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William Penn, The Political Writings of William Penn [1670]

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William Penn, The Political Writings of William Penn, introduction and annotations by Andrew R. Murphy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/893

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About this Title:

This volume illuminates the origins and development of Penn’s thought by presenting, for the first time, complete and annotated texts of all his important political works. Penn’s early political writings illuminate the Whig understanding of English politics as guided by the ancient constitution (epitomized by Magna Charta and its elaboration of English native rights). The values of liberty, property, and consent (as represented by Parliament) provide the basis for Penn’s advocacy of liberty of conscience in Restoration England. During the 1660s and 1670s, Penn used his social prominence as well as the time afforded him by several imprisonments to compose a number of works advocating religious toleration and defending the ancient constitution as a guarantor of popular liberties.

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The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

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william penn

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The Political Writings of William Penn
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This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., a foundation established to encourage study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.

The cuneiform inscription that serves as our logo and as the design motif for our endpapers is the earliest-known written appearance of the word “freedom” (amagi), or “liberty.” It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 bc in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

© 2002 Liberty Fund, Inc.

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

Frontispiece courtesy Bettman/CORBIS

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Penn, William, 1644–1718.

The political writings of William Penn / introduction and annotations by Andrew R. Murphy.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

isbn 0-86597-317-2 (hc)—isbn 0-86597-318-0 (pb)

1. Freedom of religion—Early works to 1800. 2. Freedom of religion—Great Britain—Early works to 1800.

I. Murphy, Andrew R., 1967– II. Title.

bv741 .p45 2002



liberty fund, inc.

8335 Allison Pointe Trail, Suite 300, Indianapolis, Indiana 46250-1684

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To bernard yack, booth fowler, and patrick rileyscholars, mentors, colleagues, and friends

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  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction William Penn: His Life, His Times, and His Work xi
  • Notes on Texts and Annotations xxv
  • Chronology of Penn’s Life and Times xxvii
  • part i foundations: the ancient constitution and english liberties
    • 1 The People’s Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted (1670) 3
    • 2 England’s Present Interest Considered (1675) 22
  • part ii penn’s argument for religious liberty
    • 3 The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience (1670) 79
    • 4 One Project for the Good of England (1679) 120
    • 5 An Address to Protestants of All Perswasions (1679) 137
    • 6 A Brief Examination and State of Liberty Spiritual (1681) 272
    • 7 A Perswasive to Moderation to Church-Dissenters (1686) 289
    • 8 Good Advice to the Church of England, Roman-Catholick, and Protestant Dissenter (1687) 330
  • part iii general principles and specific events
    • 9 The Proposed Comprehension Soberly, and Not Unseasonably, Consider’d (1672) 379 Edition: current; Page: [{viii}]
    • 10 England’s Great Interest, in the Choice of This New Parliament (1679) 384
    • 11 A Letter from a Gentleman in the Country, to His Friends in London, upon the Subject of the Penal Laws and Tests (1687) 392
  • part iv an expanding vision for the future
    • 12 An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe (1693) 401
  • Index 421
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In preparing this edition of Penn’s political writings, I have relied heavily on the expertise and advice of an array of colleagues. Chief among these are a number of friends in the Core Humanities Program at Villanova University, where I began work on this volume: I was fortunate to have close by a gifted group of interdisciplinary scholars who exemplified all the virtues of collegiality. Let me especially thank Kevin Hughes, Maura Lafferty, Kim Paffenroth, and Sheryl Forste-Grupp: from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, these four aided me in tracking down a number of Penn’s often-elusive references. The project was completed under the auspices of a senior fellowship at the Martin Marty Center of the University of Chicago Divinity School; I thank former Dean Clark Gilpin and current Dean Rick Rosengarten for facilitating my work at the Center. Johann Sommerville of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cary Nederman of Texas A & M University also generously shared their considerable expertise. Beth Angell helped with the introduction and assisted in too many ways to mention. Peter and Sam were themselves, a gift easy to acknowledge but impossible to repay.

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William Penn: His Life, His Times, and His Work

William Penn was born in London on 14 October 1644, and died in Buckinghamshire on 30 July 1718. His life spanned the two great political and religious upheavals in seventeenth-century England: the Civil Wars of the 1640s and the 1688 Revolution. Son of an admiral who served the parliamentarian cause during the Civil Wars and Commonwealth but who made his peace with the restored monarchy after 1660, Penn found himself involved in the turmoil of the 1680s because of his friendship with King James II and his relentless pursuit of religious liberty.

Expelled in 1662 from Christ Church College, Oxford, for religious nonconformity, Penn traveled to France and studied for a time at the Protestant Academy at Saumur. He later returned to England and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, then converted to Quakerism in 1667 while in Ireland on business for his father. His conversion marked the beginning of a lifelong career as religious controversialist, preacher, writer, and spokesman for the Society of Friends (or, as they were commonly known, Quakers).1 During the course of a public career that spanned over four decades, Penn worked tirelessly to promote religious liberty as a general principle as well as to advance the specific interests of Friends and his colonizing endeavor in America. This volume reprints Penn’s primary political writings from the 1670s and 1680s, writings that illustrate his approach to toleration as an English, a European, a Christian, and indeed a human value, and which provide a background against which to view Penn’s efforts to achieve a level of religious liberty in America that was not possible in his homeland.

The Society of Friends had emerged from the religious and political ferment of the English Civil Wars, and their denial of the Trinity, their doctrine of inner light, and their refusal to swear oaths and show social deference instantly attracted charges of anarchism, atheism, and disloyalty. William Penn Edition: current; Page: [{xii}] had ample opportunity to respond to these accusations: Not only was he a man of means, but he also put his several imprisonments to good use, writing many tracts defending his particular religion and advocating liberty of conscience as a principle. Penn spent the decade following his conversion writing and traveling throughout England, Europe, and America on behalf of Quaker causes. He was also increasingly interested in the possibility of founding a colony based on principles of religious freedom.

In 1681, calling on an old friendship and debts owed his father by the Crown, Penn received his colonial charter from Charles II. The next year he crossed the Atlantic, and, in the following spring, the first Pennsylvania General Assembly adopted the Frame of Government by which the colony would be ruled for the next ten years. Although business and legal matters, including a protracted border dispute with Lord Baltimore and activities on behalf of toleration in England, would keep Penn away from Pennsylvania for most of his remaining days, he always considered his colony an attempt to instantiate the principles of political and religious liberty he articulated in his writings. Penn’s close association with James—and his support for the king’s extralegal efforts to implement toleration—landed him under house arrest after the 1688 Revolution. Financial woes were almost continuous for Penn as well, and he spent time in debtor’s prison in 1708. A series of strokes incapacitated him in 1712, and he died six years later.

As the reader of this volume will soon discover, William Penn’s political writings present an impassioned and richly articulated—though not always highly systematic—vision of the political, philosophical, theological, and pragmatic foundations of liberty of conscience. For Penn, religious liberty was part and parcel of English liberty more generally, a fundamental right and a necessary element of legitimate government. Penn’s arguments for liberty of conscience followed all of the conventional routes rehearsed in English political rhetoric over the course of the seventeenth century. None of his justifications for liberty of conscience was entirely original. But in his synthetic corpus, Penn provides a coherent encapsulation of the many and varied routes to toleration sought by early modern English thinkers and actors. Insofar as Penn attempted to put his principles into practice in his colonial ventures, the texts reprinted in this volume possess a continuing relevance to scholars not only of English political and religious history but also of American political development, colonial history, and the constitutional foundations of American religious liberty.

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Penn’s Times

Though Penn was a young child during the Civil Wars and strife of the 1640s and 1650s, the events of those decades cast a long shadow over English public life for the rest of the century. The political instability following the death, in 1658, of Oliver Cromwell—who had commanded parliamentary forces during the Civil Wars, overseen the execution of Charles I in 1649, militarily subdued Scotland and Ireland, and ruled as Lord Protector since 1653—had paved the way for the restoration of Charles II and the Stuart monarchy in 1660. Restoration parliaments were hostile to religious dissent, associating it with the unrest of the Commonwealth period and Cromwell’s Protectorate and becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of toleration serving as a cover for introducing Catholicism into England. Formally reestablishing the Anglican supremacy, Parliament passed the Clarendon Code, a series of measures aimed at suppressing religious dissent, between 1661 and 1665. These acts restricted the rights of independent congregations to assemble, reinstated the Book of Common Prayer, and required assent to its liturgy by all clergy.2 With the revival of the Conventicles Act in 1670—and the passage of the Test Act, which required abjuration of Catholic doctrine and papal supremacy of all public officeholders, three years later—Parliament sought to construct a solid edifice against religious dissent.

Stuart kings after the Restoration, on the other hand, were decidedly more receptive to the idea of religious toleration. (The fact that Charles II, who reigned from 1660 to 1685, was a discreet Catholic, and James II, who reigned from 1685 to 1688, was an openly practicing one, played no small part in this position.) Charles II had signaled a willingness to “indulge tender consciences” in his Declaration of Breda, issued just prior to the Restoration, and in declarations issued in 1662 and 1672. He was blocked, however, by parliamentary resistance. Parliamentary opponents asserted that such royal actions ignored their role in governing the commonwealth under the traditional understanding of the English ancient constitution, in which monarch and Parliament shared responsibility for governance. Such procedural disputes Edition: current; Page: [{xiv}] between king and Parliament had figured prominently in the troubles of the 1640s as well, and would eventually contribute to James II’s ouster in 1688.

Ubiquitous anti-Catholicism and anti-French sentiment, as well as parliamentary suspicion of royal motives, received additional force in the early 1670s, when Charles entered into an alliance with Louis XIV (and, at the same time, war with England’s sometime Protestant ally, the Dutch). Charles’s 1672 Declaration of Indulgence appeared in the context of hostilities with the Dutch and plans for a French alliance and standing army. Many influential English political figures saw signs of a growing conspiracy to assert divine right theory, achieve absolute monarchy, and overthrow Parliament. Though it seems unlikely that such a plot was ever seriously planned, rumors of a “popish plot” during the later 1670s (with tales of a conspiracy to bring Catholicism into England under the cover of religious toleration) fueled the Whig effort to keep James off the throne. In this Exclusion Crisis (1679–81), the emerging Whig party raised concerns about the safety of English liberties, both political and religious, under a Catholic monarch. As one contemporary put it, “As soon as ever the papal authority is admitted among us, all the Protestants in these nations are dead men in law. . . . Our estates, lives, and souls are in extreme hazard.”3 Their Tory opponents, however, skillfully raised the specter of political and religious radicalism, linking Whigs and “excluders” to the radicalism of the 1640s and 1650s. The lessons of history, for Tories, were clear: To allow dissidents and dissenters to challenge royal power, especially given human nature, the likelihood of human error, and recent English history, would result in chaos, civil war, and irreligion. In other words, they claimed, Whigs were using fears of a Catholic monarch to mask the same aim that they shared with their parliamentary predecessors of 1642: political rebellion. After Charles’s dissolution of Parliament in 1681, the Exclusion Crisis was effectively over and a Tory reaction set in at the local level, supplanting Whigs from many of their positions in local governments.

The short reign of James II confirmed the worst Whig fears about a Catholic king, his propensity for extralegal political activities and the perceived Stuart attempt to achieve absolute government. James maintained a standing army. He received papal emissaries, instituted a policy of exempting Roman Edition: current; Page: [{xv}] Catholics from the requirements of the Test Act, and reinstituted celebration of the Mass in the royal household. None of those events, of course, took place in a vacuum: in 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had guaranteed toleration to French Protestants, and Huguenot exiles who reached England with tales of persecution fueled fears of Catholic absolutism and its threat to English liberties. In April 1687, James issued a Declaration of Indulgence, granting liberty of worship to Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters. Legally speaking, the declaration was based upon the king’s suspending power, but James went one step further and claimed authority to halt enforcement of ecclesiastical laws, such as the Test Act, for entire classes of people (namely, English Catholics). James hoped to receive parliamentary approval for his declaration and began an unsuccessful campaign to pack the next Parliament with members willing to codify it into law. These actions progressively alienated his staunchest allies, Anglican royalists opposed to the toleration of religious dissent (whether Catholic or Protestant), who had supported James’s cause during the Exclusion Crisis and had trusted his promises to maintain the Church of England in its privileged social position.

Shrewdly, James reissued his Declaration of Indulgence in the spring of 1688, commanding that it be read from all Anglican pulpits. He was clearly attempting to drive apart Anglicans and Dissenters, the nation’s two major Protestant groups. James’s reasoning was clear: If, on the one hand, Anglicans refused to read the declaration, Dissenters would (continue to) view them as persecutors hostile to religious liberty. If, on the other hand, Anglicans complied and read the declaration, James’s tolerationist policy would receive the Church’s imprimatur, in appearance if not in reality. James’s demands met with surprising resistance from Anglican bishops and other clergy. Anglican bishops refused to read the declaration, yet managed to convince most Dissenters—with the notable exception of Penn—not to endorse the King’s toleration as offered. (Penn, as the reader will note, sought religious liberty by whichever route it could be had and was not willing to forfeit the opportunity presented by James’s declaration.) These events culminated in the acquittal of seven bishops who had refused to read the declaration, a united front of Anglicans and Dissenters opposing the royal declaration. With opposition to James at new heights, William of Orange invaded and James fled.4

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Questions of toleration during the Restoration period, then, were always twofold: Did one support or oppose toleration, and for which groups; and did one support or oppose the ways in which Charles II (and later James II) sought to achieve such toleration? Both Charles and James, in choosing to issue Declarations of Indulgence, attempted to institute toleration without prior parliamentary assent. Even many who favored liberty of conscience were deeply disturbed by the precedent they saw in this extralegal pursuit of toleration by royal decree, involving as it did the contested legal and political claim to an extensive royal prerogative. To parliamentary advocates, such claims of authority struck at the heart of their idea of England as a law-governed society, in which the monarch and Parliament shared in the task of legislation.

Penn’s Political Thought: A Brief Overview5

Penn’s early political writings (Part I of this volume) illuminate his Whig understanding of legitimate English politics as grounded in the ancient constitution. The values of liberty, property, and consent provide the basis for Penn’s advocacy of liberty of conscience in Restoration England. Penn’s views on consent as the foundation of political legitimacy, and the ways in which these concerns intersect with religious liberty, are notably particularist: He refers almost exclusively to English practice and precedent.

We, the Commons of England, are a great part of the fundamental government of it; and three rights are so peculiar and inherent to us, that if we will not throw them away . . . they cannot be altered or abrogated. . . . The first of these fundamentals is property, that is, right and title to your own lives, liberties and estates.

The second . . . is legislation, or the power of making laws; No law Edition: current; Page: [{xvii}] can be made or abrogated in England without you. . . . No law can be made, no money levied, nor a penny legally demanded (even to defray the charges of the government) without your own consent: Than which, tell me, what can be freer, or what more secure to any people?

[The third is] . . . your share in the judicatory power, in the execution and application of those laws, that you agree to be made.6

Penn makes no reference to Old Testament exegesis, as did Puritan convenantal theorists, nor does he theorize about how individuals might behave in a natural state, as did his more famous contemporaries Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Rather, Penn asks how English subjects—who, he argues, do not hold their property by virtue of church membership but rather by established custom and usage—can be deprived of such property (in the form of forfeitures and fines) for religious nonconformity.

[W]e are English men . . . a title full of liberty and property, the foundation of the government of this kingdom to claim which, is not only our interest but our duty. . . . We have a right to our lives, liberties, and estates, and that none of these are to be taken from us but by the judgment of twelve of our peers . . . this has for ages been the common and fundamental law. . . . We take further leave to remind you that the civil society or government of this country is antecedent either to protestancy or popery.7

The ancient constitution was a lifelong political commitment for Penn. In 1687, he based his case for repeal of penal laws and the Test Act on “native rights, the Great Charter, what we all of us call, our birthright.”8

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Part II of this volume presents Penn’s argument for religious liberty, born out of the experience of persecution and Penn’s own broad reading and thought on the nature of human belief and the requirements of Christian conduct; Part III presents several shorter texts relating those general principles of liberty to particular events in English politics. Perhaps the most fundamental objection to compulsion in religious affairs, according to Penn, was an epistemological one: It does not work. Belief, he argued, was a function of the understanding and not of the will: Force can make hypocrites, but “never did it convert or preserve one soul to God.”9 Persecution was a category mistake, since “the understanding can never be convinced by other arguments than what are adequate to her nature.”10 Even if an individual’s religious beliefs were demonstrably erroneous, coercion remained unjustified, “for though their consciences be blind, yet they are not to be forced; such compulsion giveth no sight, neither do corporal punishments produce conviction.”11

While attempting to remove religious belief from the sphere of coercive civil power, Penn consistently sought to enlarge liberty of conscience to include religiously inspired conduct. In this regard, he rejected standard antitolerationist arguments that postulated a belief-action dichotomy, in which the civil magistrate was justified in restricting the latter though not the former.12 “Liberty of conscience . . . is this; namely, the free and uninterrupted exercise of our consciences, in that way of worship, we are most clearly persuaded, God requires us to serve him in . . . which being [a] matter of faith, we sin if we omit . . .”; elsewhere, Penn defined liberty of conscience as the “free and open profession and exercise of [man’s] duty to God.”13

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Not only was the use of force inappropriate from a psychological or epistemological point of view, and not only did belief imply action, but the fallibility of human knowledge argued against persecution. This argument contained both epistemological and ecclesiastical connotations, since the assumption of infallibility (be it papal or conciliar) was seen by many Protestants as the great error of the Roman Catholic Church. “We must never reproach the papists with persecuting Protestants, if Protestants themselves will persecute Protestants because of some different apprehensions about religion,” Penn wrote to the Prince of Orange.14 Epistemologically, Penn stressed the inherent partiality of understandings of truth and the humility called for by such an admission.15 In one of his earliest battles with the English legal system, Penn accused the judge of forgetting his English Protestant

forefathers for liberty of conscience. . . . Twas then plea good enough, my conscience won’t let me go to Mass, and my conscience wills that I should have an English testament. But that simple plea, for separation then reasonable is now by you that pretend to succeed them, ajudged unreasonable and factious. I say, since the only just cause of the first revolt from Rome was a dissatisfaction in point of conscience, you cannot reasonably persecute others, who have right to the same plea.16

For Penn, however, saying that one must be convinced in one’s own mind regarding the truth of religion was not an invitation to anarchy and license. Since the sects that had emerged from the English Civil War were often accused of just such anarchic tendencies, Penn hastened throughout his writings to clarify the magistrate’s role in suppressing vice and enforcing moral behavior. Penn affirmed the duty and right of civil magistrates to punish evildoers in The Great Case and in petitions to Parliament in April 1671.17 Although he opposed the use of force to impose religious practice on individuals, Penn did assert that certain moral and ethical transgressions simply could not be held Edition: current; Page: [{xx}] conscientiously, since they violated fundamental dictates of nature or widely accepted standards of behavior. “There can be no pretense of conscience to be drunk, to whore, to be voluptuous, to game, swear, curse, blaspheme, and profane. . . . These are sins against nature; and against government, as well as against the written laws of God. They lay the ax to the root of human society.”18 Penn later wrote that “I always premise this conscience to keep within the bounds of morality, and that it be neither frantic nor mischievous, but a good subject, a good child, a good servant, in all the affairs of life.”19

Certainly the magistrate could and should punish those who violated standards of civil behavior. Penn separated moral and ecclesiastical functions of civil magistracy and affirmed the right, even the duty, of political leaders to uphold the former. The distinction, for Penn, echoed his clarification that Christian liberty was not to be equated with license. In early Pennsylvania, as the founder envisioned it, civil magistrates were to be empowered to enforce observance of the Sabbath, to regulate, if not outlaw, taverns, and to restrain vice more generally. Penn did not view public enforcement of the Sabbath as equivalent to the imposition of a religious worship on his colony: In his words, refraining from labor on the Sabbath “may the better dispose [citizens] to worship God according to their own understandings.”20 The first draft of the Fundamental Constitutions declared that “there shall be no taverns, nor alehouses, endured in the [province], nor any playhouses, nor morris dances, nor games as dice, cards, board tables, lotteries, bowling greens, horse races, bear baitings, bull baitings, and such like sports, which tend only to idleness and looseness.”21 Since “the wildness and looseness of the people provoke[s] the indignation of God against a country,” Penn restated these prohibitions in his final version of the Frame of Government and Laws Agreed Upon in England.22 When Penn did draw up a tavern law, he included a number of very detailed Edition: current; Page: [{xxi}] regulations regarding the rates that innkeepers could charge and the personal conduct that was to be permitted by the guests at such establishments.23

The psychological or epistemological arguments concerning belief, action, judgment, will, and understanding were always firmly and fundamentally anchored in Penn’s Christianity. His restriction of the magistrate’s role in religion was, for Penn, largely derived from the example of Jesus and the early history of the Christian Church. He often attributed persecution to mistaken notions about the nature of Jesus’ ministry and kingdom. Coercion is unchristian, says Penn, because Jesus “defined to us the nature of his religion in this one great saying of his, My kingdom is not of this world.”24 He attributed the rise of persecution in the Christian Church to earthly designs of power-seeking clergy, giving voice once again to the long tradition of English anticlericalism stretching back at least to the fourteenth-century Lollard movement. Penn unified the arguments from reason and those from Scripture in his letter to the Prince Elector of Heidelberg: Religious toleration is both “natural, because it preserves nature from being made a sacrifice to the savage fury of fallible, yet proud opinions . . . [and] Christian, since the contrary expressly contradicteth both the precept and example of Christ.”25 In Penn’s words, the failure to understand Christ’s “unworldly way of speaking” of his kingdom lay at the root of all persecuting policies: “This gross apprehension of the nature of Christ’s kingdom may well be an occasion of their mistake about the means of promoting it, else it were not credible, that men should think, clubs, prisons, and banishments the proper mediums of enlightening the understanding.”26

The summation toward which all of Penn’s arguments for liberty of conscience point is the notion of England as a civil commonwealth, characterized Edition: current; Page: [{xxii}] by a reverence for traditional standards of political legitimacy (the ancient constitution) and united in a general Protestantism and basic Christian moral code. This commitment to civil unity, for Penn, contained within it the standard dichotomization proposed by many tolerationists, most notably Roger Williams and (later) John Locke, between the carnal and spiritual realms.27 The idea of civil interest as the cement of civil society runs throughout Penn’s works. “Certainly there is such a thing as civil uniformity, where a religious one may be inobtainable, and methinks there can be nothing more irrational, than to sacrifice the serenity of the one, to an adventurous (if not impossible) procurement of the other,” he wrote in 1673.28 “Civil interest is the foundation and end of civil government,” Penn argued, and elsewhere he maintained that, “as Englishmen, we are . . . mutually interested in the inviolable conservation of each other’s civil rights.”29 Assuming that English subjects lived peaceably with their neighbors, Penn wondered “whether going to parish churches, hearing of common prayer, and receiving confirmation by the hands of a bishop are such absolute and necessary qualifications to being good shipwrights, clothiers, masons, husbandmen, etc.”30

Such civil-interest arguments implicitly or explicitly cast doubts on the political allegiance of English Catholics, and Penn did not hesitate to raise the same questions about their political loyalty that John Locke later did, noting the “fundamental inconsistency they carry with them to the security of the English government and constitution unto which they belong, by acknowledging a foreign jurisdiction in these kingdoms.”31 The difference between Catholic and Protestant in England, Penn stressed repeatedly, was a political one at root. Still, although Penn’s society was shot through with anti-Catholic prejudice, he never suggested persecuting Catholics and concluded a letter to an imprisoned Roman Catholic by saying that, although he disagreed on many points of theology, “I am, by my principle, to write as well for toleration for the Romanists.”32 Penn would not persecute law-abiding Catholics who affirmed civil allegiance. “For though I give the true liberty of soul and Edition: current; Page: [{xxiii}] conscience to those only that are set free by the power of Christ . . . yet do I not intend, that any person or persons should be in the least harmed for the external exercise of their dissenting consciences in worship to God, though erroneous.”33

Finally, Penn did not neglect the more practical concerns of prudence and prosperity. On a purely prudential level, Penn counseled the Church of England to consider the consequences of a future non-Anglican magistrate’s adopting persecuting principles: Anglicans would suffer, as had Protestants in the days of Queen Mary.34 Similarly, in the context of James II’s attempts to extend toleration during the late 1680s, Penn noted to Anglicans that persecution threatened to drive dissenting Protestants into a political alliance with English Catholics.35 But if invocations of prudence were not enough, Penn asserted that prosperity would follow a relaxation of the enforcement of penal laws. “The kingdom is under a great decay both of people and trade,” he wrote in 1680, “does not [persecution] lessen the imperial crown and dignity of this realm, if it ruins trade, lessens and impoverishes the people, and increases beggery?”36 He concluded One Project with an appeal to the prosperity of the kingdom.

I ask, if more custom comes not to the king, and more trade to the kingdom, by encouraging the labour and traffic of an Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Independent, Quaker, and Anabaptist, than by an Episcopalian only? . . . What schism or heresy is there in the labour and commerce of the Anabaptist, Quaker, Independent, and Presbyterian, more than in the labour and traffic of the Episcopalian?37

Although religious dissent had been associated for many years with Cromwell’s republicanism and antimonarchical politics, Penn argued that this need not be the case. Not only does toleration not threaten monarchy, but “experience tells us, where [toleration] is in any degree admitted, the King’s affairs prosper most; people, wealth, and strength being sure to follow such indulgence.”38

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Part IV concludes the volume with Penn’s most far-reaching work, An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe (1693). Penn opens the essay with an appeal to his audience’s humanity and compassion for sufferers, a theme that appears throughout his writings in favor of toleration. “He must not be a man, but a statue of brass or stone, whose bowels do not melt when he beholds the bloody tragedies of this war, in Hungary, Germany, Flanders, Ireland, and at sea.”39 Religious liberty was Penn’s lifelong commitment, and he saw that liberty as part of the broader English fundamentals of life, liberty, and property. Since religious intolerance had fired bloodshed and conflict across Europe since the Reformation, the Essay towards the Present and Future Peace represents Penn’s attempt to provide Europeans the chance to live and flourish without the threat of constant war. Although his plan for a diet, or parliament of European states, might seem naive to an age that has witnessed many failed attempts at marshaling moral force to eliminate war, Penn’s proposal deserves a careful reading as an extrapolation of the principles outlined earlier in his writings. At the same time, the essay illustrates once more, at a continental level, Penn’s abiding devotion to the principles of political and religious liberty and his willingness to enter the public realm to help heal the “incomparable miseries” of his time.40 In those qualities, I suggest, far more than in the specifics of the system he proposes, we shall find William Penn’s true legacy.

Andrew R. Murphy
Martin Marty Center
University of Chicago Divinity School
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William Penn’s political writings can pose challenges to the modern reader. Like many of his contemporaries, Penn refers to Scripture, classical sources, church fathers, Reformation and post-Reformation history, and other sources prodigiously, unsystematically, and often obliquely. Many references presented as direct quotes turn out, upon visiting the primary sources, to be Penn’s paraphrases. Italicization and capitalization follow no discernible pattern. Such procedures were the norm, not the exception, in early modern political writing, especially for a writer like Penn who often wrote in the heat of political debate.

The purpose of my annotations is not to provide an exhaustive clarification of each of Penn’s many citations—such an endeavor would be unhelpful and distracting—but rather to guide the reader in appreciating the many building blocks upon which Penn built his theory of religious liberty. Thus, the antiquated spelling, punctuation, and syntax have not been altered; however, typographical errors have been silently corrected. For general references to individuals and groups, I have not, as a rule, included an annotation: Penn simply makes too many, too scattered references for a volume of this sort to address each one individually. I would refer readers interested in pursuing such references to the Dictionary of National Biography or to the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation.

Where individuals or groups are mentioned in connection with specific texts, I have generally provided a note. I have also annotated Penn’s many scriptural references, and all quotations of my own are taken from the King James version of the Bible. Where Penn provides the reference in his text, I have not provided any additional annotations. Otherwise, I have included some general information on the author or text to guide those readers who wish to explore Penn’s sources more deeply. (For sources that have gone through multiple printings, I have cited by chapter rather than page number.) Similarly, on Latin quotations, I have not translated where Penn himself includes a translation in the text, and I have not annotated single-word Latin phrases or ones whose meaning seems clear in context.

None of the editorial annotations can be considered a substitute for reading Penn’s works alongside good histories of England, of the Reformation, of Edition: current; Page: [{xxvi}] the Christian Church more generally, and of the rise of religious toleration in early modern Europe; below I suggest a few. Regardless of whether the reader is fully conversant with the wide range of historical, philosophical, scriptural, and political references that fill Penn’s political works, however, I hope that this edition will renew interest in Penn as a political thinker and in Penn’s works as an important element of the Anglo-American heritage. All texts in this volume are reproduced from A Collection of the Works of William Penn, 2 volumes (London, 1726).

early christianity and the reformation

Chadwick, Owen. The Reformation (Penguin History of the Church, vol. 3). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.
Dickens, A. G. The English Reformation. New York: Schocken, 1964.
The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. 2d ed. Edited by Everett Ferguson (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, vol. 1839). New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1997.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. Edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand. 4 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

english history

The Dictionary of National Biography. 22 vols. Edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921–22.
Kishlansky, Mark. A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 1603–1714. London: Penguin, 1996.
The statutes of the realm . . . From original records and authentic manuscripts . . . 10 vols. London: G. Eyre and A. Strahan, 1810–28.

religious toleration

Jordan, W. K. The Development of Religious Toleration in England and America. 4 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1932–40.
Lecler, Joseph. Toleration and the Reformation. 2 vols. Translated by T. L. Westow. New York: Association Press, 1960.
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1642 Outbreak of English Civil War between parliamentary and royalist forces.
1644 14 October, Penn born in London.
1648 Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War in Europe.
1649 Execution of King Charles I in England. Proclamation of English Commonwealth.
1653 Oliver Cromwell inaugurates Protectorate.
1658 Cromwell dies.
1660 Restoration of Stuart monarchy in England (accession of Charles II). Penn enters Christ Church College, Oxford.
1662 Penn expelled from Oxford for religious nonconformity.
1663 Penn studies at the Protestant Academy in Saumur, France.
1665 Penn enters Lincoln’s Inn, London, to study law.
1667 Penn converts to Quakerism in Ireland; is arrested for the first time.
1670 September: Penn-Mead trial, commemorated in Penn’s People’s Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted. Death of Penn’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn.
1672 Penn marries Gulielma Springett. Charles II issues Declaration of Indulgence tolerating religious nonconformists. Forced to withdraw Declaration after parliamentary objections.
1673 Parliament enacts Test Act, requiring English officeholders to swear oaths of allegiance and to abjure papal supremacy and Catholic doctrine.
1675 Penn’s first involvement in colonization. Arbitrates dispute between Quakers in West Jersey. Becomes trustee of West New Jersey.
1677 Travels to Holland and Germany defending Quakers and promoting liberty of conscience.
1679–81 Popish Plot in England, with turmoil over rumors to bring Catholicism to England under guise of toleration.
1681 March: Penn receives charter for Pennsylvania.
1682 Death of Penn’s mother, Lady Margaret Penn. August: Penn arrives in Pennsylvania.
1684 Returns to England to pursue boundary disputes with Lord Baltimore.
1685 Charles II dies. James II, a Catholic, crowned King of England. Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, basis for toleration of French Protestants.
1687 James II issues Declaration of Indulgence, tolerating religious nonconformists. Penn supports James’s cause.
1688 Glorious Revolution: William of Orange invades England. James ejected from the throne. William and Mary crowned King and Queen of England.
1689 Toleration Act passed. Penn arrested, accused of treason.
1691–93 Penn in hiding.
1694 Gulielma Springett Penn dies.
1696 Penn marries Hannah Callowhill.
1699 December: Penn arrives in Pennsylvania.
1701 Returns to England.
1702 William III dies. Queen Anne crowned.
1708 Legal troubles, Penn in debtor’s prison for a time.
1712 Penn suffers strokes, is incapacitated for rest of life.
1714 Death of Queen Anne. George I of Hanover crowned King of England.
1715 Death of Louis XIV.
1718 30 July, Penn dies.
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{PART I}: Foundations
The Ancient Constitution and English Liberties

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1.: The People’s Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted,
in the Trial of William Penn and William Mead, at the Sessions held at the Old-Baily in London, the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth of September, 1670, against the most Arbitrary Procedure of that COURT (1670)

To the English READER.

IF EVER it were Time to Speak, or Write, ’tis now, so many strange Occurrences requiring both.

How much thou art concerned in this ensuing Trial where (not only the Prisoners, but) the Fundamental Laws of England have been most Arbitrarily Arraigned, Read, and thou may’st plainly Judge.

