A THIRD LETTER CONCERNING TOLERATION.
A THIRD LETTER CONCERNING TOLERATION: In DEFENSE of The ARGUMENT of the Letter con∣cerning TOLERATION, briefly Consider'd and Answer'd.
Jonath. Edwards, Vice-Can. Univ. Oxon.
Apr. 20. 1691.
OXFORD, Printed by L. Lichfield, for GEORGE WEST, AND HENRY CLEMENTS, 1691.
In the Marginal References L.p. denotes the Page of the Letter concerning Toleration; A.p. the Page of The Argument of the Let∣ter concerning Toleration, briefly consider'd and answer'd; and P. the Page of the Second Letter concerning Toleration.Page 1
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE Second Letter CONCERNING TOLERATION.
YOU would have needed no pardon for taking the same Liberty, with me,* that I took with the Author of the Letter concerning Toleration. But I fear it will be found, that instead of considering my Argu∣ments, and endeavouring to shew me the Mistakes of them, you have taken another sort of Liberty which does need pardon.
You are pleas'd to tell me here in the beginning, that I have plainly yielded up the Question to that Author,* by owning that the Severities he would disswade Christians from, are utterly unapt and improper to bring Men to embrace that Truth which must save them: As if those Severities which I condemn, viz. Prosecuting Men with Fire and Sword, depriving them of their Estates, maiming them with corporal Punishments, starving and tormenting them in noisome Pri∣sons, taking away their Lives to make them Christians, &c. were all that our Author would disswade Christians from: Whereas you your self own,* that the purpose of his Letter is plainly to depend Tole∣ration Page 2 exempt from all Force, from all sorts and degrees of Penal∣ties whatsoever, even the lowest and most moderate that can be assigned. But it is well if this prove to be the greatest instance of the Liberty you have taken with me.
*Whether you, or I have more carefully and impartially weigh'd the whole matter in controversy between us: Whether I do yet favour some Remains of Persecution, or not: and, Whether what appears to you so very clear and evident, be the Truth, or not: Of these things, Sir, we must leave others to judge. But whether it would be reasonable and just for you, or me, were either of us in Au∣thority, to use any Force upon the other, upon any pretence of want of Examination of our present Controversy, is no part of the Que∣stion. For no Man, I suppose, will pretend that every private Person is bound to examine this Controversy. And therefore how unreasonable and unjust soever it might be, for either of us to use Force upon the other, to make him examine this Controversy, it may still be true nevertheless, that Authority may reasonably and justly use some degrees of Force, where it is needful, to bring Men to consider and examine those, Controversies which they are bound to consider and examine; i. e. those, wherein they cannot err, without dishonouring God, and endangering their own and other Men's eternal Salvation.
*The first thing, you say, that I seem startled at in the Author's Letter, is the largeness of the Toleration he proposes. For he claims it,* as I observ'd, not onely for Christians, in their different Professi∣ons of Religion, but likewise for Iews, Mahumetans, and Pagans; who, he saith, ought not to be excluded from the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth, because of their Religion. Now to let me see that I ought not to think this strange, you put me in mind that we pray every day for their Conversion; and you say you think it our Duty so to do. And so far I agree with you. But you say further, that you fear it will hardly be believed that we pray in earnest, if we ex∣clude them from the other ordinary and probable means of Conversion▪ either by d•iving them from, or persecuting them when they are a∣mongst us. So that excluding them from the Civil Rights of the Com∣monwealth, is, in your opinion, driving them from, or persecuting them when they are amongst us. Now I confess I thought Men might live quietly enough among us, and enjoy the protection of the Government against all violence and injuries, without being endenizon'd, or made Members of the Commonwealth; which alone can entitle them to the Civil Rights and Privileges of it. But Page 3 as to Iews, Mahumetans, and Pagans, if any of them do not care to live among us, unless they may be admitted to the Rights and Privileges of the Commonwealth; the refusing them that favour, is not, I suppose, to be look'd upon as driving them from us, or excluding them from the ordinary and probable means of Conversion; but as a just and necessary Caution in a Christian Commonwealth, in respect to the Members of it: Who, if such as prosess Iudaism, or Mahumetanism, or Paganism, were permitted to enjoy the same Rights with them, would be much the more in danger to be se∣duced by them; seeing they would lose no worldly advantage by such a change of their Religion: Whereas if they could not turn to any of those Religions, without forfeiting the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth by doing it; 'tis likely they would consider well, before they did it, what ground there was to expect that they should get any thing by the exchange, which would countervail the loss they should sustain by it. And whether this be not a reasonable and necessary Caution, any Man may judge, who does but consider, within how few Ages after the Floud Superstition and Idolatry prevail'd over the World; and how apt even God's own peculiar People were to receive that mortal Infection, notwith∣standing all that he did to keep them from it.
If therefore a just care of the Flock of Christ, requires us to exclude Iews, Mahumetans, and Pagans▪ from the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth, because of their Religion; 'tis plain, we may pray in earnest for their Conversion, though we so exclude them: Be∣cause though we are bound to desire their Conversion, and so to pray for it; yet we are bound to seek it, no further than we can do it, without endangering the Subjects of Christ's Kingdom, to whom he has a special regard.*
But as to Pagans particularly, I confess I am so far from think∣ing with our Author, that they ought not to be excluded from the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth, because of their Religion, that I cannot see how their Religion can be suffer'd by any Common∣wealth that knows and worships the onely true God, if it would be thought to retain any jealousy for his honour, or even for that of Humane Nature. For how early or generally soever their Idolatries obtain'd in the World, through that blindness which Vice brings upon the Minds of men; and how deep rooting soever they have taken in it: yet as they are the greatest Dishonour con∣ceivable to God Almighty, and to Humane Nature it self; so they are utterly incapable of any manner of excuse or extenuation;*Page 4 being contrary to the natural Sense and Apprehensions of Man∣kind,* as God himself, in the Prophet, plainly intimates. For which reason at least, I think I might well be startled at the large∣ness of our Author's Toleration. For whereas you say, you do not see why Pagans should not be tolerated as well as others, if we wish their Conversion; whatever may be said for the tolerating of others, I think it is plain enough as to them, that we ought not to pur∣chase the opportunity of conventing them, by suffering them to commit those Indignities and Abominations among us, which they call Religion, till they are converted.
But as to the converting Iews, Mahumetans, and Pagans to Chri∣stianity, I fear there will be no great progress made in it, till Christians come to a better agreement and union among them∣selves.* I am sure our Saviour pray'd that all that should believe in him, might be one in the Father and in him (i. e. I suppose, in that holy Religion which he taught them from the Father) that the World might believe that the Father had sent him. And therefore when he comes to make inquisition, why no more Iews, Mahu∣metans, and Pagans have been converted to his Religion, I very much fear that a great part of the blame will be found to lie upon the Authors and Promoters of Sects and Divisions among the pro∣fessors of it: Which therefore I think all that are guilty, and all that would not be guilty, ought well to consider.
In what sense I allow, that Force is improper to convert Men to any Religion,* has already been sufficiently declared in my Answer; and I shall have occasion to speak more of it afterwards.
*Where I say that some seem to place the advancement of Trade and Commerce above all other Considerations,* you tell me that if I do not know that the Author places the advancement of Trade above Religion, my Insinuation is very uncharitable. But I thought I had suffici∣ently prevented such an interpretation of my words, by acqui•ting the Author but just before, of any ill design towards Religion. That there are some Men in the World, who are justly suspected of the Crime I mention, I believe you will not deny. And I assure you I did not intend, by those words, to bring any Man under the suspicion of it, who has not given just cause for it.
*I say (speaking of the Toleration which our Author proposes) I see no reason, from any experiment which has been made, to expect that true, Religion would be any way a gainer by it. And you tell me I have an experiment of this in the Christian Religion,*in its first ap∣pearance in the World, and several hundred of years after. But how Page 5 does that appear? Why, you say the Christian Religion was then better preserv'd, more widely propagated (in proportion) and render'd more fruitful in the lives of its Professors, than ever since; though then Iews and Pagans were tolerated, and more than tolerated, by the Governments of those places where it grew up. And is this your Experiment of the true Religion's being a gainer by Toleration? The Christian Religion prosper'd more, you say, in those times than ever since, though then Iews and Pagans were tolerated, &c. and therefore it was a gainer by the Toleration of Iews and Pagans. Is there any manner of Consequence in this? That the Christian Religion prosper'd more in those times, than ever since, though then Iews and Pagans were tolerated, I readily grant you. But whoever does but understand what though means, must needs see that this is so far from proving what you inferr from it, that it strongly proves the contrary, viz. that the Toleration of Jews and Pagans was rather an hindrance than an advantage to the Christian Religion.
But let us see the utmost you can make of this Experiment of yours.* You say you hope I do not imagine the Christian Religion has lost any of its first Beauty, Force, or Reasonableness, by having been almost 2000 Years in the World; that I should fear it should be less able now to shift for it self, without the help of Force. And you doubt not but I look upon it still to be the Power and Wisdom of God for our Salvation; and therefore cannot suspect it less capable to prevail now, by its own Truth and Light, than it was in the first Ages of the Church, when poor contemptible Men, without Authority, or the countenance of Authority, had alone the care of it. In which words I understand you to say these three things; 1. That the Christian Religion prevail'd at first meerly by its own Beauty, Force, or Rea∣sonableness, without the help of Authority, or Force. 2. That that Religion has still the same Beauty, Force, or Reasonableness which it had at first. 3. Lastly, that therefore it is now as well able to shift for it self, and to prevail, without any assistance of Authority, as it was then. Now to clear this matter, I must observe, that in the Beauty, Force, or Reasonableness, by which you say the Chri∣stian Religion prevail'd at first, without the Assistance of Autho∣rity, either you include the Miracles done by the poor contemptible men you speak of, to make their Religion prevail, or you do not. If you do not; then the meaning of your first Assertion is, that the Christian Religion prevail'd at first without the Assistance of Authority, meerly by the Beauty, Force, or Reasonableness which it Page 6 had, separate from those Miracles: Which I believe you will not undertake to defend. But if you do include the Miracles; then your second Assertion is manifestly false: For I am sure you can∣not say that the Christian Religion is still accompanied with Mira∣cles, as it was at its first planting: And so the Conclusion you draw from thence, That therefore the Christian Religion is now as well able to shift for it self, and to prevail, without any Assistance of Au∣thority, as it was at first, falls to the ground.
*You add, This, as I take it, has been made use of by Christians generally, and by some of our Church in particular, as an Argument for the Truth of the Christian Religion, that it grew and spread, and prevail'd, without any Aid from Force, or the Assistance of the Powers in being. Wherein I hope you are mistaken: for I am sure this is a very bad Argument. That the Christian Religion, so con∣trary in the nature of it as well to Flesh and Bloud, as to the Powers of Darkness, should prevail as it did; and that not onely without any Assistance from Authority, but even in spight of all the opposition which Authority and a wicked World, join'd with those infernal Powers, could make against it; This, I acknowledge, has deservedly been insisted upon by Christians, as a very good Proof of the Truth of their Religion. But to argue the Truth of the Christian Religion, from its meer prevailing in the World, with∣out any Aid from Force, or the Assistance of the Powers in being; as if whatever Religion should so prevail, must needs be the true Re∣ligion; (whatever may be intended) is really, not to defend the Christian Religion, but to betray it. For neither does the true Religion always prevail, without the Assistance of the Powers in be∣ing; nor is that always the true Religion, which does so spread and prevail: As I doubt not but you will acknowledge with me, when you have but consider'd, within how few Generations after the Floud, the Worship of False Gods prevail'd against the Religion which Noah profess'd, and taught his Children (which was un∣doubtedly the true Religion) almost to the utter exclusion of it (though that at first was the onely Religion in the World) with∣out any Aid from Force, or the Assistance of the Powers in being, for any thing we find in the History of those Times, and as we may reasonably believe, considering that it found an entrance into the World, and entertainment in it, when it could have no such Aid, or Assistance. Of which (besides the Corruption of Humane Na∣ture) I suppose there can no other Cause be assigned, or none more probable than this, that the Powers then in being, did not do Page 7 what they might and ought to have done, towards the preventing, or checking that horrible Apostasy.
You go on:*And if it be a mark of the true Religion, that it will prevail by its own Light and Strength; (but that false Religions will not, but have need of Force and foreign Helps to support them) no∣thing certainly can be more for the advantage of true Religion, than to take away Compulsion every where. But if this be not a mark of the true Religion (as you have not proved it to be;) then what you conclude here, may not be true. That the true Religion has always Light and Strength of its own, sufficient to prevail with all that consider it seriously, and without Prejudice, I readily grant. But if, when you make it a mark of the true Religion, that it will prevail by its own Light and Strength, you mean (as it is plain you must) that it will always prevail in the World against other Religions, meerly by its own Light and Strength, without the Assistance either of Miracles, or of Authority; then I must tell you, that prevailing by its own Light and Strength, is so far from being a mark of the true Religion, that it is not true, that the true Religion will so prevail by its own Light and Strength. The Instance but now given, is too great a proof of this. For if you admit that Noah's Religion was the true Religion, you must admit like wise that it had Light and Strength enough to prevail with all that should but fairly consider it. And yet, however, we find that it was so far from prevailing against false Religions, with∣out foreign Help, that though at first it had quiet possession of the World, without any false Religion to contest its Title; yet it did not long maintain its advantage, but notwithstanding all its Light and Strength, was within a few Generations, almost extinguish'd and lost out of the World: Idolatry prevailing against it, not by its own Light and Strength, you may be sure, (for it could have nothing of either;) nor yet by the help of Force, as has already been shew'd; but meerly by the advantage which it had in the Corruption and Pravity of Humane Nature, left (as it is most reasonable to suppose) to it self, unbridled by Authority. For to the corrupt Nature of Man, false Religions are ever more agree∣able than the true. For whatever Hardships some false Religi∣ons may impose; it will however always be easier to carnal and wordly-minded men, to give even their first-born for their Trans∣gressions, than to mortify the Lusts from which they spring: which no Religion but the true, requires of them. And upon this ac∣count, though there is nothing more certain than that false Re∣ligions Page 8 will never prevail by their own Light and Strength; yet it seems contrary to Reason (as well as to Experience) to say that they always have need of Force and foreign Helps to support them. On the contrary, I see no reason to doubt, but the meer Agreeable∣ness of false Religions to Flesh and Bloud, may very well support them, without foreign Helps; whilest the true Religion may stand in need of them, not for any defects of its own, but by reason of the Folly, Perversness, and Wickedness of Men. If therefore it be no mark of the true Religion, that it will prevail by its own Light and Strength, but that false Religions will not, but have need of Force and foreign Helps to support them (as you have not proved it is, and I think I have proved it is far from being so;) then it does not yet appear, that nothing can be more for the advantage of the true Religion, than to take away Compulsion every where.
*You say, A Religion that is of God wants not the Assistance of Humane Authority to make it prevail. Which is not simply, or always true. Indeed when God takes the matter wholly into his own hands; as he does at his first revealing and planting a Reli∣gion; there can then be no need of the Assistance of Humane Au∣thority: because then, to make such a Religion appear to be his, God himself does all that is requisite to make it prevail. But when once God has sufficiently settled his Religion in the World, so that if Men will but thenceforth do what they may and ought, in their several Capacities, to preserve and propagate it, it may subsist and prevail without that extraordinary Assistance from him which was necessary for its first establishment: then he leaves it to their care, under his ordinary Providence, to try whether they will do their Duties, or not: leaving them answerable for all that may follow from their neglect. And then, if that Religion will not prevail without the Assistance of Humane Authority,•t can∣not be said not to need that Assistance to make it prevail.
*I guess, say you, when this dropp'd from you, you had narrow'd your Thoughts to your own Age and Country: But if you will enlarge them a little beyond the Confines of England, I do not doubt but you will easily imagine that if in Italy, Spain, Portugal, &c. the Inquisition; and in France their Dragoo•ing; and in other parts those Severities that are used to keep or force men to the National Religion, were taken away; and instead thereof the Toleration proposed by the Au∣thor were set up, the true Religion would be a gainer by it. How easily soever I can imagine that, in this case, the true Religion would, for some time, be a gainer by our Author's Toleration; be∣cause Page 9 then it would be tolerated in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, &c. where now it is not: Yet I think it is manifest enough that it does not follow from thence, that in England, or wherever else the true Religion is Nationally received, it would reap any advantage by having its present Establishment taken away, and our Author's, i. e. an universal Toleration of Religions set up in∣stead of it.
But I suppose your meaning is, that if all the World would agree to such a Toleration; though then the true Religion would lose by it in those few places where it is now establish'd as the National Religion; yet upon the whole matter, it would be a gainer by the bargain; because then it would stand upon even terms with all other Religions, in so many more places, where now it is either not at all suffer'd, or at least under great disad∣vantages.
If this be the thing you aim at: then, 1. I suppose you do not hope you shall perswade the whole World to consent in your To∣leration, or that you shall prevail with Pagans, Mahumetans, and Papists every where to allow true and sound Religion the same terms with their own, (supposing you could prevail with those of that Religion, to do this to them.) And if that Religion alone should tolerate all other Religions, whilest it self is tolerated by none; I think it is not easy to conceive how it would be a gainer by so doing. But, 2. Supposing your Toleration were set up all the World over: Even in that case, it is so far from being proba∣ble that the true Religion would be any way advantaged by it, that on the contrary I think there is great reason to fear, that, without God's extraordinary Providence, it would in a much shorter time than any one that does not well consider the matter would imagine, be most effectually extirpated by it throughout the World: Considering (what has already been observ'd) that even when the true Religion was the onely Religion in the World, it did not long continue so, but the depraved Nature of Man soon found out other Religions, more agreeable to it self, which quick∣ly prevail'd, and overspread the World.
As to the Inquisition, Dragooning, or any other such Severities, which are any where used, to keep or force men to the National Re∣ligion, I suppose I need not put you in mind that I condemn them as much as you do.
