus saith loco supra citato, Juramenta licita tantum ea sunt—quae suscipiuntur de rebus veris, certo cognitis, licitis; possibilibus, gravibus, necessariis, utilibus, dignis. ‘Lawful Oaths are only these which are engaged into about things true, certainly known, lawful, possible, weighty, necessary, useful & worthy.’ And if that be true, then are all the Oaths & Bonds taken these many years, but fetterings into bonds of iniquity; which when the consciences of the Takers will reflect on them, will become Galls of bitterness, and found to have none of these qualifications, but on the contrary to be about matters false, uncertain, unlawful, impossible, frivolous, fruitless, useless, & unworthy, to the worst degree of baseness; and which is worst of all, dreadfully sinful, and horrid to be thought on to interpose the Name of God upon, making Him the Approver of what His Soul hates, and a Witness of that which He will be an Avenger of, as will appear by the particular consideration of all of them.
3. Let it be considered, that though (as the pleaders for these transactions do impertinently allege) the same words in other cases might be subscribed in a more abstract sense, as being capable of a good construction: yet Complexly considered in the form & frame of all the Oaths & Bonds we have been troubled with, they cannot be subscribed in any sense; and if in any, that must be the Imposer’s sense, which in them all is always pernicious. 1. They cannot be taken in any sense though never so good, if we consider the absolute illegality of their arbitrary imposition. It will be confessed that Oaths should be very tenderly imposed upon consciences, not only lest the Name of God be prostitute to profanation, in matters light & trivial, or dubious & uncertain; but lest a Tyrannical Jurisdiction be exercised over the Souls of men, which are not subject to any power that Mortals can claim. So it cannot be denied, but that the Constitution of our Government requires, and Reason as well as Religion says it is necessary, that no Ruler hath right to enjoin an Oath which is not first enacted into a Law; And it was always accounted a good plea for refusing Oaths, when there was no Law for them; And some have been charged with Treason, for exacting Oaths without a Statute ordaining them: Which might be brought in as a Charge against all the Imposers of Our Oaths, the most part of which have been exacted & extorted without any colour of Law; some of them being never ordained by any Act of Parliament, and others of them before they could obtain such a Mischief framed into an Act for them, and all of them neither ever legally administered nor righteously enacted, by such who had power to make Acts; for as for the pacqued [packed] Parliaments that made them, no conscientious Man could ever own such a Company of perjured Traitors, to be their Parliamentary Representatives. Yet abstracting from that, I say, the Oaths that have been imposed without and against Law could never be taken in any sense, without consenting to their treasonable breach of Law, for which they have forfeited their lives to Justice, whenever there shall be a Judicatory to revise their administrations: And these that have been imposed by a pretended Law, could never be taken without justifying of that Law that ordained them, which hath been nothing but a mischief framed into a Law by a Throne of iniquity. 2. They cannot be taken in a good sense, with a safe conscience; considering either what is plain in them, or what is more ambiguous. What is plain and capable but of one sense, that is always either constraining to a clear Sin, to renounce some part of the Covenanted Reformation, in profession or practice; Or Restraining from a clear duty, that we should not do that which we may or ought to do. There is nothing in all of them plain but what obliges to one of these two. Again what is ambiguous in them, as it ought to be refused for its ambiguity; so when it is explained according to the Imposers mind & meaning, the sense will be found always pernicious, though the words may be plausible. As when they require an obligation to Allegiance, or Loyalty, or peaceableness, or Orderliness, and other smooth words signifying excellent things in an abstract Notion, these will be found to carry quite another sense, if we inquire into the Imposers meaning, in which only Oaths & Bonds must be taken. The only way to find out their meaning, is to consider either their Acts or Actings, or their designs & intentions, as they are discoverable by any man of Prudence or consideration. If we consult their Acts or Actings, practically & only legally explaining them, for a commentary; then by Allegiance, we can understand nothing else but an owning of their Absolute Tyranny; by Loyalty, nothing but an absolute & implicit Obedience of their absolute Commands, without reserve (as the late Proclamation for the Toleration expounds it) by peaceableness, nothing but a stupid subjection to them, letting them do what they please without resistance or control; and by Orderliness, nothing but a disorderly Compliance & Conformity with them, in going along with the Corruptions & Defections of the time, for their Acts & Actings expound them so. If we consider their designs & intentions, according to which they are all uniformly calculate and equally levelled; He is blind who hath not seen, they have been driving all this time at these designs (to which all these Oaths & Bonds have been adapted & successfully subservient, and by which they have been promoted to the present pass) to overturn gradually all the degrees of our Covenanted Reformation, to establish Tyranny and advance it unto greater degrees of Absoluteness, and to introduce Popery & slavery; So that by Allegiance & Loyalty, can be meant nothing else but an obligation to own & obey, and never to oppose the design of advancing Tyranny; And by Peaceableness & Orderliness, nothing else can be intended, than an obligation never to oppose either the present Settlement, or future establishment of Popery & arbitrary power, upon the ruins of the Reformation and our Civil & Religious Rights & Liberties. Whence, they that can take these Oaths & Bonds in any other sense, and plead for the inoffensiveness of the terms, in a more abstract notion, and sense alleged more legal, without regard to that of the Imposers practically explained by their administrations, and so looking more to the briberies of their blinded reason and worldly Interest, than to the Dictates of conscience, please themselves with such notions & quibbling evasions, do but Mock God, deceive the world, elude the enemies, and delude themselves. And all these debatings for Accommodations & Expositions in another sense, are but foul fairdings [colourings] of conscience-beguiling Compoundings in, and pitiful priggings [stealings] for, a base Compliance. But it is usual for a guilty Son of Adam to sow fig-leaves.
4. Let it be considered, that all these Oaths & Bonds that the Land hath been debauched with these 27 years, are all condemned by and contradictory to anterior binding Orders, the Acts of the General Assembles, requiring no Oaths in the common cause to be taken without the Churches consent, as was cleared in the Historical part, upon the fifth Period pag. 82. And that especially they are condemned as being contradictory to, & violatory of prior Oaths of continuing indispensable Obligation; being designed, pressed, & imposed on purpose to delete the same out of the minds & memories of the present Generation: I mean the National and Solemn League & Covenants, and other former Nationally binding Public Engagements. Which, because they are not only broken & burnt, but declared Criminal to be ouned, and because the owning of their obligation is ordinarily inserted in the Indictments of our Martyrs, I must touch upon them more particularly. It was cleared above Head. 1. Arg. 11. from the Form, the Object, and from the Ends of the Covenant, which are all Moral and of indispensable obligation, that it is of perpetual and unalterably binding force, obliging the present and all future Generations, as well as that which did first come under the bond of it. And to confirm this, I shall add more particularly these many consideration. 1. The National Engagements are National promises, plighting & pledging the Nations publick faith, for the preservation & propagation of Religion & Liberty, to succeeding posterity; which if succeeding Generations may reverse, then the faith of men, and the faith of Nations, can be of no force above a century of years; nay nor after the decease of them that personally made the promise: And so every new Ruler, every new Parliament, yea every person coming up to succeed the Father in any Capacity, might be free not to stand to it, which were very absurd. Certainly that promise of the Jewish Nobles & Rulers, not to exact Usury of their Brethren, but to restore & not require it of them, did not only oblige themselves, but would bring their posterity under the curse, if they should exact the same debt there remitted Neh. 5. 12, 31. And does not a National promise of preserving the Reformation, bind as much to the curse of the breach of it? 2. They are National vows, avowing & avouching and devoting themselves & their posterity to be the Lord’s people, and to keep His Statutes & promote His Interests; which do bind the posterity. Jacob’s vow at Bethel, that the Lord should be his God Gen. 28. 21. did oblige all his posterity, virtually comprehended in him; He found Him in Bethel and there He speak with Us, saith the Prophet many hundred years after Hos. 12. 4. The Israelites vow, to destroy the Canaanites, did oblige all their posterity Numb. 21. 2. Not only by virtue of the Lord’s Command, but by virtue of their vow; as we are obliged to preserve the Reformation, not only by virtue of the Lord’s Command, but by virtue of our Covenants. Vows are bonds to the Soul, which must stand Numb. 20. 2, 4. And whereas it is said, that as a woman’s father or husband might disannul her vow, and so the Magistrate might abrogate the Covenant: Besides the impertinency of this Comparison, as might be easy to demonstrate, it may be refelled [refuted] by giving & not granting that he might do so; yet if the father & husband shall hold their peace, then all her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand vers. 4, 7. but so it was, that the Supreme Magistrate did give his Consent to the National Covenant, and the Successor did swear the Solemn League & Covenant, and received the Crown on the terms thereof, to preserve & promote Religion & Liberty; and therefore her vows must stand, they cannot be made void afterwards; for it is a snare to devour that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry Prov. 20. 25. So we find the Rechabites were obliged to observe the vow of their forefather Jonadab. Jer. 35. 6, 14. And if the father’s vow obliges the Children, shall not the Nations vow oblige the posterity? 3. They are National Oaths which do oblige posterity: Esau’s Oath to Jacob, resigning his birth-right, did oblige his posterity never to recover it Gen. 25. 33. Joseph took an Oath of the Children of Israel, to carry up his bones into Canaan, Gen. 50. 25. which the posterity going forth of Egypt in after ages, found themselves straightly sworn to observe Exod. 13. 19. and accordingly buried them in Shechem, Joshua. 24. 32. The Spies swore to preserve Rahab alive and her house, Joshua. 2. 12, &c. which was without the Consent of the Magistrate, and yet Joshua found himself obliged to observe it Joshua. 6. 22. Moses swore unto Caleb to ensure him an inheritance Joshua. 14. 9. and upon this ground he demands it as his right vers. 12. which he could not do, if Successors might reverse their Predecessors’ Lawful Oaths. The Lord will in a special manner resent & revenge the posterities breach of the Oath of their fathers Covenant Ezek. 16. 59. Thus saith the Lord God, I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the Oath in breaking the Covenant, which was the Covenant of their fathers. 4. They are National Covenants, wherein King, Parliament, & people do Covenant with each other, for the performance of the respective Duties of their several stations, either as to the work of Reformation, or as to the preservation of each others mutual Rights & Privileges: So that they are National Covenants made by men with men; and these we find do oblige the posterity. Israel’s Covenant with the Gibeonites did oblige the posterity Josh. 9. 15, 19. and for the breach of it many ages after the posterity was plagued 2 Sam. 21. 1. Zedekiah was bound by his Predecessors Covenant, though it was such as made the Kingdom base, yet in keeping it, it was only to stand, Shall he break the Covenant & be delivered? Thus saith the Lord, as I live, surely mine Oath that he hath despised, and my Covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. Ezek. 17. 12, 14, 15, 19. The Apostle says even of human Covenants, Though it be but a Man’s Covenant yet if it be confirmed no man disanulleth or addeth thereunto Gal. 3. 15. that is, cannot do so Lawfully, much less can one man disannul a Nation’s Covenant. 5. They are National Attestations of God as a Witness, for the perpetuity as well as fidelity of these Sacred Engagements. All such Covenants, wherein the Holy Name of God is invocated as Witness, are owned of God as His (hence the Covenant betwixt David. & Jonathan is called the Covenant of the Lord 1 Sam. 20. 