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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

As it ought to be refused for its ambiguity


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 enacted and 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 administred nor righteously enacted, by such who had power to make acts; for as for the 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
restraining to a clear sin, to renounce some part of the covenanted reformation, in profession or practice; or constraining 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 imposer's mind and 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 enquire into the imposer's meaning, in which only oaths and bonds must be taken. The only way to find out their meaning, is to consider either their acts or actings, or their designs and intentions, as they are discoverable by any man of prudence or consideration. If we consult their acts or actings practically, and not 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 and 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 controul; and by orderliness nothing but a disorderly

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