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A40710 The grand case of the present ministry whether they may lawfully declare and subscribe, as by the late Act of vniformity is required and the several cases, thence arising (more especially about the Covenant) are clearly stated and faithfully resolved / by the same indifferent hand ; with an addition to his former Cases of conscience, hereunto subjoyned. Fullwood, Francis, d. 1693. 1662 (1662) Wing F2505; ESTC R21218 59,550 206

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is enough that such as it is it cannot be altered much lesse extirpated without the change of the Laws very many Laws that much concern if not establish the same Now it is well enough known to be a grand part of the Kings Prerogative that no Law be made or altered without his fiat Much lesse then such Laws as concern himself so nearly as the changing not his Commissioners onely but his Government it self And it is more then apparent that the King was in such a condition when the Covenant was first taken that the Covenanters did intend either to force his consent to change those Laws or else to root out the Government by Prelacy against the King and the Laws too Therefore there is no such condition as might fairly have been in all the Covenant if the King shall please or if we can prevail with him to change the Laws or convince him of the great inconveniencies that we have discovered in this Government of the Church by Prelacy But I am sorry to remember how the Covenant was carried on as if the plot were laid to down with the Bishops whether the King would consent or not or what ere come on 't CASE IX Whether to endeavour thus against the Kings Rights as obliged thereunto by the Covenant be sinful Resol WIthout Question it is for to Covenant or swear to the injury of any is materially sinful and void of it self as if a man should vow he will steal his Neighbours Horse In all Covenants therefore the very light of Nature teacheth that Inferiours must except the rights of their Superiours Otherwise if an Oath will discharge from subjection how soon may all Government totter and dissolve No Covenant can take off the force of the fifth Commandement Honour thy Father and thy Mother more then of sixth seventh eight or of any of the Rest It is therefore granted by all Casuists that in iis rebus quae superioris potestati subjiciuntur in all things which lie under the power of our Superiour this Condition is necessarily to be understood in all Covenants Oathes and Promises si ipsi etiam placuerit if it shall also please him that is our Superiour Now nothing can possibly intercept the Conclusion but that either the Government of the Church doth not lie under the King or that the Altering of this Government did not concern his power or that he gave his Consent either to the Covenant or to the Altering of this Government but none of all these are true First the Government of the Church is directly and immediately under the King or sworne by us all to be Supream Governour in all causes and over all persons as well Ecclesiasticall as Civill and indeed as as was hinted before all Ecclesiasticall Governours politically considered are the Kings Commissioners and in a plain line of subordination to him Neither can they be taken from him or indeed on purpose opposed or disobey'd without apparent injury to the Supremacy if not with his Royall Assent and special Commission Secondly Neither may this Government be altered or any thing changed therein or indeed any thing elsethat cannot be altered without Law but by the Kings own Act and the alteration of Laws is a thing subject also to the Kings power according to the Constitution of this Kingdom without all dispute Thirdly Neither did the King consent to the Covenant but as it is well known proclaimêd his dissent against it which very thing is thought sufficient to void it Datur Juritatio Juramenti aliquando per Superiores si in illa ipsa Materiâ Amese de consc p. 219. sint Superiores circa quam Juramentum versatur sic Parentes so Parents Husbands Masters Princes may pronounce saith Dr. Ames either Oathes or Vowes made by Children Wives Servants Subjects without their consent to be void in those things which are subject to their power Therefore so far as the Government of the Church cannot be altered but by Law it is under the power of the King at least not to alter it he having a Negative upon both Houses and consequently his proclamation hath pronounced the Covenant long agon if this rule be good which I think none do question at least so far void I wonder that it should be urged that the King so many years after in his 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 should give his Consent to the Covenant which he had immediately upon its very birth crush'd by his Proclamation Yea so far as his Proclamation could pronounce it void and destroy it I think it may well be a Problem whether the Kings future consent could revive it if it had indeed been dead and buried so many years before But in what words did the King seem to consent he saith it should least displease him that men did keep their Covenant These words do not expresse his Consent to the Covenant much lesse to that part of it which concernes Episcopacy it was far from him to consent to the Extirpation of that but rather as it follows in the Kings words to preserve not to extirpate Religion in purity and the Kingdome in peace Indeed thus some would wrest one Coven plea. Modest expression against the plain scope of that whole Chapter in the Kings Book framed by him on set purpose to shew his dislike of this Covenant