8. and Zedekiah’s fault was the breach of the Lord’s Covenant Ezek. 17. forecited. So likewise that Covenant mentioned Jer. 34. 8, 9, 10. wherein the Princes & People did swear to let their Hebrew Servants go free, is called God’s Covenant. vers. 18. and upon this account sorer Judgments are threatened vers. 19, 20. And I will give the men that have transgressed my Covenant, which have not performed the Words of the Covenant which they had made before me—into the hands of their enemies. Certainly this did oblige the posterity, at least not to recall these Servants, and it was always Morally obliging. So our National Covenant, sworn with hands lifted up to the Most high God, being materially also binding, cannot be abrogated by the posterity, except the Lord renounce His Interest in them; as long as the Witness liveth then, who claims them as His, they cannot be made void. Especially considering. 6. They are National Covenants made with God, as the other party Contracting, in the matters of God, which none can dispense with, or grant Remissions in; and therefore they must perpetually bind, until He loose them. And if even the posterity break them, the Lord will make them that hate them to reign over them, and He will bring a Sword upon them to avenge the quarrel of His Covenant, Levit. 26. 15, 17, 25. Such were all the National Covenants of the Lord’s people renewed by Joshua, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, for the breaches of which the Lord plagued the posterity. It was for breach of their fathers Covenant with God, that the ten tribes were carried away Captive 2 King. 17. 15. &c. We have already experienced the threatened Judgments for Covenant-breaking, and may look for more. 7. They are for their matter National Covenants about things Moral objectively, obliging to join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual Covenant that shall not be forgotten. Jer. 50. 5. I might easily demonstrate all the Articles of the Covenant to be Morally obliging, but they are demonstrate sufficiently above Head. 1. Arg. 11. Therefore they are perpetually binding. 8. They are for their Ends National Covenants inviolably obliging: which cannot be made void, though they should be broken, because the ends of them are always to be pursued as is proved above Head. 1. Therefore they are perpetual. 9. They are for their formality National Covenants, most Solemnly Sworn & subscribed by all ranks, with uplifted hands, with bended knees, with solemn invocating the Name of God, with solemn preaching, prayer, & praise, rendering themselves and the posterity obnoxious to the Curse if they should break it. Now the Solemnities of the Oath do aggravate the heinousness of the breach of it, as is clear from Jer. 34. 19. Ezek. 17. 18. quoted above: the reason is, because of their greater deliberation in the action, and because of the greater scandal accompanying the violation thereof. Hence as they are National Oaths & Covenants so solemnized, they are National Adjurations under the pain of a National Curse, not to break them Nationally; Which do make the posterity obnoxious to it: as Joshua adjuring Israel, saying, Cursed be the man that riseth up and buildeth this City Jericho. Josh. 6. 26. Which was fulfilled many generations after, in the dayes of Ahab, upon Hiel the Bethelite 1 King. 16. Ult. So the Curse of introducing abjured Prelacy, and Popery, if it be let in, will be impendent on the Nation. All National Covenants have a Curse annexed, in case of a breach whenever it shall be: So in Nehemiah’s Covenant, they clave to their Brethren, & entered into a Curse, and into an Oath, to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the Servant of God, and to observe & do all the Commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His Judgments & Statutes, particularly not to enter into affinity with their Malignant enemies Neh. 10. 29, 30. Which certainly did oblige the posterity, because the thing was Moral, So in our Covenants we are bound to the same things, and nothing but these: And therefore the posterity is liable to the Curse of perjury for the breach thereof. 10. They are for their Legality, National Laws, being Solemnly Ratified by the Parliament and by the King, and made the foundation of their Compact with him at his Inauguration; whereby they became the fundamental Laws of the Government, and among the very Leges & regulae regnandi [laws & rules of governing]: which, though they be rescinded by a wicked Law, yet make the Rescinders chargeable not only of Perjury, in breaking a Covenant, but of Treason & Tyranny in breaking and altering the Constitution of the Government; and render them liable to the Curse thereof: for they cannot rescind that, nor escape its vengeance: whereof we have a speaking pledge already, in that the Rescinder of these Covenants was so terribly rescinded, and cut off by the hands of unnatural violence; God thereby fulfilling that threatened Judgment of Covenant breakers, that he that hath broken His Covenant shall be brought to destruction, and bloody & deceitful men shall not live out half their days. Psal. 55. 20. ult. So Charles the Second got not leave to live out half the days, that he projected to himself. 11. They are National Engagements of an Hereditary Nature, like that of Israel Deut. 29. 14, 15. which did oblige not only the present, but the absent, not only them that stood there that day before the Lord their God, but them that were not there that day. Grotius de jur. Bel. Lib. 2. cap. 6. gives these Marks of Hereditary Covenants (1) When the subject is of a permanent Nature, and as long as manet idem Corpus: therefore as long as Scotland is Scotland, whose people in their personal Capacity, whose Parliaments in their Parliamentary Capacity, whose King in his princely Capacity, did all solemnly & Sacredly engage in the Covenant, it must be real & perpetually obliging. (2) when there is such a Clause in the Covenant as that it should be perpetual: There are many Clauses in the Solemn league to this purpose, in Art. 1. are these words, that we & our posterity after us may as brethren live in faith & live and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us: in the 5. Art, we shall each one of us according to our place & interest endeavour that the Kingdoms may remain conjoined in a firm peace & union to all posterity. (3) when it is such as is made for the good of the Kingdom: The Covenant expresses its end for the perpetual good of the Kingdom, having before our eyes the Glory of God, the advancement of the Kingdom of—Christ, the honour & happiness of the King & his posterity, and the true public Liberty, Safety, & Peace of the Kingdoms; wherein every ones private condition is included: and again it is added, for preservation of our selves & our Religion from utter ruin & destruction. All this is a public National good. (4) The matter is Moral, about materially binding duties, and therefore it must be hereditary and of perpetual obligation. 12. Lastly, They are National obligations, taking on public duties, by way of virtual Representation of the posterity. And they that think it irrational, that the father should represent & involve the family, must resolve us how the Religious & Civil Covenants of Israel & Judah made in Moses, Joshua’s, David’s, Asa’s, Joash’s, Hezekiah’s, Josiah’s, & Nehemiah’s days, did comprehend & bind as well the absent as the present, & their posterity, yet unborn; as also, how the Laws & Contracts continually passed by some do take in others, not personally consenting; yea how comes it to pass, that every succeeding generation is bound to the Laws, and must be obedient to the Kings, that they did not make themselves; no reason can be given, but because they are virtually represented by & included in their fathers. Now if these Arguments prove our National Covenants to be perpetually binding and cannot be dispensed with, then must these posterior Oaths that are made in a diametrical opposition to the Covenants, and are condemned by the Covenants, be false & unlawful Oaths: But the first is proved: Therefore these Oaths so opposite to & condemned by the Covenants are false & unlawful. That they are opposite to the Covenant, will appear in the induction of all of them. And that, whatever they be imposed by this party, they are condemned by the Covenants, wherein we are obliged to make no such Transactions with them, will appear if we consider these and the like expressions, ‘that we shall neither directly nor indirectly, suffer ourselves to be divided, by whatsoever suggestion, allurement, or terror, from this blessed Conjunction, nor shall cast in any let or impediment that may stop or hinder any such resolution, as shall be found to conduce for so good ends.’ Which are the Words of the National Covenant [1580/1 renewed in 1638 with legal proofs], clearly condemning Oaths & Bonds given to Malignants, which are divisive of them that adhere to, and Unitive with them that oppose the Covenant, and impeditive of resolutions to prosecute the ends thereof. So in the Solemn League & Covenant Art. 4. We are obliged ‘to oppose all such as make any faction or parties amongst the people, contrary to this League & Covenant:’ but by these Oaths & Bonds such factions are made &c. And by Art. 6. we are obliged ‘to assist & defend all those that enter into this Covenant’ (contradicted by all the later Oaths & Bonds) ‘and not to suffer ourselves directly or indirectly by whatsoever combination—to be divided—from this blessed union—whether to make defection to the contrary part, or to give ourselves to a detestable indifferency &c.’ Which we do, when we divide ourselves from these that refuse these Oaths, and makes defection unto the party that impose them. And in the Solemn Acknowledgment of sins & Engagement to duties, We are sworn §. 6. ‘to be so far from conniving at, complying with, or countenancing of Malignancy, Injustice &c. that we shall not only avoid & discountenance these things &c. but take an effectual course to punish & suppress these evils.’ All which we counteract & contradict, when we take any of these Oaths or Bonds.
In the Second place, by a Particular induction of the several kinds of these Oaths & Bonds, the iniquity of each of them will appear; and the Complex iniquity of the smoothest of them, the Oath of Abjuration compared with every one of them, will be manifest. And consequently the honesty & innocency of Sufferers for Refusing them, will be discovered.
I. The first in order, which was a Copy to all the rest, was the Declaration, ordained to be subscribed by all in public Charge, office or Trust within the Kingdom: Wherein they do affirm & declare, ‘they judge it unlawful to Subjects, upon pretense of Reformation or any other pretense whatsoever, to enter into Leagues & Covenants, or take up arms against the King—and that all these Gatherings—petitions, protestations—that were used—for carrying on of the late troubles, were unlawful & seditious;’ And particularly that these Oaths—the National Covenant—and the Solemn League & Covenant, were and are in themselves unlawful Oaths. Here is a Confederacy required against the Lord, at which the Heavens might stand astonished; an unparalleled breach of the Third Command. Which could no more be taken in Truth & Righteousness, than an Oath renouncing the Bible: but it hath this advantage of the rest; that it is somewhat plain, And the iniquity legible on its front. 1. That it is a renouncing of Solemn & Sacred Covenants, perpetually binding to Moral & indispensable duties, the wickedness whereof is evident from what is said above. 2. It makes perjury of the deepest dye, the necessary sine qua non qualification of all in public Office: who cannot be presumed capable of administrating Justice, when they have avowed themselves perjured & perfidious, and not to be admitted among heathens let be Christians, nor trusted in a matter of ten shillings money, according to the Laws of Scotland. 3. It renounces the whole Work of Reformation, and the way of Carrying it on, as a Pretense and trouble unlawful & seditious: Which if it be a Trouble, then the Peace they have taken in renouncing it, must be such a Peace as is the plague of God upon the heart, filling it with senselessness & stupidity in His just Judgment, because of the palpable breach of Covenant; or such a Peace, as is very consistent with the Curse & vengeance of God, pursuing the quarrel of a broken Covenant. 4. It condemns the taking up arms against the King, which shall be proven to be duty Head 5. Besides, that hereby the most innocent means of seeking the redress of Grievances, that Religion, Risings, Law, & practice of all Nations allows, is condemned. Yet in effect, for as monstrous as this Oath is, the Complex of its iniquity is couched in the Oath of Abjuration; in which many of these Methods of Combinations, Risings & Declarations of war against the King, and Protestations against his Tyranny, which were used in the late Troubles for carrying on the Reformation, are abjured; in that a Declaration is renounced in so far as it Declares war against the King, and asserts it Lawful to kill them that serve him: Which yet, in many cases in the Covenanted Reformation here renounced, were acknowledged & practiced as Lawful, besides that it hath many other breaches of Covenant in it, as will be shewed.
