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Earth are nothing else but the World changed by their Example into their Opinions : And if this Liberty be als lowed, all Miracles and all Mysteries will be quickly changed into so many Whimsies ; for what is it which selfconceit cannot inspire, or madness prove, or that man admit, who cares not to know what himfelf means ; or whether he doth or not, if he be once got under the plausible shelter of Liberty of Conscience himself, what is it that he may not impose upon vast multitudes, who though never so well meaning in themselves, are yet liable to be overreached by the Arts of other men: The dangers of this kind are not possible to be reckoned, because they encrease and vary at their own pleasure ; neither is there any man living, who can possibly tell us how many and how grofs absurdities such a Liberty as this may bring into the Nation in the very next moment.
This very Devise of Liberty of Conscience", which many, who look upon themselves as wise men and no ili Christians, are fond of, is the very
fame, by which one of its shrewdest Adversaries did hope to drive Chriftianity out of the World, and that too by its own assistance; and to that end he granted a promiscuous Liberty for all dissenting Christians to enjoy the publick exercise of their several ways, in hopes thereby to engage one of them against another, and by that means to make his advantage upon all of them: For so we read of Julian, that when his long contrived project of restoring Heathenism began to be put in effectual execution, that this was the Course which he pitched up on, as that which was most likely to bring his Design about, to grant Lis berty of Conscience to all diffenting Christians , as Ammianus Marcellinus hath it Lib. 22. Vtque dispositorum roboraret effe&tum, dissidentes Christianor rum Antistites cum plebe discißà in pao latium intromissos monebat, ut civilibus Discordiis "confopitis quisque nullo vetante religioni sua serviret intrepibus : Here was a man very tender of Con. sciences, but what think we was his Reason for all this Indulgence and
Moderation, we may read it in the next Words, Quod agebat ideo obštinatè, ut diffentiones augente Licentiâ non timeret, unanimantem postea plebem nullas infestas hominibus bestias ut sunt fibi ferales plerique Chriftianorum expertus. This wise and subtle Adversary knew very well that this was a ready way to deltroy Chriltianity, to give a free Liberty and a full opportunity for every one who pleased to divide it : So that this fage Contrivance of ours is but the Christianity of an Heathen, the taking up the Moderate Counsels of a profest Apostate ; and our Wisdom in preserving Religion doth express it self in those very ways, by which as wise men as our sëlves have thought the ready way to overthrow it. Indeed it is hardly credible, that any person who understands Humane Nature, who confiders how many are its Weaknesses, and how violent its Passions, who is a Judge of Consequences, or hath at all observed the course of Affairs, can in the least bę fond of any such device as this kind of Liberty, who hath
not within himself a very great Design against the present Religion of that Kingdom where he doth propose it. But, alas! that is but a small part of this evil, even our common Christianity will be hard put to it, if it must wrestle with all the difficulties which Toleration will immediately bring upon it : That Faith is in no great likelihood of remaining long pure and found, which is exposed to whosoever pleaseth to corrupt and to defile it
There is one Principle well known amongst us, which where-ever it is admitted, there is no Doctrine of Faith whatever, nor Rule of good Life which can be able to stand before it, and that is the Doctrine of New Light or private Illumination: This is an Evil which cannot be watched with too much Care, because it always hath it in its own Power to occasion how many, and what kinds of mischief foever it self pleafeth ; and withall it is with great ease pretended to by every one who will ; and there are every day to be met with too many persons too readily disposed to be imposed upon by such pretences. Some Romanists" have with great scorn infulted over the Reformation, upon the account that this evil hath made a shift to creep into it; whereas this is a difficulty which all Religions are liable to be abused by; a folly with which the Church of Rome doth exceedingly abound, and to which she is indebted for some of her chief Orders, ás being plainly founded in it. The Quakers in England are neither more ridiculous, nor as yet so impious as the Alumbrados were in Spain, nor do the blasphemous Phrenzies of DavidGeorge exceed those of Evangelium Æternum. This is an ill Weed which will grow in all Soils, and spread exceedingly; and Infallibility it self is but an equal Plea, and therefore is, upon such occasions, glad to call in to its affistance its Temporal Advantages. This very Pretence doth scarce leave a man within the possibility of being confuted; what Authority is there to be produced which is fit to come in com