Liberty of Conscience, is counted a Pretence for Rebellion, and Religious Assemblies, Routs and Riots; and the Defenders of both, are by them reputed Factious, and Dis-affected.

Magna Charta, is Magna Far—with the Recorder of London; and to demand Right, an Affront to the Court.

Will and Power are their Great Charter, but to call for England’s, is a Crime; incurring the Penalty of their Bale Dock and Nasty Hole; nay, the Menace of a Gag, and Iron Shackles too.

The Jury (though proper Judges of Law and Fact) they would have over-ruled in both, as if their Verdict signified no more, than to Echo back the illegal Charge of the Bench; and because their Courage and Honesty, did more than hold Pace with the Threat and Abuse of those who sate as Judges (after two Days and two Nights Restraint for a Verdict) in the End were Fined and Imprisoned for giving it.

Oh! What monstrous and illegal Proceedings are these? Who reasonably can call his Coat his own? When Property is made subservient to the Will and Interest of his Judges; or, Who can truly esteem himself a Free Man? When all Pleas for Liberty are esteemed Sedition, and the Laws that give, and maintain them, so many insignificant Pieces of Formality.

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And what do they less than plainly tell us so, who at Will and Pleasure, break open our Locks, rob our Houses, raze our Foundations, imprison our Persons, and finally, deny us Justice to our Relief; as if they then acted most like Christian Men, when they were most Barbarous, in Ruining such as are really so; and that no Sacrifice could be so acceptable to GOD, as the Destruction of those that most Fear him.

In short, That the Conscientious should only be Obnoxious, and the just Demand of our Religious Liberty, the Reason why we should be denied our Civil Freedom (as if to be a Christian and an Englishman were inconsistent) and that so much Solicitude and deep Contrivance, should be imployed only to Ensnare and Ruin so many Ten Thousand Conscientious Families (so Eminently Industrious, Serviceable and Exemplary; whilst Murders can so easily obtain Pardon, Rapes be remitted, Publick Uncleanness pass unpunished, and all manner of Levity, Prodigality, Excess, Prophaneness and Atheism, universally connived at, if not in some Respect manifestly encouraged) cannot but be detestably abhorrent to every Serious and Honest Mind.

Yet that this Lamentable State is true, and the present Project in Hand, let London’s Recorder, and Canterbury’s Chaplain be heard.

The first in his publick Panegyrick upon the Spanish Inquisition, highly admiring the Prudence of the Romish Church, in the Erection of it, as an excellent Way to prevent Schism, which unhappy Expression at once passeth Sentence; both against our Fundamental Laws, and Protestant Reformation.

The second in his Printed Mercenary Discourse against Toleration, asserting for a main Principle, That it would be less injurious to the Government, to dispence with Prophane and Loose Persons, than to allow a Toleration to Religious Dissenters: It were to over-do the Business, to say any more, where there is so much said already.

And therefore to conclude, We cannot chuse but Admonish all, as well Persecutors, to Relinquish their Heady, Partial, and Inhumane Persecutions (as what will certainly issue in Disgrace here, and inevitable condign Punishment hereafter) as those who yet dare express their Moderation (however out of Fashion, or made the Brand of Fanaticism) not to be Huff’d, or Menaced out of that excellent Temper, to make their Parts and Persons subservient to the base Humors, and sinister Designs of the biggest Mortal upon Earth; but Reverence and Obey the Eternal Just GOD, before whose Great Tribunal all must render their Accounts, and where he will Recompence to every Person according to his Works.

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The TRIAL, &c.

AS THERE can be no Observation, where there is no Action; so its impossible there shall be a Judicious Intelligence without due Observation.

And since there can be nothing more Reasonable than a Right Information, especially of Publick Acts; and well knowing, how industrious some will be, to misrepresent this Trial, to the Disadvantage of the Cause and Prisoners, it was thought requisite, in Defence of both, and for the Satisfaction of the People, to make it more publick; nor can there be any Business wherein the People of England are more concerned, than in that which relates to their Civil and Religious Liberties, questioned in the Persons before named at the Old-Baily, the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth of Sept. 1670.

There being present on the Bench, as Justices,

Sam. Starling, Mayor, John Robinson, Alderm.
John Howel, Recorder, Joseph Shelden, Alderm.
Tho. Bludworth, Alderm. Richard Brown, } Sheriffs.
William Peak, Alderm. John Smith, }
Richard Ford, Alderm. James Edwards, }

The Citizens of London that were summoned for Jurors, appearing, were Impanelled, viz.


Call over the Jury.


O yes, Thomas Veer, Ed. Bushel, John Hammond, Charles Milson, Gregory Walklet, John Brightman, Wil. Plumstead, Henry Henley, James Damask, Henry Michel, Wil. Lever, John Baily.

The Form of the Oath.

You shall well and truly Try, and True Deliverance make betwixt our Soveraign Lord the King, and the Prisoners at the Bar, according to your Evidence: So help you God.

The Indictment.

That William Penn, Gent. and William Mead, late of London, Linnen-Draper, with divers other Persons, to the Jurors unknown, to the Number of Three Edition: current; Page: [{6}] Hundred, the 15th Day of August, in the 22th Year of the King,1 about Eleven of the Clock in the Forenoon the same Day, with Force and Arms, &c. in the Parish of St. Bennet Grace-Church, in Bridge-Ward, London, in the Street called Grace-Church-Street, Unlawfully and Tumultuously did Assemble and Congregate themselves together, to the Disturbance of the Peace of the said Lord the King: And the aforesaid William Penn and William Mead, together with other Persons, to the Jurors aforesaid unknown, then and there so Assembled and Congregated together; the aforesaid William Penn, by Agreement between him and William Mead, before made, and by Abetment of the aforesaid William Mead, then and there in the open Street, did take upon himself to Preach and Speak, and then, and there, did Preach and Speak, unto the aforesaid William Mead, and other Persons there, in the Street aforesaid, being Assembled and Congregated together, by Reason whereof a great Concourse and Tumult of People in the Street aforesaid, then and there, a long Time did remain and continue, in Contempt of the said Lord the King, and of his Law; to the great Disturbance of his Peace, to the great Terror and Disturbance of many of his Liege People and Subjects, to the ill Example of all others in the like Case Offenders, and against the Peace of the said Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity.

What say you William Penn, and William Mead, are you Guilty, as you stand Indicted, in Manner and Form as aforesaid, or Not Guilty?


It is impossible that we should be able to remember the Indictment Verbatim, and therefore we desire a Copy of it, as is Customary on the like Occasions.


You must first plead to the Indictment, before you can have a Copy of it.


I am unacquainted with the Formality of the Law, and therefore before I shall answer directly, I request Two Things of the Court. First, That no Advantage may be taken against me, nor I deprived of any Benefit, which I might otherwise have received. Secondly, That you will promise me a fair Hearing, and Liberty of making my Defence.


No Advantage shall be taken against you: You shall have Liberty; you shall be heard.


Then I plead not Guilty in Manner and Form.

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What say’st thou, William Mead: Art thou Guilty in Manner and Form, as thou stand’st Indicted, or Not Guilty?


I shall desire the same Liberty as is promised to William Penn.


You shall have it.


Then I plead not Guilty in Manner and Form.

The Court adjourned until the Afternoon.


O Yes, &c.


Bring William Penn and William Mead to the Bar.


The said Prisoners were brought, but were set aside, and other Business prosecuted: Where we cannot choose but observe, that it was the constant and unkind Practice of the Court to the Prisoners, to make them wait upon the Tryals of Felons and Murderers, thereby designing in all Probability, both to affront and tire them.

After Five Hours Attendance, the Court broke up, and adjourned to the Third Instant.

The Third of September, 1670, the Court Sat.


O Yes, &c.


Sirrah, Who bid you put off their Hats? Put on their Hats again.


Whereupon one of the Officers putting the Prisoners Hats upon their Heads (pursuant to the Order of the Court) brought them to the Bar.


Do you know where you are?




Do you know it is the King’s Court?


I know it to be a Court, and I suppose it to be the King’s Court.


Do you know there is Respect due to the Court?




Why do you not pay it then?


I do so.


Why do you not put off your Hat then?


Because I do not believe that to be any Respect.


Well, the Court sets Forty Marks a-piece upon your Heads, as a Fine, for your Contempt of the Court.


I desire it may be observed, that we came into the Court with our Hats off, (that is, taken off) and if they have been put on since, it was Edition: current; Page: [{8}] by Order from the Bench; and therefore not we, but the Bench should be Fined.2


I have a Question to ask the Recorder: Am I Fined also?




I desire the Jury, and all People to take Notice of this Injustice of the Recorder, who spake not to me to pull off my Hat, and yet hath he put a Fine upon my Head. O fear the Lord, and dread his Power, and yield to the Guidance of His Holy Spirit; for He is not far from every one of you.

The Jury Sworn again.


J. Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower, disingenuously objected against Edw. Bushel, as if he had not kist the Book, and therefore would have him Sworn again; though indeed it was on Purpose, to have made Use of his Tenderness of Conscience, in avoiding reiterated Oaths, to have put him by his being a Juryman, apprehending him to be a Person not fit to answer their Arbitrary Ends.

The Clerk read the Indictment, as aforesaid.


Cryer, Call James Cook into the Court, give him his Oath.


James Cook, lay your Hand upon the Book, “The Evidence you shall give to the Court, betwixt our Sovereign the King, and the Prisoners at the Bar, shall be the Truth, and the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth: So help you God, &c.


I was sent for from the Exchange, to go and disperse a Meeting in Gracious-Street, where I saw Mr. Penn speaking to the People, but I could not hear what he said, because of the Noise; I endeavoured to make Way to take him, but I could not get to him for the Crowd of People; upon which Captain Mead came to me, about the Kennel of the Street, and desired me to let him go on; for when he had done, he would bring Mr. Penn to me.


What Number do you think might be there?


About three or four Hundred People.


Call Richard Read, give him his Oath.

Read being Sworn, was ask’d, What do you know concerning the Prisoners at the Bar?


My Lord, I went to Gracious-Street, where I found a great Crowd of Edition: current; Page: [{9}] People, and I heard Mr. Penn Preach to them, and I saw Captain Mead speaking to Lieutenant Cook, but what he said I could not tell.


What did William Penn say?


There was such a great Noise, that I could not tell what he said.


Jury, Observe this Evidence, he saith, He heard him Preach, and yet saith, He doth not know what he said.

Jury, Take Notice, he Swears now a clean contrary Thing, to what he Swore before the Mayor, when we were committed: For now he Swears that he saw me in Gracious-Street, and yet Swore before the Mayor, when I was committed, that he did not see me there. I appeal to the Mayor himself if this be not true; but no Answer was given.


What Number do you think might be there?


About four or five Hundred.


I desire to know of him what Day it was?


The 14th Day of August.


Did he speak to me, or let me know he was there; for I am very sure I never saw him.


Cryer, Call —— into the Court.


Give him his Oath.


My Lord, I saw a great Number of People, and Mr. Penn I suppose was Speaking; I saw him make a Motion with his Hands, and heard some Noise, but could not understand what he said; but for Captain Mead, I did not see him there.


What say you Mr. Mead? Were you there?


It is a Maxim in your own Law, Nemo tenetur accusare seipsum, which if it be not True Latin, I am sure that it is true English, That no Man is bound to accuse himself: And why dost thou offer to ensnare me with such a Question? Doth not this shew thy Malice? Is this like unto a Judge, that ought to be Council for the Prisoner at the Bar?


Sir, hold your Tongue, I did not go about to ensnare you.


I desire we may come more close to the Point, and that Silence be commanded in the Court.


O Yes, All manner of Persons keep Silence upon Pain of Imprisonment. —— Silence in the Court.


We confess our selves to be so far from recanting, or declining to vindicate the Assembling of our selves, to Preach, Pray, or Worship the Eternal, Holy, Just God, that we declare to all the World, that we do believe it to be our indispensable Duty, to meet incessantly upon so Good an Account; nor shall Edition: current; Page: [{10}] all the Powers upon Earth be able to divert us from Reverencing and Adoring our God, who made us.


You are not here for Worshipping God, but for breaking the Law: You do your selves a great deal of Wrong in going on in that Discourse.


I affirm I have broken no Law, nor am I guilty of the Indictment that is laid to my Charge: And to the End, the Bench, the Jury, and my self, with those that hear us, may have a more direct Understanding of this Procedure, I desire you would let me know by what Law it is you Prosecute me, and upon what Law you ground my Indictment.


Upon the Common-Law.


Where is that Common-Law?


You must not think that I am able to run up so many Years, and over so many adjudged Cases, which we call Common-Law, to answer your Curiosity.


This Answer I am sure is very short of my Question; for if it be Common, it should not be so hard to produce.


Sir, Will you plead to your Indictment?


Shall I plead to an Indictment that hath no Foundation in Law? If it contain that Law you say I have broken, why should you decline to produce that Law, since it will be impossible for the Jury to determine, or agree to bring in their Verdict, who have not the Law produced, by which they should measure the Truth of this Indictment, and the Guilt, or contrary of my Fact.


You are a sawcy Fellow; speak to the Indictment.


I say, it is my Place to speak to Matter of Law; I am arraigned a Prisoner; my Liberty, which is next to Life itself, is now concerned; you are many Mouths and Ears against me, and if I must not be allowed to make the Best of my Case, it is hard: I say again, unless you shew me, and the People, the Law you ground your Indictment upon, I shall take it for granted, your Proceedings are meerly Arbitrary.


[At this Time several upon the Bench urged hard upon the Prisoner to bear him down.]


The Question is, Whether you are Guilty of this Indictment?


The Question is not whether I am Guilty of this Indictment, but whether this Indictment be Legal: It is too general and imperfect an Answer, to say it is the Common-Law, unless we knew both where, and what it is; For where there is no Law, there is no Transgression; and that Law which is not in being, is so far from being Common, that it is no Law at all.


You are an impertinent Fellow; Will you teach the Court what Law is? Edition: current; Page: [{11}] It’s Lex non scripta,3 that which many have studied thirty or forty Years to know, and would you have me tell you in a Moment?


Certainly, if the Common-Law be so hard to be understood, it’s far from being very Common; but if the Lord Cook in his Institutes, be of any Consideration, he tells us, That Common-Law is Common-Right; and that Common-Right is the Great Charter Priviledges, confirmed 9 Hen. 3. 29. 25 Edw. 1. 1. 2 Edw. 3. 8. Cook Inst. 2. p. 56.4


Sir, you are a troublesome Fellow, and it is not for the Honour of the Court to suffer you to go on.


I have asked but one Question, and you have not answered me; though the Rights and Priviledges of every Englishman be concerned in it.


If I should suffer you to ask Questions till to Morrow-Morning, you would be never the wiser.


That’s according as the Answers are.


Sir, we must not stand to hear you talk all Night.


I design no Affront to the Court, but to be heard in my just Plea; and I must plainly tell you, that if you will deny me the Oyer of that Law, which you suggest I have broken, you do at once deny me an acknowledged Right, and evidence to the whole World your Resolution to sacrifice the Priviledges of Englishmen, to your Sinister and Arbitrary Designs.


Take him away: My Lord, if you take not some Course with this pestilent Fellow, to stop his Mouth, we shall not be able to do any thing to Night.


Take him away, take him away; turn him into the Bale-Dock.


These are but so many vain Exclamations: Is this Justice, or True Judgment? Must I therefore be taken away because I plead for the Fundamental Laws of England? However, this I leave upon your Consciences, who are of the Jury, (and my sole Judges) that if these Ancient Fundamental Laws, which relate to Liberty and Property, (and are not limited to particular Perswasions in Matters of Religion) must not be indispensably maintained and observed, Who can say he hath Right to the Coat upon his Back? Certainly our Liberties are openly to be invaded; our Wives to be Ravished; our Children Slaved; our Families Ruined; and our Estates led away in Triumph, by every Sturdy Beggar, Edition: current; Page: [{12}] and Malicious Informer, as their Trophies, but our (pretended) Forfeits for Conscience-Sake: The Lord of Heaven and Earth will be Judge between us in this Matter.


Be Silent there.


I am not to be Silent in a Case wherein I am so much concerned; and not only myself, but many Ten Thousand Families besides.


They having rudely haled him into the Bale Dock, William Mead they left in Court, who spake as followeth.


You Men of the Jury, here I do now stand to answer to an Indictment against me, which is a Bundle of Stuff full of Lyes, and Falshoods; for therein I am accused that I met Vi & Armis, Illicitè & Tumultuose:5 Time was, when I had Freedom to use a Carnal Weapon, and then I thought I feared no Man; but now I fear the Living GOD, and dare not make Use thereof, nor hurt any Man; nor do I know I demeaned myself as a Tumultuous Person. I say, I am a Peaceable Man, therefore it is a very proper Question what William Penn demanded in this Case, An OYER of the Law, on which our Indictment is grounded.


I have made Answer to that already.


Turning his Face to the Jury, said, You Men of the Jury, who are my Judges, if the Recorder will not tell you what makes a Riot, a Rout, or an Unlawful Assembly, Cook, he that once they called the Lord Cook, tells us what makes a Riot, a Rout, and an Unlawful Assembly,—A Riot is when Three, or more, are met together to beat a Man, or to enter forcibly into another Man’s Land, to cut down his Grass, his Wood, or break down his Pales.6


Here the Recorder interrupted him, and said, I thank you Sir, that you will tell me what the Law is, scornfully pulling off his Hat.


Thou mayst put on thy Hat, I have never a Fee for thee now.


He talks at Random, one While an Independent, another While some other Religion, and now a Quaker, and next a Papist.


Turpe est doctori cum culpa redarguit ipsum.7


You deserve to have your Tongue Cut out.


If you discourse on this Manner, I shall take Occasion against you.

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Thou didst promise me, I should have fair Liberty to be heard. Why may I not have the Priviledge of an Englishman? I am an Englishman, and you might be ashamed of this Dealing.


I look upon you to be an Enemy to the Laws of England, which ought to be observed and kept, nor are you worthy of such Priviledges as others have.


The Lord is Judge between me and thee in this Matter.


Upon which they took him away into the Bale-Dock, and the Recorder proceeded to give the Jury their Charge, as followeth.


You have heard what the Indictment is; it is for Preaching to the People, and drawing a Tumultuous Company after them; and Mr. Penn was Speaking: If they should not be disturbed, you see they will go on; there are three or four Witnesses that have proved this, that he did Preach there, that Mr. Mead did allow of it; after this, you have heard by Substantial Witnesses what is said against them: Now we are upon the Matter of Fact, which you are to keep to and observe, as what hath been fully Sworn, at your Peril.


The Prisoners were put out of the Court, into the Bale-Dock, and the Charge given to the Jury in their Absence, at which W. P. with a very raised Voice, it being a considerable Distance from the Bench, spake.


I appeal to the Jury, who are my Judges, and this great Assembly, whether the Proceedings of the Court are not most Arbitrary, and void of all Law, in offering to give the Jury their Charge in the Absence of the Prisoners: I say, it is directly opposite to, and destructive of the undoubted Right of every English Prisoner, as Cook in the 2 Inst. 29. on the Chapter of Magna Charta speaks.


The Recorder being thus unexpectedly lasht for his extra-judicial Procedure, said, with an inraged Smile,


Why ye are present, you do hear: Do you not?


No Thanks to the Court, that commanded me into the Bale-Dock; and you of the Jury take Notice, that I have not been heard, neither can you Legally depart the Court, before I have been fully heard, having at least Ten or Twelve Material Points to offer, in Order to invalidate their Indictment.


Pull that Fellow down; pull him down.


Are these according to the Rights and Priviledges of Englishmen, that we should not be heard, but turned into the Bale-Dock, for making our Defence, and the Jury to have their Charge given them in our Absence? I say, these are barbarous and unjust Proceedings.

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Take them away into the Hole; to hear them talk all Night, as they would, that I think doth not become the Honour of the Court; and I think you (i.e. the Jury) your selves would be Tired out, and not have Patience to hear them.


The Jury were commanded up to agree upon their Verdict, the Prisoners remaining in the stinking Hole; after an Hour and Half’s Time, Eight came down agreed, but Four remained above; the Court sent an Officer for them, and they accordingly came down: The Bench used many unworthy Threats to the Four that dissented; and the Recorder addressing himself to Bushel, said, Sir, You are the Cause of this Disturbance, and manifestly shew yourself an Abettor of Faction; I shall set a Mark upon you, Sir.

J. Robinson.

Mr. Bushel, I have known you near this fourteen Years; you have thrust your self upon this Jury, because you think there is some Service for you; I tell you, You deserve to be Indicted more than any Man that hath been brought to the Bar this Day.


No, Sir John, there were Threescore before me, and I would willingly have got off, but could not.


I said when I saw Mr. Bushel, what I see is come to pass; for I knew he would never yield. Mr. Bushel, we know what you are.


Sirrah, You are an impudent Fellow, I will put a Mark upon you.


They used much menacing Language, and behaved themselves very imperiously to the Jury, as Persons not more void of Justice, than Sober Education. After this barbarous Usage, they sent them to consider of bringing in their Verdict, and after some considerable Time they returned to the Court. Silence was called for, and the Jury called by their Names.


Are you agreed upon your Verdict?




Who shall speak for you?


Our Foreman.


Look upon the Prisoners at the Bar: How say you? Is William Penn Guilty of the Matter whereof he stands Indicted in Manner and Form, or Not Guilty?


Guilty of Speaking in Gracious-Street.


Is that All?


That is All I have in Commission.


You had as good say Nothing.


Was it not an Unlawful Assembly? You mean he was Speaking to a Tumult of People there?

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My Lord, This was All I had in Commission.


Here some of the Jury seemed to buckle to the Questions of the Court, upon which Bushel, Hammond, and some others, opposed themselves, and said, They allowed of no such Word, as an Unlawful Assembly, in their Verdict; at which the Recorder, Mayor, Robinson, and Bludworth, took great Occasion to vilify them with most opprobrious Language; and this Verdict not serving their Turns, the Recorder expressed himself thus:


The Law of England will not allow you to depart, till you have given in your Verdict.


We have given in our Verdict, and we can give in no other.


Gentlemen, you have not given in your Verdict, and you had as good say Nothing; therefore go and consider it once more, that we may make an End of this troublesom Business.


We desire we may have Pen, Ink, and Paper.


The Court adjourns for Half an Hour; which being expired, the Court returns, and the Jury not long after.

The Prisoners were brought to the Bar, and the Jurors Names called over.


Are you agreed of your Verdict?




Who shall speak for you?


Our Foreman.


What say you? Look upon the Prisoners: Is William Penn Guilty in Manner and Form, as he stands Indicted, or not Guilty?


Here is our Verdict; holding forth a Piece of Paper to the Clerk of the Peace, which follows:

WE the Jurors, hereafter Named, do find William Penn to be Guilty of Speaking or Preaching to an Assembly, met together in Gracious-Street, the 14th of August last, 1670, and that William Mead is not Guilty of the said Indictment.

Foreman, Thomas Veer, Henry Michel, John Baily,
Edward Bushel, John Brightman, William Lever,
John Hammond, Charles Milson, James Damask,
Henry Henly, Gregory Walklet, William Plumstead.

This both Mayor and Recorder resented at so high a Rate, that they exceeded the Bounds of all Reason and Civility.


What will you be led by such a silly Fellow as Bushel; an impudent canting Fellow? I warrant you, You shall come no more upon Juries in Hast; you Edition: current; Page: [{16}] are a Foreman indeed, (addressing himself to the Foreman) I thought you had understood your Place better.


Gentlemen, you shall not be dismist, till we have a Verdict that the Court will accept; and you shall be lock’d up, without Meat, Drink, Fire, and Tobacco: You shall not think thus to abuse the Court; we will have a Verdict by the Help of God, or you shall starve for it.


My Jury, who are my Judges, ought not to be thus menaced; their Verdict should be Free, and not Compelled; the Bench ought to wait upon them, but not Forestal them: I do desire that Justice may be done me, and that the Arbitrary Resolves of the Bench may not be made the Measure of my Juries Verdict.


Stop that prating Fellow’s Mouth, or put him out of the Court.


You have heard that he Preach’d; that he gathered a Company of Tumultuous People; and that they do not only disobey the Martial Power, but the Civil also.


It is a great Mistake; we did not make the Tumult, but they that interrupted us. The Jury cannot be so ignorant, as to think that we met there with a Design to disturb the Civil Peace, since (1st) we were by Force of Arms kept out of our Lawful House, and met as near it in the Street, as the Soldiers would give us Leave: And (2d) because it was no New Thing, (nor with the Circumstances exprest in the Indictment, but what was usual and customary with us;) ’tis very well known that we are a Peaceable People, and cannot offer Violence to any Man.


The Court being ready to break up, and willing to huddle the Prisoners to their Jail, and the Jury to their Chamber, Penn spake as follows:


The Agreement of Twelve Men is a Verdict in Law, and such a one being given by the Jury, I require the Clerk of the Peace to record it, as he will answer it at his Peril: And if the Jury bring in another Verdict contrary to this, I affirm they are perjured Men in Law. (And looking upon the Jury, said) You are Englishmen, mind your Priviledge, give not away your Right.

Bushel, &c. Nor will we ever do it.


One of the Jury-Men pleaded Indisposition of Body, and therefore desired to be dismist.


You are as strong as any of them; Starve then, and hold your Principles.


Gentlemen, you must be content with your hard Fate; let your Patience Edition: current; Page: [{17}] overcome it; for the Court is resolved to have a Verdict, and that before you can be dismist.


We are agreed, we are agreed, we are agreed.


The Court Swore several Persons, to keep the Jury all Night, without Meat, Drink, Fire, or any other Accommodation; they had not so much as a Chamber-Pot, though desired.


O Yes, &c.


The Court adjourn’d till Seven of the Clock next Morning, (being the Fourth Instant, vulgarly called Sunday) at which Time the Prisoners were brought to the Bar, the Court sat, and the Jury called in, to bring in their Verdict.


O Yes, &c.—Silence in the Court upon Pain of Imprisonment.

The Juries Names called over.


Are you agreed upon your Verdict?




Who shall speak for you.


Our Foreman.


What say you? Look upon the Prisoners at the Bar: Is William Penn Guilty of the Matter whereof he stands Indicted, in Manner and Form as aforesaid, or Not Guilty?


William Penn is Guilty of Speaking in Gracious-Street.


To an Unlawful Assembly.


No, my Lord, we give no other Verdict, than what we gave last Night; we have no other Verdict to give.


You are a factious Fellow; I’ll take a Course with you.


I knew Mr. Bushel would not yield.


Sir Thomas, I have done according to my Conscience.


That Conscience of yours would Cut my Throat.


No, my Lord, it never shall.


But I will cut yours so soon as I can.


He has inspired the Jury; he has the Spirit of Divination; methinks I feel him; I will have a positive Verdict, or you shall Starve for it.


I desire to ask the Recorder one Question: Do you allow of the Verdict given of William Mead?


It cannot be a Verdict, because you are Indicted for a Conspiracy; and one being found not Guilty, and not the other, it could not be a Verdict.

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If not Guilty be not a Verdict, then you make of the Jury, and Magna Charta, but a meer Nose of Wax.


How! Is Not Guilty no Verdict?


No, ’tis no Verdict.


I affirm, That the Consent of a Jury is a Verdict in Law; and if William Mead be not Guilty, it consequently follows, that I am clear, since you have Indicted us of a Conspiracy, and I could not possibly Conspire alone.


There were many Passages that could not be taken, which past between the Jury and the Court. The Jury went up again, having received a fresh Charge from the Bench, if possible to extort an unjust Verdict.


O Yes, &c.—Silence in the Court.


Call over the Jury —— Which was done.


What say you? Is William Penn Guilty of the Matter whereof he stands Indicted, in Manner and Form aforesaid, or Not Guilty?


Guilty of Speaking in Gracious-Street.


What is this to the Purpose? I say I will have a Verdict. And speaking to E. Bushel, said, You are a Factious Fellow; I will set a Mark upon you; and whilst I have any Thing to do in the City, I will have an Eye upon you.


Have you no more Wit than to be led by such a pitiful Fellow? I will Cut his Nose.


It is intolerable that my Jury should be thus menaced; is this according to the Fundamental Law? Are not they my proper Judges by the Great Charter of England?8 What Hope is there of ever having Justice done, when Juries are threatned, and their Verdicts rejected? I am concerned to speak, and grieved to see such Arbitrary Proceedings. Did not the Lieutenant of the Tower render one of them worse than a Felon? And do you not plainly seem to condemn such for Factious Fellows, who answer not your Ends? Unhappy are those Juries, who are threatned to be Fined, and Starved, and Ruined, if they give not in their Verdicts contrary to their Consciences.


My Lord, you must take a Course with that same Fellow.


Stop his Mouth; Jailer, bring Fetters, and Stake him to the Ground.


Do your Pleasure, I matter not your Fetters.


Till now I never understood the Reason of the Policy and Prudence of the Spaniards, in suffering the Inquisition among them: And certainly it will never be well with us, till something like the Spanish Inquisition be in England.

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The Jury being required to go together, to find another Verdict, and stedfastly refusing it (saying they could give no other Verdict than what was already given) the Recorder in great Passion was running off the Bench, with these Words in his Mouth, I protest I will sit here no longer to hear these Things. At which the Mayor calling, Stay, Stay, he returned, and directed himself unto the Jury, and spake as followeth.


Gentlemen, we shall not be at this pass always with you; you will find the next Sessions of Parliament, there will be a Law made, that those that will not conform, shall not have the Protection of the Law. Mr. Lee, draw up another Verdict, that they may bring it in special.


I cannot tell how to do it.


We ought not to be returned, having all agreed, and set our Hands to the Verdict.


Your Verdict is nothing, you play upon the Court; I say, you shall go together, and bring in another Verdict, or you shall Starve; and I will have you carted about the City, as in Edward the Third’s Time.


We have given in our Verdict, and all agreed to it, and if we give in another, it will be a Force upon us to save our Lives.


Take them up.


My Lord they will not go up.


The Mayor spoke to the Sheriff, and he came off his Seat, and said:


Come Gentlemen, you must go up; you see I am commanded to make you go.


Upon which the Jury went up; and several sworn to keep them without any Accomodation, as aforesaid, till they brought in their Verdict.


O Yes, &c. The Court adjourns till to Morrow-morning at Seven of the Clock.


The Prisoners were remanded to Newgate, where they remained till next Morning, and then were brought into the Court, which being sat, they proceeded as followeth.


O yes, &c.—Silence in the Court upon Pain of Imprisonment.


Set William Penn and William Mead to the Bar. Gentlemen of the Jury, answer to your Names, Thomas Veer, Edward Bushel, John Hammond, Henry Henley, Henry Michel, John Brightman, Charles Milson, Gregory Walklet, John Bailey, William Lever, James Damask, William Plumstead, are you all agreed of your Verdict?



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Who shall speak for you?


Our Foreman.


Look upon the Prisoners. What say you; is William Penn guilty of the Matter whereof he stands indicted, in Manner and Form, &c. or not guilty?


You have there read in Writing already our Verdict, and our Hands subscribed.


The Clerk had the Paper, but was stop’d by the Recorder from Reading of it; and he commanded to ask for a positive Verdict.


If you will not accept of it; I desire to have it back again.


That Paper was no Verdict, and there shall be no Advantage taken against you by it.


How say you? Is William Penn Guilty, &c. or not Guilty?


Not Guilty.


How say you? Is William Mead Guilty, &c. or not Guilty?


Not Guilty.


Then hearken to your Verdict, you say, that William Penn is not Guilty in Manner and Form, as he stands indicted; you say, that William Mead is not Guilty in Manner and Form, as he stands indicted, and so you say all.


Yes, we do so.


The Bench being unsatisfied with the Verdict, commanded that every Person should distinctly answer to their Names, and give in their Verdict, which they unanimously did, in saying, Not Guilty, to the great Satisfaction of the Assembly.


I am sorry, Gentlemen, you have followed your own Judgments and Opinions, rather than the good and wholesom Advice, which was given you; God keep my Life out of your Hands; but for this the Court fines you Forty Marks a Man, and Imprisonment till paid: At which Penn stept up towards the Bench, and said,


I demand my Liberty, being freed by the Jury.


No, you are in for your Fines.


Fines, for what?


For Contempt of the Court.


I ask if it be according to the Fundamental Laws of England, that any Englishman should be fined, or amerced, but by the Judgment of his Peers, or Jury? Since it expresly contradicts the Fourteenth and Twenty Ninth Chapter of the Great Charter of England, which says, No Freeman ought to be amerced, but by the Oath of good and lawful Men of the Vicinage.

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Take him away, take him away, take him out of the Court.