to his death as any impartial Reader thereof may satisfie him self Fourthly neither can it be said nor truly is it by any that I have heard of that the King did ever consent to the Alteration much lesse the Extirpation of Episcopall Government he was indeed at last contented upon a very hard bargaine to give it a suspension for three years but the sword cut off that preceeding and the Objection with it CASE X. Whether the Govenanting to endeavour the Extirpation of Episcopall Government be against the Laws and consequently sinful Resol TO swear absolutely without submismision to the will of the supream Governour to endeavour that which cannot be done either according to Scripture or the Constitution of the Kingdome without his Consent and Act this transports the subject beyond his place it invades the soveraingty and carries sedition and rebellion in it This cannot be denied though the thing sworne against be in it self unlawful especially when such Covenant is publickly imposed and taken for no publick Reformation of things amiss can proceed without Tumult if not consented unto by the King who is not to be frighted to do it by his Subjects in such a manner of rising up against him by publick Oathes This is to hurt Majesty and indeed to do evil that good may come and if any shall swear to do it in their places the form of their swearing contradicts the matter sworn for they cannot keep their places and take such an Oath 3. Much more when the thing sworn against is not evill in it self nor contrary to Gods Word therefore Mr. Crofton and the Author of the Covenanters plea
would take it for granted that the Government of the Church by Prelacy as it is in England is so but neither they nor any other can ever prove it 4. Neither dare they say that either lawful Authority may not establish what Government they judge to be most convenient if not against the Scripture or that it is lawful for Subjects publickly to swear that without submission to the pleasure of their Governours they will endeavour to extirpate such Government as is not contrary to the Word of God Or that such a Covenant is binding upon the people to endeavour against it or not to submit unto it 5. Much lesse can it bind the people against such Government if lawful in it self and such also as cannot be altered without change of the Law which lies not in the power of the people to do without the King especially if the Government sworn against be established by Law 6. The matter is so plain as Mr. Perkins Cases of Consc hath decided it That a Covenant taken against the Laws of the Land is void of it self that it hath put the Declaration before the Covenant and Mr. Crofton and especially the Author of the Covenantters plea upon a task impossible viz. to make good that the Government of the Church as in practice in England is not established by Law I shall labour on purpose to satisfie this doubt presently in the mean time the present turn is apparently served with a plain distinction We may be said to endeavour against the Laws and to swear against them two wayes Either when the thing we swear against is expresly established by plain Law or when the thing we swear against cannot be abolished without the Alteration or Abolition of Law 8. Now admit that there be no express Law appointing this form of Government Covenanted against yet how doth this clear the Covenanters from swearing against Law when they swear to extirpate that which cannot be extirpated without the violation and alteration of many very many Laws So that this evasion I think is perfectly obstructed 9. A little more distinctly seeing as I humbly conceive there is much strength in this Argument to weaken yea to void the Covenants Obligation in this particular 10. I doubt not to assert that such an endeavour to extirpate Church-Government as was covenanted is against the Law both antecedent to the Covenant and subsequent such Laws as were in force before the Covenant was taken and such Law as by full and just Authority was enacted since And to conclude that if the endeavours to extirpate Prelacy according to the Covenant be indeed against the Law in either of these sences they are plainly sinful and no obligation of the Covenant can hold us to them First then let the Question be put CASE XI Whether the present Government of this Church were Established by Law in England before the taking of the Covenant Resol 1. I Have no insight into the Laws yet there is so much in the very Surface of them for this form of Government that as I cannot but wonder at the doubt so I am easily encouraged to encounter it 2. Yet give me leave in the first place to stumble at the fallacious use and too weak improvement that I find made of this expression Established by Law as if nothing could be legal or opposed as such that is not positively appointed in some Statute on purpose if this be heeded the advantage hence which at most is small utterly fails the design of the Covenant 3. To what poor satisfaction hath the learned Author of the Covenanters plea run through the Canon Law the Civil Law the Statute law and the Common Law to find such an establishment with so much industry while I think none will dare to question but this form is legal and that it is established in the law though no express Statute be found appointing it and so much allowed so far fixed and established by the Laws as that he that shall any way engage against it doth so far engage against known Law 4. Is it not pretty to observe that learned men should be so far subdued by prejudice to question whether Episcopacy be established by Law when Episcopacy hath so long even for a