II. The next Net they contrived to catch Consciences, was the Oath of Allegiance & Supremacy: Wherein they that took it, ‘for testification of their faithful obedience to their most gracious & redoubted [revered] Sovereign, Charles King of Great Britain—do affirm, testify, & Declare—that they acknowledge their said Sovereign, only supreme Governour of this Kingdom, over all persons, & in all Causes; And that no foreign Prince—hath any jurisdiction, power, or superiority over the same; and therefore do utterly renounce all foreign power—and shall at their utmost power defend, assist, & maintain his Majesty’s] jurisdiction foresaid—and never decline his power.’—The iniquity of this Oath is very vast and various. 1. It is a Covenant of Allegiance with a King, turned Tyrant and enemy to Religion, Subverter of the Reformation, and overturner of our Laws & Liberties; and therefore demonstrate to be sinful both from the first General Argument against Oaths, and from Head. 2. 2. It cannot be taken in. Truth, Righteousness, or Judgment: because the words are general & very comprehensive, and ambiguous, capable of diverse senses: when he is affirmed to be supreme over all Persons and in all Causes, and to be assisted, & maintained, in that jurisdiction. Who can be sure in swearing such an Oath, but that he may thereby wrong others, wrong Parliaments in their Privileges, wrong the Church in her Liberties, and which is worse, wrong the Lord Jesus Christ who is Supreme alone in some Causes? Can an Oath be taken in Truth & Righteousness, to assist him in all encroachments, upon Causes, that are not subordinate to him? and in invading all those Privileges of Subjects, which are Natural, Civil, Moral, & Religious? for if he be supreme in all Causes, then all these depend upon him & be subordinate to him. And can it be taken in Judgment, and with a clear mind, when it may be debated & doubted (as it is by some) whether the obligation of it is to be considered, as circumstantiate & specificate to the present Object of it, supposing him a Tyrant? or in a more abstract notion, as it might be tendered in the sense of its first Authors, as it was taken in King James the 6. his days, And as they plead for taking the English Oath of Allegiance, as it was accepted by the Puritans in Queen Elizabeth’s days, whether it obliges to a King in Idea, and in a more general consideration, as one who is said never to die? Or with reference to such an one as we have, a mortal man, and an immortal enemy to all those precious Interests, for preservation of which he only received his Kingship? Whether it must be taken in that of the Imposers, practically explained by their administrations? or in any other sense, alleged more Legal? These would be clear, before it can be taken with the due qualifications of an Oath. 3. As for the Civil part of it or Ecclesiastical, no other explanation needeth to be inquired after, than what they give forth in their Acts on record: The Act of Supremacy (to be seen in the Historical Representation of the Sixth & last Period pag. 111. senses the Ecclesiastical part of it: And the Act for acknowledgment of his Majesties prerogative does sufficiently sense, explain, & expound the Civil part; Declaring, ‘That it is inherent in the Crown, and an undoubted part of the Royal prerogative—to have the sole choice & appointment of all Officers of State—the power of calling, holding, & dissolving Parliaments, and all Conventions & Meetings of Estates—the power of Armies, making of peace & war, treaties & leagues with foreign Princes or States, or at home by the subjects among themselves—and that it is high treason in the subjects—upon whatsoever ground, to rise—in Arms—or make any treaties or leagues—among themselves, without his Maj. Authority first interposed thereto; That it is unlawful to the subjects, of whatsoever quality or function, to convocate—themselves, for holding of Councils to treat, consult, or determine in any matters Civil or Ecclesiastic (except in the ordinary Judgments) or make leagues or bonds upon whatsoever colour or pretense, without his Maj. special consent—That the league & Covenant, and all treaties following thereupon, and acts or deeds that do or may relate thereunto, are not obligatory—and that none—should presume, upon any pretext of any Authority whatsoever, to require the renewing or swearing of the said league & Covenant &c.’ Whereby it appears, that all this screwing up the prerogative to such a pitch, is by the Oath of Allegiance to defend all this jurisdiction justified; and so, these palpable encroachments on the privileges of the Scots Parliaments, that, by the fundamental Constitutions of the Government, always had a share in making Laws, and Peace & War; These robberies of our Natural privileges of defending our selves by Arms, in case of the Kings Tyranny & oppression, and of Convocating for Consultations about the best means thereof; And these Invasions upon our Ecclesiastical privileges, in keeping General Assemblies for the affairs of Religion Pro re nata [as needed by circumstance], always strenuously contended for as a part of the Testimony; yea all these rescindings, repealings, and condemnings of the Way & Manner, Methods & Measures, of promoting the Covenanted Reformation, are by this Oath explained & by this Act acknowledged to be parts of that supremacy & Jurisdiction to be defended & maintained: As likewise, by many wicked Acts since promulgated, which promote the Supremacy to a vast degree of Absoluteness, which all do interpret what that Supremacy is which is sworn to be maintained, to wit, pure Tyranny established by Law. See the many grievous Consequences of this laid out at large, in Apol. Relat. Sect. 10. 4. Here is absolute Allegiance sworn to an Absolute power, Paramount to all Law, engaging to faithful obedience to their Sovereign, as Supreme over all Persons and in all causes—and to defend, assist, & maintain his said jurisdiction, and never to decline his power; there is no restriction here on obedience, nor Limitation on the power, nor definition of the Causes, nor circumscription of the cases, in which that assistance &c. is to be given, whether they be Lawful or not. Now absolute allegiance to an absolute power cannot be sworn by any man of Conscience, nor owned by any man of reason, as is proven Head. 2. Arg. 6. It cannot be Lawful in any sense, to swear such an Oath to any Mortal, nay not to a David nor Hezekiah: because to swear unrestricted & unlimited Allegiance to any man, were a manifest mancipating of Mankind, not only to an Ass-like subjection, but to a servile obligation to maintain & uphold the Persons & Government of mutable men, be what they will, turn to what they will; it is known the best of men may degenerate: And by this no remedy is left to redress ourselves, but our heads, hearts, and hands all tied up under an engagement to defend, assist, & maintain whosoever doth hold the Government, manage it as he pleases. This reason will also conclude against the English Oath of Allegiance, though it be a great deal more smoothly worded, and seems only to require a rejection of the Pope and legal subjection to the King; yet that comprehensive Clause makes it border upon absoluteness, I will bear faith & true allegiance to his Maj[esty’s] heirs & successors, and him and them will defend to the uttermost of my power, against all Conspiracies & attempts whatsoever. There are no Conditions here at all, limiting the Allegiance, or qualifying the Object; but an arbitrary imposition of true Allegiance and defense, in all cases, against all attempts (even that of repressing their Tyranny not excepted) not only of their persons but of their Dignities, if this be not an illimited Allegiance to an absolute power, I know not what it is. 5. Here is an acknowledgment of the Ecclesiastical Supremacy resident in the King: which is the most blasphemous Usurpation on the prerogatives of Christ and privileges of His Church, that ever the greatest Monster among men durst arrogate: yea the Roman beast never claimed more; And in effect, it is nothing else but one of his Names of Blasphemy twisted out of the Popes’ hands by K. Henry the Eight, and handed down to Q. Elizabeth, and wafted over to & James the 6th. for that was the Original & conveyance of it. The iniquity whereof is discovered above Head. 1. Arg. 3. But further may be aggravated in these particulars (1) It is only a change of the Pope but not of the Popedom, and nothing else but a shaking off the Ecclesiastical Pope, and submitting to a Civil Pope, by whom Christ’s Head-ship is as much wronged as by the other: And hereby a door is opened for bringing in Popery (as indeed by this Stratagem it is brought now to our very doors) for by the Act of Supremacy he hath power to settle all things concerning Doctrine, Worship, discipline, or Government, by his Clerks the Bishops, having all the Architectonic power of disposing, ordering, & ordaining these, as he in his Royal wisdom thinks fit. (2) By this, Church & State are confounded (whereof the Distinction is demonstrate above) making the Magistrate a proper & Competent Judge in Church matters, not to be declined; whereby also he hath power to erect new Courts, Mongrel-Judicatories, half Civil half Ecclesiastic, which have no Warrant in the Word. (3) By this, many palpable & intolerable encroachments made upon the Liberties & privileges of the Church of Christ are yielded unto; as that there must be no Church Judicatories or Assemblies, without the Magistrates consent, but that the power of convocating & indicting Assemblies do belong only to him, and the power of delegating & constituting the members thereof, that he may dissolve them when he pleases; that his presence or his Commissioners is necessary unto each National Assembly; that Ministers have no proper decisive suffrage in Synods, but only of advice; that the Church Judicatories be prelimited, and nothing must be treated there which may be interpreted grating upon the prerogative, nor any thing whatsoever but what he shall allow & approve, without which it can have no force nor validity; yea by this a door should be opened unto the utter destruction & overthrow of all Church Judicatories, seeing he is made the fountain of all Church power. (4) By this, the Magistrate is made a Church member as he is a Magistrate, and so all Magistrates as such are Church members, even heathens. And yet (5) By this he is exempted from subjection to the Ministry, because they are made accountable to him in their administrations, and in the discharge of their function are under him as Supreme. Yea (6) By this the Magistrate is made a Church Officer, having the disposal of the Churches Government. And not only so, but (7) By this he is made a Church Officer of the highest degree, being supreme in all Causes, to whom Ministers in the discharge of their Ministry are subordinate. And so (8) By this the Church of the new Testament is made imperfect, so long as she wanted a Christian Magistrate, wanting hereby a Chief Officer; yea and the Apostles did amiss in robbing the Magistrate of his power (9) By this the Magistrate might exerce [exercise] all Acts of jurisdiction, immediately by himself; seeing he can do it as supreme by his Commissioners in Ecclesiastic affairs. (10) Finally By this Oath the King is made the head of the Church, being supreme over all persons & in all Causes, unto whom all Appeals & references must ultimately be reduced, even from Church Judicatories. Those things are only here touched they are more apodictically [incontestably demonstrated] confirmed above, and may be seen made out at large in Apol. Relat. Sect. 12. But I proceed. 6. It is contrary unto the Solemn League & Covenant; into whose place after it was broken, burnt, buried, & rescinded, since they have remitted the subjects allegiance by annulling the Bond of it, they substitute & surrogate this in its place: And therefore none can comply with the surrogation of the second, except he consent to the abrogation of the first Oath. All the Allegiance we can own according to the Covenant, stands perpetually & expressly thus qualified, viz. in defense of Religion & Liberty, according to our first & second Covenants, and in its own nature must be indispensably thus restricted: Therefore to renew the same, or take an Oath of Allegiance simply, purposely omitting the former restriction, when the powers are in manifest Rebellion against the Lord, is in effect a disowning of that limitation, and of the Sovereign prerogative of the Great God, which is thereby reserved; and as much as to say, ‘whatever Authority command us to do, we shall not only stupidly endure it, but actively concur with & assist in all this Tyranny.’ See Naph. Prior edit. Pag. 177. 178. Vindicated at length by Jus Populi. chap. 11. By all this the iniquity of the Scot’s Oath of Allegiance & Supremacy may appear, and also that of the English Oath of Allegiance, even abstract from the Supremacy, is in some measure discovered; though it is not my purpose particularly to speak to that: yet this I will say, that they that plead for its precision from the Supremacy annexed, seem not to consider the full import of its terms; for under the dignities, superiorities, & Authorities, there engaged to be upheld, the Ecclesiastical Supremacy must be included; for that is declared to be one of the dignities of the Crown there, as well as here; and hither it was brought from thence. And therefore those Scots men that took that Oath there, and plead that though the Oath of Allegiance in Scotland be a sin, yet it is duty to take the Oath in England, seem to me to be in a great deceit; for the object is the same, the subject is the same, the duty expected, required, & engaged into is the same, and everything equal in both. Yet all this iniquity here Couched, is some way Comprehended in & implied by the Oath of Abjuration: for the Civil part is imported, in abjuring a Declaration, for its declaring war against the King; Where it is clear, he is owned as King, and all part with them that declare war against him being renounced, it is evident the Abjurers must take part with him in that war, and so assist & defend him; for being subjects, they must not be neutral, therefore if they be not against him they must be for him, and so under the bond of allegiance to him: The Ecclesiastical Supremacy is inferred from that expression of it, where some are said to serve him in Church as well as in State, which implies an Ecclesiastical subordination to him as Supreme over the Church.
