LETTER I. On the absurdity of Authoritative TOLERATION of gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry.
HOW God himself connected religion, and the civil welfare of nations, in his ancient laws, almost the whole of the Old Testament doth bear witness. That religion is the great basis of civil happiness, was the common, the avowed belief of e∣very sensible Heathen: It was, for ought I know, the infamous monster Tiberius, who first pretended, That the Gods alone ought to regard or resent the injuries done them. Before the happy Reformation, the Popish clergy had reduced civil rulers into mere tools for exe∣cuting their pleasure in religious matters; and pre∣tended that they had no power of judging in them. To free these rulers from such Antichristian claims, the Protestant reformers, every where, as their Confessi∣ons of faith and other writings make evident, loudly maintained, That to magistrates themselves indepen∣dent of clergymen, belongs a distinguished power in the reformation and preservation of religion. Not long after, Erastus, a German physician and his fol∣lowers, to curry favour with their respective princes, pretended, That magistrates are the proper lords of the Christian church, from whom her ministers and other rulers derive their whole power, and to whom they must be accountable. This notion, exceedingly flattering their ambition, was too greedily embraced by most of the Protestant princes; nor do I know of one Protestant church, which hath not suffered by
means of it. Meanwhile, the German Anabaptists, having experienced the frowns, and sometimes the improper severities of magistrates, copied after the ancient Donatists in the like circumstances, and warm∣ly contended, That magistrates have no more power about religious matters than any private person, and ought to punish none for different sentiments in doc∣trine or forms of worship. The Socinians and re∣monstrant Arminians, except when magistrates favour∣ed themselves, and promoted their cause, zealously contended for the same notion, at least in the case of ministers and worship, which were not maintained at the public expence. Many, if not most of the Eng∣lish Independents in the last century were much of the same mind; and hence, by their influence, some pas∣sages in the Westminster Confession of Faith could ne∣ver obtain a ratification by the English Parliament, or a place in their own Savoy Confession. Part of these passages, relative to the magistrate's power, are also dropt from the Confession of Faith agreed to by the Independents of New England in 1682. Most of the English Dissenters of this century seem to be much of the same mind; especially such as might otherwise have been exposed to danger on account of their open maintenance of Arian, Socinian, and Quakerish blas∣phemies—Locke and bishop Hoadly, and some others of the Episcopalian party, warmly espoused the same cause.
This notion never received much countenance in Scotland, till Mr Glass of Tealing commenced a fu∣rious new-fashioned Independent. He mightily con∣tended, That the Jewish nation was an ecclesiastical one, and their kings ecclesiastical rulers; that Chris∣tian magistrates have no more power in religious mat∣ters than private Christians, and ought not to employ their power in advancing the true religion, or in mak∣ing laws with penalties in favour of it; or in restraining or punishing heretics or false teachers, nor ought they to give more encouragement to good Christians, than to other peaceable subjects;—that the example of the re∣forming kings of Judah in punishing idolatry and false worship, and in promoting the true religion, is not now to be imitated; and that our fathers national
covenanting against Popery and other wickedness, in favour of the true religion was unwarrantable, and is not binding upon us.—Dr. Wisheart, Principal of the college of Edinburgh, in his sermons contended, That magistrates have only a right to punish such crimes as strike immediately against the persons or property of men; but not to punish any thing which strikes im∣mediately against the honour of God, as blasphe∣my or heresy; that all men ought to have civil liber∣ty to think and speak as they please, providing they make no attack upon the welfare of civil society; that none ought to be hampered in their search after truth by any requirement of their subscriptions to Formu∣las or Confessions of Faith; that children in their edu∣cation, ought never to be biassed to a side by learning catechisms which maintain the peculiar principles of a party. These or the like notions have been adopt∣ed by not a few of the pretenders to modern illumi∣nation.
In her public Standards, the Church of Scotland hath renounced, and in her solemn covenants hath abjured both these extremes. In her Old Confession of Faitb, which is expresly sworn to in the national cove∣nant of 1581, &c. as in all points the undoubted truth of God, Art. xxiv, she asserts, that
"the power and authority of magistrates is God's holy ordinance, or∣dained for manifestation of his own glory, and for the singular profit of mankind—they are the lieutenants of God, in whose sessions God himself doth fit and judge—to whom by God is given the sword to the praise and defence of good men, and to punish all o∣pen malefactors. To kings, princes, rulers and ma∣gistrates chiefly, and most principally, the conservati∣on and purgation of religion appertains; so that not only are they appointed for civil policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion, and for suppression of all idolatry and superstition whatsoever."
This doctrine is further asserted and explained in her second book of discipline, chap. ix; The doctrine of her Westminster Confession of Faith,
the WHOLE of which is solemnly espoused and engaged to, by every Presby∣terian minister and elder in Scotland in his ordination vows, is that
"for their publishing opinions or main∣taining
practices contrary to the light of nature and the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship or conversation, or to the power of godliness, or such erroneous opinions or practices, as either, in their own nature, or in the manner of pub∣lishing and maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace, and order, which Christ hath establi∣shed in the church, they may be lawfully called to account, and proceeded against by—the power of the civil magist•
ate," Chap. xx. 4.—
"God, the su∣preme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good—they ought especially, (in managing their office) to maintain PI∣ETY, justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth—That the civil magis∣trate—HATH authority, and it IS his duty to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the church, and that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all cor∣ruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevent∣ed and reformed, and all the ordinances of God du∣ly settled, administered and observed. For the better effecting of which, he hath power to call Synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God," Chap. xxiii. 1, 2, 3.—
"The duties required in the second commandment are—the disapproving, detest∣ing, opposing all false worship, and according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monu∣ments of idolatry;—The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counselling, com∣manding, using, and any ways approving any religi∣ous worship not instituted by God himself, tolerating a false religion." Lar. Cat. Q 108, 109.
These de∣clarations are an authentic explication of the power of the magistrate in maintaining and preserving the true religion,
the defence of which is expresly sworn in their solemn covenants with God. If therefore, Sir, you discredit this doctrine, and plead the toleration of idolatry, blasphemy, heresy, and that magistrates ought to meddle with nothing in religion, be so ho∣nest, as openly to renounce your ordination vows and
the Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as well as the national Covenant and Solemn League.
To illustrate the above doctrine of our excellent standards, it is proper to observe, (1.) God alone is the necessarily existent, and absolutely independent Creator and preserver, and therefore original and su∣preme proprietor and governor of all things in hea∣ven or earth, Exod. iii. 4. Gen. i. Psal. civ. and xxiv. 1, 2. xxxiii. 6. lxxxiii. 18. xlvii. 2, 7, 9. Ezek. i. 11. Col. i. 16,—18. Dan. iv. 34, 35. (2.) All right, ci∣vil, natural, or spiritual, whether of conscience, or of persons, or of husbands, parents, masters, magis∣trates, ministers, or even of Christ as mediator, must therefore wholly originate from God alone, Psalm cxv. 16. Rom. ii. 36. Heb. ii. 10 Acts x. 25, 28. 2 Cor. v. 18. Psal. lxxv. 7. Dan. ii. 21. iv. 32, 35. Mat. xxviii. 18. ii. 27. John v. 35. To suppose any real•right or being whatsoever, unoriginating from him, is to give up with the necessary existence of God, and to plunge into the very depths of Atheism. (3.) All right and authority of conscience, persons, hus∣bands, parents, magistrates, ministers, or even of Christ as mediator, being wholly derived from God, ought, necessarily ought, wholly to be improved, or exercised in his name, in conformity and subordinati∣on to his law, as the supreme rule, and in order to promote his declarative glory as the chief end of it. Prov. xvi. 4 Rom ii. 30. 1 Pet. iv. 11. 1 Cor x. 31. John v. 30. viii. 29 vii. 18. Eph iii. 21 (4.) No right or authority derived from God can therefore be lawfully improven or exercised, in protecting, encou∣raging, allowing or commanding any thing which God himself, on account of his infinite perfection in holi∣ness, justice, goodness and truth, cannot command;—or in discouraging, disallowing, or prohibiting any thing which God in his law requires. It is absurd to suppose it, that God can give men a power which he hath not himself; and shocking blasphemy to sup∣pose him capable of giving men a right and authority to contemn or counteract his own law as their rule, or his own glory as their chief end, in every thing they do, 2 Tim. ii. 13. Hab. i. 12, 13. Exod, xv. 11. Deut. xxxii. 4. Zeph. iii. 5. James i. 13. (5.) All the diversified forms of right and authority in conscience,
husbands, parents, masters, magistrates, ministers, and even in Christ as mediator, being derived from the same God of infinite wisdom and order, each of them may, and ought to be wholly exercised within its proper de∣partment, and in a manner answerable to its nature, and never in the way of invading the place or inter∣rupting the exercise of any other right or authority. No right of conscience can be exercised to the inter∣ruption of the due exercise of marital, parental, ma∣gisterial, magistratical, ministerial, or Christ's media∣torial authority; nor, can any regular exercise of these powers interrupt the due exercise of the power of conscience, or of one another, 1 Cor. xiv. 33, 40. vii. 20, 24. (6.) All these different forms of power and authority being derived from the same God, may have the same things for their object, but viewed in different respects. The same man may be subject to the power of his conscience as he is a rational crea∣ture,—subject to the power of parents as a child,—subject to the power of masters as a servant,—subject to the power of magistrates as a member of the com∣monwealth,—subject to the power of church-rulers as a member of an organized visible church,—subject to the mediatorial power of Christ, as a member of his mystical body, or an agent for promoting the wel∣fare of it.—The same good work of piety or virtue may, or ought to be required by conscience, by pa∣rents, masters, magistrates, ministers, and even by Christ as mediator, in different respects, as calculated to promote the welfare of the persons, families, nati∣ons, and churches concerned,—in subordination to the glory of God as their respective proprietor and superior. The performance of the same good work may be encouraged by rewards from all these diffe∣rent powers, answerable to their respective forms.—The same vices of idolatry, blasphemy, calumny, trea∣son, theft, murder, &c. as in different respects hurt∣ful to persons, families, civil societies, and churches, may, and ought to be prohibited by all these different powers, and resented by each, as hurtful to itself, as subordinated to God,—in a manner answerable to its particular nature and department,—by conscience with stinging rebukes,—by parents with correction, disin∣heriting,
or the like,—by masters with frowns, stripes, abridgment of wages, or the like,—by magistrates with public dishonour, fining, imprisonment, or death,—by church rulers with ecclesiastical rebuke, excom∣munication,—by Christ with temporal, spiritual or eternal judgment, Acts xxiv. 16. Josh xxiv. 15. Psal. ci. Mat. v, vi, vii, &c. (7.) All these powers of conscience, husbands, parents, masters, magistrates, church-rulers, and of Christ as mediator, proceeding from an infinitely wise, powerful and good God, are each of them, in its own place, altogether sufficient to gain its own end.—Nevertheless, it mightily tends to the advantage of each, that all of them be rightly exercised at once, and to the hurt os all the rest, if any of them be not. If conscience act faithfully, this promotes the regular and comfortable exercise of the power of husbands, parents, masters, magistrates or ministers. &c. And it is to the advantage of consci∣ence, if they regularly exercise their power, and espe∣cially if Christ exercise his, in a remarkable manner. It is much to the advantage of Church and State, if husbands, parents, and masters, faithfully exercise their power in their respective departments; and much to their hurt, if they do not. If the rulers in Church and State, faithfully discharge their trust, it will tend much to promote the welfare of families. The more faithfully ministers labour in winning souls to Christ, and teaching men to live soberly, righte∣ously and godly in view of Christ's second coming, the more easy will the work of magistrates, and the great∣er the happiness of the commonwealth be.—The more faithfully magistrates act in curbing of crimes, and promoting obedience to God the King of nations, as a mean of securing his felicitating blessing to the commonwealth, the more delightfully will church-power be exercised, and the more abundantly it will tend to the welfare of the church. Nay, though the mediatorial power of Christ be infinitely sufficient in its own place, to answer its own ends, yet the delight∣ful exercise and success of it is not a little promoted by the faithful exercise of the powers of conscience, husbands, parents, masters, magistrates and church-rulers, Acts xxiv. 16. 1 Tim. i. 5. Eph. iv,—vi. Col.
iii. iv. 1 & 2 Tim. Titus i.—iii. 1 Pet. ii.—v. Psalm ii. 10, 12. Rev. ii. 15. xvii. 14, 16. xxi. 24. Isa. xlix. 23. lx, 3, 4, 10, 16. (8.) Though the marital, pa∣rental, magisterial, magistratical, and ministerial pow∣ers be altogether distinct from, and independent of one another, and each of them have its own particu∣lar exercises pertaining to it alone;—yet the same per∣son, in respect of different relations, may be at once superior or inferior to another person,—and so may be required to fulfil the particular duties of his station, by one who hath not any lawful right to perform them himself. Thus magistrates and ministers as such, may require husbands to perform their duties to their wives, parents to perform theirs to their children, or masters theirs to their servants, as a mean of promot∣ing the welfare of the commonwealth and of the church, in obedience to God, and aiming at his glo∣ry. An uncrowned husband of a queen may com∣mand her, faithfully to exercise her magistratical power, as a means of honour and happiness to his family; and she as queen may command him in eve∣ry thing relating to the welfare of the state, as her of∣ficer or subject. A parent may require his son, as such, faithfully to exercise his ministerial, magistra∣tical, or magisterial power as a mean of honour and happiness to his family. A son may command his fa∣ther, who is his servant, in every thing pertaining to the service due from him, and even to order his fami∣ly aright, in so far as it tends to promote that service. Ministers, as the ambassadors of Christ, have power to require magistrates, as church members, faithfully to exercise their magistratical power, so as may best promote the honour of Christ, and the welfare of his church. And on the other hand, magistrates have power to require ministers as their subjects, faithfully to exercise their ministerial power, as a mean of ren∣dering the nation pious and virtuous, in order to pro∣mote its happiness,—and all this in subordination to the law, and to promote the glory of God as the su∣preme governor of families, churches, or nations. (9.) Though the marital, parental, magisterial, ma∣gistratical and ministerial powers, have, each of them,
something for its peculiar and distinguishing object, in which no other power can interfere with it;—Thus it is always unlawful for husbands, parents, mas∣ters or ministers, as such, to assume the power of civil magistrates in levying taxes, adjudging criminals to death,—always unlawful for parents, masters, or ma∣gistrates, as such, to preach the gospel, dispense sacra∣ments; or church-censures;—yet if the exercise of some of these powers be fearfully neglected or abused, the other powers may be exercised, in order to rec∣tify the disorders occasioned, further than would be proper if there were no such neglect, abuse, or dis∣order. Thus if husbands, parents, or masters, fear∣fully abuse their power, relative to wives, children, or servants, the rulers of church or state, for the be∣nefit of these societies, may interfere more with their family-concerns, than would be proper in other cir∣cumstances. If church-rulers be notoriously negli∣gent or wicked, magistrates as church-members, and to promote the welfare of the state, may do more in the re∣formation of the church, than would be proper for them, if church rulers were diligent and faithful. And, if through the indolence or wickedness of ma∣gistrates, the affairs of the nation be thrown into terri∣ble confusion, ministers as members of the commonwealth, and to promote the welfare of the church, may do more in the rectification of affairs, than would be proper, if the magistrates were faithful, 2 Kings xi. 2 Chron. xxiii (10.) All governing authority empowers the possessors of it, to issue forth laws or commandments, binding on the subject of it. But these laws or com∣mandments can extend their binding force no further, than the particular department belonging to that pow∣er, as by that, every particular form of authority, de∣rived from God, is limited. The laws or command∣ments of parents, masters, magistrates, and church-rulers, extend only to external things in the family, commonwealth, or church. These of conscience and of Christ extend also to that which is inward in the heart.—And as all human superiors are imperfect in knowledge themselves, and cannot enable their sub∣jects perfectly to understand their whole duty, it is ne∣cessary that laws of families or nations, or constituti∣ons
of churches require nothing but what is plainly a∣greeable to the law of God, and nothing in religion but what is plainly required by the word of God, that so no∣thing may be contrary to these laws but what is not only really, but plainly contrary to the word of God. And, the weaker the subjects are, the more conde∣scension ought to be exercised towards them in this matter, Rom. xv, 1, 2. (11.) As men cannot bow the hearts of their inferiors unto subjection, they ought always to issue forth their commandments in the most prudent, mild and gaining manner. It is very im∣proper to issue forth any law doubtful or obscure, or which most of the subjects are not likely to be got peaceably to comply with. This ought especially to be attended to, in the framing and imposing of laws and constitutions relative to religion, which ought to be a reasonable and voluntary service. (12) As noth∣ing, particularly in religion, ought to be contrary to any law of church or state but what is plainly con∣trary to the law of God; and nothing ought to be held censurable by the laws of the church, or punishable by the laws of the state, but what is plainly contrary to these laws, and hath become duly public, in the pro∣vidence of God, without requiring the party concern∣ed to be his own accuser.—So, on account of the weakness or number of the offenders, or the disorder∣ed state of the society, many real scandals in the church must be forborne without centure, and many real crimes against the state forborne without punishment; notwithstanding, it would be extremely wicked, au∣thoritatively to license or tolerate them in either. If your children be very young, raving in a fever, deli∣rious, or apt to fall into convulsive fits, it might be very prudent and dutiful for you to forbear severe chastisement of them for playing on the Lord's day; repeating some wicked expressions, they had heard from their fellow children, or the like. But would it be lawful in you to give them a parental licence to profane the Sabbath or name of God, and promise them protection in so doing? You dare not pretend it. God himself wisely forbears the punishment of many things, which his law forbids. (13.) As it is never errors or corruptions of the heart, but wick∣ed
words and deeds, sufficiently and regularly mani∣fested, which are to be corrected in families, punish∣ed in commonwealths, or censured in churches, Deut. xiii. 1,—14. xvii. 46. Heb. x. 28. 1 Tim. v. 1—So even in punishing manifest crimes, especially in mat∣ters of religion, all proper mildness ought to be exer∣cised, never proceeding to extremities, where there is any hope of reformation, or where, as in the case of heresy or blasphemy, confession and repentance can make any kind of restitution, Mat. xviii. 15,—18. Among the Hebrews, not one appears to have been punished for idolatry, if he professed repentance and reformation. The princes of Israel first attempted to bring the Reubenites and Gadites, whom they sup∣posed guilty of it, to repentance, Josh. xxii. Never in the reformation by Asa, Hezekiah, or Jofiah, have we one instance of a penitent idolater slain. The idolaters condemned to death, Deut. xiii. xvii. are re∣presented as men of Belial, presumptuous, and obsti∣nate in their wickedness. The prophets of Baal whom Elijah caused be put to death, 1 Kings xviii. 40. and Mattan the priest, who was slain by Jehoiada's or∣ders, 2 Kings xi. 18. were no doubt of this sort; and probably also guilty of promoting the murder of the Lord's prophets and people. The man put to death for profanation of the Sabbath, appears to have acted presumptuously, Num. xv. 30,—36. Asa and his subjects covenanted to put to death such as obstinately adhered to idolatry, 2 Chron. xv. 12, 13. (14.) Ma∣gistrates ought never to attempt forcing men to believe with their hearts, even the most fundamental truths of religion, or to practise any religious duty,—that be∣ing no means appointed by God for convincing them of the truth, or inducing them to a cordial perfor∣mance of religious duties, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. But it would be highly absurd, hence to infer, That magis∣trates may not restrain men from robbing nations or churches of those divine truths, which God hath gra∣ciously entrusted to them, and which are inexpressi∣bly profitable to them,—or restrain them from propa∣gating gross heresies, blasphemies, idolatries, which undermine and exclude the true religion, provoke God o destroy nations, and are the fruitful seeds of
contention, confusion, and every evil work. No ma∣gistrate can compel me to love my neighbour as my self, or can justly compel me to divide mine inheritance with him; but he may lawfully punish me for calum∣niating or robbing him.
It is, therefore, extremely uncandid in the advocates for magistratical tolerations of heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, always to attempt blending or placing on an equal level, true and false religion,—mere neglect of some positive duties of religion, and shocking insults u∣pon, and opposition to the duties of religion,—lesser and secret mistakes in religion, and the most damnable heresies, blasphemies, and idolatries, openly and ob∣stinately professed and practised, as if these were e∣qually objects of toleration, restraint, or punishment,—or, to confound a mere forbearance to punish, with an authoritative licence, openly to prosess and practise what is criminal respecting religion. The true religion ought never to need a toleration. It ought always to have an establishment. Whereas a false one ought never to be established, magistrates having no power against the truth but for the truth. There are many mere neglects or lesser mistakes in religion, against which it would not be proper for magistrates to enact civil laws, in this present state of imperfection. And, if there be no civil law against them, they cannot be punishable as crimes.
"Where no law is, there can be no transgression."
—Mere forbearance to punish, what is plainly contrary to law, is, in some cases, ne∣cessary, and in imitation of God himself; and gives no positive encouragement to wickedness. Whereas a positive
toleration, proclaims to men, a liberty to sin, and promiseth them protection in so doing. If the provider for an army deliver to them fine flour mixed with some particles of bran, and a large quantity of arsenic, Is his delivery of the sine flour, or even of the mixture of bran, as criminal and punishable, as that of the mixture of arsenic? No man that is not mad will pretend it. For the fine flour he deserves the highest encouragement:
for the bran he may be justiy forborne;
but for the arse∣nic he deserves to be hanged.
