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weak and insignificant, having no op. portunities of any Common Council, they can never joyn in any Common Design. But let them once have but so much as any one Phrase to know one another by, any setled place for their constant Meetings and a fet and known company for them to meet with, and any Bond whatever which doth unite them, and they presently become a distinct People, and begin to be dangerous, as having an Interest, Counfels and Body of their own, which the Government is not manager of, nor privy to, but shall quickly find it felf highly concerned by all means to pro. vide against.
Let it once be permitted to crafty, active, talking, lying and designing men, to instil into the minds of all forts of People, the necessity, usefulness, piety, or rare excellency of any one thing or Contrivance whatever, beyond that which the present Laws and establishment doth provide for ; and is not here a most readily prepared matter for any bold Boutefeu to work upon, who will take upon him to
help the Nation immediately to fo fine a thing ? Hath not any fúch Undertaker a vast and already formed Party in all parts of the Kingdom? Let him but represent to them, that the present Government is the only rub in their way , between them and their so fancied happiness, and is it not very likely that this will be the very next Consequent Resolution ; let us remove that Obstacle , so pub, lick a good is much to be preferred before any particular Form or Family; the welfare of the Nation is the great End, and Governours themselves were created but in order to that,and consequently are to cease as often as that End can be better attained without them.
Though the pretence be nothing but Conscience, yet every discontent will joyn to make the Cry both loud and general. Schisms do of themselves naturally grow into Parties, and, besides, are most plausible Occafions for any else to joyn unto them; the gathered Churches are most excellent Materials to raise new Troops out of, and when they are thus far prepared, they are easily perswaded to be at the Service of any one who will attempt to lead them on.
If all men were wise and honest, if every one understood well, and would act accordingly ; upon that Suppofiti. on Conscience might have a much greater trust reposed in it than can bę now adviseable: And if we could flatter our selves so far as to take that to be the Case, this would no more supersede the necessity of the coer. cive power of Laws in Religious mat. ters, than it would upon the same grounds supersede it in Civil ones. For no Laws which ever were or can be in the World can possibly provide in any Degree for those large measures of Justice, Equity , Mercy , and all kinds of fair dealing, which would in- : fallibly every where be met with, if all men did take Care to keep a good : Conscience; Truch, Justice, Tempe. rance, &c. are things which every man's Conscience doth and must needs tell him that he is obliged to,yet were it not for fear of the Law, we should
find that Conscience is not alone to be trusted in these which are her Natural and familiar Ojects: And this is a thing so known and granted on all hands, that it is not usual with men in their dealings among one another to trust purely, in matters of any moment, to one anothers Conscience, And seeing we acknowledge that Conscience may so often prevaricate in these plain and obvious things, where she is to easily found out ; we have po great cause to trust to her fidelity, that she will not also difsemble in thofe things which are more remote and obscure, and bidden from the very best of our discovery. Let those therefore, who plead for Liberty of Conscience, consider; that there are two forts of men, which ought to be provided against, to keep this contrivance of theirs from being absolutely the most senceless and dangerous in the whole World ; and upon their Grounds it doth not appear to be so much as possible to provide against them: First, those who are not ho. pest, and these may pretend Consei
ence ence if they will, and in that Cafe Re. ligion and Government, Truth and Peace are like to be most admirably secured, when they are authoritatively permitted to the arbitrary Ma. Dagement of every defigning Atheilt, who will but take upon him to be an Enthusiast : And in the second place, as all men are not honest, so all men are not wise, and as the former fort may pretend Conscience, so the latter are perpetually liable to be imposed upon by the innumerable , however abfurd pretences unto it : Those Laws are not fitted for the Temper of this World, which are made upon this supposition, that every one who looks demurely is presently in good earnest that men say nothing but what they think ; let us but consider that it is very possible for men to personate, and then we shall not be very eager to desire a general License for every one who hath a mind to become a publick Cheat.