thousand years together as Sir Henry Spelman observes had a great hand in establishing yea making the Law it self 5. Truly methinks seeing the power of the Bishops was before the Laws so many hundred years before our Parliaments as now they are and before our Norman Laws I mean as ours And seeing also that they were still a main cause of the Laws there is the less reason to expect their Power or their Office or their Government from them or that the child should beget the father that begot it 6. However give me leave to venture a little without my Line and to offer a distinction or two that haply may cause my Brethren that are troubled with this scruple to take better heed to their words and to take a better course to vindicate their Cause then by such a wild adventure to disturb every thing 1. The Law may establish a thing two ways either by appointing it de novo or by allowing it and taking it for granted as having its foundation sufficiently laid before upon all occasions thus the Law doth sufficiently establish the Government of the Church not only by those special Laws that relate unto it but indeed in every Law which expresseth the consent and advice of the Lords Spiritual 2. Church-Government may be supposed to be established by Law either in its Office thus we need not say the present form is established by Law for its Office was before ever the Laws of the Land medled with Church-Government or secondly in its political power and the exercise of it thus the present Government none can doubt to be established by Law where we may read many times over the several legal names with their distinct Jurisdictions and the crimes punishable by them and Authority allowed them so to punish and the fees of their Courts yea and the very form and manner of consecrating the Bishops established by Law 3. Thirdly Church-Government is establishable by Law either immediately or mediately Immediately when by an express Statute such a form is appointed mediately when a Statute impowers a person or persons to Commissionate Governours for the Church and he or they by virtue of such power do settle a Government in the Church accordingly 7. Suppose the present Government be not established by Law in the first t is plainly so in the second sence there is Statute Law declaring the King to be Supream Governour over all persons and in all causes Ecclesiastical and there is Statute Law that gives him Power and Authority or rather according to my Lord Cooke declares him to have power to appoint and impower his Commissioners in Ecclesiastical matters And we know Church-Governours derive their political power and the exercise of it
both sin to which no Covenant can possibly oblige for then it should oblige us against God himself 2. Secondly the matter of the Covenant in the Second Article is against many former Oaths whereby the Nation stood obliged before the Covenant was imposed or taken and in that regard we were first obliged by God to the contrary 1. Not to speak of that natural Allegiance in which all Subjects by the will of God in the very law of Nature as well as Scripture are born obliged when they are born Subjects unto our lawful Prince the Oath of Allegiance superadded re-enforceth us to obey him in all his lawful commands 2. And according to the Rules above mentioned whether this Oath be actually taken before the Covenant or after we are by the Divine obligation to obey the Kings Laws and to declare that the Covenant doth not binde us against the Kings Ecclesiastical Government or against his will expressed in the Laws of the Land whatsoever is hitherto urged to enervate the same 3. Especially if we add the direct obligation of the Oath of Supremacy wherein we all own and Recognize the King in all causes and over all persons as well Ecclesiastical as Civil Supream Governour For how can the Oath to extirpate his Government and destroy his Officers against his will and his known Laws consist with his sworn Supremacy or in the cause of Ecclesiastical Government how do those Ecclesiastical persons acknowledge him to be their Supream Governour while they resist him against his express Laws in this very cause even with endeavours to extirpate his Government 4. Besides many of the ancient Ministry stand more immediately obliged to the Government of the Church by their subscriptions to thirty nine Articles wherein they have set their hands that there is nothing superstitious or ungodly in the Form and Manner of Making Consecrating ●nd Ordaining of Bishops Priests and Deacons as also in the form of their very Ordination as Deacons and as Presbyters in which they solemnly promised to obey their Ordinary and to follow his godly Judgement which they also bound with the Oath of Canonical obedience 5. Lastly the general protestation taken some years before the Covenant must needs effect the discharge of it so far as they are contrary 6. That the Protestation was as legal as the Covenant as yet none ever questioned It was imposed by the same power at least it was never proclaimed against by the King as the Covenant was and that the Author of the Covenanters plea argues did sufficiently ratifie it It was taken by the same persons generally and indeed by thousands more then the Covenant was and that is doubtless enough by Mr. Croftons Logick to conclude it National and perpetual and not to be violated or made void by any future power or obligation or Covenant whatsoever 7. But wherein is the Covenant contrary to the Protestation 1. In the Protestation we promised to maintain the priviledges of Parliament which as I have shewn before by our standing bound by the Covenant