III. The Tenor of some other Bonds was more smooth & subtle, as that of the Bond of Peace; several times renewed & imposed, and under several forms; but always after one strain: engaging to Live Peaceably, Whereby many were caught & cheated with the seeming fairness of these general terms: but others discerning their fallaciousness, refused and suffered for it. This in the General is capable of a good sense: for no Christian will refuse to Live Peaceably, but will endeavour, if it be possible, as much as lieth in them, to Live Peaceably with all men Rom. 12. 18. that is, so far to follow Peace with all men, as may consist with the pursuit of holiness. Heb. 12. 14. But if we more narrowly consider such Bonds, we shall find them Bonds of iniquity. for. 1. They are Covenants of Peace, or Confederacies with God’s enemies, whom we should count our enemies, and hate them because they hate Him Psal. 139. 21. It is more suitable to answer, as Jehu did to Joram 2 King. 9. 22.—What Peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy Mother Jezebel, and her witchcrafts are so many? than to engage to be at Peace with those, who are carrying on Babylon’s Interest, the Mother of harlots & witchcrafts. 2. This cannot be taken in Truth, Judgment, & Righteousness, because of the fallacy & ambiguity of the terms: for there are diverse sorts of Peace & Peaceableness; some kind is duty, some never. It must then be rightly qualified, for we can profess & pursue no Peace of Confederacy with the enemies of God, not consistent with the fear of the Lord, otherwise we cannot expect to have the Lord for a Sanctuary, but for a stone of stumbling Isai. 8. 8. 12–14—No Peace obstructing the Gospel or Testimony, or abstracting from the duty of the day; No Peace tending to sinful security Jer. 8. 11. No Peace leading to slavish stupidity; No Peace prompting to preposterous prudence, in palliating sin, or daubing defections with untempered mortar; No Peace inconsistent with Truth; they must go together Zech. 1. 19. No Peace that may not be followed with Holiness Heb. 12. 14. But it must be so qualified, that it be in the Lord, in Truth, in duty, contributing for the good of the Church Psal. 122. 8, 9. and the fruit of that Wisdom, which is first Pure and then Peaceable. Jam. 3. 17. Now all that know the Imposers of these Bonds, will acknowledge that is not the Peace they are seeking. 3. If we further enquire into their meaning of Living Peaceably, and seek a determinate sense of it from their Acts & Actings, It is plain they mean such a Peaceable Living, as gives obedience to their wicked Laws, and is a Compliance to their established Courses: And it must be such a Peaceable living, as is opposite to their sense of Sedition, Rebellion, Schism, &c. Which they interpret every seasonable duty to be: And it must be such a Peaceable living, as they were presumed not to have been observant of before: and whatever it be, must be opposite to that with which they were charged as turbulent, and so contrary to all the duties of our Covenanted profession, as going to meetings, withdrawing from the Curates &c. Which they interpret not to be Peaceable living. 4. This is contrary to our Covenants, which oblige us to a constant contending with and opposition to them. Yet all this is engaged into in the Oath of Abjuration, which abjures all war against the King, and all doing injury to them that serve him, and consequently to Peace & living Peaceably with them.
IV. Of Affinity to this were many other Bonds of Regularity, frequently renewed & generally imposed, and that with unparalleled illegality & rigour; Sometimes by hosts of Savage Highlanders; Sometimes by Circuit-Courts, and by Heritors upon their Tenants, and with such unheard of involvements, that the Master or Heritor was obliged for himself, his Wife, Children, Servants, Tenants, and all under him, to live Orderly: Which in some was more bluntly expressed, in others more flatly explained, that they should keep the Public Ordinances, that is, hear the Curates, and not go to any Seditious Conventicles (so they called the Persecuted Meetings of the Lord’s people for the Worship of God) and in others yet more impudently exacted, that they should not harbour, entertain, or correspond with any that went to these Meetings, but discover and assist to the apprehending of them. There were several forms of them from time to time, some longer some shorter; but all of them, first & last, were to the same sense & scope. And the most favourably worded had much wickedness in them: for. 1. They are Covenants of Order, and coming under the same Rule with themselves, which is nothing but their lusts & Mischiefs framed into Law, not according to the Rule of the Word of God, but the iniquitous Laws of men. 2. They could not be taken in Truth, Judgment, & Righteousness: for either they were ambiguous, or their plain sense obliged to manifest iniquities, to conform with all their enacted corruptions. 3. They are clear breaches of Covenant, which obliges to another Kind of Orderliness, and to follow other Rules, and take none from them in the Matters of God. 4. They are impossible, and absurd; obliging Masters to bind for all under them, that could neither lye in their power, nor in their duty, to restrain their Liberty in these Lawful things, and to constrain & compel their consciences to sin. 5. They are unnatural & cruel, obliging the Takers to partake with them in their persecution of the Godly. 6. They were engagements to hear Curates, which is proved to be sin Head 1. throughout. 7. They were engagements to withdraw from the Meetings of the Lord’s people, proved to be duty. Head 4. Yet the Oath of Abjuration is some way equivalent to this, in that it obliges the Abjurers to renounce Disorderliness in their sense, and to do no harm to the timeserving Orderly Clergy or Laity, serving & prosecuting their wicked Orders.
V. Some other Bonds of that nature, and Oaths frequently put to Suffering people when taken Prisoners, did require peaceableness & Orderliness, in this Style, that they should either tacitly or expressly condemn Some Risings in Arms, as at Pentland, Bothwell &c. to be Rebellion against the King, and a sin against God, & engage never to rise in Arms against the King, or any commissionate by him, upon any pretense whatsoever. The iniquity whereof is manifest: for 1. This is a Covenant equivalent to a league Offensive & Defensive with them, obliging never to offend or oppose them, not to defend nor rescue our Brethren against & from their murdering violence. 2. This could not be taken in Truth, Judgment, & Righteousness: for, who can tell how far that may extend, upon any pretense whatsoever? this may oblige us to make a stupid surrender of our lives, when the King turns so Tyrannical as to send his Cut-throats to demand them, or Authorizes his bloody Papists to Massacre us, them we must not resist upon this pretense. 3. It is contrary to our Covenants, that allow Resistance in some cases, and oblige to assist & defend all that enter under the bond thereof. 5. This infers an owning of the present Authority, as the irresistible Ordinance of God, and an obligation of living peaceably in subjection under it; disproved above: To which I shall add a part of that forecited Letter of Mr. Rutherford’s the 63. in number of the third part of his printed Letters, which are a clear vindication of the principles & practice of our conscientious Sufferers on this point, ‘There is a promise & real purpose’ (saith he) ‘to live peaceably under the King’s Authority; But (1) you do not so answer candidly & ingenuously the mind of the Rulers, who to your knowledge mean a far other thing by Authority than you do; for yow mean his just Authority, his Authority in the Lord—in the maintenance of true Religion, as in the Covenant, & confession of faith—is expressed from the Word of God; they mean his supreme Authority & absolute prerogative above Laws, as their Acts clear and as their practice is, for they refused to such as were unwilling to subscribe their bond, to add, Authority in the Lord, or just & Lawful Authority, or Authority as it is expressed in the Covenant; but this draught of a petition yields the sense & meaning to them, which they crave. (2) That Authority for which they contend, is exclusive of the sworn Covenant; So that except ye had said, ye shall be subject to the Kings Authority in the Lord, or according to the sworn Covenant, yow say nothing to the point in hand, & that sure is not your meaning (3) whoever promises so much of peaceable living under his Maj. Authority, leaving out the exposition of the 5. Command—may upon the very same ground subscribe the bond refused by the Godly, and so yow pass from the Covenant, and make all these bypast Actings of this Kirk & State these years bypast to be horrid Rebellion, and how deep this guilt draws consider.’ 5. This would infer, though the King should send and kill us, we must not resist, nor defend our own lives: yet being an Oath against the Sixth Command, which enjoineth Natural self-preservation, it should be intrinsically sinful; and it’s all one to swear to non-preservation of self, as to swear to self-Murder. 6. I hope to make it appear in the 5. Head, that this is against the practice of Nations, the Law of Nature, and the Word of God. Yet all this Complex iniquity is clearly comprehended in the Oath of Abjuration, in terminis [in terms] abjuring all war against the King.