I can never urge the Fundamental Laws of England, but you cry, Take him away, take him away; but ’tis no Wonder, since the Spanish Inquisition hath so great a Place in the Recorder’s Heart; God Almighty who is Just, will judge you all for these Things.


They haled the Prisoners to the Bale-dock, and from thence sent them to Newgate, for Non-payment of their Fines; and so were their Jury.

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2.: England’s Present Interest Considered, with Honour to the Prince, and Safety to the People (1675)

In Answer to this one Question,

What is most Fit, Easy and Safe at this Juncture of Affairs to be done, for quieting of Differences, allaying the Heat of contrary Interests, and making them subservient to the Interest of the Government, and consistent with the Prosperity of the Kingdom?

Submitted to the Consideration of our Superiors.

Lex est Ratio sine Appetitu.1

The Introduction.

THERE is no Law under Heaven, which hath its Rise from Nature or Grace, that forbids Men to deal Honestly and Plainly, with the Greatest, in Matters of Importance to their present and future Good: On the contrary, the Dictates of both enjoyn every Man that Office to his Neighbour; and from Charity among Private Persons, it becomes a Duty indispensible to the Publick. Nor do Worthy Minds think ever the less kindly of Honest and Humble Monitors; and God knows, that oft-times Princes are deceived, and Kingdoms languish for Want of them. How far the Posture of our Affairs will justify this Address, I shall submit to the Judgment, and Observation of every Intelligent Reader.

Certain it is, that there are few Kingdoms in the World more divided within themselves, and whose Religious Interests lye more seemingly cross to all Accommodation, than that we Live in; which renders the Magistrate’s Task hard, and giveth him a Difficulty next to invincible.

Your Endeavours for an Uniformity have been many; Your Acts not a few to enforce it; but the Consequence, whether you intended it or no, through Edition: current; Page: [{23}] the Barbarous Practices of those that have had their Execution, hath been the spoiling of several Thousands of the Free Born People of this Kingdom, of their Unforfeited Rights. Persons have been flung into Goals,2 Gates and Trunks broke open, Goods distrained, till a Stool hath not been left to sit down on: Flocks of Cattle driven, whole Barns full of Corn seized, Thresh’d, and carried away: Parents left without their Children, Children without their Parents, both without Subsistence.

But that which aggravates the Cruelty, is, The Widow’s Mite hath not escaped their Hands; they have made her Cow the Forfeiture of her Conscience; not leaving her a Bed to lye on, nor a Blanket to cover her.3 And which is yet more Barbarous, and helps to make up this Tragedy, the Poor Helpless Orphan’s Milk, Boiling over the Fire, has been flung to the Dogs, and the Skillet made Part of their Prize: That, had not Nature in Neighbours been stronger than Cruelty in such Informers and Officers, to open her Bowels for their Relief and Subsistence, they must have utterly perish’d.

Nor can these inhuman Instruments plead Conscience or Duty to those Laws, who have abundantly transcended the severest Clause in them; for to see the imprison’d, has been Suspicion enough for a Goal; and to Visit the Sick, to make a Conventicle: Fining and Straining for Preaching, and being at a Meeting, where there hath been neither; and Forty Pound for Twenty, at Pick and Choose too, is a moderate Advance with some of them.

Others thinking this a Way too dull and troublesome, alter the Question, and turn, Have you met? Which the Act intends; to, Will you Swear? Which it intendeth not: So that in some Places it hath been sufficient to a Premunire, that Men have had Estates to lose; I mean such Men, who, through Tenderness, refuse the Oath; but by Principle like the Allegiance, not less than their Adversaries.4

Finding then by sad Experience, and a long Tract of Time, that the very Remedies applied to cure Dissension, increase it; and that the more Vigorously an Uniformity is Coercively Prosecuted, the wider Breaches grow, the more inflamed Persons are, and fix’d in their Resolutions to stand by their Principles, it should, methinks, put an End to the Attempt: For besides all Edition: current; Page: [{24}] other Inconveniences to those that give them Trouble, their very Sufferings beget that Compassion in the Multitude, which rarely misses of making many Friends, and proves often a Preparation for not a few Proselytes. So much more Reverend is Suffering, than making Men suffer for Religion, even of those that cannot suffer for their Religion, if yet they have any Religion to suffer for. Histories are full of Examples: The Persecution of the Christian Religion made it more illustrious than it’s Doctrine. Perhaps it will be denied to English Dissenters, that they rely upon so good a Cause, and therefore a Vanity in them to expect that Success. But Arrianism it self, once reputed the foulest Heresie by the Church, was by no Artifice of its Party so disseminated, as the severe Opposition of the Homoousians.5

Contests naturally draw Company, and the Vulgar are justified in their Curiosity, if not Pity, when they see so many Wiser Men busie themselves to suppress a People, by whom they see no other Ill, than that for Non-Conformity, in Matters of Religion, they bear Injuries and Indignities Patiently.

To be short; If all the Interruptions, Informations, Fines, Plunders, Imprisonments, Exiles and Blood, which the great Enemy of Nature, as well as Grace, hath excited Man to, in all Ages, about Matters of Faith and Worship, from Cain and Abel’s Time to ours, could furnish us with sufficient Presidents,6 that the Design proposed by the Inflictors of so much Severity, was ever Answered; that they have smother’d Opinions, and not inflamed, but extinguish’d Contest; it might perhaps, at least prudentially, give Check to our Expectations, and allay my just Confidence in this Address: But since such Attempts have ever been found Improsperous, as well as that they are too costly, and have always procured the Judgments of God, and the Hatred of Men: To the Sufferers, Misery; to their Countries, Decay of People and Trade; and to their own Consciences an extream Guilt; I fall to the Question, and then the Solution of it: In which, as I declare, I intend nothing that should in the least abate of that Edition: current; Page: [{25}] Love, Honour and Service that are due to you, so I beseech you, do me the Justice as to make the Fairest Interpretation of my Expressions: For the whole of my Plain and Honest Design is, To offer my Mite for the Increase of your True Honour, and my Dear Country’s Felicity.


WHAT is most Fit, Easie and Safe, at this Juncture of Affairs, to be done, for Composing, at least Quieting Differences; for allaying the Heat of contrary Interests, and making them Subservient to the Interest of the Government, and Consistent with the Prosperity of the Kingdom?


I. AN INVIOLABLE and Impartial Maintenance of English Rights.

II. Our Superiors Governing themselves upon a Ballance, as near as may be, towards the several Religious Interests.

III. A Sincere Promotion of General and Practical Religion.

I shall briefly discourse upon these Three Things, and endeavour to prove them a Sufficient, if not the Only Best Answer, that can be given to the Question propounded.

CHAP. I.: Of English Rights.

I. Of English Rights, in the British, Saxon and Norman Times. Particularly of Liberty and Property. Of Legislation. Of Juries. That they are Fundamental to the Government, and but Repeated and Confirmed by the Great Charter. The Reverence paid them by Kings and Parliaments, and their Care to preserve them. The Curse and Punishment that attended the Violators. More General Considerations of Property, &c. The Uncertainty and Ruin of Interests, where is it not maintain’d: Divers Presidents: That it is the Prince’s Interest to preserve it inviolably: That it is not justly Forfeitable for Ecclesiastical Non-Conformity; Edition: current; Page: [{26}] and that where the Property is Sacrificed for it, the Government is chang’d from Civil to Ecclesiastical, from the Parliament-House to the Vestry.

THERE is no Government in the World, but it must either stand upon Will and Power, or Condition and Contract: The one Rules by Men, the other by Laws. And above all Kingdoms under Heaven, it is England’s Felicity to have her Constitution so impartially Just and Free, as there cannot well be any Thing more remote from Arbitrariness, and Zealous of preserving the Laws, by which it’s Rights are maintained.

These Laws are either Fundamental, and so Immutable; or more Superficial and Temporary, and consequently alterable.

By Superficial Laws, we understand such Acts, Laws or Statutes, as are suited to present Occurrences, and Emergencies of State; and which may as well be abrogated, as they were first made, for the Good of the Kingdom: For Instance, those Statutes that relate to Victuals, Cloaths, Times, and Places of Trade, &c. which have ever stood, whilst the Reason of them was in Force; but when that Benefit, which did once redound, fell by fresh Accidents, they ended, according to that Old Maxim, Cessante ratione legis, cessat lex.7

By Fundamental Laws I do not only understand such as immediately spring from Synteresis (that Eternal Principle of Truth and Sapience)8 more or less disseminated through Mankind, which are as the Corner-Stones of Humane Structure, the Basis of Reasonable Societies, without which all would run into Heaps and Confusion; to wit, Honestè vivere, Alterum non laedere, jus suum cuique tribuere, that is, To live honestly, not to hurt another, and to give every one their Right, (Excellent Principles, and common to all Nations) though that it self were sufficient to our present Purpose: But those Rights and Priviledges, which I call English, and which are the proper Birth-Right of Englishmen, and may be reduced to these Three.

I. An Ownership, and Undisturbed Possession: That what they have, is Rightly theirs, and no Body’s else.

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II. A Voting of every Law that is made, whereby that Ownership or Propriety may be maintained.

III. An Influence upon, and a Real Share in that Judicatory Power that must apply every such Law, which is the Ancient Necessary and Laudable Use of Juries: If not found among the Britains, to be sure Practised by the Saxons, and continued through the Normans to this very Day.

That these have been the Ancient and Undoubted Rights of Englishmen, as Three great Roots, under whose Spacious Branches the English People have been wont to shelter themselves against the Storms of Arbitrary Government, I shall endeavour to prove.

I.: An Ownership and Undisturbed Possession.

This relates both to Title and Security of Estate, and Liberty of Person, from the Violence of Arbitrary Power.

’Tis true, the Foot-Steps of the British Government are very much overgrown by Time. There is scarcely any Thing remarkable left us, but what we are beholden to Strangers for: Either their own Unskilfulness in Letters, or their Depopulations and Conquests by Invaders, have deprived the World of a particular Story of their Laws and Customs, in Peace or War. However, Caesar, Tacitus, and especially Dion, say enough to prove their Nature and their Government to be as far from Slavish, as their Breeding and Manners were remote from the Education and greater Skill of the Romans.9 Beda and M. Westminster say as much.10

The Law of Property they observed, and made those Laws that concern’d the Preservation of it.

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The Saxons brought no Alteration to these Two Fundamentals of our English Government; for they were a Free People, govern’d by Laws, of which they themselves were the Makers: That is, there was no Law made without the Consent of the People, de majoribus omnes, as Tacitus observeth of the Germans in general.11 They lost nothing by Transporting of themselves hither; and doubtless found a greater Consistency between their Laws, than their Ambition. For the Learned Collector of the British Councils tells us, That Ethelston, the Saxon King, pleading with the People, told them, Seeing I, according to your Law, allow what is yours, do ye so with me.12 Whence Three Things are observable. First, That something was Theirs, that no Body else could dispose of. Secondly, That they had Property by their own Law, therefore they had a Share in making their own Laws. Thirdly, That the Law was Umpire between King and People; neither of them ought to infringe: This, Ina, the Great Saxon King, confirms. There is no Great Man, saith he, nor any other in the whole Kingdom, that may abolish Written Laws. It was also a great Part of the Saxon Oath, administred to the Kings, at their Entrance upon the Government, To Maintain and Rule according to the Laws of the Nation.

Their Parliament they called Micklemote, or Wittangemote. It consisted of King, Lords, and People, before the Clergy interwove themselves with the Civil Government. And Andrew Horn, in his Mirror of Justice, tells us, That the Grand Assembly of the Kingdom in the Saxon Time, was to confer of the Government of God’s People, how they might be kept from Sin, in Quiet, and have Right done them, according to the Customs and Laws.13

Nor did this Law end with the Saxon Race: William the Conqueror, as he is usually called, quitting all Claim by Conquest, gladly stooped to the Laws observed by the Saxon Kings, and so became a King by Leave; valuing a Title by Election, before that which is founded in Power only. He therefore, at his Coronation, made a Solemn Covenant, to maintain the Good, Approved, and Ancient Laws of this Kingdom, and to Inhibit all Spoil and Unjust Judgment.

And this, Henry the First, his Third Son, among other his Titles, mentioned in his Charter, to make Ely a Bishoprick, calls himself, Son of William Edition: current; Page: [{29}] the Great, who by Hereditary Right, (not Conquest) succeeded King Edward (called the Confessor) in this Kingdom.

An Ancient Chronicle of Litchfield, speaks of a Council of Lords that advised William of Normandy, To call together all the Nobles and Wise Men throughout their Counties of England, that they might set down their own Laws and Customs; which was about the Fourth Year of his Reign: Which implies that they had Fundamental Laws, and that he intended their Confirmation.

And one of the first Laws made by this King, which, as a Notable Author saith, may be called the First Magna Charta in the Norman Times (by which he reserved to himself nothing of the Freemen of this Kingdom, but their Free-Service) in the Conclusion of it, saith, That the Lands of the Inhabitants of this Kingdom were granted to them in Inheritance of the King, and by the Common Council of the whole Kingdom; which Law doth also provide, That they shall hold their Lands and Tenements well or quietly, and in Peace, from all unjust Tax and Tillage: Which is farther expounded in the Laws of Henry the First, Chap. 4. That no Tribute or Tax should be taken, but what was due in Edward the Confessor’s Time. So that the Norman Kings claim no other Right in the Lands and Possessions of any of their Subjects, than according to English Law and Right.

And so tender were they of Property in those Times, that when Justice it self became Importunate in a Case, no Distress could issue without publick Warrant obtained: Nor that neither, but upon Three Complaints first made. Nay, when Rape and Plunder were Rife, and Men seem’d to have no more Right to their own, than they had Power to maintain, even then was this Law a sufficient Sanctuary to the Oppressed, by being publickly pleaded at the Bar against all Usurpation; though it were under the Pretence of their Conqueror’s Right it self; as by the Case of Edwin of Sharnbourn in Camden’s Britannia, plainly appears.14

The like Obligation to maintain this Fundamental Law of Property, with the appendent Rights of the People, was taken by William Rufus, Henry the First, Stephen, Henry the Second, Richard the First, John, and Henry the Third: Which brings me to that Famous Law, called, Magna Charta, or The Great Charter of England, of which more anon; it being my Design to shew, That nothing of the Essential Rights of Englishmen was thereby, De Novo, granted, Edition: current; Page: [{30}] as in Civility to King Henry the Third it is termed; but that they were therein only Repeated and Confirmed. Wherefore I shall return to Antecedent Times, to fetch down the remaining Rights.

The second Part of this first Fundamental is, Liberty of Person. The Saxons were so tender in the Point of Imprisonment, that there was little or no use made of it: Nor would they so Punish their Bond-men, vinculis coercere rarum est.

In case of Debt or Damage, the Recovery thereof was either by a Delivery of the just Value in Goods, or, upon the Sheriffs Sale of the Goods, in Money; and if that satisfied not, the Land was extended: And when all was gone, they were accustomed to make their last Siezure upon the Party’s Arms, and then he was reputed an Undone Man, and cast upon the Charity of his Friends for Subsistence: But his Person was never Imprison’d for the Debt: No, not in the King’s Case. And to the Honour of King Alfred be it spoken, He imprison’d one of his Judges for Imprisoning a Man in that Case.

We find among his Laws this Passage, Qui immerentem Paganum vinculis constrinxerit, decem solidis noxam sarcito: “That if a Man should Imprison his Vassal or Bondman Unjustly, his Purgation of that Offence should not be less than the Payment of Ten Shillings”; A Sum very considerable in those Days, more than Ten Pounds now.

Nor did the Revolution from Saxon to Norman drop this Priviledge: For besides the general Confirmation of former Rights by William, sirnamed the Conqueror, his Son Henry the First, particularly took such Care of continuing This Part of Property, inviolable, that, in his Time, no Person was to be Imprison’d for committing of Mortal Crime it self, unless he were first attainted by the Verdict of Twelve Men; that is, a Jury, which was to be of the Neighbourhood.

Thus much for the first of my Three Fundamentals, Right of Estate, and Liberty of Person: That is to say, I am no Man’s Bond-man, and what I Possess is Absolutely Mine Own.

II.: A Voting of every Law that is made, whereby that Ownership or Property may be maintained.

This second Fundamental of our English Government, was no Incroachment upon the Kings of more modern Ages, but extant long before the Great Charter Edition: current; Page: [{31}] made in the Reign of Hen. III. Even as early as the Britain’s themselves; and that it continued to the Time of Hen. 3. is evident from several Instances.

Caesar, in his Commentaries, tells us, That it was the Custom of the British Cities to elect their General, or Commander in Chief, in Case of War. Dion assures us, in the Life of Severus the Emperor, That in Britain the People held a Share in Power and Government; which is the modestest Construction his Words will bear. And Tacitus in the Life of Agrippa, says, They had a Common Council, and that one great Reason of their Overthrow by the Romans, was, their not Consulting with, and Relying upon their Common Council.15 Again, Both Beda and Mat. Westminster tell us, That the Britain’s summoned a Synod, chose their Moderator, and expell’d the Pelagian Creed. All which supposes Popular Assemblies, with Power to order National Affairs.16

And indeed, the Learned Author of the British Councils gives some Hints to this Purpose, That they had a Common Council, and call’d it Kyfr-y-then.

The Saxons were not inferiour to the Britain’s in this Point, and Story furnisheth us with more and plainer Proofs. They brought this Liberty along with them, and it was not likely they should lose it, by transporting themselves into a Country where they also found it. Tacitus reports it to have been generally the German-Liberty; like unto the Concio of the Athenians and Lacedaemonians.17

They called their Free-men Frilingi, and These had Votes in the Making and Executing the General Laws of the Kingdom.

In Ethelbert’s Time, after the Monk Austin’s Insinuations had made his Followers a Part of the Government, the Commune Concilium was tam Cleri quam Populi, as well Clergy as People. In Ina’s Time, Suasu & instituto Episcoporum, omnium Senatorum & natu majorum Sapientum populi; Bishops, Lords, and Wise Men of the People. Alfred after him reform’d the former Laws, Consulto sapientum, by the Advice of the Sages of the Kingdom. Likewise Matters of Publick and General Charge, in Case of War, &c. we have granted in the Assembly, Rege, Baronibus & Populo. By the King, Barons and People. Edition: current; Page: [{32}] And though the Saxon Word properly imports the Meeting of Wise Men, yet All that would come might be present, and interpose their Like or Dislike of the present Proposition: As that of Ina, in magnâ servorum Dei frequentiâ. Again, Commune Concilium seniorum & populorum totius regni; “The Common Council of the Elders, or Nobles, and People of the whole Kingdom.’ The Council of Winton, Ann. 855. is said to be in the Presence of the Great Men, aliorumque fidelium infinitâ multitudine; “And an Infinite Multitude of other Faithful People”; which was nigh Four Hundred Years before the Great Charter was made.

My last Instance of the Saxon Ages shall be out of the Glossary of the learned English Knight, H. Spelman: The Saxon Witangemote or Parliament (saith he) is a Convention of the Princes, as well Bishops as Magistrates, and the Free People of the Kingdom: And that the said Wittangemote consulted of the common Safety in Peace and War, and for the Promotion of the common Good.18

William of Normandy chose rather to rely upon the People’s Consent, than his own Power to obtain the Kingdom. He Swore to them to maintain their old Laws and Priviledges; they to him Obedience for his so Governing of them: For, as a certain Author hath it, He bound himself to be Just, that he might be Great; and the People to submit to Justice, that they might be Free. In his Laws, C. 55. “We by the Common Council of the whole Kingdom, have granted the People’s Lands to them in Inheritance, according to their Ancient Laws.

Matters of general Expence upon the whole Body of the People, were settled by this Great Council, especially in the Charge of Arms imposed upon the Subject. The Law saith it to have been done by the Commune Concilium of the Kingdom.

So W. Rufus and Henry the First, were received by the common Consent of the People. And Stephen’s Words were Ego Stephanus, Dei gratia, Assensu Cleri & Populi in Regno Angliae Electus, &c. “I Stephen, by the Grace of God, and Consent of the Clergy and People, Chosen King of England, &c.” So King John was chosen, Tam Cleri quan Populi unanimi consensu & favore, “By the Favour and Unanimous Consent of the Clergy and People”: And his Queen is said to have been crown’d de communi consensu & concordi voluntate Archiepiscoporum, Comitum, Baronum, Cleri & Populi totius Regni, i.e. “by the common Assent and unanimous Good-will of the Arch-Bishops, Bishops, Counts, Barons, Edition: current; Page: [{33}] Clergy and People of the whole Kingdom.” King Edw. I. also desired Money of the commune Concilium or Parliament, “as you have given in my Time, and that of my Progenitors, Kings, &c.

All which shows, that it was Antecedent to the Great Charter, not the Rights therein repeated and confirmed, but the Act it self.

And King John’s Resignation of the Crown to the Pope, being question’d upon some Occasion in Edward III. Time, it was agreed upon, that he had no Power to do it, without the Consent of the Dukes, Prelates, Barons, and Commons:

And as Paradoxal as any may please to think it, ’tis the great Interest of a Prince, that the People should have a Share in the making of their own Laws; where ’tis otherwise, they are no Kings of Free-men, but Slaves, and those their Enemies for making them so. Leges nullâ aliâ causâ nos tenent, quam quod judicio populi receptae sunt; “The Laws (saith Ulpian) do therefore oblige the People, because they are allowed of by their Judgment.”19 And Gratian, in Dec. distinct. 4. Tum demum humanae leges habent vim suam, cum fuerint non modo institutae, sed etiam firmatae Approbatione Communitatis: “It is then (saith he) that Humane Laws have their due Force, when they shall not only be devised, but confirm’d by the Approbation of the People.”20

I. It makes Men Diligent, and increaseth Trade, which advances the Revenue: For where Men are not Free, they will never seek to improve, because they are not sure of what they have, and less of what they get.

II. It frees the Prince from the Jealousie and Hate of his People; and consequently, the Troubles and Danger that follow; and makes his Province easie and safe.

III. If any Inconvenience attends the Execution of any Law, the Prince is not to be blam’d: It is their own Fault that made it.

I shall now proceed to the Third Fundamental, and by plain Evidence prove it to have been a Material Part of the Government, before the Great Charter was Enacted.

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III.: The People have an Influence upon, and a Great Share in the Judicatory Power, &c.

That it was a Brittish Custom, I will not affirm, but have some Reason to suppose: For if the Saxons had brought it with them, they would also have left it behind them, and in all Likelihood there would have been some Footsteps in Saxony of such a Law or Custom, which we find not. I will not enter the Lists with any about this: This shall suffice me, that we find it early among the Saxons in this Country, and if they, a Free People in their own Country, settling themselves here as a New Planted Colony, did supply what was defective in their own Government, or add some New Freedom to themselves, as all Planters are wont to do; which are as those First and Corner Stones, their Posterity, with all Care and Skill, are to build upon, That, it self, will serve my Turn to prove it a Fundamental: That is, such a First Principle in our English Government, by the Agreement of the People, as ought not to be Violated. I would not be understood of the Number, but of the Way of Tryal: I mean, That Men were not to be Condemned but by the Votes of the Freemen.

N. Bacon thinks that in ruder Times the Multitude tryed all among themselves; and fancies it came from the Grecians, who determin’d Controversies by the Suffrage of 34, or the major Part of them.21

Be it as it will, Juries the Saxons had; for in the Laws of King Etheldred, about Three Hundred Years before the Entrance of the Norman Duke, we find Enacted, in singulis Centuriis, &c. thus English’d, In every Hundred let there be a Court, and let Twelve Ancient Freemen, together with the Lord of the Hundred, be Sworn, that they will not Condemn the Innocent, or Acquit the Guilty. And so strict were they of those Ages, in observing this Fundamental Way of Judicature, that Alfred put one of his Judges to Death, for passing Sentence upon a Verdict (corruptly obtain’d) upon the Votes of the Jurors, Three of Twelve being in the Negative. If the Number was so Sacred, What was the Constitution it self?

The very same King Executed another of his Judges, for passing Sentence of Death upon an Ignoramus return’d by the Jury; and a third, for Condemning a Man upon an Inquest taken ex officio, when as the Delinquent had not put himself upon their Trial. More of his Justice might be mention’d even in this very Case.

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There was also a Law made in the Time of Ætheldred, when the Brittains and Saxons began to grow tame to each other, and intercommon amicably, that faith, Let there be Twelve Men of Understanding, &c. Six English, and Six Welsh, and let them deal Justice, both to English and Welsh.

Also in those simple Times, if a Crime extended but to some Shameful Punishment, as Pillory or Whipping (the last whereof, as usual as it has been with us, was inflicted only upon their Bondmen) the Penance might be reduc’d to a Ransom, according to the Nature of the Fault; but it must be Assest in the Presence of the Judge, and by the Twelve, that is, the Jury of Frilingi, or Freemen.

Hitherto Stories tell us of Trials by Juries, and those to have consisted, in General Terms, of Freemen: But Per Pares, or by Equals, came after, occasion’d by the considerable Saxons, neglecting that Service, and leaving it to the inferiour People, who lost the Bench, Their Ancient Right, because they were not thought Company for a Judge or Sheriff: And also from the Growing Pride of the Danes, who slighted such a Rural Judicature, and despised the Fellowship of the mean Saxon Freemen in publick Service. The Wise Saxon King perceiving this, and the dangerous Consequence of submitting the Lives and Liberties of the Inferiour (but not less useful People) to the Dictates of any such Haughty Humour; and on the other Hand, of subjecting the Nobler Sort to the Suffrage of the Inferiour Rank, did, with the Advice of his Wittangemote, or Parliament, provide a third Way, more Equal and Grateful, and by Agreement with Gunthurn the Dane, settled the Law of Peers, or Equals; which is the Envy of Nations, but the Famous Priviledge of our English People: One of those Three Pillars the Fabrick of this Ancient and Free Government stands upon.

This Benefit gets Strength by Time, and is receiv’d by the Norman-Duke and his Successors; and not only confirm’d in the Lump of other Priviledges, but in one Notable Case, for all, which might be brought to prove, that the Fundamental Priviledges, mentioned in the Great Charter, 9 of Hen. 3. were Before it. The Story is more at large deliver’d by our Learned Selden:22 But thus, William having given his Half Brother Odo, a large Territory in Kent, with the Earldom, and he taking Advantage at the King’s being displeased with the Archbishop of Canterbury, to possess himself of some of the Lands of that See, Landfrank, that succeeded the Archbishop, inform’d hereof, petition’d the King for Justice, secundum legem terrae, according to the Law of the Land: Upon which the Edition: current; Page: [{36}] King summon’d a County-Court, where the Debate lasted three Days, before the Freemen of Kent, in the Presence of Lords and Bishops, and others Skilful in the Law, and the Judgment passed for the Archbishop, Upon the Votes of the Freemen.

By all which it is (I hope) sufficiently and inoffensively manifested, that these three Principles, viz.

1. That English Men have the alone Right of Possession and Disposition of what is theirs.

2. That they are Parties to the Laws of their Country, for the Maintenance thereof.

3. That they have an Influence upon, and a real Share in the Judicatory Power, that applys those Laws, have been the Ancient Rights of the Kingdom, and common Basis of the Government: That which Kings, under all Revolutions have sworn to maintain, and History affords us so many Presidents to confirm. So that the Great Charter made in the 9th of Henry the IIId. was not the Nativity, but Restoration of Ancient Priviledges from Abuses. No Grant of New Rights, but a New Grant, or Confirmation rather, of Ancient Laws and Liberties, violated by King John, and restored by his Successor, at the Expence of a long and bloody War; which shewed them as resolute to keep, as their Ancestors had been careful to make those excellent Laws.

And so I am come to the Great Charter, which is comprehensive of what I have already been discoursing, and which I shall briefly touch upon, with those successive Statutes that have been made in Honour and Preservation of it.

I shall rehearse so much of it as falls within the Consideration of the foregoing Matter (which is a great deal in a little) with something of the Formality of Grant and Curse; that this Age may see, with what Reverence and Circumspection our Ancestors governed themselves in confirming and preserving of it.

Henry by the Grace of God King of England, &c. To all Archbishops, Earls, Barons, Sheriffs, Provosts, Officers, unto all Bailiffs, and our faithful Subjects, who shall see this present Charter, Greeting, Know ye, that we, unto the Honour of Almighty God, and for the Salvation of the Souls of our Progenitors, and our Successors, Kings of England, to the Advancement of Holy Church, and Amendment of our Realm, of our meer and free Will have given and granted to all Archbishops, &c. and to all Freemen of this our Realm, these Liberties Edition: current; Page: [{37}] underwritten, to be holden and kept in this our Realm of England for evermore.”

Tho’ in Honour to the King, it is said to be out of his meer and free Will, as if it were his meer Favour, yet the Qualification of the Persons, he is said to grant the ensuing Liberties to, shews, that they are Terms of Formality, viz. To all Freemen of this Realm. Which supposes there were Freemen before this Grant; and that Character also implies they must have had Laws and Liberties: Consequently, this was not an Infranchising of them, but a confirming to Freemen their just Privileges they had before. The Words of the Charter are these:

A Freeman shall not be Amerced for a small Fault, but after the Quantity of the Fault, and for a great Fault, after the Manner thereof, saving to him his Contenements or Freehold: And a Merchant likewise shall be amerced, saving to him his Merchandize; and none of the said Amercements shall be assessed, but by the Oath of good and honest Men of the Vicinage.

No Freeman shall be taken or imprison’d, nor be disseized of his Freehold or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlaw’d or exil’d, or any other Ways destroy’d; nor we shall not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We shall sell to no Man, we shall deny or defer to no Man. either Justice or Right.23

I stand amazed, how any Man can have the Confidence to say, These Privileges were extorted by the Barons Wars, when the King declares, that what he did herein, was done freely: Or that they were new Privileges, when the very Tenour of the Word proves the contrary: For Freehold, Liberties, or Free Customs, are by the Charter it self supposed to be in the Possession of the Freemen at the making and publishing thereof. For observe, No Freeman shall be taken or imprison’d: Then he was free: This Liberty is his Right. Again, No Freeman shall be disseised of his Freehold, Liberties, or free Customs. Then certainly he was in Possession of them: And that great Doctor in the Laws of England, Chief Justice Cook, in his Proem to the 2d Part of his Institutes, tells us, that Edition: current; Page: [{38}] these Laws and Liberties were gathered and observed, amongst others, in an intire Volume, by King Edward the Confessor; confirmed by William, sirnamed the Conqueror; which were afterwards ratify’d by Henry the First; enlarged by Henry the Second, in his Constitutions at Clarendon; and after much Contest, and Blood spilt, between King John and the Barons concerning them, were solemnly established at Running-Mead by Stanes: And lastly, brought to their former Station, and publish’d by this King Henry the Third, in the 9th Year of his Reign.

And though evil Counsellors would have provok’d him to void his Father’s Act and his own, as if the first had been the Effect of Force, the other of Non-Age; yet it so pleased Almighty God, who hath ever been propitious to this ungrateful Island, that in the 20th Year of his Reign, he did confirm and compleat this Charter, for a perpetual Establishment of Liberty to all Free-born Englishmen, and their Heirs for ever: Ordaining, Quod contravenientes per dominum Regem, cum convicti fuerint, graviter puniantur, i.e. “That whosoever should act any thing contrary to these Laws, upon Conviction, should be grievously punished” by our Lord the King. And in the 22d Year of his Reign, it was confirmed by the Statute of Marleb, Chap. 5. And so venerable an Esteem have our Ancestors had for this Great Charter, and so indispensibly necessary have they thought it to their own and Posterities Felicity, that it hath been above Thirty Times ratified and commanded, under great Penalties, to be put in Execution.

Here are the three Fundamentals comprehended and express’d, to have been the Rights and Privileges of Englishmen.

I. Ownership, consisting of Liberty and Property. In that it supposes Englishmen to be free, there’s Liberty: Next, that they have Freeholds, there’s Property.

II. That they have the Voting of their own Laws: For that was an ancient free Custom, as I have already prov’d, and all such Customs are expresly confirmed by this Great Charter: Besides, the People help’d to make it.

III. An Influence upon, and a real Share in the Judicatory Power, in the Execution and Application thereof.

This is a substantial Part, thrice provided for in those sixteen Lines of the Great Charter before rehears’d: 1. That no Amercement shall be assessed, but by Oath of Good and Honest Men of the Vicinage. 2. Nor we shall not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful Judgment of his Peers. 3. Or by the Law of the Land: Which is Synonymous, or a Saying of equal Signification with lawful Edition: current; Page: [{39}] Judgment of Peers: For Law of the Land, and lawful Judgment of Peers, are the Proprium quarto modo, or Essential Qualities of these Chapters of our Great Charter; being communicable Omni, soli & semper, to all and every Clause thereof alike.