The toleration, which I mean to oppose, if plainly and candidly expressed, would run thus:
"We, the King and Parliament of —, as powers or∣dained of God,—ministers of God for good to men,—as the ordinance of God for the terror and punishment of evil doers, and the praise of them that do well,—as nursing fathers to the church of Christ,—in or∣der that all our subjects may come to the knowledge of the truth, and lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty—Do hereby, in the name and authority of The Most High GOD, from whom we have derived all that governing power, which we possess, that we, ruling in his fear, may exercise it wholly in obedience to his law, and to promote his declarative glory in the world—Grant to all and every one of you, our said subjects, an authorita∣tive toleration or legal licence,—openly and obsti∣nately to pervert, contradict, and revile the decla∣rations of God contained in his word,—and in the most in solent and abusive manner to blaspheme his nature, perfections, purposes and works, par∣ticularly of the redemption of mankind,—and to corrupt his worship, represent him in it, in the most absurd and abominable forms,—or rob him of it, giving it to devils, monsters of wickedness, brutes, stocks, or stones, in his stead,—and with all your might to exert yourselves, in making your fellow subjects do the like.—And, we hereby do, In the same name and authority of God, the King of nations, promise you every kind and degree of ci∣vil protection in all such behaviour, as you can pro∣fess, or pretend, your consciences do dictate or al∣low,—providing always, that you commit your out∣rage only against God, your, and our Maker and Sovereign,—but do not disturb the external peace of the nation, in reviling the civil character, seizing or hurting the civil property, or any way abusing the body of any of your fellow sinners of mankind."
—The correspondent warrant of conscience which we mean to impugn, if honestly expressed, would run thus:
"I Conscience, as the great deputy
of The Most High GOD, Lord, and Lawgiver of the world, implanted in every man's breast, for
his temporal, spiritual, and eternal advantage, Do hereby, In God's name and authority,
and in the ex∣ercise of my power which is wholly derived from him, and to be exercised for his glory, in trying all things by his law,
and holding fast that which is good,
—Warrant and authorize all and eve∣ry one of you, sons and daughters of men, to de∣vise, believe, openly and obstinately profess, and zealously propagate every damnable heresy, and blasphemous opinion, and to practise and propa∣gate every absurd and abominable form of idolatry, which Satan, who deceiveth the world, and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wick∣ed, and given up of God to strong delusion, belief of lies, vile affections, and a reprobate sense, can make you think innocent or proper.—And, I do hereby, In the same name and authority,
—Grant you my sacred claim of right
to all manner of liberty and protection from the civil magistrate in so do∣ing,—providing always, that you commit such in∣jury and outrage only against God, your infinitely excellent, high, and gracious Proprietor and Su∣perior, and do no civil injury to the body, charac∣ter, or property of your fellow creatures."
Such is indeed the toleration which many praise or plead for; and this I proceed to impugn, by the following arguments.
I. Mens pleadings for it do, all of them, necessarily proceed on their adopting such atheistical principles as the following, (1.) Mens natural or civil rights to their property, liberty, profits and honours, are not ori∣ginally derived from God,—and ought to protect them in their most outragious sinning against him (2,) Mens consciences have a right and authority, unde∣rived from, and independent of God, by which it can warrant them to think and speak of, or act to∣wards God, as insolently and blasphemously as they please. (3.) That, if the law of God, be any rule to men; it is not so, in respect of any intrinsic meaning affixed to it by him, but merely as it is understood by every man, particularly in that which relates to their behaviour towards God. (4.) All men being ready to mistake, we ought always to believe that our op∣ponents
may have as just a view of the scriptures as ourselves, and never to condemn them for that which they do not own to be blasphemy, idolatry, or heresy. (5.) Magistrates right and authority to govern others, doth not originate in God as the Creator, Preserver, and King of nations, but in magistrates themselves, or in their subjects; and so may be exercised as they please, particularly in requiring or allowing their sub∣jects to belie, blaspheme, or rob God. (6) Magis∣trates may be moral governors deputies or lieutenants, under God, without having any power or authority relating to religion, or his honour. (7.) Not the law of God natural or revealed, but the laws of nations ought to be the supreme standard of all civil govern∣ment. (8.) Not the declarative glory of God, as the Most High over all the earth, but the civil peace and prosperity of nations, ought to be the chief end of ma∣gistrates in all their acts of government. (9) Mens natural rights of conscience, or their civil rights, or the authority of magistrates, may or ought to empow∣er, warrant, or protect them in gross heresy, blasphe∣my, idolatry, or other outragious abuse and injury of God; but can by no means warrant or protect them in calumny, theft, murder, or any other injuries a∣gainst men. (10.) There is no real difference between moral good and evil, at least in things pertaining to God; and so true and false religion are equally cal∣culated to promote the welfare of civil society, and the virtues which render men good, peaceable, useful, and honourable rulers or subjects,—and hence here∣tics, blasphemers, and idolaters may be good subjects. (11.) The favour or indignation of God is of no im∣portance to civil society; and therefore magistrates ought to use no means to procure his favour by the encouragement of true religion, or to avert his indig∣nation by the restraint of gross heresy, blasphemy, or idolatry,—but only labour to procure the friendship of men, and prevent their injuring the character, pro∣perty, or bodies of their subjects—That all these propositions are really atheistical, is manifest. They all give up with the necessary existence, infinite excel∣lency, and absolute supremacy of God, without any of which, he cannot be God at all.—That Locke,
Hoadly, Blackburn, Voltaire, and others, advocates for authoritative toleration of false religion, found their pleadings on the above propositions, is no less e∣vident to every judicious and unbiassed observer.—Nay, did not modesty forbid, I might defy all the world to plead for such toleration, without taking all, or some of the above or like atheistical propositions for granted.
II. The scriptures plainly represent magistrates granting of men an unrestrained freedom to profess and practise a false religion as extremely sinful and hurtful. (1.) It is in the name of God to give a li∣berty to the flesh, of which heresics and idolatry are the manifest and damning works, Gal. v. 13, 19,—21. with Rom. viii, 7, 8. (2.) It is not merely to pity and spare, but to encourage such as seek to draw away their subjects from God, contrary to Deut. xiii. 9, 10. Eph. xiv. 14. 2 Tim. iii. 4, 5, 13. 2 Pet. ii. 1, 2, 3. (3.) In so doing, magistrates, as political shepherds, not only suffer the flock of God, the King of nations, under their charge, to wander or be driven from their fold and pasture, but encourage them in it,—contra∣ry to Ezek. xxxiv. 5,—8. Acts xx 30. (4.) It marks a heavy judgment of God upon, and an anarchy in a commonwealth, when every man is left without restraint, and doth that which is right in his own eyes, in matters of religion, Judges xvii. 6. Zech. xi. 9, 16. 2 Chron. xx. 33. Amos iv. 4, 5. (5.) In granting such liberty, magistrates are not for Christ, by whom they rule, Prov. viii. 15, 16. but against him, in encouraging and protecting the doctrines and works of the devil, which he came to destroy, John viii. 44. 1 Tim. iv. 2. Rev. xvi. 13, 14 with 1 John iii. 8. Zech. xiii. 2. (6) False religion eats out the true doctrine of Christ, and the true piety and virtue which proceed from the faith of it,—which are like joints and bands to connect and establish a nati∣on, Isa. liii. 5. 2 Tim. ii. 16, 17. Gal. v. 10, 11, 12. (7.) Heresies produce divisions, 1 Cor. xi. 18, 19. make men wanton, filthy dreamers, despisers and revilers of magistrates, Jude, ver. 4, 8. 2 Pet. ii. 10,—17. they render times perilous, and make men traitors, heady,Page 19high minded, truce-breakers, false accusers, fierce, with∣out natural affection, despisers of those that are good, 2 Tim iii. 1,—13. They produce envy, strifes, evil sur∣misings, and perverse disputings, 1 Tim. vi. 3, 4. Gal. v. 19, 20. they spoil Christ's vines, Song ii. 15. (8.) False religion deprives a nation of God's protecting hedge of favourable providence, and opens an inlet or the floods of destructive judgments, Exod. xxxii. 25. Ezek. xiii. 4, 5. and xxii. 30, 31. (9.) Magistrates indulgence of a false religion is represented as a kicking at the true religion, and an honouring of the corrupters above God, and brings a charge of the wickedness upon the tolerators of it. Hence Eli the judge of Israel is represented as kicking at God's sacrifice, honouring his profane sons •bove God, and making himself fat with God's portion of the sacrifices, because he did not effectu∣ally re•orm his sons, 1 Sam. ii. 12,—16, 23,—25. 29. Eph. v. 7, 11. and Nehemiah contended with the rulers of Judah for suffering the worship of God to be neglected, and the Sabbath profaned, Neh. xiii. 10,—18. (10) Such indulgence of false or corrupt religion is represented as tending to make men abhor the true religion, and speak evil of it, 1 Sam. ii. 17. 2 Pet. ii. 1,—3.
III. The scriptures represent magistrates as having power to make civil laws relative to the external con∣cerns of religion subordinated to the law of God, and answerable to their own department. (1.) They have in charge the keeping of the whole law of God, Deut. xvii. 19 1 Kings ii. 3. Josh. i. 7, 8. 2 Chron xxiii. 11. Job xxix. 25. Rom. xiii. 1,—4. It is never hinted, that they have no charge with respect to religion, but the contrary. God chose Moses the magistrate, not Aaron the High-priest to publish his laws relative to religion.—Abijah avers, that in maintaining the true worship of God, he had kept the charge of the Lord, which Jeroboam the introducer of a false reli∣gion had not, 2 Chron xiii. 10, 11. (2.) God pro∣mised to the Jews good magistrates, in order to root out abusive practices and monuments of false religion, Isa i. 25, 26. Now, if they had power to root these out, they had certainly power to make laws for that effect. (3.) They ought to repeal wicked and perse∣cuting
laws, and free their subjects from being bound over to punishment by them for their faithful service of God, Psalm xciv. 20. Isa. x. 11. Mic. vi. 16. Hos. v. 11. If they can repeal wicked laws, they must have power to establish what is contrary to them, Dan. iii. and vi. (4) If magistrates can make laws encou∣raging the true religion and church of Christ, by an∣nexation of civil favours to the profession or practice of gospel-truth; they can also by law annex civil pu∣nishment to the contempt of, or rebellion against these laws; they being for the terror and punishment of evil doers, as well as for the praise of them that do well, Rom. xiii. 3, 4. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14 Dan. vi. 16. iii. 29. Ezra i. 1,—5. vi. 3,—12. vii. 23,—27. (5) By enacting such laws they neither invade the office of ecclesiastical rulers, who have no power to connect civil rewards or punishments, with any thing religious,—nor do they transgress any law of God.—What then can hinder their having power to make them? (6.) If all sorts of men, church members and officers, as well as others, be subject to civil magistrates, they must have power, and ought to make civil laws calcu∣lated to promote their advantage, in all these stations, Rom. xiii. 1,—4. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. 1 Tim. ii 1, 2. (7.) Unless magistrates have a power to make good laws relative to the external profession and practice of religion, clergymen, if generally corrupt, will have it in their power, by Synodical constitutions, or other∣wise, to devour and poison their subjects, with the seeds of confusion, profaneness, and every evil work, without any possibility of any legal restraint. For to allow magistrates to act without law, is to introduce tyranny and arbitrary government.
But, in magistrates making laws respecting religion, it is necessary, that [1.] They, first in order, care∣fully acquaint themselves with the law of God, that they may form all their laws in agreeableness and su∣bordination to it,—they having no power against the truth, but for it, Deut. xvii. 18,—20. Josh. i. 7, 8. Psalm cxix. 97,—104. 2 Cor. xiii. 8. [2.] They ought to consult with faithful ministers of the church, either as met in Synods or otherwise; as it may be expected, they know the laws of God relative to reli∣gion,
Deut. xvii. 9,—12. Mal. ii. 7. 2 Chron. xv. 1,—15. Thus, in making these laws, church-rulers help magistrates with their direction, while magistrates help them with their civil encouragements, 2 Chron. xix. 10, 11. Ezek. xliv. 23, 24 [3.] They ought to require the ministers, who are in their dominions, faithfully to instruct their subjects in the whole coun∣sel of God, contained in his word, relative to those points of religion, about which they intend to make laws, that they may be thus prepared, willingly to re∣ceive and obey them.—Thus Jehoshaphat first sent teachers, and then judges throughout his dominions, 2 Chron. xvii. xix [4.] In all matters of religion, great care ought to be taken to establish the laws, with and by, the consent of the subjects, or their re∣presentatives,—thus strengthening these laws, through their binding men who are willing to obey them;—and the rather as the principal end of such laws is lost, unless men willingly obey them, 2 Chron. xv. 9, 13. xx. 21. Jonah iii. 4, 7. [5.] In these laws a special regard ought to be shewn to persons of a weak and tender conscience. Political shepherds ought never to over drive their flock, but to carry the lambs in their bosom. And, that the very weakest of their sub∣jects may be qualified to obey their laws, they ought never to establish any thing in religion, but what is plainly as well as really established by God in his law;—that so nothing may be contrary to their law, but what is plainly contrary to God's law, Ezek. xxxiv. 4.
IV. Though the law of God allows not of magis∣trates attempting to force men into the faith, professi∣on or practice of the true religion, or of their puni∣shing any thing relative to it, which is not an open and manifest violation of the law of God, and plainly de∣structive of the welfare of the commonwealth;—yet it requires them to restrain, and even seasonably and suitably to punish blasphemy, idolatry, and like grosser corruptions, and insults upon the true religion, when they become openly notorious, and especially if obsti∣nately continued in to the just offence and hurt of o∣thers. (1.) Such restraint and punishment are repre∣sented in scripture as an eminent service done to God, Exod. xxxii. 4, 26, 29. 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. xviii. 22.
Rev. xvii. 14, 16. xix. 17,—19 Song ii. 15 in which last text, the word rendered TAKE ordinarily signifies an external and forcible taking, compare 2 Sam. i. 10. Judges xii. 6. xvi. 3; 21. Psalm. cxxxix. 9. Exod. iv. 4. Gen. xxv. 26. xxii. 13. (2.) The end of God's ap∣pointment of magistrates, is the GOOD of the subjects, Rom. xiv. 4. Now such corruptions in religion impair that good, in preventing the spread and success of the gospel, which are so exceedingly calculated to render men virtuous and happy, even in this life, 1 Tim. iv. 8. 1 Pet. iii. 11, 12, 13. Tit. ii. 12. and in promoting the hurt of mens morals, safety; estate, peace or li∣berty, Rom. i. 21,—32. xvi. 18. 2 Pet. ii. 1, 2, 3, 10, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, Jude, ver 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19. 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4. iii. 1,—9, 13. ii. 16, 17. 1 Tim. iv. 2,—5. vi. 3, 4. (3) Such re∣straint and punishment are represented in scripture as a blessing to be prayed for, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 4. and as a blessing for which God ought to be thanked, Ezra vii. 25.—28. Rev. xi. 15, 17. (4.) It is promised, that such restraint and punishment should be produc∣ed by the effusion of the holy Ghost upon the Chris∣tian church, Zech. xii. 10, 12, 14. with xiii. 1-6. and that they should tend to the advantage, even of some seducers, who should be brought to account the in∣flicters their real FRIENDS, Zech. xiii. 4, 5, 6. (5) The scripture represents EVIL as removed, and GOOD both moral and civil as obtained, by such restraints and punishments, Deut xvii 2, 5, 7, 10 1 Kings xviii. 40, 41 2 Chron. xiv. 3, 4, 5. and wickedness and misery as overflowing a nation, when neglec∣ted, Eccl. viii. 11. Judg xvii. 4, 5, 6, 12 1 Sam. ii. 12,—29 and iv. Ezek. xxii 25, 26, 30, 31. (6.) When the proper judges neglected such restraint and punishment, God raised up some in an extraordinary way, to execu•e it. Thus Elijah caused slay the pro∣phets of Baal, 1 Kings xviii. 40. Jehu caused slay o∣thers of them, 2 Kings x. 5,—25. The Jews, under the direction of Jehoiada, slew Mattan the priest of Baal, and Christ himself once and again drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple, John ii. 13,—19. Mat. xxi. 12. Why ought not magistrates, who are
his vicegerents, as God, to imitate his conduct, Psal. lxxxii. 1, 6. 2 Chron. xix. 6. Rom. xiii. 1,—4. (7.) The scripture affords many approven instances of such restraint or punishment of gross corruptions in religi∣on, as by Jacob, Gen. xxxv 24 by the judges in the time and country of Job, Job xxxi. 26,—28. by Mo∣ses, Exod. xxxii. 4, 20, 22, 29. by the rulers of the ten tribes, Josh. xxii, 10,—34. by Asa, 2 Chron. xv. 12, 13, 15. by Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xix. 3,—8. by Josiah, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 4, 33, 2 Kings xxiii. 5, 20. by Nehemiah, Neh. x. 20. by Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. iii. 29. by Artaxerxes, Ezra vii. 26. and by the Pro∣testant destroyers of Antichrist, Rev. xvii. 16.
V. Beside their power, as men, to try all things by the law of God manifested to them, and their power of Christian discretion (if they are Christians) to judge by the word of God what is for their own spiri∣tual and eternal advantage, magistrates, as such, have a power of POLITICALLY judging and determining, what and how, principles and practices of the true re∣ligion are to be connected with political rewards or encouragements; or, what ought to be professed and practised by persons, as members of their political so∣ciety, in order to promote the real welfare of it, in subordination to the glory of God, as King of nati∣ons. (1) If they may enact laws in the matters of God, as hath been proven; and may judge in what is fundamental in religion,—or in that which is con∣tained in express words of scripture,—or in matters of the second table of the moral law,—then they must have power to judge of that which is plainly deducible from the express words of scripture, by necessary con∣sequence,—and in those matters of the first table of the moral law, which as much belong to the law of nature, as any in the second;—have power politi∣cally to judge why, and how, such a religious profes∣sion and practice is to be encouraged by the civil au∣thority; and how, and why, that which is notorious∣ly opposite to the true religion, is to be discouraged. (3.) Without this political judging of them, magis∣trates could never determine, Whether the decisions of ecclesiastical courts ought to be ratisied by their ci∣vil authority or not; 1 Thess. v. 21. Acts xvii. 11. If
in judging of those things, magistrates improve the Word, the Spirit, and the faithful ministers of God, for their counsellors, they bid fair to have a divine sentence in their lips, and not to err in judgment, Deut. xvii. 18,—20. Psal. cxix. 97,—105. Prov. xvi. 10. Isa, xxxii. 1. If, neglecting to consult these, magis∣trates give a corrupt sentence, they ly open to the judgment of God,—to the restraint and correction of the collective body of the subjects, or their represen∣tatives,—and also to ecclesiastical censure, if they be church-members. (3.) If magistrates be nursing fa∣thers to the Christian church, Isa. xlix. 23. they ought to prevent her being poisoned with corrupt food; and hence must have a power politically to judge what is corrupt, and what is not. (4.) If the magistrate be the keeper of the peace of the kingdom, then, if a party in the church, complaining of the gross errors of the other, should form a furious schism, he must have power politically to judge, who is in the right, or in the wrong—who adhere to the truths established by law, and who do not;—and to shew favour accor∣dingly, 1 Thess. v. 21. (5.) If magistrates may re∣strain and punish evil doers, they may exercise this power over church officers, if, in their Synods, they make blasphemous or idolatrous decrees, which tend to disturb the commonwealth, and dishonour God, the King of nations,—and hence must politically judge of their conduct by the laws of God and the land.—No covenanted subjection to church judica∣tures, as a member of the church, can deprive them of this political judgment, any more than of their right of cognition and discretion as men and Christians. Ma∣gistrates political judgment, how principles or practi¦ces are to be connected with civil encouragements or discouragements, is no infallible rule of church courts judging, how principles and practices ought to be connected with ecclesiastical encouragements or cen∣sures: nor are the decisions of ecclesiastical courts any infallible rule to direct magistrates. But the law of God is the only infallible and supreme rule to both. Nor is the decision of the one subordinate to that of the other; but both, as well as every man's right to judge for himself according to the law of God, what he is
to believe and practise in order to his own peace and comfort, and his joyful answering in the final judg∣ment of God, are supreme in their respective depart∣ments, subordinated only to the judgment of God himself.—But, to argue the matter still more particularly,
1. If magistracy, conscience, and human rights, natural and civil, be all derived from God, as all but Atheists must allow, magistrates can have no more power, authoritatively to tolerate sin, than God him∣self can command it. If God, by virtue of the infinite perfection of his nature, have no will, no power, au∣thoritatively to proclaim liberty to commit sin, he can∣not communicate any such power to the magistrate. Nor can the magistrate account to God for exceeding his power in licensing that which is infinitely injurious to him, more than the British king's Lion-keeper hath power, or could be accountable for loosing and hunt∣ing out the lions in the Tower upon His Majesty. If conscience derive all its power from God, it can have no more power to enjoin any thing sinful, than Lord North hath to hire ruffians to assassinate his Sovereign. If all human rights be derived from God, the prima∣ry and supreme proprietor of all things, it is impossi∣ble they can authorize men to contrive or commit any thing sinful, or can protect them in it.
2. Mens state in this world is neither separated nor separable from, but closely connected with their eter∣nal state. And magistracy is an ordinance of God, ap∣pointed by him for his own glory, and to promote the chief end of mankind in glorifying him, Rom. xiii. 2. Prov. xvi. 4. 1 Cor. x. 31. 1 Pet. iv. 11. Rom. xii. 36. But, how, Sir, do magistrates promote this end, if they give the same degree of protection, though per∣haps, not of encouragement, to the soul-ruining and practice-corrupting delusions and abominations of Satan, as they do the eternally saving religion of God and his Christ?—if they give the same countenance to them, who to the corruption of mens moral beha∣viour, and their eternal damnation,—defame Jeho∣vah to them as mere matter, a mere man, a mere crea∣ture, a worker of contradiction and nonsense,—as they do to those, who faithfully proclaim his infinite ex∣cellencies,
and glorious works of redemption, publish his truths, and promote the present and future holi∣ness and happiness of mankind?—If God chiefly aim at the glorifying of himself, in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ; how can magistrates, who are appointed by him, as his vicegerents, for promot∣ing his glory on earth, be allowed, far less obliged by him, to exert their power, as much for protecting or promoting the kingdom of the devil, as for the ad∣vancement of the kingdom of Christ? Indeed magis∣trates are not the deputies of Christ as mediator, but they are of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and all their administrations are, by him, subjected to Christ, as
"Head over all things to his church,"
Prov. viii. 15, 16. Mat. xxviii. 18. Eph. i. 22. Why then ought they not to concur with God, in advanc∣ing the kingdom of Christ, especially as this mightily promotes the temporal as well as the eternal welfare of their subjects, Prov. xiv. 34. Isa. i. 19. iii. 10. Psal. cxii, cxxvii, cxxviii.