You tell me the Author of the Letter says,*Truth will do well enough, if she were once left to shift for her self. (The contrary Page 10 whereof has been sufficiently shewn.) She seldom has receiv'd, and he fears never will receive much Assistance from the Power of great men, to whom she is but rarely known, and more rarely welcome. (And yet God himself foretold and promised that Kings should be nursing Fathers, and Queens nursing Mothers to his Church: As I doubt they cannot be, if Truth does not receive Assistance from their Power.) Errors indeed prevail by the Assistance of foreign and borrow'd Succours. (And without it too.) Truth makes way into our Understanding by her own Light, and is but the weaker for any borrow'd Force that Violence can add to her. (Yet moderate Penal∣ties may make way for Truth to men's Understanding, that so she may make way into it by her own Light.) And then you add, These words of his (how hard soever they may seem to you) may help you to conceive how he should think to do service to true Religion, by recom∣mending and perswading such a Toleration as he proposed. And now, you go on, pray tell me your self, whether you do not think true Re∣ligion would be a gainer by it, if such a Toleration establish'd there, would permit the Doctrine of the Church of England to be freely preach'd, and its Worship set up in any Popish, Mahumetan, or Pagan Country? Sir, I have told you already, that I think it would, for a time; though I think withall, that an universal Toleration would ruine it both there and every where else in the end. And I have told you why I think so.
*You add, If you do not, you have a very ill Opinion of the Religion of the Church of England, and must own that it can onely be propagated and supported by Force. But why may not I have as good an Opi∣nion of the Religion of the Church of England, as I have of Noah's Religion, notwithstanding that I think it cannot now be propa∣gated and supported, without using some kinds or degrees of Force?
*If, say you, you think it would gain in those Countries, by such a Toleration, you are then of the Author's mind. Not so, Sir: For as I fear it would lose all at last by such a Toleration; so I doubt not but at present it would lose vastly more by it, where it is now Nationally received, than it would gain, where false or unsound Religions are so received.
*But, say you, if you allow such a Toleration useful to Truth in other Countries, you must find something very peculiar in the Air, that must make it less useful to Truth in England. And 'twill savour of much partiality, and be too absurd, I fear, for you to own, that Tole∣ration will be advantageous to true Religion all the World over, ex∣cept onely in this Island; Though I much suspect, this, as absurd as Page 11 it is, lies at the bottom; And you build all you say upon this lurking Supposition, that the National Religion now in England, back'd by the Publick Authority of the Law, is the onely true Religion, and therefore no other is to be tolerated. How useful to Truth, or advan∣tangeous to true Religion I think Toleration would be in other Coun∣tries, or all the World over, I suppose I have by this time suffici∣ently declared. But why you should suspect that I look upon this Island as the onely part of the World that would receive no ad∣vantage by it, I cannot imagine. If you will take my word for it, I assure you I think there are many other Countries in the World, where (whatever their Air be) your Toleration would be as little useful to Truth, as in England. For notwithstanding the lurking Supposition you speak of, I am far enough from thinking that the true Religion is confined to this Kingdom, or this Island.
But as to my supposing that the National Religion now in Eng∣land, back'd by the Publick Authority of the Law, is the onely true Religion;* if you own, with our Author, that there is but one true Religion, I cannot see how you your self can avoid supposing the same.* For you own your self of the Church of England; and consequently you own the National Religion now in England, to be the true Religion; for that is her Religion. And therefore if you believe there is but one true Religion; there is no help for it, but you must suppose, with me, that the National Religion now in Eng∣land, back'd with the Publick Authority of the Law, is the onely true Religion.
But this is not all the lurking Supposition you speak of. For you suspect me likewise to suppose, that no other Religion is to be tole∣rated. By which if you mean, that as this onely true Religion ought to be received wherever it is preach'd; so, where-ever it is receiv'd, I suppose all other Religions ought to be discouraged in some measure, by the Civil Powers; I own that I do suppose it: And I think I have shewn good reason why.
But you go on, and (speaking of this lurking Supposition, That the National Religion now in England, is the onely true Religion, and therefore no other is to be tolerated) you say,*Which being a Suppo∣sition equally unavoidable, and equally just in other Countries (unless we can imagine that every where but in England men believe what at the same time they think to be a Lie) will in other places exclude Toleration, and thereby hinder Truth from the means of propagating it self. How, Sir? Is this Supposition equally unavoidable; and equally just in other Countries, where false Religions are the Na∣tional Page 12 Religion? (For that you must mean, or nothing to the purpose.) If so, then I fear it will be equally true too, and equally rational. For otherwise I see not how it can be either equally un∣avoidable, or equally just: For if it be not equally true, i• cannot be equally just; and if it be not equally rational, it cannot be e∣qually unavoidable. But if it be equally true, and equally rational; then either all Religions are true, or none is true: For if they be all equally true, and any one of them be not true; then none of them can be true. And then the least that will follow is, that we must unsuppose again, what we supposed but now, viz. that the Religion now establish'd in England is the onely true Religion. For whether we admit that all Religions are true, or that none is true; we must unavoidably admit that there is no onely true Re∣ligion: And if there be no onely true Religion; then neither the Religion now establish'd in England, nor any other can be the onely true Religion. There is therefore no remedy, but you must either recall this Assection of yours, or own these Consequences which flow from it.
But I hope, when you have thought a little more of the matter, you will be so far from asserting that the Supposition, that the National Religion is the onely true Religion, is in all Countries equal∣ly unavoidable, and equally just, that you will acknowledge that it cannot be at all unavoidable, or just, where any false Religion is the National Religion. Otherwise, you will be forced to own that men may be bound to embrace false Religions. For what∣ever Religion any man does unavoidably, and justly suppose, or judge, to be the onely true Religion, that Religion he must needs be bound to embrace: because he has all the reason to embrace it, which any man can have for embracing any Religion whatsoever; and he can no more reasonably reject it, than any other man may re∣ject the onely true Religion.
Now if this Supposition, that the National is the onely true Religion, be indeed neither equally unavoidable, nor equally just in other Coun∣tries, as it is where the True is the National Religion; then nei∣ther will the Supposition, that therefore no other Religion is to be tolerated, be either equally unavoidable, or equally just in other Countries, as it is where the True is the National Religion. And therefore if this Supposition shall any where exclude the Toleration of the Truth, and thereby hinder it from the means of propagating it self; the blame will lie upon those who admit that Supposition, where there is no just ground for it: who therefore must answer for the Consequences of it.
Page 13The Toleration the Fruits whereof I say give no encouragement to hope for any advantage from our Author's Toleration,* to true Re∣ligion,* is that (as I thought you would easily have guess'd) which almost all, but those of the Church of England, enjoyed in the times of the Blessed Reformation, as it was call'd. And for the Fruits of it, viz. the Sects and Heresies which it produced (some of which I say still remain with us) how numerous, and of what quality they were,* some yet living remember, and the Writers of those times do sufficiently discover.
But here, whatever the Fruits of that Toleration were, you boldly say,* that if the Magistrates will severely and impartially set themselves against Vice, in whomsoever it is found; and leave men to their own Consciences, in their Articles of Faith, and Ways of Wor∣ship; true Religion will be spread wider, and be more fruitful in the Lives of its Professors, than ever hitherto it has been, by the impo∣sition of Creeds and Ceremonies. It seems then, with you, the re∣jecting the true Faith, and the refusing to worship God in decent Ways, prescribed by those to whom God has left the ordering of such matters, are not comprehended in the name of Vice. Other∣wise you must allow the Magistrates to set themselves against these things likewise, if they must severely and impartially set themselves against Vice: which would not consist with leaving men to their own Consciences in them. But if you except these things, and will not allow them to be call'd by the name of Vice; perhaps other men may think it as reasonable to except some other things, which they have a kindness for. For instance: Some perhaps may ex∣cept arbitrary Divorcing, others Polygamy, others Concubinacy, o∣thers simple Fornication, other Marrying within Degrees which have hitherto been thought forbidden. And all these, it may be, will boldly say too, that if the Magistrates will severely and impar∣tially set themselves against Vice, and leave men to their own Con∣sciences in these things; Vertue and good Manners would be spread wider, and shine more gloriously in the Lives of men, than ever hitherto it has done, by the help of any Laws that have been made about these matters.
But, Sir, whether the Magistrates setting themselves severely and impartially against what I suppose you call Vice; or the impo∣sition of found Creeds and decent Ceremonies, does more conduce to the spreading true Religion, and rendering it fruitful in the Lives of its Professours, we need not examine. I confess I think both to∣gether do best. And this I think is as much as needs to be said to your next Paragraph also.
*But to this you say, If it be a true Consequence, that men must be tolerated, if Magistrates have no Commission or Authority to punish them for Matters of Religion; then the onely Strength of that Letter lies not in the unfitness of Force to convince Men's Understanding. Vid. Lett. p. 7. But if all the Reason for which the Author de∣nies that Magistrates have any Commission or Authority to punish for Matters of Religion, ends in the unfitness of Force to convince Men's Understanding (as, upon examination, it will appear it does;) then the onely strength of that Letter may lie in that, not with∣standing that true Consequence. 'Tis true indeed, the Author does say, in the Page you quote, that it does not appear that God has given any such Authority to one man over another, as to compell any one to his Religion: Wherein, I believe, no sober man will con∣tradict him. But (supposing that by compelling any one to his Reli∣gion, he means using any degree of Force, in any manne• what∣soever, to bring any one to his Religion;) What Reason, I be∣seech you, does he any where offer for his saying this, but that which he gives us in the next Page;* where he expresly affirms that the Magistrate's Power extends not to the establishing any Arti∣cles of Faith, or Forms of Worship, by the Force of his La•es, for this reason, viz. because Laws are of no force at all without Penal∣ties, and Penalties in this case are absolutely impertinent, because they are not proper to convince the Mind, because they are no way capa∣ble to produce the Belief of the Truth of any Articles of Faith, or of the acceptableness to God of any outward Forms of Worship; and because that Light and Evidence which onely can work a change in Page 15 Men's Opinions, can in no manner proceed from them: Which I suppose you will acknowledge to be onely so many several Ex∣pressions of the unfitness of Force to convince men's Understanding.
Again,* say you; If it be true that Magistrates being as liable to Error as the rest of Mankind, their using of Force in matters of Re∣ligion, would not at all advance the Salvation of Mankind, (allowing that even Force could work upon them, and Magistrates had Authority to use it in Religion) then the Argument you mention, is not the onely one in that Letter, of strength to prove the necessity of Toleration. Vid. Let. p. 8. But you might have consider'd, that this Argument, from the Magistrate's being as liable to Error as the rest of Mankind, concerns none but those, who assert that every Magistrate has a Right to use Force to promote his own Religion, whatever it be: Which I think no man that has any Religion will assert: And that for this reason, I could not be obliged to consider it as a distinct Argument.* However, where it came in my way, I took as much notice of it as I thought it deserved.
As to the Argument as I have represented it,* you deny that the Fourth Proposition is any Proposition of the Author's, to be found in the Pages I quote, or any where else in the whole Letter, either in those terms, or in the sense I take it in. And yet you immediately add, that in the eighth Page, which I quote, the Author is shewing that the Magistrate has no Right to make use of Force in Matters of Religion, for the Salvation of men's Souls; And that the Reason he there gives for it is, because Force hath no efficacy to convince men's Minds; and that without a full perswasion of the Mind, the Pro∣fession of the true Religion it self is not acceptable to God. And then you set down the words of the Author to which I referr, viz. Upon this ground I affirm that the Magistrate's Power extends not to the establishing any Articles of Faith, or Forms of Worship, by the force of his Laws. For Laws are of no force without Penalties; and Penalties in this case are absolutely impertinent, because they are not proper to convince the Mind. Now in what respect, I be∣seech you, are Penalties here affirm'd to be absolutely impertinent? Is it not plain that the Author means they are so, as used to bring men to believe any Articles of Faith, or to approve any Forms of Worship? And is not this exactly the Sense of the Fourth Propo∣sition? The other place of the Letter, p. 27. to which I referr, and which you here set down, does clearly enough contain the same Sense; and therefore I need not add any more words concerning it.
You add,*But in neither of those Passages, nor any where else Page 16 that I remember, does the Author say that it is impossible that Force should any way, at any time, upon any Person, by any Accident, be useful towards the promoting of true Religion, and the Salvation of Souls; for that is it which you mean by utterly of no use. By utterly of no use, I mean the same thing which the Author does by abso∣lutely impertinent. And whether he does, or does not say that it is impossible, &c. I am sure the least he can mean by saying that Penalties are absolutely impertinent, is, that they are so little ser∣viceable towards the purpose we speak of, that, generally speak∣ing, they do at least as much harm as good: For nothing less than that can make them absolutely impertinent: And that is all that I mean by utterly useless.
*You say further; He does not deny that there is any thing which God in his Goodness does not, or may not sometimes gratiously make use of towards the Salvation of men's Souls (as our Saviour did of Clay and Spittle to cure Blindness:) and that so, Force also may be sometimes useful. But that which he denies, and you grant, is that Force has any proper Efficacy to enlighten the Understanding, or pro∣duce Belief. And from thence he inferrs, that therefore the Magi∣strate cannot lawfully compell men in Matters of Religion. 'Tis true indeed, I do grant that Force has no proper Efficacy to enlighten or convince the Understanding, or to do the work of Reason and Argu∣ments. But must it needs be utterly useless, or no otherwise use∣ful for the promoting true Religion, than Clay and Spittle are for curing Blindness, unless it have the Efficacy of Reason and Argu∣ments? I confess I thought the usefulness of Force for the pro∣moting the true Religion, would sufficiently appear, if it could but be shewn to be capable of doing any considerable service that way, by procuring the Conviction of the Understanding, though it be not it self capable to convince. For certainly it is one thing to convince the Understanding, and another to procure i•s Con∣viction. The one indeed is peculiarly the work of Reason and Arguments: but the other is done by whatever prevails with a man to consider and weigh those Reasons and Arguments which do convince his Understanding; whether it be his own Inclination, or the Advice of a Friend, or the Command or Law of a Supe∣rior. Now though I grant that Force has no proper Efficacy to en∣lighten the Understanding, or produce Belief: yet I assert withall, that it has a proper Efficacy (i.e. not a bare obediential E•ficacy, such as Clay and Spittle have in the hand of Omnipotence; but a natural Efficacy, as a Moral Cause) to procure the enlightening of Page 17 the Understanding, and the production of Belief. And if it be in this sort useful for the promoting true Religion, and the Salva∣tion of Souls, (as I see no reason hitherto to doubt but it is;) then it may still be lawful for the Magistrate to make use of it in matters of Religion, though it has no proper Efficacy to enlighten the Understanding, or produce Belief.
Where I say that Force may indirectly and at a distance do some service &c.* you say you do not understand what I mean by doing service at a distance towards the bringing men to Salvation,* or to em∣brace Truth; unless perhaps it be what others, in propriety of Speech, call by Accident. But I make little doubt but all other men that read the place, do well enough understand what I mean by those words; even such as do not understand what it is to do service by Accident. And if by doing service by Accident, you mean doing it but seldom, and beside the intention of the Agent; I assure you that is not the thing that I mean, when I say Force may indirectly and at a distance do some service. For in that use of Force which I defend, the Effect is both intended by him that uses it, and with∣all, I doubt not, so often attain'd, as abundantly to manifest the Usefulness of it.
But be it what it will,* say you, it is such a service as cannot be asscribed to the direct and proper Efficacy of Force. And so, say you, Force indirectly and at a distance, may do some service. I grant it: Make your best of it. What do you conclude from thence? That there∣fore the Magistrate may make use of it? That I deny. That such an indirect and at a distance Usefulness will authorize the Civil Power in the use of it, that will never be proved. It seems then you grant at last, that Force may, indirectly, and at a distance, do some service, in the matter we are speaking of. But where, I beseech you, do I affirm, that therefore the Magistrate may make use of it? Me∣thinks you might remember,* that I assert Force to be generally necessary, as well as useful, to bring erring Persons to the way of Truth: and that accordingly I ground the Magistrate's Autho∣rity to use Force for that purpose, upon the Necessity, as well as Usefulness of it. Now whether such an indirect and at a distance Usefulness (as you are pleas'd to call it) together with a general Necessity of Force, will not authorize the Civil Power in the use of it, you will perhaps be better able to judge, when you have answer'd a plain Question or two.
That Force does some service toward the making of Scholars and Artists, I suppose you will easily grant. Give me leave there∣fore Page 18 to ask, How it does it? I suppose you will say, Not by its direct and proper Efficacy, (for Force is no more capable to work Learning, or Arts, than the Belief of the true Religion, in men, by its direct and proper Efficacy;) but by prevailing upon those who are designed for Scholars, or Artists, to receive Instruction, and to apply themselves to the use of those Means and Helps, which are proper to make them what they are designed to be: That is, it does it indirectly, and at a distance. Well then; If all the Usefulness of Force towards the bringing Scholars, or Ap∣prentices, to the Learning, or Skill they are designed to attain, be onely an indirect and at a distance Usefulness: I pray, what is it that warrants and authorizes Schoolmasters, Tutours, or Masters, to use Force upon their Scholars, or Apprentices, to bring them to Learning, or to the Skill of their Arts and Trades, if such an indirect and at a distance Usefulness of Force, together with that Necessity of it which Experience discovers, will not do it? I be∣lieve you will acknowledge, that even such an Usefulness, toge∣ther with that Necessity, will serve the turn in these cases. But then I would fain know, why the same kind of Usefulne•s, join'd with the like Necessity, will not as well do it in the case before us. I confess I see no reason why it should not: nor do I believe you can assign any.