Chief Justice Cook well observes, in his Second Institutes, that per Legem Terrae; or by the Law of the Land, imports no more than a Tryal by Process, and Writ originally at Common Law; which cannot be without the lawful Judgment of Equals, or a Common Jury: Therefore per Legale Judicium Parium, by the lawful Judgment of Peers, and per Legem Terrae, by the Law of the Land, plainly signify the same Privilege to the People. So that it is the Judgment of the Freemen of England, which gives the Cast, and turns the Scale in English Justice.24

These being so evidently prov’d by long Use, and several Laws, to have been the First Principles or Fundamentals of the English Free Government, I take Leave to propose this Question: May the Free People of England be justly disseised of all, or any of these Fundamentals without their Consent Collectively?

Answ. With Submission, I conceive, Not; for which I shall produce, first my Reasons, then Authorities.

I. Through the British, Saxon, and Norman Times, the People of this Island have been reputed and call’d Freemen by Kings, Parliaments, Records and Histories: And as a Son supposes a Father, so Freemen suppose Freedom. This Qualification imports an Absolute Right: Such a Right as none has Right to Disseise or Dispossess an Englishman of: Therefore an Unalterable Fundamental Part of the Government.

II. It can never be thought, that they intrusted any Representatives with these Capital Privileges, farther than to use their best Skill to secure and maintain them. They never so delegated or impower’d any Men, that de jure, they could deprive them of that Qualification? And a Facto ad Jus non valet Argumentum:25 For the Question is not, What May be done? but what Ought to be done? Overseers and Stewards are impower’d, not to Alienate, but preserve and improve other Men’s Inheritances. No Owners deliver their Ship and Goods into any Man’s Hands to give them away, or run upon a Rock; neither do they consign their Affairs to Agents or Factors without Limitation. Edition: current; Page: [{40}] All Trusts suppose such a Fundamental Right in them that give them, and for whom the Trusts are, as is altogether indissolvable by the Trustees. The Trust is the Liberty and Property of the People; the Limitation is, that it should not be invaded, but inviolably preserved, according to the Law of the Land.

III. If Salus Populi be Suprema Lex, the Safety of the People the highest Law, as say several of our Ancient Famous Lawyers and Law-Books; then since the aforesaid Rights are as the Sinews that hold together this Free Body Politick, it follows, they are at least a Part of the Supreme Law; and therefore ought to be a Rule and Limit to all subsequent Legislation.

IV. The Estate goes before the Steward, the Foundation before the House, People before their Representatives, and the Creator before the Creature. The Steward lives by preserving the Estate; the House stands by Reason of it’s Foundation; the Representative depends upon the People, as the Creature subsists by the Power of it’s Creator.

Every Representative may be call’d, the Creature of the People, because the People make them, and to them they owe their Being. Here is no Transessentiating or Transubstantiating of Being, from People to Representative, no more than there is an absolute Transferring of a Title in a Letter of Attorney.

The very Term Representative is enough to the contrary; Wherefore as the House cannot stand without its Foundation, nor the Creature subsist without it’s Creator; so can there be no Representative without a People, nor that People Free, which all along is intended (as inherent to, and inseparable from the English People) without Freedom; nor can there be any Freedom without something be Fundamental.

In short, I would fain know of any Man how the Branches can cut up the Root of the Tree that bears them? How any Representative, that has not only a meer Trust to preserve Fundamentals, the People’s Inheritance; but that is a Representative that makes Laws, by Virtue of this Fundamental Law, viz. that the People have a Power in Legislation (the 2d Principle prov’d by me) can have a Right to remove or destroy that Fundamental? The Fundamental makes the People Free, this Free People makes a Representative; Can this Creature unqualify it’s Creator? What Spring ever rose higher than it’s Head? The Representative is at best but a true Copy, an Exemplification; the Free People are the Original, not cancellable by a Transcript: And if that Fundamental which gives to the People a Power of Legislation, be not nullable by that Representative, Edition: current; Page: [{41}] because it makes them what they are; much less can that Representative disseise Men of their Liberty and Property, the first Great Fundamental, that is, Parent of this Other; and which intitles to a Share in making Laws for the preserving of the first Inviolable.

Nor is the Third Fundamental other than the necessary Production of the two First, to intercept Arbitrary Designs, and make Power Legal: For where the People have not a Share in Judgment, that is, in the Application, as well as making of the Law, the other two are imperfect; open to daily Invasion, should it be our Infelicity ever to have a violent Prince. For as Property is every Day expos’d, where those that have it are destitute of Power to hedge it about by Law-making; so those that have both, if they have not a Share in the Application of the Law, how easily is that Hedge broken down?

And indeed, as it is a most just and necessary, as well as ancient and honourable Custom, so it is the Prince’s Interest: For still the People are concerned in the Inconveniences with him, and he is freed from the Temptation of doing arbitrary Things, and their Importunities, that might else have some Pretence for such Addresses, as well as from the Mischiefs that might ensue such Actions. It might be enough to say, that there are above Fifty Statutes now in Print, besides it’s venerable Antiquity, that warrant and confirm this Legale Judicium Parium suorum, or the Tryal of English Men by their Equals.

But I shall hint at a few Instances: The first is, The Earl of Lancaster, in the 14th of Edw. II. adjudged to dye without lawful Tryal of his Peers: And afterwards Henry, Earl of Lancaster his Brother, was restored. The Reasons given were two: 1. Because the said Thomas was not Arraign’d and put to Answer. 2. That he was put to Death without Answer, or Lawful Judgment of his Peers. The like Proceedings were in the Case of John of Gaunt, p. 39. Coram Rege And in the Earl of Arundels Case. Rot. Parl. 4. Edw. 3. N 13. Also in Sir John Alee’s Case 4. Edw. III. N. 2. Such was the Destruction committed on the Lord Hastings in the Tower of London, by Richard the III. But above all, the Attainder of Thomas Cromwel, Earl of Essex, who was attainted of high Treason, as appears, Rot. Parl. 32. Hen. 8. of which, saith Chief Justice Cook, as I remember, Let Oblivion take away the Memory of so foul a Fact, if it can; if not, however, let Silence cover it.

’Tis true, there was a Statute obtained in the 11th of Henry the 7th, in Defiance of the Great Charter, which authorized several Exactions, contrary to the free Customs of this Realm: Particularly in the Case of Juries, both Assessing Edition: current; Page: [{42}] and Punishing, by Justices of Assize, and of the Peace, without the Fining and Presentment of Twelve Free-Men. Empson and Dudley were the great Actors of those Oppressions; but they were Hang’d for their Pains, and that illegal Statute repealed in the first of Henry the 8th Ch. 6.

The Consequence is plain; that Fundamentals give Rule to Acts of Parliament, else why was the Statute of the 8th Edw. 4. Ch. 2. Of Liveries and Information, by the Discretion of the Judges, to stand as an Original, and this of the 11th of Henry the 7th, repealed as Illegal? For, therefore any Thing is unlawful, because it transgresseth a Law. But what Law can an Act of Parliament transgress, but that which is Fundamental? Therefore Tryal by Juries, or lawful Judgment of Equals, is by Acts of Parliament confest to be a Fundamental Part of our Government. And because Chief Justice Cook is so generally esteem’d an Oracle of the Law, I shall in it’s proper Place present you with his Judgment upon the whole Matter.

V. These Fundamentals are unalterable by a Representative, which were the Result and Agreement of English Free-Men, collectively, the Ancienter Times not being acquainted with Representatives: For then the Free-Men met in their own Persons. In all the Saxon Story we find no Mention of any such Thing; for it was the King, Lords and Free-Men: The Elders and People. And at the Council of Winton, in 855, is reported to have been present, The great Men of the Kingdom, and an Infinite Multitude of other faithful People. Also that, of King Ina, the Common Council of the Elders and People of the whole Kingdom: That is, the most or generality of the Free-Men of the Kingdom; for all might come that pleased. It is not to be doubted but this continued after the Norman Times, and that at Running-Mead, by Stanes, the Free-Men of England were Personally present at the Confirmation of that great Charter, in the Reign of King John. But as the Ages grew more Humane, and free with Respect to Villains and Retainers, and that the Number of Free-Men encreased, there was a Necessity for a Representative; especially, since Fundamentals were long ago agreed upon, and those Capital Privileges put out of the Reach and Power of a little Number of Men to endanger. And so careful were the Representatives of the People, in the Time of Edward the Third, of suffering their Liberties and Free Customs to be infring’d, that in Matters of extraordinary Weight, they would not determine, till they had first returned to, and conferred with their several Counties or Boroughs that delegated them. Thus the Parl. Rolls of his Time.

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Several Authorities in Confirmation of the Reasons before mentioned.

So indubitably are these Fundamentals, the People’s Right, and so necessary to be preserved, that Kings have successively known no other Safe or Legal Passage to their Crown and Dignity, than their Solemn Obligation inviolably to maintain them. “So Sacred were they reputed in the Days of Henry the III. That not to continue or confirm them, was to affront God, and to damn the Souls of his Progenitors and Successors; and to depress the Church, and deprave the Realm: That the great Charter comprehensive of them, should be allowed as the Common Law of the Land, by all Officers of Justice, that is, the Lawful Inheritance of all Commoners: That all Statute-Laws or Judgments whatsoever, made in Opposition thereunto, should be null and void: That all the Ministers of State, and Officers of the Realm, should constantly be sworn to the Observation thereof.” And so deeply did after Parliaments reverence it, and so careful were they to preserve it, that they both confirm’d it by Thirty two several Acts, and enacted Copies to be taken and lodged in each Cathedral of the Realm, to be read four Times a Year publickly before the People: As if they would have them more obliged to their Ancestors, for Redeeming and Transmitting those Privileges, than for begetting them. And that twice every Year, the Bishops apparelled in their Pontificials, with Tapers burning, and other Solemnities, should pronounce the greater Excommunication against the Infringers of the Great Charter, though it were but in Word or Counsel; for so saith the Statute. I shall, for farther Satisfaction, repeat the Excommunication or Curse, pronounced both in the Days of Henry the Third and Edward the First.

The Sentence of the Curse given by the Bishops, with the King’s Consent against the Breakers of the Great Charter.

“In the Year of our Lord 1253, the third Day of May, in the great Hall of the King at Westminster, in the Presence, and by the Consent of the Lord Henry, by the Grace of God King of England, and the Lord Richard, Earl of Cornwall, his Brother; Roger Bigot, Earl of Norfolk, Marshal of England; Humphrey, Earl of Oxford; John, Earl Warren; and other Estates of the Realm of England; We Boniface, by the Mercy of God, Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Primate of England, F. of London, H. of Ely, S. of Worcester, E. of Lincoln, W. of Norwich, P. of Hereford, W. of Salisbury, W. of Durham, R. of Excester, M. of Carlile, W. Edition: current; Page: [{44}] of Bath, A. of Rochester, T. of St. Davids, Bishops, apparelled in Pontificials, with Tapers burning, against the Breakers of the Churches Liberties, and of the Liberties and other Customs of this Realm of England, and namely these which are contained in the Charter of the common Liberties of England, and Charter of the Forest, have denounced Sentence of Excommunication in this Form: By the Authority of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, &c. of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all Apostles, and of all Martyrs, of blessed Edward King of England, and of all the Saints of Heaven; We excommunicate and accurse, and from the Benefit of our Holy Mother, the Church, we sequester, all those that hereafter willingly and maliciously deprive or spoil the Church of her Right; and all those that by any Craft or Willingness, do violate, break, diminish, or change the Churches Liberties, and Free-Customs contained in the Charters of the common Liberties, and of the Forest, granted by our Lord the King, to Arch-Bishops, Bishops, and other Prelates of England, and likewise to the Earls, Knights, and other Free-Holders of the Realm; and all that secretly and openly, by Deed, Word, or Counsel do make Statutes, or observe them being made, and that bring in Customs, to keep them, when they be brought in, against the said Liberties, or any of them, and all those that shall presume to judge against them; and all and every such Person before mentioned, that wittingly shall commit any Thing of the Premises, let them well know, that they incurr the aforesaid Sentence, ipso Facto.

The Sentence of the Clergy, against the Breakers of the ARTICLES before-mentioned.

IN THE Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen. Whereas our Soveraign Lord the King, to the Honour of God, and of Holy Church, and for the common Profit of the Realm, hath granted for him, and his Heirs for ever, these Articles above-written, Robert, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, Admonished all his Province once, twice and thrice, because that Shortness will not suffer so much Delay, as to give Knowledge to all the People of England, of these Presents in Writing: We therefore enjoyn all Persons, of what Estate soever they be, that they, and every of them, as much as in them is, shall uphold and maintain these Articles granted by our Soveraign Lord the King, in Edition: current; Page: [{45}] all Points: And all those that in any Point do resist or break, or in any Manner hereafter Procure, Counsel, or in any wise Assent to Resist or Break those Ordinances, or go about it, by Word or Deed, openly or privily, by any Manner of Pretence or Colour; We, the aforesaid Archbishops, by our Authority in this Writing expressed, do Excommunicate and Accurse, and from the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and from all the Company of Heaven, and from all the Sacraments of Holy Church do sequester and exclude.

We may here see, that in the obscurest Times of Popery, they were not left without a Sense of Justice, and a Care of Freedom; and that even Papists, whom many think no Friends to Liberty and Property, under dreadful Penalties, enjoyn an inviolable Observance of this Great Charter, by which they are confirmed. And though I am no Roman Catholick, and as little value their other Curses pronounc’d upon Religious Dissenters, yet I declare ingeniously, I would not, for the World, incur this Curse, as every Man deservedly doth, that offers Violence to the Fundamental Freedoms thereby repeated and confirmed. And that any Church, or Church Officers in our Age, should have so little Reverence to Law, Excommunication or Curse, as to be the Men that either Vote or countenance such Severities, as bid Defiance to the Curse, and tear this Memorable Charter in Pieces, by Disseizing Freemen of England of their Freeholds, Liberties and Properties, without Juries, or meerly for the inoffensive Exercise of their Conscience to God in Matters of Religion, is a Civil Sort of Sacrilege.

I know it is usually objected, That a great Part of the Charter is spent on the Behalf of the Roman Church, and other Things, now abolish’d; and if one Part of the Great Charter may be repeal’d, or invalidated, why not the other?

But to this I answer, That the True Fundamentals in the Charter, are not the less firm or forceable, or inviolable for that; because they do not stand upon that Act, though it was in Honour of them, but the Ancient and Primitive Institution of the Kingdom. If the Petition of Right were repeal’d, the Great Charter were nevertheless in Force, it not being the Original Establishment, but a Declaration and Confirmation of that Establishment.26 But those Things that are abrogable, or abrogated in the Great Charter, were never a Part of the Fundamentals, Edition: current; Page: [{46}] but hedg’d in by the Clergy, and allowed by the Barons upon present Emergency. Besides, that which I have hitherto maintained to be the Common and Fundamental Law of the Land, is so reputed, and farther ratified, by the Petition of Right, 3 Car. 1. which was long since the Church of Rome lost her Share in the Great Charter. Nor did it relate to Matters of Faith and Worship, but Temporalities only; the Civil Interest or Propriety of the Church. But with what Pretence to Mercy or Justice, can the Protestant Church retain the English Part of the Charter, without conforming to Rome, and yet now cancel the English Part it self to every Free-born Englishman that will not conform to her? But no more of this at this Time; only give me Leave to remind a Sort of Active Men in our Times, that the cruel Infringers of the People’s Liberties, and Violaters of these Noble Laws, did not escape with bare Excommunications and Curses; for such was the Venerable Esteem our Ancestors had for these Great Privileges, and deep Sollicitude to preserve them from the Defacings of Time, or Usurpation of Power, that King Alfred executed Forty Judges for warping from the Ancient Laws of the Realm. Hubert de Burgo, Chief Justice of England, in the Time of Edw. 1. was sentenced by his Peers in open Parliament, for advising the King against the Great Charter. Thus the Speneers, both Father and Son, for their Arbitrary Rule and Evil Counsel to Edw. 2. were exiled the Realm. No better Success had the Actions of Tresilian and Belknap: And as for Empson and Dudley, though Persons of Quality, in the Time of King Henry the Seventh, the most ignominious Death of our Country, such as belongs to Theft and Murder, was hardly Satisfaction enough to the Kingdom, for their Uncharterall Proceeding. I shall chuse to deliver it in the Words of Chief Justice Cook, a Man, whose Learning in Law hath, not without Reason, obtained him a Venerable Character of our English Nation.

There was (saith he) an Act of Parliament made in the 11th Year of King Henry the Seventh, which had a Fair Flattering Preamble, pretending to avoid divers Mischiefs, which were First, To the high Displeasure of Almighty God. Secondly, The Great Let of the Common Law. And, Thirdly, The Great Let of the Wealth of this Land. And the Purven of that Act tended, in the Execution, contrary, Ex Diametro, viz. To the high Displeasure of Almighty God, and the Great Let, nay, the utter Subversion of the Common Law, and the Great Let of the Wealth of this Land, as hereafter shall appear; the Substance of which Act follows in these Words.

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THAT from henceforth, as well Justices of Assize, as Justices of the Peace, in every County, upon Information for the King, before them made, without any Finding or Presenting by Twelve Men, shall have full Power and Authority, by their Discretion, to hear and determine all Offences, as Riots, unlawful Assemblies, &c. committed and done against Act or Statute made, and not repeal’d, &c.

By Pretext of this Law, Empson and Dudley did commit upon the Subject insufferable Pressure and Oppressions; and therefore this Statute was justly, soon after the Decease of Hen. 7. repealed at the next Parliament, by the Statute of 1 Hen. 8. chap. 6.

A good Caveat, says he, to Parliaments, to leave all Causes to be measur’d by the Golden and Strait Metwand of the Law, and not to the uncertain and crooked Cord of Discretion. He goes on,

It is almost incredible to foresee, when any Maxim, or Fundamental Law of this Realm is altered (as elsewhere hath been observed) what dangerous Inconveniences do follow: Which most expresly appears by this Most Unjust and Strange Act of the 11th of Hen. 7. For hereby not only Empson and Dudley themselves, but such Justices of Peace (Corrupt Men) as they caused to be authorized, committed most Grievous and Heavy Oppressions and Exactions: Grinding the Faces of the Poor Subjects by Penal Laws (be they never so obsolete or unfit for the Time) by Information only, without any Presentment or Trial by Jury, Being the Ancient Birthright of the Subject; but to hear and determine the same by their Discretions; inflicting such Penalty as the Statutes, not repealed, imposed. These, and other like Oppressions and Exactions, by the Means of Empson and Dudley, and their Instruments, brought infinite Treasure to the King’s Coffers, whereof the King himself, at the End, with Great Grief and Compunction Repented, as in another Place we have observed.

This Statute of the 11th of Hen. 7. we have recited, and shewed the just Inconveniences thereof; to the End that the like should Never hereafter be attempted in any Court of Parliament; and that others might avoid the Fearful End of those two Time-Servers, Empson and Dudley, Qui eorum vestigiis insistant, exitus perhorrescant. Thus much Chief Justice Cook.27

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I am sure, there is nothing I have offer’d in Defence of English Law-Doctrine, that riseth higher than the Judgment and Language of this Great Man, the Preservation and Publication of whose Labours, became the Care of a Great Parliament. And it is said of no inconsiderable Lawyer, that he should thus express himself in our Occasion, viz. The Laws of England were never the Dictates of any Conqueror’s Sword, or the Placita of any King of this Nation; or, (saith he) to speak impartially and freely, the Results of any Parliament that ever sat in this Land.

Thus much for the Nature of English Rights, and the Reason and Justice for their inviolable Maintenance. I shall now offer some more General Considerations for the Preservation of Property, and therein hint at some of those Mischiefs that follow spoiling it, for Conscience sake, both to Prince and People.

I. The Reason of the Alteration of the Law, ought to be the Discommodity of continuing it; but there can never be so much as the least Inconveniency in continuing That of Liberty and Property; therefore there can be no just Ground for infringing, much less abrogating the Laws that secure them.

II. No Man in England is born Slave to another; neither hath One Right to inherit the Sweat of the Others Brow, or Reap the Benefit of his Labour, but by Consent; therefore no Man should be deprived of his Property, unless he injure another Man’s, and then by Legal Judgment.

III. But certainly nothing is more unreasonable, than to sacrifice the Liberty and Property of any Man (being his Natural and Civil Rights) for Religion, where he is not found breaking any Law relating to Natural and Civil Things. Religion, under any Modification, is no Part of the Old English Government. Honestè vivere, Alterum non laedere, jus suum cuique tribuere, are enough to entitle every Native to English Privileges.28 A Man may be a very good Englishman, and yet a very indifferent Churchman. Nigh Three Hundred Years before Austin set his Foot on English Ground, had the Inhabitants of this Island a Free Government.29 It is want of distinguishing between it and the Modes of Religion, which fills every clamorous Mouth with such impertinent Cries as this, Why do not you submit to the Government? As if the English Civil Government came in with Luther, or were to go out with Calvin. What Prejudice is it for a Edition: current; Page: [{49}] Popish Landlord, to have a Protestant Tenant; or a Presbyterian Tenant, to have an Episcopalian Landlord? Certainly, the Civil Affairs of all Governments in the World, may be peaceably transacted under the different Liveries, or Trims of Religion, where Civil Rights are inviolably observ’d.

Nor is there any Interest so inconsistent with Peace and Unity, as That which dare not solely rely upon the Power of Perswasion, but affects Superiority, and seeks after an Earthly Crown. This is not to act the Christian, but the Caesar; not to promote Property, but Party, and make a Nation Drudges to a Sect.

Be it known to such narrow Spirits, we are a Free People by the Creation of God, the Redemption of Christ, and careful Provision of our (never to be forgotten) Honourable Ancestors: So that our Claim to these English Privileges rising higher than the Date of Protestancy, can never justly be invalidated for Non-conformity to any Form of it. This were to Lose by the Reformation, which God forbid: I am sure ’twas to enjoy Property, with Conscience, that promoted it. Nor is there a much better Definition of Protestancy, than Protesting against Spoiling Property for Conscience. I must therefore take Leave to say, that I know not how to Reconcile what a great Man lately deliver’d in his Eloquent Speech to the House of Lords: His Words are these:

For when we consider Religion in Parliament, we are supposed to consider it as a Parliament should do, and as Parliaments in all Ages have done; that is, as it is a Part of our Laws, a Part and a necessary Part of our Government: For as it works upon the Conscience, as it is an Inward Principle of the Divine Life, by which good Men do Govern all their Actions, the State hath nothing to do with it: It is a Thing which belongs to another Kind of Commission, than that by which we sit here.

I Acquiesce in, and Honour the latter Part of this Distinction, taking it to be a Venerable Truth; and would to God Mankind would believe it, and Live it: But how to agree it with the former, I profess Ignorance: For if the Government had nothing to do with the Principle it self, what more can She pretend over the Actions of those Men, who Live that Good Life? Certainly, if Religion be an Inward Principle of Divine Life, exerting it self by Holy Living, and that, as such, it belongs not to the Commission of our Superiors, I do with Submission conceive, that there is very little else of Religion left for them to have to do with: The rest merits not the Name of Religion, and less doth such a Edition: current; Page: [{50}] Formality deserve Persecution. I hope such Circumstances are no necessary Part of English Government, that cannot reasonably be reputed a necessary Part of Religion; And, I believe he is too great a Divine and Lawyer, upon second Thoughts, to Repute that a Part of our Laws, a Part and a necessary Part of our Government, that is such a Part of Religion, as is neither the Divine Principle, nor yet the Actions immediately flowing from it; since the Government was most Compleat and Prosperous many Ages without it, and hath never known more perplex’d Contests and Troublesome Interruptions, than since it hath been receiv’d and valu’d as a Part of the English Government: And God, I hope, will forbid it, in the Hearts of our Superiors, that English Men should be deprived of their Civil Inheritance for their Non-Conformity to Church Formality: For no Property out of the Church (the plain English of publick Severity for Non-conformity) is a Maxim that belongs not to the Holy Law of God, or Common Law of the Land.

IV. If Liberty and Property must be the Forfeit of Conscience for Non-conformity to the Prince’s Religion, the Prince and his Religion shall only be Lov’d as the next best Accession to other Men’s Estates, and the Prince perpetually provok’d to expose many of his inoffensive People to Beggary, for what is no Fault at Common Law.

V. It is our Superiors Interest, that Property be preserved, because it is their own Case: None have more Property than Themselves. But if Property be exposed for Religion, the Civil Magistrate exposes both his Conscience and Property to the Church, and disarms himself of all Defence upon any Alteration of Judgment. This is plainly for the Prince to hold under the Prelate, and the State to suffer it self to be Rid by the Church.

VI. It obstructs all Improvement of Land and Trade; for who will Labour that hath no Property, or hath it exposed to an Unreasonable Sort of Men, for the bare Exercise of his Conscience to God? And a poor Country can never make a Rich and Powerful Prince. Heaven is therefore Heaven, to Good and Wise Men, because they are to have an Eternal Propriety therein.

VII. This Sort of Procedure, hitherto opposed, on the Behalf of Property, puts the whole Nation upon miserable Uncertainties, that are follow’d with great Disquiets and Distractions; which certainly it is the Interest of all Government to prevent: The Reigns of Henry 8. Edward 6. Q. Mary and Q. Eliz. both with Relation to the Marriages of the first, and the Religious Revolutions of the rest, are a plain Proof in the Case.

King Henry voids the Pope’s Supremacy, and assumes it himself. Comes Edition: current; Page: [{51}] Edw. 6. and Enacts Protestancy with an Oath to maintain it. 1 Q. Mary, Ch. 1. This is abrogated: Popery Solemnly Restored; and an Oath inforc’d to Defend it: And this Queen Repeals also all Laws Her Father made against the Pope, since the 12th of Hen. 8. Next, follows Q. Elizabeth, and Repeals Her Laws, calls back Protestancy, ordains a new Oath, to un-Oath Queen Mary’s Oath; and all this under the Penalty of losing Estate, Liberty, and sometimes Life it self; which, Thousands, to avoid, Lamentably Perjur’d themselves, four or five Times over, within the Space of Twenty Years. In which Sin, the Clergy Transcended: Not an Hundred for every Thousand, but left their Principles for their Parishes. Thus hath Conscience been Debauch’d by Force, and Property toss’d up and down by the Impetuous Blasts of Ignorant Zeal, or Sinister Design.

VIII. Where Liberty and Property are Violated; there must always be a State of Force: And though I pray God that we never need those Cruel Remedies, whose Calamitous Effects we have too lately felt, yet certainly, Self-Preservation is of all Things dearest to Men; insomuch that being not Conscious to themselves of having done an ill Thing, They, to defend their Unforfeited Priviledges, chearfully Hazard all they have in this World. So very strangely Vindictive are the Sons of Men, in Maintenance of their Rights. And such are the Cares, Fears, Doubts and Insecurities of that Administration, as render Empire a Slavery, and Dominion the worst sort of Bondage to the Possessor. On the contrary, nothing can give greater Chearfulness, Confidence, Security and Honour to any Prince, than Ruling by Law; for it is a Conjunction of Title with Power, and Attracts Love as well as it Requires Duty.

Give me Leave, without Offence (for I have God’s Evidence in my own Conscience, I intend nothing but a Respectful Caution to my Superiours) to Confirm this Reason, with the Judgment and Example of other Times. The Governours of the Eleans held a strict Hand over the People; who, Despairing of Relief at home, called in the Spartans, and by their Help Freed all their Cities from the sharp Bondage of their Natural Lords.

The State of Sparta was grown Powerful, and Opprest the Thebans; They, though but a weak People, whetted by Despair, and the Prospect of greater Miseries, did, by the Athenians, deliver themselves from the Spartan Yoak.

Nor is there any other considerable Reason given for the Ruin of the Carthaginian State, than Avarice and Severity. More of this is to be found in Rawleigh’s History of the World, l. 3. who hath this Witty Expression in the same Story, l. 5. of a Severe Conduct. When a forced Government, saith he, shall decay in Strength, It will suffer, as did the old Lyon, for the Oppression done in his Edition: current; Page: [{52}] Youth; being Pinch’d by the Wolf, Goar’d by the Bull, and kick’d also by the Ass: The Senseless Mobb.30

This lost Caesar Borgia, his new and great Conquests in Italy. No better Success attended the Severe Hand held over the People of Naples, by Alphonso and Ferdinand. ’Twas the undue Severity of the Sicilian Governours, that made the Syracusians, Leontines and Messenians so Easie a Conquest to the Romans. An harsh Answer to a Petitioning People lost Rehoboam Ten Tribes. On the contrary, in Livy, Dec. 1. l. 3. We find, that Petilia, a City of the Brutians in Italy, chose rather to endure all Extremity of War from Hannibal, than upon any Condition to Desert the Romans, who had Govern’d them moderately, and by that gentle Conduct procur’d their Love; even then, when the Romans sent them Word, The were not able to relieve them, and wish’d them to provide for their own Safety.31

N. Machiavel in his Discourses upon Livy, p. 542. tells us, that one Act of Humanity was of more Force with the Conquer’d Falisci, than many Violent Acts of Hostility: Which makes good that Saying of Seneca, Mitius imperanti melius paretur, They are best obeyed, that Govern most mildly.32

IX. If these Ancient Fundamental Laws, so Agreeable with Nature, so suited to the Dispositions of our Nation, so often defended with Blood and Treasure, so Carefully and Frequently Ratified by our Ancestors, shall not be, to our great Pilots, as Stars or Compass for them to Steer the Vessel of this Kingdom by, or Limits to their Legislature; no Man can tell how long he shall be secure of his Coat, Enjoy his House, have Bread to give his Children, Liberty to Work for Bread, and Life to eat it. Truly, this is to justifie what we condemn in Roman Catholicks. It is one of our main Objections, that their Church assumes a Power of Imposing Religion, thereby denying Men the Liberty of walking by the Rules of their own Reason and Conscience, and Precepts of Holy Writ: To whom, we oppose both. We say, the Church is tyed to act nothing contrary to Reason; and that Holy Writ is the declar’d Law of Heaven, which to maintain, Power is given to the True Church. Now let us apply this Argument to our Civil Affairs, Edition: current; Page: [{53}] and it will certainly end in a reasonable Limitation of our Legislators, that they should not impose that upon our Understandings, which is inconsistent with them to Embrace; nor offer any the least Violation to Common Right. Do the Romanists say, Believe as the Church Believes? Do not the Protestants, and which is harder, Legislators say so too? Do we say to the Romanists, at this rate, Your Obedience is Blind, and your Ignorance is the Mother of Devotion? Is it not also true of our selves? Do we object to them, This makes your Religion uncertain, one Thing to Day, and another to Morrow? Doth not our own Case submit us to the like Variation in Civils? Have we not long told them, that under Pretence of obeying the Church, and not controuling her Power, she hath raised a Superstructure inconsistent with that Foundation she pretends to build upon. And are not we the Men in Civils, that make our Privileges rather to depend upon Men, than Laws, as she doth upon Councils, not Scripture? If this be not Popery in Temporals, what is?

It is humbly beseech’d of Superiors, that it would please them to consider what Reflection such Severity justly brings upon Their Proceedings; and remember, that in their ancient Delegations, it was not to Define, Resolve, and Impose Matters of Religion, and sacrifice Civil Privileges for it; but, to Maintain the People’s Properties, according to the ancient Fundamental Laws of the Land, and to add such Statutes only, as were Consistent with, and Preservative of those Fundamental Laws.

Lastly, To conclude this Head; My plain and honest Drift has been, to show that Church Government is no Essential Part of the old English Government, and to disintangle Property from Opinion, the untoward Knot, the Clergy, for several Ages have tyed, which is not only the People’s Right, but our Superiors Interest to Undo; for it gauls both People and Prince. For, where Property is subjected to Opinion, the Church interposes, and makes something else requisite to enjoy Property, than belongs to the Nature of Property; and the Reason of our Possession is not our Right by, and Obedience to, the Common Law, but Conformity to Church Law, or Laws for Church Conformity. A Thing dangerous to Civil Government, since ’tis an Alteration of old English Tenure, a suffering the Church to Trip up and supplant the State; and a making People to owe their Protection not to the Civil, but Ecclesiastical Authority. For let the Church be my Friend, and all is well; make her my Foe, and I am made her Prey, let Magna Charta say what she will for me: My Horses, Cows, Sheep, Corn, Goods, go first, my Person to Goal next, for all That: Behold, some Church Trophies made at the Conquest of a peaceable Dissenter!