3. Magistrates are expresly represented in scripture, as ministers of God for good to men,—rulers deputed by, and under him, Rom. xiii. 4. But, how can they be ministers, deputies, or vicegerents of God, without having power to restrain, and if proper and seasonable, to punish, that which openly affronts and horridly in∣sults him,—blasphemously gives him the lie, basely misrepresents him, or devotes the worship due to him, to his adversary the devil,—or any other crimes, which immediately strike against him?—If they be God's ministers, they must transact all their magis∣tratical managements in his name,—and how can God empower his own ministers as such, and acting in his name, to promote his highest dishonour, licen∣sing, encouraging, and protecting gross heresy, blas∣phemy, and idolatry;—giving as much encourage∣ment to the vilest delusions of Satan, as to the new Testament in Jesus blood?—How can they be mini∣sters of God for good to men, without having power to restrain such as, like wolves and murderers, go a∣bout corrupting the principles and practices, and de∣stroying the sons of his and their subjects? How can
they be ministers of God, the father of spirits, for good, universal good, to men, who are not brutes but endowed with precious and immortal souls, which are more, beneficial in commonwealths, than their bodies, without having power to promote the cultivation and welfare of souls as a means of promoting the happi∣ness of that state? How can they be ministers of God for good to men, if they have power, only to punish these crimes which strike immediately against their bodies or external property, but no power to punish crimes, as they provoke God's wrath against the na∣tion;—if they have power to restrain the petty thief, robber, or other less hurtful things,—but none to prevent the kindling of God's wrath against the nati∣on, and the debauching of mens consciences and mo∣rals, by blasphemy, heresy, idolatry, &c. which may quickly do more real mischief to a nation, than ten thousand thieves or robbers could do?—After God hath expresly commanded to punish murderers as destroyers of his image, Gen. ix. 6—have his mini∣sters no power to punish murder, as a destruction of his rational creatures, or a sacrificing them to devils, Psal. cvi. 37? If murder ought to be punished as an injury and dishonour to God, why not also public blasphemy, idolatry, and heresy, obstinately continu∣ed in?
4. Magistrates are appointed of God for the terror and punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well, Rom. xiii. 3, 4. 1 Pet. ii. 14. And are not, Sir, idolaters, blasphemers, profaners of the Sab∣bath, by teaching of damnable errors or practising of abominable idolatries on it, evil doers in God's ac∣count, as well as revilers of men, thieves, traitors, murderers, &c.? Are not heresies and idolatries ex∣presly declared by him, damning works of the flesh,—evil deeds, Gal. v. 14,—21. 2 Thess. ii. 9,—12. Rev. xiv. 9,—11? Are not heretical teachers declared evil workers, Phil. iii. 2. Tit: i. 10, 11.—It must there∣fore necessarily follow, that magistrates are appointed by God, not to be licensers, protectors, and encou∣ragers, but to be terrors to, and punishers of them, as is suitable and seasonable.
5. The power, which magistrates have, as ministers of God for good to men, ought to be so exercised as most effectually conduceth to make all their subjects live a quiet and peaceable life in all GODLINESS and honesty, and make all men come to the saving know∣ledge of the truth, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 4, But how, Sir, can their authoritative allowing or protecting of men in ungodliness, blasphemy, and idolatry, pro∣mote such an end? Hath not God himself testified, that heresies, as well as blasphemy and idolatry, as a canker, eat out the doctrine, which is according to godliness, and increase unto more and more ungodliness, and make men worse and worse, till they be monstrous∣ly wicked, 2 Tim. ii. 16, 17. iv. 3, 4. iii. 1,—9, 13. 2 Thess. ii. 3,—12. 1 Tim. iv. 1,—3. vi. 3, 4 2 Pet. ii. 1,—3, 10,—20. Rom. i. 21,—32. If magistrates protect and encourage obstinate seducers in blasphem∣ing God, reproaching his Son as a mere creature, or as an impostor, or in furiously rending his well com∣pacted body the church, or in corrupting the princi∣ples and morals, and ruining the souls of neighbours, children, or servants, how can such as are truly se∣rious and ardently zealous for God, fail to have their righteous souls vexed from day to day, with the dam∣nable doctrines and filthy conversation of these wick∣ed? Psal. cxix. 136, 139, 158. lxix. 9. 2 Pet. ii. 8.—To truly zealous saints, a den of thieves, is not a more grievous neighbour than a Synagogue of Sa∣tan.
6. All magistrates ruling over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of the Lord, 2 Sam. xxiii. 3. But how can they be just, if they dispose of that protection or encouragement, to that which dishonours and provokes God to the highest, saps the foundation of all true virtue, and natively produces the most ruinous prac∣tices,—which is due to that doctrine, worship, and practice, which is according to godliness, and promotes glory, honour, immortality, eternal life? How can they rule in the fear of God, if, in their magistratical administrations, they shew no regard to that religion, by which his declarative glory is advanced, but instead thereof, license, protect, and encourage, that which infinitely dishonours and offends him?
7. The fourth commandment, the obligation of which is certainly moral, and perpetually binding on magistrates, as well as on heads of families, commands them to cause the weekly Sabbath to be sanctified by all within their gates, i. e. all their subjects, Exod. xx. 10. Jer. xvii. 20,—25. And to this the approven example of Nehemiah corresponds, Neh. xiii. 15,—22. Now, if magistrates cannot answer to God, for en∣couraging or protecting their subjects in their civil bu∣siness, which is of itself lawful and useful,—on the the Sabbath,—how will they account to him, for pro∣tecting and encouraging men, in teaching blasphemous errors, or practising abominable idolatries, on that day? How can this commandment bind them to restrain what is in itself lawful and useful,—and yet bind them not to restrain, but allow, encourage, and protect, that which is in itself infinitely dishonourable to God, their superior, and ruinous to his and their subjects, in both temporal and eternal interests?—Or, dare you pretend, that the observance of the weekly Sab∣bath depends one whit less on Revelation, than the doctrine of the Trinity of persons in the Godhead doth.
8. If magistrates have power, on proper occasions, to appoint religious fasts, as means of turning away God's wrath, and of procuring or obtaining his bles∣sings to their commonwealth, as it is certain yourself, and perhaps every advocate for authoritative toleration, acknowledge, Jonah iii. 6,—10. 1 Sam. vii. 9, 6. 2 Chron. xx. 3,—15. Ezra viii. 21,—33. Neh. ix. 1. Jer. xxxvi. 6, 22. they cannot but have power to e∣stablish that religion, and only that religion which an∣swers to those ends, and to restrain that damnable he∣resy, blasphemy, and idolatry, which provoke God's wrath against his subjects. To command their sub∣jects to mourn over the grounds of his anger and sup∣plicate his favour, while at the same time they encou∣raged and protected them in gross heresy, public blas∣phemy and idolatry, than which nothing can more provoke his indignation, would be fearful dissimu∣lation with the Most High. Psalm lxvi. 18. Ezek. xiv. 3,—8, If magistrates have power to appoint a Christian fast, and to punish the public contemners
of it, or of their authority, in appointing it,—How can they but have power to establish the true Christi∣an religion, and to punish, if seasonable, the public and insolent contemners and corrupters of it, and despi∣sers of their authority in establishing it?—Dare you pretend, that the upright profession and practice of the Christian religion is less calculated to promote the happiness of a nation in subordination to the honour of God, than an occasional fast? Or, that a Christian fast can be observed without entering into the very marrow of the doctrines of Revelation?—or that ma∣gistrates ought merely to require the day to be obser∣ved in fasting, leaving the manner and object of the worship, wholly to the choice of their subjects,—recom∣mending the worship of devils, as much as that of Je∣hovah; and supposing the one as able and ready to avert calamities, and bestow necessary blessings, as the other. If you pretend, that God rewarded Ahab or the Nine∣vites for worshipping their idols, you must prove that God is so far from being highly displeased with ido∣latry, as himself often declares, Deut. xxxii. 16, 17, 21,—26. Judges ii. 14. 2 Kings xvii. 10,—18. Psalm cvi. 19,—40 Jer. xlviii. 7, 35, l. 38, &c.—that he is ready to accept and reward the worship of idols, de∣vils, bulls, dogs, cats, saints, leeks, onions, conse∣crated wafers, &c. if men be sincere in it. Rare doctrine this, for a Presbyterian clergyman, of this enlightened age!
9. If every parent or master ought for the welfare of his family, in subordination to the honour of the God of all families, to establish the true religion in it, Gen. xviii. 19. Josh. xxiv. 15 to remove idols out of it, G•n. xxxv. 2,—4. and to refuse seducing he∣reties a lodging in it, 2 John x. 11.—And if accor∣ding to this injunction, and those approved examples, he ought to extrude a seducer, who had entered: or even a member of the family, who obstinately en∣deavoured to corrupt the rest, with damnable error, blasphemy, or idolatry,—in order to prevent the in∣fection of the family, and hinder the destructive wrath of God from falling on them;—Why must not ma∣gistrates, who are God's ministers for good, be allowed
power and authority to establish and promote the true Christian religion, in their large political families, and to repress or exclude notorious murderers of souls, and kindlers of the wrath of God? The relation of a parent or master is no more spiritual, than that of a magistrate, makes no man either member or officer of Christ's mystical body, any more than magistracy doth.—And I dare defy all the Tolerants on earth, to point out one thing relative to religion, competent to masters and parents, as such, but magistrates may do what is similar; or to prove that the true know∣ledge, faith, profession and practice of revealed religi∣on, is one whit less necessary and useful in common∣wealths, than in families.
10. If the power of ecclesiastical rulers extends to all the civil transactions of church-members,—all the ma∣gistratical and military managements of kings or empe∣rors not excepted, in so far as they are regulated by the law of Christ, and are immediately connected with his honour and the good of his church,—there is e∣qual reason, that the power of magistrates should ex∣tend to religious matters, in so far as they are con∣nected with the welfare of the state, in subordination to the honour of God, as King of nations. No rea∣son can be assigned, why the vicegerents of God should, as such, act as atheists, regardless of religion, any more than the messengers of Christ. Nor, till it be proven, that God, the King of nations, is more inclined to damnable heresy, blasphemy, and idola∣latry, than Christ the Head of the church, can it be possible to prove, that magistrates have one whit more power, authoritatively to license, encourage, or pro∣mise them protection, than church-rulers have;—though as the church is a select holy society, called out of the world which lieth in wickedness, founded on, and having all her adult members instructed by the revelation of Christ, the same degree of forbearance to censure, in the church, as to punish in the state, is by no means proper.
11. Unless true and false religion be equally calcu∣lated to render men good subjects, or magistrates, and to promote the peace and prosperity of common∣wealths, in subordination to the honour of God, as
King of nations, they can never deserve or lawfully enjoy equal encouragement, protection or liberty—But the true religion exalteth a nation, Prov. xiv. 34. renders it quiet and prosperous, 2 Chron. xiv. 1,—7. it teacheth men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soherly, righteously and godly, Tit. ii. 11, 12. The fruits produced by it, are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tempe∣rance, against which there is no law, Gal. v. 22, 23.—whereas, gross heresy, blasphemy and idolatry, de∣bauch mens conscience, make it seared with a hot iron, 1 Tim. iv. 2. make their affections vile, and their mind and sense reprobate, Rom. i. 26, 28. they render men, filled with all deceivableness of unrighteousness,—be∣lievers and speakers of lies in hypocrisy, giving heed to the damnable doctrines of devils,—proud, doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railing, evil surmisings, perverse disput∣ings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, 2 Thess. ii. 10,—12. 1 Tim. iv. 1, 2, 3. vi. 3, 4. They render times perilous, and men cove∣tous, boasters, proud, disobedient to parents, un∣thankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce despisers, and extirpaters of those that are good, traitors, hea∣dy, high-minded, hypocritical, dissemblers, villain∣ous, corrupters of families, haters and resisters of sound doctrine, reprobate concerning the faith, and waxing worse and worse;—who will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, heap up to them∣selves teachers, having itching ears, and turn away their ears from the truth to fables, 2 Tim. iii. 1,—8, 13. iv. 3, 4. They, as a canker, eat out the princi∣ples, profession and practice of piety and virtue, and increase unto more ungodliness, 2 Tim. ii. 16, 17.—They make men self destroyers,—their pernicious ways much followed,—the way of truth reproached, and dispose them through covetousness with feigned words to make damnable merchandise of souls; they render men horridly unchaste, presumptuous, self∣willed, despisers and revilers of magistrates and church rulers, beguilers of unstable souls, exercised in cove∣tous practices, cursed children,—speakers of great
swelling words of vanity, pretenders to liberty, but real slaves of corruption, 2 Pet. ii. 1,—3, 10,—19.—They render men ungodly turners of the grace of God into lasciviousness,—filthy dreamers, who defile the flesh, despise dominions, and speak evil of digni∣ties,—blasphemers and calumniators of those things which they know not, who go in the unnatural and maliciously murderous way of Cain, run greedily af∣ter the error of Balaam for reward, and perish in the rebellious gainsaying of Kore,—and are luxurious, unprofitable,—raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame,—wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever:—men of ungodly deeds and hard speeches,—murmu∣rers, complainers, walkers after their own lusts, whose mouth speaketh great swelling words, having mens persons in admiration, because of advantage,—sensual and separating mockers, who walk after their ungod∣ly lusts, Jude iv. 8, 10,—13, 15, 16, 10, 19.—They render persons and societies full of abominati∣ons and filthiness of fornication—a mystery of iniqui∣ty, and mother of harlots and abominations in the earth,—drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus,—fighters against Him, who is LORD of Lords, and pretendedly conscientious murderers of his ministers and people, Rev. xvii. 3,—6, 14. John xvi. 2. In fine, they introduce unnatural lusts of the flesh, and tend to fill men with all unrighteous∣ness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, malici∣outness, envy, murder, debates, deceit, malignity, and make them whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventers of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, cove∣nant breakers, without natural affection, implacable unmerciful,—who, contrary to their own inward convictions, commit the most abominable crimes, and have pleasure in them that do the like, Rom. i, 21,—23.—These, Sir, if God do know and speak truth, are the native fruits of heresy, blasphemy and idola∣try,—these the GOOD SUBJECTS, who are infected with them,—if Providence permit them to reduce their principles to practice. How then is it for the safety of nations, or the honour of God, as King of nati∣ons,
to have them authoritatively tolerated in his name?
12. Though God never, in scripture, commands that any lesser mistakes in religion, or a simple ne∣glect of religious duties should be punished; yet he commands magistrates, suitably and seasonably, to pu∣nish, even unto death, idolaters, particularly sedu∣cers to it, Deut. xiii. 2,—15. xvii. 2,—7. Exod. xxii. 20. blasphemers, Lev. xxiv. 15, 16. insolent profar∣ers of the Sabbath, Num. xv. 30,—36.—Where in all the New Testament, is there a single hint of the repeal of such laws, any more than of those concern∣ing murder, Gen. ix. 6 Numb. xxxv. 30, 31.?—Where is a single hint, that Christ's incarnation,—his death for sin, and to save men, abolished these laws and procured for magistrates a right and power, in the name of God, to license, encourage and pro∣tect heretics, blasphemers, and idolaters, who openly and obstinately labour to offend God, and destroy and damn men?
13. God, in scripture, frequently approves of ma∣gistrates requiring their subjects to worship the true God, in a right manner,—and of their suppressing and punishing idolatry; as Abraham, Gen. xviii. 19. Jacob, Gen. xxxv. 2, 3, 4• the Judges in the land of Uz, Job xxxi. 26,—28. Moses, Exod. xxxii. 20, 27. Joshua, Josh, xxiv. 14, 15. Asa, 2 Chron. xiv. 2,—5, xv. 13, 16. Jehoshaphat, 2. Chron. xvii, xix Je∣hoiada, 2 Chron. xxiii, 16,—19. Hezekiah, 2 Kings xviii. 4, 5. 2. Chron. xxix,—xxxi. Manasseh, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 15, 16. Josiah, 2. Chron, xxxiv. xxxv. 2 Kings xxii, xxiii. Nehemiah, chap. xiii. Jehu, 2 Kings x. 24,—30. and marks with infamy magistrates allowing of their subjects to worship the true God in the high places, 1 Kings xv. 14 xxii. 43. 2 Kings xii. 3 xiv. 4. xv. 4, 35. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 17. The scripture ne∣ver hints, that those magistrates acted as church offi∣cers or merely typical persons, in their reformation work. Nay,
14. Even Heathen magistrates, whom you cannot pretend to have been ecclesiastical rulers, have, with his approbation, made laws to promote the honour of
the true God, and against the contemners of him; as Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra vii. 13,—26. which God in mercy put into his heart, v. 27. Cyrus and Da∣rius Persians, Ezra i. 1,—5 vi. 1,—14, Nebuchad∣nezzar the Chaldean, Dan. iii. 28, 29. and Darius the Mede, Dan. vi. 26.
15. God promised it, as a blessing to the gospel-church, that magistrates should exercise their power in favours of her revealed religion, and in oppositi∣on to false teachers, and their abominable delusions,
Isa xlix. 23. "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers."
Isa. lx. 3, 10, 16. "Kings shall come to the brightness of thy ris∣ing,—Kings shall minister unto thee,—Thou shalt suck the breast of kings."
Psalm lxxii, 10, 11. "Kings shall bring presents—shall offer gifts;—all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him."
Psalm ii. 8, 10,—12. "I will give thee, O Christ, the heathen for thine inheritance.—Be wise now therefore, ye kings, be instruc∣ted ye judges of the earth; serve the Lord with fear.—Kiss ye the Son,"
manifesting your cordial subjection to him.
Zech. xiii. 2, 3. "I will cut off the names of idols out of the land, and I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to go out of the land.—When any shall yet prophesy, then his fa∣ther and his mother shall say unto him, thou shalt not live, for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord, and—shall thrust him through when he pro∣phesieth."
Rev. xvii. 16. "The ten horns shall hate the Whore, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire."
Rev. xxi. 24. "The kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour unto the gospel church."
Rev, xi. 15. "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ."
16. Even the law of nature plainly requires, That magistrates maintain and promote the honour of that God, who gave them all their power and authority,—that God, who is the original and supreme proprie∣tor and Sovereign of nations and societies, and the all-sufficient source of all their happiness;—that they govern their subjects, not as if they were dogs
or swine, having nothing but their bodies to care for, but as men endowed with rational and immortal souls;—that as righteousness exalteth a nation, and sin is the reproach of any people, they should exercise their whole power and authority, as is best calculated to make all their subjects behave most agreeably to the law, and declarative glory of God, and most usefully to each other.—It plainly teacheth, That if God graciously grant us a supernatural revelation, directive of our faith, profession and practice, we ought thank∣fully to receive, believe, profess and obey it;—that, if magistrates ought to restrain and punish gross im∣moralities, they ought to restrain that error or wor∣ship, which, being a manifestly damning work of the flesh, natively leads men into such immoralities;—and that, if heresy, blasphemy and idolatry hinder the progress of virtue, or the increase of good men, who are the principal support and blessings of a society, Isa. vi. 13. lxv. 8. Gen. xviii. 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32. they ought to be restrained.—If heresy, blasphe∣my and idolatry established or authoritatively tolerat∣ed, eminently and notoriously provoke God to punish nations with sword, famine, pestilence, poverty, de∣cay of trade, desolation, captivity, or the like, as they have often done even among Heathens, Common sense requires, That every magistrate, from regard to the welfare of his subjects, ought to restrain them, as far as his circumstances can prudently permit,—instead of giving them as much liberty, encouragement or protection as he gives to the religion of Jesus Christ, which hath the promises of this life, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. iv. 8, Titus iii. 8, 14. Proverbs xiv. 34.
17. If, Sir, as you pretend, magistrates ought to tolerate heresy, idolatry and blasphemy,—then, a pow∣er and office derived from God ought to be employed and executed in encouraging the most shocking dis∣honours and outrage against him;—the authority of God, placed in, and exercised by, magistrates, ought to be set in opposition to his own immediate authority, manifested in his word;—they as ministers of God for good to men, ought to license and encourage his ene∣mies to deny, pervert, and revile his truths contained
in his oracles, and confirmed by the blood of his Son, and to introduce the most accursed and damnable er∣rors into their place, in his church,—ought to give the devil and his agents as much countenance and as∣sistance in driving men to hell, as they give to Jesus Christ and his faithful servants in leading them to hea∣ven,—ought to give a company of wizards as much countenance and protection in worshipping the de∣vil and his angels, as a society of precious saints wor∣shipping the Lord and his Christ, in the beauty of holiness.—In short, authoritative tolerations of he∣resy, blasphemy or idolatry are solemn proclamations issued forth by the deputies of God, in his name, bear∣ing that Satan and his emissaries have full liberty grant∣ed them to cast forth their floods of error, and every abomination that proceeds from it, for the dishonour of God, and the temporal and eternal destruction of men. Nor, for ought I know, have they ever ne∣glected to improve their opportunity; as the issues of the tolerations granted by Cromwell, K. James VII. and Q. Anne, in part manifest.