That the Magistrate may make use of whatsoever God has at any time made the occasions of good to men;* or of whatsoever may indirectly and at a distance,* or (as you speak before) may any way, at any time, upon any Person, by any Accident, be useful towards the promoting of true Religion; This I do no where assert. And there∣fore you might have spared the Instances by which you prove the contrary. There is no doubt but God, who can do what he pleases, by what means he pleases, and even without any means, can make many things occasions of good to men, which are not apt in their own natures to be so. Nor do I doubt but sometimes, what in his infinite Wisdom he sees would be hurtful and pernicious to all other men, he sees will be good and salutary to some particular persons, and accordingly in his Goodness orders it for them. But if men should thence take occasion to apply such things generally; Who sees not, that however they might chance to hit right in some few cases; yet upon the whole matter, they would certainly do a great deal more harm than good?* And in all Pleas, as you tell us, for any thing because of its Usefulness, it is not enough to say that it may be serviceable; But it must be consider'd, not onely what Page 19 it may, but what it is likely to produce: And the greater Good or Harm like to come from it, ought to determine the use of it. And there∣fore I can easily grant you, that as Running a man through, though once upon a time it chanced to save a man's life by opening a lurking Impostume, is nevertheless no lawful or justifiable Chirurgery; be∣cause it is always much more likely to let out men's lives, than to open lurking Impostumes: So though Loss of Estate, &c. the Gallies, and the Torments suffer'd in the late Persecution, might possibly, as directed and managed by divine Providence, bring some Persons to Repentance, Sobriety of Thought, and a true sense of Religion, &c. and so indirectly and at a distance serve to the Salvation of their Souls: Yet since consider'd in themselves, and with respect to the gene∣rality of men,* these Methods, for the reasons alleged in my An∣swer, are justly to be look'd upon us more apt to hinder, than to promote that end; the Success which God was pleas'd perhaps, but not bound to give them, will by no means justify them, or prove that the French King had Right and Authority to make use of them. This, I say, I can easily grant you. But how will this serve your purpose? Will it follow from hence, that the Magistrate has no Right to use any Force at all, for the bringing men to the true Religion? Or will any man say, that because the Magistrate may not use those Severities which are more apt to hinder, than to promote true Religion, therefore he can use no lower Penalties, though they be never so fit and serviceable to promote it? If you say you think no Penalties at all are fit to promote Religion: to make me of your opinion, you must prove it some other way, than by alleging the unfitness of those Severities. This, I suppose, may serve to shew with how little reason you say here, that if my in∣direct and at a distance Serviceableness may authorize the Magistrate to use Force in Religion, all the Cruelties used by the Heathens against Christians, by Papists against Protestants, and all the persecuting of Christians one amongst another, are all justifiable. (Not to take no∣tice at present, how odly it sounds, that that which authorizes the Magistrate to use moderate Penalties, to promote the true Re∣ligion, should justify all the Cruelties that ever were used, to pro∣mote Heathenisin, or Popery.)
With what Ingenuity you draw me in,* to condemn Force in general, onely because I acknowledge the ill Effects of prosecu∣ting men with Fire and Sword, &c. to make them Christians, I think I may now leave every man to judge.
But you say I shelter my self under the name of Severities.*For,Page 20 say you, moderate Punishments, as you call them in another place, (Penalties, Sir, is my word: But since you say 'tis Punishments, let it be so: These) you think may be serviceable, indirectly, and at a distance serviceable, to bring men to the Truth. And I say, any sort of Punishments disproportion'd to the Offense, or where t•ere is no fault at all, will always be Severity, unjustifiable Severity, and will be thought so by the Sufferers, a•d By-standers, &c. Well, Sir: And what then? Why, not to profess the National Faith, whilest one believes it not to be true; not to enter into Church-Communion with the Magistrate, as long as one judges the Doctrine there pro∣fess'd to be erroneous, or the Worship not such as God hath prescribed, or will accept; this you allow, and all the World with you m•st allow, not to be a fault. But yet you would have men punish'd for not being of the National Religion; that is, as you your self confess, for no fault at all. In which words you take a liberty to put •pon me what you please. For I neither allow, nor confess, nor would have, what you are pleas'd to impute to me. But how far that is to be allow'd, which you say I do allow, and all the World with me must allow, will quickly appear.
For (to come to the Point;) the National Religion is eit•er true, or not true. If it be not true, no man is bound to believe•t: And it is no fault in him that is not bound to believe it, not to profess it. If it be true; then either there is sufficient provision made for instructing men in the truth of it, or there is not. If there be not; then all men are not bound to believe it; And (as was said before) in those who are not bound to believe it, it wi•l be no fault not to profess it. But if there be sufficient means of In∣struction provided for all; then it must be a fault in all not to pro∣fess it; because, in that case, it is a fault in all not to believe it. And the like is to be said concerning Communion with the Magi∣strate in Divine Worship.
This I take to be very plain. And from hence these two things will unavoidably follow. 1. That no man ought to be punish'd for not being of any false Religion, though it be the National Religion: Because it is no fault not to be of any false Religion. 2. That all who have sufficient means of Instruction provided for them, may justly be punish'd for not being of the National Re∣ligion, where the true, is the National Religion: Because it is a fault in all such, not to be of that Religion. And so all Punish∣ment for the sake of Religion, will not be unjustifiable S•verity. For though,*where there is no Fault, there can be no moderate Pu∣nishment;Page 21 yet all Punishment is not immoderate, where there is a Fault to be punish'd. Now that which I would have, is, that this Fault should be punish'd; but so far onely, as may best, and most generally serve to correct it, i.e. in my opinion, with Penal∣ties below the rate of the Punishments before mention'd. Which I think you have not yet proved to be unjustifiable Severity.
The taking away men's lives to make them Christians,* I note as a manifest Absurdity.* And you grant that there is great Absurdity somewhere in the case. And I assure you I am very well content that the Imputation should lie where it ought to lie: And I know of no occasion I have given you to think otherwise.
But here,* having mention'd an Example of this extreme Absur∣dity (as you justly call it) which we have in a neighbouring Country, where the Prince declares he will have all his Dissenting Subjects saved, and pursuant thereunto has taken away the lives of many of them: You are pleas'd to add the following words: For thither at last Persecution (so, it s•ems, you call all use of Punishments for Religion) must come: As, I fear, notwithstanding your talk of mode∣rate Punishments,* you your self intimate in these words;
*Where I say,
That some men would through carelessness never acquaint them∣selves with the Truth which must save them,* without being forced to do it, (which I suppose,) may be very true, notwithstanding that (as you say) some are call'd at the third, some at the nineth, and some at the eleventh hour; and whenever they are call'd, they embrace all the Truth necessary to Salvation. At least you do not shew why it may not: And therefore this may be no slip, for any thing you have said to prove it to be one.
Where the gross and palpable Mistakes lie,* appears, I suppose, in part already.* But you instance in my saying that Force used to bring men to consider, does indirectly, and at a distance, some service. For here, you tell me, I walk in the dark, and endeavour to cover my self with Obscurity, by omitting two necessary parts. As, first, who must use this Force. And yet your very next words are, Which though you tell us not here (where it would have been impertinent to tell you; because, as any man may see, I was there onely to con∣sider, whether Force was useful, or not; not who was to use it:) yet by other parts of your Treatise 'tis plain you mean the Magistrate. Secondly, you tell me, I omit to say upon whom it must be used: Whereas 'tis plain enough too, as I suppose, by other parts of my Treatise, that the Force I speak of, is, according to my opinion, to be used upon such, and such onely, as having sufficient means of Instruction in the true Religion provided for them, do yet refuse to embrace it. But this you would not see; because, it seems, you thought it more for your purpose to tell me, that those upon whom, in my opinion, Force is to be used, if I say any thing to my purpose, must be Dissenters from the National Religion, those who come not into Church-Communion with the Magistrate. And then, you say, my Proposition in fair plain terms will stand thus:
1. You say, It is impracticable to punish Dissenters, as Dissenters, onely to make them consider. And why so? The Reason follows: For if you punish them as Dissenters, you punish them for not being of the National Religion. And to punish a man for not being of the National Religion, is not to punish him onely to make him consider; unless not to be of the National Religion, and not to consider, be the same thing. But cannot Dissenters be punish'd for not being of the National Religion, as the Fault, and yet onely to make them co•∣sider, as the End for which they are punish'd? Cannot this be the onely End, unless it be the onely Cause also of their Punishment? But after all, whoever will but consider my words, will easily see that there was no manner of occasion for this Subtlety. For my words are,
*If you suppose (as you seem here to do) that I am for •unishing Dissenters, whether they consider or no; you are in a great mistake. For the Dissenters (which is your word, and not mine) whom I am for punishing, are onely such as reject the true Religion, pro∣posed to them with Reasons and Arguments sufficient to convince them of the truth of it: Who therefore can never be supposed to consider those Reasons and Arguments as they ought, wh•lest they persist in rejecting that Religion, or (in your language) whilest they continue Dissenters: For if they did so consider them, they would not continue Dissente•s.
*2. You say, To punish men out of the Communion of the National Church, to make them consider, is unjust. They are punish'd, because out of the National Church: And they are out of the National Church, because they are not yet convinced. Their standing out therefore in this State, whilest they are not convinced, not satisfied in their Minds, is no Fault; and therefore cannot justly be punish'd. To which I answer: Where the National Church is the true Church of God, to which all men ought to join themselves; and sufficient Evi∣dence Page 25 is offer'd, to convince men that it is so: there it is a Fault to be out of the National Church, because it is a Fault not to be con∣vinced that the National Church is that true Church of God. And therefore since there men's not being so convinced, can onely be im∣puted to their not considering as they ought, the Evidence which is offer'd to convince them; it cannot be unjust to punish them to make them so to consider it.
What Iustice it would be for the Magistrate to punish me for not being a Cartesian,* it will be time enough to consider, when you have proved it to be •s necessary for men to be Cartesians, as it is to be Christians, or members of God's Church.
3. You say,*Whatever indirect Efficacy there be in Force, applied your way, it makes against you. Force used by the Magistrate to bring men to consider those Reasons and Arguments, which are proper and suffi•ient to convince them, but which without being forced, they would not consider; may, say you, be serviceable indirectly, and at a distance, to make men embrace the Truth which must save them. And thus, say I, it may be serviceable to bring men to receive and embrace Falshood, which will destroy them. How, Sir? May Force used by the Magistrate to bring men to consider those Reasons and Argu∣ments which are proper and sufficient to convince them, be service∣able to bring men to embrace Falshood? such Falshood as will destroy them? It •eems then, there are Reasons and Arguments, which are proper and sufficient to convince men of the truth of Falshood which will destroy them. Which is certainly a very extraordinary Dis∣covery; though such as no man can have any reason to thank you for. That God, in his just Judgement, will send such as receive not the love of the Truth, that they may be saved, but reject it for the pleasure they have in unrighteousness,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, strong de∣lusion, i. e. such Reasons and Arguments as will prevail wi•h men so disposed, to believe a Lie, that they may be damn'd; This, I con∣fess, the Scripture plainly teaches us.*But that there are any such Reasons or Arguments, as are proper and sufficient to co•vince or satisfy any, but such resolute and obdurate Sinners, of the truth of such Falshood as will destroy them, is a Position which I •n•sure the Scripture does not teach us, and which, when you have better consider'd it, I hope you will not undertake to maintain. And yet if it be not maintainable, what you say here is to no purpose: For if there be no such Reasons and Arguments as he•e we speak of, 'tis in vain to talk of the Magistrate▪s using Force to make men consider them.
Page 26But however, let it be supposed, if you plea•e, that there are such Reasons and Arguments as are proper and sufficient to convince men of the truth of Falshood which will destroy them; And, that Force applied by the Magistrate to make men consider the•, might be serviceable to bring men to receive and embrace such Falshood: What will you conclude from thence? May it not be tr•e never∣theless, that Force used by the Magistrate to bring men to con∣sider those Reasons and Arguments which are proper and suffici∣ent to convince them, but which without being forced they would not consider, may be serviceable indirectly, and at a distance, to bring men to embrace the Truth which must save them? Which is all that I am here concern'd to make good.
But not content to say, that Force my way applied (i.e. to bring men to embrace the Truth which must save them) may be service∣able to bring men to embrace Falshood which will destroy them; and so is proper to do as much harm as good; (which seems strange e∣nough;) you add (to encreate the wonder) that in my indirect way,* it is much more proper, and likely, to make men receive and em∣brace Error, than the Truth: And that,
1. Because Men out of the right Way are as apt, and you think you may say apter, to use Force, than others. Which is, doub•less, an irrefragable Demonstration, that Force used by the Magistrate to bring men to receive and embrace the Truth which •ust save them, is much more proper and likely to make men receive Error, than the Truth. But, Sir, I beseech you, how come we to talk here of what men out of the right Way, are apt to do, to bring others into their, i. e. a wrong Way; where we are onely enquiring, What may be done to bring men to the right Way? For that, I must put you in mind, is our Question, viz. Whether the Magist•ate has any Right to use Force, to bring men to the true Religion? Now whereas our Author says that Penalties,* or Force is absolutely im∣pertinent in this case, because it is not proper to convince the Mind; To which I answer,* that though Force be not proper to convince the Mind, yet it is not absolutely impertinent in this case, because it may, however, do some service towards the bringing men to embrace the Truth which must save them, by bringing •hem to consider those Reasons and Arguments which are proper to convince the Mind, and which without being forced, they would not consider: Here you tell me, No, but it is much more proper, and l•kely, to make men receive and embrace Error than Truth; because •en out of the right Way are as apt, and perhaps apter, to use Force, than Page 27 others. Which is as good a proof, I believe, as the thing would admit: For otherwise, I suppose, you would have given us a better.
As to what you say here,* on the by, of the Mildness and Gen∣tleness of the Gospel, which is apter to use Prayers and Intreaties, then Force, to gain a hearing: I shall onely demand of you, Whe∣ther the Mildness and Gentleness of the Gospel destroys the Coactive Power of the Magistrate, or not? If you say it does not; (and I suppose you will not say it does;) then it seems the Magistrate may use his Coactive Power, without offending against the Mild∣ness and Gentleness of the Gospel. And so, though they that have not that Power, can onely use Prayers and Intreaties to gain a hear∣ing: yet it will consist well enough with the Mildness and Gentle∣ness of the Gospel, for the Magistrate to use his Coactive Power to procure them a hearing, where their Prayers and Intreaties will not do it.
But you say Force in my indirect Way, is much more proper, and likely, to make men receive and embrace Error than Truth,
2. Because the Magistrates of the World being few of them in the right Way; (not one of ten, let me take which side I will) perhaps not one of an hundred being of the true Religion; 'tis likely my indi∣rect way of using Force would do an hundred, or at least ten times as much harm as good: &c. Which would have been to the purpose, if I had asserted that every Magistrate may use Force, my indirect way (or any way) to bring men to his own Religion, whatever that be. But if I assert no such thing; (as no man, I think, but an Atheist, will assert it:) then this is quite beside the business.
But to shew me that,*under another pretense, I put into the Magi∣strate's hands as much Power to force men to his Religion, as any the openest Persecutors can pretend to, you ask, What difference is there between punishing men to bring them to Mass; and punishing them to bring them to consider those Reasons and Arguments, which are proper and sufficient to convince them that they ought to go to Mass? A Question which I shall then think my self oblige• to answer, when you have produced those Reasons and Arguments which are proper and sufficient to convince men that they ought to go to Mass.
If you reply, say you, (to this pleasant Question,) you meant Reasons and Arguments proper and sufficient to convince them of the Truth: I answer, if you meant so, why did not you say so? As if it were possible for any man that reads my Answer, to think I meant otherwise. But, say you, if you had said so, it would in this case do you little service. For the Mass, in France, is as much supposed Page 28 the Truth, as the Liturgy here. So that it seems, in your opinion, whatsoever is supposed the Truth, is the Truth: (For otherwise this Reason of yours is none at all.) Which evidently makes all Religions alike, to those who suppose them true. Which is the thing you must own, if you will maintain that my way of applying Force will as much promote Popery in France, as Protestantism in England.
*Whether this Usefulness of Force amounts to no more but this, That it is not impossible but that it may be useful, I leave to be judged by what has been said.
*But you proceed, and say, Force your way applied, as it may be useful, so also it may be useless. For, 1. Where the Law punishes Dissenters, without telling them it is to make them consider, t•ey may through ignorance and oversight neglect to do it, and so your Force proves useless. But where the Law provides sufficient •eans of Instruction for all, as well as Punishment for Dissenters, it is so plain to all concern'd, that the Punishment is intended to make them consider, that I see no danger of men's neglecting to do it, through ignorance or oversight. 2. You say, Some Dissent•rs may have consider'd already, and then Force employ'd upon them must needs be useless; unless you can think it useful to punish a man to make him do that which he hath done already. And I say, No man •ho re∣jects Truth necessary to his Salvation, has consider'd already, as he ought to consider: Which is enough to shew the vanity of this Argument. 3. You say, God has not directed it: and therefore we have no reason to expect he should make it successful. The contrary of which shall be shewn in a more proper place.
*You add further, that Force may be hurtful: nay, you say, it is likely to prove more hurtful than useful. 1. Because to punish men for that, which 'tis visible cannot be known whether they ha•e per∣form'd or no, is so palpable an injustice, &c. (Which has already been spoken to.) 2. Because the greatest part of Mankind being not able to discern betwixt Truth and Falshood, that depend upon long and many Proofs, and remote Consequences; nor having ability enough to discover the false Grounds, and resist the captious and fallacious Arguments of Learned Men vers'd in Controversies; are so much more exposed, by the Force which is used to make them hearken to the Information and Instruction of men appointed to it by the Magistrate, or those of his Religion, to be led into Falshood and Error than they are likely this way to be brought to embrace the Truth which mu•t save them; by how much the National Religions of the World are, beyond Page 29 comparison, more of them False or Erroneous, than such as have God for their Author, and Truth for their Standard.