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This is that anxious Thing; May our Superiors please to weigh it in the Equal Scale of Doing as they would be done by; Let those Common Laws that Fix and Preserve Property, be the Rule and Standard of their Legislation and Administration. Make Englishmen’s Rights as Inviolable, as English Church Rights, Disintangle and Distinguish them: And let no Man sustain Civil Punishments for Ecclesiastical Faults, but for Sins against the ancient, establish’d Civil Government only; that the Natures of Acts and Rewards may not be confounded. So shall the Civil Magistrate preserve Law, secure his Civil Dignity and Empire, and make himself belov’d of Englishmen; whose Cry is, and the Cry of whose Laws hath ever been, Property rather than Opinion, Civil Rights not concern’d with Ecclesiastical Discipline, nor forfeitable for Religious Non-conformity.

But tho’ an inviolable Preservation of English Rights, of all Things, best secureth to our Superiors, the Love and Allegiance of the People; yet there is something farther, that, with Submission, I offer to their serious Consideration, which in the second Place concerns their Interest, and the People’s Felicity; and that is their Disagreement about Religion, notwithstanding their unanimous Cry for Property; a prudent Management of which, may turn to the great Quiet, Honour and Profit of the King and Kingdom.

CHAP. II.: Of our Superiors governing themselves upon a Ballance, as near as may be, towards the several Religious Interests.

II. Of a Ballance, respecting Religious Differences. Eight Prudential Reasons why the Civil Magistrate should embrace it. Three Objections Answer’d. A Comprehension consider’d, but a Toleration Preferr’d, upon Reason and Example.

TO PERFORM my Part, in this Point, being the second Branch of my Answer to the Question; I shall not, at this Time, make it my Business to manifest the Inconsistency that there is between the Christian Religion, and a forced Uniformity, not only because it hath been so often and excellently done by Men of Wit, Learning and Conscience, and that I have else-where largely deliver’d my Sense about it; but because every free and impartial Temper, Edition: current; Page: [{55}] hath, of a long Time, observ’d, that such Barbarous Attempts were so far from being indulg’d, that they were most severely Prohibited by Christ himself; who instructed his Disciples, to Love their Enemies, and not to persecute their Friends for every Difference in Opinion: That the Tares should grow with the Wheat: That his Kingdom is not of this World: That Faith is the Gift of God: That the Will and Understanding of Men are Faculties not to be work’d upon by any Corporal Penalties: That TRUTH is All-sufficient to her own Relief: That ERROR and ANGER go together: That Base Coyn only stands in need of Imposition to make it current, but that True Metal passeth for its own Intrinsick Value; with a great deal more of that Nature.33 I shall therefore chuse to oppose my self, at this Time, to any such Severity, upon meer Prudence; that such as have No Religion (and certainly they that Persecute for Religion, have as little as need to be) may be induced to Tolerate Them that have.

First, However Advisable it may be, in the Judgment of some Worldly Wise Men, to prevent, even by Force, the arising of any New Opinion, where a Kingdom is Universally of another Mind; especially if it be Odious to the People, and inconsistent with the Safety of the Government; it cannot be so, where a Kingdom is of Many Minds, unless some One Party hath all the Wisdom, Wealth, Number, Sober Life, Industry and Resolution of it’s side; which I am sure is not to be found in England. So that the Wind hath plainly shifted it’s Corner, and consequently obliges to another Course: I mean, England’s Circumstances are greatly changed, and they require new Expedients and another Sort of Application.

Physicians vary their Medicines according to the Revolution and the Mixture of Distempers. They that seek to tye the Government to absolute and inadequate Methods (supposing them once apt, which Cruelty in this Case never was) are not Friends to it’s Interest, whatever they may be to their own. If our Superiors should make it their Business so to prefer one Party, as to depress or deprive the rest, they insecure themselves, by making their Friends their Enemies, who before were one another’s. To be sure it createth Hatred between the Party advanced, and those deprest. Jacob’s preferring Joseph put his Brethren upon that Conspiracy against him.34

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I will allow that they may have a more particular Favour for the Church Party, than for any other Perswasion, but not more than for all other Parties in England: That certainly would break the Ballance; the keeping up of which, will make every Party to owe its Tranquility to their Prudence and Goodness, which will never fail of Returns of Love and Loyalty. For since we see each Interest looks jealously upon the other, ’tis reasonable to believe, they had rather the Dominion should lodge where it is, while impartial in their Judgment, than to trust it with any one Sort of themselves.

Many inquisitive Men into Humane Affairs have thought, that the Concord of Discords hath not been the infirmest Basis Government can rise or stand upon: It hath been observed, that less Sedition and Disturbance attended Hannibal’s Army, that consisted of many Nations, than the Roman Legions, that were of one People. It is marvellous how the Wisdom of that General secured them to his Designs: Livy saith, That his Army for Thirteen Years, that had roved up and down the Roman Empire, made up of many Countries, divers Languages, Laws, Customs, Religions; under all their Successes of War and Peace, never mutined. Malvetzy, as well as Livy, ascribes it to that Variety, well managed by the General.35

By the like Prudence Jovianus and Theodosius Magnus brought Tranquility to their Empire, after much Rage and Blood for Religion.

In Nature we also see, all Heat consumes, all Cold kills; that three Degrees of Cold to two of Heat, allay the Heat, but introduce the contrary Quality, and over-cool by a Degree; but two Degrees of Cold, to two of Heat, make a Poyze in Elements, and a Ballance in Nature.

The like in Families: It is not probable that a Master should have his Work so well done, at least with that Love and Respect, who continually Smiles upon one Servant, and severely Frowns upon all the rest; on the contrary, ’tis apt to raise Feuds amongst Servants, and turn Duty into Revenge at least Contempt. In Fine, it is to make our Superior’s Dominion less than God made it, and to blind their Eyes, stop their Ears, and shut up their Breasts, from beholding the Miseries, hearing the Cries, and redressing the Grievances of a vast Number of People, under their Charge, vexed in this World, for their Belief and inoffensive Practice about the next.

Secondly, It is the Interest of Governours, to be put upon no thankless Offices; Edition: current; Page: [{57}] that is, to blow no Coals in their own Country, especially when it is to consume their People, and, it may be, themselves too: Not to be the Cat’s Foot, nor to make Work for themselves, or fill their own Hands with Trouble, or the Kingdom with Complaints. It is to forbid them the Use of Clemency, wherein they ought most of all to imitate God Almighty, whose Mercy is above all his Works; and renders them a sort of Extortioners to the People, the most remote from the End and Goodness of their Office. In short, it is the best Receipt that their Enemies can give, to make them uneasie to the Country.

Thirdly, It not only makes them Enemies, but there is no such Excitement to revenge, as a Rap’d Conscience. He that hath been forced to break his Peace, to gratifie the Humour of another, must have a great Share of Mercy and self-denial, to forgive that Injury, and forbid himself the Pleasure of Retribution upon the Authors of it: For Revenge, in other Cases condemnable of all, is here look’d upon by too many, to be the next way to Expiation. To be sure, whether the Grounds of their Dissent be rational in themselves, such Severity is unjustifiable with them; for this is a Maxim with Sufferers, whoever is in the Wrong, the Persecutor cannot be in the right. Men, not conscious to themselves of Evil, and harshly treated, not only resent it unkindly, but are bold to shew it.

Fourthly, Suppose the Prince, by his Severity, conquers any into a Compliance, he can upon no prudent Ground assure himself of their Fidelity, whom he hath taught to be treacherous to their own Convictions. Wise Men rarely confide in those whom they have debauch’d from Trust to serve themselves: At best it resembleth but forced Marriages, that seldom prove happy to the Parties. In short, Force makes Hypocrites, ’tis Perswasion only that makes Converts.

Fifthly, This Partiality, of sacrificing the Liberty and Property of all Dissenters, to the Promotion of a single Party, be they good or ill Men, as it is the lively Representation of J. Calvin’s Horrendum Decretum;36 so the Consequences of the one belong unto the other; it being but that ill-natured Principle put into Practice. Men are put upon the same desperate Courses, either to have no Conscience at all, or to be hanged for having a Conscience not fashionable: For, let them be Virtuous, let them be Vicious, if they fall not in with that Mode of Religion, they must be reprobated to all Civil and Ecclesiastical Edition: current; Page: [{58}] Intents and Purposes. Strange! that Men must either deny their Faith and Reason, or be destroyed for acting according to them, be they otherwise never so peaceable. What Power is this, or rather what Principle? But that Men are to be protected upon Favour, not right or merit; and that no Merit out of the publick Church Dress should find Acceptance, is severe. We justly blame that Father, that narrows his Paternal Love to some one of his Children, though the rest be not one Jot less Virtuous than the Favourite: Such Injustice can never flow from a Soul acted by Reason, but a Mind govern’d by Fancy, and enslaved to Passions.

Sixthly, Consider Peace, Plenty, and Safety, the three great Inducements to any Country to Honour the Prince, and Love the Government, as well as the best Allurements to Foreigners to trade with it and transport themselves to it, are utterly lost by such Partialities: for instead of Peace, Love and good Neighbourhood, behold Animosity and Contest! One Neighbour watches another, and makes him an Offender for his Conscience; this divides them, their Families and Acquaintance: perhaps, with them the Towns and Villages where they live: And most commonly, the Sufferer hath the Pity, and the Persecutor the Odium of the Multitude. And truly when People see Cruelty practised upon their inoffensive Neighbours, by a troublesom sort of Men, and those countenanced by a Law, it breedeth ill Blood against the Government. Certainly, Haling People to Goals, breaking open their Houses, siezing of their Estates, and that without all Proportion; leaving Wives without their Husbands, and Children without their Parents, and their Families, Relations, Friends and Neighbours, under Amaze and Trouble, is almost as far from the Peace of a well-govern’d Kingdom, as it is from the Meekness of Christianity.

Plenty will be hereby exchanged for Poverty, by the Destruction of many thousand Families within this Realm, who are greatly instrumental for the carrying on of the most substantial Commerce therein: Men of Virtue, good Contrivance, Great Industry; whose Labours, not only keep the Parishes from the Trouble and Charge of maintaining them and theirs, but help to maintain the Poor, and are great Contributors to the King’s Revenue by their Traffick. This very Severity will make more Bankrupts in the Kingdom of England in seven Years, than have been in it upon all other Accounts in Seven Ages: which Consequence, how far it may consist with the Credit and Interest of the Government, I leave to better judgments.

This Sort of great Severity that hath been lately, and still is used amongst us, is like to prove a great Check to that Readiness, which otherwise we find in Edition: current; Page: [{59}] Foreigners to Trade with the Inhabitants of this Kingdom; for if Men cannot call any Thing their Own, under a different Exercise of Conscience from the National Way of Religion, their Correspondents may justly and prudently say, We will not further concern our selves with Men that stand upon such ticklish Terms: What know we but such Persons are ruin’d in their Estates, by Reason of their Non-Conformity, before such Time as we shall be reimburst for Money paid, or Goods deliver’d: Nay, we know not how soon those who are Conformists, may be Non-Conformists, or what Revolutions of Councils may happen, since the Fundamental Laws, so jealous of the People’s Property, are so little valued by some of their own Magistrates; for though we are told of very worthy and excellent Laws in England, for the Security of the People’s Rights, yet we are also told, that they all hang at the Church’s Girdle, insomuch as no Church-Conformity no Property; which is, No Churchman, No Englishman. So that in Effect the Rights of their Country depend upon the Rights of their Church; and those Churches have taken their Turns so often, that a Body knows not how to manage one’s self securely to one’s own Affairs, in a Correspondence with any of them. For in King Henry the Eighth’s Days, Popery was the only Orthodox Religion, and Zuinglius, Luther, Melancthon, Oecolampadius, &c. were great Hereticks. In Edward the Sixth’s Time, they were Saints, and Popery was Idolatry. A few Years after, Queen Mary makes the Papists Holy Church, and Protestancy Heresie. About Six Years compleats her Time, and Queen Elizabeth enters her Reign, in which Protestants are Good Christians, and the Church of Rome the Whore of Babylon. In Her Reign, and that of King James, and King Charles the First, sprung the Puritans, who divided themselves into Presbyterians, and Independents. The Bishops exclaimed against them for Schismaticks, and they against the Bishops for Papistical and Antichristian. In the Long Parliament’s Time, the Presbyterian drives out the Bishop; O. Cromwel defeating them, and sending the Presbyterian to keep Company with the Bishop, confers it mostly upon the Independent and Anabaptist, who kept it through the other Fractions of Government, till the Presbyter and Bishop got it from them: And the Bishop now from the Presbyter; But how long it will rest there, who knows? Thus a Foreigner may justly argue.

Nor is my Supposition idle or improbable, unless Moderation take Place of Severity, and Property the Room of Punishment for Opinion; for that must be the Lasting Security, as well as that it is the Fundamental Right of English People.

There is also a farther Consideration, and that is, the rendring just and very Edition: current; Page: [{60}] good Debts desperate, both at Home and Abroad, by giving Opportunity to the Debtors of Dissenters to detain their Dues. Indeed it seems a Natural Consequence with all, but Men of Mercy and Integrity: What should we pay them for, may they say, that are not in a Capacity to demand or receive it, at least to compel us? Nay, they may plead a sort of Kindness to their Creditors, and say, We had as good keep it, for if we pay it them, they will soon lose it; ’tis better to remain with us, than that they should be pillag’d of it by Informers; though Want should in the mean Time overtake the Right Owners and their Families.

Nor is it unworthy of the most deliberate Thoughts of our Superiors, that the Land already swarms with Beggars, and that there is hardly so ready a Course to increase their Number, as the severe Prosecution of Dissenters, both by making them such, and those that their Employs have kept from Begging all this While: So that though they immediately suffer, the Kingdom, in the End, must be the Loser. For besides a Decay of Trade, &c. this driving away of Flocks of Sheep, and Herds of Cattel, seizing of Barns full of Corn, breaking open of Doors and Chests, taking away the best Goods that those Instruments of Cruelty can find, sometimes All, even to a Bed, a Blanket, Wearing Apparel, and the very Tools of Trade, by which People honestly labour to get their Bread, till they leave Men, Women and Children, destitute of Subsistence, will necessitate an extream Advance of the Poor’s Rate in every Parish of England, or they must be Starv’d. O, that it would please them that are in Authority, to put a Stop to this inhumane Usage, lest the Vengeance of the Just GOD, break forth farther against this poor Land!

Safety, another Requisite to an Happy Government, must needs be at an End, where the Course oppugn’d is followed, by tempting People to irregular Methods to be easy, or to Quit the Land. And truly it is but some prudent Prince’s proclaiming Liberty of Conscience within his Territories, and a Door is opened for a Million of People to pass out of their Native Soil, which is not so extreamly improved, that it should not want Two or Three Hundred Thousand Families more than it hath, to advance it; especially at this Time of Day, when our Foreign Islands Yearly take off so many Inhabitants from us, who, from Necessity, are made unable to stay at Home: And as of Contraries there is the same Reason, so let the Government of England but give that Prudent Invitation to Foreigners, and She maketh Her self Mistress of the Arts and Manufactures of Europe. Nothing else hath preserv’d Holland from Truckling under the Spanish Yoak, and being Ruin’d above Threescore Years ago, and given her that Rise to Wealth and Glory.

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Seventhly, Nor is this Severity only injurious to the Affairs of England, but the whole Protestant World: For besides that it calls the Sincerity of their Proceedings against the Papists into Question, it furnisheth them with this Sort of unanswerable Interrogatory: The Protestants exclaim against us for Persecutors, and are they now the Very Men themselves? Was Severity an Instance of Weakness in our Religion, and is it become a Valid Argument in theirs? Are not our Actions (once void of all Excuse with them) now defended by their own Practice? But if Men must be restrained upon Prudential Considerations from the Exercise of their Consciences in England, Why not the same in France and Germany, where Matters of State may equally be pleaded? Certainly whatever Shifts Protestants may use to palliate these Proceedings, they are thus far Condemnable upon the Foot of Prudence.

Eighthly, Such Procedure is a great Reflection upon the Justice of the Government, in that it Enacts Penalties inadequate to the Fault committed, viz. That I should lose my Liberty and Property, Fundamental Civil Privileges, for some Error in Judgment about Matters of Religion: As if I must not be a Man, because I am not such a Sort of Religious Man as the Government would have me; but must lose my Claim to all Natural Benefits, though I agree with them in Civil Affairs, because I fall not in with the Judgment of the Government in some Points of a Supernatural Import, tho’ no real Part of the Ancient Government. Perhaps instead of going to the Left Hand, I go to the Right: And whereas I am commanded to hear A. B. I rather chuse to hear C. D. my Reason for it, being the more Religious Influence the latter hath over me, than the former; and that I find by Experience, I am better affected, and more Religiously edified to Good Living. What Blemish is this to the Government? What Insecurity to the Civil Magistrate? Why may not this Man Sell, Buy, Plow, Pay his Rents, be as good a Subject, and as True an Englishman, as any Conformist in the Kingdom? Howbeit, Fines and Goals are very ill Arguments to convince Sober Men’s Understandings, and disswade them from the Continuance of so harmless a Practice.

Lastly, But there is yet another Inconvenience that will attend this Sort of Severity, that so naturally follows upon our Superiors making Conformity to the Doctrine and Worship of the Church of England, the Sine Quâ Non, or Inlet to all Property, and Ground of Claim to all English Civil Privileges, to wit, That they make a Rod, for ought they know, to Whip their own Posterity with; since it is impossible for them to secure their Children to the English Church: And if it happen that any of them are never so Conscientiously of another Perswasion, Edition: current; Page: [{62}] they are liable to all the Miseries that may attend the Execution of those Laws. Such a King must not be King, such Lords and Commons must not Sit in Parliament: Nay, they must not administer any Office, be it never so inferior within the Realm, and they never so Virtuous and capable to do it: Their very Patrimony becomes a Prey to a Pack of Lewd Informers, and their Persons exposed to the Abuse of Men, Poor or Malicious.

But there are Three Objections that some make against what I have urged, not unfit to be consider’d. The First is this: If the Liberty desired be granted, what know we but Dissenters may employ their Meetings to insinuate against the Government, inflame People into a Dislike of their Superiors, and thereby prepare them for Mischief?

Answ. This Objection may have some Force, so long as our Superiors continue Severity; because it doth not only sharpen and excite Dissenters, but it runs many of them into such Holes and Corners, that if they were disposed to any such Conspiracies, they have the securest Places and Opportunities to effect their Design. But what Dissenter can be so destitute of Reason, and of Love to common Safety, as to expose himself and Family, by Plotting against a Government that is Kind to them, and gives him the Liberty he desires, and that he could only be supposed, in common Sense, to Plot for.

To be sure, Liberty to worship God, according to their several Professions, will be, as the People’s Satisfaction, so the Government’s greatest Security: For if Men enjoy their Property, and their Conscience, which is the Noblest Part of it, without Molestation, what should they object against, or Plot for? Mad Men only Burn their own Houses, Kill their own Children, and Murder themselves. Doth Kindness or Cruelty most take with Men that are themselves? H. Grotius, with Campanella, well observ’d, That a fierce and rugged Hand was very improper for Northern Countries. Englishmen are gain’d with Mildness, but inflamed by Severity.37 And many that do not suffer, are as apt to compassionate them that do. And if it will please our Superiors to make Trial of such an Indulgence, doubtless they will find Peace and Plenty to ensue. The Practice of other Nations, and the Trade, Tranquility, Power and Opulency that have attended it, is a Demonstration in the Case, and ought not to be slighted by them that aim at as High and Honourable Things for their Country. And if we had no other Instance than our own Intervals of Connivance, they were enough to satisfie Reasonable Men, how much more Moderation contributes to publick Edition: current; Page: [{63}] Good, than the Prosecution of People for their Religious Dissent; since the One hath ever produced Trade and Tranquility, the Other, Greater Poverty and Dissension.

The Second Objection, and by far the more Weighty, runs thus:

Object. The King and Parliament are Sworn to Maintain and Protect the Church of England, as Establish’d, &c. therefore to Tolerate other Opinions is against their Oath.

Answ. Were the Consequence True, as it is not, it were highly unreasonable to expect Impossibilities at their Hands. Kings and Parliaments can no more make Brick without Straw than Captives:38 They have not Sworn to do Things beyond their Ability; if they have, their Oaths are void. Had it been in His and their Time and Choice, when the Church of England had been first disturbed with Dissenting Opinions, it might have reflected more colourably a Kind of Neglect upon them: But since the Church of England was no sooner a Church, then She found some Sort of Dissenters, and that the utmost Policy and Severity of Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles the First, were not Successful towards an Absolute Uniformity, Why should it reflect upon them, that the Church of England hath not yet rid Herself of Dissenting Parties? Besides, it is Notorious, that the late Wars gave that Opportunity to Differing Perswasions to spread, that it was utterly impossible for them to hinder, much less during the several Years of the King’s Exile; at what Time the present Parliament was no Parliament, nor the Generality of the Members of it scarce of any Authority.

Let it be considered, that ’twas the Study of the Age to make People Anti-Papistical and Anti-Episcopal, and that Power and Preferment went on that Side. Their Circumstances therefore, and their Ancestors, are not the same; they found the Kingdom divided into several Interests, and it seems a Difficulty insuperable to reduce them to any one Perswasion; wherefore to render themselves Masters of their Affections, they must necessarily Govern themselves towards them on a Ballance, as is before exprest; otherwise, they are put upon the greatest Hazards, and extreamest Difficulties to themselves and the Kingdom, and all to perform the Uncharitable Office of suppressing many Thousands of inoffensive Inhabitants, for the different Exercise of their Consciences to God: It is not to make them resemble Almighty God, the Goodness of whose Nature extends it self Universally, thus to narrow their Bowels, and confine Edition: current; Page: [{64}] their Clemency to one Single Party: It ought to be remembred, that Optimus went before Maximus of Old, and that Power without Goodness, is a Frightful Sort of a Thing.

But Secondly, I deny the Consequence, viz. That the King is therefore obliged to persecute Dissenters, because He or the Parliament hath taken an Oath to Maintain the Church of England: For it cannot be supposed or intended, that by maintaining Her, they are to destroy the Rest of the Inhabitants. Is it impossible to Protect Her without knocking all the rest on the Head? Do they allow any to supplant Her Clergy, Invade Her Livings, Possess Her Emoluments, Exercise Her Authority? What would She have? Is She not Church of England still, Invested with the same Power, Bearing the same Character? What Grandeur or Interest hath She lost by them? Are they not manifestly Her Protector? Is She not National Church still? And can any of Her Children be so insensible, as either to challenge her Superiors with Want of Integrity, because they had not performed Impossibilities? Or to excite them to that Harshness, which is not only Destructive of many Thousands of Inhabitants, but altogether injurious to their own Interest, and dishonourable to a Protestant Church? Suppose Dissenters not to be of the Visible Church, are they therefore unfit to live? Did the Jews treat Strangers so severely, that had so much more to say than Her self? Is not the King Lord of Wasts and Commons as well as Inclosures? Suppose God hath Elected some to Salvation, doth it therefore follow he hath Reprobated all the rest? And because he was God of the Jews, was He not therefore God of the Gentiles? Or were not the Gentiles his People, because the Jews were his peculiar People?

To be brief, they have answered their Obligation, and consented to Severe Laws, and commanded their Execution, and have not only preferr’d her above every Interest in England, but against them, to render her more Powerful and Universal; till they have good Reason to be Tired with the Lamentable Consequences of those Endeavours, and conclude, that the Uniformity thereby intended, is a Thing impracticable, as well as Mischievous.

And I wonder that these Men should so easily forget that Great Saying of King Charles the First, (whom they pretend so often, and with so much Honour to remember) in his Advice to the present King, where he saith,

Beware of exasperating any Factions, by the Crossness and Asperity of some Men’s Passions, Humors, or Private Opinions, imployed by you, grounded only upon their Differences in Lesser Matters, which are but Edition: current; Page: [{65}] the Skirts and Suburbs of Religion, wherein a Charitable Connivance, and Christian Toleration often dissipates their Strength, whom rougher Opposition fortifieth, and puts the Despised and Oppressed Party into such Combinations, as may most enable them to get a full Revenge upon those they count their Persecutors; who are commonly assisted with that Vulgar Commiseration, which attends all that are said to suffer under the Common Notion of Religion.39

So that we have not only the King’s Circumstances, but his Father’s Counsel, upon Experience, who yet saw not the End of One Half of them, defending a Charitable Connivance, and Christian Toleration of Dissenters.

Obj. 3. But it may be further alledged, This makes Way for Popery or Presbytery, to undermine the Church of England, and mount the Chair of Preferment, which is more than a Prudential Indulgence of different Opinions.

And yet there is not any so probable an Expedient to vanish those Fears, and prevent any such Design, as keeping all Interests upon the Ballance; for so the Protestant makes at least Six Parties against Popery, and the Church of England at least Five against Presbytery: And how either of them should be able to turn the Scale against Five or Six, as Free and Thriving Interests, as either of them can pretend to be, I confess I cannot understand. But if One only Interest must be Tolerated, which implies a Resolution to suppress the Rest, plain it is, that the Church of England ventures Her Single Party against Six Growing Interests, and thereby gives Presbytery and Popery by far an easier Access to Supremacy; especially the latter, for that it is the Religion of those Parts of Europe, which neither want Inclination, nor Ability to prosper it. So that besides the Consistency of such an Indulgence with the Nature of a Christian Church, there can be nothing more in Prudence advisable for the Church of England, than to allow of the Ballance propounded: In the first, no Person of any real Worth, will ever the sooner decline her; on the contrary, it will give her a greater Reputation in a Country so hating Severity: And next, it gives her Opportunity to turn the Scale against any one Party that may aspire to her Pulpits and Endowments: And she never need to fear the Agreement of all of them to any such Design; Episcopacy being not more intolerable than Presbytery in Power, even to an Independency it self; and yet between them, lies the narrowest Difference that is among the Dissenting Interests in this Kingdom.

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But this seems too large, and yielding, and therefore to find a Medium, something that may compass the Happy End of Good Correspondence and Tranquility, at least so to fortifie the Church of England, as that she may securely give Law to all other Religious Interests, I hear a Comprehension is pitch’d upon, and diligently pursued by both Episcopalians and Presbyterians, at least, some of each Party.

But if it becomes Wise Men to Look before they Leap; it will not be unadvisable for them to weigh the Consequences of such an Endeavour.

For, in the first Place, there is no People I know in England, that stands at a greater Distance from Her Doctrine, as it is maintain’d by her present Sons, then the Presbyterians, particularly about Absolute Reprobation, the Person of Christ, Satisfaction and Justification: And he must be a Stranger in the Religious Contests of our Times, that knows not this.

II. In the next Place, none have govern’d themselves with a plainer Denial, and more peremptory Contempt of Episcopacy, and the whole Discipline and Worship of the Church of England, than the Presbyterians have ever done: Let them put me to prove it if they please, even of their Most Reverend Fathers.

III. Who knows not that their Reciprocal Heats about these very Things, went a great Way towards our late Lamentable Civil Wars? Now if the same Principles remain with each Party, and that they are so far from repenting of their Tenaciousness, that on the contrary they justifie their Dissent from one another in these Matters, how can either Party have Faith enough to rely upon each other’s Kindness, or so much as attempt a Comprehension? What must become of the Labours of Bishop Whitgift, R. Hooker, Bishop Bancroft, Bishop Laud, &c. in Rebuke of the Presbyterian Separation, and the Names of those Leading Dissenters, as Cartwright, Dod, Bradshaw, Rutterford, Galaspee, &c. so Famous among the present Presbyterians, and that for their Opposition to the Church? This consider’d, what Reason can any render, why the Episcopalians should so singularly provide for, and confide in an Interest that hath already been so destructive to theirs? On the other Hand, With what Prudence may the Presbyterians embrace the other’s Offer, that to be sure, intend it not in stark Kindness to them, and who, they must needs think, cannot but owe Revenge, and retain deep Grudges for old Stories? But

IV. The very Reason given for a Comprehension, is the greatest that can be urged against it, namely, The Suppression of other Dissenting Persuasions. I will suppose a Comprehension, and the Consequences of it, to be an Eradication of all other Interests, the Thing desired: But if the Two remaining Parties Edition: current; Page: [{67}] shall fall out, as it is not likely that they will long agree, what can the Presbyterian have to Ballance himself against the Ruling Power of Episcopacy? Or the Episcopalian to secure himself against the Aspirings of Presbytery? They must either All become Episcopalians, or Presbyterians, else they will mix like Iron and Clay, which made ill Legs for the Image in Daniel:40 Nor is it to be thought, that their Legs should stand any better upon a Comprehension.

But some are ready to say, That their Difference is very Minute: Grant it; Are they ever the more deserving for that? Certainly, Forbearance should carry some Proportion with the Greatness of the Difference, by how much it is easier to comply in Small than Great Matters. He that dissents Fundamentally, is more excusable than those that Sacrifice the Peace and Concord of a Society about Little Circumstances; for there cannot be the same Inducement to suspect Men of Obstinacy in an Essential, as Circumstantial Non-Conformity.

Besides, How far can this Accommodation extend with Security to the Church of England? Or, on what better Terms will the Presbyterians Conform to Her Discipline and Formal Acts of Devotion, than those upon which Peter du Moulin offer’d to Preach the Gospel at Rome? viz. That if the Pope would give him Leave to Preach at Rome, he would be contented to Preach in a Fool’s Coat. I question if the Presbyterian can go so far, I am sure he could not; and as sure, that Peter du Moulin hop’d, by preaching there in a Fool’s Coat, to inculcate that Doctrine which should Un-Mitre the Pope, and alter his Church; the very Thing the Church of England Fears and Fences against. For Peter du Moulin intended to preach in a Fool’s Coat no longer, than till he had preach’d the People Wise enough to throw it off again. So the Presbyterians, they may Conform to certain Ceremonies (once as Sinful to them, as a Fool’s Coat could be Ridiculous to Peter du Moulin) that they may the better introduce their Alterations both in Doctrine and Discipline.

But that which ought to go a great Way with our Superiors, in their Judgment of this Matter, is not only the Benefit of a Ballance against the Presumption of any One Party, and the Probability, if not Certainty of their never being overdriven by any One Persuasion, whilst they have others that will more than Poize against the Growing Power of it: But the Conceit it self, if not altogether impracticable, is at least very difficult to the Promoters, and an Office as Thankless from the Parties concern’d.

This appears in the Endeavours used for a Comprehension of Arrians and Edition: current; Page: [{68}] Homoousians under One Orthodoxy, related not only in our common Ecclesiastical History, but more amply in the Writings of Hilary, an Enemy to the Arrians, and Mariana’s Spanish History.41 Their publick Tests, or comprehensive Creeds were many, Nice, Ariminum, Sirmium, &c. in order to reconcile both Parties, that neither might stigmatize the other with the odious Crime of Heresie: But the Consequence of all this Convocation and Prolix Debate was, that neither Party could be satisfied, each continuing their former Sentiments, and so grew up into stronger Factions, to the Division, Distraction, and almost Destruction of the whole Empire: Recover’d a little by the prudent Moderation of Jovianus, and much improved, not by a Comprehension, but Restauration of a Seasonable Liberty of Conscience, by Theodosius Magnus.

Also in Germany, about the Time of the Reformation, nothing seemed more Sincere than the Design of Union between the Lutherans and Zuinglians: For Luther and Zuinglius themselves, by the Earnest Endeavours of the Landgrave of Hessen, came together; but the Success was so small, notwithstanding the Grave’s Mediation, that they parted scarcely Civil: To be sure, as far from Unity as Controversie is.

Luther and Cardinal Cajetan met for a Composure of the Breach betwixt the Protestants and the Pope, but it was too wide for those Conferences to reconcile: No Comprehension could be practicable. A second Essay to the same Purpose, was by Melancthon; Cassander and others; the Consequence of it was, that the Parties were displeased, and the Heads suspected, if not hated of their Followers. Nor had Bucer’s Meeting with Julius Pflugg any better Success.

And how fruitless their Endeavours have been, that with greatest Art and Industry, have, of a long Time, endeavoured a Reconciliation of Lutherans and Calvinists, is well known to those that are acquainted with the Affairs of Germany: And such as are not, may furnish themselves from the publick Relations given by those that are employed about that Accommodation: Where, besides a dull and heavy Progress, the Reader may be a Witness of their Complaint; not only that both Parties are too Tenacious, but that the Mediators suffer Detraction for their good Endeavours; each Side grudging every Tittle they yield; and murmuring as if they were to lose their Religion. And if Persons so disinterested, and worthy in their Attempts, have had no better Issue, Edition: current; Page: [{69}] I cannot see how those, who seem compell’d by Worldly Interest more than Conscience, to seek and propagate a Comprehension, especially, when it determines in the Persecution of the rejected Perswasions, can, with any Reason, expect from God, or Good Men, any better Success.