How absurd then, after all the amazing deliveran∣ces from it, which God hath• mercifully bestowed u∣pon us.—after all that our fathers have suffered from it,—after all our public and solemn engagements to God, or to men, against it, and when the very acces∣sion of our Sovereign K. George and his family to the British throne, and their establishment depends on the nation's detestation of Popery, and when the tremenduous destruction of its votaries draweth nigh, Rev. xiv. xvi. and xviii 4,—8.—for our rulers to grant any authoritative toleration of a pretended reli∣gion, that tramples on our Bibles, which God hath in∣spired, and requires us to search as the mean of our e∣ternal salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 15,—17. 2 Pet. i. 19,—21. Isa. viii. 20. John v. 39. Acts xvii. 11 Col. iii. 16. and blasphemes these oracles of God as imperfect, ob∣scure, destitute of any fixed meaning or con•…idence-bind∣ing authority till they receive it from the Pope or his councils, and as infinitely dangerous to the temporal, spiritual and eternal interests of men, if perused with∣out a pontifical licence, Dan. vii. 25. xi. 36. 2 Thess. ii. 4. 2 Tim. iv. 4.—a religion, which overthrowsPage 38the whole mediation of our Redeemer, confining his me∣diatorial work to his manhood,—and making saints, angels, crosses, images, &c. mediators of satisfaction, intercession, or saving influence, along with Him,—and the Pope and his clergy infallible prophets, sin∣expiating priests, and kingly dispensers of spiritual privileges, and formers of laws and offices in the church, Dan. ii. 36,—39. vii. 25. Rev. xvii. 14.—a blasphemous religion, which in the most daring man∣ner, reproacheth and misrepresents God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and what belongs to him, and a∣scribes his excellencies and prerogatives to creatures, Dan. vii, 25. xi. 36,—38. 2 Thess. ii. 4. Rev. xiii. 1, 5, 6. xvii. 3.—a religion wholly given to superstition, mingling multitudes of heathenish or other human or devilish ceremonies, with every part of its worship, Dan. vii. 25. 2 Tim. iv. 4 with Mat. xxviii. 20. Deut. xii. 32.—a religion full of abominable idolatries, giving to multitudes of saints and angels, images, reliques and consecrated wafers, that worship and glory which is due to God alone, Dan. xi. 38, 39. 2 Thess. iv. 4. Rev. ix. 20, 21. xiii. 3, 4 xiv. 9,—11.—a religion pregnant with the most shocking villanies, pretended miracles, dispensing with, or commuting the most so∣lemn engagements,—indulgence of equivocation and mental reservation in oaths,—and inculcating breach of faith with heretics, if for the advantage of the Romish church,—and which, by holding multitudes of sins to be venial,—by the sale of pardons and indulgences,—by prohibiting clergymen and devotees to marry,—and by licensing of stews, promotes the most horrible debauchery, Dan. xi. 36,—39. 2 Thess ii. 3, 7, 9,—12. 1 Tim. iv. 1,—3. 2 Tim. iii. 1,—6, 8, 13. Rev. ix. 21. xi. 8. xiii. 13, 14. xvi. 13, 14. xvii. 2, 3, 5. xviii. 2.—a bloody religion, in the propagation and main∣tenance of which, about sixty millions of mankind, many of them saints, have been murdered, in the most cruel and inhuman forms, Dan. vii. 25. Rev. viii. 13. ix. 11, 21. xi, 2, 7. xiii. 2, 7. xvii. 6. xviii. 24. xvi. 2.—a religion, the cordial and persevering profes∣sion and practice of which, God hath declared inevi∣tably damning, 1 Thess. ii. 3, 9,—12. Rev. ix. 11. xvii. 11. xiv. 9,—11. xix. 20. xx 10.
Page 39OBJECT. I.
"God alone is the Lawgiver and Lord of mens conscience."
ANSW. 1. God is the only absolute, supreme and infallible Lawgiver; He alone hath power to constitute any thing a part of religion. But that no more hinders his magistratical vicegerents to make political
laws in favours of what he hath de∣clared and instituted in religion, than Christ being Head of the church can hinder her subordinate rulers to make ecclesiastical constitutions in favours of the truth, in his name, Psalm lxxxii. 1, 6. Rom. xiii. 1,—6. 1 Fet. ii. 13, 14. 2. Neither magistrates nor mi∣nisters can make any law which of themselves, and as their deeds, bind mens conscience. Their authority is not infallibly exercised; it doth not reach to the inward actings of conscience. They cannot oblige conscience to these actings, or take any cognizance of them. They cannot free it from any guilt contracted by them, or reward it if it doth well, or punish or censure it if it doth amiss. Nor are their constituti∣ons, but God's law, the standard by which it shall be judged at the last day.—But they may make laws or constitutions, which, as originating from, subordi∣nated to, and adopted and ratisied by the law of God. bind men to obey for conscience sake, Rom. xiii. 1,—4. Mat. xviii. 19. 3. God's being the only Lawgiver of men under the Old Testament as much as now, did not hinder Moses, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, He∣zekiah, Josiah, Nehemiah, Nebuchadnezzar the Chal∣dean, Darius the Mede, Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxer∣xes, Persians, or the king of Nineveh to make civil laws in favours of the true religion. 4. If God alone be the Lawgiver and Lord of the conscience, it nece∣ssarily follows, that magistrates and conscience, who are his deputies, can have no power to warrant, li∣cense or protect, any thing forbidden by his law, 2 Cor. xiii 8, 10.
"Every man hath a natural right to judge for himself, what he ought to do or forbear, especially in religion. He is to be fully persuaded in his own mind, and to follow the dictates of his own conscience. Even the law of God is a rule to him, as he understands it in his own conscience. To force
any man to do any thing contrary to his conscience, is to force him to sin, for whatsoever is not of saith is sin; and to punish him for following the dictates of his conscience is to punish him for doing his duty."
ANSW. [1.] Already you have made mens consci∣ence the supreme governor of their actions, exalting it above The Most High GOD. [2.] Every man hath a natural right derived from God, to judge all things by the law of God, and hold fast that which is good,
1 Thess. v. 21. He hath a right to judge by the law of God what is necessary to be professed and practised, in order to the peace of his conscience, and his fellow∣ship with, and receiving of favours from God. But that no more hinders magistrates politically
to judge what profession and practice are proper for men, as members of such a particular commonwealth,—or what relative to religion is to be connected with civil encouragements or discouragements,—than it hinders church-rulers, ecclesiastically to judge and define what profession or practice is necessary, in order to comfortable fellowship with such a particular church. [3.] Mens conscience is no Lawgiver at all, but a witness
of their conduct, and a judge,
which enquires into the meaning of God's law, and directs according∣ly,—and which compares their qualities, profession, and practice with the law of God, and if faithful, approves or disapproves accordingly. [4.] The law of God, not men's conscience, is their supreme and on∣ly insallible rule,
which binds even conscience itself, Mark xii. 30. 1 John v. 3. and whatever men do con∣trary to it, is sinful, let their conscience approve it as much as they will, 1 John iii. 4. Lev. v. 17, 18. Acts xxvi. 9. 10. 1 Tim i. 13,—16. Whatever pro∣ceeds not from the persuasion of a good conscience, founded on the word of God, is sin. It is a sin for mens conscience to err in dictating any thing not per∣fectly agreeable to the law of God.—How absurd to pretend, that this fin can render another sin duty, or a duty sinful in itself!  If mens conscience, in itself, or in its directing, persuading or instigating influence be sustained, as the immediate rule of their conduct, without respect to the word of God, then either their conscience must be insallible
in its dictates,
which it certainly is not, in either saints or sinners, in this world, Rom. vii. 14, 23. Prov. xxviii. 26. Jer. xvii 9. Rom. viii. 7, 8. Tit. i. 15. or, if it be fallible,
God must have established for men a fallible
and de∣ceitful rule
—and so be the author of confusion in religion, since different consciences dictate different things in it.—To make mens con∣science their rule in religion, would make God the au∣thor and commander of wickedness,—by conscience, requiring the transgression of his own law.—It would make him not only acquit from criminality, but ap∣prove as duty, the most damnable errors, horrid blasphe∣mies, detestable abominations, and cruel barbarities, if but dictated by the consciences of Heathens, Maho∣tans, Papists, &c.
in their religion.—It would make him the author of mens ruin, if it were procured by a way which seemed right in their own eyes, Prov. xvi. 25.—It would render it absolutely impossible to convince men of the sinfulness of any thing they had done according to the dictates of their conscience, be it ever so contrary to the law of God. It would ren∣der it improper for men to repent of or mourn over any blasphemy, murder of saints, or the like, which their deluded conscience had dictated to them, or to ask, receive, or praise God for the pardoning of it, contrary to 1 Tim. i. 13,—16. with Acts xxvi. 9,—11. Gal. i. 13, 14. Phil. iii. 6. It would open a wide gap for mens doing whatever they pleased, without being chargeable by, at least any man, for it—If men should be executed for the most horrid blasphemy, or abo∣minable idolatry, high treason, or any other deed dic∣tated by their conscience, they would die martyrs for righteousness sake.—And men ought to believe what∣ever their conscience dictated to them concerning their state, experience or duty, however contrary to the testimony of God, contained in his word,—contrary to Psalm iii. 22. & xvi 11. xlii. 5, 11. Rev. iii. 17. [6.] To pretend that the law of God, not in itself, but as understood by mens conscience,
is their rule, is absurd. It, in the Popish manner, represents the law of God as destitute of sense and authority in itself, and as deriving it from a creature. It, in the Quake∣rish manner, makes the light within
the rule of mens
conduct. It exalts every man to an equality with, or rather superiority above God, having power to give regulating sense and authority to his word, ac∣cording as an erroneous and defiled conscience pleas∣eth. It abolisheth every real standard of religion, eve∣ry man's particular apprehensions of the meaning of God's word being his binding rule. The same word of God becomes the standard of Calvinism, Popery, Socinianism,
&c. as different men understand it. It saps the foundation of all mutual trust and confidence among men; and opens a wide inlet for all manner of villany and dissimulation. According to it, mens pro∣mises, oaths, vows, and covenants,—their sworn and subscribed Creeds, Articles, Confessions, Formulas, &c.
bind them, not according to the common mean∣ing of the words,—but according to the meaning which their conscience, however seared, biassed, or deluded, puts upon them. In fine, it plunges men into the depths of Atheism, according to which every man be∣lieves and acts what is right in his own eyes.  If mens private judgment of their own acts hindered the magistrates supreme political
judgment, no laws could be made in matters of religion or any thing else; as some would be readily of a different mind, even in the fundamentals of religion and virtue.—While some believed that Christ was not true God or true man, or that idols might be worshipped, others would believe that oaths might be lawfully violated, heretical princes assassinated, or women and goods used in com∣mon. [8.] If other mens private judgment be allow∣ed to be their supreme rule and reason of conduct, it will necessarily follow, that magistrates private judg∣ment must be the rule of their conduct; and that they ought to make and execute such laws as they believe in their own heart to be proper, be they as ar∣bitrary and tyrannical as they will. [9.] It is not with mens conscience, and its judgment in religion, any more than in matters of common honesty, that ma∣gistratical authority intermeddles, but with their ex∣ternal words and deeds. It only restrains and punish∣eth such of those as are manifestly contrary to the laws of God and the land,
and as they are hurtful to the com∣monwealth,Page 43
and the public honour of God as King of na∣tions.
[10.] If all proper means of conviction be us∣ed with men who obstinately persist in gross heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry without effect; their mistake doth not arise from a conscience regulating duty, but from one stiffened against duty. And it is perhaps sometimes as difficult to convince a hardened thief, robber, or adulterer of his mistake, as it is to convince a hardened heretic. Men are punishable, not for what their conscience, as the deputy of God, dictates, but for what they would not have done, if they had any proper conscience of duty. [11.] If men sloth∣fully and especially wilfully refuse to use the means of ealightening their conscience by the word of God, they but add to their crimes both before God and men, by pretending conscience. [12.] Mens conscience being as much a director in their conduct towards men, as in their conduct towards God, its influence must have as much force to keep them from accountableness 〈◊〉
men, for their theft, murder, calumny, as for their gross heresy, blasphemy and idolatry.
"To allow magistrates such power of judging, and of making and executing laws about religious matters, is to render Christians the servants of men, contrary to 1 Cor. vii. 23."
ANSW. (1,) If so, Christ himself rendered his redeemed favourites servants of men
under the Old Testament. (2) If so, church rulers being men, as well as magistrates, their restraints and censures, appointed by Christ himself, must as much render Christians servants of men,
—Nay to comply with the religious orders of families, would make them servants of men.
(3.) Servilely to comply with the vain fancies, humours, sinful lusts or laws of men, particularly in religion, is to be the ser∣vants
of men in the sense of this text: but to comply with scriptural restraints, censures, or punishments of wickedness, is to act as servants of Christ,
and his Father and Spirit.
"To restrain men from what they think right in religion, and especially to punish them for it, is contrary to that Christian charity, which suffereth long, and is kind,—envieth not,—thinketh no e∣vil, beareth all things, believeth all things, and hopeth all things,
1 Cor. xlii. 4,—7. contrary to that meek∣ness,
mercy and peaceableness exemplified in Christ, and required in Christians, Rom. xv. 1. Gal. vi. 1, 2. Eph. iv 32. 2 Tim. ii. 15. James iii. 15."
ANSW. Christian charity rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoic∣eth in the truth.
It requires that nothing should be done out of malice or envy, or rashly on bare surmi∣ses, or without due examination of facts and circum∣stances, but not that rulers, either of church or state, should overlook every scandal or crime contrary to the law of God. Even the undue delay of censure or punishment encourageth men in wickedness, much more would the total overlooking of it, Eccl. viii. 11. (2.) The texts quoted in the objection, are directed to Christians and church-rulers. Is therefore all their holy zeal and activity in restraining and censuring the corrupters of the church, according to Christ's com∣mand, Rev. ii Rom. xvi. 17. Gal. v. 10. Tit. iii. 10. 1 Tim i. 20—contrary to Christian charity, meekness, or mercifulness? Had Moses quite abandoned his un∣paralelled meekness, when he so zealously punished the Hebrew idolaters, Num. xxxii. 3. with Exod. xxxii. 26,—29? Was Jesus Christ destitute of all meekness and mercy, when he appointed the restraints and pe∣nalties under the old Testament; and at least the tre∣menduous censure of excommunication under the new? Was he destitute of all charity, meekness and mercy, in never giving us a hint that these laws are now repealed, as having been cruel and tyrannical? Was he desti∣tute of all charity, meekness and mercy, when the zeal of his Father's house did eat him up,—when he repea∣tedly drove the buyers and sellers from the temple, John ii. 13,—19. Mat. xxi. 12.
"Even under the law, Moses tole∣rated mens divorcing of their wives for slight causes: Much more doth the gospel dispensation call for liber∣ty to men."
ANSW. It is blasphemous to pretend, that the gospel-dispensation allows any more liberty to fin, than the legal did. Must the grace of God be turned into lasciviousness? Jude, ver. 4. Gal. v. 13. (2.) To prevent worse consequences, Moses directed a deliberate and solemn manner of divorce, which ten∣ded to render divorces less frequent or irregular, but never warranted divorce for slight causes. (3.) Per∣haps
you cannot prove, that the perpetual continu∣ance of marriage relation flows as necessarily from the nature of God, as gross heresy, blasphemy, and ido∣latry are contrary to it; God therefore might sovereign∣ly dispense with the one, though not with the other. (4.) This objection is rather calculated to prove that magistrates should license or tolerate murder, adul∣tery, theft, and other sins against the second table of the moral law, than that they should tolerate heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, which pertain to the first table.
"Gamaliel's counsel, "Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this work be of men it will come to nought, but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it," was certainly prudent; and Gallio's conduct, who cared for no disputes relative to religion, Acts v. 38, 39. & xviii. 15, 17."
ANSW. (1.) Prove that Gamaliel's speech was inspired as a rule to us, in all religious disputes, or that magistrates or others ought to be mere scep∣tics in religion. (2.) That which Gamaliel pled to be let alone, was evidently good, calculated to pro∣mote the welfare of both church and state; and so ought to have had the utmost encouragement from him and his fellow rulers. (3) Prove, if you can, that the Holy Ghost approves Gallio's carelessness; or that magistrates like him ought to allow parties at the bar to beat one another.
"Under the gospel it is promised, That men should beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; and that there should be none to hurt or destroy in God's holy moun∣tain, Isa. ii. 4. Micah iv. 3."
ANSW. (1.) These texts import, that quarrelsome dispositions, and inju∣rious slaughter of men should be remarkably restrain∣ed, by the gospel; but not that magistrates should no more bear the sword,
or be terrors
to, and punishers
of evil doers, Rom. xiii. 1,—6. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14;—they no more import, that magistrates should not restrain or seasonably
punish blasphemy and idola∣try, than that they should not restrain theft or mur∣der. (2) The restraint or punishment we plead for, being God's institution, cannot hurt, but profit men,
making many fear, and avoid such horrible wicked∣ness. Deut. xvii. 10; nay, sometimes do much good to the restrained and punished persons, Zech. xiii. 6. (3.) If heretics, blasphemers and idolaters be as mis∣chievous persons, as above described from the oracles of God, the restraint of them is a necessary mean to secure the peace of nations and churches. If such scorners be cast out, contention, strife and reproach are repressed, Prov. xxii. 10.
"Our Saviour commands his ser∣vants to let the tares grow with the wheat, Mat. xiii. 29, 30."
ANSW. He rather represents, that till the last judgment the righteous should never be fully sepa∣rated from the wicked. (2.) If it were a command, it is given to church rulers rather than to magistrates, and so might, with more apparent propriety, be pled in favours of ecclesiastical toleration of heretics, ido∣laters, blasphemers. (3) If these tares
mean only hypocrites, who have a visible appearance of holiness or innocency, we plead, that neither magistrates nor ministers ought to attempt plucking them up. If they mean all the children of the devil,
as ver. 38. your ob∣jection ought honestly to plead, that no crimes of theft, murder, &c.
manifesting them to be such, ought to be restrained or punished.
"By rebuking his disciples, who would have commanded fire from heaven to consume those Samaritans who refused him lodging in his way to Jerusalem; and by his declaring, That he came not to destroy mens lives, but to save them, Luke ix. 51,—56. our benevolent Saviour plainly intimated, That under the gospel, magistrates ought to lay no restraint on heresy, blasphemy or idolatry."
ANSW. (1.) As these Samaritans did not live under magistrates or laws, which established the true religion, it is not pled, that even their gross heresy, blasphemy, or ido∣latry, however notorious and obstinate, could have been regularly punishable by men. (2) They were in this matter guilty of no heresy, blasphemy or idolatry,—or of attempting to seduce or disturb Christ or his dis∣ciples,—but merely of not giving lodging to a mean∣like Jew, of whose Messiahship they had but little, if any information or proof. (3.) Though the Samari∣tans
had been guilty of gross heresy, blasphemy and ido∣latry, publicly and obstinately professed and practised, contrary to the civil laws of the country, and been re∣gularly punishable,—Christ's disciples being no ma∣gistrates in that place, had no right to call them to ac∣count. (4.) The disciples never sought to have the contempt shown to themselves and their Master pu∣nished by the civil law, but by the miraculous vengeance of God.
Without any warrant from God, and to gra∣tify their own proud, passionate, and revengeful tem∣per, they would have required him to work a miracle for the destruction of these poor ignorant Samaritans.—So, if you will drag in this text, it ought to be to prove, That neither God nor ministers ought to restrain heretics, blasphemers, or idolaters. (5.) While Christ was in his debased state, obeying and suffering for the salvation of mankind, it would have been extremely improper for God, visibly to punish every slight put upon him. But his coming to save men
with an everlasting salvation, can no more infer, that he came to protect criminals from just punish∣ment by men, than that he came to save obstinate un∣believers from hell. He came to save mens lives,
by saving them from their sins, not by protecting and warranting them in a public and obstinate commission of them. There is no hint in scripture, that he, who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, came to procure men a liberty of conscience, or a ma∣gistratical licence or protection in public and gross heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, more than in theft, murder, adultery. It would be highly blasphemous to suppose it.
"Christ requires us not to judge others,—to judge nothing before the time. Mat. vii. 1. 1 Cor. iv. 5. We ought to believe our own opi∣nions in religion to be as probably erroneous, as those of our opponents; and if they do not acknowledge themselves heretics, blasphemers, or idolaters, we ought never to hold them such, or plead for their being restrai∣ned as such."
ANSW. (1.) We must never rashly or uncharitably judge others, or judge their hearts and intentions, which God alone knoweth. But that will no more infer, that magistrates ought to give no judg∣ment
about religious matters, than that magistrates and ministers should judge of nothing at all respecting either God or men, but encourage every person to live as his inclinations direct him. (2.) Is there in∣deed no certainty in religion? If men ought to be complete Sceptics
in it; why not as well downright ath∣eists?
(3) If mens own acknowlegments be sustained as the standard of our judgment concerning them, what rare work must ensue! None ought to be held blasphemers, heretics, or idolaters, till they have be∣come penitent convicts. None ought to be held thieves murderers, calumniators, &c.
till they acknowledge themselves such. All impenitent criminals must thus escape every degree of infamy, restraint or punishment.
"Men ought to be persuaded, not forced into faith and holiness. It is in vain to attempt rooting out corruptions, especially in religion, out of mens outward behaviour unless they be first rooted out of their hearts."