VI. There were some other Oaths, frequently obtruded upon people, for refusing which they have suffered great cruelties, that can hardly be described by any name, Nor can their imposition have a parallel in any age or place, for illegality, inhumanity, arbitrariness, & odiousness. These were the Oaths of Inquisition or Super inquirendis: Whereby people were pressed to answer the Inquisitors, according to all their knowledge of things, they were interrogate upon, and delate & discover Intercommuned persons in their Wanderings, or such whose names were in their Porteous Rolls &c. And power was given to single Soldiers, to press these Oaths upon whom they pleased. The iniquity of which is monstrous: for. 1. This was the worst Kind of Combination with these blood-hound, to abet & assist, them in their pursuing after the Lord’s people: Which is worse than to be bare consenters to such wickedness, or to be onlookers to their affliction in the day of their Calamity, but like that sin charged upon Edom, that they delivered up those of His that did remain in the day of distress Obad. vers. 13. 14. for these that took Oaths, obliged themselves to do all they could to deliver up the Remnant that escaped; and if they did not, no thanks to them, if they could not, their sin was in their willingness: if they would not, and yet swore would contribute their help towards it, by telling of all they knew, that was horrid perjury & false swearing. 2. This could be no ways capable of the qualifications of an Oath; not only because the matter is wicked & unnatural, to discover may be the husband or Children or nearest relations, to please men or save their own life, which was a great temptation, and therefore in it there could be no deliberation in swearing: but also for the doubtful perplexity confounding the mind, that they either could not or durst not tell of all they knew, and yet sware to do it. 3. It is against the Covenant, which obliges to discover Malignant enemies, and assist our Covenanting Brethren, and not to discover them, and assist Malignant enemies: which is a perfect inverting the fourth & sixth Articles of the Covenant. 4. It is contrary to clear precepts in Scripture, to assist & defend our Brethren, to make our shadow as the night in the midst of the noon day, and hide the Outcast, and bewray not him that wandereth Isai. 16. 3. 5. The illegality of this imposition makes it very absurd, that every pitiful Officer or Soldier should be impowered to impose & exact Oaths, and impanel & examine Witnesses, about alleged Criminals. Yet the monstrousness of this Oath serves to aggravate the Oath of Abjuration; in that the Abjurers do renounce their part of & disown the Declarers of that abjured Declaration, and so do as much as from them is required, to give them up for a prey to their hunters; yea they declare them Murderers in that they abjure their Declaration as asserting Murder, And consequently they must be obliged to discover them to their acknowledged Judges.
VII. The Abominable Test comes next: which needs no other refutation, than to rehearse it: the substance whereof was, a Solemn Swearing, ‘that they Owned & sincerely professed the true Protestant Religion, contained in the confession of faith, recorded in the first Parl. of K. James the 6—and that they would adhere thereunto all the days of their life—and never consent to any change or alteration contrary thereto—but renounce all Doctrines, principles, practices, whether Popish or Fanatical, contrary thereto—And they swear that the King is the only Supreme Governour of this Realm, over all persons in all causes, as well Ecclesiastical as Civil,—and promise to bear faith & true allegiance to the Kings Maj. his heirs & Lawful successors, and to their power shall assist & defend all rights, jurisdictions, prerogatives—belonging to them—And affirm—it—unlawful for subjects upon pretense of Reformation, or any other pretense whatsoever, to enter into Covenants—or to convocate, convene, or assemble—to treat, consult, or determine in any matter of State, Civil or Ecclesiastic, without his Maj. special command—or to take up Arms against the King, or these Commissionate by him—And that there lies no obligation on them, from the National Covenant, or Solemn League & Covenant—to endeavour any change or alteration in the Government, either in Church or State, as it is now established by the Laws of the Kingdom—and they shall never decline his Maj. power & jurisdiction—And finally they swear, that this Oath is given in the plain genuine sense & meaning of the words, without any equivocation, mental reservation, or any manner of evasion whatsoever.’—This is the Complement of a wicked Conspiracy, couching in its Capacious bosom the Complication of all their Mischiefs, comprehending all & explaining all the former: which indeed cannot be taken with any equivocating evasion, that can escape either the Stigma of nonsense & self-contradiction, or the censure of Atheism & irreligion, or the sentence of Divine vengeance against such baffling the Name of God. The best sense that can be put upon it, is that which a poor Sot expressed, when it was tendered to him, prefacing thus before he took it, Lord have mercy upon my Soul. For. 1. It is not consistent with itself: there being such contradictions between that confession of faith and the following part, that no man can reconcile: Some whereof may be instanced as follows. (1) In the 11. Art. of that confession, entitled, of Christ’s Ascension it is said, ‘that Christ is the only Head of the Church & Just Lawgiver, in which Honours & Offices if man or Angels presume to intrude themselves, we utterly detest & abhor them as blasphemous to our Sovereign & Supreme Governour Christ Jesus;’ and a little before in that same Article, it is said, ‘this Glory Honour & prerogative He alone among the Brethren shall possess:’ And in the 16. Art. of the Kirk, ‘Christ is the only Head of the same Kirk.’ And yet in the Test the King is affirmed to be the only supreme in all causes Ecclesiastical. (2) In the 14. Art. among good works are reckoned these, ‘to obey Superior powers and their charges (not repugning to the Commandment of God) to save the lives of Innocents, to repress Tyranny, to defend the oppressed; And among evil works these are qualified, to resist any that God hath placed in Authority [while they pass not over the bounds of their Office.]’ And Art. 24. it is confessed, ‘that such as resist the supreme power, doing that which pertains to his charge, do resist God’s Ordinance—while the Princes & Rulers vigilantly travel in the execution of their Office.’ And yet in the Test, true Allegiance is engaged into without any such limitations; And it is affirmed to be unlawful, upon any pretense whatsoever, to convocate &c. or to take up Arms against the King. (3) In the 14. Art. ‘Evil works are affirmed to be, not only those that expressly are done against God’s Commandment, but those also that, in matters of Religion & Worshipping of God, have no other assurance but the invention & opinion of men:’ And Art. 18. among the Notes of the true Church, ‘Ecclesiastical Discipline uprightly ministered, as God’s Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed, and virtue nourished, is one: In Art. 20. the voice of God and constitution of men are opposed.’ And yet in the Test, they swear never to endeavour any change or alteration in the Government of the Church—as it is now established; whereof many things must be altered, yea the whole form & frame of it, if these propositions be true, as they are. (4) In the Test, they swear never to consent to any change or alteration, contrary to that confession, and that all principles & practices contrary thereto are Popish & fanatical (for so they divide them into one of these disjunctively) then must all the following principles in their Test be renounced as such; seeing they are contrary to that confession in some propositions or Articles; And that the Government established by that confession was Presbyterian, and this established by the Test is Episcopal. 2. It comprehends all the former Oaths & Bonds, which are cleared above to be sinful. Yet for as wicked as it is, it must be some way homologated by the Oath of Abjuration, excepting the contradiction that is in it: Seeing all these oppositions against the King, sworn against in the Test, are abjured & renounced in that Oath of Abjuration, in renouncing all Declarations of war against the King; for if any war can be undertaken against him, all these Kinds of opposition must be allowed, that are in the Test sworn against.
VIII. In the last place, I shall come to consider more particularly the Oath of Abjuration itself; for refusing of which the sufferings were more severe (being extended even to death or banishment) though the words be more smooth than in any of the former, which are these I—do abjure, renounce, & disown a late pretended Declaration, affixed on several Mercat Crosses &c. in so far as it declares War against the King, and assert it Lawful to kill any that serve his Maj. in Church, State, Army, or Country. That the taking of this Oath is a step of Compliance, dishonourable to God, derogatory to the days Testimony, contradictory to the many reiterated Confessions of Christ’s Worthy (though poor & despised) Witnesses, sealed by their blood, bonds, & banishments, encouraging & gratifying to the Enemies of God, hardening to backsliding Brethren, offensive to the Generation of the Righteous, stumbling to all, leaving a stain & sting upon the Conscience of the Subscriber, I shall endeavour to make out by these Considerations.
1. Considering the party who imposed it; it must be looked upon as a Confederacy with them, being tendered upon all the Subjects, as a Test of their incorporating themselves with and declaring themselves for their head, and siding with them & him, in this their Contest & Contention with a poor Remnant of the Lord’s people, persecuted & murdered by them for Truth & Conscience sake, who issued forth that Declaration against them, here abjured. Therefore let the party be considered, imposing the Oath with such rigour, and prosecuting the Refusers with ravenous rage, murdering & torturing all who did not comply with them, declaring a Ware more formally & explicitly against Christ as King, and all that will dare to assert their Allegiance to Him, under an open displayed banner of defiance of Him & His, than ever Mortals durst espouse & avouch: The head of that Treacherous & Truculent faction, both he who was first declared against in that Declaration, and he who hath by bloody & treacherous Usurpation succeeded to him, being such a Monster for Murder & Mischief, Tyranny, Oppression & Perfidy, that among all the Nimrods & Neros that past ages can recount, we cannot find a parallel, by all Law Divine & humane incapable of Government, or any Trust, or so much as Protection, or any Privilege, but to be pursued by all as a Common enemy to mankind: And his Underlings, Agents & Complices, devoted to his lust, & serving his wicked designs, in their respective offices & places of trust under him, which by his nomination & sole appointment they have been erected to, & established in, with the stain & indelible Character of perjury, the only qualification of their being capable of any advancement, occupying by usurpation intrusion & violence the public places of judicatories, and carrying all so insolently & arbitrarily, and with an effrontery of wickedness & despite of all Reason, Religion, or Justice, that they cannot but be looked upon as the most pestilent & pestiferous Plague that ever pestered a People: The taking then of this Oath, by them projected as a Pest to infect Consciences with, and pervert them to wicked Truth-deserting & Law-perverting Loyalty, and imposed as a Test of Compliance with them, and coming off from that little flock whom they design to devour & destinate to destruction; must be in their own esteem, as well as of the Generation of the Righteous, to their satisfaction and the others sorrow, a real incorporating with them, an owning of their usurped power as Judges to administer Oaths, giving them all obedience they required for the time to their Authority, and all the security they demanded for the Subscribers Loyalty, an approving of all their Proceedings in that matter, and transacting, tampering, & bargaining with these Sons of Belial, out of fear: whereby a right is purchased to that common badge of their owned & professed friends, who (upon taking that Oath) had from them a privilege & allowance to travel & traffic (where and how they will) through the Country, denied to all other that wanted that Badge; I mean the Pass or Testificate they got from them thereupon, which was the Mark of that secular beast of Tyranny, no less pernicious to the world than Popery hath been to the Church; and which was given to all the Takers of that Oath, as a Mark of Tessera [loyalty] that they were no enemies to the Government, as they call it. O base and unworthy Livery, for the suffering Sons of Zion to put on the Signature of the Society of her devourers. Hence, if Covenants & Confederacies, declaring we are on their side, cannot be made with the Enemies of Religion, then this Oath could not be taken Lawfully: But the former is proved above: Ergo the latter follows. This will yet more appear.