If the first part of this be true; then an Infallible Guide, and Implicit Faith are more necessary than ever I thought them. For if the greatest part of Mankind be not able to discern betwixt Truth and Falshood, in matters concerning their Salvation, (as you must mean, if you speak to the purpose;) their condition must needs be very hazardous, if they have not some Guide or Iudge, to whose determination and direction they may securely resign themselves. But for my part, as I know of no such Guide of God's appoint∣ing, so I think there is no need of any such; because notwith∣standing the long and many Proofs, and remote Consequences, the false Grounds, and the captious and fallacious Arguments of Learned Men vers'd in Controversies, with which you (as well as those of the Roman Communion) endeavour to amuse us, through the Good∣ness of God, the Truth which is necessary to Salvation, lies so ob∣vious and exposed to all that sincerely and diligently seek it, that no such person shall ever fail of attaining the knowledge of it. Nor is the famous instance you give us, of the two Rainoldses, of any moment to prove the contrary; unless you can undertake that he that err'd, was as sincere in his enquiry after that Truth, as you suppose him able to examine and judge.
But (whatever you think of this matter) 'tis plain the Force you here speak of, is not Force my way applied; i.e. applied to the promoting the true Religion onely, but to the promoting of all the National Religions in the World. And therefore I can easily grant you all that you would have, without any the least preju∣dice to my Cause. For how much soever the National Religions are more of them False or Erroneous, than such as have God for their Author, and Truth for their Standard; and how much soever the greatest part of Mankind may be exposed, by the Force which is used to make them hearken to the Information and Instruction of Men ap∣pointed to it by the Magistrate, or those of his Religion, to be led into Falshood and Error, than they are likely this way to be brought to em∣brace the Truth which must save them: Yet every one sees that it may be true nevertheless, that convenient Force used to bring men to the true Religion, (which is all that I contend for, and all that I allow,) may be very serviceable for that purpose, by bring∣ing men to that Consideration, which nothing else (besides the ex∣traordinary Grace of God) would bring them to: Which is that which I mean by doing service indirectly, and at a distance, toward Page 30 the bringing men to the true Religion, and so to Salvation.
You might therefore, for any thing I see, have spared the Pains you have here taken,*to give me a view of the Usefulness of Force my way applied.* For how confidently soever you tell •e that it amounts but to the shadow and Possibility of Usefulness, but with an overbalancing weight of Mischief and Harm annex'd to it; I hope I have sufficiently made it appear, that instead of proving this, you have onely trifled hitherto, and said nothing at all ag•inst my Assertion.
Having thus, as you imagine, or (to speak more properly per∣haps) as you would have it thought, destroy'd the Usefulness of Force which I had asserted, you go on to new matter of triumph. But suppose,* say you, Force applied your way, were as useful for the promoting true Religion, as I suppose I have shew'd it to be •he con∣trary; it does not from thence follow that it is lawful and may be used. By your savour, Sir, I think it does follow from thence, that Force is not therefore unlawful to be used, because it is utterly useless, or absolutely impertinent: which is all that I was to shew against our Author: That being all in effect, that he says, to prove the unlawfulness of using Force in matters of Religion; as has al∣ready been made appear, against all that you say to the contrary.
But as to the Lawfulness of such Force as I take to be useful for the promoting the true Religion; I must again put you in mind, that I do not ground it upon the bare Usefulness of such Force, but upon the Necessity, as well as Usefulness of it: as any man must acknowledge that reads my Answer: Where as I shew at large, that Force is generally necessary to bring those tha• wan∣der, to the right Way;* so I expresly declare that I look upon out∣ward Force to be no fit means to be used either for that purpose, or for any other, where it is not necessary, as well as useful.
And therefore how useful soever you may suppose it in a Parish that has no Teacher,*or as bad as none, that a Layman that wanted not abilities for it, should sometimes preach to them the Doct•ine of the Gospel, &c. yet unless you suppose it necessary withall, it will not serve your purpose. And that you cannot suppose it necessary, is evident; because any such Parish may quickly have redress, if they will but seek it.
(Whether I have rightly framed the Author's Argument, or not, has already been consider'd.)
*You say further, As Force applied your way is apt to make the In∣considerate consider, so Force applied another way, is as apt to make Page 31 the Lascivious chaste, &c. Thus you see Castration may indirectly, and at a distance, be serviceable towards the Salvation of men's Souls. But will you say, from such a• usefulness as this, that therefore the Magi∣strate has a right to do it, and may by Force make his Subjects Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven? Where again I must tell you, that un∣less you will say Castration is necessary, as well as apt, to make the lascivious chaste; this will afford you no advantage. Now I sup∣pose you will not say Castration is necessary, because I hope you acknowledge that Marriage, and that Grace which God denies to none who seriously ask it, are sufficient for that purpose.
But, however, this is not a like Case. For if Castration makes any lascivious person chaste; it does it by taking away the Part upon which the Power of offending depends: Whereas the Force which I think may be used in order to the •uring men of de∣structive Errors concerning the Way of Salvation, does not de∣stroy the Possibility of erring, by taking away, or any way disabling the offending Part, but leaves men's Brains safe in their Skulls. Indeed if I had said, that to cure men of damnable or dangerous Errors, it is useful to knock out their Brains; the Case had been exactly parallel (as far as Usefulness goes.) But since I say no such thing, I hope no man that has any Brains, will say it is.
You add,*It is not for the Magistrate, or any body else, upon an imagination of its Usefulness, to make use of any other means, for the Salvation of men's Souls, than what the Author and Finisher of our Faith has directed. Which, how true soever, is not, I think, very much to the purpose. For if the Magistrate does only assist that Ministery which our Lord has appointed, by using so much of his Coactive Power for the furthering their Service, as common Ex∣perience discovers to be useful and necessary for that End; there is no manner of ground to say, that upon an imagination of its Use∣fulness, he makes use of any other means for the Salvation of Men's Souls, than what the Author and Finisher of our Faith has directed.
'Tis true indeed, the Author and Finisher of our Faith has given the Magistrate no new Power, or Commission: nor was there any need that he should, (if himself had had any Temporal Power to give:) For he found him already, even by the Law of Nature, the Minister of God to the People for good, and bearing the Sword not in vain, i.e. invested with Coactive Power, and obliged to use it for all the good purposes which it might serve, and for which it should be •ound needful; even for the restraining of false and cor∣rupt Religion; as Iob long before (perhaps before any part of the Page 32 Scriptures were written) acknowledged, when he said that the worshiping the Sun or the Moon,* was an iniquity to be punish'd by the Iudge. But though our Saviour has given the Magistrates no new Power; yet being King of Kings, he expects and requires, that they should submit themselves to his Sceptre, and use the Power which always belong'd to them, for his service, and for the advancing his Spiritual Kingdom in the World. And even that Charity which our great Master so earnestly recommends, and so strictly requires of all his Disciples, as it obliges all men to seek and promote the good of others, as well as their own, espe∣cially their spiritual and eternal good, by such means as their several Places and Relations enable them to use; so does it espe∣cially oblige the Magistrate to do it as a Magistrate, i.e. by that Power which enables him to do it above the rate of other men.
So far therefore is the Christian Magistrate, when he gives his helping hand to the furtherance of the Gospel, by laying conve∣nient Penalties upon such as reject it, or any part of it, from using any other means for the Salvation of men's Souls, than what the Author and Finisher of our Faith has directed, that he does no more than his Duty to God, to his Redeemer, and to his Subjects, re∣quires of him.
*You add, You may be mistaken in what you think useful. No doubt of that, Sir: But you have not shewn that I am mistaken. Dives thought, say you, and so perhaps should you and I too, if not better inform'd by the Scriptures, that it would be useful to rouze and awaken men, if one should come to them from the dead. But he was mistaken. And we are told, that if men will not hearken to Moses and the Prophets, the means, appointed, neither will the Strangeness nor Terror of one coming from the dead perswade them. Very good, Sir: And what then? Dives thought, it seems, that though Moses and the Prophets had not prevail'd with his Brethren to repent; yet if Lazarus were sent to them from the dead, to testify what he had seen and heard in the other World; such an Evidence as this, so much greater than Moses and the Prophets had given, of the Ne∣cessity of Repentance, would not fail of taking effect upon them. But herein Abraham assures him he was mistaken; and t•at the true ground of his Brethren's not being perswaded by M•ses and the Prophets, was not any want of Evidence in them (as he thought it was,) but onely their own Hardness and Insensibility, con∣tracted by the custom of sinning, which render'd them incapable of any impressions from the greatest Evidence that could be given. Page 33 This I take to be the meaning of those words, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, (i.e. if they hear them not effectually, so as to be perswaded by them; as appears by the next Clause, where the same thing is express'd by that word;) neither will they be perswaded, though one rose from the dead. But how does this con∣cern the matter before us? Is there any thing in my Assertion like this Mistake of Dives? Do I any where say that the means appointed for the satisfying men's Minds concerning the true Re∣ligion, are not sufficient to do it, without the Assistance of out∣ward Force? Or, that the Magistrate is more likely to convince men's Understanding, by inflicting Penalties, than Christ's Mini∣sters are, by preaching the Gospel? If I had said any such thing, you might reasonably enough have put me in mind how Dives was mistaken in what he thought useful. But if I do expresly deny that Force has any proper Efficacy to convince men's Minds, and do place all its Usefulness in its Subserviency to the means appointed for that purpose, as it is apt to take off that unreasonable Aversness and Prejudice, which usually keeps those who reject the Truth, from applying themselves to those means: then though Dives was mistaken in thinking that Lazarus might be able to convert his Brethren, though Moses and the Prophets had not done it; it may, however, be no Mistake, to think Force useful for the purpose for which I affirm it to be so.
You go on:*If what we are apt to think useful were thence to be concluded so, we should (I fear) be obliged to believe the Miracles pre∣tended to by the Church of Rome. Never fear it, Sir; for I assure you there is no danger of it. But it seems you think there is. For, say you, Miracles, we know, were once useful for the promoting true Religion, and the Salvation of Souls; which is more than you can say for your Political Punishments. But yet we must conclude that God thinks them not useful now, unless we will say (that which without Impiety cannot be said) that the Wise and Benign Disposer and Go∣verner of all things does not now use all useful means for promoting his own Honour in the World, and the good of Souls. And then you add, I think this Consequence will hold, as well as what you draw in near the same words. But I think it is easy to shew it will not. For in the place you intend,* I speak not of useful, but of competent, i. e. sufficient means. Now competent, or sufficient means are ne∣cessary: but I think no man will say that all useful means are so. And therefore though, as I affirm, it cannot be said without Im∣piety, that the Wise and Benign Disposer and Governer of all things Page 34 has not furnish'd Mankind with competent means for the promoting his own Honour in the World, and the good of Souls; yet it is very agreeable with Piety and with Truth too, to say that he does not now use all useful means: Because as none of his Attributes obliges him to use more than sufficient means; so he may use suffici∣ent means, without using all useful means. For where there are many useful means, and some of them are sufficient without the rest, there is no necessity of using them all. So that from God's not using Miracles now, to promote the true Religion, you cannot conclude that he does not think them useful now, but onely that he does not think them necessary. And therefore though what we are apt to think useful, were thence to be concluded so; yet if what∣ever is useful, be not likewise to be concluded necessary; there is no reason to fear that we should be obliged to believe the Miracles pre∣tended to by the Church of Rome. For if Miracles be not now necessary, there is no inconvenience in thinking the Miracles pre∣tended to by the Church of Rome, to be but pretended Miracles.
But after all, how comes this Supposition in, That what we are apt to think useful, is thence to be concluded so? For, whatever you would insinuate, I speak not of what we are apt to think or phansy, with little or no reason, to be useful: but of what we judge so upon just and sufficient grounds: Upon a strong Probability of Suc∣cess (which you your self seem to think sufficient,* not onely to ground an opinion of its Usefulness, but even to warrant the Use of it,) grounded upon the consideration of Humane Nature, and the general temper of Mankind, apt to be wrought upon by the Method I speak of: And upon the indisputable attestation of Ex∣perience. For how confidently soever you tell me here, that it is more than I can say for my Political Punishments, that they were ever useful for the promoting true Religion; I appeal to all observ∣ing persons, Whether where-ever true Religion, or sound Chri∣stianity has been nationally received, and establish'd by moderate Penal Laws, it has not always visibly lost ground by the relaxa∣tion of those Laws: Whether Sects and Heresies (even the wildest and most absurd,) and even Epicurism and Atheism have not con∣tinually thereupon spread themselves: and Whether the very Spirit and Life of Christianity has not sensibly decayed, as well as the number of sound Professors of it been dayly lessen'd upon it. (Not to speak of what at this time our eyes cannot but see, for fear of giving offense: Though I hope it will be none to any that have a just concern for Truth and Piety, to take notice of Page 35 the Books and Pamphlets which now fly so thick about this King∣dom, manifestly tending to the multiplying of Sects and Divisions, and even to the promoting of Scepticism in Religion among us. In which number I shall not much need your pardon, if I reckon the First, and Second Letter concerning Toleration) And if these have always been the Fruits of the relaxation of moderate Penal Laws, made for the preserving and advancing true Religion; I think this consideration alone is abundantly sufficient to shew the Usefulness and Benefit of such Laws. For if these Evils have constantly sprung from the relaxation of those Laws, 'tis evident they were prevented before by those Laws.
Though the Work of our Salvation be,* as you justly call it, stupen∣dous and supernatural; yet I suppose no sober man doubts but it both admits, and ordinarily requires the use of natural and humane means, in subordination to that Grace which works it. And there∣fore till you have shewn (as you have not yet) that no Penal Laws that can be made, can do any service toward the salvation of men's Souls, in subordination to God's Grace; or that God has forbidden the Magistrate to serve him in that great Work, with the Authority which he has given him; there will be no occasion for the Caution you give us, not to be wiser than our Maker in that stupendous and supernatural work.
You add, When you can shew any Commission in Scripture, for the use of Force, to compell men to hear, any more than to embrace the Doctrine of others that differ from them, we shall have reason to sub∣mit to it, and the Magistrate have some ground to set up this n•w way of Persecution. To which I answer: Though no Force can compell men to embrace (if by that you mean, to believe) the Do∣ctrine of others that differ from them; yet some Force may induce those who would not otherwise, to hear what may and ought to move them to embrace the Truth. And if the Magistrate has Com∣mission to use convenient Force, or Penalties, for that purpose; his doing it will not be the setting up a new way of Persecution, but the discharging an old Duty. I call it so, because it is as old as the Law of Nature, in which the Magistrate's Commission lies, as has been shewn already. For the Scri•ture does not properly give it him, but presupposes it (and spe•ks of him as antecedently entrusted with it,) as it does also the Law of Nature, which is God's Law as well as the Scripture.
But till then, you say, (i. e. till I can shew a Commission in Scri∣pture, &c.) 'twill be fit for us to obey that Precept of the G•spel, Page 36 which bids us take heed what we hear. So that hearing is not always so useful as you suppose. If it had, we should never have had so di∣rect a Caution against it. This, I suppose, is onely intended for the vulgar Reader. For all the Force of it lies in our English Version of the Text you mention:* Which may, and ought (the Context requiring it) to be render'd Attend, or give heed to what you hear. And if this be the true sense of the Place, (as any one that con∣siders it well, will find it to be;) then our Saviour's Precep• is so far from being a direct Caution against hearing, that on the contrary, it requires hearing with great Attention and Consideration.
*Go and teach all Nations, you say, was a Commission of our sa∣viour's: But there was not added to it, Punish those that will not hear and consider what you say. No, but if they will not receive you, shake off the dust of your feet; leave them, and apply your sel•es to some others. Which is all very true indeed, but nothing at all to your purpose.* For as our Saviour was no Magistrate, and there∣fore could not inflict Political Punishments upon any man; so much less could he empower his Apostles to do it. But as he could not punish men to make them hear him; so neither was there any need that he should. He came as a Prophet sent from God, to re•eal a new Doctrine to the World. And therefore to prove his M•ssion, he was to do such things as could onely be done by a divine Power. And the Works which he did, were abundantly sufficient both to gain him a hearing, and to oblige the World to receive his Doctrine. And accordingly, when he sent his Apostles to preach his Gospel, though as he could not, so he did not add, Punish those that will not hear and consider what you say; yet he communicated to them the Power of Miracles, and bad them heal the sick, cleanse the Lepers, raise the dead,*and cast out Devils: Which might serve altogether as well to procure them a hearing, and a great deal better, to mani∣fest the divine Authority of their Doctrine, so as to leave them that should not embrace it, more inexcusable than Sodom and Go∣morrha. And what extraordinary Gifts and Powers our Lord be∣stow'd after his Asscension,* for the propagation of his Gospel, which were continued in his Church,* in such measures as he thought fit, for some Ages after, I need not mention. But what can be concluded from hence? That when Christian Religion was sufficiently rooted and establish'd in the World, and those extra∣ordinary Graces were withdrawn, as no longer necessary, Penal Laws could do no service toward the preserving and promoting it? or, That the Christian Magistrate had no Authority to make Page 37 any such Laws for the preserving and promoting it? No such matter. On the contrary, considering that those extraordinary M•ans were not withdrawn, till by their help Christianity had prevail'd to be receiv'd for the Religion of the Empire, and to be supported and encouraged by the Laws of it, I cannot but think it highly probable, (if we may he allow'd to guess at the Counsils of infinite Wisdom,) that God was pleas'd to continue them till then, not so much for any necessity there was of them all that while for the evincing the Truth of the Christian Religion, as to supply the want of the Magistrate's Assistance.
You add further:*St. Paul knew no other means to make men hear, but the Preaching of the Gospel, as will appear to any one who will read Rom. 10.14, &c. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. But whoever will consider▪ as well as read the Place, will find no such matter in it. St. Paul demands here, How shall men hear without a Preacher? But will any man say Because a Preacher, or Preaching is always necessary, therefore nothing else •an ever be so? If not; then it will not follow from this De∣mand, that the Apostle knew no other means to make men hear, but the preaching of the Gospel.