ANSW. (1.) It re∣quires no small share of ignorance, impudence
to insinuate that the many thousands of Pro∣testant advocates for the magistrates power to restrain gross heresy, blasphemy or idolatry, plead for the FOR∣CING of men to faith and holiness, when they so har∣moniously plead for the contrary. (2) None ought to be forced into the faith and profession of the true religion, as hath been repeatedly declared, but all proper methods taken to render their compliance ju∣dicious and voluntary. Yet that will not infer, that no man ought to be restrained from, or even suitably
punished for, open and gross heresy, blasphemy or idolatry, which, while they publicly op∣pose, insult, and undermine the true religion,—pro∣duce terrible immoralities and disorders in churches and nations, and draw upon them the ruinous ven∣geance of God;—and far less will it infer, that ma∣gistrates, as vicegerents of God, ought, in his name and authority, to license
a false religion, and promise men protection and encouragement in it No magis∣trate hath power to force me to esteem, love, delight in, sympathize with, maintain, or even commend my neighbour. But he hath power to refuse me a warrant to calumniate, rob or murder him, and even
to restrain or punish me for so doing. It would be absurd to attempt forcing of the British Jacobites, to believe and solemnly profess, that K. George, not the Pretender is rightful Sovereign of this kingdom. But would it therefore be absurd, to restrain and punish them for publicly and insolently reviling him as an u∣surper,—or seducing their fellow subjects to dethrone him,—or for taking arms against him, or paying his just revenues to the Pretender? (3) It is certain, that Christ, who hath power over the hearts of all men, curbed the external corruptions of the Jewish buyers and sellers in the temple, without first casting the corruptions out of their heart. And pray would you have all thieves, robbers, murderers, &c.
to have full liberty in their courses, till their wickedness can be got rooted out of their heart?
"Such is the reasonableness and the glory of divine truths, that if they be but freely, clearly and distinctly preached, their native lusire will render them victorious over every error and corrup∣tion in religion, however boldly published, or craftily varnished. What a singular advantage hath it been to Britain, that Deists have had full freedom to make their attacks upon the Christian religion, and so to occasion so many glorious defences of it?"
ANSW. (1.) Did not God under the Old Testament, know the conquering power of his truth as well as you do? Did not Christ know it when he drove the buyers and sellers from the temple. (2) Did the inexpressibly amiable and edifying conduct of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life, render him the universal, the fixed DARLING of the Jewish nation, among whom he went about doing good? You dare not pretend it. And yet it is certain that examples do more affect than instructions. (3) You must not only, with Pelagi∣ans, deny original sin, but effectually disprove it, be∣fore your objection can have any sense in it.—While men are so blinded by Satan and their own lusts, and so full of enmity against God, they cannot but be much more disposed to receive and practise error, than to discern, embrace, and practise gospel-truths, however clearly and faithfully preached, 1 Cor. ii. 14. Rom. viii. 7, 8. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. Isa. liii. 1. vi. 9, 10. (4.)
The common experience of every one, who attempt•
to instruct children and servants in the truths of God, even when they are young, and their minds most un∣biassed, irrefragably demonstrates, that almost any thing is more readily embraced than the plain truths of the gospel; and that earnest prayers, serious admo∣nitions, external encouragements, and Christian nur∣ture, have all enough, and too often more than e∣nough of work, to make men learn them. (5.) If pro∣fessed Christians, by encouraging others in gross error and wickedness, provoke God to give up themselves to strong delusions, that they may believe lies, will the native lustre of divine truths then enlighten and cap∣tivate them? Far,—very far from it, 2 Thess. ii. 10,—12. 2 Tim. iii. 13. iv. 3, 4. (6) If we do evil in licensing, encouraging, or protecting the free propa∣gation of gross errors, that good reputation may be thereby occasioned, our damnation is just, Romans iii. 8. (7.) Few of those boasted glorious desenders of Christianity
are real and thorough friends to the gospel of Christ, but often proceed upon the Arminian, and sometimes the Socinian scheme, the last of which is as bad, if not worse, than Heathenism itself.—And, it is certain, that TENS, if not HUNDREDS, have been seduced by deistical publications, for every ONE, that has been been converted from Deism by almost all these defences of the Christian religion.
"Christ hath appointed for his church, rulers of her own, who govern her in every duty of religion."
ANSW. (1.) This can no more prove, that magistrates ought to make and execute no laws respecting the duties required by the first table of the moral law, than it will prove that they ought to make no laws respecting duties of the second table,—since church-rulers are as much authorized by God to govern, in the one as in the other. Let magistrates and church-rulers be allowed to govern their distinct departments in their different manner, in the very same things, and nothing but harmony, order and advantage will ensue. (2.) Magistrates as well as church rulers, are divinely denominated, Rulers, Watchmen, Shepherds,
—and therefore ought politically
to direct, govern and feed their subjects as members
of the commonwealth, by making and executing wholsome laws relative to both tables of God's law;—while ministers ecclesiastically
feed them, as members of the visible church,
by preaching the gospel, admini∣string the sacraments, and exercising church govern∣ment and discipline, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 4. Rom. xiii. 1,—6. 2 Chron. xiii. 10, 11. & xvii. xix. Neh. xiii. 10,—17, Ezek. xxxiv. 9, 10.
"The church hath sufficient power in herself to obtain every end necessary to her own wel∣fare. That cannot be an ordinance of Jesus Christ, which needs any foreign assistance to gain its proper end."
ANSW. (1.) The church hath as sufficient power to gain her ends, with respect to the duties of the s•
cond table, as to gain her ends in what respects the first table. Will it therefore follow, that magis∣trates ought to make no laws respecting murder, un∣chastity, theft, calumny, &c?
(2.) Public transgres∣sions of the first table of the moral law injure the state,
as well as they do the church. The state, which also hath a power in itself sufficient to gain all its ends, ne∣cessary to promote its own welfare, ought therefore to restrain or punish such transgressions as crimes
inju∣rious to itself, while the church restrains and censures them as scandals
defiling and hurtful to herself. (3.) If soundness in the faith, purity in worship, holiness in practice, and beautiful order in the church, be an excellent mean of promoting the happiness of that na∣tion, where the church hath her residence, magis∣trates ought to promote those things, out of a regard to the prosperity of their state, in subordination to the honour of God. (4.) However complete the in∣trinsic power of the church be, it is manifest, that it can be exercised to more advantage, if parents, mas∣ters, and magistrates regularly exert their power in promoting the true religion, in their different departments.—It is no less certain, that after the church hath done her utmost, by conference, in∣junction and censure, some turbulent heretics or blas∣phemers may do as much, if not more, hurt to her than before, unless magistrates restrain or punish them.
Page 52OBJECT. XV.
"For almost three hundred years after Christ, the truths of the gospel gloriously pre∣vailed against errors and corruptions, without any care of magistrates to restrain or punish the errone∣ous."
ANSW. (1.) It was proper, that the Christian religion should be spread in the world, not only with∣out the countenance of the civil magistrate, but also in opposition to his severe laws and bloody persecuti∣ons, that it might the more abundantly appear to be of God. (2.) In that period, it prevailed notwith∣standing the most furious opposition, and the cruel persecution and murder of millions of its adherents, as well as without magistratical assistance. Will you therefore plead, that peace and freedom in preaching the gospel ought to be hated and avoided, and furi∣ous persecution coveted and prayed for? (3) In that period, the miraculous powers, which attested the doctrines of Christ did more than balance the want of magistratical helpfulness to the truth, Heb. ii 4.—(4.) In that period, the hardships to which Christians were exposed, deterred such naughty persons from entering the church, as might have plagued her with their blasphemies and heresies. (5) And neverthe∣less, even then blasphemers and heretics did no small hurt to the church. (6) If God had not reckoned the magistratical countenance a real blessing to his church, he had never promised it, as in the texts a∣bove quoted.
"It is horrid cruelty and unchris∣tian persecution to restrain or punish men for believ∣ing, teaching, and worshipping, according to the dictates of their own conscience, as charity obligeth us to believe is the case with heretics, blasphemers and idolaters.—It is altogether diabolical, the very worst part of Popery, and that which peculiarly supports the whole Antichristian scheme.—Men ought to follow the dictates even of an erring conscience."
ANSW. (1.) Where is your proof, from either scripture or rea∣son, that an erring conscience binds men to believe, teach or practise, gross heresy, blasphemy or idolatry, any more than their promises or vows to do evil, bind to performance?—or than it can bind them to theft, murder, adultery, calumny, or the like?—If we
have an erring conscience, our immediate duty is to get rid of that error, by the illumination of God's word, as being sinful in itself, especially if procured through sloth or wickedness; it will hinder our right performance of duty, but can never make fin lawful. If, Sir, you can believe, that an erring conscience, can outdo the almighty power of God, in making he∣resy, blasphemy, or idolatry innocent things, you may quickly believe, that a Romist priest can outdo his Maker, in making a God, and then eating him, in the mystery of transubstantiation. (2.) Even when conscience is perfectly clear, pure and unbiassed, it is wholly subordinated and subjected to the authority of God's law.—How can the entrance of sinful error into it, exalt it above his law, and make such a God of it, as can stamp its wicked dictates into incontroulable laws, in opposition to the mandates of Jehovah him∣self.—This will not only prove, that Adam and Eve became Gods by the entrance of fin, but go far to justify Popes and devils in the whole of their conduct. (3.) If the devil, who deceiveth the world, get into mens conscience by his strong delusions, hath God allotted him that as a quiet city of refuge, from which no means ought to be used to dislodge him, and from which he may use the whole man unrestrained in his service,—in sacrificing children to Moloch, murder∣ing saints, blaspheming God, &c.?
(4.) Where is your proof, that I ought to believe, that the man, who hath access to the Bible, acts according to the dictates of his conscience in gross heresy, blasphemy or idola∣try, any more than that he acts according to them, in murder, treason, theft, unchastity, &c.?
Men have laboured and suffered as much, in courses of the latter kind, as in those of the former, and died as im∣penitently at last. (5.) If pretence of conscience, and more than pretence in favours of sin we can never be certain of, be a sufficient ground for magistrates licensing, encouraging and protecting men in contra∣dicting and blaspheming God, or robbing him of his worship, to bestow it on devils,—or in robbing his church of his oracles or ordinances,—in murdering the souls of men, and sowing the seeds of confusion and every evil work,—Why ought it not to warrant
their licensing, encouraging and protecting them in high treason, calumny, theft, robbery, murder?—It is hoped, you, who are so generous in allowing men, if they can but pretend conscience for it, to a∣bused and rob Jehovah, will be as ready to allow them equal freedom, if they can but pretend conscience, in abusing and injuring yourself. If God's giving up men to strong delusions,
that they may believe lies warrant magistrates to encourage or protect them, in spreading gross heresy, or in open blasphemy and idolatry, Why ought not his giving them up to vile affections,
—to their own hearts lusts, equally to warrant their encou∣raging and protecting of them in open whoredom, be∣stiality, incest, robbery, &c.?
Men can as little con∣quer their lusts and cleanse their hearts, as they can rectify the errors of their conscience. (6.) It is infal∣libly certain, that God himself, under the Old Tes∣tament appointed magistrates to restrain and punish men for blasphemy and idolatry, let their conscience dictate them as strongly as it pleased.—Had men in these early ages no conscience to govern them? Or did God then, like the old fashioned Protestants, not understand human liberty and the rights of mens con∣science?—Did he indeed then so far mistake his way, as to appoint what is so cruel
what is the very worst part of Popery,
and the principal support of that abominable system?
Or hath God, or the na∣ture of sin, cruelty and tyranny, been changed? How shocking the thought!
"As mens natural and civil rights nowise depend upon their being orthodox Christians, magistrates ought to protect them in these privileges, be their opinions and worship what they will; nay, to give them legal security for their protection of them, in these opinions and worship, that they may not be exposed to the caprices of particular magistrates."
ANSW. [1.] The Christian liberty, which Christ pur∣chased, is not a liberty to commit sin, but a spiritual freedom from it, Gal. v. 1, 13 Luke i. 74, 75. Heb. xii. 28, 29. Christ came not to save mens lives from restraint or punishment required by his own law, in order that they, by spreading gross heresy, blasphe∣my,
and idolatry, might ruin nations and damn mens souls. [2.] You might have forborne to demand le∣gal
licenses for men to blaspheme God, worship devils in his stead, &c.
till you had proven Satan to be the absolute proprietor and governor of this world, and the primary granter of all civil and natural rights to men;—or proven, that God, who is infinitely holy, just and good, hath, or can, give men natural or civil rights protecting them in public blas∣phemy, idolatry, or the like, any more than rights protecting them in incest, robbery, murder; or that magistrates, as his ministers, ought, in his name and authority, to grant men such rights. [3.] If God hath so frequently turned men out of their civil property and life for their idolatry and blasphemy, Isa. x, xiv, xxxvii, xlvi, xlvii. Jer. xlviii, li. Ezek. xxxv—how absurd to require magistrates, who are his ministers for good
to men, to execute their office, which is his ordinance,
Rom, xiii. 1,—6. in encouraging and pro∣tecting men, in openly and insolently contradicting, blaspheming, rebelling against, and robbing him?—Ought the Sheriff and Justices of peace in Britain, as the king's ministers for good
to the nation, to have exe∣cuted their office in protecting the arch-rebels in 1715, and 1745, in the undisturbed enjoyment of all their civil rights, or to have given them new legal securities, in order to enable them, more boldly and successfully to carry on their treacherous and murde∣rous rebellion against his Majesty? Or ought they, by proclamation, to warrant all the subjects in their re∣spective counties to revile, rob, and take arms against our king and parliament, and promise them protecti∣on in so doing, but always prohibiting them to injure their fellow subjects?
"Magistrates ought not to rule their subjects by the Bible, but by the civil laws of the nation, according to which they are admitted to their power, by their subjects, from whom all their power originates"
ANSW. [1.] That magistrates power o∣riginates from their subjects is a notion plainly atheisti∣cal.
It originates in God himself, Rom. xiii. 1, 2. Rom. xi. 36. Psalm lxxv. 7. Dan. ii. 21. [2.] If ma∣gistrates must regulate their government by no other
law than that which they or their subjects have esta∣blished for themselves or one another; they must act as atheists independent of God, in the execution of an office wholly derived from him, and for every act of which they must be accountable to him. If the use∣ful laws of one nation, may be adopted into the civil law of another, Why may not the will of God, the supreme governor of nations, declared in his laws of nature and revelation, be also adopted into it? Are God's laws more dishonourable or dangerous,—more unfit to be adopted into our civil law, than those of our sinful neighbours? Is the Scotch law the worse, that many of God's statutes, prescribed in his word, have been adopted into it,—nay, that all the leading doctrines of Christianity contained in our two Confes∣sions of Faith and Catechisms have been adopted into it, and the Confessions themselves expresly ingrossed into acts of Parliament?—Indeed, if nations adopt no∣thing of the manifested will of God, into their civil law, it will contain nothing but useless trifles. Will these be fit for directing the administrations of mini∣sters of God for good
to men, or for securing, and pro∣moting the important welfare of any nation under heaven? (3.) If all civil authority to make laws, re∣sident, either in subjects or magistrates, be necessarily derived from God, as Former
and King of nations;
—If magistrates be ordained of God,
to be ministers of God for good
to men, to be for terror
and revengers of evil doers,
and a praise of them that 〈◊〉 well,
and to be obeyed
for conscience sake,—for the Lord's sake,
Rom. xiii. 1,—6. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. Common sense loudly demands, That neither their will nor that of their subjects, but the manifested will of God, their independent and infinitely high superior, should be the supreme rule and standard
of all their administrati∣ons; and that no civil law should or can bind either magistrates or their subjects, but in so far as it is agree∣able and subordinated to the laws of God.
"Magistracy being an office, not founded in revelation, but in the law of nature, the whole execution of it ought to be regulated by that law of nature, not by the will of God revealed in scripture."
ANSW. (1.) I thank you for so quickly
overturning your preceding objection, and adopting the divine law
of nature, instead of your civil law,
as the supreme standard of magistratical administration. (2.) According to your objection, parents, masters, children and servants, must regulate their performance of relative duties, merely by the law of nature, with∣out taking the smallest assistance from the directions of the Holy Ghost in scripture. No parents or mas∣ters must instruct their children or servants in the knowledge of the doctrines, promises, laws, worship, or virtue required in the Bible, as these relations de∣pend no more on Revelation than magistracy doth.
I de∣fy you to prove they do. In performing the duty of our natural or civil relations, we must act as mere de∣ists,
ignorant of, or pouring contempt on the inspired oracles of the Great GOD, our Saviour.—What hurt have the laws of revelation done to such relative duties, that they must be thus infamously excluded from being any part of a rule of them? (3) No man can truly obey the law of nature, without heartily em∣bracing and chearfully improving whatever revelations God is pleased to bestow on him,—as such revelations proceed from the same divine authority as the law of nature; and must be a noted means of promoting true and proper obedience to it.—To exclude divine reve∣lation, when granted, from regulating our perfor∣mance of relative duties, must therefore not only a∣mount to an heathenish
contempt of the scriptures, but to an atheistical
contempt of the law of nature, which necessarily requires us to adopt divine Revelation for our supreme rule, whenever it is graciously granted to us.
"Many of the above-mentioned in∣stances of magistrates care about religion, and their re∣straint and punishment of idolaters, blasphemers, and false prophets, related merely to the Jewish Theocra∣cy which was typical, and therefore not now to be co∣pied."
ANSW. [1.] Many of the above-mentioned instances, particularly those respecting Heathens, or contained in the promises to the gospel church, have not the least appearance of being typical. Nay, I de∣fy you to prove that the instances of Jewish rulers were merely
typical. [2.] These typical magistrates of the
Jewish nation also exercised laws relative to murder, theft, unchastity, treason, and other matters of the second table of the moral law. Ought therefore no magistrates now to do so? The laws respecting duties of the second table pertained as much to the Jewish Theocracy, as those relating to the first. Must there∣fore the Christian magistrate, for fear of copying the Jewish Theocracy, meddle with no morality at all? [3.] Must every thing that was once typical, be now, under the gospel, excluded from regulating authority? Must all the excellent patterns of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job. Moses, Aaron, Samuel, David, and other Hebrew saints be rejected as typical and useless?—Must all the laws directing to elect men, fearing God, and hating covetousness,
to be magistrates, or directing them to judge justly, im∣partially and prudently, and to punish murderers, a∣dulterers, thieves, robbers, &c.
be discarded as typi∣cal? Must the weekly Sabbath, public fasts and thanks∣givings be laid aside as typical,—a mere sign between God and the Israelites? Must the ten commandments, and all the explications of them in the Old Testament be discarded, as published in a typical manner, and to a typical people, and used as the principal part of their rule of government in the Jewish Theocracy?  As the Jewish church was a REAL church, and not MERELY TYPICAL, so their State was a REAL commonwealth or kingdom, and not MERELY TY∣PICAL. Whatever therefore pertained to it, as a real commonwealth,
is imitable in any other. [5.] The Jewish Church and State were as REALLY DIS∣TINCT, as the Church and State are now; though I do not say precisely in the same manner. (1.) They differed in respect of REGULATING LAWS. The ceremonial law directed the Jewish church. The ju∣dicial directed the affairs of their state. (2.) They differed in their respective ACTS. The Jews worship∣ped God, offered sacrifices, and received sacraments, not as members of that state, but as members of that church. They punished evil doers by fines, im∣prisonment, banishment, burning, stoning, and hang∣ing; and fought with enemies, &c.
not as a church,
but as a state. (3.) They differed in respect of CON∣TROVERSIES. To the church pertained the matters of the Lord,
and a judging of leprosies, and between statutes and judgments. To the state belonged the matters of the king,
and to judge between blood and blood, 2 Chron. xix. 10, 11. Deut. xvii. 8. (4) They differed in respect of OFFICERS. The priests were the only stated officers in the church, and pro∣phets a kind of occasional ones. Elders, Judges and Kings were governors in the State. The priests might not take the civil sword out of the hand of the ma∣gistrates; nor the magistrates offer sacrifices, burn in∣cense, or otherwise execute the priest's office. (5.) They differed in respect of CONTINUANCE. When the Jewish civil power was taken away by the Ro∣mans, the constitution of their church remained, in the days of our Saviour's debasement. And even now the Jews pretend to be a church, but not to be a state. (6.) They differed in respect of VARIATION. The constitution of their church remained much the same under Moses, Joshua, the Judges, the Kings, and after the captivity. But the form of the state underwent great alterations. (7.) They differed in respect of MEMBERS. Proselytes of the covenant were complete members of the Jewish church; but had not the same dignities or marriages allowed them in the State, as the natural Israelites. Nor had the proselytes of the gate any church privileges, though they had some civil ones. (8.) They were governed by different COURTS. The church had her courts of the Synagogue, and her ecclesiastical Sanhedrin.—The state had her courts of the gate, &c.
and her civil Sanhedrin;—though often some Levites were judges in both, as our ruling elders in the church, may, at the same time, be civil judges, Exod. xxiv. 1. Deut. xvii 8,—12. 1 Chron. xxxiii. 4, & xxvi. 30, 32. 2 Chron. xix 8, 10, 11. Jer. xxvi. 8,—11, 16. xviii. 18. with Deut xvii. 10, 11, 12. Ezek vii. 26 2 Kings vi. 32. Zech. vii. 1,—3. Psal. cvii. 32. Ezek. xiii. 9. Mat. ii 4. xvi. 21. xxi. 23. xxvi. 57, 59. xxvii. 1, 12. Luke xxii. 66. Acts iv. 5. Some Jew∣ish Rabbins expresly distinguish between their judges and their church elders in the same places. (9) They
differed in their CENSURE of offenders. In the church, offenders were suspended from sacred fellow∣ship, by a casting out of the Synagogue,
or a cutting off from God's people or congregation.