2. If we consider the Party that set forth that Declaration, whom the Proclamation against it represent so odiously & invidiously whom the Oath imposed obliges us to condemn; being so represented, as if they were maintainers of Murdering Principles, and perpetrators of Assassinating villainies, inconsistent with Peace or any good Government, and therefore to be exterminated & destroyed out of the Land, whom therefore they prosecute & persecute so cruelly to the effusion of their blood, under colour of Law. 1. The takers of this Oath must have formally, under their unhappy hand, disowned & renounced them, and all part or interest in them, or Society or Sympathy with them; who yet are known to be the Suffering people of God, more earnestly contending, witnessing, wrestling for the faith & Word of Christ’s patience, and have suffered more for their adherence to the Covenanted Reformation of the Church of Scotland, and for their opposition to all its deformations & defections, than any Party within the Land: yet them have they rejected as their Companions, though with some of them sometimes they have had sweet Company & Communion in the House of God, by abjuring & condemning their deed which duty & necessity drave them to. 2. Hereby they have presumptuously taken upon them, to pass a Judgment upon the deed of their Brethren, before their Murdering Enemies; And that not a private discretive Judgment, but a public definitive sentence (in their Capacity) by the most solemn way of Declaring it, that can be, by Oath & subscription under their hand; whereby they have condemned all the Sufferings of their Brethren, who sealed their Testimony in opposition to this Compliance with their blood, and finished it with honour & joy, as foolish & frivolous profusion of their own blood, Nay as just & legally inflicted & executed upon them, as being Rebels, of Murdering Principles & practices: For this cannot be vindicated from a more than indirect justifying of all the Murdering Severity executed upon them. 3. And hereby they have unkindly and unchristianly listed themselves on the other side against them, and taken part rather with their enemies than with them; for thus they used to plead fort it, when they pressed this Oath upon them that scrupled it; When any War is declared against the King, ‘any of his Maj. Soldiers may question any man whom he is for, and if he be not for the King, he may act against him as an enemy, and if they will not declare for the King and disown the Rebels, they are to be reputed by all as enemies.’ Which, whatever weakness be in the arguing, plainly discovers, that they take the abjuring of that Declaration in that juncture, to be a man’s Declaring of what side he is for, and that he is not for the Emitters of that Declaration, but for the King and his party: which in the present state of affairs, is a most dreadful owning of Christ’s Enemy, and disowning of His Friends. Hence, a disowning of the Lord’s persecuted people, and condemning their practice, and an owning of their Persecutors and espousing their side of it, is a sinful Confederacy: But the taking of this Oath is such, as is evident by what is said: Ergo it is a sinful Confederacy.
3. Considering the Nature, Conditions, & Qualifications of so solemn & serious a piece of God’s Worship, and way of invocating His Holy Name, as an Oath is: It will appear, that the taking of this imposed Oath of Abjuration, was a dreadful & heinous breach of the Third Command, by taking His Name in vain, in the worst sort, and so cannot be holden guiltless. I prove it thus: An Oath which cannot be taken in Truth, Judgment, & Righteousness, is a breach of the Third Command: But this is an Oath which cannot be taken in Truth, Judgment, & Righteousness: Which is evident; for. 1. It cannot be taken by any Conscientious man in Truth, in sincerity of the heart, simplicity of the mind, singleness & honesty in the intention, not putting any other sense than the imposer hath, and which is the clear sense of it sine juramento [without oath] and extra [beyond it]. For, if he take it according to their meaning, then he should swear it unlawful ever to declare War against the King, and consequently never to rise in Arms against him upon any pretense whatsoever: for, if we may rise in Arms for our own defense, we make & must declare a defensive War. And indeed, in themselves as well as in their sense & meaning who imposed them, these two Oaths, never to rise in Arms against the King, and this of Abjuration, are one and the same. Then also should he swear it unlawful, at any time, upon any occasion, or for any Cause, to kill any such as serve the King in Church, State, Army, or Country, either in Peace or War: for that is their thought, and sensus vel juramenti ipsius vel extra juramentum [the sense even of the oath itself, or what is beyond it]: And in part, for their exemption & immunity from all condign punishment, this Oath was contrived. But in fine, how can this Oath be taken in Truth; when it is not apparent, either that the declaring of a War against the King, or killing some for some causes (which shall afterwards be made appear to be Lawful) that serve him, are to be abjured & disowned? or that the Declaration does assert any such thing? And indeed it will be found to be a denying the Truth, and a subscribing to a manifest falsehood, invoking God to be Witness thereto. 2. This Oath cannot be taken in Judgment, that is, with knowledge & deliberation &c. All the terms of it have much obscure ambiguity, Declaring a war, and killing any who serve the King, may be constructed in several senses, good & bad, but here they are indefinitely expressed, and universally condemned. Particularly that [in so far as] hath several faces, and can never be sworn in Judgment; For, if it denote a Causality, and signify as much as quia [because] or quatenus [so far as], then all Declarations of war against any that have the name of King whatsoever, upon whatsoever grounds, and all killing of any serving him, though in our own defense, must be universally condemned, for a quatenus ad omne valet Consequentia [the consequence is good is so far as everything]: If it import a restriction, excluding other things in the Declaration, but obliging to abjure only that; then it implies also an affirmation, that these two things are contained in it, which will not appear to the Judgment of them that will seriously ponder the Declaration itself: If again it be a Supposition or Condition, and to be interpreted for if so be, then all that the Judgment can make of it is that it is uncertain, and so the Conscience dare not invoke God as a Witness of that which is uncertain whether it be a Truth or a lie. 3. This Oath could not be taken in Righteousness: for the matter is not true, certainly known, Lawful, possible, weighty, necessary, useful, & worthy: It is not true, that the Declaration imports so far as, as it is represented in the Oath of Abjuration: Neither is it certainly known, but by collating these two together the Contrary will appear: Neither is it Lawful (if it were true that such assertions were in it) to abjure all Declarations of war against the King, and to swear it unlawful ever to kill any if he be once in the Kings service, in Church, State; Army, or Country: Nor is it possible to reduce this Assertory Oath into a promissory one Lawfully, as most part of such Oaths may & do necessarily imply; for when I swear such a thing unlawful, it implies my promise, by virtue of the same Oath, never to practice it; But it is not possible (as the case stands) for a man to bind up himself in every case from all declared war against the King, or from killing some employed in his service; what if there be a necessary call to join in arms with the Lord’s people, for the defense of their Religion, lives, & Liberties, against him? what if he command a Massacre? shall not a man defend himself? Nor endeavour to kill none of that murdering Crew, because they are in his service? Was ever a fool so fettered? Nor is it of such weight, as to be the occasion of involving the whole Country in perjury or persecution, as by that Oath was done: Nor was it necessary, in this man’s time, to make all abjure a Declaration out of date, when the object of it Charles the Second was dead, and no visible party actually in arms to prosecute it; Nor was it ever of any use or worth, except it were implicitly to gratify their greedy lusting after the blood of Innocents, or the blood of silly Souls cheated by their snares, by involving them in the same sin of perjury & Conscience-debauching false-swearing, whereof they themselves are so heinously guilty. But let them, and such as have taken that Oath, and not fled to Christ for a Sanctuary, lay to heart the doom of false swearers, the flying roll of the Curse of God shall enter into their house Zech. 5. 4. Love no false Oath for all these are things that I hate saith the Lord Zech. 8. 17. The Lord will be a swift Witness against false swearers Mal. 3. 5. And let them sist their Conscience before the Word, and set the Word to the Conscience, and these Considerations will have some weight.