As to those words, vers. 17. Suppose the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 there, to be rightly render'd hearing, and that the word of God signifies the word preach'd Yet even so every one sees they will serve your turn but just as well as the other. But if 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 be there render'd re∣port (and I do not see why it may not) as it is in the foregoing verse, (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; Who has believed our report?) then the sense will be, Faith cometh by report, or preaching; and preach∣ing by the word of God, i. e. by the word of God instructing and sending the Preacher, according to vers. 15. Which sets that Text at a greater distance yet from your purpose.
Where to shew the Necessity of Penalties to bring men to hear∣ken to Instruction, and to consider and examine matters of Religion as they ought to do,* I allege that such as are out of the right Way, are usually so prejudiced against it, that no intreaties or Perswasions will prevail with them so much as to give an ear to those who call them to it; so that there seems to be no other means left (besides the Grace of God) but Penalties onely, to bring them to hear and consider, and so to embrace the Truth; You demand, What if God, for Reasons best known to himself,*would not have men compell'd to hear (i. e. as far as moderate Penalties will compell them: otherwise I am not concern'd in this Demand:) but thought the good Tidings Page 38 of Salvation, and the Proposals of Life and Death, Means and In∣duc•ments enough to make them hear and consider, now as well as •ere∣•o•••e? Where, first, you must give me leave to demand, How it ap∣pears that God thought the good Tidings of Salvation, &c. enough heretofore; when he endued the Preachers of the Gospel with the Gift of Tongues, and with the Power of healing all manner of Diseases, &c. as well to bring men to hear and consider, as to believe? Secondly I say, that if God, for Reasons best known to himself, would not have moderate Penalties used, now that Miracles are ceased •o induce men to •ea• and consider, he would have told us so; and you ought to have shewn us where he has done it.
You go on, demanding, What if God would have men left to their freedom in this Point, if they will hear, or if they will forbear, will you constrain them? Thus we are siere he did with his own People, &c. But those words, whether they will hear, or whether they will for∣bear, which we find th•ice used in the Prophet Ezekiel, are no∣thing at all to your purpose. Fo• by hearing there, no man un•er∣stands the bare giving an ear to what was to be preach'd, nor yet the considering it onely; but the complying with it, and obeying it: according to the Paraphrase which Gro•ius gives of the words, Ezek. 2.5. Si•se co•••gu••, rectè: si non (quod hactenus magis de illis credibile est, ob summam pertinaciam) erunt mexcusati. How∣ever, the Penalties I defend, are not such as can any way be pre∣tended to take away men's freedom in this Point.
*You add, This also is the Method of the Gospel. We are Ambassa∣dours for Christ, as if God did beseech you by us, we pray in Christ's stead, saith St. Paul, 2. Cor 5.20. If God had thought it necessary to have men punish'd to make them give ear, he could have call'd Ma∣gistrates to be Spreaders and Ministers of the Gospel, as well as poor Fishermen, or Paul a Persecutor, who yet wanted not Power to punish where Punishment was necessary, as is evident in Ananias and Sap∣phira, and the Incestuous Corinthian. But though it be the Method of the Gospel, for the Ministers of it to pray and beseech men; yet it appears from your own words here, both that Punishment may be sometimes necessary, and that punishing, and that even by those who are to pray and beseech, is consistent with that Method.
Why Penalties were not necessary at first, to make men give •ar to the Gospel, has already been shewn. And, from the same ground, it seems not hard to conjecture, why God was pleas'd to call poor Fishermen, rather than Magistrates, to be Spreaders and Ministers of the Gospel. For as the great and wonderful things which were Page 39 to be done for the evidencing the truth of the Gospel, were abun∣dantly sufficient to procure Attention to it, without any help from the Magistrate;* so they were much more admirable and convin∣cing, as done by the hands of such mean persons, than they would have been, if they had been done by Princes or Magistrates. To which I may add, that the Conversion of the World to Christi∣anity, without the help, and notwithstanding the utmost resistance of the Civil Powers, was to be the great Evidence, to all succeed∣ing Ages, of a divine Power accompanying the Gospel, and fur∣thering the progress of it: Which Evidence would have been wanting, if God had from the beginning used the service of the Magistrate in propagating his Gospel.
You demand further, What if God, foreseeing this Force would be in the hands of men as passionate,*as humoursome, as liable to Pre∣judice and Error as the rest of their Brethren, did not think it a proper Means to bring men into the Right Way? But if there be any thing of an Argument in this, it proves that there ought to be no Civil Government in the World; and so proving too much, proves nothing at all.* The Scripture tells us, that the wrath of man work∣eth not the righteousness of God. And yet God has put the Sword into the Magistrate's hand, though he may be as passionate, as hu∣moursome, &c. as the rest of his Brethren. So that, unless you would have no Government, or Discipline in the World, you must acknowledge, that how passionate or humoursome soever, or how liable soever to Prejudice and Error God foresaw Magistrates would be, there is not the least colour to inferr from thence, that he did not think moderate Penalties, used to bring men into the Right Way, a proper Means to bring them into it.
Lastly you demand, What if there be other Means? And then you add, Then yours ceases to be necessary, upon the account that there is no means left. For you your self allow that the Grace of God is another Means. And I suppose you will not deny it to be both a proper and sufficient Means; and which is more, the onely Means; such Means as can work by itself, and without which all the Force in the World can do nothing. To which I answer: Though the Grace of God be another Means, and I thought fit to mention it, to prevent Cavils; yet it is none of the M••ns of which I was speaking in the place you referr to;* which any one who reads that Paragraph, will find to be onely Humane Means. And therefore •hough the Grace of God be both a proper and sufficient Means, and such as can work by it self, and without which neither Penalties, nor any other Page 40 Means can do any thing; yet it may be true however, that when Admonitions and Intreaties fail, there is no Humane Means left, but Penalties, to bring prejudiced Persons to hear and consider what may convince them of their Errors, and discover the Truth to them. And then Penalties will be necessary in respect to that end, as an Humane Means.
What you intend by saying that the Grace of God is the onely Means, I do not well understand. If you mean onely that it is the principal and most necessary Means, and that without which all other Means are vain and ineffectual; I grant it is so. Or if you mean that it is the onely necessary Means, as being able to do its work without any help of other Means; This I have already granted. But if by calling it the onely Means, you intend to say that it does either always, or ordinarily exclude all other Means; I see no ground you have to say it.
Yes, say you: God alone can open the Ear that it may hear, and open the Heart that it may understand. But, by your ••vour, this does not prove that he makes use of no Means in doing it. For whatever Means we may suppose him to make use of, it is he alone still that does it, though he does it by the Means he makes use of.
You add, And this he does (i.e. he opens the Ear that it may hear, and the Heart that it may understand) in his own good time, and to whom he is gratiously pleas'd, but not according to the Will and Phansy of Man, when he thinks fit, by Punishments, to compell his Brethren. By which I su•pose you mean, that the Magistrate has no ground to hope that God will bless any Penalties that he may use, to bring men to hear and consider the Doctrine of Sa•va∣tion: or (which is the same thing) that God does not (at least not ord••arily) afford his Grace and Assistance to them who are brought by such Penalties to hear and consider that Doctrine, to enable them to hear and consider it as they ought, i. e. so as to be moved heartily to embrace it. If this be your meaning; then to let you see that it is not true, I shall onely desire you to tell me, whether they that are so brought to hear and consider, are bound to believe the Gospel, or not? If you say they are; (and I suppose you dare not say otherwise;) then it evidently follows that God does afford them that Grace which is requisite to enable them to believe the Gospel: Because without that Grace, it is impossible for them to believe it; and they cannot be bound to believe what it is impossible for them to believe.
You go on: If God has pronounced against any Person or People, Page 41 what he did against the Iews (Isai. 6.10.) Make the heart of this People fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be heal'd; Will all the Force you can use, be a means to make them hear and understand and be converted? No, Sir; it will not. But what then? What if God declares that he will not heal those, who have long resisted all his ordinary Methods, and made themselves, morally speaking, incurable by them?* (Which is the utmost you can make of the words you quote.) Will it follow from thence, that no good can be done by Penalties upon others, who are not so far gone in Wickedness and Obstinacy? If it will not; as it is evident it will not; to what purpose is this said?
In the next place you attempt to return my Argument.* And that you may do it the more successfully, you represent it (as you commonly do) in such a manner, as if I allow'd any Magistrate, of what Religion soever, to lay Penalties upon all that dissent from him:* Whereas in my own words it stands thus:
What follows here, has been sufficiently consider'd already. You say,*Faith is the Gift of God. And I say, This Gift comes, ordinarily at least, by hearing. And if the Magistrate be both war∣ranted Page 43 and obliged to use convenient Penalties to bring his Sub∣jects to hear the Gospel; as I think I have shewn that he is; then, in doing so, he cannot be said to use any other means to procure this Gift to any one, than what God himself has prescribed.
If, say you, all the means God has appointed, to make men hear and consider, be Exhortation in season and out of season, &c. together with Prayer for them, and the Example of Meekness and a good Life; this is all ought to be done, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. But if these be not all the Means God has appointed; then these things are not all that ought to be done. As to the first Spreaders of the Gospel, it has already been shewn that God ap∣pointed other Means, besides these, for them to use, to induce men to hear and consider. And though when those extraordinary Means ceased, these Means which you mention, were the onely Means left to the Ministers of the Gospel; yet that is no proof that the Magistrate, when he became Christian, could not law∣fully use such Means as his Station enabled him to use, when they became needful.
By what Means the Gospel at first made it self to be heard,* &c. without the Assistance of any such Force of the Magistrate, as I now think needful, we have seen already. But whatever Neglect or Aversion there is in any, impartially and throughly to instruct the People, I wish it amended, and that the most effectual course may be taken for the amending it, as much as you can do. But I do not see how pertinent your Discourse about this matter is, to the present Question. For when you have made the best provision you can for the Instruction of the People, I fear a great part of them will still need some moderate Penalties, to bring them to hear and receive Instruction.
But this new Method of mine,*viz. the useing Force, not instead of Reason and Arguments, but onely to bring men to consider those Reasons and Arguments which are proper and sufficient to convince them, but which, without being forced, they would not consider; Which I say,*no body can deny but that indirectly and at a distance, it does some service towards the bringing men to embrace the Truth: This new Method of mine, ( as you will needs call it, though it be at least as old as St. Austin) you tell me,*was never yet thought on by the most refined Persecutors. Which may be very true, for any thing I know: Though I think it hath been both thought on, and made use of too, by all those Magistrates, who having made all re∣quisite provision for the instructing their People in the Truth, Page 44 have likewise required them, under convenient Penalties, to em∣brace it.
But you say however, It is not altogether unlike the Plea made use of to excuse the late barbarous Usage of the Protestants in F•ance (designed to extirpate the Reform'd Religion there) from being a Per∣secution for Religion. For it seems, the French King requires all his Subjects to come to Mass. Which they cannot lawfully do, nor he lawfully require them to do. But you go on: Those who do not come to Mass, are punish'd with a witness. For what? Not for their Religion, say the Pleaders for that Discipline, but for disobeying the King's Laws. Whether those Pleaders plead in this manner, or not, I know not. But if they do, I am sure their Plea is ridicu∣lous, and carries nothing at all of an Excuse in it. For if true Religion, which is God's Law, forbids men to go to Mass; then those Laws can be no Laws, which require men to go to Mass: unless Man can make Laws against God's Laws. And if those Laws be no Laws, then 'tis grosly improper to talk of disobeying them. For where there is no Law, there can be no. Transgression, or Disobedience. Nor can any Act of Obedience to God (as all Acts which true Religion requires, are) be an Act of Disobedience to any body. Now if those Laws by which the French King requires his Subjects to come to Mass, be no Laws: and consequently their refusing to come, be not a disobeying his Laws:: 'tis evident there is nothing left for which the Refusers can be said to be punish'd, but onely their Religion, which requires them to refuse.
But let us see the likeness of my new Method to this Plea. So, say you, by your Rule, the Dissenters (from the true Religion, for I speak of no other) must be punish'd (or, if you please, subjected to moderate Penalties, such as shall make them uneasy, but neither destroy, no• undo them.) For what? Not for their Religion, say you, (So you tell me, Sir. But where, I beseech you, do I say that Dissenters from the true Religion, are not to be punish'd for their Religion?) not for following the Light of their own Reason, not for obeying the Dictates of their own Consciences. No, Sir: but ra••er for the contrary. For the Light of their own Reason, and •he Dictates of their own Consciences (if their Reason and Consciences were not perverted and abused) would undoubtedly lead them to the same thing, to which the Method we speak of, is designe• to bring them. You proceed: For what then are they to be punish'd? To make them, say you, examine the Religion they have embraced, and the Religion they have rejected. Right, Sir: That is indeed the Page 45 next End for which they are to be punish'd. But what is that to your Question? which, if it be pertinent, demands for what Fault, not for what End, they are to be punish'd: As appears even by your next words; So that they are punish'd, not for having offended against a Law; (i. e. not for any Fault:) For there is no Law of the Land that requires them to examine.
It seems then the Likeness of the two Pleas lies in this: The Pleaders for the French Discipline say that those who refuse to go to Mass, are not punish'd for their Religion, but for disobeying the King's Laws. And you make me say, that Dissenters are to be punish'd not for having offended against a Law. And were there ever any Twinns more like than these two Pleas are?
But as if you had forgotten the Likeness you talk'd of, you con∣clude with these words; And which now is the fairer Plea, pray judge. So that the thing I am to judge of at last, is not, how like these Pleas are to each other; but which is the fairer Plea of them.
Now I confess, as you have made my Plea for me, I think there is no considerable difference as to the Fairness of them, excepting what arises from the different Degrees of Punishment in the French Discipline, and my Method. But if the French Plea be not true; and that which you make to be mine, be not mine: To what pur∣pose is it to enquire, which is the fairer of them? The truth of the matter is this: The French Discipline Dragoons men, and many (as you say) out of their lives,* for not coming to Mass (which is no Fault,) to make them come to Mass (which they cannot do wi•hout sin.) And my Method punishes men with Pu∣nishments which do not deserve to be call'd so, when compared with those of the French Discipline, for rejecting the true Reli∣gion, proposed to them with sufficient Evidence (which certainly is a Fault,) to bring them to consider and examine the Evidence with which it is proposed, that so they may embrace it, (which is both lawful for them, and their duty to do.) And which of these Methods or Pleas is the fairer, let all the World judge.
Whereas you say here, that there is no Law of the Land that requires men to examine, I think the contrary is plain enough. For where the Laws provide sufficient means of Instruction in the true Religion, and then require all men to embrace that Religion; I think the most natural Construction of those Laws is, that they require men to embrace it upon Instruction and Conviction; as it cannot be expected they should do, without examining the Grounds upon which it stands.
Page 46How pertinent the Declamation is, which makes up the rest of this Paragraph, appears sufficiently by what has been said, and will appear yet further, before I take leave of you.
*But that this new sort of Discipline may, as you pretend, have all fair play, you come now to enquire at large into several Particu∣lars relating to it: As namely, Who it is I would have to be pun•sh'd: For what I would have them punish'd: With what sort of Penalties, what degree of Punishment they should be forced: And how long they are to be punish'd. And here, upon all these Heads, you discover, as you imagine, such Difficulties and Inconsistencies, as are enough to spoil any Discipline in the World, and render it just good for nothing. But I hope I have not follow'd you thus close hitherto to no purpose, but am apt to think that I have already abun∣dantly laid open the Mistakes and Cavils upon which those Imagi∣nations are grounded. And therefore having, as I suppose, suffici∣ently prepared my way, I shall, without more adoe, address my self to manifest the Consistency and Practicableness of my new Me∣thod (as you will have it) in the way you your self prescibe me, viz.* by telling the World plainly and directly,
- 1. Who are to be punish'd.
- 2. For what.
- 3. With what Punishments.
- 4. How long.
- 5. What Advantage to true Religion it would be, if Magistrates every where did so punish.
- 6. And lastly, Whence the Magistrate had Commission to do so.
Now, as to this latter Condition, I confess I do not see how you can oblige me to it. For if my Church be in the right; and my Religion be the true; why may I not all along suppose it to be so?
You say this can no more be allow'd to me in this case, whatever my Church or Religion be, than it can be to a Papist or a Lutheran, a Page 47 Presbyterian or an Anabaptist; nay no more to me, than it can be al∣low'd to a Iew or a Mahometan. No, Sir? Not whatever my Church, or Religion be? That seems somewhat ha•d. And methinks you might have given us some Reason for what you say: For certain∣ly it is not so self-evident as to need no proof. But I think it is no hard matter to guess at your Reason, though you did not think fit expressly to own it. For 'tis obvious enough that there can be no other Reason for this Assertion of yours, but either the equal Truth, or at least the equal Certainty (or Uncertainty) of all Re∣ligions. For whoever considers your Assertion, must see, that to make it good, you will be obliged to maintain one of these two things: Either 1. That no Religion is the true Religion, in oppo∣sition to other Religions: Which makes all Religions true, or all false, and so either way indifferent. Or, 2. That though some one Religion be the true Religion; yet no man can have any more reason, than another man of another Religion may have, to be∣lieve his to be the true Religion. Which makes all Religions e∣qually certain (or uncertain; whether you please) and so renders it vain and idle to enquire after the true Religion, and onely a piece of good luck if any man be of it, and such good luck as he can never know that he has, till he come into the other World. Whe∣ther of these two Principles you will own, I know not. But cer∣tainly one or the other of them lies at the bottom with you, and is the lurking Supposition upon which you build all that you say.