John ix. 22. & xii. 42. Exod. xii. 15, 19 Num. xix. 13, 20. Lev. xxii. 3. with Gen. iv. 14.—Lev. vii. 20, 21. with v. 2,—1 Cor. v. 6, 7, 8, 13. with Exod. xii. 15, 19. Gen. xvii. 14. with Acts iii. 23. Psal. i. 5. Gen. xxv. 17. In the state, they were cast off by death or ontlawry. (10) Profane and scandalous persons were excluded from the Jewish temple-service and passover, while they retained their civil rights in the state, Ezek xliv. 7, 9 Deut. xxiii. 18. Jer. vii. 9,—11. Ezek. xxiii. 38, 39. 2 Chron. xxiii. 19. with 1 Cor. v. 11. Psal. cxviii. 19, 20. & xv, 1,—5. & xxiv. 3, 4. & l. 16,—20. E∣zek. xxvi. 22, 26. Ezra x. 8, 16, 17. & vi. 21.*
.—[6.] There was no such difference between the Jewish magistracy, especially after their rejection of the Theo∣cracy, under Samuel, 1 Sam. viii. 5, 7, 19. & xii. 12, 17, 19. and the magistracy in Christian countries, as it is often pretended. (1.) The Jewish magistracy was an ordinance of God,
Exod. xviii. Num. xi. Deut. i. xvii. & xvi. 18, 19. Magistracy is still an ordinance of God, to be submitted to for the Lord's sake, Rom. xiii. 1,—6 1 Pet. ii. 14. (2.) Notwithstanding God's appointment of particular persons to be their kings, the Hebrew nation had the power of electing and ad∣mitting them to their office, 1 Sam. x, xi, xvi. 2 Sam. ii. 4. & v. 3. 1 Chron. xii. Our magistrates are pow∣ers ordained of God,
Rom. xiii. 1,—6. and yet an ordi∣nance of men,
1 Pet. ii. 13. (3.) God himself was the supreme governour of the Hebrew nation, Deut. xii 32. Hos. xiii. 10. God is still King of nations, Most High, King of the whole earth,
Jer. x. 7. Psalm lxxxiii. 18. xlvii. 7. (4.) The Israelites were God's peculiar kingdom, 1 Sam. xii. 12. Hos xiii, 10. Na∣tions which generally profess the Christian religion, are the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ,
Rev. xi. 15. (5) The Jewish magistrates were deputies and vicegerents of God the sovereign King, 1 Chronicles
xxix. 23. 2 Chron. ix. 6, 7. Psal. lxxxii. 1, 6. Ma∣gistrates are still powers ordained of God, ministers of God for good,
to whom we must be subject for consci∣ence sake,—for the Lord's sake, Rom. xiii. 1,—6. 1 Pet. ii. 13. By Christ kings still reign, and princes decree justice, even all the judges of the earth, Prov. viii. 15, 16. with Eph. i. 22. (6.) The manifested will of God was the proper statute book of the Jewish civil law, Deut. xvii. The will of God manifested in the laws of nature and revelation, are the supreme standard of all civil laws in the world, in which every human constitution ought to be founded, and by which the whole binding force of it is circumscribed, Acts iv. 19. & v. 29. Psal, ii. 10,—12. and hence hu∣man laws become an ordinance of God,
Rom. xiii. 2. (7.) The judicial laws of the Hebrew nation, regulat∣ed that which pertained to their kings, judges, war∣riors, fields, houses, injuries, crimes, punishments, mortgages, marriages, &c.
Exod. xxi,—xxiii. Deut. xviii, xx, Lev. xviii, xx. Num. xxxvi,—xxxviii, &c.
Our civil laws regulate the same things. (8.) Among the Jews, notorious disobedience to the declared will of God was held rebellion against him, the King of the nation, and to be condignly punished, as it tended to the good of the state, Heb. ii. 2. & x. 28. Noto∣rious disobedience to the manifested will of God ought to be still held as rebellion against Him, as king of nations, and to be condignly punished, as tends to the welfare of the state,—magistrates being still set up by God to be terrors, revengers,
and punishers of evil doers,
and bound not to bear the sword in vain,
Rom. xiii. 1,—5. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. Nor hath it been yet proven, That our magistrates, who have the scrip∣tures, ought to pay less real regard to them in the stat∣ing of crimes, than the Jewish rulers did. (9.) The Jewish magistrates were appointed to promote the wel∣fare of the church, in order to promote the welfare of the state, in subordination to the honour of God, the King of the nation. Magistrates are still bound to do the same, as they have opportunity, Isa. xlix. 23. & lx. 3, 10, 16 Rev. xvii. 16. & xxi. 24, 26. Rom. xiii. 1,—6. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. 1 Tim. ii. 1,—4. (10.) The Jewish church and state, as hath been just
now proven, were really distinct from, and indepen∣dent of each other, having different laws, officers, courts, privileges, penalties, &c.
The christian church and the civil state of Christians are no less distinct and indepen∣dant of each other. (11.) Nevertheless, the purity of the Jewish church, contributed much to the welfare of their state, and the right management of their state to the prosperity of their church; and bad manage∣ment in the one always tended to the hurt of the other, Deut. xxviii,—xxxii Lev. xxvi. Judges i,—xiii. 1 Sam. ii.—to 2 Chron. xxxvi Isa. i—to Mal. iv. Isa i. 19, 20. & iii. 10, 11. And still righ∣teousness exalteth a nation, and sin is the reproach and ruin of any people, Prov. xiv. 34. (12.) God never commanded the Jewish magistrates to force
their true religion upon their Heathen neighbours, Phili∣stines, Moabites, Ammonites, or Syrians, whom they conquered, or to put them to death for their idolatry. Nor hath He ever commanded magistrates, who have embraced the true Christian religion to FORCE men by fire or sword, or any like punishments, to embrace and profess it,—or to inslict t•
e same punishments u∣pon blasphemers or idolaters in unenlightened coun∣tries, which they may do upon such as obstinately re∣bel against and apostatize from the truth, amidst plen∣tiful means of conviction and establishment in it. (13) Never did God, that I know of, require the Jewish magistrates to punish any of their subjects for lesser faults,
however open or manifest, or to punish them for the simple neglect
of duties strictly religious,
—or to annex sentences of outlawry and of death to ecclesias∣tical cutting off
by excommunication from the church. Nor can I find, that he hath enjoined any such thing upon the Christian magistrate. (14) Among the Jews, some things partaking of both a civil and religi∣ous nature, did, in these different respects, fall under the government of both Church and State. Even cir∣cumcision itself was a national badge as well as a reli∣gious seal of God's covenant.—Among Christians, public fasts and thanksgivings, calling of Synods, &c.
do, in different respects, fall under the power of both church and state.—Pretend therefore no more, that there is a total difference
between the case of our ma∣gistrates,
and that of the Jewish, recorded in scrip∣ture.
"To allow magistrates a power of judging, making and executing laws, about religion, and of punishing men for erroneous opinions, or for disturbing the peace and order of the church, as in cur Confession of Faith and Second Book of Disci∣pline, altogether confounds the kingdoms of Christ with the kingdoms of this world, contrary to John xviii. 36."
ANSW. Sir, Have you in an honest and orderly manner, renounced these Confessions of Faith, as plainly and publicly as you solemnly avowed, if not also, subscribed a stedfast adherence to the Westmin∣ster one, at your ordination? Dare you, one day, call God, angels and men to witness, that you sincere∣ly avow that Confession of Faith to be the Confession of your Faith, and that you sincerely believe the WHOLE DOCTRINE contained in it, to be found∣ed on the word of God, and will constantly adhere to and maintain the same all the days of your life;—and the next, slight, reproach, revile and attempt to con∣fute an important article of it*
? (2.) Have you suffered as much for a zealous maintenance of the intrinsic powerof the church, and of Christ's sole head∣ship over her as his spiritual kingdom, as the compi∣lers and cordial adherers to that Confession have done? If not, modesty, as well as equity, might have restrai∣ned your revilings. (3.) Suppose that, contrary to my judgment, I should allow, that magistrates as such
have not that power relative to religious matters men∣tioned in our Confessions, and solemnly avowed in our Covenants, yet, being Christians, they are bound as such
to execute their civil offices in that manner which most effectually promotes the honour and king∣dom of Christ,—even as parents or masters, who are Christians, are bound to exercise their power in their families, as may best maintain and propagate the knowledge, faith, and obedience of the gospel. Eve∣ry other character or office, which a Christian hath, must be subordinated to his character as a Christian.
1 Pet. iv. 11. Col. iii. 17. Eph. v. 21,—33. vi. 1,—9. Col. iii. 18,—25. iv. 1. 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 3. Tit. ii. 1,—10. iii. 2. 1 Pet. ii. 11,—20. & iii. 1,—7. Rom. xiii. (4.) If to prevent confounding of the king∣dom of Christ with the kingdoms of this world, magistrates who are heads of large political fami∣lies, must be excluded from all that care about religion, which is allotted them in our Confession of Faith, Heads of families, must, for the same reason, be excluded from establishing the gospel-worship of God in their houses, and from instruc∣ting their children or servants in the truths of di¦vine revelation, at least from requiring them to at∣tend such instructions and worship. You pretend, there is a difference; But, Sir, I insist on your stat∣ing it precisely, and proving from scripture and rea∣son, that headship over families is a more spiritual re∣lation than headship over multitudes of families; or, that magistrates cannot without sin, do what is simi∣lar to every thing which parents and masters, as such, are commanded to do. (5.) If, to prevent confoun∣ding of the church with the state, magistrates must ex∣ercise no care about religion,—must punish no public∣ly obstinate heretic, blasphemer, idolater, profan∣er of the Sabbath, or reviler of the oracles and ordi∣nances of Christ, as a criminal against the welfare of the state,
—Church-courts must censure, as scandals
a∣gainst the welfare of the church, no theft, murder, robbery, treason, unlawful war, perversion of civil judgment, or the like; as these pertain to the king∣doms of this world. (6) Though the powers of ci∣vil and ecclesiastical government be COORDINATE, each standing on its proper basis, and the right exer∣cise of church power contributing mightily to the welfare of the state,—and of civil power to the advance∣ment of the church,—yet they are not COLLATERAL, inseparable from, or dependent upon each other, but are altogether distinct from, and different, in many respects*
1. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in their FOUN∣DATION. Magistracy is founded on God's universal dominion over all nations; and hence the law of na∣ture is the immediate supreme rule of its administrati∣ons, and the scriptures become the rule of them only as introduced by the law of nature, requiring magis∣trates as well as others to believe and obey whatever revelation, duly attested, God is pleased to grant them.—or, by magistrates subjecting their consciences, as followers of Christ, to the scriptures as their only rule to direct them how to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. But ecclesiastical power is founded in the oeconomical or mediatorial headship of Jesus Christ over his church, as his spiritual kingdom; and hence the immediate standard for regulating the exercise of it, is that Revelation, which God hath given to, and by him, in his word;—and the laws of nature have a regulating force in the church by virtue of the gene∣ral precepts of scripture, as 1 Cor. xiv. 26, 40. vi. 12. xvi. 14. Phil. iv. 8. Mat. vii. 12.
2. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in their IM∣MEDIATE OBJECT. Magistratical power immediate∣ly relates only to things external, pertaining to the outward man. Even, when exercised about sacred things, it hath that which is external for its immediate object. It removes external hindrances of spiritual exercises, and provides external opportunities and ac∣commodations for the performance of them. If ma∣gistrates call a Synod, they do not properly call it as a court of Christ, or as ministers of Christ, but as a meet∣ing of subjects, whose joint deliberations are calculat∣ed to promote the honour of God the King of nati∣ons, and the happiness of their country, by the right government of the church. If a magistrate command persons to compear before a church-court to be judg∣ed, or to bear witness, be commands them not as spiritual members of Christ's mystical body, but as his own and Jehovah's subjects, to take their trial or at∣test the truth before proper arbitrators of their cause, that God may be honoured, and through keeping of order in the church, the welfare of the city or nation may be advanced and consirmed. If he punish inso∣lent contemners of the authority and censures of the
church, he punisheth them not as scandalous persons, but as criminals, insulters of that true religion which the civil law hath established, and contemners of these judicatories which it hath authorized, and to which themselves have solemnly engaged all due subjection,—and thus, as treacherous disturbers of the good or∣der and peace of his kingdom, and tramplers on the laws of the Most High Sovereign of the nation.—But church-power hath that which is spiritual for its only proper object. It properly deals with mens consciences and heart, and with their outward man, only in or∣der to affect those, in the way of conviction, reforma∣tion, comfort, &c. It considers the persons with whom it deals, not as mere men, or as members of a ci∣vil society, but as members of the spiritual and mysti∣cal body of Christ, in the visible form of it.
3. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in their TORM. Though magistrates be the ministers of God for good to men, their power over their subjects is of a LORDLY nature. They are lordly fathers, who, by making and enforcing civil laws, can compel the disobedient.—In this view, if they establish any thing pertaining to the church, they establish it as a mean of honouring God their Superior, in the advancement of the welfare of the common wealth. If they punish faults, they con∣sider them as crimes, injurious to the happiness of the state, dishonouring God its supreme Governor, and provoking his wrath against it, and they punish those crimes only on the outward man, by fining, imprison∣ment, death, &c.—But church power is altogether MINISTERIAL, distributing to men, reproofs, admo∣nitions, and other ordinances, according to the in∣spired prescriptions of Christ, Mat. xvi. 19. & xviii. 18. 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. Christ being her alone Lord, Church-rulers have no power to make any laws pro∣perly so called, Isa. xxxiii. 22 James iv. 12. In deal∣ing with offenders, they consider faults, even oppres∣sion, tyranny, sinful wars and leagues, perversion of judgment, bribery or the like in magistrates, who are members, not as crimes, but merely as scandals, desil∣ing and ruining mens souls, plaguing the church, and dishonouring and provoking Christ and his Father in
him, against it. They have no compulsory power,—can punish no man either in his person or his external property, can use no weapons but such as are spiritual, mighty through God; administring church censures, not as punishments, but as spiritual privileges, and divinely instituted means of bringing offenders to a thorough repentance of their sins, to the eternal sal∣vation of their souls.—And this whole power must be used, only in the name of Jesus Christ, as Head of his church, 2 Cor. i. 24. x 4, 5, 8. xiii. 8, 10. ii. 6,—10 1 Cor, v. 4.
4. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in their PRO∣PER END. The formal end of magistratical power is to advance the glory of God, the King of nations, in promoting the welfare of the commonwealth;—and the establishment of the true religion, and care to pro∣mote the prosperity and propagation of the church, are used as eminent means of gaining that end. Or, the good of the church may also be considered as an accessory end of civil administration, as the better civil justice be executed, open 〈◊〉 breakings restrained, and virtue encouraged by the magistrate, the fewer will probably be the scandals, and the greater the pu∣rity and prosperity of the church. Nay, though the advancement of the church's welfare be not the for∣mal end of magistracy, yet as Christ is made Head over all things to his church, every magistrate, who professeth the Christian religion, ought to pursue the formal end of his office, as subordinated to his Christian end of promoting the glory of God in the wel∣fare of the church and eternal salvation of men—But the formal end of all church power is the glorify∣ing of God in Christ, by promoting the spiritual con∣viction, conversion and edification of mens souls; and the welfare of nations is but an accessory or subor∣dinate end, at which church-rulers, as subjects in the state, ought always to aim;—as the better they pro∣secute and obtain the end of their office, the fewer will be the crimes, the better both subjects and magis∣trates, and the more numerous and valuable the bles∣sings of God on the nation.
5. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in their PRO∣PER EFFECTS. The proper effects of magistratical
power, rightly exercised, is the good of the common∣wealth, in their commodious enjoyment of civil privi∣leges, in a manner mightily calculated to promote the honour of God, as the Most High over all the earth;—and the purity, peace and prosperity of the church, arising from the right administration of justice, dis∣couragement of evil doers, and praise of them that do well, is but an accessory effect. But the proper effect of church power rightly exercised, is the conversion of men to Jesus Christ, fellowship with him, and growth in grace and good works, to the praise of his glory; and the advantage accruing to cities or nations, by the virtuous laws and fervent prayers of church-mem∣bers, is but an accessory effect of it.
6. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in their SUB∣JECTS of residence. No ecclesiastical power can re∣side in a heathen, a woman, or a child; and no pow∣er of jurisdiction in a single person;—as civil power often may, or doth. Nor can one ecclesiastic officer delegate his power to another.
7. They differ in their FORMAL CONSIDERATION OF THE PERSONS UPON WHOM THEY ARE EXER∣CISED. A magistrate's power extends over all per∣sons resident in his territory, be their moral character what it will, Jews, Heathens, &c. Rom. xiii 1. But church-power extends only to the professed members of Christ's mystical body, the Church, 1 Corinth. v. 12, 13.
8. Civil and ecclesiastical power differ in respect of their DIVIDED EXERCISE. The one may, and ought to be exercised, whether the other be so or not.—The end of church-censure being to gain sinners to repentance and salvation, scandalous persons appear∣ing penitent, ought to be seasonably absolved from it, and restored to communion with the church in sealing ordinances. But the end of civil punishment being the satisfaction of the law, and the deterring of others from the like faults, criminals, however penitent and fully restored to church-fellowship, may, as the na∣ture of their crime demands, be punished, even unto death. And suppose a church-member should have satisfied the demands of the civil law for a crime, he ought to be prosecuted and censured for it as a scan∣dal,
by the ecclesiastical courts, till he appear duly penitent. Not only ought church-rulers to censure scandalous persons, when magistrates take no no∣tice of their faults, but even to censure magistrates, who are church-members, for what wickedness they commit under colour of countenance from the civil law. And where magistrates punish, and church-rulers censure the same persons for the same faults, the processes ought to be kept entirely distinct from, and independent of each other;—though, to prevent unnecessary swearing, the proof taken in one court may sometimes be produced and judged of, also in the other.
"Magistrates not being proper judges of the doctrines of Revelation, cannot be ca∣pable to judge concerning religious matters, and par∣ticularly to determine who are heretics, blasphemers, or idolaters"
ANSW. (1.) That they have a right to judge in these matters hath been already established. (2) God, who knows all things, admits private Chris∣tians to be capable of judging what is heresy, blas∣phemy and idolatry, and who are heretics, blasphe∣mers and idolaters, and hence commands them to keep themselves from these sins, and to avoid such sedu∣cers, and debar them from their houses, Rom. xvi. 17. 2 Tim. iii. 5. 1 Cor. v. 11. 1 John iv. 1,—3. & v. 21. 2 John 9,—11. Now what hinders Christi∣an magistrates to have as much good sense and •
s much capacity of judging in these matters, as common Christians (2.) The gross errors, blasphemies and idolatries which magistrates ought to restrain, and sui∣tably
punish, are so plainly condemned by the word of God, which magistrates ought carefully to search, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, that any unbiassed person of common capacity may easily discern them. (3.) The advice of faithful ministers, and the common consent of Christian churches, may assist magistrates in discerning from the word of God, what is gross or damnable heresy, blasphemy, idolatry.
"If magistrates, as such, have a power of judging in religious matters, then Heathen magistrates must also be allowed to make laws concer∣ning religion and the church, while in the mean time
they cannot be censured by the church, if they do a∣miss."
ANSW. (1.) What could you gain, if I should plead, that it is magistrates Christianity requiring them to execute their office in subordination to it, that is the immediate origin of their power about the mat∣ters of religion, even as it is parents Christianity that warrants them to receive baptism for their in∣fants? But (2.) Heathen magistrates, with God's di∣rection and approbation, have made laws respecting religion, Ezra vii. 13,—28. vi. 1,—14. i. 1,—3. Dan. iii. 29. vi. 26. Jonah iii. Dare you condemn the Al∣mighty? (3) Heathen magistrates have the same power as Christian magistrates, but are less capable to use it aright; even as heathen parents and masters have the same power over their children and servants as Christians, but are less qualified to discern and per∣form their duty. (4.) Neither heathen nor Christian magistrates have any power at all against the truth, but for the truth,—any power for the destruction of the church, but for her edification, 2 Cor. xiii. 8, 10. (5) Heathen magistrates therefore, ought carefully to improve what assistance they have by the light of nature and works of creation and providence, or by any Revelation from God, to which they have access,—always taking heed to make no laws, but such as they certainly know to be agreeable to the law of God.—It is not to be expected, that civil laws can forbid every fault and require every thing good in externals; but they ought never to encourage sin, or discourage duty.
"To allow magistrates a power of judging about the matters of religion will make them church-rulers."
ANSW. (1) No more than it made Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, and the king of Nineveh church-rulers. (2.) No more than church-rulers taking cognizance of murder, adultery, incest, theft, robbery, or even of the conduct of Christian magistrates relative to ad∣ministration of justice, wars, alliances, &c.
will make them magistrates. (3.) How often must you be told, that church-rulers judge, how such profession or prac∣tice ought to stand connected with ecclesiastical encon∣couragements,
discouragements or censure; but ma∣gistrates judge, how such profession or practice ought to be connected with civil encouragements or discou∣ragements. Church-rulers warn against, and censure mens public faults, only as scandals,
disgraceful and hurtful to the church Magistrates judge of, and pu∣nish them only as crimes,
hurtful to the prosperity of the State. In church courts, matters are considered as the matters of the Lord.