4. If we consider this Particular Oath itself, and the words of it more narrowly, we shall find a Complication of iniquities in it, by examining the sense of them as the Imposers expound them. 1. Not only that Declaration, but all such in so far as they declare & assert such things, are here renounced; and hereby many honest & faithful Declarations are disowned, that declare the same things. It is indeed pleaded by some, that profess to be presbyterians, as it was also pretended by some of the pressers of the Oath themselves, but in order to pervert & cheat the Conscience; that here is not required a disowning of the Apologetical Declaration simpliciter [simply], but only secundum quid [in a qualified sense], or rather of a pretended one of their supposing, in so far as it imports such things: But this is frivolous, for that pretended one is intended by the Imposers to be the Real Apologetical Declaration, which they will have to be disowned, and cannot be distinguished from it: And though all these Assertions cannot be fastened upon that Apologetical Declaration, but it is evident that it is invidiously misrepresented; yet that same is the pretended one which they require to be abjured in so far as it asserts such things, which it does not: And if it be secundum quid [in a qualified sense] to be disowned, then that must either be secundum [qualified] that Assertion of killing any &c. Which is not to be found in it, and so it is not to be disowned at all; or it must be secundum [qualified] the Declaration of war against the King; And so that quid or formal reason of disowning it, will oblige to disown all Declarations of war against the King, which cannot be disowned. Others again Object, that it is not required to be disowned formally, but only conditionally, taking & confounding in so far for if so be: But to any thinking man it is plain, this cannot be a supposition, nor yet a simple restriction (as they would give it out) but an assertion that such things are indeed imported in it; for so the Imposers think & say: And if it might pass current under that notion, as a supposition, being equivalent to if so be, then under that sophistical pretext, I might renounce the Covenant, or the most undisputed Confession or Declaration that ever was, in so far as it contained such things; And so this equivocation might elude all Testimonies whatsoever, and justify all prevarications. 2. This must condemn all defensive war of subjects against their oppressing Rulers, in that a Declaration is abjured in so far as it declares war against the King: to press & persuade people to which, it was usually urged by the Imposers, that when a war is declared by Rebels against the King, then all the subjects are obliged to disown the Rebels, or else be repute for such themselves: And, when it was alleged the war was ceased, because the Object declared against was ceased, Charles the Second being dead, otherwise if a man be obliged to give his opinion about a war declared against a King deceased & gone, then by the same parity of reason he must be obliged to give his opinion of that war of the Lords of the Congregation (as they were called) against Queen Mary in the beginning of the Reformation; It was still replied by them, that the Rebellion continued, and all were guilty of it that did not abjure that Declaration: Whence it is evident, they mean that everything which they call Rebellion must be disowned, and consequently all Resistance of Superiors upon any pretense whatsoever, as many of their Acts explain it: yea and it was plainly told by some of them, to some that scrupled to rake the Oath because they said they did not understand it, that the meaning was to swear never to rise in arms against the King. Against this it hath been objected by several, that this was always denied by Presbyterians, that ever they declared war against the King, but only for defense of their lives & Liberties, never against the King expressly, purposedly, & designedly, but only against him per accidens [by accident] when he happened to be the adverse party: But this distinction will not be a Salvo to the Conscience; For the object declared against, is either a King or not; if he be not, then a Declaration of war against him is not to be abjured; if he be King, then he is either declared against as King qua Rex & perse [as king & by himself], or as an oppressor, or an Abuser of his power; the first indeed is to be disowned, for a King as King or Lawful Magistrate must not be resisted Rom. 13. 2. But the second, to declare war against a King as an oppressor and abuser of his power and subverter of the Laws, hath been owned by our Church & State many a time, and they have opposed & declared war as purposedly against him as he did against them, and as really & formally as he was an oppressor: sure he cannot be an oppressor only per accidens [by accident], nor does he declare war against the subjects only per accidens [by accident]: However this hath been owned always by Presbyterians, that war may be declared against him who is called King. And therefore to abjure a Declaration in so far as it declares war against the King, will condemn not only that Declaration upon the heads wherein its honesty & faithfulness chiefly consists, but all other most honest & honourable Declarations, that have been made & emitted by our worthy & renowned Ancestors, and by our Worthies in our own time, who have formally, avowedly, & explicitly, or expressly, purposedly, & designedly declared their opposition to Tyranny & Tyrants, and their Lawful & laudable designs to repress, depress, & suppress them, by all the ways & means, that God, & Nature, and the Laws of Nations allow, when they did ipso jure [by the law itself] depose & exauctorate [dethrone] themselves from all Rule, or privilege, or prerogative of Rulers, and became no more God’s ministers but Beelzebub’s vicegerents, and Monsters to be exterminated out of the Society of Mankind. The honestest [most honest] of all our Declarations of defensive war, have always run in this strain; And others, insinuating more preposterous Loyalty, have been justly taxed for asserting the Interest of the Tyrant, the greatest enemy of the declarers, and principal object of the declared war; which disingenuous juggling & foisting in such flattering & falsifying distinctions in the State of the Quarrel, hath rationally been thought one of the procuring Causes or Occasions of the discomfiture of our former Appearances, for the Work of God & Liberties of our Country, 3. This must infer an owning of his Authority as Lawful King; when the Declaration disowning him is abjured in so far as it declares war against his Majesty, for in this Oath he is styled and asserted to be King, and to have the Majesty of a Lawful King, and therefore must be owned as such by all that take it: which yet I have proved to be sinful above Head. 2. Against this it hath been quibbled by some, that that Declaration does not declare war against the King expressly as King, but only against Charles Stewart, by them declared to be no King who set forth the Declaration. But this will not salve the matter; for then (1) It is a subscribing to a lie, in abjuring a Declaration in so far as it did declare a thing, which it did not, if that hold. (2) The enemies impose the abjuring & disowning of it, in so far as it declares war against their King, who had none other but Charles Stewart at that time, who was the King in their sense; and an Oath cannot be taken in any other sense, contradictory to the Imposers, even though by them allowed, without an unjustifiable equivocation. (3) Though he had been King, and had not committed such acts of Tyranny as might actually denominate him a Tyrant, & forfeit his Kingship; yet to repress his illegal arbitrariness & intolerable enormities, and to repel his unjust violence, and reduce him to good order, Subjects, at least for their own defense, may declare a war expressly, purposedly & designedly against their own acknowledged King: This ought not in so far to be disowned; For then all our Declarations emitted, during the whole time of prosecuting the Reformation, in opposition to our King: would be disowned: And so with one dash unhappily the whole Work of Reformation, and the way of carrying it on, is hereby tacitly & consequentially reflected upon & reproached, if not disowned. 4. It must infer an owning of the Ecclesiastical Supremacy, when it asserts that some do serve the King in Church as well as in State: there is no Distinction here, but they are said to serve him the same way in both. And it is certain they mean so, and have expressed so much in their Acts, that Church men are as subordinate, and the same way subject to the Kings Supremacy, as Statesmen are. The absurdity & blasphemy of which, is discovered above. 5. This condemns all killing of any that serve the King, in Church, State, Army, or Country: for a Declaration is abjured in so far as it asserts it Lawful to kill any such; And so by this Oath, there is an impunity secured for his Idolatrous priests, and Murdering varlets, that serve him in the Church; for his bloody Counselors, and Gowned Murderers, that serve his Tyrannical designs in the State; for his bloody Lictors & Executioners, the Sword men, that serve him in the Army, whom he may send when he pleases to murder us; and for his bloody Just-asses [i.e., Justices], Informers, & Intelligencing Sycophants, the Ziphites, that serve him in the Country: All these must escape bringing to condign punishment, contrary to the 4. Art. of the Solemn League & Covenant, and shall be confuted Head. 6. Against this it is excepted by the Pleaders for this Oath, that it is only a declared abhorring of Murdering principles, which no Christian dare refuse; And it may be taken in this sense safely, that it is to be abjured in so far as it asserts it Lawful to kill all that are to be employed by his Maj. or any because so employed, in Church, State, Army, or Country; Which never any did assert was Lawful: But though Murdering principles are indeed always to be declaredly abhorred, and all Refusers of that Oath did both declare so much, and abhorred the thoughts of them; yet this evasion is naught, for (1) The Declaration asserts no such thing, neither for that cause nor for any other, but expressly makes a distinction, between persons under the Epithet of bloody cruel Murderers, and these only whom it threateneth to animadvert upon. (2) The only reason of their declared intent of prosecuting these, whom they threaten to bring to condign punishment, was because they were so employed by the Tyrant in such service, as shedding the blood of Innocents, Murdering people where they met them; And so that’s the very reason for which they deserve to be killed, and therefore foolish, impertinent, and very absurd to be alleged, as a qualification of the sense of that impious Oath.
5. If we consider the Proclamation enjoining this Oath, and narrating and explaining the Occasions & causes of it, all these reasons against it will be confirmed; and it will further appear, that the Proclamation itself is indirectly approved. For though it might be sustained: in the abstract, that we may & must renounce such Declarations founded on Principles inconsistent with Government, and bearing such inferences as are specified in that Proclamation: yet complexly considering what they mean by Government, and what sort of Society that is, the Security whereof is said to be infringed by that Declaration, And what is the Scope of that Narrative; A renouncing of a paper contradictory thereto, must be in so far a tacit approbation of that Proclamation. For that Oath which renounceth what is contrary to such a Proclamation, does justify the Proclamation: But this Oath renounces what is contrary to the Proclamation, and that only: Ergo it justifies the Proclamation. It is entitled, as it was really designed, for discovering such as own or will not disown the foresaid Declaration, by them falsely nicknamed, a late treasonable Declaration of war against his Majesty, and the horrid principle of Assassination. And the body of it discovers such hell-bred hatred of & malice against that poor party, destinated in their design to final & total destruction, and lays down such Contrivances for their discovery and ruin, that the heads & hearts of the Inventors & Authors may seem to be possessed & inspired with the Devil’s immediately assisting Counsel, and the Clerk’s pen that drew it up to have been dipped in the Stygian lake and the Gall & venom of hell: Representing the Emitters & Abettors & Spreaders of that Declaration, and all who have been joined in any of their Societies, and all who either will own or scruple to disown the said Declaration, in the manner by them tendered & imposed, (which are the Generality of the most tender & conscientious Christians in the Land) under all the vilest & most abominable & odious terms, their malice could invent; as if they were ‘Insolent & desperate Rebels, associated under a pretended form of Government, who had formerly endeavoured to disguise their bloody & execrable principles, but now had pulled off the mask, and who think it a duty to kill & Murder all who do any manner of way serve the present Rulers, or bear charge under them; who maintain principles inconsistent with all Government & Society, and tending to the destruction of the lives of their Loyal & honest subjects; Treacherous & assassinating principles &c. who now have declared their hellish intentions, and for the better performance of their mischievous designs, do lurk in secret, and are never discerned but in the acts of their horrid assassinations, and passing up & down among the Kings Loyal subjects, take opportunity to murder & assassinate, like execrable Rebels; And Calling that Declaration, an execrable & damnable Paper &c.’ All which are execrable & damnable lies, and forgeries of the father of them, and a Charge which all their Sophistry can never make out in any particular: Yet by them amplified to a swelling height of heinousness; And among other circumstances, aggravated from their frequent refusing the reiterated Offers of their Clemency, by which they understand their contempt of their presumptuous, Christ-defying, and Church-destroying Indulgences, and their not submitting to their ensnaring & base Indemnities, or their conscience-cheating Bonds & Oaths by them so finely busked. From these impudently pretended premises, in their falsely forged viperous Narrative, they lay down their bloody Methods & Measures for prosecuting that poor people, with all rigour of Savage Severity; Ordaining, ‘that whosoever shall own that Declaration, and the principles therein specified’ (which is a lager Dilatation of their meaning, than their pretended restriction [in so far as &c.] and gives a further discovery of the intent of the Oath, that gives a Covert stroke to all the principles of our Reformation which are reductively specified in that Declaration) ‘or whosoever shall refuse to disown the same—shall be execute to the death; And commanding all subjects to concur, and do their utmost endeavour, to seek, search, delate, & apprehend all such, under the severest penalties of the Laws; And to difference the good from the bad’ (meaning their own Associates & friends, from Christ’s followers) ‘by discriminating signs, Declaring it their pleasure, and requiring all past the age of sixteen years, not to presume to travel without Testificates of, their Loyalty & good principles, by taking the Oath of Abjuration; whereupon they are to have a Testificate which is to serve for a free Pass, with certification to all that shall adventure to travel without such a Testificate, shall be holden & used as Concurrers with the said Rebels; Commanding all Heritors &c. to give up the lists of the names of all under them, before the Curate; Declaring, if any shall refuse to concur in such service, shall be holden as guilty of the foresaid crimes & punished accordingly; And strictly prohibiting, all to harbour, lodge, or entertain any, unless they have such certificates under the same pain; And for encouragement to any that shall discover or apprehend any to be found guilty as above said, ensuring to them the sum of 500 Merks Scots for each of them.’ This is that hell-hatched Proclamation, so grievous for its effects, so dreadful for its designs, so monstrous for its absurdities, that the like hath not been seen: Whereby not only the countries Interest & Trade hath been prejudged, by compelling all to have a pass in time of peace, and these to be procured at exorbitant rates, oppressing poor people; Not only common Hostlers & Innkeepers are made Judges, impowered to impose Oaths upon Passengers for their passes, that they be not forged; but many consciences cozened, cheated, wounded, & ensnared, and the whole Land involved in sin. But they that took this Oath have approved & justified this detestable, execrable, bloody Proclamation, the spurious spawn of the Devil’s venom against Christ followers: For, they gave all the Obedience to it that was required of them in their Capacity, And obedience justifies the Law enjoining it: They have done all was required, or could be done by them, to answer the design of it in their circumstances; And consequently by doing the thing prescribed, they have justified the grounds upon which the prescript was founded, and the methods by which it was prosecuted, which hath a dreadful Medley of iniquity in it. Hence (1) They have subscribed to all these Odious Characters wherewith they branded that poor persecuted party, and have condemned them as Insolent, desperate Rebels, Murderers, bloody Assassins &c. (2) In disowning that Declaration, they have disowned the principles therein specified, and consequently all the Testimony against this Usurping faction of Overturners of the Work of Reformation, Active & passive, that have been given & sealed by the eminent Servants of God, since this Catastrophe, the principle of Defensive Arms, and our Covenants, and several others which are therein specified. (3) They have given their consent to all the concurrence there required, for seeking, searching, delating, & apprehending of these people, and to all the cruel villainies committed against them. (4) They have taken on their prescribed discriminating Sign of Loyalty, and of being repute by them men of good principles, that is, their friends, men for the times: Which is so sinful & scandalous, that it is shameful to hint at them, and yet shameful to hide them.
