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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Because they are all ambiguous


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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 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. xxiv. 4.) 'a swearing deceitfully.' And he afterwards 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, without oath, or beyond it; but it should be plain, single, and clear.' And Paraeus saith, in Catech. Urs. part 2. quest. 102. An oath hath the divine sanction, that it might be a bond of verity among men, and a testimony that God is the author and defender of truth. Now, none of these oaths and 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 with a mind to deceive, which cannot be in truth, but most derogatory both to the truth and simplicity of the gospel. And they are all unclear and ambiguous which cannot be taken in truth, because they have no truth in them, as Dr. Sanderson saith, de jure. promiss. oblig. prael. 6. Sect.
10. 'A proposition of an ambiguous and 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 and prudent man should refuse them offered under such terms,' cited by apol. relat. sect. 10. pag. 118. and sect. 15. 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 into judgment, it will condemn the taking them. 2. They cannot be taken in judgment, is that, with knowledge and deliberation, minding and 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 divers 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 and 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 Paraeum. loc. sup. cit. pag. 754. sect. 4. Dr. Sanderson as before, 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 the 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


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