In civil courts, they are considered as the matters os the king,
2 Chron. xix. 8,—11. Ministers as the deputies of Christ, require magistrates to execute their office for the honour of Christ, and welfare of his church, and censure them, if church-members, if they do not. Magistrates as vicegerents of God, the King of nations, require mi∣nisters faithfully to execute their office, particularly as stated by the laws of the land, in order to promote virtue and happiness among the subjects, and draw the blessing of God upon them; and they punish them as undutiful subjects,
if they notoriously transgress, 1 Kings ii. 26. Magistrates have NO ECCLESIASTICAL POWER at all. They have no power to restrain or hinder the free and full exercise of church power. But, by giving full opportunity, encouragement and excitement to church officers, they have power to pro∣vide that church power be freely and faithfully exer∣cised in their dominions. They have no power to transact any thing ecclesiastical, as in admission of members into the church, or to the seals of God's co∣venant;—no power to choose or ordain church offi∣cers;—no power to preach the gospel, dispense the sa∣crament, inflict censures, or absolve from them.—They have no power to prescribe or enact any eccle∣siastical laws; but they have power to adopt such law∣ful and expedient constitutions, as have been made by the church-courts, into their civil code, by a legal ra∣tification,—and power to enact such political laws
as are necessary for the more advantageous execution of these ecclesiastical constitutions. They have no power to frame a religion for their subjects, or ratify a false religion already received or framed, or to establish a∣ny thing in religion, which is not founded in the word of God; but they have a power to adopt the law of
God, and the religion prescribed by it, as a part of their civil law, in order to promote the glory of God in the welfare of the nation.—The more public church courts be, and the more extensive his influence upon his subjects, and the welfare of the nation,—the more right hath the civil magistrate to exercise his po∣litical power
about them. The church having an in∣trinsic right and power from Christ to call Synods for government, whenever her circumstances require it, the magistrate hath no power to deprive her of this right. But while the church calls them as courts of Christ, constituted of church rulers appointed by him to act in his name, the magistrate may call them as courts established by the civil law, and necessary to to promote the peace, order and piety, and so the prosperity of his subjects,—as courts, which consist of his principal subjects, and to which place and protecti∣on must be given in his dominions. The magistrate hath no power of deputing to Synods such members as he pleaseth, Acts xv. 2 Chron. viii. 18. or, to hin∣der or recal those whom the church hath deputed, unless the safety of the state plainly require it. But he may compel members, and parties who have causes before the court, to attend, if the case of the church require it, as a mean of repressing a malicious and turbulent faction, who have, or may hurt the State. It is not necessary, that either the magistrate, or his Commissioner, attend ecclesiastical Synods;—though to secure their protection, curb unruly troublers of the court, and to witness the propriety of their pro∣cedure, he may attend.—If he attend, He hath a power to judge for himself, how matters are ecclesias∣tically transacted,—a power politically
to provide, That the members meddle with no political affairs, which do not belong to them as a court of Christ:—and to take care, that members, and others present, observe that due decency, in reasoning, voting, submitting, or hearing, which the nature of the court requires. If any cause be partly civil and partly ecclesiastical, he is to judge the civil part himself, and leave the ecclesi∣astical to the church court.—Even in ecclesiastical causes, he may give his advice, nay, he may propose and require Synods to examine and decide concerning
points of doctrine or practice, if necessary for the sa∣tisfaction of his own conscience, or the instruction and edification of his subjects, in order to promote the welfare of the state, in subordination to the glory of God. But he hath no power to hinder others to pro∣pose their difficulties or grievances before the Synod for satisfaction or redress, unless the cause be partly of a political nature, a Synodical decision of which, at that time, endangers the state.—He hath no pow∣er to preside in the Synod, or give his decisive vote in any of their transactions. But, as a man and Christi∣an, he hath right to a judgment of discretion,
Whether their decisions be according to the law of God or not,—and as a magistrate, he hath a power of political judgment,
by which he doth not properly judge, Whe∣ther these decisions be true or false, good or bad in themselves, but Whether, and How far, they ought to be ratified, and as it were adopted into the laws of the State, and connected with civil rewards, forbear∣ance, or punishments. Thus, the power of the ma∣gistrate, in nothing
interferes with the power of the Synod. Nothing is done by the one, as a magistrate, that the other can do, as a court of Christ. And as the decisions of Synods are supreme in the ecclesiastic order,
from which there is no appeal but to Jesus Christ;—By remonstrating as a church-member, and commanding them as their King, the magistrate may cause the Synod re-consider its own deeds, but he can∣not reverse them himself;—so the magistrate's deed concerning the civil ratification of church-deeds is su∣preme in its kind,
from which there is no appeal but to God himself. The Synod may require him as a Church-member; and, as subjects, they may remon∣strate, and supplicate his re-consideration of his own deed, but they cannot reverse it themselves.
"To allow magistrates to judge in matters of religion for others, and to restrain and punish corruptions in it, is to render them Lords of mens faith and conscience,—a power which even the inspired apostles disclaimed. For if magistrates impose any religion at all upon their subjects, it must be what their own conscience dictates; and then what shall become of the private rights of conscience, among
ANSW. (1.) Did then God, who of old commanded magistrates to judge about matters of religion, and to restrain and punish blasphemers, idolaters, seducers, profaners of the Sabbath, Deut. xiii. 9, 10. & xvii. 5,—7. Lev. xxiv. 11,—14. Song ii. 15. Num. xv. 32,—36. command them to lord it over mens conscience? If it was not so then, it can∣not be so now, as conscience, tyranny and murder, are the same in every age. (2) The objection strikes with equal force, against all ecclesiastical establish∣ment of the true religion, and against all creeds and Confessions of Faith, and against all ecclesiastical judging and censuring of men for heresy, blasphemy, or idolatry, contrary to Rev. ii. 20. Titus iii 10. Gal. v. 10, 11. as against magistrates judging about esta∣blishing religion or punishing the public insulters of it. (3.) Magistrates act in this matter as his ministers
and vicegerents, by virtue of his commandment, who is the alone Lord of conscience, and restrain or punish nothing, but what men, under any proper influence of faith and conscience, would abstain from, as for∣bidden by the Lord of conscience, who is to be their future judge, and hath appointed magistrates, as his substitutes to avenge the open injuries done to him in this world, Rom. xiii. 4. And, if men persist in sins plainly forbidden in his law, he holds them as sin∣ners against, and condemned by their conscience, Tit. iii. 10, 11. (4) The absurdity of mens consciences being sustained as a standard, as well as the proper me∣thod of magistrates making laws relative to religion, have been already manifested. Magistrates conscien∣ces have no more just claim to God bead than those of their meanest subjects. Not, therefore, magistrates pretences to conscience, but plain and evident marks of the authority of God manifested in, and from the scriptures, must determine their subjects to receive a religion in obedience to their authority, as subordinat∣ed to the authority of God, the Most High, superior of both.
"In Rom. xiii. where the power of magistrates is more fully described than any where else in the New Testament, only the commands of the
second table of the moral law are subjoined, to mark that it only extends to the concerns of men one with another."
ANSW. (1.) Who authorized the objector to put asunder the two Testaments and the two tables which God hath joined? Or, to separate the first part of that chapter from the last, which certainly relates to religion, any more than from verse 9th. (2.) The magistrate's character, minister of God for good, terror
to, and revenger of evil doers,
and his duty to love his neighbours as himself there hinted, cannot admit of his having no care about religion and the first table of the moral law. (3) To oblige men carefully to search the whole scriptures, God hath seldom, if ever, ma∣nifested his whole will, relative to any thing, in one passage.
"If we allow magistrates any power at all about religious matters, we must plunge ourselves into inextricable difficulties, as the precise limits of civil and ecclesiastical power can never be fix∣ed,—and every small mistake in religious opinions, or neglect of religious duties, must bring men to the gib∣bet, as theft draws down the wrath of God on nati∣ons, as well as blasphemy and idolatry do"
ANSW. There is no more difficulty in limiting the power of magistrates about either religion or virtue, than in fixing precise limits to the power of church-rulers re∣lative to those matters. Do you fix precise limits to church-power according to the word of God, and I shall next moment fix as precise limits for the power of the magistrate. If you limit the exercise of church power to duties required, and sins forbidden in the first table of the moral law,—you naturally leave the care of the duties required in the second table to the magistrate. But then, whether a church of Christ, having no care or power about morality toward men,—or a deputed kingdom of God without any care or power about any thing relating to the honour of God, be most absurd and devilish, I know not. If you a∣ver, That the power of church-rulers extends to the external obedience or disobedience of church-members to both tables of God's law, not as civil,
but as spiri∣tual
conduct, tending to the spiritual advantage or hurt of the church, and therefore connected with the
spiritual encouragements or frowns of Christ's visible church; and that they meddle not with sins against the second table as crimes
against mens person or pro∣perty, but as scandals
against the spiritual edification of the church, and the glory of Jesus Christ therein concerned;—I immediately reply, That precisely, in like manner, the power of magistrates extends to the external obedience or disobedience of civil subjects as such,
to both tables of God's law, not as it is of a spiritual nature,
but as it affects the civil welfare or hurt of the nation,
or honour of God as the King of it, and so ought to stand connected with civil encou∣ragements or discouragements. If you pretend, that it will be still hard to shew, how far magistrates may, in that view, proceed in matters of the first table, par∣ticularly with respect to offending clergymen I an∣swer, that it is not one whit harder, than to shew how far church courts may proceed in matters of the se∣cond table, particularly with respect to offensive ma∣gistratical administrations. (2.) Your pretence, that if magistrates punish any faults in religion, they must punish all known faults in the same form and degree, is but a deceitful insult on the Most High, who, in his word, appointed the capital punishment of idolaters and blasphemers, and yet never warranted the punish∣ment of many faults relative to religion, in like man∣ner; nay, for ought I see, hath not required magistrates at all to punish any thing but the most atrocious faults in it. If you insult Christ, who hath not command∣ed any faults, but atrocious ones obstinately continu∣ed in, to be censured with excommunication, and hath never commanded many lesser neglects and infirmities of church-members to be censured at all,—It is an in∣sult on common sense. Would you, or any man in his wits, either censure or punish men as severely
for a simple neglect of a religious duty, as for an open and blasphemous insulting of religion? Would you censure or punish the stealing of a single straw as se∣verely as the stealing of a man or woman? Would you censure or punish a prick with a pin, as severely as the cutting of a man's throat, or the ripping up of a woman with child.
Page 77OBJECT. XXVIII.
"Either every error in doc∣trine, and mistake in worship must be punished by the magistrate, or only that which is more glaring and notorious. If it is only the latter, How are the limits of what is punishable, and what is not, and the degree of punishment proper for each, to be precisely fixed."
ANSW. If every species of duty must be neglected, and the contrary sin allowed, where it is difficult to fix the precise boundaries of sin or duty,—or where it is difficult to fix the precise degrees of encourage∣ment to be given to such obedience, or of censure or punishment due to such sin, men must be left to live like absolute atheists, in both church and state, every man doing that which is right in his own eyes. (2) Unless you prove that every insult of, and outrage a∣gainst God and his religion ought to pass unpunished, and even be licensed and authorized, yourself must be equally embarrassed in fixing what is punishable and what is not, and what must be the form and degree of punishment annexed to each punishable fault. (3.) Nay, unless you prove, that all deeds, however hor∣rid, ought to be tolerated in both church and state, How are you to fix precisely, what deeds are censur∣able or punishable, and what not;—and what form and degree of censure or punishment is proper for each, in every particular form and circumstance. A man may as really, and for ought men can prove a∣gainst him, as justly pretend conscience for his wicked deeds of treason, murder, robbery, &c.
as for his damnable heresies, blasphemies, and idolatrous wor∣ship. Wicked deeds, if God be true, are the native fruits of gross errors and idolatrous worship. A con∣science, which under the clear light of scripture reve∣lation, approves the whole system of Popery or Soci∣nianism, may as reasonably dictate the murder of saints, dethronement of lawful Sovereigns, community of women and goods, &c.
Let once the plea of consci∣ence be admitted in the case of treason, theft, robbery, murder, and the like, and I will undertake, it shall be as commonly pled, as in the case of gross heresy, blasphemy and idolatry; and it will be as impossible for judges to disprove it in the one case, as in the oth∣er. Nothing therefore, will truly answer your tole∣rant
scheme, but that every man be allowed to pro∣fess, worship, and act as he pleaseth. (4) Let there∣fore magistrates, as well as church-rulers, in their punishing and censuring work, make God's word their rule; and if they do not perceive from it clearly the proper degrees of punishment and censure, let them rather err on the charitable side, than in approach∣es to severity.
"But, how are heretics, blas∣phemers, and idolaters to be got judged in order to punishment? They must be judged only by their Peers, by persons of the same station as themselves, quite impartial, and no wise attached to the contrary sentiments or practices."
ANSW. (1.) But, how can you prove from scripture or reason, that such crimi∣nals must be judged only by their Peers;—or that there is a nation under heaven, in which criminals are judg∣ed by such Peers, as you mention? (2) Allowing that our juries consist of the proper Peers of the cri∣minals, yet they judge not concerning the relevancy of the crime, or the form or degree of punishments, but of the proof of the fact,—which, in the case of heresy, blasphemy, or idolatry, is ordinarily no more difficult, than in the case of adultery, incest, theft, murder, &c.
(3.) Nothing can be more absurd, than to pretend, that mens detestation of heresy, blasphe∣my, and idolatry, disqualifies them from judging he∣retics, blasphemers, and idolaters. What! Doth mens abhorrence of theft, murder, adultery, disqua∣lify them to judge of, and punish those crimes? Do God's infinite holiness and equity, disqualify him from judging of sinners?
"If heretics, blasphemers and i∣dolaters be punishable, orthodox magistrates, who happen to become governors of heretical, blasphemous and idolatrous nations, must kill the most of their subjects."
ANSW. We hold none punishable, espe∣cially in any severe manner, till they appear openly obstinate in it, notwithstanding sufficient means of conviction, which these subjects are not supposed to have had; and so are not punishable at all by magis∣trates. (2,) Nothing, and particularly the infliction of punishment, ought to be done, merely because it
is lawful, till it also become expedient, 1 Cor. vi. 12. & x 23. Eccl. iii. 1, 11. Now it would be highly inex∣pedient to proceed to extremities against the greater part of a society. Nay, in the case supposed, they would prove a barbarously sinful mean of prejudicing men against the gospel of Christ. (3.) Great diffe∣rence ought to be made between such as were never reformed from a false religion, and those who obsti∣nately apostatize from the true religion to a false one;—between such as live in a nation generally corrupted with a false religion, and those who live in a nation generally enlightened and reformed by the gospel of Christ;—and between such as are only seduced, and those who exert themselves to seduce others. Much more forbearance is due to the former than to the lat∣ter; for (4) However peremptorily the Jews were commanded by God to punish even unto death, the obstinate false prophets, idolaters and blasphemers of their own church or nation, they were never required to punish their idolatrous tributaries in their conquer∣ed countries of Syria, Philistia, Edom, Ammon, or Moab. And meanwhile, were never allowed, and never did grant them any legal establishment
or autho∣ritative toleration
of their idolatry. (5.) Even God himself, for the ends of his glory, exerciseth much forbearance towards heretics, blasphemers and idola∣ters, but never grants them any legal establishment
or authoritative toleration,
securing them of protection in their wickedness. Let magistrates, who are his mini∣sters for good
to men, go and do so like wise.
"The Christian law of doing to others that which we would have them do to us, de∣mands, That we should allow every man to think, pro∣fess, and act in religion as he pleaseth. If we think men heretics, blasphemers or idolaters, our proper method is to manifest the utmost kindness and famili∣arity to them, that we may gain them to the truth. Every other method is no less dangerous than uncha∣ritable. If orthodox Christian magistrates restrain and punish the spreading of Heathen, Mahometan, and Popish errors or worship,—Heathen, Mahometan and Popish princes will be thereby tempted to restrain and punish the spread of gospel-truth in their dominions,
and can plead the very same right for their conduct."
ANSW. (1.) Strange! Did not God know the mean∣ing of his own law of equity and kindness between man and man, and the true method of securing or propagating his own religion, when he made or en∣couraged the laws against seducers, idolaters, and blasphemers above mentioned;—when he commanded his people to avoid false teachers, and not so much as to lodge them in their houses. (2) With all your pretended benevolence, Would you familiarly lodge in your family a notorious pick pocket or an harlot, along with your own children, in order to gain them to the ways of piety and virtue? You would not. Why then, in direct contradiction to the command of God, do you plead for familiarity with robbers of God, defilers, or murderers of souls! (3) The Christian law of kindness and equity requires me to do all that for the real welfare of my neighbour, in subordinati∣on to the glory of God, which I could lawfully wish him, in like circumstances, to do for me? But, must I do evil that good may come, rendering my damna∣tion just? Must I procure my just liberty to believe and serve God according to his own appointment, by granting my neighbour an unjust, an authoritative li∣cence to insult and blaspheme God, and worship the devil in his stead? Because I wish my neighbour to be helpful to me, in honouring God, and in labouring to render myself and others happy in time and eterni∣ty, Must I assist and encourage them in horribly dis∣honouring God, and destroying themselves and others. None but an atheist, who believes no real difference between moral good and evil, can pretend it. (4.) When and Where have Faithful adherents to gospel-truth, got much liberty and safety by means of their friends encouraging and protecting gross herely, blas∣phemy and idolatry? Since Protestants became so kind to Papists in their dominions, Have not the Po∣pish powers, in return, cruelly murdered, banished, or oppressed their Protestant subjects, in Hungary, Poland, Germany, France. &c.
till they have left few of them remaining? While Britons were lavishly expending their blood and treasure in support of the Popish house of Austria about 1709 and 1741, She
returned our kindness in the most villanous destruc∣tion of about 230 Congregations of our Protestant brethren in Silesia and Hungary. (5.) Ought Elijah to have spared, nay protected and encouraged the pro∣phets of Baal, as a mean of securing for himself the protection of Ahab and Jezebel, or, because she was disposed to avenge their death? Must thieves and rob∣bers be benevolently used, protected and suffered to pass unpunished, for fear of provoking their associ∣aus to revenge the just severities used towards them? Let magistrates do their duty, and leave events to God. (6.) Till you honestly profess yourself an atheist, who believes no intrinsical difference between moral good and evil,
never pretend that magistrates, who have their whole power from God, have any power against the truth, or have a right to exercise that power de∣rived from God for the good of mankind, to his dis∣honour and to the hurt of mankind. Astonishing I Because a power originating from God may be right∣fully exercised in promoting his declarative glory, the spread or protection of his gospel, and the happi∣ness of mankind,—May it, must it, therefore, in the hand of other magistrates, be rightfully exercised in promoting blasphemy and robbery of God, and wor∣shipping of devils?—Because it may be rightfully ex∣ercised in punishing obstinate and notorious heretics, blasphemers and idolaters,—May it, must it, therefore be rightfully exercised in persecuting and murdering the faithful preachers and professors of Gospel-truths, and worshippers of the true God?—Because magis∣trates in Britain have a right to punish thieves and murderers, must these in France have as good a right to use Alms givers and skilful and diligent Physicians in the same manner?—Because that which tends to the highest honour of God, and temporal and eternal happiness of mankind ought to be authoritatively to∣lerated, nay established, every where,—may,—must, that which tends to his highest dishonour, and the most dreadful temporal and eternal ruin of mankind, be every where, in like manner, tolerated or establish∣ed?—Because in a dearth, benevolent persons may be tolerated, nay highly encouraged in freely distribut∣ing wholsome provisions to the poor and needy, may,
or must, malicious murderers be therefore tolerated and encouraged in distributing their poisoned morsels, especially if abundantly sweetened among the unwary infants or others? (7.) The restraint or suitable
punishment of that which is contrary to God's law, being commanded by himself, can never have any tendency to introduce corruptions in religi∣on, or persecution for an adherence to gospel-truth. And if some will abuse their power, that must not hin∣der others, either in church or state, to use theirs a∣right.
"If infidelity and difference in religion do not make void magistrates right to govern nations, much less can heresy, idolatry, or blasphe∣my, invalidate subjects right to protection, or of ad∣mission to all the privileges of other subjects."
ANSW. (1.) In almost every case, the restraint or punishment of superiors is more difficult than that of inferiors. (2.) If the professors of the true religion be the mino∣rity in number and power, both scripture and reason demand their subjection to their common rulers, in all their lawful commands, till they become manifest tyrants, and Providence afford a proper opportunity of shaking off their yoke. But, if the professors of the true religion be the majority in a nation or society, both scripture and reason forbid their setting up a magistrate of a false religion, or a wicked practice,—and allow that, if after his advancement, he aposta∣tize, and obstinately attempt to promote a false religi∣on, or notoriously wicked practice, he may be depos∣ed and even punished, as far as the general welfare of the society, in subordination to the glory of God, can admit, Psal. xv. 4. (3) Do you pretend to be wiser than God himself? Without any apprehended inconsistency, he commanded the Jews, not authori∣tatively to tolerate,
protect, and encourage, but to punish blasphemers, profaners of the Sabbath, idola∣ters, and false prophets, Lev. xxiv. 15, 16 Num. xv. 35, 36. Deut. xiv, xvii. Zech. xiii. 2,—6. and yet commanded them when they were the small mino∣rity in the Chaldean empire, to serve the Heathen king of Babylon, Jer. xxvii. 17. & xxix. 7.
Page 83OBJECT. XXXIII.
"Unlimited tolerations in the state ought not to be granted. In Protestant coun∣tries, Papists ought not to be tolerated, as they are subject to the foreign power of the Pope, as their Head, and cannot be supposed faithful subjects to, or to keep faith with such as they pretend to be heretics. Atheists ought not to be tolerated, as they cannot be bound by any oath. Such as are against tolerating oth∣ers ought not to be tolerated, as they will kindle strife. And in churches, there ought to be no toleration at at all."