to endeavour the extirpation of Church-Government notwithstanding its establishment by Act of Parliament and by superseding Parliamentary power for ever enjoyning our subjection to it are sufficiently violated 2. In the Protestation we also promised to defend the liberties of the Subject These are also violently seized on by this Second Article of the Covenant herein so great and considerable a part of the Nation as Ecclesiastical Governours are have their freeholds sworn against and their Power and Offices threatned with utter extirpation Notwithstanding the protection of the King and the Laws yea when neither their King that gave them their Commissions nor any to represent them had liberty to vindicate their cause or speak in their behalf in the Parliament when destruction was contriving by this way of a Covenant for them 3. But these things have been hinted before and unanswerably handled by others I hasten to the third and last way of preobligation mentioned viz. for the service of the Church in our generation when I have sealed that from our Oathes and promises now spoken to with that general Rule of Dr. Ames never yet acquainted with doubt Juramentum posterius contra Juramentum aut etiam promissionem Antecedentem honestam non obligat a latter Oath that is against a former honest Oath or but a promise doth not bind 3. Thirdly I doubt not to say that the Covenant cannot bind us to forsake our duties or discharge us from the exercise of our offices in the service of the Church whereunto we are called and to which we are obliged by God in his Word before ever the Covenant was thought on 1. I acknowledge that my Lord of Lincolne teacheth that the seeming hindring of some good doth not simply or precisely alwayes discharge us from our Oath except there be other circumstances concurring which evince it non obliging 2. But there seems to be no roome for a question here when our place and duty requires us to do that which would be hindred for then the discharge results also yea and principally from a former Obligation of God upon us to do our duty 3. A man swears he will never come near such a River more because he had like to have been drowned there but at a distance he sees his Neighbour in the same hazard at the same place now certainly notwithstanding his Oath to the contrary he is bound to help his Brother out and to save his life What is the reason of this there was a prior Obligation of God upon him thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self 4. Dr. Jacob the Casuist puts a harder Case by far then this A man swears to another that he will do him no hurt yet if by the Law he kills him afterwards he doth not break his Oath his reason is quia illa promissio non occidendi subintelligitur nisi lege permittente implying that there was a pre-obligation upon him to fulfill the Law Indeed the thing sworn must be indifferent in it self or at least of weaker necessity then the good that would be hindred by the keeping our Oath and then all Casuists I think concur with Jacob and Sylvester qui indifferens aliquid jurat ut ite ad villam non esse militem c. Dato Casu quo quis vivere nequeat nisi veniat contra Juramentum illud servare non tenetur propriâ Authoritate contravenire potest 5. Now if to endeavour extirpation of Episcopall Government be not sinful I am sure it is non-necessary and then it is but an indifferent thing if so though men have sworn it yet if the keeping their Oath will hinder the doing of their Natural duty both to the King in breaking his Laws casting off his Government and to the Church and our several Congregations in putting our selves into an incapacity according to Law to serve any longer in the Ministry we are so far discharged of our Oath
satisfaction by repairing unto and duely examining first what Opinion the Primitive Churches as soon as they took notice of these things in Controversie had of them and then also ask the Judgement of the most eminent Reformed Divines they have freely signified the same upon all occasions in their witings ever since the Reformation Now if it be unquestionably found that both the Primitive and Reformed Churches have unanimously testified That they believe the things now in Controversie with us are not forbidden by God but that they are at least of an Indifferent Nature and may lawfully be used Who art thou O Man that repliest or darest say they are unlawful FINIS An Addition to the first Impression by way of Supplement to the two great Cases touching the Inexpediency and unlawfulnesse of things imposed I. Touching the Doctrine of Expediency LEst the Doctrine of Expediency should yet remain under the cloud of any exception I have thought good to adde a few things for the farther clearing of it in Answer to the only material Objection against it Object It may be said quòd non expedit non licet and if that which is not expedient be not lawful then it may not be practiced upon any pretence for we must not do evil that good may come Answ In Answer hereunto I crave leave to distinguish for things are unlawful or evil in specie or in genere only That I call unlawful in specie which is in it self without respect to its circumstances prohibited by some special Law natural or positive as Theft Murther Profaning the Lords day c. now things simply inexpedient cannot be thought unlawful in this sence they being granted on all hands to be in themselves indifferent That is unlawful or evil in genere only on the other hand that is not the transgression of any special Law of Nature or Scripture but by reason of some accident or outward respect circumstance or consequence for the sake of which the thing becomes forbidden is unlawful by some general Rule of Decency Order Custom or the like Thus onely are things inexpedient unlawful or evil not in themselves but from their circumstances not in their Natures but accidentally not as violations of a special but of a geral Law of God So that if the inexpediency of such a thing for which alone it is prohibited be either severed from it or over-ballanced it becomes repugnant to no Law at all and consequently the evil and unlawfulnesse is in such a case removed Mr. Calvin Institut li. 4. c. 11. 