Lastly, There is nothing any Man, touched with Justice and Mercy, can alledge for a Comprehension, that may not much better be urged for a Toleration, For the Church is less in Danger, when she knows the worst, than where the Danger is hid. Five Enemies without Doors being not so mischievous as one within. But they are also Men, and Englishmen as well as those of other Perswasions: Their Faith is as Christian, they believe as sincerely, live as conscientiously, are as useful in the Kingdom, and manage their Dissent with as much Modesty and Prudence, the Church of England her self being in great Measure Judge, as those on whose Account a Comprehension may be desired: To be sure they are Englishmen, and have an Equal Claim to the Civil Rights of their Native Country, with any that live in it, whom to persecute, whilst others, and those no better Men in themselves are more than tolerated, is, as I have already said, The unreasonable and unmerciful Doctrine of Absolute Reprobation put in Practice in Civils: From which the Lord deliver us.

CHAP. III.: A sincere Promotion of General and Practical Religion.

III. Of General and Practical Religion, That the Promotion of it, is the only Way to take in, and stop the Mouth of all Perswasions, being the Center to which all Parties verbally tend, and therefore the Station for a prudent Magistrate, to meet every Interest in: The Neglect of it pernicious: Instances: That it is the unum Necessarium42 to Felicity here and hereafter.

I AM NOW come to the last, which, to be sure, is not the least Part of my Answer to the Question propounded, viz. The sincere Promotion of general and practical Religion; by which I mean the Ten Commandments, or moral Law, and Christ’s Sermon upon the Mount, with other Heavenly Sayings, excellently improved, and earnestly recommended by several Passages in the Edition: current; Page: [{70}] Writings of his Disciples, which forbid Evil, not only in Deed but Thought; and enjoyn Purity and Holiness, as without which no Man, be his Pretences what they will, shall ever see God. In short, General, True and Requisite Religion, in the Apostle James’s Definition is, To visit the Widow and Fatherless, and to keep our selves, through the Universal Grace, unspotted of the World.43 This is the most easie and probable way, to fetch in all Men professing God and Religion: Since every Perswasion acknowledges this in Words, be their Lives never so disagreeable to their Confession. And this being the Unum Necessarium, that one Thing needful, to make Men happy here and hereafter, why, alas, should Men sacrifice their Accord in this great Point, for an Unity in minute or circumstantial Things, that perhaps is inobtainable, and if it were not, would signifie little or nothing, either to the Good of humane Society, or the particular Comfort of any, in the World which is to come?

No one Thing is more unaccountable and condemnable among Men, than their Uncharitable Contests about Religion, indeed about Words and Phrases; whilst they all verbally meet in the most, if not only necessary Part of Christian Religion: For nothing is more certain, than if Men would but live up to one half of what they know in their own Consciences they ought to practice, their Edge would be taken off, their Blood would be sweetned by Mercy and Truth, and this unnatural Sharpness qualified: They would quickly find Work enough at Home, each Man’s Hands would be full by the Unruliness of his own Passions, and in subjecting of his own Will, and instead of devouring one another’s good Name, Liberty, or Estate, Compassion would rise, and mutual Desires to be Assistant to each Other, in a better Sort of Living. O how decent, and how delightful would it be, to see Mankind (the Creation of one God, that hath upheld them to this Day) of One Accord, at least in the Weighty Things of God’s Holy Law!

’Tis Want of Practice, and too much Prate, that hath made Way for all the Incharity and ill Living that is in the World. No Matter what Men say, if the Devil keep the House. Let the Grace of God, the Principle of divine Life (as a great Man lately called it in his Speech) but be Heartily and Reverently entertained of Men, that teaches us to deny all Ungodliness, and converse soberly, righteously and godly, in this present evil World, and it is not to be doubted but Tranquility, at least a very Amicable Correspondence will follow.

Men are not to be reputed Good by their Opinions or Professions of Religion: Edition: current; Page: [{71}] Nor is it that which ought to engage the Government, but Practice; ’tis this that must save or damn. Christ in his Representation of the great Day, doth not tell us, that it shall be said to Men, Well said or Well talked, but Well done, Good and Faithful Servant: Neither is the Depart from me, directed to any, but the Workers of Iniquity;44 Error is now translated from the Signification of an evil Life, to an unsound Proposition, as Philosophy is from the Mortification, and Well living, to an Unintelligible Way of Wrangling. And a Man is more bitterly harrass’d for a mistaken Notion, though the Party holding thinks it not so, and the Party charging it denies an Infallible Judgment (so that it may as well be true as false for all them) than for the most dissolute or immoral Life. And truly it is high Time, that Men should give better Testimony of their Christianity: For Cruelty hath no Share in Christ’s Religion, and Coercion upon Conscience, is utterly inconsistent with the very Nature of his Kingdom. He rebuked that Zeal which would have Fire come down from Heaven, to devour Dissenters, tho’ it came from his own Disciples; and forbad them to pluck up the Tares, though none had a more gentle or infallible Hand to do it with.45

He preferred Mercy before Sacrifice,46 and therefore we may well believe, that the unmerciful Sacrifices some Men now offer, I mean Imprisoning Persons, Spoiling of Goods, and leaving whole Families destitute of Subsistence, as well as disinheriting them of all civil Privileges in the Government, are far from being grateful to him, who therefore came into the World, and preach’d that Heavenly Doctrine of Forbearing, and Loving of Enemies, and laid down his most innocent Life for us, whilst we were Rebels, that by such peaceable Precepts, and so patient an Example, the World might be prevailed upon to leave those barbarous Courses. And doubtless, very lamentable will their Condition be, who at the Coming of the great Lord, shall be found Beaters of their Fellow-Servants.47

In vain do Men go to Church, pray, preach, and stile themselves Believers, Christians, Children of God, &c. Whilst such Acts of Severity are cherished among them; and any Disposition to molest harmless Neighbours for their Conscience, so much as countenanc’d by them. A Course quite repugnant to Edition: current; Page: [{72}] Christ’s Example and Command. In short, the Promoting of this General Religion, by a severe Reprehension and Punishment of Vice, and Encouragement of Virtue, is the Interest of our Superiors, several Ways.

1. In that it meets with, and takes in all the Religious Perswasions of the Kingdom, for all pretend to make this their Corner Stone. Let them be equally encouraged to square their Building by it. Penal Laws for Religion, is a Church with a Sting in her Tail; take that out, and there is no Fear of the People’s Love and Duty: And what better Obligation or Security can the civil Magistrate desire? Every Man owns the Text; ’tis the Comment that’s disputed. Let it but please him to make the Text only Sacred and Necessary, and leave Men to keep Company with their own Meanings or Consequences, and he does not only prudently take in all, but suppresseth nice Searches, Fixes Unity upon Materials, Quiets present Differences about Things of lesser Moment, retrieves Humanity, and Christian Clemency, and fills the Kingdom with Love and Respect to their Superiors.

2. Next, A Promotion of General Religion, which, being in it self practical; brings back ancient Virtue. Good Living will thrive in this Soil: Men will grow Honest, Trusty, and Temperate; we may expect Good Neighbourhood and cordial Friendship: One may then depend more upon a Word, than now upon an Oath. How lamentable is it to see People afraid of one another; Men made and provided for of one God, and that must be judged by that one Eternal God, yet full of Diffidence in what each other says, and most commonly interpret, as people read Hebrew, all Things backward.

3. The Third Benefit is, that Men will be more industrious; more diligent in their lawful Callings, which will encrease our Manufacture, set the Idle and Poor to work for their Lively-Hood, and enable the several Countries, with more Ease and Decency to maintain the Aged and impotent among them. Nor will this only help to make the Lazy conscientiously industrious, but the Industrious and Conscientious Man chearful at his Labour, when he is assured to keep what he works for, and that the Sweat of his Brows shall not be made a Forfeit for his Conscience.

4. It will render the Magistrates Province more facil, and Government a Safe as well as Easy Thing. For, as Tacitus says of Agricola’s instructing the Britains in Arts and Sciences, and using them with more Humanity than other Governors had done, that it made them fitter for Government;48 So if Practical Edition: current; Page: [{73}] Religion, and the Laws made to maintain it, were duly regarded, the very Natures of Men, now wild and froward, by a Prejudiced Education and Cross and Jealous Interests, would learn Moderation, and see it to be their greatest Interest to pursue a Sober and Amicable Conversation; which would Ease the Magistrate of much of his present Trouble, and increase the Number of Men fit to govern; of which the Parliament-Times are an undeniable Instance. And the Truth is, ’tis a Piece of Slavery to have the Regiment of Ignorants and Ruffians; but there is true Glory in having the Government of Men, instructed in the Justice and Prudence of their own Laws and Country.

Lastly, It is out of this Nursery of Virtue, Men should be drawn to be planted in the Government, not what is their Opinion, but what is their Manners and Capacity? Here the Field is large, and the Magistrate has Room to choose good Officers for the Publick Good. Heaven will prosper so natural, so noble, and so Christian an Essay; which ought not to be the least Consideration with a good Magistrate; and the rather, because the Neglect of this Practical Religion, hath been the Ruin of Kingdoms and Commonwealths, among Heathens, Jews and Christians. This laid Tarquin low, and his Race never rose more.49 How puissant were Lacedaemon and Athens of Greece, ’till Luxury had eaten out their Severity, and a Pompous Living, contrary to their Excellent Laws, render’d their Execution intolerable? And was not Hanibal’s Army a Prey to their own Idleness and Pleasure, which by effeminating their Natures, conquer’d them, when the whole Power of Rome could not do it? What else betray’d Rome to Caesar’s Ambition, and made Way for the After-rents and Divisions of the Empire, the Merit as well as Conquest and Inheritance of a well govern’d People for several Ages, as long as their Manners lasted? The Jews likewise were prosperous, while they kept the Judgments and Statutes of their God; but when they became Rebellious and Dissolute, the Almighty either visited them from Heaven, or exposed them to the Fury of their Neighbours. Nothing else sent Zedekiah to Babylon, and gave him and the People a Victim to Nebuchadnezzar and his Army.50

Neglect of Laws and Dissolute Living, Andrew Horn (that lived in the Time of Edward the First, as before cited) tells us, was the Cause of the Miserable Edition: current; Page: [{74}] Thraldom and Desolation the Britains sustained by Invaders and Conquerors.51 And pray, what else hath been the English of our Sweeping Pestilence, Dreadful Fires, and Outragious Factions of late Years? Hundreds of Examples might be brought in this Case; but their Frequency shall excuse me.

Thus have I honestly and plainly clear’d my Conscience for my Country, and answer’d, I hope, modestly, and tho’ briefly, yet fully, the Import of the Question propounded, with Honour to the Magistrate and Safety to the People, by an happy Conjunction of their Interests. I shall conclude,

That as Greater Honour and Wisdom cannot well be attributed to any Sort of Men, than for our Superiors, under their Circumstances, to be sought to by all Perswasions, confided in by all Perswasions, and obey’d by all Perswasions; and to make those Perswasions know, that it is their Interest so to do, as well as that it is the Interest of our Superiors, they should, and to which the Expedients proposed naturally tend; So, for a farther Inducement to embrace it, let them be constantly remembred, that the Interest of our English Governors is like to stand longer upon the Legs of the English People, than of the English Church: Since the one takes in the Strength of all Interests, and the other leaves out all but her own: And it may happen that the English Church may fail, or go travel again, but it is not probable that the English People should do either; especially while Property is preserv’d, a Ballance kept, General Religion propagated, and the World continues.

May all this prevail with our Superiors to make the best Use of their little Time; Remembring, in the midst of all their Power and Grandeur, that they carry Mortality about them, and are equally liable to the Scrutiny and Judgment of the Last Day, with the poorest Peasant; and that they have a great Stewardship to account for: So that Moderation and Virtue being their Course, they, for the future, shall steer; after having faithfully discharged that great Trust reposed in them, by God and this Free People, they may, with Comfort to their Souls, and Honour to their Names and Actions, safely anchor in the Haven of Eternal Blessedness: So prays, with much Sincerity,

An English-Christian-Man,
And Their True Friend,
William Penn.
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THAT the People are under a great Dissatisfaction. That the Way to Quiet Differences, and render contrary Interests Subservient to the Interest of the Government, is,

First, To maintain inviolably the Rights of it, viz. Liberty and Property, Legislation and Juries, without Neglect. That, Slighting and Infringing them hath been the Injury of Prince and People, and early or late the Ruin of the Contrivers of so ill Designs; and when all has been done, the only Expedient has been, to come back again to English Law. This takes in all, pleases all, because it secures and profits all. Sacrificing Privileges for the Sake of Conformity, makes a Breach upon the Civil Government, alienates the People’s Affections from their Prince, lodges Property in the Church, so as none can come at it, but through Obedience to her Rites, for she at this Rate has the Keeping of it; a Thing unknown, as well as unsafe to the Ancient English Government.

2dly. That the Prince govern himself upon a Ballance towards all Religious Interests: That this best poizes Parties to his Security, renders him Master of an Universal Affection, and makes him truly and safely Prince of all his Country: But the contrary Course narrows his Justice and Mercy, makes the Government to shine but upon one Part of the Kingdom; to be just but to one Party, and disinherit the rest from their Birth-right: That this Course ends in great Disadvantage to the Peace, Plenty, and Safety of Prince and People.

3dly. And Lastly, Instead of being Uncharitable, Severe and Cruel for Modifications, let the Debate about them Sleep, and General and Practical Religion be promoted, that which receives an Amen in every Man’s Conscience, from the Principle of Divine Life (as the Lord Keeper well called it) in every Breast, That all agree in the most weighty Doctrines; and that nothing will sooner sweeten Men’s Blood, and mollify their Natures, than employing that Time and Pains they bestow on fruitless Contests, in living up to what they both know, believe and accord in: That this leaves Men to keep Company with their own Comments, and makes the Text only Sacred, and Holy Living Necessary, not only to Heavenly, but Earthly Places, I mean Preferments: Whence Virtue becomes the Door to Favour, and Conscience (now smother’d in the Crowd of Sinister Interests) the Noble Rule of Living.

God Almighty, if it please him, beget Noble Resolutions in the Hearts of our Superiors to use these Plain and Safe Expedients, that Charity may supplant Edition: current; Page: [{76}] Cruelty, Contest yield to Good Life, and present Distances meet in a just and kind Neighbourhood.

Great and Honourable is that Prince, and Free and Happy that People, where these Things take Place.

William Penn.
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{PART II}: Penn’s Argument for Religious Liberty

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3.: THE Great CASE of Liberty of Conscience Once more briefly Debated and Defended, by the Authority of Reason, Scripture, and Antiquity: Which may serve the Place of a General Reply to such late Discourses; as have Oppos’d a Toleration (1670) The Author W. P.

Whatsoever ye would that Men should do to you, do ye even so to them: Mat. 7. 12.

Render unto Caesar, the Things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the Things that are God’s. Mark 12. 17.

To the Supream Authority of England.

TOLERATION (for these Ten Years past) has not been more the Cry of some, than PERSECUTION has been the Practice of others, though not on Grounds equally Rational.

The present Cause of this Address, is to solicite a Conversion of that Power to our Relief, which hitherto has been imploy’d to our Depression; that after this large Experience of our Innocency, and long since expir’d Apprenticeship of Cruel Sufferings, you will be pleas’d to cancel all our Bonds, and give us a Possession of those Freedoms, to which we are entituled by English Birthright.

This has been often promised to us, and we as earnestly have expected the Performance; but to this Time we labour under the unspeakable Pressure of Nasty Prisons, and daily Confiscation of our Goods, to the apparent Ruin of intire Families.

We would not attribute the whole of this Severity to Malice, since not a little share may justly be ascribed to Mis-intelligence.

For ’tis the Infelicity of Governours to see and hear by the Eyes and Ears of other Men; which is equally unhappy for the People.

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And we are bold to say, that Suppositions and meer Conjectures, have been the best Measures, that most have taken of Us, and of our Principles; for whilst there have been none more inoffensive, we have been mark’t for Capital Offenders.

’Tis hard that we should always lie under this undeserved Imputation; and which is worse, be Persecuted as such, without the Liberty of a just Defence.

In short, if you are apprehensive, that our Principles are inconsistent with the Civil Government, grant us a free Conference about the Points in Question, and let us know, what are those Laws, essential to Preservation, that our Opinions carry an Opposition to? And if upon a due enquiry we are found so Heterodox, as represented, it will be then but time enough to inflict these heavy Penalties upon us.

And as this Medium seems the fairest, and most reasonable; so can you never do your selves greater Justice, either in the Vindication of your Proceedings against us, if we be Criminal; or if Innocent, in dis-ingaging your Service of such, as have been Authors of so much Mis-information.

But could we once obtain the Favour of such Debate we doubt not to evince a clear Consistency of our Life and Doctrine with the English Government; and that an indulging of Dissenters in the Sense defended, is not only most Christian and Rational, but Prudent also. And the Contrary (how plausibly soever insinuated) the most injurious to the Peace, and destructive of that discreet Ballance, which the Best and Wisest States, have ever carefully Observ’d.

But if this fair and equal Offer, find not a Place with you, on which to rest it’s Foot; much less that it should bring us back the Olive Branch of TOLERATION; we heartily embrace and bless the Providence of God; and in his Strength resolve, by Patience, to outweary Persecution, and by our constant Sufferings, seek to obtain a Victory, more Glorious, than any our Adversaries can atchieve by all their Cruelties.

Vincit qui patitur.1
From a Prisoner for Conscience-Sake,
W. P.
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WERE some as Christian, as they boast themselves to be, ’twould save us all the Labour we bestow in rendring Persecution so Unchristian, as it most truly is: Nay were they those Men of Reason they Character themselves, and what the Civil Law stiles good Citizens, it had been needless for us to tell them, that neither can any external Coercive Power convince the Understanding of the poorest Idiot, nor Fines and Prisons be judg’d fit and adequate Penalties for Faults purely intellectual; as well as that they are destructive of all Civil Government.

But we need not run so far as beyond the Seas, to fetch the Sense of the Codes, Institutes, and Digests, out of the Corpus Civile, to adjudge such Practices incongruous with the good of Civil Society; since our own good, old, admirable Laws of England, have made such excellent Provision for it’s Inhabitants, that if they were but thought as fit to be executed by this present Age, as they were rightly judg’d necessary to be made by our careful Ancestors: We know how great a Stroak they would give such as venture to lead away our Property in Triumph (as our just Forfeiture) for only Worshipping our God in a differing Way, from that which is more generally Profest and Establisht.

And indeed it is most truly lamentable, That above others (who have been found in so Un-natural and Antichristian an Imployment) those, that by their own frequent Practices and Voluminous Apologies, have defended a Separation (from the Papacy) should now become such earnest Persecutors for it, not considering, that the Enaction of such Laws, as restrain Persons from the free Exercise of their Consciences, in Matters of Religion, is but a knotting Whip-cord to lash their own Posterity; whom they can never promise to be conformed to a National Religion. Nay, since Mankind is subject to such Mutability, they can’t ensure themselves, from being taken by some Perswasions, that are esteem’d Heterodox, and consequently catch themselves in Snares of their own providing. And for Men thus liable to change, (and no ways certain of their own Belief to be the most infallible,) as by their multiply’d Concessions may appear, to enact any Religion, or prohibit Persons from the free Exercise of theirs, sounds harsh in the Ears of all modest and unbya’st Men. We are bold to say our Protestant Ancestors thought of nothing less, than to be succeeded by Persons Vain glorious of their Reformation, and yet Adversaries to Liberty of Conscience; for to People in their Wits, it seems a Paradox.

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Not that we are so ignorant, as to think it is within the Reach of Humane Power to fetter Conscience, or to restrain it’s Liberty strictly taken: But that plain English, of Liberty of Conscience, we would be understood to mean, is this; namely, The Free and Uninterrupted Exercise of our Consciences, in that Way of Worship, we are most clearly perswaded, God requires us to serve Him in (without endangering our undoubted Birthright of English Freedoms) which being Matter of FAITH; we Sin if we omit, and they can’t do less, that shall endeavour it.

To tell us, we are Obstinate and Enemies to Government, are but those Groundless Phrases, the first Reformers were not a little pestered with; but as they said, so say we, The being call’d this, or that, does not conclude us so; and hitherto we have not been detected of that Fact, which only justifies such Criminations.

But however free we can approve our selves of Actions prejudicial to the Civil Government; ’tis most certain we have not suffered a little, as Criminals, and therefore have been far from being free from Sufferings; indeed, in some respect, Horrid Plunders: Widows have lost their Cows, Orphans their Beds, and Labourers their Tools. A Tragedy so sad, that methinks it should oblige them to do in England, as they did at Athens; when they had sacrificed their Divine Socrates to the sottish Fury of their lewd and Comical Multitude, they so regretted their hasty Murder, that not only the Memorial of Socrates was most venerable with them, but his Enemies they esteemed so much theirs, that none would Trade or hold the least Commerce with them; for which some turned their own Executioners, and without any other Warrant than their own Guilt, hang’d themselves. How near a-kin the wretched mercenary Informers of our Age are to those, the great Resemblance that is betwixt their Actions manifestly shews.

And we are bold to say, the grand Fomenters of Persecution, are no better Friends to the English State, than were Anytus and Aristophanes of old to that of Athens, the Case being so nearly the same, as that they did not more bitterly envy the Reputation of Socrates amongst the Athenians for his grave and Religious Lectures (thereby giving the Youth a Diversion from frequenting their Plays) than some now emulate the true Dissenter, for his Pious Life, and great Industry.2

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And as that famous Common-wealth was noted to decline, and the most observing Persons of it dated its decay from that illegal and ingrateful Carriage towards Socrates (witness their dreadful Plagues, with other multiply’d Disasters). So it is not less worthy Observation, that Heaven hath not been wholly wanting to scourge this Land, for, as well their Cruelty to the Conscientious, as their other multiply’d Provocations.

And when we seriously consider the dreadful Judgments that now impend the Nation (by Reason of the Robbery, Violence, unwonted Oppression, that almost every where, have not only been committed, upon the Poor, the Widow, and the Fatherless; but most tenaciously justified, and the Actors manifestly encourag’d) in meer Pity, and Concern, for the Everlasting Welfare of such as have not quite sinn’d away their Visitation (for some have) we once more bring to publick View, our Reasons against Persecution, backt with the plainest Instances, both of Scripture and Antiquity. If but one may be perswaded, to desist from making any farther Progress in such an Anti-protestant, and truly Anti-christian Path, as that of persecuting Honest and Virtuous Englishmen, for only worshipping the God that made them, in the Way they judge most acceptable with him.

But if those, who ought to think themselves oblig’d to weigh these Affairs with the greatest Deliberation, will obstinately close their Eyes, to these last Remonstrances; and slightly over-look the pinching Case of so many thousand Families, that are by these Severities expos’d for Prey, to the unsatiable Appetites of a Villanous Crew of broken Informers (daubing themselves with that deluding Apprehension of pleasing God, or at least of profiting the Country; whilst they greatly displease the one, and evidently ruin the other as certain as ever the Lord God Almighty destroyed Sodom, and lay’d waste Gomorrah, by the consuming Flames of His just Indignations); will he hasten to make desolate this wanton Land, and not leave an Hiding Place for the Oppressor.3

Let no man therefore think himself too big to be admonish’d, nor put too slight a Value upon the Lives, Liberties, and Properties, of so many Thousand Free-born English Families, Embark’t in that one Concern of Liberty of Conscience. It will become him better to reflect upon his own Mortality, and not forget his Breath is in his Nostrils, and that every Action of his Life the Everlasting God will bring to Judgment, and him for them.

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CHAP. I.: That Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution for Conscience-Sake, highly Invade the Divine Prerogative, and Divest the Almighty of a Right, due to none beside Himself, and that in five eminent Particulars.

THE great Case of Liberty of Conscience so often Debated and Defended (however dissatisfactorily to such as have so little Conscience as to Persecute for it) is once more brought to publick View, by a late Act against Dissenters, and Bill, or an additional one, that we all hop’d the Wisdom of our Rulers had long since laid aside, as what was fitter to be passed into an Act of perpetual Oblivion.4 The Kingdoms are alarm’d at this Procedure, and Thousands greatly at a Stand, wondring what should be the Meaning of such hasty Resolutions, that seem as fatal as they were unexpected: Some ask what Wrong they have done; others, what Peace they have broken; and all, what Plots they have form’d, to prejudice the present Government, or occasions given, to hatch new Jealousies of them and their Proceedings, being not conscious to themselves of Guilt in any such Respect.

For mine own Part, I publickly confess my self to be a very hearty Dissenter from the establish’t Worship of these Nations, as believing Protestants to have much degenerated from their first Principles, and as owning the poor despised Quakers, in Life and Doctrine, to have espoused the Cause of God, and to be the undoubted Followers of Jesus Christ, in his most Holy, Straight and Narrow Way that leads to the Eternal Rest. In all which I know no Treason, nor any Principle that would urge me to a Thought injurious to the Civil Peace. If any be defective in this particular, ’tis equal, both Individuals and whole Societies should answer for their own Defaults, but we are clear.

However, all conclude that Union very Ominous, and Unhappy, which Edition: current; Page: [{85}] makes the first Discovery of it self, by a John Baptist’s Head in a Charger,5 They mean that Feast some are design’d to make upon the Liberties and Properties of Free-born Englishmen, since to have the Intail of those undoubted hereditary Rights cut off (for Matters purely relative of another World) is a severe beheading in the Law; which must be obvious to all, but such as measure the Justice of Things only by that Proportion they bear with their own Interest.

A Sort of Men that seek themselves, though at the apparent Loss of whole Societies, like to that barbarous Fancy of old, which had rather that Rome should burn, than it be without the Satisfaction of a Bon-fire: And sad it is, when Men have so far stupified their Understandings with the strong doses of their private Interest, as to become insensible of the Publick’s. Certainly such an Over-fondness for self, or that strong Inclination, to raise themselves in the Ruin of what does not so much oppose them, as that they will believe so, because they would be persecuting, is a malignant Enemy to that Tranquillity, which, all Dissenting Parties seem to believe, would be the Consequence of a Toleration.

In short we say, there can be but two Ends in Persecution, the one to satisfie (which none can ever do) the insatiable Appetites of a decimating Clergy (whose best Arguments are Fines and Imprisonments) and the other, as thinking therein they do God good Service; but ’tis so hateful a Thing upon any Account, that we shall make it appear by this ensuing Discourse, to be a declared Enemy to God, Religion, and the Good of humane Society.

The whole will be small, since it is but an Epitome of no larger a Tract than fourteen Sheets; yet divides it self into the same Particulars, every of which we shall defend against Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution, though not with that Scope of Reason (nor consequently Pleasure to the Readers) being by other contingent Disappointments, limited to a narrow Stint.

The Terms explained, and the Question stated.

First, By Liberty of Conscience, we understand not only a meer Liberty of the Mind, in believing or disbelieving this or that Principle or Doctrine, but the Exercise of our selves in a visible Way of Worship, upon our believing it to be indispensibly required at our Hands, that if we neglect it for Fear or Favour of any Edition: current; Page: [{86}] Mortal Man, we Sin, and incur Divine Wrath: Yet we would be so understood to extend and justifie the Lawfulness of our so meeting to worship God, as not to contrive, or abet any Contrivance destructive of the Government and Laws of the Land, tending to Matters of an external Nature, directly, or indirectly; but so far only, as it may refer to religious Matters, and a Life to come, and consequently wholly independent of the secular Affairs of this, wherein we are suppos’d to Trangress.

Secondly, By Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution, we don’t only mean, the strict Requiring of us to believe this to be true, or that to be false; and upon Refusal, to incur the Penalties enacted in such Cases; but by those Terms we mean thus much, any coercive Lett or Hindrance to us, from meeting together to perform those Religious Exercises which are according to our Faith and Perswasion.

The Question stated.

For Proof of the aforesaid Terms thus given, we singly state the Question thus,

Whether Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution, upon Persons for Exercising such a Liberty of Conscience, as is before expressed, and so circumstantiated, be not to impeach the Honour of God, the Meekness of the Christian Religion, the Authority of Scripture, the Priviledge of Nature, the Principles of common Reason, the Well-being of Government, and Apprehensions of the greatest Personages of former and latter Ages.

First, Then we say that Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution, for Matters relating to Conscience, directly invade the Divine Prerogative, and Divest the Almighty of a Due, proper to none besides himself. And this we prove by these five Particulars.

1. First, If we do allow the Honour of our Creation, due to God only, and that no other besides himself has endow’d us with those excellent Gifts of Understanding, Reason, Judgment, and Faith, and consequently that he only is the Object as well as Author, both of our Faith, Worship, and Service, then whosoever shall interpose their Authority to enact Faith and Worship, in a Way that seems not to us congruous with what he has discover’d to us to be Faith and Worship (whose alone Property it is to do it) or to restrain us from what we are perswaded is our indispensible Duty, they evidently usurp this Authority and invade his incommunicable Right of Government over Conscience: Edition: current; Page: [{87}] For the Inspiration of the Almighty gives Understanding: And Faith is the Gift of God, says the Divine Writ.6

Secondly. Such magisterial Determinations carry an evident Claim to that Infallibility, which Protestants have been hitherto so jealous of owning, that to avoid the Papists, they have denied it to all, but God himself.

Either they have forsook their old Plea, or if not, we desire to know when, and where, they were invested with that divine Excellency, and whether Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution, were deem’d by God ever the Fruits of his Spirit: However, that it self was not sufficient; for unless it appear as well to us, that they have it, as to them who have it, we cannot believe it upon any convincing Evidence, but by Tradition only; an Anti-Protestant Way of Believing.

Thirdly, It enthrones Man as King over Conscience, the alone just Claim and Priviledge of his Creator, whose Thoughts are not as Men’s Thoughts but has reserv’d to himself, that Empire from all the Caesars on Earth; for if Men in Reference to Souls, and Bodies, things appertaining to this and t’other World, shall be subject to their Fellow-Creatures, what follows? but that Caesar (however he got it) has all, God’s Share, and his own too; and being Lord of both, Both are Caesar’s and not God’s.7

Fourthly, It defeats God’s Work of Grace, and the invisible Operation of his Eternal Spirit, which can alone beget Faith, and is only to be obey’d, in and about Religion and Worship, and attributes Men’s Conformity to outward Force and Corporal Punishments. A Faith subject to as many Revolutions as the Powers that enact it.

Fifthly and Lastly, Such Persons assume the Judgment of the great Tribunal unto themselves; for to whomsoever Men are imposedly or restrictively subject and accountable in Matters of Faith, Worship and Conscience; in them alone must the Power of Judgment reside; but it is equally true that God shall judge all by Jesus Christ, and that no Man is so accountable to his fellow Creatures, as to be imposed upon, restrain’d, or persecuted for any Matter of Conscience whatever.

Thus and in many more particulars are Men accustomed to intrench upon Divine Property, to gratifie particular Interests in the World (and at best) Edition: current; Page: [{88}] through a Misguided Apprehension to imagine they do God good Service, that where they cannot give Faith, They will use Force, which kind of Sacrifice is nothing less unreasonable than the other is abominable: God will not give his Honour to another, and to him only that searches the Heart and tries the Reins, it is our Duty to ascribe the Gifts of Understanding and Faith, without which none can please God.

CHAP. II.: They overturn the Christian Religion; 1. In the Nature of it, which is Meekness; 2. In the Practice of it, which is Suffering; 3. In the Promotion of it, since all further Discoveries are prohibited; 4. In the Rewards of it, which are Eternal.

THE next great Evil which attends External Force in Matters of Faith and Worship, is no less than the Overthrow of the whole Christian Religion, and this we will briefly evidence in these four particulars 1. That there can be nothing more remote from the Nature. 2. The Practice. 3. The Promotion. 4. The Rewards of it.

1. First, it is the Priviledge of the Christian Faith above the dark Suggestions of ancient and modern Superstitious Traditions, to carry with it a most Self-evidencing Verity, which ever was sufficient to proselyte Believers, without the weak Auxiliaries of external Power; The Son of God, and great Example of the World,8 was so far from calling his Father’s Omnipotency in Legions of Angels to his Defence, that he at once repeal’d all Acts of Force, and defin’d to us the Nature of his Religion in this one great Saying of his, MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD.9 It was spiritual, not carnal, accompanied with Weapons, as heavenly as it’s own Nature, and design’d for the Good and Salvation of the Soul, and not the Injury and Destruction of the Body: No Goals, Edition: current; Page: [{89}] Fines, Exiles, &c. but sound Reason, clear Truth and a strict Life. In short, the Christian Religion intreats all, but compels none.

