Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter 21: Oaths to Observe Local Statutes - The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy
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Chapter 21: Oaths to Observe Local Statutes - William Paley, The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, Foreword by D.L. Le Mahieu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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Oaths to Observe Local Statutes
Members of colleges in the Universities, and of other ancient foundations, are required to swear to the observance of their respective statutes; which observance is become in some cases unlawful, in others impracticable, in others useless, in others inconvenient.
Unlawful directions are countermanded by the authority which made them unlawful.
Impracticable directions are dispensed with by the necessity of the case.
The only question is, how far the members of these societies may take upon themselves to judge of the inconveniency of any particular direction, and make that a reason for laying aside the observation of it.
The animus imponentis, which is the measure of the juror’s duty, seems to be satisfied, when nothing is omitted, but what, from some change in the circumstances under which it was prescribed, it may fairly be presumed that the founder himself would have dispensed with.
To bring a case within this rule, the inconveniency must—
1. Be manifest; concerning which there is no doubt.
2. It must arise from some change in the circumstances of the institution: for, let the inconveniency be what it will, if it existed at the time of the foundation, it must be presumed that the founder did not deem the avoiding of it of sufficient importance to alter his plan.
3. The direction of the statute must not only be inconvenient in the general (for so may the institution itself be), but prejudicial to the particular end proposed by the institution: for, it is this last circumstance which proves that the founder would have dispensed with it in pursuance of his own purpose.
The statutes of some colleges forbid the speaking of any language but Latin, within the walls of the college; direct that a certain number, and not fewer than that number, be allowed the use of an apartment amongst them; that so many hours of each day be employed in public exercises, lectures, or disputations; and some other articles of discipline adapted to the tender years of the students who in former times resorted to universities. Were colleges to retain such rules, nobody now-a-days would come near them. They are laid aside therefore, though parts of the statutes, and as such included within the oath, not merely because they are inconvenient, but because there is sufficient reason to believe, that the founders themselves would have dispensed with them, as subversive of their own designs.