6. If we consider the Apologetical Declaration itself, which is so bespattered, and so odiously represented, and so rigorously enjoined to be abjured; who will more narrowly look into it, and ponder & perpend the purpose & Scope of it, will see nothing that can be abjured conscientiously in it, but the whole of it, laying aside prejudice & invidious Critical Censoriousness, capable of a fair & acceptable Construction. The Motives leading them to set it forth, being only their desires and just endeavours to prosecute, and secure themselves in the prosecution of, Holy Commanded Duties, and to keep a standing Testimony, against the Insolency of those that are given up of God, to lay out themselves in promoting a Course of profanity & persecution, notwithstanding of all their viperous threatenings. Their Measures being none other, than the commendable precedents & Examples of zealous & tender hearted Christians, who have done the like, and our National and Solemn Covenants, lying with their binding force indispensable upon all of us, and obliging us to endeavour all that’s there declared, as being bound for ever to have common friends & foes with our Covenanted Reformation, to all which they declare & avouch their resolved adherence, And their own former Declarations, Disowning their Allegiance to, & Authority of a Man who had ipso jure forfeited all Authority, by his intolerable Tyranny, Perjury, & perfidious breach of Trust, reposed & devolved upon him by Covenant, and by his overturning all the fundamental constitutions of the Government, perverting, inverting, & everting all Laws, all Liberties all Privileges of Church & State, all establishments of our Covenanted Work of Reformation, all Securities of our life and enjoyments whatsoever, Usurping to himself an absolute Tyrannical Civil Supremacy, inconsistent with the safety or freedom of the people, and a monstrous blasphemous Ecclesiastical Supremacy; Upon which considerations, to endeavour to make good their freedom & emancipation from that yoke which they had cast off, they behooved to resolve upon defensive resistance, against him and his bloody emissaries; Which war being declared before, they only in this Declaration testified their unanimous approbation of adherence to, and resolutions for prosecuting the same, against him & his accomplices, such as lay out themselves to promote his wicked & hellish designs: By which war they do not mean a formed stated & declared Insurrection with hostile force, to break the Peace of the Nation, and involve all in blood, but a resolved avowed constant Opposition to the Murdering violence, injustice, oppression, & persecution of this wicked faction, now raging rather than reigning, who have declared & still prosecute a declared war against Christ, bearing down His Work & Interest in the Land; ‘And a constant endeavour, in opposition to them, to pursue the ends of our Covenants, in standing to the defense of the Glorious Work of Reformation, and their own lives; And in the defense thereof, to maintain the cause & Interest of Christ against His enemies, and to hold up the Standard of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ (meaning the Gospel & the Word of our Testimony,) ‘whereunto they looked upon themselves as bound & obliged by their holy Covenants, being therein dedicated to the Lord in their persons, lives, Liberties, & fortunes, for defending & promoting this Glorious Work of Reformation, notwithstanding of all opposition, that is or may be made thereunto, and sworn against all neutrality & indifferency in the Lord’s Matters: Whereunto they beseech, invite, & obtest [beseech], all them who wish well to Zion to a concurrence & concerting the same cause & Quarrel.’ In maintaining of which opposition against such wicked Enemies, because by them they were restlessly pursued and hunted, and Murdered wherever they were found, neither could find any harbour or hiding place in any Corner of the country, for Searchers, Informers, & Instigators, who still stirred up the country to raise the hue & Cry after them, and caused them to be delivered up, and delated [dernounced] them to the Courts of their Murdering enemies, whereby much innocent blood was shed; Therefore, to stop their Career of violence, and deter them from such Courses, they found it necessary to threaten them with more active & vigorous opposition, and that they might expect to be treated as they deserved. Wherein they are far from owning assassinating principles, or practicing assassinations; for they give only open & plain warning, and advertisement to the world, of their necessitated endeavours to defend themselves, and prevent the Murder of their Brethren: And can no way be charged, with asserting it Lawful, to kill all employed in the Kings service in Church, State, Army, or Country, as the Proclamation in viperous invective Calumny misrepresents the Declaration, but on the contrary, do jointly & unanimously declare, ‘they detest & abhor that hellish principle of killing such as differ in judgment from them, and they are firmly & really purposed, not to injure or offend any whomsoever, but such as are directly guilty of, or accessory to the Murder of their Brethren:’ whom yet they mind not to assassinate or kill tumultuarily [in a disordered manner], but to prosecute them with all the legal formalities, that Justice in their Capacity, and the times disorder & distracted condition, will allow; Expressly declaring, ‘that they abhor, condemn, & discharge all personal attempts upon any pretext whatsomever, without previous deliberations, common consent, certain probation of sufficient witnesses, or the guilty persons confession.’ Neither could it ever be supposed, that they threaten all employed in the King’s service with this sort of handling, but some select & expressly distinguished Kind of Notorious villains, men of death & blood, openly avowing & vaunting of their Murders: and these they distinguished into several Classes, according to the respective aggravations of their wickedness: In the first, ‘they place those that Murder by Command, under pretext of an usurped Authority, as Counselors, Justiciary, & Officers of their forces, or bands of Robbers & not all nor any of these neither but the cruel & bloody.’ In the second Class, they threaten such as are actually in arms against them of an inferior rank; And such Gentlemen, and Bishops, & Curates, as do professedly & willingly serve them to accomplish & effectuate their Murders, by obeying their commands, making search for these poor men, delivering them up, instigating, informing, and witnessing against & hunting after them: & not all these neither, but such as cruelly prosecute that service, to the effusion of their blood. Neither do they threaten all equally, nor any of them peremptorily, ‘but that continuing after the publication of this their Declaration obstinately & habitually in these courses’ (Plainly declaring they intended no hurt to them if they would hold up their hands) ‘they would repute them as enemies to God & the Reformation, and punish them as such, according to their power, and the degree of their offence; Withal leaving room for Civil & Ecclesiastical satisfaction, before Lawful & settled Judicatories, for the offences of such persons, as their power may not reach &c.’ And as unwilling to be necessitated to such severe Courses, and earnestly desirous they be prevented, they admonish them with sorrow & seriousness, of the sin & hazard of their wicked Courses; and protest, that only Necessity of self-preservation, and zeal to Religion, lest it should be totally rooted out by their insolency, did drive them to this threatening Declaration, and not because they were acted by any sinful spirit of revenge. This is all that is contained in that Declaration. And if here be anything there so odious & execrable, to be so solemnly abjured, renounced, & abhorred in the presence of God, for the pleasure of and in obedience to the will of His & our enemies, let all unbiased Considerers impartially weigh, or any awakened Conscience speak, and I doubt not but the swearing & subscribing this Oath will be cast & condemned. I shall say nothing of the necessity, or conveniency, or expediency, or formality of this Declaration: but the Lawfulness of the matter complexly taken is so undeniable, that it cannot be renounced without condemning many very Material Principles of our Reformation: Only Success & Incapacity is wanting to justify the manner, whole procedure, formality, and all the Circumstances of the business; If either the Declarers themselves, or any other empowered with strength and countenanced with success to make good the undertaking, had issued out such a Declaration in the same terms, and had prevailed & prospered in the Project, many that have now abjured it would approve & applaud it. But passing these things that are extrinsic to the consideration in hand, it is the matter that they required to be abjured & condemned, it is that the enemies quarreled at, and not the inexpediency or informalities of it: And it must be taken as they propound it, and abjured & renounced by Oath as they represent it: And therefore the iniquity of this subscription will appear to be great, in two respects: First in denying the Truth: Secondly in subscribing to, & swearing a Lie. 1. They that have taken that Oath have denied & renounced the matter of that Declaration; which is Truth & duty, and a Testimony to the Cause of Christ, as it is this day Stated & Circumstantiate in the Nation, founded upon former (among us uncontroverted) precedents & Principles of Defensive Wars, disowning Tyranny, & repressing the insolency of Tyrants & their Accomplices; the whole matter being reducible to these two Points, Declaring a resolved endeavour of breaking the Tyrants yoke from off our neck, thereby asserting our own & the posterities Liberty & freedom from his insupportable & entailed slavery; And a just Threatening to curb & restrain the insolency of Murderers, or to bring them to condign punishment: Whereof as the first is no ways repugnant, but very consonant to the Third Article; So the Second is the very duty obliged unto in the Fourth Article of our Solemn League & Covenant. But all this they have denied by taking that Oath. 2. By taking that Oath, they have sworn & subscribed to a Lie, taking it as they represent it, abjuring it in so far as it declares &c. & asserts it is Lawful to kill all employed in the service of the King, in Church, State, Army, or Country: which is a manifest Lie, for it asserts no such thing. Neither will any other sense put upon the words in so far as salve the matter; for as thereby the Takers of the Oath shall deal deceitfully, in frustrating the end of the Oath, and the design of the Tenderers thereof; And to take an Oath quatenus, eatenus, in so far, will not satisfy, as Voetius Judgeth de Pol. Eccl. P. 213. So let them be taken which way they can, either for in quantum [as], or quatenus [as far as], or si modo [only if], it is either a denying the Truth, or subscribing a Lie: And Consequently, these poor people suffered for Righteousness that Refused it.