Secondly, That Restraint and Persecution overturn the Practice of it; I need go no farther than the allowed Martyrologies of several Ages, of which the Scriptures claim a Share; begin with Abel, go down to Moses, so to the Prophets, and then to the Meek Example of Jesus Christ himself; How patiently devoted was he, to undergo the Contradictions of Men? and so far from persecuting any, that he would not so much as revile his Persecutors, but prayed for them;10 thus lived his Apostles and the true Christians, of the first three Hundred Years: Nor are the famous Stories of our first Reformers silent in the Matter; witness the Christian Practices of the Waldenses, Lollards, Hussites, Lutherans, and our noble Martyrs, who as became the true Followers of Jesus Christ, enacted and confirm’d their Religion, with their own Blood, and not with the Blood of their Opposers.

Thirdly, Restraint and Persecution obstruct the Promotion of the Christian Religion, for if such as restrain, confess themselves, miserable Sinners, and altogether imperfect, it either follows, that they never desire to be better, or that they should encourage such as may be capable of farther informing and reforming them; they condemn the Papists for encoffening the Scriptures and their Worship, in an unknown Tongue, and yet are guilty themselves of the same kind of Fact.

Fourthly; They prevent many of eternal Rewards, for where any are Religious for Fear, and that of Men, ’tis slavish, and the Recompence of such Religion is Condemnation, not Peace: besides ’tis Man that is served, who having no Power but what is Temporary, his Reward must needs be so too; he that imposes a Duty, or restrains from one, must reward; but because no Man can Reward for such Duties, no Man can or ought to impose them, or restrain from them, so that we conclude Imposition, Restraint and Persecution, are destructive of the Christian Religion, in the Nature, Practice, Promotion and Rewards of it, which are Eternal.

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CHAP. III.: They oppose the plainest Testimonies of Divine Writ that can be, which condemn all Force upon Conscience.

WE FARTHER say, that Imposition, Restraint and Persecution are repugnant to the plain Testimonies and Precepts of the Scriptures.

1. The Inspiration of the Almighty gives Understanding, Job 32. 8.

If no Man can believe before he understands, and no Man can understand before he is inspir’d of God, then are the Impositions of Men excluded as unreasonable, and their Persecutions for non-Obedience as inhuman.

2. Wo unto them that take Counsel, but not of me, Isa. 30. 1.

3. Wo unto them that make a Man an Offender for a Word, and lay a Snare for him that reproves in the Gate, and turn aside the Just for a Thing of Nought, Isa. 29. 15. 21.

4. Let the Wheat and the Tares grow together, until the Time of the Harvest, or End of the World. Matt. 13. 27, 28, 29.

5. And Jesus called them unto him, and said ye know that the Princes of the Gentiles, exercise Dominion over them, and they that are great exercise Authority upon them, but it shall not be so amongst you. Matt. 20. 25, 26.

6. And Jesus said unto them, Render unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the Things that are God’s. Luke 20. 25.

7. When his Disciples saw this (that there were Non-conformists then as well as now) they said, wilt thou that we command Fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, as Elias did; but he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what Spirit ye are of; for the Son of Man is not come to destroy Men’s Lives but to save them, Luke 9. 54, 55, 56.

8. Howbeit, when the Spirit of Truth is come, he shall lead you into all Truth, John 16. 8. 13.

9. But now the Anointing which ye have received of him, abides in you, and you need not that any Man teach you, (much less impose upon any, or restrain them from what any are perswaded it leads to) but as the same Anointing teaches you of all Things, and is Truth and is no Lye, 1 John 2. 27.

10. Dearly Beloved, avenge not your selves, but rather give Place unto Wrath (much less should any be Wrathful that are called Christians, where no Occasion Edition: current; Page: [{91}] is given) therefore if thine Enemy Hunger feed him, and if he Thirst, give him Drink; Recompence no Man Evil for Evil, Rom. 12. 19, 20, 21.

11. For though we walk in the Flesh (that is in the Body or visible World) we do not war after the Flesh, for the Weapons of our Warfare are not Carnal. 2 Cor. 10. 3. (but Fines and Imprisonments are, and such use not the Apostle’s Weapons that employ those) for a Bishop, 1 Tim. 3. 3. (saith Paul) must be of good Behaviour, apt to teach, no Striker, but be gentle unto all Men, Patient, in Meekness instructing (not Persecuting) those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them Repentance to the Acknowledging of the Truth, 2 Tim. 2. 24, 25.

12. Lastly, We shall subjoyn one Passage more, and then no more of this particular; Whatsoever ye would that Men should do you, do ye even so to them. Mat. 7. 12. Luke 6. 31.

Now upon the whole we seriously ask, Whether any should be imposed upon, or restrain’d, in Matters of Faith and Worship? Whether such Practices become the Gospel, or are suitable to Christ’s meek Precepts and suffering Doctrine? And lastly, Whether those, who are herein guilty, do to us, as they would be done unto by others.

What if any were once severe to you; many are unconcerned in that, who are yet liable to the Lash, as if they were not. But if you once thought the Imposition of a Directory Unreasonable, and a Restraint from your Way of Worship, Unchristian, can you believe that Liberty of Conscience is changed, because the Parties, in Point of Power, are?11 or that the same Reasons do not yet remain in Vindication of an Indulgence for others, that were once employed by you, for your selves? Surely such Conjectures would argue gross Weakness.

To conclude, whether Persecutors at any Time read the Scriptures, we know not; but certain we are, such Practice, as little of them as may be, who with so much Delight reject them, and think it no small Accession to the Discovery of their Loyalty, to lead us and our Properties in Triumph after them.

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CHAP. IV.: They are Enemies to the Priviledge of Nature; 1. as rendring some more, and Others less than Men; 2. As subverting the Universal Good that is God’s Gift to Men; 3. As destroying all natural Affection. Next, they are Enemies to the noble Principle of Reason, as appears in eight great Instances.

WE FARTHER say, That Imposition, Restraint, and Persecution, are also destructive of the great Priviledge of Nature and Principle of Reason: Of Nature in three Instances:

1. First, If God Almighty has made of one Blood all Nations, as himself has declar’d,12 and that he has given them both Senses Corporal and Intellectual, to discern Things and their Differences, so as to assert or deny from Evidences and Reasons proper to each; then Where any Enacts the Belief or Disbelief of any Thing upon the rest, or restrains any from the Exercise of their Faith to them indispensible, such exalts himself beyond his Bounds; Enslaves his Fellow Creatures, invades their Right of Liberty, and so perverts the whole Order of Nature.

Secondly, Mankind is hereby robbed of the Use and benefit of that Instinct of a Deity, which is so natural to him, that he can be no more without it, and be, than he can be without the most essential Part of himself; For to what serves that Divine Principle in the Universality of Mankind, if Men be restricted by the Prescriptions of some Individuals? But if the excellent Nature of it inclines Men to God, not Man; if the Power of Accusing and Excusing be committed to it; if the troubled Thoughts and sad Reflections of Forlorn and Dying Men make their Tendency that Way only, (as being hopeless of all other Relief and Succour from any external Power or Command) What shall we say, but that such as invalidate the Authority of this Heavenly Instinct, (as Imposition and Restraint evidently do) destroy Nature, or that Priviledge which Men are born with, and to.

Thirdly, All natural Affection is destroy’d; for those who have so little tenderness, Edition: current; Page: [{93}] as to persecute Men, that cannot for Conscience sake yield them Compliance, manifestly act injuriously to their Fellow Creatures, and consequently are Enemies to Nature; For Nature being one in all, such as ruin those who are equally intituled with themselves to Nature, ruin it in them, as in Liberty, Property, &c. And so bring the State of Nature to the State of War, the great Leviathan of the Times, as ignorantly, as Boldly, does assert.13

But Secondly, we also prove them destructive of the noble Principle of Reason, and that in these eight Particulars.

1. In that those who impose, or restrain, are uncertain of the Truth, and Justifiableness of their Actions in either of these, their own Discourses and Confessions are pregnant Instances, where they tell us, that they do not pretend to be infallible, only they humbly conceive ’tis thus, or it is not. Since then they are uncertain and fallible, how can they impose upon, or restrain others whom they are so far from assuring, as they are not able to do so much for themselves? what is this, but to impose an uncertain Faith, upon certain Penalties?

3. As he that acts doubtfully is damned, so Faith in all Acts of Religion is necessary: Now in Order to believe, we must first Will; to Will, we must Judge; to Judge any Thing, we must first Understand; if then we cannot be said to understand any Thing against our Understanding; no more can we Judge, Will, or Believe against our Understanding: and if the Doubter be damned, what must he be that conforms directly against his Judgment and Belief, and they likewise that require it from him? In short, that Man cannot be said to have any Religion, that takes it by another Man’s Choice, not his own.

4. Where Men are limited in Matters of Religion, there the Rewards which are entail’d on the free Acts of Men, are quite overthrown; and such as supersede that Grand Charter of Liberty of Conscience, frustrate all Hopes of Recompence, by rendring the Actions of Men unavoidable: But those think perhaps, they do not destroy all Freedom, because they use so much of their own.

5. Fifthly; They subvert all True Religion; for where Men believe not because it is True, but because they are required to do so, there they will unbelieve, not because ’tis False, but so commanded by their Superiors, whose Authority their Interest and Security oblige them rather to obey, than dispute.

6. Sixthly, They delude, or rather compel People out of their Eternal Rewards; for where Men are commanded to act in reference to Religion, and can neither be secur’d of their Religion, nor yet sav’d Harmless from Punishment, Edition: current; Page: [{94}] that so acting and believing, dispriviledges them for ever of that Recompence which is provided for the Faithful.

7. Seventhly, Men have their Liberty and Choice in External Matters; they are not compelled to Marry this Person, to Converse with that, to Buy here, to Eat there, nor to Sleep yonder; yet if Men had Power to impose or restrain in any Thing, one would think it should be in such exteriour Matters; but that this Liberty should be unquestion’d, and that of the Mind destroy’d, issues here. That it does not Unbrute us; but Unman us; for, take away Understanding, Reason, Judgment, and Faith, and like Nebuchadnezzar, let us go Graze with the Beasts of the Field.14

8. Eighthly and Lastly, That which most of all blackens the Business, is PERSECUTION; for though it is very unreasonable to require Faith, where Men cannot chuse but doubt, yet after all, to punish them for Disobedience, is Cruelty in the Abstract, for we demand, Shall Men Suffer for not doing what they cannot do? Must they be Persecuted here if they do not go against their Consciences, and punished hereafter if they do? But neither is this all; for that Part that is yet most unreasonable, and that gives the clearest Sight of Persecution, is still behind, namely, The Monstrous Arguments they have to Convince an Heretick with: Not those of Old, as Spiritual as the Christian Religion, which were to admonish, warn, and finally to reject;15 but such as were imploy’d by the persecuting Jews and Heathens against the great Example of the World, and such as follow’d him, and by the inhuman Papists against our first Reformers, as Clubs, Staves, Stocks, Pillories, Prisons, Dungeons, Exiles, &c. In a Word, Ruin to whole Families, as if it were not so much their Design to Convince the Soul, as to Destroy the Body.

To conclude: There ought to be an Adequation and Resemblance betwixt all Ends, and the Means to them, but in this Case there can be none imaginable: The End is the Conformity of our Judgments and Understandings to the Acts of such as require it, the Means are Fines and Imprisonments (and Bloody Knocks to boot.)

Now, what Proportion or Assimulation these bear, let the Sober judge: The Understanding can never be convinc’d, nor properly submit, but by such Arguments, as are Rational, Perswasive, and suitable to its own Nature; something that can resolve it’s Doubts, answer it’s Objections, enervate it’s Propositions, Edition: current; Page: [{95}] but to imagine those barbarous Newgate Instruments of Clubs, Fines, Prisons, &c. with that whole Troop of external and dumb Materials of Force, should be fit Arguments to convince the Understanding, scatter it’s Scruples, and finally, convert it to their Religion, is altogether irrational, cruel, and impossible. Force may make an Hypocrite; ’tis Faith grounded upon Knowledge, and Consent that makes a Christian. And to conclude, as we can never betray the Honour of our Conformity (only due to Truth) by a base and timorous Hypocrisie to any external Violence under Heaven, so must we needs say, Unreasonable are those Imposers, who secure not the Imposed or Restrained from what may occur to them, upon their Account; and most inhuman are those Persecutors that punish Men for not obeying them, though to their utter Ruin.

CHAP. V.: They carry a Contradiction to Government: 1. In the Nature of it, which is Justice. 2. In the Execution of it, which is Prudence. 3. In the End of it, which is Fidelity. Seven Common, but Grand Objections, fairly stated, and briefly answered.

WE NEXT urge, That Force in Matters relating to Conscience, carries a plain Contradiction to Government in the Nature, Execution, and End of it.

By Government we understand, An External Order of Justice, or the right and prudent Disciplining of any Society, by Just Laws, either in the Relaxation, or Execution of them.

First, It carries a Contradiction to Government in the Nature of it, which is Justice, and that in three Respects.

1. It is the First Lesson, that Great Synteresis,16 so much renowned by Philosophers and Civilians, learns Mankind, To do as they would be done to; since he that gives what he would not take, or takes what he would not give, only shews Care for himself, but neither Kindness nor Justice for another.

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2. The Just Nature of Government lies in a fair and equal Retribution; but what can be more unequal, than that Men should be rated more than their Proportion, to answer the Necessities of Government, and yet that they should not only receive No Protection from it, but by it be disseiz’d of their dear Liberty and Properties; we say to be compell’d to pay that Power, that exerts it self to ruin those that pay it, or that any should be requir’d to enrich those, that ruin them, is hard, and unequal, and therefore contrary to the Just Nature of Government. If we must be Contributaries to the Maintenance of it, we are entituled to a Protection from it.

3. It is the Justice of Government to proportion Penalties to the Crime committed. Now granting our Dissent to be a Fault, yet the Infliction of a Corporal or External Punishment, for a meer Mental Error (and that not voluntary) is Unreasonable and Inadequate, as well as against particular Directions of the Scriptures, Tit. iii. 9, 10, 11. For as Corporal Penalties cannot convince the Understanding; so neither can they be commensurate Punishments for Faults purely Intellectual: And for the Government of this World to intermeddle with what belongs to the Government of another, and which can have no ill Aspect or Influence upon it, shews more of Invasion than Right and Justice.

Secondly, It carries a Contradiction to Government in the Execution of it, which is Prudence, and that in these Instances.

1. The State of the Case is this, That there is no Republick so great, no Empire so vast, but the Laws of them are Resolvable into these Two Series or Heads, Of Laws Fundamental, which are Indispensible and Immutable: And Laws Superficial, which are Temporary and Alterable: And as it is Justice and Prudence to be punctual in the Execution of the former, so by Circumstances it may be neither, to Execute the latter, they being suited to the present Conveniency and Emergency of State; as the Prohibiting of Cattle out of Ireland, was judg’d of Advantage to the Farmers of England, yet a Murrain would make it the Good of the Whole, that the Law should be broke, or at least the Execution of it suspended. That the Law of Restraint in Point of Conscience is of this Number, we may farther manifest, and the Imprudence of thinking otherwise: For, first, if the Saying were as True as ’tis False, No Bishop, no King, (which admits of Various Readings; As no Decimating Clergy, or no Persecution, no King,) we should be as silent, as some would have us; but the Confidence of their Assertion, and the Impolicy of such as believe it, makes us to say, That a greater Injury cannot be done to the present Government. For if such Laws and Establishments are Fundamental, they are as immutable as Mankind it self; but that Edition: current; Page: [{97}] they are as alterable, as the Conjectures and Opinions of Governours have been, is evident; Since the same Fundamental Indispensible Laws and Policy of these Kingdoms have still remain’d, through all Variety of opposite Ruling Opinions and Judgments, and disjoyn’d from them all. Therefore to admit such a Fixation to Temporary Laws, must needs be highly imprudent, and Destructive of the Essential Parts of the Government of these Countries.

2. That since there has been a Time of Connivance, and that with no ill Success to Publick Affairs, it cannot be Prudence to discontinue it, unless it was Imprudence before to give it, and such little deserve it that think so.

3. Dissenters not being Conscious to themselves of any Just Forfeiture of that Favour, are as well griev’d in their Resentments of this Alteration, as the contrary did oblige them to very Grateful Acknowledgments.

4. This must be done to gratifie all, or the greatest Part, or but some few only; it is a Demonstration all are not pleased with it; that the greatest Number is not, the empty publick Auditories will speak: In short, how should either be, when Six Parties are sacrificed to the Seventh; that this cannot be Prudence, Common Maxims and Observations prove.

5. It strikes fatally at Protestant Sincerity; for will the Papists say, Did Protestants exclaim against us for Persecutors, and are they now the Men themselves? Was it an Instance of Weakness in our Religion, and is’t become a Demonstration of Strength in theirs? Have they transmuted it from Anti-christian in us, to Christian in themselves? Let Persecutors answer.

6. It is not only an Example, but an Incentive to the Romanists, to Persecute the Reformed Religion abroad; for when they see their Actions (once void of all Excuse) now defended by the Example of Protestants, that once accus’d them, (but now themselves) doubtless they will revive their Cruelty.

7. It overturns the very Ground of the Protestants Retreat from Rome; for if Men must be Restrain’d upon pretended Prudential Considerations, from the Exercise of their Conscience in England; why not the same in France, Holland, Germany, Constantinople, &c. where Matters of State may equally be pleaded? This makes Religion, State-Policy; and Faith and Worship, subservient to the Humours and Interests of Superiors: Such Doctrine would have prevented our Ancestor’s Retreat; and we wish it be not the Beginning of a Back-march; for some think it shrewdly to be suspected, where Religion is suited to the Government, and Conscience to it’s Conveniency.

8. Vice is encourag’d; for if Licentious Persons see Men of Virtue molested for Assembling with a Religious Purpose to Reverence and Worship God, and Edition: current; Page: [{98}] that are otherwise most serviceable to the Common-Wealth, they may and will inferr, it is better for them to be as they are, since not to be Demure, as they call it, is Half Way to that Kind of Accomplishment, which procures Preferment.

9. For such Persons as are so poor Spirited as to truckle under such Restraints; What Conquest is there over them? that before were Conscientious Men, and now Hypocrites; who so forward to be aveng’d of them, that brought this Guilt upon them, as they themselves? And how can the Imposers be secure of their Friendship, whom they have taught to change with the Times?

10. Such Laws are so far from benefitting the Country, that the Execution of them will be the assured Ruin of it, in the Revenues, and consequently in the Power of it; For where there is a Decay of Families, there will be of Trade; so of Wealth, and in the End of Strength and Power; and if both Kinds of Relief fail, Men, the Prop of Republicks; Money, the Stay of Monarchies; this, as requiring Mercenaries; that, as needing Freemen; farewel the Interest of England; ’Tis true, the Priests get (though that’s but for a Time) but the King and People lose; as the Event will shew.

11. It ever was the Prudence of Wise Magistrates to oblige their People; but what comes shorter of it than Persecution? What’s dearer to them than the Liberty of their Conscience? What cannot they better spare than it? Their Peace consists in the Enjoyment of it: And he that by Compliance has lost it, carries his Penalty with him, and is his own Prison. Surely such Practices must render the Government uneasie, and beget a great Disrespect to the Governours, in the Hearts of the People.

12. But that which concludes our Prudential Part, shall be this, That after all their Pains and Good Will to stretch Men to their Measure, they never will be able to accomplish their End: And if he be an unwise Man, that provides Means where he designs no End, how near is he Kin to him that proposes an End inobtainable. Experience has told us, 1. How Invective it has made the Impos’d on. 2. What Distractions have insued such Attempts. 3. What Reproach has follow’d to the Christian Religion, when the Professors of it have us’d a Coercive Power upon Conscience. And lastly, That Force never yet made either a Good Christian, or a Good Subject.

Thirdly and Lastly, Since the Proceedings we argue against, are prov’d so Destructive to the Justice and Prudence of Government, we ought the less to wonder that they should hold the same Malignity against the End of it, which is Felicity, since the Wonder would be to find it otherwise; and this is evident from these three Considerations.

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1. Peace (the End of War and Government, and it’s great Happiness too) has been, is, and yet will be broken by the frequent Tumultuary Disturbances, that ensue the Disquieting our Meetings, and the Estreating Fines upon our Goods and Estates. And what these Things may issue in, concerneth the Civil Magistrate to consider.

2. Plenty, (another great End of Government) will be converted into Poverty by the Destruction of so many Thousand Families as refuse Compliance and Conformity, and that not only to the Sufferers, but influentially to all the Rest; a Demonstration of which we have in all those Places where the late Act has been any Thing considerably put in Execution. Besides, how great Provocation such Incharity and Cruel Usage, as stripping Widows, Fatherless, and Poor of their very Necessaries for human Life, meerly upon an Account of Faith or Worship, must needs be to the Just and Righteous Lord of Heaven and Earth; Scriptures, and Plenty of other Histories plainly shew us.

3. Unity, (not the least, but greatest End of Government) is lost for by seeking an Unity of Opinion (by the Ways intended) the Unity requisite to uphold us, as a Civil Society, will be quite destroy’d. And such as relinquish that, to get the other (besides that they are Unwise) will infallibly lose both in the End.

In short, We say, that ’tis unreasonable we should not be entertain’d as Men, because some think we are not as Good Christians as they pretend to wish us; or that we should be depriv’d of our Liberties and Properties, who never broke the Laws that gave them to us: What can be harder, than to take that from us by a Law, which the great Indulgence and Solicitude of our Ancestors took so much Pains to intail upon us by Law; An. 18 Ed. 3. Stat. 3. also Stat. 20 Ed. 3. Cap. 1. again Petition of Right, An. 3. Car. and more fully in Magna Charta; further peruse 37 Ed. 5. Cap. 8. 28. 42 Ed. 3. Cap. 3. 28 Hen. Cap. 7.

And we are perswaded, that no Temporary Subsequential Law whatever to our Fundamental Rights, (as this of Force on Conscience is) can invalid so essential a Part of the Government, as English Liberty and Property: Nor that it’s in the Power of any on Earth, to deprive us of them, till we have first done it our selves, by such Enormous Facts, as those very Laws prohibit, and make our Forfeiture of that Benefit we should otherwise receive by them; for these being such Cardinal and Fundamental Points of English Law-Doctrine, individually, and by the collective Body of the People agreed to; and on which as the most solid Basis, our Secondary Legislative Power, as well as Executive is built; it seems most rational that the Superstructure cannot quarrel or invalidate it’s own Foundation, without manifestly endangering it’s own Security, Edition: current; Page: [{100}] the Effect is ever less noble than the Cause, the Gift than the Giver, and the Superstructure than the Foundation.

The single Question to be resolved in the Case, briefly will be this, Whether any Visible Authority (being founded in its primitive Institution upon those Fundamental Laws, that inviolably preserve the People in all their just Rights and Priviledges) may invalidate all, or any of the said Laws, without an implicit shaking of it’s own Foundation, and a clear Overthrow of it’s own Constitution of Government, and so reduce them to their Statu quo prius, or first Principles: The Resolution is every Man’s, at his own Pleasure. Read Hen. 3. 9. 14. 29. 25 Ed. 3. Cook’s Instit. 2. 19. 50, 51.

Those who intend us no Share or Interest in the Laws of England, as they relate to civil Matters, unless we correspond with them in Points of Faith and Worship, must do two Things: First, It will lie heavy on their Parts to prove, That the Ancient Compact and Original of our Laws carries that Proviso with it; else we are manifestly disseized of our Free-Customs.

Secondly, They are to prove the Reasonableness of such Proceedings to our Understandings, that we may not be concluded by a Law, we know not how to understand; for if I take the Matter rightly (as I think I do) we must not Buy, or Sell unless of this or that Perswasion in Religion; not considering Civil Society was in the World before the Protestant Profession; Men, as such, and in Affairs peculiarly relative of them, in an External and Civil Capacity, have subsisted many Ages, under great Variety of Religious Apprehensions, and therefore not so dependent on them as to receive any Variation or Revolution with them. What shall we say then? but that some will not that we should Live, Breath, and Commerce as Men, because we are not such model’d Christians as they coercively would have us; they might with as much Justice and Reputation to themselves forbid us to look or see unless our Eyes were Grey, Black, Brown, Blue, or some one Colour best suiting theirs: For not to be able to give us Faith, or save our Consciences harmless, and yet to persecute us for refusing Conformity, is intolerable hard Measure.

In short, That coercive Way of bringing all Men to their Height of Perswasion, must either arise from Exorbitant Zeal and Superstition; or from a Consciousness of Error and Defect, which is unwilling any Thing more sincere and reformed should take Place; being of that Cardinal’s Mind, who therefore would not hearken to a Reformation, at the sitting of the Counsel of Trent; because he would not so far approve the Reformers Judgment (for having once Edition: current; Page: [{101}] condescended to their Apprehensions, he thought ’twould forever inslave them to their Sense) though otherwise he saw as much as any Man, the Grand Necessity of a Reformation, both of the Roman Doctrine and Conversation.17

Some Grand Objections in the Way must be Considered.

Objection 1. But you are a People that meet with Designs to Disaffect the People, and to ruin the Government.

Answer. A Surmise is no Certainty, neither is A may-be, or Conjecture, any Proof: That from the first we have behaved our selves inoffensively is a Demonstration; that our Meetings are open, where all may hear our Matter, and have Liberty to object or discuss any Point, is notorious. Ignorant Calumnies are Sandy Foundations to build so high a Charge upon. Let us fairly be heard in a publick Conference, how far we can justifie our Principles from being deservedly suspected of Sedition or Disloyalty, and not over run us with meer Suppositions. We declare our Readiness to obey the Ordinance of Man, which is only relative of Human or Civil Matters, and not Points of Faith, or Practice in Worship: But if Accusations must stand for Proofs, we shall take it for granted, that we must stand for Criminals; but our Satisfaction will be, that we shall not deserve it otherwise than as Prejudice seeks to traduce us.

Object. 2. But you strike at the Doctrine, at least the Discipline of the Church, and consequently are Hereticks.

Answ. This Story is as old as the Reformation; If we must be objected against out of pure Reputation, let it be in some other Matter than what the Papists objected against the first Protestants; otherwise you do but hit your selves in aiming at us? To say you were in the Right, but we are in the Wrong, is but a meer begging of the Question; for doubtless the Papists said the same to you, and all that you can say to us: Your best Plea was, Conscience upon Principles, the most evident and rational to you: Do not we the like? What if you think our Reasons thick, and our Ground of Separation mistaken? Did not the Papists harbour the same Thoughts of you? You perswaded as few of Edition: current; Page: [{102}] them, as we of you: Were you therefore in the Wrong? No more are we: It was not what they thought of you, or enacted against you, that concluded you: And why should your Apprehensions conclude us? If you have the Way of giving Faith beyond what they had, and have the Faculty of Perswasion, evidence as much; but if you are as destitute of both, as they were to you; why should Fines and Prisons, once us’d by them against you, and by you exclaimed against, as Unchristian Ways of reclaiming Hereticks (supposing your selves to be such) be employ’d by you as Rational, Christian, and Convincing upon us? To say we deserve them more, is to suppose your selves in the Right, and us in the Wrong, which proves nothing. Besides, the Question is not barely this, whether Hereticks or no Hereticks; but whether an Heretick should be Persecuted into a disclaiming of his Error; your old Arguments run thus, as I well remember.

1. Error is a Mistake in the Understanding.

2. This is for Want of a better Illumination.

3. This Error can never be dislodged, but by Reason and Perswasion, as what are most suitable to the Intellect of Man.

4. Fines, Goals, Exiles, Gibbets, &c. are no convincing Arguments to the most erring Understanding in the World, being slavish and brutish.

5. This Way of Force makes, instead of an honest Dissenter, but an Hypocritical Conformist; than whom nothing is more detestable to God and Man.

This being the Protestants Plea, we are not to be disliked by Protestants, for following their own avow’d Maxims and Axioms of Conscience in Defence of it’s own Liberty.

In short, either allow Separation upon the single Principle of, My Conscience owns this, or disowns that; or never dwell in that Building, which knew no better Foundation, (indeed good enough) but, accusing your Forefathers of Schism, and Heresie, return to the Romish Church. What short of this can any say to an Anti-liberty-of-Conscience-Protestant.

Object. 3. But at this Rate ye may pretend to Cut our Throats, and do all Manner of savage Acts.

Ans. Though the Objection be frequent, yet it is as foully ridiculous. We are pleading only for such a Liberty of Conscience, as preserves the Nation in Peace, Trade, and Commerce; and would not exempt any Man, or Party of Edition: current; Page: [{103}] Men, from not keeping those excellent Laws, that tend to Sober, Just, and Industrious Living. It is a Jesuitical Moral, To Kill a Man before he is Born: First, to suspect him of an Evil Design, and then kill him to prevent it.

Object. 4. But do not you see what has been the End of this Separation? Wars, and Revolutions, and Danger to Government; witness our late Troubles.

Ans. We see none of all this, but are able to make it appear, that the true Cause of all that perplext Disturbance, which was amongst the Homoousians and Arrians of old, and among us of latter Years (as well as what has modernly attended our Neighbouring Countries) took its first rise from a Narrowness of Spirit, in not Tolerating others to live the Freemen God made them, in External Matters upon the Earth, meerly upon some Difference in Religion.

And were there once but an Hearty Toleration establisht, ’twould be a Demonstration of the Truth of this Assertion. On this Ground, Empire stands safe; on the other, it seems more uncertain.

But these are only the popular Devices of some to traduce honest Men, and their Principles; whose lazy Life, and intolerable Advice become question’d, by a Toleration of People better inclin’d.

Object. 5. But what need you take this Pains to prove Liberty of Conscience Reasonable and Necessary, when none questions it; all that is required is, That you meet but four more than your own Families; and can you not be contented with that? Your Disobedience to a Law, so favourable, brings suffering upon you.

Ans. Here is no Need of answering the former Part of the Objection; ’Tis too apparent throughout the Land, that Liberty of Conscience, as we have stated it, has been severely prosecuted, and therefore not so frankly injoyned: The latter Part, I answer thus, If the Words Lawful or Unlawful, may bear their Signification from the Nature of the Things they stand for, then we conceive that a Meeting of Four Thousand is no more Unlawful, than a Meeting of Four; for Number singly consider’d criminates no Assembly: But the Reason of their assembling; the Posture in which; and the Matter transacted, with the Consequences thereof.

Now if those Things are taken for granted, to be Things dispensible (as appears by the Allowance of Four besides every Family) certainly the Number can never render it Unlawful; so that the Question will be this, Whether if Four met to worship God, be an Allowable Meeting, Four thousand met with the same Design be not an allowable Meeting?

It is so plain a Case, that the Matter in Question resolves it.

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Object. 6. But the Law forbids it.

Answ. If the enacting any Thing can make it lawful, we have done; but if an Act so made by the Papists against Protestants, was never esteem’d so by a true Protestant; and if the Nature of the Matter will not bear it; and lastly, that we are as much commanded by God to meet Four Thousand, as Four; we must desire to be excused, if we forbear not the assembling of our selves together, as the Manner of some is.

Object. 7. But the Reason of the Prohibition of the Number is (for you see they allow all that can be said to Four Thousand to be said to the Family and Four) that Tumults may arise, and Plots may be made, and the like Inconveniencies happen to the Government.

Ans. Great Assemblies are so far from being injurious, that they are the most inoffensive; for, First, They are open, exposed to the View of all, which of all Things Plotters are the shyest of; but how fair an Opportunity ’twere, for Men so principled, to do it in those allowed Meetings of but Four besides the Family, is easie to guess, when we consider, that few make the best and closest Council; and next, that such an Assembly is the most private and clandestine, and so fitted for Mischief and Surprize.

Secondly, Such Assemblies, are not only publick and large, but they are frequented, as well by those that are not of their Way, as by their own; from whence it follows, that we have the greatest Reason to be cautious and wise in our Behaviour, since the more there be at our Meetings, the more Witnesses are against us, if we should say or act any Thing that may be prejudicial to the Government.

Lastly, For these several Years none could ever observe such an ill use made of that Freedom, or such wicked Designs to follow such Assemblies; and therefore it is high Incharity to proceed so severely upon meer Suppositions.

To this we shall add several Authorities and Testimonies for farther Confirmation of our Sense of the Matter, and to let Imposers see, that we are not the only Persons, who have impleaded Persecution, and justified Liberty of Conscience, as Christian and Rational.

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CHAP. VI.: They reflect upon the Sense and Practice of the Wisest, Greatest, and best States, and Persons of Ancient and Modern Times; as of the Jews, Romans, AEgyptians, Germans, French, Hollanders, nay Turks and Persians too. And Cato, Livy, Tacitus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Jovianus, Chaucer, Dominicus Soto, Malvetzey, Grotius, Rawleigh, Doctor and Student, French and Dutch Protestants in England, Dr. Hammond, Dr. Taylor, A nameless but great Person, Lactantius, Hilary, Jerom, Chrysostom, Polish and Bohemian Kings, King James, and King Charles the First.