ANSW. (1.) Then it seems, Christ and his Father must be excluded from all share in the tolera∣tion you plead for, on account of their intolerant dis∣position, unless they be infinitely altered from what they were in antient times. (2) You have already given up all your care for procuring the favour of the Popish powers to your Protestant brethren abroad, by means of tolerating Papists. (3.) Never pretend zeal against atheism, till you be able to maintain your tolerant
scheme, upon other than the atheistical prin∣ciples mentioned near the beginning of this missive; and to which you have had repeated recourse in your objections.—and till you allow mens rights or preten∣ces of conscience to warrant them to defame, abuse, rob, and murder yourself, as you allow with respect to God. (4.) Your present objection is partly found∣in atheism. Papists are excluded from toleration, not at all as notorious blasphemers and idolaters, but merely as not very like to prove faithful subjects to Protestant magistrates. Atheists are excluded, not as daring blasphemers or intentionally malicious murde∣rers of Jehovah, but merely because they cannot give proper security for their good behaviour to magistrates and fellow subjects. Thus no more regard is shewed to God the King of nations,
than might be expected among a nation of Atheists, and the interests of men are altogether, I might say, infinitely, preferred to his. (5.) How are you to fix the precise limits,
Who are to be accounted under foreign heads;—who are to be accounted Papists and Atheists;—or who are to be held to give sufficient security by oath,—Whether profane swearers, Quakers, Socinians, notorious vio∣laters of baptisinal engagements, solemn subscribers
of, and engagers to Creeds and Confessions of Faith which they believe not, &c.
—If, contrary to the light of nature and revelation, men zealously propagate the doctrines of devils and do worship them in idols, and follow the pernicious practices above-mentioned, as the native consequences of error and idolatry, Are not they plainly subject to another Head, even the God of this world, who is not much more friendly to magistrates and nations, than the Romish Pope? If men have conscience, villainously to wrest the scrip∣ture to prove that Christ was originally a mere mar,
a mere creature,
and is now a made God,
What more security can we have by their oath, than if they were professed Atheists? (6.) None who plead tor the au∣thoritative toleration
of heretics, blasphemers and ido∣lators by the State, can with any self-consistent candor, disallow of all toleration in the church—God the King of nations, hates these abominations as much as Christ, the Head of the church. Church-rulers have no other infallible rule to direct them in their decisi∣ons, than magistrates have. They are as unfit to judge of more refined errors, as magistrates are to judge of gross errors, blasphemies, idolatries. They have as little allowance from Christ to lord over mens consci∣ences, or to impose their own opinions for articles of faith or rules of duty, as magistrates have from God. It is as difficult to fix precisely, What is censurable,
and what not, and the proper degree of censure
answer∣able to every seandal, in every circumstance, as to six precisely, what
crimes ought to be punished by the magistrate. Unrighteous censures for an adhe∣rence to truth and duty, are as real
and more severe perfecution
than unrighteous punishments. Articles and Confessions of Faith imposed by ecclesiastical an∣thority, as much cramp Christian liberty, as if they were established by the state. Clergymen h•…
e as of∣ten abused their power about religion, as e•…
States∣men did. Their constitutions and councils have done as much hurt to it, as these of magistrates ever did: If it be difficult to get gross heretics, blasphemers and idolaters judged, restrained or punished by the State, it will be found as hard to get ALL errors and ALL practical mistakes censured by the church. Nay, for
once that magistrates have erred in punishing heretics, blasphemers and idolaters. I believe clergymen have erred ten, if not an hundred times, in their censures. And, seldom have ever magistrates persecuted men for righteousness sake, but when they were instigated to it by some clergymen
"No carnal influence of ma∣gistrates relative to religion is consistent with the spi∣ritual nature of the kingdom of Christ, which is not of this world, John xviii. 36. The apostles used no carnal weapons of warfare in promoting it, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5."
ANSW. Why do not you state precisely, what you mean by the spiritual nature
of Christ's kingdom, and its not being of this world?
Is it so spiritual,
that the members and subordinate rulers in it, are not at the same time members in a civil state, and interested in the welfare or hurt of it? Is it so spiritual,
that it hath no manner of connexion or fellowship with the kingdom of God over the nation, in which it resides, and neither gives nor receives from it, any more help∣fulness, than from the kingdom of Belial? Is it so spi∣ritual,
that the power of it cannot touch any part of mens conduct toward one another, or even the ma∣gistratical administrations of its members? Is it so spi∣ritual,
as to exclude the Most High, King of nations, and his deputed vicegerents, from all regard to the honour of God and his religion, and the welfare of the State as connected therewith, leaving them no more concern therewith, than if nations were herds of swine? The question under consideration is not concerning the nature of Christ's kingdom, of which the civil magistrate is not a ruler of any kind, as hath been already manifested, but, Whether all care about the church and her religion, as tending to promote the welfare of nations ought to be excluded from God's kingdom,
as the Sovereign of nations,
and he and his vicegerents obliged to manage that department, as if there were no God in the earth? (2.) Had Christ no spiritual kingdom
in the days of Moses, and the pro∣phets, when God required magistrates to take care a∣bout religion, and to restrain and punish the public atrocious insulters of it? Had he no spiritual kingdom,
not of this world, when he repeatedly drove the buy∣ers
and sellers out of the temple? (3.) That the spi∣ritual nature of Christ's kingdom rendered it perfectly consistent with the full exercife of the magistratical power in the Roman empire, or any other state, which is what he meant in his answer to Pilate, we readily grant; but the inspired promises, which have been re∣peatedly quoted, Isa. xlix. 23. & lx. 3, 10, 16 Psal. ii. 8, 10, 11, 12. & lxxii. 10, 11. Rev. xi. 15. & xvii. 16. & xxi. 24. sufficiently prove, that the spiri∣tual nature of Christ's kingdom doth not exclude ma∣gistrates helpfulness to the truth, in authorizing the profession and practice of it by their civil laws, and in restraining the open and insolent blasphemers of it? (4.) Though the weapons of ministers warfare, in propagating the gospel be not carnal, What is that to the case of magistrates? And as the spiritual weapons of church-officers reach as much to sins against the se∣cond table of the moral law as to those against the sirst, they no more exclude the use of the magistrates carnal weapons against the atrocious sins against the first ta∣ble, than with respect to those against the second, 2 Cor. x. 6. 1 Cor. v. 2,—5, (4.) Magistratical influence cannot set up Christ's kingdom in mens heart, or o∣blige mens conscience to obey his laws in an acceptable manner; but it can remove many external hindran∣ces, and afford many external opportunities, of his own setting up, by means of his word and Spirit. It can restrain burning of Bibles or abusing and murder∣ing of preachers and hearers of the gospel. It can spread the scriptures, and protect preachers of the truths contained in them; and by command, example, and otherwise, encourage the subjects to search the scriptures, and to hear, learn, profess, and practise the plain doctrines of the gospel. In thus endeavour∣ing to make their subjects attend on, receive, and ob∣serve the doctrines of the gospel, all appearance of force
should be carefully avoided, as that is apt to pro∣voke a dislike, rather than to promote a chearful em∣bracement of them. But force may be used to re∣strain, or duly
punish the insolent op∣posers and revilers of the true religion, which is esta∣blished. And, on no account, ought such plagues of
nations, as well as of churches, to receive any autho∣ritative licence
to commit such wickedness.
"The annexing of temporal en∣couragements to the profession and practice of the Christian religion or external discouragements to the profession or practice of such opinions and worship as are contrary to it,—tends to render men hypocrites, and their religion merely carnal, in obedience to civil authority, and influenced by mere carnal motives. It makes men trample on and debauch their conscience, and so sap the foundation of all true piety and virtue."
ANSW. (1) God, who well knows the true nature of religious worship and obedience, and highly re∣gards the candor and purity of conscience, excited the Israelites to it, partly by external encouragements, restraints and terrors, Deut. iv,—viii, xxvii,—xxxii, Lev. xviii,—xx, xxvi. and by each of his prophets. Isa. i.—to Mal. iv. And even under the gospel, godliness hath the promises of this life,
as well as of that which is to come, 1 Tim iv. 8. 1 Pet. iii. 13.—Did you mean to blaspheme his conduct as absolutely devilish? (2.) With God's approbation, David, Ne∣hemiah and others, by familiar intimacy, and by pre∣ferring them to posts of honour, encouraged such as appeared eminent in the profession and practice of re∣vealed religion; and they excluded such as appeared notoriously wicked, Psal. cxix. 63. & ci. 6, 7. Neh. vii 2. & xiii, 28. Nay, David before hand publicly intimated his resolution to prefer only pious and faith∣ful men.—And why not, when such bid fairest to be eminently useful officers in the state? (3.) Why may not men, even by external advantages be encouraged to an external attendance upon gospel-ordinances, which, by the blessing of God and the working of his Spirit, may issue in rendering them eminently useful subjects, and in their eternal salvation, even as chil∣dren may be hired to that reading of their Bible and learning of their Catechism, which may issue in their conversion and everlasting life? (4) Regard to the command of parents, masters, magistrates, and mini∣sters, all at once, in our religious profession and prac∣tice, is no way inconsistent with, but may be delight∣fully subordinated to a supreme regard to the autho∣rity
of God in them. (5.) Do you really think, that those, who believe neither a God, nor a heaven, nor a hell, ought under pretence of civil right, to be as readily admitted to places of power and trust, in ci∣vil governments as the most pious?—Nay, are not even a profession and practice of the Christian religi∣on much more profitable in a nation, than open blas∣phemy, impiety and idolatry, which we have heard from God's own word, exceedingly corrupt mens mo∣rals, and pull down the wrath of God on the society. (6.) If such things only be restrained and punished, as are plainly contrary to the law of God, and a right conscience, and never punished, till after sufficient means of conviction have been afforded and trampled on, how can that make men dissemble with or sin a∣gainst their conscience, any more than the punishment of theft, murder, incest, or the like, can do it?
"The abolishment of all civil establishments of revealed religion, would have a re∣markable tendency to render men truly pious, truly sincere, in their faith, profession and worship: and to render them excellent subjects, candid, peaceable, and affectionate lovers of one another. It would effectu∣ally root out Popery and every thing similar."
ANSW. (1.) Just as remarkable a tendency, as the leaving of children to themselves hath to render them truly vir∣tuous, and a distinguished honour to their parents, Prov. xxv. 15. 1 Sam. iii. 13.—as remarkable a ten∣dency as the abolishment of all ecclesiastical establish∣ments of it would have to render men perfect saints. (2.) It is plain, that God, when he fixed a civil esta∣blishment of revealed religion, and when he represen∣ted, as above, heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, as reudering men monsters of all manner of wickedness, instead of good subjects,
neighbours, or Christians, thought otherwise. Are you wiser than He? (3.) Never, that I know of, was there a nation or nume∣rous society on earth in which there was less of a re∣ligious establishment, good or bad, than among the Ismaelians of Irak and Syria, and the Giagas of Africa. What were the noted virtues which flourished among them? Murders, assassinations, which cannot be read or heard, without horror. Under the protection of
an extensive toleration, how did England, about an hundred and thirty years ago, swarm with Sectarian errors, blasphemies, confusions? And, what hath eith∣er the peace of the State, or the orthodoxy and holi∣ness of our church gained by our last Scotch tolera∣tion? Repeated attempts in 1715 and 1745, to un∣hinge our civil establishment and dethrone our lawful Sovereigns in favours of Popish pretenders, are the noted advantages, which have accrued to our State, and an alarming increase of infidelity, profaneness, and Popery, to our church. Instead of scarce six hundred Papists, which was once all that could be reckoned in Scotland, their number now, may amount to about thirty thousand. In about a dozen of parishes in the North, they have above twenty congregations, several of them pretty large, and a College and an Academy for training up priests. How quickly these, with the Scotch colleges abroad, may furnish converters for the whole nation, God only knows. In the parish of South Uist, there are 2300 Papists and 300 Pro∣testants; in Barra 1250 Papists, and 50 Protestants; in Ardnamurchan 1950 Papists, and 17 Protestants; in Kinkmichael and its neighbouring parish 1520 Papists; in Kilmanivaig 1600; and in Glenelg 1340.
"All civil laws establishing revealed religion must necessarily land magistrates in persecuting their subjects; for, if these civil laws be contemned and violated, the breakers must be punish∣ed"
ANSW. For this reason no superior, parent, master, minister, or magistrate, must make any ap∣pointment relative to religious matters, because, if it be disregarded, punishment or censure must be in∣flicted, and that will amount to persecution in the sense of the objection.—No duty must ever be attemp∣ted, lest some perplexing consequence should attend it. (2.) Tho' evil doers
ordinarily reckon restraints of iniquity persecution,
the scripture allows nothing to be persecution
but unjust severities exercised against the profession or practice of gospel-truth,—at least a∣gainst innocence or virtue. Punishment of men for what is plainly contrary to the word of God is no per∣secution for conscience sake, but a proper correction of them for trampling on and murdering their consci∣ence.
(3.) If, by the blessing of God, parents can do much to advance religion in their families, without any furious or hurtful beating of their children,—and ministers do much to promote it in their congregati∣ons, without proceeding, perhaps once in their life, to the higher excommunication; and if both may do much to render their children and people useful mem∣bers of the commonwealth, without having power to fine, imprison or kill them, why may not magistrates by their appointments, encouragements, and example, much promote the profession and practice of revealed religion, without proceeding, unless very rarely, to any disagreeable severities?—The point we attemp∣ted directly to establish is, that magistrates ought never to grant an authoritative toleration to gross heresy, blas∣phemy, idolatry;
you therefore act uncandidly in per∣petually haling in the affair of punishments; even capital ones, just as your tolerant friends the antient Remonstrants perpetually haled in the doctrine of re∣probation, in order to render the sovereignty of God's grace odious to the people. (4) If magistrates take heed never to punish on the head of religious mat∣ters, but when the CRIME is plainly relevant and ma∣nisest, plainly contrary to the laws of God, as well as to those of the land; and that the punishment be SUITABLE and SEASONABLE, circumstantially calcu∣lated to promote the real welfare of the common∣wealth, why should they be charged with persecution, for prudently supporting their most important laws, and yet held innocent, if not virtuous, in supporting their comparatively insignificant laws, relative to fish∣ing, fowling, hunting, or the like?
"Let things be reduced to practice. What could be done, just now, in Britain, without an authoritative toleration of the different par∣ties in religion."
ANSW. No difficulty of the per∣formance of duties can be a sufficient reason for the neglect of them. No difficulty of rectifying what is in disorder, can be a proof that it is not duty to at¦tempt it. Because I sind it so hard work to keep my heart with all diligence, and often know not how to get its sinful disorders rectified, it will not follow, that
to obtain inward quietness, I should, in God's name, give an authoritative toleration to my several lusts, except perhaps the grosser ones of malice, whoredom, drunkenness. (2.) The rules of rectifying what per∣tains to religion in Britain, is plain. Let magistrates and subjects impartially and earnestly search the ora∣cles of God, depending on the illuminating influence of his Spirit—Let every thing not contained in the scripture be thrown out of both civil and ecclesiastical establishments of religion, and every thing plainly ap∣pointed therein for the gospel church, be authorized. Let the whole administration of government in church and state, and subjection to it, be regulated by the law of God.—Let every prudent and winning method be taken to promote an universally chearful compliance.—If any continue to dissent, let every degree and form of tender forbearance
be exercised towards them, which the ex∣press laws of God will permit, especially, if by a cir∣cumspect life, they manifest themselves persons of a truly tender conscience, with respect to what they ap∣prehend.—If all will not concur in these measures, let particular persons, in their several stations, act as becometh the gospel of Christ, obeying God rather than man, and doing all that he hath commanded, without turning aside to the right-hand or to the left. And if need be, let them take up their cross, and pa∣tiently follow Christ counting nothing too dear un∣to them, if they may uprightly finish their course with joy—Upon trial, it would be found as easy for ma∣gistrates to rectify the disorders in their department, relative to religion, as it would be for church-rulers in Britain, to rectify what pertains to rheirs, in which, you just now pled, that there never should be any to∣leration at all.
"The great Dr. OWEN zea∣lously pled for authoritative toleration, and that ma∣gistrates ought not to interfere with religious matters."
ANSW. We call no man master. One is our master even Christ. Dr. Owen's authority would be 100 light to balance that of many thousands of Protestant divines. But let us hear his judgment, for ought I know his FINAL JUDGMENT, in his Sermon before the English Parliament, OCTOBER 13th, 1652—
"The civil powers—shall be disposed of, into an use∣ful subserviency to the interest, power, and kingdom of Jesus Christ; hence they are said to be his king∣doms,
Rev. xi. 15*
. Judges and Rulers AS SUCH must kiss the Son
and own his sceptre and advance his ways. Some think, if you were well settled, you ought not, as rulers of the nations,
to put forth your power for the interest of Christ. The good Lord keep your hearts
from that apprehension†
. It is the duty of magistrates to seek the good, peace,
and prosperity of the people committed to their charge, and to pre∣vent and remove EVERY THING, that will bring con∣fusion, destruction and desolation upon them, Esther x. 3. Psal. ci Magistrates are the ministers of God for good
—UNIVERSAL GOOD of them, to whom they are given, Rom. xiii. 4. and are to watch and apply them∣selves to this very thing,
ver. 6.—It is incumbent on them to act, even as kings and men in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness
and honesty,—and all may come to the knowledge of the truth,
1 Tim. ii. 1,—4—They are to feed the peo∣ple committed to their charge, with all their might, unto universal
peace and welfare—The things op∣posite to the good of any nation and people, are of two sorts; (1.) Such as are really, directly, and im∣mediately opposed to that state wherein they close to∣gether, and find prosperity,—seditions, tumults, dis∣orders,—violent or fraudulent breaking in upon the privileges and enjoyments of singular persons, with∣out any consideration of him who ruletb all things.
—Such evils as these, nations and rulers, supposed to be atheists,
would with all their strength, labour to pre∣vent.—(2.) Such as are morally
opposed to their good and welfare, in that they will certainly pluck down the judgments and wrath of God
upon that nation, where they are practised and allowed,
Rom. i. Shall he be thought a magistrate to bear out the name, authority, and presence of God
to men, that, so he and his people have present peace like a herd of fwine, cares not though such things as will certainly devour their strength, and then utterly consume them,
do pass current.—Seeing they that rule over men must be just, ruling in the fear of the Lord,
the sole rea∣son why they sheathe the sword of justice in the bowels of thieves, murderers, adulterers, is not, because their outward peace is actually disturbed
by them—but princi∣pally because he,
in whose stead they sland and minister, is provoked by such wickedness to destroy
both the one and the other. And, if there be the same reason
con∣cerning other things, they also call for the same pro∣cedure.—To gather up now what hath been spo∣ken; Considering the gospel's right to be propagated with all its concernments in every nation under hea∣ven, and the blessings, peace, prosperity,
wherewith it is attended, when and where received, and the certain destruction
which accompanies the rejec∣tion
of it.—Considering the duty, that by God's appointment is incumbent on them that rule over men, That in the fear of the Lord
they ought to seek the good, peace, and prosperity of them that are committed to their charge, and to prevent, obvi∣ate, remove, and revenge that which tends to their hurt, perturbation, destruction, immediate from hea∣ven, or from the hand of men; and in their whole administration to take care, that the worshippers of God in Christ
may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all god∣liness
and honesty. Let any one, who hath the least sense of the account, which he must—make to the the great King and Judge of the world,—of the au∣thority and power wherewith he was intrusted, deter∣mine, Whether it be not incumbent on him, by all the protection
he can afford; by all the privileges
be can indulge; by all the support
he can grant; by all that encouragement
he is required or allowed to give to any person whatsoever,—to further the propagation of the gospel, which upon the matter, is the only thing of concernment, as well unto this life, as unto that which is to come.—And, if any thing be allowed
in a nation, which, in God's esteem,
may amount to a con∣tempt and despising thereof, men may be taught by sad experience, what will be the issue of such ALLOW∣ANCE*
Although the institutions and examples of the Old Testament, of the duty of magistrates in the
things about the worship of God, are not, in their whole
latitude and extent, to be drawn into rules—ob∣ligatory to all magistrates, now under—the gospel,—yet doubtless, there is something moral in these in∣stitutions.—Subduct from these administrations, what was proper to the church and nation of the Jews, and what remains upon the general account of a church and nation, must be everlastingly binding; and this amounts thus far at least,
That Judges, Rulers and Magistrates, which are promised under the New Tes∣tament, to be given in mercy, and to be of singular usefulness, as the Judges were under the Old,
are to take care, That the gospel-church, may, in its concernments as such,
and the truth pro∣pagated,
wherewith they are intrusted—Know, that ERROR and FALSEHOOD have no right or title,
either from God or men, unto any privilege, protection, ad∣vantage, liberty,
or any good thing,
you are intrusted withal. To dispose that unto a LIE, which is the right of, and due
to TRUTH, is to deal treacherously with Him,
by whom you are employed*
. Know, that in things of practice, so OF PERSUASION, that are impious and wicked,
either in themselves or natural consequences, the plea of conscience
is an aggravation of the crime.
If mens conscience be feared,
and them∣selves given up to a reprobate mind,
to do those things, that are not convenient, there is no doubt but they ought to suffer such things as are assigned and appoint∣ed by God to such practices†
A truly golden speech, and which nothing, but the deepest conviction of its truth, could have drawn from an Independent, in his then circumstances.
Upon the whole, Sir, I readily grant, that a mul∣titude of cavils may be started against the magistrates power about religious matters mentioned in our excel∣lent Standards, as may be against every divine truth, the most fundamental not excepted; and that the pro∣per application of it to practice may be, in some cir∣cumstances, not a little difficult. But not cavils how∣ever specious; nor difficulty of upright performance of duty, but demonstrative arguments of its sinful∣ness
will warrant my renouncing a principle which I have so solemnly espoused in ordination vows and co∣venants with God; and far less to admit, That mens conscience and magistrates ought, in the name of God, to warrant, encourage, and protect men in gross here∣sy, blasphemy and idolatry, though they cannot war∣rant, encourage, or protect them in doing any civil injury to men. Perhaps, Tindal alone hath raised as many shrewd objections against the divine authority of our Bible, as have, or can be, raised against that power of magistrates mentioned in our Standards; and yet Wo, wo, wo for ever, to my soul, if, on that account, I renounce it, as an imposture of Satan.