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akogether reasonable in themselves, may yet in some sort be thought fit to be complied with in regard of the Number, Quality, Merits or Interest of those Persons who appear to be fond of them. In a Debate about the alteration of a Legal Establishment, there are Two things highly confiderable; 1. The Nature of the Alteration it self; 2. The Nature of those who desire it, who they are, how many, and what kind of People. Now these are things which themfelves alone are qualified to make out unto us ; and till they have done that, Authority is scarce in a Capacity to concern it felf about it : For it can have no Measures to take,nor propose toit self any End; it can neither know what Goncessions to make, nor to whom ; can have no way the least alfurance, either what will satisfie, or who they are who are to be satisfied.
And as for the late device of Comprehension, the nature of of it is as yet unknown, and he must be a bold Man who will undertake for the Event of it.As to that which is by ordinary Per
sons to be understood of it, it amounts to no more than a pretty artifice of saving the Reputation of about a dozen Persons, who are sick of their present Separation from the Church, and stand in need of a plausible Pretence under which to return unto it: Their credit will not suffer them to renounce their old Principles, and they are weary of sticking longer to them. Now if the Pride of these Men should be thus far gratified, who can secure us of any great Effect from it? Will their Hearers imitate their Teachers in their compliance upon these Terms or abhorr them for it? And if we had any assurance in getting above these Difficulties, yet however, as to all those who do not come within the Comprehension, every one of all the Pleas of Liberty of Conscience and Persecution remain as they were before, so that such a Purchase will be upon po prudent estimate worth the price we pay for it.
These Two things therefore I take to be very clear ; First, that Liberty with Bounds and Limits set to it, is not
Liberty Liberty of Conscience : 2. That if any other Bounds and Limits are to bé set. besides those which the Law hath already set, it is very requisite, indeed necessary, that those Limits should be known before admitted, a. greed upon among themselves before they be desired from their Superiours. But because I very well know that how reasonable soever this way of procedure is in it self, yet that the concerned Gentlemen will find more than a few difficulties in it; I shall therefore enquire a little into the other Member of the fore-mentioned Division, and that is, such a Tolerati. on as is unlimited.
And here I do freely confess this, that all the Pleas which pretend to shew the reasonableness and usefulness of Liberty of Conscience do plainly prove this, if they do prove any thing at all : And the late Authour of Hu-, mane Reason hath been so much honester than many of the Writers upon this Argument, that he hath fairly owned the Conclusion which his Premises naturally do tend unto. Now
that which here doth first offer it felf to our Consideration, is this: How it doth come to pass that in this Part of the Argument the Presbyterians of late have observably been very silent ? There was a time when in this Cafe their Zeal was as warm as any mans, and nothing in the whole World was in their esteem more frightful , more intolerable than Toleration. In the year, 1644. This Point of Indulgence was a matter of high Debate, and the Dissenters from the Presbyterian way did desire the same Liberty from their Impositions which they had both of them before joyned in defiring from the National Settlement ; their Pretences were at least equal, they had the same natural right to Freedom which any other men had, they had the fame Pleas of Christian Liberty, and besides all this they had another very good title upon which they might expect Indulgence from the Presbyterians in Point of Merit; the fame Arguments the Sectaries shewed to be in common between them both, and withall had this to add farther, that their Arms added that assistance, without which the Presbyterians could never have been able to have brought themselves into a condition, to have enjoyed that Liberty as to themselves, which the other Sects by their joynt concurrence did put them into a condition to grant, and therefore very well deserved to have received from them. But in those dayes, their dear Brethren, to whom they were much beholding for their joynt concurrence in Prayers and Arms; their mutual Contributions of Blood and Treasure, and whom at present they smile most sweetly upon, did receive the harsbest ulage which was in their power to give them, and it was no small matter of publick complaint, that they were not permitted to handle them with much greater roughness: To omit many others there then came out a Book entituled, wholesome Severity reconci. led with christian Liberty, Licensed by Ja. Cranford, wherein we are told, that Liberty of Heresie and schism is no part of the Liberty of Conscience which Christ bath purchased for us, but that