But as unreasonable as this Condition is, I see no need I have to decline it, nor any occasion you had to impose it upon me. For certainly the making what you call my new Method, consistent and practicable, does no way oblige me to suppose all along my Religion is the true, as you imagine. No, Sir; 'tis enough for that purpose, to suppose that there is one true Religion, and but one; and that that Religion may be known by those who profess it, to be the onely true Religion; and may also be manifested to be such, by them to others, so far a• least as to oblige them to receive it, and to leave them without excuse if they do not. Indeed if either of the two Principles but now mention'd, be true, i. e. if all Religions be equally true, and so indifferent; or all be equally certain (or un∣certain:) then without more adoe, the Cause is yours. For then, 'tis plain, there can be no reason why any man, in respect to his Salvation, should change his Religion: and so there can be no room for using any manner of Force, to bring men to consider what may reasonably move them to change. But if, on the contrary, Page 48 there be one true Religion, and no more; and that may be known to be the onely true Religion by those who are of it; and may by them be manifested to others, in such sort as has been said: then 'tis altogether as plain, that it may be very reasonable and ne∣cessary for some men to change their Religion; and that it may be made appear to them to be so. And then if such men will not consider what is offer'd, to convince them of the Reasonableness and Necessity of doing it; it may be very fit and reasonable, for any thing you have said to the contrary, in order to the br•nging them to Consideration, to require them under convenient Penal∣ties, to forsake their false Religions, and to embrace the true. Now as these things are all that I need to suppose; so I shall take leave to suppose them, till you shew good reason why I should not.
And now I come to give an account of the Particulars men∣tion'd. Which I think may be done in a very few words so plain∣ly and intelligibly, upon these Supposals as to enable any Reader to see, without any more help, to how little purpose you multiply words about these matters. Here therefore I am to tell the World,
1. Who are to be punish'd. And those, according to the whole tenor of my Answer, are no other but such, as having sufficient Evidence tender'd them of the true Religion, do yet reject it; whether utterly refusing to consider that Evidence, or no• con∣sidering it as they ought, viz. with such care and diligence as the matter deserves and requires, and with honest and unbiass'd minds. And what difficulty there is in this, I cannot imagine. For there is nothing more evident, than that those who do so reject the true Religion, are culpable, and deserve to be punish'd. And it is easy enough to know when men do so reject the true Religion. For that requires no more than that we know that that Religion was ten∣der'd to them with sufficient Evidence of the truth of it. And that it may be tender'd to men with such Evidence; and that it may be known when it is so tender'd; these things, you know, I take leave here to suppose. Now if the persons I describe, do really deserve to be punish'd; and may be known to be such as I de∣scribe them; then as they deserve to be punish'd; so they may be punish'd. Which is all that needs be said upon this Head, to shew the Consistency and Practicableness of this Method. And what do you any where say against this?
2. For what. By which I perceive you mean two things. For sometimes you speak of the Fault, and sometimes of the End for which men are to be punish'd. (And sometimes you plainly con∣found Page 49 them.) Now if it be enquired, For what Fault men are to be punish'd: I answer, For rejecting the true Religion, after sufficient Evidence tender'd them of the truth of it: Which cer∣tainly is a Fault, and deserves Punishment. But if you enquire for what End such as do so reject the true Religion, are to be pu∣nish'd: I say, To bring them to embrace the true Religion; and in order to that, to bring them to consider, and that carefully and impartially, the Evidence which is offer'd, to convince them of the truth of it: Which are undeniably just and excellent Ends; and which, through God's blessing, have often been procured, and may yet be procured by convenient Penalties, inflicted for that purpose. Nor do I know of any thing you say against any part of this, which is not already answer'd.
3.With what Punishments. Now here having in my Answer declared,* that I take the Severities so often mention'd, (which either destroy men, or make them miserable) to be utterly unapt and improper (for Reasons there given) to bring men to embrace the Truth which must save them; I do not presume to determine (nor have you shewn any cause why I should) just how far, within those bounds, that Force extends it self, which is really serviceable to that end; but content my self to say,
For when I speak of men of common Discretion, and not despe∣rately perverse and obstinate, I think 'tis plain enough, that by com∣mon Discretion I exclude not Idiotes onely,* and such as we usually call Mad-men, but likewise the desperately perverse and obstinate, who perhaps may well enough deserve that name, though they be not wont to be sent to Bedlam.
And if the Penalties I speak of, be intended for the curing men's unreasonable Prejudices and Refractariness against the true Reli∣gion; then the reason why the desperately perverse and obstinate are not to be regarded in measuring these Penalties,* is very apparent. For as Remedies are not provided for the incurable, so in the pre∣paring and tempering them, regard is to be had onely to those for whom they are designed.
Page 50Perhaps it may be needful here (to prevent a little Cavi•) to note, that there are degrees of Perversness and Obstinacy and that men may be perverse and obstinate, without being desperately so: And that therefore some perverse and obstinate persons may be thought curable, though such as are desperately so cannot. (As there are likewise degrees of Carelessness in men of their Salvation, as well as of Concern for it: So that such as have some Co•cern for their Salvation, may yet be careless of it to a great degree. And therefore if those who have any Concern for their Salvation, deserve regard and pity; then so may some carless persons, though those who have no Concern for their Salvation, deserve not to be con∣sider'd. Which spoils a little Harangue you give us,*Pag. 43.)
And as those Med•cines are thought safe and advisable, which do ordinarily cure, though not always (as none do:) So those Pe∣nalties, or Punishments, which are ordinarily found sufficient (as well as necessary) for the ends for which they are designed, may fitly and reasonably be used for the compassing those ends.
Now I do not see what more can be required to justify the Rule here given.* For if you demand that it should express wha• Pe∣nalties, particularly, are such as it says may fitly and reasonably be used: this, you must give me leave to tell you, is a very unreasona∣ble Demand. For what Rule is there that expresses the Particu∣lars which agree with it? A Rule is intended for a common Mea∣sure, by which Particulars are to be examined; and therefore must necessarily be general. And those to whom it is given, are sup∣posed to be able to apply it, and to judge of Particulars by it. Nay it is often seen, that they are better able to do this, than those who give it. And so it is in the present case: The Rule here laid down, is that by which I suppose Governers and Lawgivers ought to ex∣amine the Penalties they use, for the promoting the true Religion, and the Salvation of Souls. But certainly no man doubts but their Prudence and Experience enables them to use and apply it be•ter than other men; and to judge more exactly what Penalties do a∣gree with it, and what do not. And therefore I think you must excuse me, if I do not take upon me to teach them, what it be∣comes me rather to learn from them.
*4. How long they are to be punish'd. And of this the account is very easy. For certainly nothing is more reasonable, than that men should be subject to punishment as long as they continue to offend. And as long as men reject the true Religion, tender'd them with sufficient Evidence of the Truth of it, so long, 'tis certain, Page 51 they offend: Because it is impossible for any man, innocently to reject the true Religion, so tender'd to him. For whoever rejects that Religion so tender'd, does either apprehend and perceive th• Truth of it, or he does not. If he does; I know not what greater Crime any man can be guilty of. If he does not perceive the Truth of it; there is no account to be given of that, but either that 〈◊〉 shuts his eyes against the Evidence which is offer'd him, and will not at all consider it; or that he does not consider it as he ought, viz. with such care as is requisite, and with a sincere desire to learn the Truth: Either of which does manifestly involve him in guilt.
To sa• here that a man who has the true Religion proposed to him with sufficient Evidence of its Truth, may consider it as he ought, or do his utmost in considering, and yet not perceive the Truth of it; is neither more nor less, than to say, that sufficient Evidence is not sufficient Evidence. For what does any man mean by sufficient Evidence, but such as will certainly win assent, where∣ever it is duly consider'd?
'Tis plain enough therefore, that as long as men reject the true Religion duly proposed to them, so long they offend, and deserve Punishment: And therefore it is but just, that so long they should be left liable to it.
But because my Designe does rather oblige me to consider how long men may need Punishment, than how long it may be just to punish them; therefore I shall add, That as long as men refuse to embrace the true Religion, so long Penalties are necessary for them, to dispose them to consider and embrace it: And that therefore, as Justice allows, so Charity requires that they be kept subject to Penalties, till they embrace the true Religion.
Thus far you proceed in your Enquiry. But you demand that I should also tell the World,
5. What Advantage to true Religion it would be, if Magistrates every where did so punish. Where by the Magistrates so punishing, if you speak to the purpose, you must mean their punishing men for rejecting the true Religion (so tender'd to them as has been said) in order to the bringing them to consider, and embrace it. Now before we can suppose Magistrates every where so to punish, we must suppose the true Religion to be every where the National Religion. And if this were the case; I think it is evident enough, what Advantage to true Religion it would be, if Magistrates every where did so punish. For then we might reasonably hope that all false Religions would soon vanish, and the True become once more Page 52 the onely Religion in the World: Whereas if Magistrates s•ould not so punish; it were much to be fear'd (especially considering what has already happen'd) that on the contrary, false Religions, and Atheism, as more agreeable to the Soil, would dayly take deeper root, and propagate themselves, till there were no room left for the true Religion (which is but a foreign Plant) in any corner of the World.
6. And lastly, Whence the Magistrate had Commission to do so. But of this I have spoken already, and need not here repeat what has been said, to shew, that the Magistrate receives his Commission so to punish as has been express'd, from God, whose Minister he is.
Thus in answer to your demand, I have given a plain account of the Particulars you mention. And I shall now leave the World to judge, whether what you call a new sort of Discipline, and my new Method,* be an impracticable Chimaera, as you are pleas'd to say it is.
*And now, having seen and examined, as you say, the main of my Treatise, you tell me you think you might here end without going any farther. And so, Sir, I think you might, for any thing you have said against the rest of it. But that I may not think my self, or any of my Arguments neglected, you promise to go over the re∣mainder. And •o there is no help for it, but I must wait upon you.
*But you must excuse me, if I do not here prove over again, that what I make to be the Author's Fourth Proposition, is really his Proposition, and that his last Proposition is wholly built upon that.
*You say the business of my next Paragraph is to prove, Tha• if Force be useful, then somebody must certainly have a right to use it: And that the first Argument I go about to prove it by, is this, That Usefulness is as good an Argument to prove there is somewhere a right to use it, as Uselessness is to prove no body has such a right: Whereas neither is that my Proposition, nor this my Argument. For my words are these:*
You might therefore have spared the pains you have taken to prove that Usefulness of Punishment cannot give a Commission to punish;* or that useful Punishment from every hand is not lawful: For I never asserted the contrary. But because some perhaps may think that there is more in the Instance you here make use of, than what you intend to prove by it; it may not be amiss briefly to shew there is not.
That Instance is this: You say a man may have the Stone, and it may be useful (more than indirectly and at a distance useful) to him to be cut; but yet this usefulness will not justify the most skilful Chi∣•urgeon in the world, by Force to make him endure the pain and ha∣zard of Cutting; because he has no commission, no right, without the Patient's own consent to do so. Nor is it a good Argument, Cutting will be useful to him; therefore there is a right somewhere to cut him, whether he will or no. Now that this Instance does not come up to the Point in question between us, is very evident. For 1. It is to be consider'd, That the Stone does not always kill, though it be not cured; but men do often live to a great age with it, and die at last of other Distempers. But Aversion to the true Religion is certainly and inevitably mortal to the Soul, i• not cured; and so of absolute necessity to be cured. And yet if we should suppose the Stone as certainly destructive of this temporal life, as that Aver∣sion is of men's eternal Salvation: even so, the necessity of curing it would be as much less, than the necessity of curing that Aver∣sion, as this temporal Life falls short in value of that which is eternal. And 2. It may be consider'd, That Cutting for the Stone is not always necessary, in order to the Cure: And that even where it is most so, it is withall hazardous by your own confession, and may kill, as well as cure, and that without any fault of the Patient. But the Penalties I speak of, as they are altogether necessary (with∣out extraordinary Grace) to cure that pernicious, and otherwise untractable Aversion; so they can no way endanger or hurt the Soul, but by the fault of him that undergoes them. And if these things be true; if there be no such Necessity that persons trou∣bled with the Stone should be cured of it, as there is, that such Page 54 as are possess'd with an Aversion to the true Religion should be cured of that Aversion; And i• Cutting for the Stone, be neither so necessary, nor yet so safe a Means of curing, as moderate Pe∣nalties are in the other case: Then how reasonable soever you may suppose it, that it should be left to the Patient's choice, whe∣ther he shall be cut or not; and how true soever it may be, that the most skilful Chirurgeon in the world has no Commission, no right, without the Patient's own consent, by Force to make him endure the pain and hazard of Cutting; The Magistrate may nevertheless have a right to use Penalties to cure men of their Aversion to the true Religion: For 'tis plain enough, these things may very well s•and together.
This may suffice to shew, how short this Instance falls of the Case before us. However I shall add, That though, as things now stand, no Chirurgeon has any right to cut his Calculous Patient, without his consent; yet if the Magistrate should by a Publick Law appoint and authorize a competent number of the most skil∣ful in that Art, to visit such as labour under that Disease, and to cut those (whether they consent or not) whose Lives they una∣nimously judge it impossible to save otherwise: I am apt to think you would find it hard to prove, that in so doing he exceeded the bounds of his Power: And I am sure it would be as hard to prove, that those Artists would have no right, in that case, to cut s•ch Persons.
Whereas you say in this Paragraph, that to justify Punishment, it is requisite that it be directly useful for the procuring some greater good, than that which it takes away; I wish you had told us why it must needs be directly useful for that pupose: or why Penalties are not as directly useful for the bringing men to the true Religion, as the rod of correction is to drive foolishness from a Child,* or to work wisdom in him.
*Why Force was not necessary for the first 300 years after Christ, has already been shewn. And whoever considers the acco•nt which has been given of that matter, will easily see, that unless that which made Force needless then; does still continue; it may be necessary now, though it was not then.
But here you think you put me a very confounding Question. If,* say you, your supposed Usefulness (and Necessity, you should have added) places a right somewhere to use it, pray tell me in whose hands it places it in Turky, Persia, or China, or any Country where Christians of different Churches live under a Heathen or Mahometan Page 55Sovereign? But, Sir, I answer roundly and plainly, In the hands of the Sovereign. What? (will you say) a right in Mahometan or Pagan Princes hands to use Force upon Christians, for fear (as you speak) lest mankind, in those Countries, should be unfurnish'd with means for the promoting God's honour and the good of Souls? No, Sir: but a right to use convenient Penalties for the promoting the true Religion; which I think is the promoting God's honour and the good of Souls.
If this startle you; then I must tell you further, that I look upon the Supreme Power to be the same all the World over, in what hands soever it is placed: And I take this Right to be con∣tain'd in it. And if those that have it, do not use it as they ought, but instead of promoting true Religion by proper Penalties, set themselves to enforce Mahometanism, or Paganism, or any other false Religion: all that can, or that needs be said to that matter is, that God will one day call them to an account for their neglect of their Duty, for the Dishonour they do to him, and for the Souls that perish by their fault.
You say,*The Author having endeavour'd to shew that no body at all, of any rank or condition, had a power to punish, torment, or use any man ill, for matters of Religion; you tell us you do not yet under∣stand why Clergy-men are not as capable of such Power as other men. Which is said with the same Ingenuity which you have used in other places.* For whoever will but consult the place, must see that the Power I speak of, is externally coactive Power, in general, and not a Power to punish, torment, or use men ill, for matters of Religion, as you make it to be. And whether the Author did, or did not give me any occasion, in a short Parenthesis to declare my dissent from those who think Clergy-men incapable of externally coactive Power, I think the fortune of Europe does not depend upon it. But it seems you wanted an occasion to shew your good will to∣wards the Clergy, and so you made your self one.
Your next Paragraph is so gross and palpable a Mistake at least,* that I can hardly think fit to spend any words about it. In short thus it is . Page 18. of my Answer I have these words:
*Though it be very true, that the Author offers three Considera∣tions to prove that the Civil Power neither can nor ought in any manner to be extended to the Salvation of Souls; yet it may be true also, that he does but beg the Question, when he affirms that the the Com∣monwealth is constituted only for the procuring, preserving and advan∣cing the Civil Interests of the Members of it. For certainly this Affirmation, and that which he goes about to prove by those Con∣siderations, are not the same thing.
*But you say the Author does not beg the Question. For that being, Whether Civil Interest be the onely End of Civil Society, he gives this reason for the Negative; That Civil Power has nothing to do with the Salvation of Souls. But, in my opinion, you would have come nearer the truth, if you had said (just the reverse) that the Que∣stion being, Whether Civil Power has any thing to do with the Salva∣tion of Souls, the Author gives this Reason for the Negative, That Civil Interest is the onely End of Civil Society. For the very truth of the matter is this. The Question being, Whether the Magistrate has any right to use any kind of Force or Penalties, to bring men to the Page 57 true Religion, the Author holds the Negative, and in order to the proving it,* advances this Principle, That the Commonwealth is con∣stituted onely for the procuring, preserving, and advancing men's Civil Interests; or, as you express it, That Civil Interest is the onely End of Civil Society.* Consequently to which he affirms, That Civil Power has nothing to do with the Salvation of Souls; and thence in∣ferrs the Point he undertook to prove, viz. That the Magistrate has no right to use any kind of Force or Penalties, to bring men to the true Religion, in order to the Salvation of their Souls. Now this I acknowledge to be a very good way of proving the Conclusion, if that Principle be true: But that I think no man is bound to grant: and I suppose I have shewn sufficient reason why I think so. And therefore because our Author assumes that Principle, without pro∣ving it, I said, and do now again say, that he does but beg the Que∣stion. 'Tis true, he offers three Considerations afterwards, to prove the same thing which he designed to support by that Principle. But what is that to the business? Will it follow from thence, that he does not beg the Question, when he takes that for a Principle, which his Adversaries are as far from granting, as they are from granting the Conclusion he intends to establish by it? This you will never be able to shew.
And now,* say you, let us examine the truth of your main Position, viz. That Civil Society is instituted for the attaining all the Benefits that it may any way yield. But what if this which you call my main Position, be no Position at all of mine? That which I say, is,
Neither do I say, That Commonwealths, or Civil Societies are instituted for the attaining of all the Benefits they can yield, (as you insinuate;) which is very improper: For Civil Societies do onely attain and enjoy the Benefits, which Civil Society or Govern∣ment yields. And accordingly I say they are instituted for the at∣taining Page 58 of all the Benefits which Civil Society, or Political Govern∣ment can yield.