31. gives us some instances of this shortly and smartly Quid an in Muliere Carbaso sita Religio est ut nudo capite egredi sit nefas an sanctum de ejus silentio decretum quòd violari sine summo scelere non possit an aliquid in genuflexione inhumando cadavere mysterium quod praeteriri sine piaculo non possit minime Sed est Nihilominus in istis rebus quod agendum aut cavendum mos regionis instituta ipsa denique humanitas modestiae regula dictet For that which by reason of circumstances onely is evill or unlawfull is so onely accidentally and may be not immutably so and that which is evil by accident in one respect may be good yea better in another now if circumstances sway on the other hand the thing that at first seemed otherwise may thus prove expedient and by the very reason of this Objection lawfull Yea admit that some respects do render it inexpedient yet if more and greater render it expedient it thus becomes more expedient then inexpedient and the over-ballance of expediency concluding the Case according to Polanus his Golden Rule the inexpediency must yield it self and the thing proceeds in such an instance of practice to be expedient and ought to be done For suppose the thing must either be done or left undone and it is inexpedient all things considered to leave it undone then it is expedient and consequently necessary to be done We must not do evill to obtaine good yet we must do good to prevent evil though the thing be good for nothing else Things that are expedient are therefore good It seemeth good to us and therefore necessary These necessary things Acts 15. whence those very things which we are afraid to do because inexpedient may possibly be our duty to do because expedient The summe is things with respect to expediency and inexpediency fall under a double consideration And such things as in their first consideration are inexpedient may in some second respects be both lawful expedient and necessary to be done Now whatsoever censure the reason given of it may conflict with I dare say the Proposition it self was hardly ever before opposed and I would fain hope it is not now No doubt the Apostles knew very well that a refusing to eat things strangled and bloud at that period of time especially by a Law to enjoyn it carried in the first consideration of it no small inconvenience as is easily judged from the rest of their Writings yea in that very Law they grant they are burthens no other Burthen yet to prevent greater inconveniencies the Apostacy of the Jews the interruption of the Gospel c. it seemed good unto them yea necessary so to do St. Cyprian's Rule is Catholick we Inst 4. 12 11. either find it or some Allusion to it almost every where Calvin amongst others cites and seals it and my Conclusion with it Misericorditer igitur corripiat homo quod autem non potest patientèr ferat cum delectione gemat atque lugeat St. Ambrose his advice to St. Augustine's Vid. Aug. cpist 86. Casula prope finem epist Januar 119. Mother that she should conform to the usages of every Church where she came which St. Augustine received as an Oracle from God must needs indulge my proposition unlesse every usage in the several Churches where she might possibly come were exactly squared to the strict Idea of fitnesse and expediency in the Matron's Mind which can hardly be imagined Servilibus oneribus premunt ut tolerabilior sit conditio Judaeorum And St. Augustine himself was in our very Case t is known he was much troubled at the multitude of Ceremonies in his time and heavily complaines of them as a burthen nay a bondage to the Church a bondage Januar. epist 119. Ecclesia multa tolerat ibid. worse then Jewish yet who ever found him symbolizing with Donatis or in the least to encourage any man for any such cause to break the Vnion and Peace of the Church by Separation yea he was the Captaine of the Hosts of the Lord against all appearances of such Schisme Most of the Forraign Reformed Divines have not onely asserted but applied the Rule to our very Case and therefore the rather to be heeded and have de industriâ given their advice from the present principle touching Conformity in England and what do they
from the King alone from time to time accordingly 8. For the Common Law common usage which is Common Law will no doubt plead prescription and establish this form of Government over us A Government as a very learned man affirms may be established by Law as well by consent and submission on the peoples Part as by express suffrage Quid interest suffragio populus voluntatem suam declaret an Rebus facto Jul. Thus we have found the Covenant to be against a Government that was established by the Laws of the Land before it was imposed or taken and in that sence against the Laws of the Land and consequently so far sinful and not obliging 10. But however this will passe certainly there is Law made since the Covenant that is plain enough and will surely hold us none can encourage any further doubt but that the present Church-Government is so far established by the Act for Vniformity as that it requires every Minister to