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petition with this Perswalion, That I have an immediate suggestion from the holy Ghost: The Scripture it self hath but one and the same Original, and is of an elder Date, and, if I please, is as imperfect in respect of my Revelation, as that of Moses was in respect of that of Christ. This Evil is liable to to be as endless as Thought or Art can make it, as boundless as Imagination, and hath as great variety of shapes to appear in, as there are possibilities in the World for any man to be either willing to deceive or li. able to be deceived.
What a fatal Influence the now contended for Liberty of Conscience had upon the most considerable Articles of Religion, within a small com. pass of time, we may learn from the forementioned Testimony of the London, and the Attestation of the chemire-Ministers. I shall set down lome of the Articles against which those Errors were, but will not defile my Paper with the Errours themselves. Against the Divine Authority of holy $cripturés ; against the Nature and ef
fence; against the Being of any God; against Christ as Mediator ; against the obligation of the Moral Law; against Ordinances ; against Lawful Oaths, 2gainst the future State of Mens souls after this Life, denying the Immortali, ty of them. But besides Religion, luch a Liberty will be quickly found to have a fad Influence upon Government and the publick Peace...
And as this sort of Liberty will expose Truth to perpetual and unavoidable Dangers, and withal hath left it no possibility of a sufficient De fence against them ; so it hath a natural tendency towards destroying the publick Peace: And not only co but to the disturbance of all Societies, and even of every private Family. Opinions have a great Influ. ence upon A&tions, and engage men not only upon good, but upon very bad practices. He who is allowed to raise a Sect, hath a very fair opportunity put into his hands of making himself the Head of it, as being such a Party, and by being permitted to have their Consciences, will have but
too many opportunities of having their persons and Purses at his difpofal likewise. Hence it is, that though fome Princes have been sometimes forced to fuffer Dissenters from the established Profession (by reason that they were so numerous, or so subtil, that they could not go about to sup. press them without discovering how unable they were to do so ;) yet they always looked upon such Diffepters as the next door to Enemies ; and accordingly had a perpetual Eye and Guard upon them, as those who of all other were the most likely to be the Authors or occasion of the next disturbance. It is a great mistake, though it be often found amongst the greatest Persons, That Sects are things fit only to be despised, because that men of Parts and Fortune are neither easily nor usually seduced by them: but it ought likewise to be considered, that Ambition, Revenge, Covetousness, Humour and Discontent may engage those who are not in earnest themselves seduced, to appear in all seeming earnest to seduce others.I thall
readily grant, that both the Beginning and the greatest Growth of Sects are amongst the meanest people, those whose Fortunes are as low as their Understandings, but then they do not stay altogether among them, but spread farther; like a Pestilence, which may begin in an obscure Alley, but in a little time no part of the City or Kingdom may be free from it. Besides, are not the Vulgar People the hands, the Tools, the Instruments which the Greatest must always make use of? And is it not known by free quent experience, that a Deception once got among them, may by a little Connivence thrive so far, as to be able to dispute for Superiority, and instead of demanding an Indulgence, refuse to give one? And, by how much the ordinary sorts of people are less Masters of Reason than others, with so much che greater ease they may be wrought upon to engage in those Courses, which by men who understood better, would be looked upon as evidently unreasonable. Now this is an Error which hath been frequent
ly ly committed by wise men in great places : They look upon the Errors and Follies which the common People are drawn into, as things very fit io be indulged, as being only so many occasions for themselves to droll upon ; but by their so doing they have often found the return, which Abner did of sporting himself with Lives, as these mighty Sages do with Lives and Souls, 2 Sam. 2. 14. Let the young men arise and play before ws; but with him they are at last convinced, that, Ver. 26. it is bitternes in the latter end.
The safety of all Government doth depend upon this, that it is certainly stronger than each single person, and in taking care of this, That as to any kinds of Union or joyning Forces together, that there may be no such things but under the guidance of the Magistrate, and by his appointment; & so long as this is taken effectual care of, though the discontented persons be never so many, yet because they have no way of uniting ; they are but so many single persons, scattered, 2. M 3