Page images
PDF
EPUB

that He is at all concerned in Points of this Nature ; that Religion is no part of His Care, His business is only to look after the Civil Government, and the Publick Peace (a Pretence frequently insisted on :) The Answer to this is very plain, and might easily be enlarged upon, as to many Particulars, I shall only mention these two Things; First, that Religion hath a very great influence upon Civil Government , and the Publick Peace ; and therefore if so be, that the Civil Government and the Publick Peace be within His Care; then Religion ought by no means to be excluded from it, as having so great an influence upon it. In the next place, as to the Pretence that the Magistrate is in an Errour, if he looks upon himself as concerned in this particular ; it is more than possible, that that very Pretence will upon Examination appear to be the greater Errour: And in general the Subject is no more free from Errour than the Soveraign. And this need not seem News to us of this Age and Nation ; and to speak the Truth, it

is no easie matter to find out any Age or Nation, where it hath not been fadly evidenced, that Seducers will quickly be found in great abundance, where Liberty hath been given for the People to be reduced by them : And after all this it will be no impossible Task to make out, that Magi. strates are obliged not only in Interest, but likewise in point of Conscience, to have a great Care of Religion; and to use that Authority which they received from God , so far to the honour of him who gave it, as by no means to suffer his Truths to lie all openly exposed to all the Lusts, Designs, and Mistakes of Men; to all the Knavery and all the Folly of E. very one who is either willing to de. ceive, or liable to be deceived. And of this I shall now endeavour to give a brief account both from Reason and Scripture, the Necessity of the thing, and the Authority both of the Old and New Testament.

But here a great many Rubs are thrown in our way, by the fore-mentioned Author of Liberty of Conscience

upon

upon its true and proper Grounds assertéd and vindicated : Proving that no Prince nor State ought by force to com. pel men to any part of the Doctrine, Worship or Discipline of the Gospel. London, Printed in the year 1668. Which methioks is not very different from the Doctrine of the Blody Tenent dedicated to both Houses of Parliament in the year 1644. It is the Will and Command of God, that ( since the coming of his son Jesus ) a Permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian Consciences and Worships be granted to All men in all Nations and Countries. But whatever the Affertion of our Author is either in it self, or in its Consequence, I shall briefly enquire into the Arguments he brings for it. Pag. 25. That the Civil and Ecclesiastical Power are things perfectly in themselves distinct, and ought in their Excercise to be kept so, &c. And, The Magistrate hath ways, such as Christ thought sufficient, to promote the Good of Religion and propagating the Growth of the Gospel, without drawing the Civil Sword, which will make no more H 4

Impresion

Impression in Spiritual Concerns, than it will do upon a Ghost which hath no real Body,&c. And p.28.To use force in Religion is wholly unlawful in any hand whatever ; because it is by no means appointed by Christ to bring about ang GospelEnd: For the Magistrate to enforce the Laws of the Gospel by Temporal Power, or to compel Men into the Gospel by such a Power, is to a&t without the least Precept or Precedent;to induce an Engine to execute the Gospel contrary to the nature of Christs Kingdom (which is not of this World) and contrary to the nature of all Gospel-institutions. Doth not Paul positively deliver this, That the weapons of the Gospel are not carnal but spiritual, and mighty thorough God : The Sword of the spirit is the Weapon by which Christ doth all ; yea, by which he will destroy Antichrist, the greatest Go. Spel-enemy the World bath produced. The Sum of which is briefly this : 1. That Force is a very incompetent Method to be used in matters of Belief and Perswasion: 2. That it is un. lawful. I. Because Christ hath no where commanded it, we have nei

ther

ther Precept nor Precedent for it : 2. Because St. Paul hath plainly forbid it, where he says that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.

Nowas to these Suggestions which do frequently recurr in this Question, I shall at present only brief. ly touch upon them, premising this, That our Author, like to all the rest who have dealt in this Cause, is as much concern'd to answer these and all the rest of his Arguments against using the Secular Interposition in mate ters of Belief, as any of those he writes against; because he himself doth very much approve and commend such Interposition where he likes the Cause in behalf of which it is made use of. Now, though this may seem strange, because it is directly contrary to his whole Book, yet it is very plain ; and I shall not expect to be believed upon my bare word, but desire the Author himself, or any one besides who makes a doubt of it, to consider these words which we have pag. 24. Constantine and the Christian Emperours after him, tillthe Church of Rome

bad

« PreviousContinue »