And this I took to be so plain a Truth, that I thought it no great boldness to usher it in with a Doubtless. And I confess I am still so much of the same mind, that I can hardly believe that any man, who has not a very urgent occasion, will make any question of it. For if what has hitherto been universally acknowledged, be true, viz. That no Power is given in vain, but to be used upon occasion; I think a very little Logick may serve a man to draw this Conclu∣sion from it, That all Societies are instituted for the attaining all the good, or all the benefits they are enabled to attain: Because if you except any of those benefits, you will be obliged to admit, that the Power of attaining them was given in vain. Nor will it fol∣low from hence, that all Societies are instituted for one and the same End (as you imagine it will,) unless you suppose all Societies ena∣bled, by the Powers they are endued with, to attain the same End: which I believe no man hitherto did ever affirm. And therefore, notwithstanding this Position, there may be still as great a differ∣ence as you please, between Church and State; a Commonwealth and an Army; or between a Family and the East-India Company. Which several Societies, as they are instituted for different Ends, so are they likewise furnish'd with different Powers, proportionate to their respective Ends.
*To your next Paragraph, after what has already been said, I think it may suffice to say as follows. Though perhaps the Peri∣patetick Philosophy may not be true; (and perhaps it is no great mat∣ter, if it be not:) yet the true Religion is undoubtedly true. And though perhaps a great many have not time, nor Parts to study that Philosophy; (and perhaps it may be no great matter neither, if they have not:) yet all that have the true Religion duly tender'd them, have time, and all, but Idiotes and Mad-men, have Parts like∣wise to study it, as much as it is necessary for them to study it. And though perhaps a great many who have studied that Philosophy, c•n∣not be convinced of the truth of it; (which perhaps is no great won∣der:) yet no man ever studied the true Religion with such care and diligence as he might and ought to use, and with an honest mind, but he was convinced of the truth of it. And that those who cannot otherwise be brought to do this, should be a little disturb'd and diseas'd to bring them to it, I take to be the Interest, not onely of those particular persons who by this means may be brought into the way of Salvation, but of the Commonwealth likewise, upon Page 59 these two accounts. 1. Because the true Religion, which this Method propagates, makes good Men; and good Men are always the best Subjects, or Members of a Commonweal•h; not onely as they do more sincerely and zealously promote the Publick Good, than other men; but likewise in regard of the favour of God, which they often procur• to the Societies of which they are Mem∣bers. And 2. Because this Care in any Commonwealth, of God's Honour and Men's Salvation, entitles it to his special protection and blessing. So that where this Method is used, it proves both a Spiritual and a Civil Benefit to the Commonwealth.
You say I speak very improperly,* or rather very mistakenly, if I call such Benefits as may any way (i. e. indirectly, and at a distance, or by Accident) be attain'd by Civil, or any other Society, the Ends for which it is instituted: Whereas indeed the Mistake lies on your side, (which I must now again put you in mind of) in thinking that by indirectly and at a distance, I mean by Accident, in your sense; which I no where gave you any occasion to think. And therefore I can easily admit, that nothing can in reason be reckon'd among the Ends of any Society, but what may in reason be supposed to be designed by those who enter into it. (Though I see no reason, why the Author or Institutor of any Society, especially of Civil Society, may not be supposed to design more than those usually do, who enter in•o it.) But what follows from this? Why, you say, No body can in reason suppose that any one enter'd into Civil Society for the procuring, secu∣ring, or advancing the Salvation of his Soul; when he, for that end, needed not the Force of Civil Society. So that it seems, the reason why the procuring, securing, or advancing the Salvation of Souls, must not be reckon'd among the Ends of Civil Societies, is, be∣cause there is no need of the Force of Civil Society for that End: The contrary whereof has, I suppose, already be•n sufficiently made good.
But whereas I say,*
You say:*Commonwealths, or Civil Societies and Governments, if you will believe the judicious Mr. Hooker, are as St. Peter calls them (1. Pet. 2.13.) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the contrivance and institution of man, &c. ('Tis well for St. Peter, that he has the judicious Mr. Hooker on his side: For it seems, we should not otherwise have so much reason to believe him.) And in all Societies instituted by man, the Ends of them can be no other than what the Institutors appointed. But here you may consider, that as St. Peter calls (not Commonwealths, or Civil Societies, as you say, but those who administer the Govern∣ment of them, viz.) the King, or Emperour, and Governours sent by him,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which you render the Contrivance and In∣stitution of man: So St. Paul teaches us that the Supreme Powers are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,*order'd, disposed, or set in their places by God: That they are accordingly 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* the Disposition, or Ordi∣nance of God: And that they bear the Sword, and punish them that do evil,* as the Ministers of God, i.e. as appointed and commission'd by him so to do: For how they can be his Ministers, for that, or any other purpose, without his appointment and Commission, is not to be understood. So that, if you will believe the Scriptures, the Civil Powers, or, if you please, Civil Society and Government are so the Contrivance and Institution of Man, as to be withall the Or∣dinance and Institution of God.
And as to the judicious Mr. Hooker (as you justly call him,) if you would have it thought, that he so referrs Civil Society and Publick Government to the Contrivance and Institution of Man, as either to exclude God Almighty from having any hand in it, or to leave men to their choice, whether they will live in such Society or not, or for what Ends they will enter into it: The least that can be said is, that you do very much mistake him. For though he asserts,* that all Publick Regiment arose from deliberate Advice, Consultation,*and Composition between men, judging it convenient and behoveful; there being no impossibility in Nature consider'd by it self, but that men might have lived without any Publick Regiment: And that, as to the kinds of Regiment, Nature ties not to any one, but leaves the choice as a thing arbitrary: Yet he asserts withall expresly, that we are naturally induced to seek Communion and Fellowship with others; and that this was the cause of men's uniting themselves at first in Politick Societies; and that, the corruption of our nature being presupposed, we may not deny, but that the Law of Nature does now Page 62 require of necessity some kind of Regiment. By which it appears, that how much soever he allows, in respect of the particular Forms of Commonwealths, or Ki•ds of Government, to the Choice and Contrivance of Man; he derives Civil Society and Government in general, from Nature, and the Law of Nature, and so from God, the Author of that Law.
Now if according to the Scriptures, and even to the judicious Mr. Hooker, God is the Author and Institutor of Civil Society in general; then the Ends of it, as your self must grant, can be no other than what He has appointed: and all that is left to the Choice and Contrivance of Man, is onely the framing and modelling Com∣monwealths, and the Government of them, as Prudence shall di∣rect, for the better attaining the Ends which He has fix'd and pre∣scribed.
You say St. Peter shews, in the place you referr to, for what End Commonwealths are instituted, viz. for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well. But you say you do not find any where, that it is for the punishment of those who are not in Church-Communion with the Magistrate. Nor do I any where say it is. But if rejecting the true Religion, or declining the Communion of the Church of God, be doing evil; then they that do so, are Evil-doers: and then you see what you get by St. Peter's words.
But you say you are sure the Ends of Commonwealths, appointed by the Institutors of them, could not be their Spiritual and E•ernal Interests. But why not, if their Spiritual and Eternal Interests may be promoted by Political Government, as I think I have shewn they may? Why, you say, they cannot stipulate about these one with another, (which I suppose you explain by the following words) nor submit this Interests to the Power of the Society, or any Sovereign they should set over it. Very true, Sir: But they can submit to be pu∣nish'd in their Temporal Interests, if they despise or neglect ••ose greater Interests. Which is all they need to do.
The News you tell us here from the West-Indies, of Com•on∣w•alths there, wherein, in tim• of Peace, no body has any Auth•rity over any of the Members of t••m, is indeed very wonderful and surprizing. For I confess I thou•ht before, that there could be no Commonwealth, without Government; nor Government, without Authority in some body, over those who are to be govern'd.
*To conclude, my Argument, you tell me, has that defect in it, which turns it upon my self: Because the procuring, and advancing the Spi∣ritual and Eternal Interests of Souls, my way, is not a Benefit to the Page 63 Society, but proper to do more harm than good, as you say you have proved already. Of which I shall leave the Reader to judge, by what has been said to that matter.
My saying,* that to argue, as the Author does, that the Civil Power neither can nor ought in any manner to be extended to the Sal∣vation of Souls,* because the Care of Souls is not committed to the Civil Magistrate, more than to other men, is onely to prove the thing by its self, is undoubtedly true in the sense of the word extended which I there take it in. However, you see I did not insist upon the matter, but was content to let it pass. And if I did not righ•ly apprehend what the Author means by that word in that place, I think I may be excused,* since you were forced to go eleven Pages further to discover it.
As to your next Paragraph,* I think I might now wholly pass it over. I shall onely tell you, that as I have often heard, so I hope I shall always hear of Religion establish'd by Law. For though the Magistrate's Authority can add no force or sanction to any Religion, whether true or false, nor any thing to the Truth or Validity of his own, or any Religion whatsoever; yet I think it may do much to∣ward the upholding and preserving the true Religion, within his Jurisdiction; and in that respect may properly enough be said to establish it.
It remains now,* you say, to examine, whether the Author's Argu∣ment will not hold good, even against Punishments in my way. And to shew that it will, thus you discourse:If the Magistrate's Au∣thority be,* as you here say,
As to Ignorance, Negligence and Prejudice, I desire you, or any man else, to tell me what better course can be taken to cure them, than that which I have mention'd. For if after all that God's Mi∣nisters, and the Magistrate can do, some will still remain ignorant, negligent, or prejudiced; I do not take that to be any disparage∣ment to it: For certainly that is a very extraordinary Remedy, which infallibly cures all diseas'd persons to whom it is applied.
*But say you, if you say, as you do, That the Magistrate •as Au∣thority to lay such Penalties upon those who refuse to embrace •he Do∣ctrine of the proper Ministers of Religion, and to submit to their Spi∣ritual Government, as to make them bethink themselves so as not to be alienated from the Truth: Against that also the Author's Argument holds, That the Magistrate has no such Authority. 1. Beca•se God never gave the Magistrate an Authority to be Iudge of Truth for an∣other man in matters of Religion: and so he cannot be Iudge whether any man be alienated from the Truth or no. 2. Because the Magi∣strate had never authority given him to lay any Penalties on those who refuse to embrace the Doctrine of the proper Ministers of his Religion (or of any other) or to submit to their Spiritual Government, more than any other men. Which latter Reason, as far as it respects the true Religion (and I am no farther concern'd in it) is th• very thing in question between us, and therefore ought not to be offer'd as a Reason. But as to the other, I grant that God never gave the Magistrate any Authority to be Iudge of Truth for another man, or to prescribe to him what he shall believe (for that I take to be your meaning) in any matter whatsoever. But how does it follow from thence, that he cannot be Judge whether any man be alienated from the Truth, or no? Can no man be Judge of that, unless he have Au∣thority to be Judge of Truth for other men, or to prescribe to them what they shall believe? Rectum est index sui, & obliqui. And certainly whoever does but know the Truth, may easily judge whether other men be alienated from it, or no. And therefore if the Magistrate knows the Truth; though he has no authority to judge of Truth for other men; yet he may be Judge whether other men be alienated from the Truth, or no; and so may have Autho∣rity Page 65 to lay some Penalties upon those whom he sees to be so, to bring them to judge more sincerely for themselves.
To shew that the Care of Souls is not committed to the Civil Ma∣gistrate, any more than to other men,* the Author endeavours to prove that it is neither committed to him by God, nor by the Peo∣ple. Now in my Answer,* I think I shew that he fails as to both these Points; so that whether we say the Care of Souls is commit∣ted to the Magistrate by God, or that it is vested in him by the consent of the People, either of these Assertions may be true, for any thing he has said to prove the contrary. Particularly, where∣as he says, that no such Power (as the Care of Souls committed to the Magistrate implies) can be vested in the Magistrate by the con∣sent of the People, because no man can so far abandon the care of his own Salvation, as blindly to leave it to the choice of any other, whether Prince or Subject, to prescribe to him what Faith or Worship he shall embrace: To this I answer,
But you are pleas'd to assist me in your next words:*For, say you, if it be the Power of the Magistrate, it is his. And what Page 66 need the People vest it in him; unless there be need, and it be the best course they can take, to vest a Power in the Magistrate, which he has already? So that herein, it seems, lies the Pleasantness of what I say. But what a miserable Cavil is this! For cannot I enquire, whence the Magistrate receives his Power; without suppo•ing it his, before he receives it? Or cannot I say, that the Power of the Magistrate is such in the nature of it, that if we suppose it vested in him by the consent of the People, this will not import their abandoning the care of their Salvation, but rather the contrary, be∣cause it is the Interest of the People (supposing it in their power) to vest such a Power in him: Cannot I say this, without implying that the Magistrate has this Power already, before the People have vested it in him? What pretense can any man have to affirm this? especially considering, that my words do so plainly tend, as any man may see, to shew that the Power which I claim for the Ma∣gistrate, does therefore belong to him, because it is vested in him either by God, or by the People: As it may be by either, for any thing the Author, or your self have said to the contrary.
*2. Another pleasant thing which you tell me I here say, is, That the Power of the Magistrate is to bring men to such a care of their Salvation that they may not blindly leave it to the choice of any person, or of their own lusts and passions, to prescribe to them what Faith or Worship they shall embrace; And yet that 'tis their best course t• vest a Power in the Magistrate, liable to the same lusts and passions as themselves, to choose for them. But where, I beseech you, do I say, that it is the People's best course to vest a Power in the Magistrate to choose for them? That you do not pretend to shew: but instead of it, you say, If they vest a Power in the Magistrate to punish them when they dissent from his Religion, to bring them to act, even against their own Inclination, according to Reason and sound Iudgement; or to bring them to consider Reasons and Arguments proper and sufficient to convince them: How far is this from leaving it to the choice of another man to prescribe to them what Faith or Worship they shall embrace? Which is just nothing to your purpose. For I speak not of the Magistrate's Religion, but of the true Religion, and that proposed with sufficient Evidence of the Truth of it. And if the People do onely vest a Power in the Magistrate, to punish them when they reject that Religion so proposed, to bring them to act according to Reason and sound Iudgement, &c. I think that is far enough from leaving it to the choice of another man, to prescribe to them what Faith or Worship they shall embrace.
Page 67But it seems you have not done with this yet. For you say you do neither me nor the Magistrate Injury,* when you say that the Pow∣er I give the Magistrate, of punishing men to make them consider Rea∣sons and Arguments proper and sufficient to convince them, is to convince them of the truth of his Religion (whatever that be) and to bring them to it. Which seems a little strange, and pleasant too. But thus you prove it: For men will never, in his opinion, act according to Reason and sound Iudgement, till they embrace his Reli∣gion. And if you have the brow of an honest man, you will not say the Magistrate will ever punish you to bring you to consider any other Reasons and Arguments but such as are proper to convince you of the truth of his Religion, and to bring you to that. Which (besides the pleasant talk of such Reasons and Arguments as are proper and suffi∣cient to convince men of the truth of the Magistrate's Religion, though it be a false one) is just as much as to say, It is so, because in the Magistrate's opinion it is so; and because it is not to be expected that he will act against his opinion. As if the Magistrate's Opini∣on could change the nature of things, and turn a Power to pro∣mote the true Religion, into a Power to promote a false one. No, Sir: The Magistrate's Opinion has no such virtue. It may indeed keep him from exercising the Power he has to promote the true Religion; and it may lead him to abuse the pretense of it, to the promoting a False one: But it can neither destroy that Power, nor make it any thing but what it is. And therefore whatever the Magistrate's Opinion be, his Power was given him (as the A∣postles Power was to them) for edification onely, not for destruction: And it may always be said of him (what St. Paul said of himself) that he can do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth. And therefore if the Magistrate punishes me, to bring me to a False Religion; it is not his Opinion that will excuse him, when he comes to answer for it to his Judge. For certainly men are as ac∣countable for their Opinions (those of them, I mean, which in∣fluence their Practice) as they are for their Actions.
Here is therefore no shifting forwards and backwards, as you pretend; nor any Circle, but in your own Imagination. For though it be true that I say The Magistrate has no Power to punish men, to compell them to his Religion; yet I no where say, nor will it follow from any thing I do say, That he has Power to compell them to consider Reasons and Arguments proper to convince them of the truth of his Religion. But I do not much wonder that you en∣deavour to put this upon me. For I think by this time it is pret∣ty Page 68 plain, that otherwise you would have but little to say: And it is an art very much in use among some sort of Learned Men, when they cannot confute what an Adversary does say, to make him say what he does not; that they may have something which they can confute.
*Your next Paragraph runs high, and charges me with nothing less than Prevarication. For whereas, as you tell me, I speak of it here as the most deplorable Condition imaginable, that men should be left to themselves, and not be forced to consider and ex∣amine the Grounds of their Religion, and search impartially and diligently after the Truth, &c. It seems all the Remedy I offer is no more than this, Dissenters must be punish'd. Upon which thus you insult: Can any body that hears you say so, believe you in earnest; and that want of Examination is the thing you would have amended, when want of Examination is not the thing you would have punish'd? —But if in all your Treatise you can shew me one place where you say that the Ignorant, the Careless, the Inconsiderate, the negligent in examining, &c. are to be punish'd, I will allow your Remedy for a good one. But you have not said any thing like this; and which is more, I tell you before hand you dare not say it. And whilst you do not, the World has reason to judge, that however want of Examination be a general Fault, which you with great vehemency have exaggerated; yet you use it only for a pretense to punish Dissenters; and either distrust your Remedy, or else care not to have it generally cured. Now here I acknowledge, that though want or neglect of Examination be a general Fault, yet the Method I propose for curing it, does not reach to all that are guilty of it, but is limited to those who reject the true Religion, proposed to them with sufficient Evidence. But then to let you see how little ground you have to say that I pre∣varicate in this matter, I shall onely desire you to consider, what it is that the Author and my self were enquiring after. For it is not, What course is to be taken to confirm and establish those in the Truth, who have already embraced it: Nor, How they may be enabled to propagate it to others: (For both which purposes I have already acknowledged it very useful, and a thing much to be desired, that all such persons should, as far as they are able, search into the Grounds upon which their Religion stands, and challenges their belief:) But the Subject of our enquiry is onely, What Method is to be used, to bring men to the true Religion. Now if this be the onely thing we were enquiring after, (as you cannot deny it to be;) then every one sees that in speaking to Page 69 this Point, I had nothing to do with any who have already em∣braced the true Religion; because they are not to be brought to that Religion, but onely to be confirm'd and edified in it; but was onely to consider how those who reject it, may be brought to em∣brace it. So that how much soever any of those who own the true Religion, may be guilty of neglect of Examination; 'tis evident, I was onely concern'd to shew how it may be cured in those, who, by reason of it, reject the true Religion, duly proposed or ten∣der'd to them. And certainly to confine my self to this, is not to prevaricate, unless to keep within the bounds which the Question under debate prescribes me, be to prevaricate.