declare that he is not bound to endeavour a change of it 11. So that if the Covenant should be yet binding on us to endeavour a change of this Government it should oblige us to violate the Law and consequently to sin therefore whatever we thought before we may be satisfied that the Covenant cannot oblige us so far now viz. contrary to express Law But we shall put the Case and examine it more at large CASE XII Whether a Covenant taken first can oblige us against a future Law Resol 1. THis Case being weighty and indeed much our own I shall set my self with all sincerity as in the sight of God to give it a full and clear resolution according to the best of my own reason and the judgement of uninterested and learned Casuists 2. That Episcopal Government is restored by Laws made since the Kings return viz. in that which was taken from it its place in the Parliament and its former Jurisdiction also that this present Church-Government is so far established by the Act for Vniformity that it is expresly owned and allowed that so much as endeavours against it are prohibited that it is no less then the loss of our Livings not to declare that we are not bound to endeavour the alteration of it These things are plain enough 3. The great question here is whether these Laws made in the behalf of Episcopal Government after the taking of the Covenant against it can discharge the Subjects from the Obligation of the Covenant so far 4. To this I do not fear to answer Episcopal Government being in it self not sinful in the affirmative neither do I find any noted Casuist to contradict me 5. The sum of my reason for the affirmative you have in this plain Argument The Covenant to do that which may Prop. 1. become unlawful cannot bind when the thing sworn abstracted from our Covenant is become unlawful for then the Covenant becomes a bond of iniquity and should bind beyond that known and generally approved rule that no Covenant binds further and therefore not longer then we lawfully may and in the words of the Covenanters plea make us debtors to hell 6. I am far from the Opinion of Navarr Sylvester Layman and those that affirm that no man is further bound by an Oath then he would have obliged himself if he had foreseen the ill consequences of it which is indeed in their latitude a very dangerous rule and plainly destructive to humane society 7. Yet no Casuist but with Sanches will allow the Rule when thus limited that what would at first have hindred our obliging our selves had it been foreseen or had it first hapned will also discharge us when known or come to pass from the obligation to the performance of it if it be by reason that the matter is inhabilis ad producendam obligationem that is if the thing become unlawful and consequently weak and unable to produce an obligation as before But to Covenant to endeavour the Prop. 2. extirpation of Episcopal Government though it might be thought to be lawful to do then yet now it appears it was to Covenant to do that which might become unlawful viz. by the Laws restoring that Government and prohibiting all endeavours for the extirpation or alteration of it 2. Therefore if it did oblige so far before which cannot be granted yet it can now oblige so far no longer except it have power beyond Authority and can warrant disobedience to the Laws of the Land 3. The reason of the whole lies in that excellent Rule of Dr. Ames a Rule not questioned by any that I have heard of De Rebus ita Mutabilibus ut rem promissam faciant illi citam subintelligitur si res in eodem statu permanserint that is in the fairest and most uncexeptionable interpretation if the change of the state of things do not render the thing sworn or promised sinful or unlawful 4. Now it may be worth the examining what unlawfulness can de novo be contracted by the change of the state of things mutable 5. Certainly not an unlawfulness from any immediate prohibition of God for then either the thing could not be lawful or in that sence mutable before and the promise had been sinful ab initio whereas Dr. Ames supposeth the contrary and giveth this among the rest as a condition of a lawful Oath or else it must be made unlawful by special revelation which is absurd to suppose especially seeing Ames makes the changableness of the things and the state of them a possible instrument of changing things before lawful and lawfully sworn into sinful and such as can no longer be obliged unto 6. What then remains but that this Rule refers to the laws of men which indeed have power to change the state of things indifferent and to make them as to us and as to their use though not in themselves either sinful or necessary 7. So that the meaning of the Rule is that when we promise or swear any thing that is lawful if it be of a mutable nature and the contrary to what we swear may be commanded by Authority we are onely to perform it with this condition if things remain in the same condition and the command of Superiours or the Law of the Land do not prohibite and make it unlawful for us to do 8. Thus admit that Episcopal Government was res indifferens and res mutabilis when men swore against it yet to perform that Oath is now become unlawful by the intervention of new Law and our duty to Superiours which no former Oath can supersede for according to the Rule the Oath cannot bind in things of so mutable a nature without this condition si res in eodem statu permanserint if the things sworn do no way afterwards become sinful Object The proposal of an Objection wherein we have all that can possibly be urged against this Rule may give some advantage to our further clearing this weighty matter it is