In telling me therefore that I dare not say that the Ignorant, the Careless, the Inconsiderate, the negligent in examining, &c. (i. e. all that are such) are to be punish'd, you onely tell me that I dare not be impertinent. And therefore I hope you will excuse me, if I take no notice of the three Reasons you offer in your next Page, for your saying so. And yet if I had had a mind to talk imperti∣nently; I know not why I might not have dared to do so, as well as other men.
There is one thing more in this Paragraph, which though no∣thing more pertinent than the rest, I shall not wholly pass over. It lies in these words: He that reads your Treatise with attention, will be more confirm'd in this Opinion (viz. That I use want of Exa∣mination onely for a pretense to punish Dissenters, &c.) when he shall find, that you (who are so earnest to have men punish'd, to bring them to consider and examine, that so they may discover the way of Salvation) have not said one word of considering, searching, and hear∣kening to the Scripture; which had been as good a Rule for a Christian to have sent them to, as to Reasons and Arguments proper to convince them of you know not what, &c. How this confirms that Opinion, I do not see; nor have you thought fit to instruct me. But as to the thing it self, viz. my not saying one word of considering, searching, and hearkening to the Scripture, whatever advantage a captious Adver∣sary may imagine he has in it, I hope it will not seem strange to any indifferent and judicious Person, who shall but consider that throughout my Treatise, I speak of the true Religion onely in ge∣neral, i. e. not as limited to any particular Dispensation, or to the Times of the Scriptures; but as reaching from the fall of Adam to the end of the World; and so comprehending the Times which preceeded the Scriptures; wherein yet God left not himself with∣out witness, but furnished Mankind with sufficient means of know∣ing Page 70 Him and his Will, in order to their eternal Salvation. For I appeal to all Men of Art, whether, speaking of the true Religion under this generality, I could be allowed to descend to any such Rules of it, as belong only to some particular Times, or Dis∣pensations: Such as you cannot but acknowledge the Old and New Testaments to be.
*You say that, Page 26. of my Answer, out of abundant kindness, when the Dissenters have their Heads (without any cause) broken, I provide them a Plaister. But whoever shall consider the Penalties I there speak of, will, I perswade my self, find no Heads broken, and so but little need of a Plaister.
But having said there,
But you go on,* and say, However, you think you do well to en∣courage the Magistrate in punishing, and comfort the man who has suffer'd unjustly, by shewing what he shall gain by it. Whereas, on the contrary, in a Discourse of this nature, where the bounds of Right and Wrong are enquired into, and should be establish'd, the Magistrate was to be shew'd the bounds of his Authority, and warn'd of the injury he did when he misapplies his Power, and punish'd any man who deserv'd it not; and not be sooth'd into injustice, by conside∣ration of gain that might thence accrue to the Sufferer. Shall we do evil that good may come of it? There are a sort of People who are very wary of touching upon the Magistrate's duty, and tender of shewing the bounds of his Power, and the injustice and ill consequences of his misapplying it; at least, so long as it is misapplied in favour of them, and their Party. As to what you say here of the nature of my Discourse, I shall onely put you in mind, that the Question there debated is, Whether the Magistrate has any Right or Authority to use Force for the promoting the true Religion. Which plain∣ly supposes the Unlawfulness and Injustice of using Force to pro∣mote a false Religion, as granted on both sides. So that I could no way be obliged to take notice of it in my Discourse, but onely as occasion should be offer'd.
And whether I have not shew'd the bounds of the Magistrate's Au∣thority, as far as I was any way obliged to do it, let any indiffe∣rent Person judge. But to talk here of a sort of People who are very wary of touching upon the Magistrate's duty, and tender of shewing the bounds of his Power, where I tell the Magistrate that the Power I asscribe to him in reference to Religion, is given him to bring men, not to his own, but to the true Religion; and that he misap∣plies it, when he endeavours to promote a false Religion by it, is, methinks, at least a little unseasonable.
Nor am I any more concern'd in what you say of the Magistrate's misapplying his Power in favour of a Party. For as you have not yet proved that his applying his Power to the promoting the true Religion (which is all that I contend for) is misapplying it; so much less can you prove it to be misapplying it in favour of a Party.
But that I encourage the Magistrate in punishing men to bring them Page 72 to a false Religion (for that is the punishing we here speak of) and sooth him into Injustice, by shewing what those who suffer unjustly shall gain by it, when in the very same breath I tell him that by so punishing he misapplies his Power, is a Discovery which I be∣lieve none but your self could have made. When I say that the Magistrate misapplies his Power by so punishing; I suppose all other men understand me to say, that he sins in doing it, and layes him∣self open to divine vengeance by it. And can he be encouraged to this, by hearing what others may gain by what (without Re∣pentance) must cost him so dear? 'Tis true indeed, the Apostate Emperour (who yet, by the way, was for Toleration, and talk'd much of his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) pretended to take encouragement from some of the Promises of the Gospel,* to spoil and impoverish Chri∣stians, in consideration of what they would gain by it. But every one sees that this was no more than Pretense and Mockery, in one who believed nothing of those Promises, but only intended to ridicule and expose them. But had he believed the Promises made to Christians, he would have believed the Threats likewise which the Gospel denounces against their Persecutors. And can any man think he would have been so mad, as to deprive them of their Goods and Possessions, that they might gain the Kingdome of Heaven, when he knew that he should himself get nothing in the end but damnation by it?
*But you say, and you undertake to prove, that this Mischief (viz. the Magistrate's misapplying his Power) upon my Principle, joyn'd to the natural thirst in man after Arbitrary Power, may be carried to all manner of exorbitancy, with some pretense of Right. Well, Sir; though I do not think my self bound to take notice of all that may be done with some pretense of Right; yet, however, let us see how you go about to prove this. Thus, say you, stands your System. If Force, i. e. Punishment, may be any way useful for the promoting the Salvation of Souls, there is a Right somewhere to use it. And this Rights is in the Magistrate. Who then, upon your grounds, may quickly find reason where it s•its his inclination, or serves his turn, to punish men directly to bring them to his Religion. For if he may use Force, because it may be, indirectly, and at a distance, any way, useful towards the Salvation of Souls, towards the procuring any de∣gree of Glory; Why may he not, by the same Rule, use it where it may be useful, at least indirectly, and at a distance, towards the pro∣curing a greater degree of Glory? For St. Paul assures us, that the Afflictions of this life work for us a far more exceeding weight of Glo∣ry. Page 73 So that why should they not be punish'd, if in the wrong, to bring them into the right way; If in the right, to make them by their Sufferings gainers of a far more exceeding weight of Glory? But as prettily as this looks, I fear, if it be examined, it will not be found sufficient to prove even that little which you pretend to prove by it.
For, first, you must give me leave to ask you once more, Where I say, If Force may be any way useful for the promoting the Salvati∣on of Souls, there is a Right somewhere to use it? For in the Page you referr to, the words are
But, secondly, let it be supposed if you please, that I say what you so often tell me I do, though I do not: Yet even so, unless it be as necessary for men to attain any greater degree of Glory, as it is to attain Glory, it will not follow, that if the Magistrate may use Force, because it may be indirectly, &c. useful towards the procuring any degree of Glory, he may by the same Rule, use it where it may be in that manner useful towards the procuring a greater degree of Glory. But that there is the same Necessity of men's attaining a greater degree of Glory, as there is of their at∣taining Glory, no man will affirm. For without attaining Glory, they cannot escape the damnation of Hell: which yet they may e∣scape, without attaining any greater degree of Glory. So that the attaining Glory, is absolutely necessary: but the attaining any greater degree of it, however desirable, it is not so necessary. Now if there be not the same Necessity of the one of these, as there is of the other; there can be no pretense to say, that whatever is lawful in respect to the one of them, is likewise so in respect to the other. And therefore thought St. Paul assures us that the Affli∣ctions of this Life work for us a far more exceeding weight of Glory; it will not follow from thence, even by the Rule which you make for me, but is not mine, That if men be in the right way, they may be punish'd to make them by their Sufferings gainers of a far more ex∣ceeding weight of Glory. So that your some pretense of Right, which was all that in modesty you could undertake to prove, comes at last to just none at all.
But how unfortunate was I, to talk of the Magistrate's misap∣plying his Power,* when he punishes those who have the Right on their side! For by granting that, it seems I grant all that the Author Page 74 contends for, and so give up the Cause I undertook to defend. So you tell me, Sir: and thus you think you prove what you say. For, say you, if the Magistrate misapplies, or makes a wrong use of his Power, when he punishes in matters of Religion any one who is in the Right, though it be but to make him consider; he also misapplies his Power, when he punishes any one, whomsoever in Matters of Re∣ligion, to make him consider . Which is certainly as wonderful a Collection as any you make in your whole Letter: As any man may see, that will but compare the Magistrate's punishing in Mat∣ters of Religion any one who is in the Right to make him consider, with his punishing any one whomsoever (i. e. any one who is in the Wrong) in matters of Religion, to make him consider.
For, first, to punish one who is in the Right, is to punish one who does not deserve to be punish'd; which is manifestly unjust, whatever the end be for which he is punish'd. But to punish one who is in the Wrong, and refuses to consider what may convince him of the Right, (and such onely are the persons whom I would have punish'd,) is onely to punish one who well deserves to be punish'd▪ which no man can pretend to be unjust.
Again; To punish one who is in the Right, to make him consider what may shew him the Right, and move him to embrace it (which is the thing we mean here by considering,) is vain and ri∣diculous; because he does already discern and embrace the Right, and therefore needs not be made consider, to bring him to embrace it. But to punish one who is in the Wrong, and can by no othe• means be prevail'd upon to consider what may manifest the Righ• to him; I say, to punish such a one to make him consider, is bu• reasonable and necessary; because it is necessary for him to con∣sider, and Punishment is necessary to bring him to consider.
Now if these Cases are so widely different: If in the first o• them, the Magistrate punishes where there is neither any desert, nor any need, or use of Punishment, but in the other, he punishes where Punishment is both deserv'd, and necessary to be inflicted: Is there any imaginable ground to say, That if the Magistrate mis∣applies, or makes a wrong use of his Power, in the first Case, he does so likewise in the other?
Yes, you think there is. For, say you, every one is here Iudge for himself, what is Right; And in matters of Faith, and Religious Worship, another cannot judge for him. So that to punish any one in matters of Religion, though it be but to make him consider, is by your 〈◊〉 Confession, beyond the Magistrate's Power. And that punish∣ing Page 75 in matters of Religion is beyond the Magistrate's Power, is (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) what the Author contends for. Which Demostration of yours; if I may have leave to put it into from, stands thus:
Where if the Second Proposition were as evidently true, as the First is; I should readily admit the Conclusion, as sufficiently de∣monstrated. But if that Proposition be so far from being evidently true, that, on the contrary, it is certainly false, and plainly in∣volves a Contradiction in it; then you must give me some better proof of the Conclusion, before I shall be obliged to assent to it. Now (a little to examine that Proposition;) Why, I beseech you, does any one punish another to make him consider? Is it not, that that other may judge for himself, of what he is required to consi∣der? For as he that will judge of any matter, must first consider it; (according to that old Rule, Si judicas, cognosce:) So I know no use there is of considering, but in order to judging. And can he who punishes another to make him consider, that he may judge for himself of the matter to be consider'd, intend to judge for him, whom he punishes to make him judge for himself? If this be manifestly con∣tradictious and impossible, (as it must be acknowledged to be;) then every one sees that it is so far from being evidently true, that who∣ever punishes any one in Matters of Religion, to make him consider, takes upon him to judge for another what is Right in Matters of Re∣ligion, that it is repugnant and absurd to say, that any man, who punishes another to make him consider, does at the same time take upon him to judge for that person, in any matter whatsoever.
Thus you see with how little reason you say, that by granting that the Magistrate misapplies his Power, when he punishes those who have the Right on their side, I grant all that the Author contends for. Indeed if I had said that the Magistrate does therefore, in that Case, misapply his Power, because whoever punishes any one in matters of Religion to make him consider, takes upon him to judge for Page 76 him what is Right, in matters of Religion; you had had some ground for what you say. But that is no Reason of mine, but a• Assumption, or Supposition of yours; and a very bad one too, as I hope has been sufficiently shewn.
My following words (which are the last you take notice of) are these:* —
What trifling then is it, to say here, If you cannot lay your hand upon your Heart, and say all this (viz. that the Magistrate is like to be more concern'd for other men's Souls, than themselves, &c.) What then will be got by the change? For 'tis plain, here is no such change as you would insinuate; but the care of Souls which I assert to the Magistrate, is so far from discharging any man of the care of his own Soul, or lessening his obligation to it, that it serves to no other purpose in the world, but to bring men, who otherwise would not, to consider and do what the Interest of their Souls obliges them to.
'Tis therefore manifest, that the thing here to be consider'd, is not, Whether the Magistrate be like to be more concern'd for other men's Souls, or to take more care of them, than themselves: nor, Whether he be commonly more careful of his own Soul, than other men are of theirs: nor, Whether he be less exposed, in matters of Religion, to Prejudices, Humours, and crafty Seducers, then other men: nor yet, Whether he be not more in danger to be in the wrong, than other men, in regard that he never meets with the great and onely Antidote of mine (as you call it) against Err•r which I here call Molestation. But the Point upon which this matter turns, is onely this, Whether the Salvation of Souls, be not better pro∣vided for, if the Magistrate be obliged to procure, as much as in him lies, that every man take such care as he ought of his Soul, than if he be not so obliged, but the care of every man's Soul be left to himself alone: Which certainly any man of common Sense may easily determine. For as you will not, I suppose, deny, but God has more amply provided for the Salvation of your own Soul, by obliging your Neighbour, as well as your self, to take care of it; though 'tis possible your Neighbour may not be more concern'd for it, than your self; or may not be more careful of his own Soul, than you are of yours; or may be no less exposed, in matters of Religion, to Prejudices, &c. than you are; Because if you are your self wanting to your own Soul, it is more likely that you will be brought to take care of it, if your Neighbour be obliged to admonish and exhort you to it, than if he be not; though it may Page 78 fall out that he will not do what he is obliged to do in that case: So I think it cannot be denied, but the Salvation of all men's Souls is better provided for, if besides the obligation which every man has to take care of his own Soul (and that which every man's Neighbour has likewise to do it) the Magistrate also be en∣trusted and obliged to see that no man neglect his Soul, then it would be, if every man were left to himself in this matter: Be∣cause though we should admit that the Magistrate is not like to be, or is not ordinarily, more concern'd for other men's Souls, than they themselves are, &c. it is nevertheless undeniably true still, that whoever neglects his Soul, is more likely to be brought to take care of it, if the Magistrate be obliged to do what lies in him to bring him to do it, than if he be not. Which is enough to shew, that it is every man's true Interest, that the care of his Soul should not be left to himself alone, but that the Magistrate should be so far entrusted with it as I contend that he is.
Having thus, Sir, as I think, consider'd all that is material in your Letter, and a great deal more; I now referr it (if I may use your words) to your self,* as well as to the judgement of the World, Whether the Author of the Letter, and your self, in saying no Bo∣dy has a Right; or I, in saying the Magistrate has a Right to use some degrees of Force in Matters of Religion, have most Reason. If you think the advantage lies on your side, and shall do me the favour to let me know why you think so; I shall consider what you say, with all the care I can use, and with a mind as well d•s∣posed to receive Information, as your self can wish. And if upon such a consideration of what is offer'd, I find my self in an Error; I shall freely acknowledge my Conviction with all thankfulness; nor shall I be ashamed even publickly to retract my Error. But if instead of satisfactory Reason, I meet with nothing but Sophistry, and unfair dealing; I am apt to think I shall content my self with what I have already said: being now sufficiently sensible, that Cavils and Impertinencies are endless, when a Man of Parts shall not disdain to make use of them.
*As to the Request you leave with me, That if ever I should write again about the means of bringing Souls to Salvation, I would take care not to prejudice so good a Cause by ordering it so, as to make it look as if I writ for a Party; I do not see what need there was of i•; having given you no occasion, that I know, to think or suspect, that in answering the Author's Argument, I writ for any Party,Page 79 but God, and the Souls of men: A Party, which I hope I shall ne∣ver desert. Indeed if I had misrepresented the Author of the Letter, and imposed upon him things which he never said; if I had industriously set my self to make faults where there were none; or had pretended to confute my Adversary by what I could not but know to be false, or nothing to the purpose: In short, if I had dealt with that Author, as I think it appears by this time his Defender has dealt with me; then, I confess, you might well have suspected that I writ for some other Party. But if there be nothing of all this in my Answer, nor any thing unbecoming a man of Candour and Sincerity; as you have not yet been able to shew that there is: then your Suggestion is altogether ground∣less, and uncharitable.
What Party you writ for, when you writ your Letter, I will not take upon me to say. But I think I have too much occasion to leave this Request with you; That if ever you write again about the Subject of our Debate, you would take care to make it look, as if you believed what you writ to be both pertinent and true. And then, as there will be less ground to suspect that you write for an∣other Party: So there will be this further advantage by it, that a great deal less Paper will serve your turn.
I am Your most humble Servant.
Feb. 21 1691.