A BRIEF Collection of the Sense and Practice of the Greatest, Wisest, and Learned’st Common-Wealths, Kingdoms, and particular Persons of their Times, concerning Force upon Conscience.

First, Though the Jews above all People had the most to say for Imposition and Restraint within their own Dominions, having their Religion instituted by so many signal Proofs of Divine Original, it being deliver’d to them by the Hand of God himself, yet such was their Indulgence to Dissenters, that if they held the common receiv’d Noachical Principles tending to the Acknowledgment of One God, and a Just Life, they had the Free Exercise of their distinct Modes or Ways of Worship, which were numerous. Of this their own Rabbies are Witnesses, and Grotius out of them.18

2. The Romans themselves, as strict as they were, not only had Thirty Thousand Gods (if Varro may be credited) but almost every Family of any note, had its distinct Sacra, or peculiar Way of Worship.19

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3. It was the Sense of that grave, exemplary Common Wealth’s-Man, Cato, in Salust, that among other Things which ruin any Government, Want of Freedom of Speech, or Men’s being obliged to humour Times, is a great one; which we find made good by the Florentine Republick, as Guiccardine relates.20

4. Livy tells us, It was a Wonder that Hannibal’s Army, consisting of divers Nations, divers Humours, differing Habits, contrary Religions, various Languages, should live Thirteen Years from their own Country under his Command without so much as once mutining, either against their General, or among themselves.21 But what Livy relates for a Wonder, that ingenious Marquess, Virgilio Malvetzy gives the Reason of, namely, that the Difference of their Opinion, Tongues, and Customs, was the Reason of their Preservation and Conquest; For, said he, ’Twas impossible so many contrary Spirits should Combine, and if any should have done it, ’twas in the General’s Power to make the greater Party by his equal Hand; they owing him more of Reverence, than they did of Affection to one another: This, says he, some impute to Hannibal, but how great soever he was, I give it to the Variety of Humours in the Army. For (adds he) Rome’s Army was ever less given to Mutining when joyned with the Provincial Auxiliaries, than when intirely Roman; thus much and more, in his publick Discourses upon Cornelius Tacitus.22

5. The same, best Statist of his Time, C. Tacitus, tells us in the Case of Cremtius, That it had been the Interest of Tiberius not to have punished him, in as much as Curiosity is begotten by Restriction of Liberty to Write or Speak, which never mist of Proselytes.23

6. Just. Martyr. I will forbear to quote, in less than this, two whole Apologies, dedicated to Adrian and Antoninus Pius, as I take it.24

7. Tertullian ad Scapulam, that Learned and Judicious Apologist, plainly tells us, That ’tis not the Property of Religion to Compel or Persecute for Religion, she should be accepted for her Self, not for Force; that being a poor Edition: current; Page: [{107}] and beggarly one, that has no better Arguments to Convince; and a manifest Evidence of her Superstition and Falshood.25

8. Of this we take the nine Month’s Reign of the Emperor Jovianus to be an excellent Demonstration, whose great Wisdom, and admirable Prudence in granting Toleration (expresly saying, He would have none molested for the Exercise of their Religion) Calm’d the impetuous Storms of Dissention betwixt the Homoousians and Arrians; and reduc’d the whole Empire, before agitated with all Kind of Commotions during the Reigns of Constantine, Constantius, and Julian, to a wonderful Serenity and Peace, as Socrates Scholasticus affirms.26

9. That little Kingdom of AEgypt had no less than Forty Thousand Persons retir’d to their private and separate Ways of Worship, as Eusebius out of Philo Judeus, and Josephus relates.27

10. And here let me bring in honest Chaucer, whose Matter (and not his Poetry) heartily affects me: ’Twas in a Time when Priests were as rich, and lofty, as they are now, and Causes of Evil alike.28

    • (a) THE Time was once, and may return again,
    • (for oft may happen that hath been beforn)
    • when Shepherds had none Inheritance,
    • ne of Land, nor Fee in Sufferance,
    • But what might arise of the bare Sheep,
    • (were it more or less) which they did keep,
    • Well ywis was it with Shepherds tho’:
    • nought having, nought fear’d they to forgo,
    • For PAN (God) himself was their Inheritance,
    • and little them serv’d for their Maintenance,
    • The Shepherd’s God so well them guided,
    • that of nought were they unprovided;
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    • (b) Butter enough, Honey, Milk, and Whay,
    • and their Flock Fleeces them to array.
    • But Tract of Time and long Prosperity,
    • (that Nurse of Vice, this of Insolency)
    • Lulled the Shepherds in such Security,
    • that not content with Loyal Obeysance,
    • Some gan to gap for greedy Governance,
    • and match themselves with mighty Potentates.
    • (c) Lovers of Lordships and Troublers of States;
    • then gan Shepherds Swains to look aloft,
    • And leave to live hard, and learn to lig soft,
    • though under colour of Shepherds same while
    • There crept in Wolves full of Fraud and Guile,
    • that often devour’d their own Sheep,
    • And often the Shepherd that did them keep,
    • (d) This was the first Source of the Shepherds Sorrow.
    • that nor will be quit, with bale, nor borrow.

11. Who knows not that our first Reformers were great Champions for Liberty of Conscience, as Wickliff in his Remonstrance to the Parliament. The Albigenses to Lewis the 11th and 12th of France. Luther to the several Diets under Frederick and Charles the Fifth; Calvin to Francis the First, and many of our English Martyrs, as the poor Plowman’s Famous Complaint, in Fox’s Martyrology, &c.29

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12. The present Affairs of Germany, plainly tell us, that Toleration is the Preservation of their States; the contrary having formerly, almost quite wasted them.

13. The same in France: who can be so ignorant of their Story, as not to know that the timely Indulgence of Henry the fourth; and the discreet Toleration of Richlieu and Mazarin, saved that Kingdom from being ruin’d both by the Spaniards; and one another.

14. Holland, than which, what Place is there so improved in Wealth, Trade and Power, chiefly owes it to her Indulgence, in Matters of Faith and Worship.

15. Among the very Mahumetans of Turky, and Persia, what Variety of Opinions, yet what Unity and Concord is there? We mean in Matters of a Civil Importance.

16. It Was the Opinion of that great Master of the Sentences, Dominicus a Soto, that every Man had a natural Right, to instruct others in Things that are good: And he may teach the Gospel-Truths also, but cannot compel any to believe them, he may explain them, and to this, (says he) every Man has a Right, as in his 4 Sent. Dist. 5. Art. 10. Pag. 115. 7.30

17. Strifes about Religion, said Judicious and learned Grotius, are the most pernicious and destructive, where Provision is not made for Dissenters: the contrary most happy; As in Muscovy; he farther says upon the Occasion of Campanella, that not a rigid but easy Government suits best with the Northern People; he often pleads the Relaxation of temporary Laws, to be reasonable and necessary. As in the Case of the Curatij and Horatij, and Fabius Vitulanus; and others stinted to Time and Place, as the Jewish Laws, &c. Polit. Maxims, P. 12, 18. 78, 98.31

18. The famous Rawleigh tell us, that the Way for Magistrates to govern well, and Gain the Esteem of their People, is to govern by Piety, Justice, Wisdom, and a Gentle and Moderate Carriage towards them; And that Disturbance attends those States, where Men are raised, or depress’d by Parties. See his Observations and Maxims of State.32

19. If I mistake not, the French and Dutch Protestants enjoy their separate Edition: current; Page: [{110}] Ways of Worship in London, if not in other Parts of these Lands, without Molestation; we do the like in remote Countreys, but not in our own.

20. This must needs be the Meaning of the learned Doctor, to his Inquisitive Student, in their judicious Dialogue, about the Fundamental Laws of the Kingdoms, when he says, That such Laws as have not their Foundation in Nature, Justice and Reason, are void ipso facto. And whether Persecution or Restraint upon Conscience, be congruous with either, Let the impartial Judge. lib. 1. chap. 6.33

21. Doctor Hammond himself, and the grand Patron of the English Church, was so far from urging the Legality of Restriction, in Matters relating to Conscience, that he Writ, Argued, and left upon his Dying-Bed, his Sense to the Contrary: As the Author of his Life might have been pleased to observe, but that Interest stood in the Way, The Doctor exhorting his Party, not to seek to displace those, then in the University; or to Persecute them for any Matter of Religious Difference.34

22. That a Person, of no less Ability, in the Irish Protestant Church did the same. I mean D. Jer. Taylor, his whole Discourse of Liberty of Prophecy, is a most pregnant Demonstration.35

23. It was the Saying of a Person once, too great to be named now, That Liberty of Conscience is every Man’s natural Right, and he who is deprived of it, is a Slave in the midst of the greatest Liberty: And since every Man should do as he would be done to, such only don’t deserve to have it, that won’t give it.

24. Lactantius reflects upon Persecutors thus, If you will with Blood, with Evil, and with Torments defend your Worship, it shall not thereby be defended, but polluted, lib. 5. cap. 20.36

25. Hilary against Auxentius, saith, The Christian Church does not persecute, but is persecuted.37

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26. Jerom, thus, Heresie must be cut off, with the Sword of the Spirit; Proaem. Lib. 4.38

27. Chrysostom saith, That it is not the Manner of the Children of God, to persecute about their Religion, but an evident Token of Antichrist,—Relig. Uris. Pag. 192.39

28. Stephen King of Poland, declared his Mind in the Point controverted, thus, I am King of Men, not of Conscience; a Commander of Bodies, not of Souls.

29. The King of Bohemia, was of Opinion, That Men’s Consciences ought in no Sort, to be violated, urged, or constrained.

30. And lastly, let me add (as what is, or should be now of more Force) the Sense of King James, and Charles the first, Men fam’d for their great natural Abilities, and acquired Learning; that no Man ought to be punished for his Religion, nor disturb’d for his Conscience; In that it is the Duty of every Man to give what he would receive. “It is a sure Rule in Divinity, said King James, that God never loves to plant his Church by Violence, and Bloodshed.40 And in his Exposition on Revel. 20. he saith, That PERSECUTION is the Note of a false Church.41 And in the last King’s Advice to the present King, he says. Take Heed of abetting any Factions; your partial Adhering to ANY ONE SIDE, gains you not so great Advantages in some Men’s Hearts, (who are prone to be of their King’s Religion) as it loseth you in others, who think themselves, and their Profession, first despised, then persecuted by you.”

Again, “Beware of exasperating any Factions, by the Crossness, and Asperity of some Men’s Passions, Humors, or private Opinions imployed by you grounded only upon their Difference, in lesser Matters, which are but the Skirts, and Suburbs of Religion. Wherein a Charitable Connivence, and Christian Toleration, often dissipates their Strength, whom rougher Opposition fortifies; and puts the despised and Oppressed Party, into such Combinations; as may most enable them to get a full Revenge, on those they count their Persecutors, who are commonly assisted by that vulgar Commiseration, which attends all that are said to suffer under the Notion of Religion.

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“Always keep up SOLID PIETY, and those Fundamental Truths (which mend both Hearts and Lives of Men) with Impartial Favour and Justice. Your Prerogative is best shown and exercised in Remitting, rather than Exacting the Rigour of Laws; there being nothing worse than Legal Tyranny.42

Now upon the whole, we ask, what can be more equal, what more reasonable than Liberty of Conscience; so correspondent with the Reverence due to God, and Respect to the Nature, Practice, Promotion, and Rewards of the Christian Religion; the Sense of divine Writ; the great Priviledge of Nature, and noble Principle of Reason; the Justice, Prudence, and Felicity of Government; And lastly, to the Judgment and Authority of a whole Cloud of Famous Witnesses, whose Harmony in Opinion, as much detects the Unreasonableness, and Incharity of Persecutors, as their Savage Cruelties imply an high Contempt of so solid Determinations; of which Number I cannot forbear the Mention of two, whose Actions are so near of Kin to one another, and both to Inhumanity, as the same Thing can be to it self.

The first is a great Lord of Buckinghamshire, but so hearty a Persecutor of the poor Quakers, that rather than they should peaceably enjoy the Liberty of Worshipping God, (and to supply the County-Defect of Informers) he has encouraged a pair of such Wretches, that it had been a Disgrace for the meanest Farmer to converse with; one having been Prisoner in Ailsbury, for Theft, & said to have been burnt in the Hand; and the other of a Complexion not much less Scandalous and Immoral.

To give an undeniable Testimony of their Merit, once for all, I shall briefly relate a most notorious Piece of Perjury. They suspecting a Religious Assembly, to be at a certain Place in the same County, came; and finding one in reality, repaired to one they call, Sir Tho Clayton, and a Justice, where they depos’d, That not only a Meeting was at such an House, but one Tho. Zachery and his Wife were there, who at the same Time, as at the Tryal upon Indictment for Perjury at Ailsbury, was proved by sufficient Witnesses from London, were then at that City, yet fined not only for being there, but for the Speaker also, though none spoke that Day.

Upon the Prosecution of these Men, as perjured Men, and by the Law dispriviledged of all Employ, and never to be credited more in Evidence; several Delays were made, much Time spent, and not a little Pains bestowed, all in Edition: current; Page: [{113}] Hopes of an Exemplary Success, which proved so, but the wrong Way, for the very last Sessions, when the Matter should have received an absolute Decision, and the Attendants have been dismist (especially on the Score of the Witnesses, that came from London the second Time, upon no other Account) a Letter was reported to have been writ from the aforesaid Lord, in Favour of these Informers, to this Purpose, That since Sir Tho. Clayton was not present, the Business could not well be determined, but if the Court would undertake the Ending of it, he besought them to be favourable to those HONEST MEN, if this be true as said, ’tis a most aggravated Shame to Nobility: what! to protect them from the Lash of the Law, who went about to destroy Truth the Life of it: ’Tis a Dishonour to the Government, a Scandal to the County, and a manifest Injury to an inoffensive and useful Inhabitant.

’Tother is as well known by his Cruelty, as by his Name, and he scarce deserves another; However, he is understood by that of the Reading Knight Arrant, and always in Armour for the Devil; a Man whose Life seems to be whole BONNER revived: Hogestrant, the Popish Inquisitor, could not hate Martin Luther more, than he does a poor Dissenter; and wants but as much Power, as he has Will, to hang more than he has imprisoned. The Laws made against Papists, he inflicts upon the Quakers; and makes it Crime enough for a Premunire, to have an Estate to lose.

The single Question is not, were you at such a Meeting? which the Act intends, But will you swear, which it intends not, and Women escape him as little for this, as those of his own Tribe do for SOME THINGS ELSE: but what of all Things, most aggravates the Man’s Impiety, is the making a devilish Snare of a Christian Duty; since such as have come to visit the Imprisoned, have been imprisoned themselves for their Charity; so that with him it seems a Current Maxim, that those must not come to see Prisoners, and not be such themselves, who will not take the Oath of Allegiance to do it.

To relate the whole Tragedy, would render him as Bad, as the Discourse Big; and the latter not less voluminous, than the former Odious. But three Things I shall observe.

First, That he has crouded 72 Persons (of those called Quakers) Men and Women, immodestly into Jail, not suffering them to enjoy common Conveniences. And for his Diversion, and the Punishment of little Children, he pours cold Water down their Necks.

Secondly, His Imprisonments are almost perpetual. First, he premunires them, without any just Cause of Suspicion, then imprisons them; and lastly Edition: current; Page: [{114}] Plunders them, and that by a Law enacted against Romanists; which, if all be true, that is said, is more his Concern than theirs, If without offence, it may be supposed he has any Religion at all.

Thirdly, Some have been there about eight Years, and should be eighteen more, were he as sure to live (being more than 70) and enjoy his Power, as doubtless he hopes to die before those good Laws over-take him, that would make an Example of such an Oppressor; in short, Wives, Widows, Poor and Fatherless, are all Fish for his Net; and whether over or under Age; he casts none away, but seems to make it his Priviledge to correct Law, by out-doing it. When we have said all we can (and we can never say too much, if enough) he is still his own best Character.

Such are the Passions, Follies, and Prejudices, Men devoted to a Spirit of Imposition, and Persecution, are attended with.

Non enim possumus quae vidimus, & audivimus non loqui.43

In short, What Religious, what wise, what prudent, what good natured Person would be a Persecutor; certainly it’s an Office only fit for those who being void of all Reason, to evidence the Verity of their own Religion, fancy it to be true, from that strong Propensity and greedy Inclination they find in themselves to persecute the contrary; A Weakness of so ill a Consequence to all civil Societies, that the Admission of it ever was, and ever will prove their utter Ruin, as well as their great Infelicity who pursue it.

And though we could not more effectually express our Revenge, than by leaving such Persons to the Scope of their own Humours; Yet being taught to love and pray for our Persecutors, we heartily wish their better Information, that (if it be possible) they may act more suitably to the good Pleasure of the eternal just God, and beneficially to these Nations.

To conclude, Liberty of Conscience (as thus stated and defended) we ask as our undoubted Right by the Law of God, of Nature, and of our own Country: it has been often promised, we have long waited for it, we have writ much, and suffered in it’s Defence, and have made many true Complaints, but found little or no Redress.

However, we take the righteous Holy God to record, against all Objections, that are ignorantly or designedly rais’d against us. That.

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1st. We hold no Principle destructive of the English Government.

2d. That we plead for no such Dissenter (if such an one there be.)

3d. That we desire the Temporal and Eternal Happiness of all Persons (in Submission to the divine Will of God) heartily forgiving our cruel Persecutors:

4thly, and lastly, We shall engage, by God’s Assistance, to lead peaceable, just and industrious Lives, amongst Men, to the Good and Example of all. But if after all we have said, this short Discourse should not be credited, nor answered in any of it’s sober Reasons, and Requests; but Sufferings should be the present Lot of our Inheritance from this Generation, be it known to them all THAT MEET WE MUST, and MEET we cannot but encourage all to do (whatever Hardship we sustain) in God’s Name and Authority, who is Lord of Hosts and King of Kings; at the Revelation of whose Righteous Judgments, and glorious Tribunal, Mortal Men shall render an Account of the Deeds done in the Body; and whatever the Apprehensions of such may be, concerning this Discourse, ’twas writ in Love and from a true Sense of the present State of Things: and TIME, and the EVENT will vindicate it from Untruth. In the mean while, ’tis Matter of great Satisfaction to the Author, that he has so plainly cleared his Conscience, in pleading for the Liberty of other Men’s, and publickly born his honest Testimony for God, not out of Season to his POOR COUNTRY.

A few brief Observations upon the late Act, and the usual Terms of Acts of this Nature.

That which we have to say, relates, either to the Terms of the Act, or the Application of them to us.

As to the Terms of the Act, they are these, Seditious Conventicles, Seditious Sectaries, and Meetings under Colour or Pretence of Religion, P. 1,

1. SEDITIOUS, from Sedition, imports as much as Turbulent, Contentious, Factious, which sows Strife, and Debate, and hazards the Civil Peace of the Government.

2. Conventicle, is a diminutive private Assembly, designing and contriving Edition: current; Page: [{116}] Evil to particular Persons, or the Government in general, See Lamb. p. 173.44 In Tertullian’s Sense, It is an Assembly of immodest and unclean Persons; at least it was so taken in those Days, and objected against the Christians as their Practice, whom he defends. Ter. Apol.45

3. Sectaries, must be such as disjoin or dis-member themselves from the Body of Truth, and confess to a strange and untrue Opinion. If any Subject of this Realm being Sixteen Years of Age, or upwards, shall be present at any Assembly, or Conventicle, on pretence of Religion, &c. which can signify no more than thus much, That true it is some may meet and assemble to Worship God, and upon a religious Account, that are Dissenters, such we censure not, but those who under Colour or Pretence of any Exercise of Religion conspire, &c. they are to be suspected and prosecuted. This being the true Explanation of the Terms of the Act, we proceed to shew how unreasonably they are applied to us.

1. Words are but so many intelligible Marks, and Characters set and employ’d to inform us of each other’s Conceptions, and therein of the Nature of those Things they stand for: Now because we take the Act to mean what it speaks, and that the Law concludes no Man guilty upon Conjectures, but from the Detection of some Fault; we affirm our selves altogether unconcern’d in that Word Seditious, because it was never our Practice in Words or Actions to disturb the Government; or suggest Principles that might hatch Conspiracies, or feed the Vulgar with Disaffection to their Rulers; but before the King’s Coming in, at his Coming in, and ever since, notwithstanding our frequent Suffering, we have made it our Business to heal Animosities, preach Forgiveness and Charity amongst Men, and that they would by an hearty Repentance turn to God, rather than hunt after Revenge upon one another; therefore we assert we have not done one thing that may be prov’d Seditious in the Sense above mention’d.

2. That we are Strangers to Conventicles is most evident, for where the Parts that render it such, are wanting, there can be no Conventicle; but that they are in our Assemblies, appears;

First, Because our Meetings are not Small. 2. Neither are they Private or Clandestine; but in the View of all People. Nor are they riotous, licentious, or otherwise immodest, or immoral; but on purpose to dissuade Persons from such Edition: current; Page: [{117}] Impieties; so that we are clear in the Interpretation of the Law, 13 H. 5. cap. 8. 19. and 19 H. 7. cap. 13. and in the Sense of the famous Father Tertullian.

3. Sectaries, is a Word, that whosoever has but Confidence enough to conceit himself in the Right, by Consequence wants none to suppose the contrary in the wrong, and so to call him a Sectary; but this is but a meer begging of the Question; For to say those are Sectaries does not conclude them such, nor does the Act speak so plainly of Dissenters: But granting it did, yet they must be Seditious Ones, or else all will be in vain; where we may observe, that purely to be a Sectary is not what the Act strikes at, but to be a Seditious One: For a Man may differ in Judgment about Matters of Faith, from the National Religion, and yet correspond with the Government in Matters Civil; so that ACT upon the whole aims not at Sectaries simply, but they must be such as are Enemies to the Civil Constitution to be rendred Seditious Ones, from which we have sufficiently clear’d ourselves.

4. That we meet under Colour and Pretence, and not really to worship God; we deny, and none can prove. ’Twere high Incharity to affirm positively, This, or that People meet only under a Colour of Religion; yet unless the Act had so express’d it self, we conceive their Authority lame and imperfect that Persecute us by it. It will help but little to say, The King, Lords and Commons, by the following Words, in other Manner than according to the Liturgy of the Church of England, meant, that such meet under a Pretence that did not conform to that Worship; since the precedent Words say, under Colour or Pretence of any Exercise of Religion in other Manner, &c. So that they are only struck at, who are not sincere Dissenters, but that are such, with Design to carry on another End.

Obj. But may some say, ’Tis granted, you have very evidently evaded the Force of the Act, so far as relates to these recited Expressions; but what if a Bill be ready, for an Explanatory and Supplementary Act to the former, wherein this Scope for Argument will not be found, because your Meetings will be absolutely adjudged Seditious, Riotous, and Unlawful.

To which we Answer, That as the granting of the first, which none reasonably can deny, is a manifest Impeachment of such as have violently prosecuted People for being present at Religious Assemblies (almost to their utter Undoing) so shall we as easily answer the second, which amounts to the Force of an Objection, and briefly thus.

First, It is not more impossible for Mankind to preserve their Society without Speech, than it is absolutely requisite that the Speech be regular and certain. For, if what we call a Man, a Lion, a Whale to Day, we should call a Woman, a Edition: current; Page: [{118}] Dog, a Sprat to Morrow; there would be such Uncertainty and Confusion, as it would be altogether impossible to preserve Speech or Language intelligible.

Secondly, It is not in the Power of all the Men in the World to reconcile an absolute Contradiction, to convert the Nature of Light into that of Darkness, nor to enact a Thing to be that which it is not; but that Those endeavour to do, who think of making our Religious Meetings Routs and Riots; for first they offer Violence to our common Propriety of Language, it being the first time that ever a Religious and Peaceable Assembly would be enacted a Rout or Riot: Nature, Reason, the Law of the Land, and common Practice, and Observation, give a clear contrary Definition of a Rout and Riot.

Secondly, They endeavour to reconcile Contradictions; for they would have a Thing that, which by Nature it cannot be; for that which is Peaceable cannot be Riotous, and what is Religious can never be Seditious. For any to say, our Meetings are not Religious, is not only a poor Evasion, but great Incharity; for that is properly a Religious Assembly where Persons are congregated with a real Purpose of worshipping God, by Prayer, or otherwise, let the Persons met be esteem’d Doctrinally Orthodox, or not. Can any be so Ignorant, or so Malicious, as to believe we do not Assemble to Worship God, to the best of our Understanding? If they think otherwise, they must, and do assume unto themselves a Power beyond the Arrogancy of the POPE himself, that never yet adventur’d to tell Man his Thoughts, nor the Purposes and Intents of his Heart, which he, or they must do, that definitively judge our Assemblies, void of Sword or Staff, Drum or Musket, Tumult or Violence, and circumstantiated with all the Tokens of Christian Devotion, a Rout or a Riot. And truly, If Protestants deny the Legality of those Acts or Edicts, which were contriv’d and executed in order to their Suppression, by the respective Kings and Parliaments that own’d the Romish Faith and Authority, where they either did or do live, let them not think it strange, if we on the same Terms (namely, Scruple of Conscience) refuse Compliance with their Laws of Restraint. And as the first Reformers were no whit daunted at the Black Characters the Romanists fastened on them, neither thought their Assemblies in a way of profest Separation, the more unlawful, for their representing them such; no more are we surpriz’d or scar’d at the ugly Phrases, daily cast upon us by a Sort of Men, that either do not know us, or would not that others should: For we are not so easily to be Brav’d, Menac’d, or Persecuted out of our Sense, Reason, and Priviledge.

They say, LOSERS have leave to Speak, at least, we take it; none being greater Losers, than such as for Dissenting from National Institutions in Point Edition: current; Page: [{119}] of Faith or Worship, are depriv’d of their Common Rights and Freedoms, and hindred as much as may be, from reverencing the God that made them, in that Way which to them seems most acceptable to him.

To Conclude, we say, and by it let our Intentions in our whole Discourse be measur’d, that we have not defended any Dissenters, whose Quarrel or Dissent is rather Civil and Political, than Religious and Conscientious; for both we really think such unworthy of Protection from the English Government, who seek the Ruin of it; and that such as are Contributors to the Preservation of it, (though Dissenters in Point of Faith or Worship) are unquestionably intituled to a Protection from IT.

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4.: ONE Project for the Good of England that is, Our Civil Union is our Civil Safety Humbly Dedicated to the Great Council, The Parliament of ENGLAND (1679)

RELIGION, as it is the noblest End of Man’s Life, so it were the best Bond of Human Society, provided Men did not err in the Meaning of that excellent Word. Scripture interprets it to be Loving God above all, and our Neighbours as our selves;1 but Practice teacheth us, that too many meerly resolve it into Opinion and Form; in which, not the Text, but the Comment too often prevails; whence it comes to pass, that those Bodies of Men, who have but one Common Civil Interest, are miserably distracted in Favour of their adopted Notions, upon which they are impatient to bestow an Earthly Crown. And this is the Reason of that Mischief and Uncertainty that attend Government. No sooner one Opinion prevails upon another, (though all hold the Text to be sacred) but Human Society is shaken, and the Civil Government must receive and suffer a Revolution; insomuch, that when we consider the Fury and Unnaturalness of some People for Religion, (which shews they have none that’s True, Religion making Men most Natural as well as Divine) we have Reason to bewail the Mis-understanding as well as Mis-living of that venerable Word.

But since ’tis so hard to disabuse Men of their wrong Apprehensions of Religion, and the true Nature and Life of it, and consequently as yet too early in the Day to fix such a Religion upon which Mankind will readily agree as a common Basis for Civil Society, we must recur to some lower but true, Principle for the Present, and I think there will be no Difficulty of Succeeding.

’Tis this, That Civil Interest is the Foundation and End of Civil Government, and where it is not maintained entire, the Government must needs decline. The Word INTEREST has a good and bad Acceptation; when it is taken in an ill Sense, it signifies a Pursuit of Advantage without Regard to Truth or Justice; Edition: current; Page: [{121}] which I mean not: The good Signification of the Word, and which I mean, is a Legal Endeavour to keep Rights, or augment honest Profits, whether it be in a private Person or a Society. By GOVERNMENT, I understand a Just and Equal Constitution, where Might is not Right, but Laws rule, and not the Wills or Power of Men; for that were plain Tyranny.

This Government must have a Supreme Authority in it self to Determine, and not be superseded or controuled by any other Power, for then it would not be a Government, but a Subjection, which is a plain Contradiction.

Having thus explained the Terms of the Principle I have laid down, I repeat it, viz. That Civil Interest is the Foundation and End of Civil Government, and prove it thus: The Good of the Whole is the Rise and End of Government; but the Good of the Whole must needs be the Interest of the Whole, and consequently the Interest of the Whole, is the Reason and End of Government. None can stumble at the Word Good, for every Man may easily and safely interpret that to himself, since he must needs believe, ’tis Good for him to be preserv’d in an undisturb’d Possession of his Civil Rights, according to the Free and Just Laws of the Land, and the Construction he makes for himself will serve his Neighbour, and so the whole Society.

But as the Good of the People is properly the Civil Interest of the People, and that, the Reason and End of Government; so is the Maintenance of that Civil Interest entire, the Preservation of Government. For where People are sure of their Own, and are protected from Violence or Injury, they cheerfully yield their Obedience, and pay their Contribution to the Support of that Government. But on the contrary, where Men are insecure of their Civil Rights, nay, where they are daily violated, and themselves in Danger of Ruin, and that for no Sin committed against the Nature of Civil Interest, (to preserve which, Government was instituted) we ought to suppose their Affections will flag, that they will grow dead-hearted, and that what they pay or do, may go against the Grain: And to say true, such Unkindness is ready to tempt them to believe they should not of Right contribute to the Maintenance of such Governments as yield them no Security or Civil Protection. Which unhappy Flaw in the Civil Interest, proves an untoward Crack in the Government; Men not being cordially devoted to the Prosperity of that Government that is exercised in their Destruction; and how far that Fraction upon the Common Interest of the People may affect the Government I cannot tell, but to be sure it is insecure to any Government, to have the People (it’s Strength) divided, as they will be, where their Interest is so disjointed by the Government; One Edition: current; Page: [{122}] Protected, the Other Expos’d. Wherefore, Wise Governments have ever taken Care to preserve their People, as knowing they do thereby preserve their own Interest, and that how Numerous their People, so large their Interest. For not only Solomon has told us, That the Honour of a Prince is in the Multitude of his People,2 but Experience teaches, that Plenty of People is the Riches and Strength of a Wise and Good Government; as that is, where Vice is corrected and Virtue encouraged, and All taken in and secured in Civils, that have the same Civil Interest with the Government.

But as the Good and Interest of the Whole is the Rise and End of Government, so must it suppose, that the Whole (which takes in all Parties) concurs in seeking the Good of the Government; for the Reason of the Government will not suffer it to protect those that are Enemies to it’s Constitution and Safety; for so it would admit of something dangerous to the Society, for the Security of which, Government was at first Instituted.

It will follow, that those that own another Temporal Power superior to the Government they properly belong to, make themselves Subjects not of the Government they are born under, but to that Authority which they avow to be superior to the Government of their own Country, and consequently Men of another Interest, because ’tis their Interest to pursue the Advantages of that Power they acknowledge to be sovereign; But those that own, embrace and obey the Government of their own Country as their temporal supreme Authority, and whose Interest is one and the same with that of their own proper Government, ought to be valued and protected by that Government.

The Principle thus far lies General, I will now bring it to our own Case.

ENGLAND is a Country Populous and Protestant, and though under some Dissents within it self, yet the Civil Interest is the same, and in some Sense the Religious too. For, first, all English Protestants, whether Conformists or Nonconformists agree in this, that they only owe Allegiance and Subjection unto the Civil Government of England, and offer any Security in their Power to give of their Truth in this Matter. And in the next Place, they do not only consequentially disclaim the Pope’s Supremacy, and all Adhesion to Foreign Authority under any Pretence, but therewith deny and oppose the Romish Religion, as it stands degenerated from Scripture, and the first and purest Ages of the Church; which makes up a great Negative Union.

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And it cannot be unknown to Men read in the Reasons of the Reformation, that a Protestation made by the German Reformers against the Imperial Edicts of Charles the Fifth, imposing Romish Traditions, gave Beginning to the Word Protestant.3

In short, It is the Interest of the Ruling, or Church-Protestants of England, that the Pope should have no Claim or Power in England. It is also the Interest of the Dissenting Protestants, that the Pope should have no Claim or Power here in England, because they are subject to the same Mischiefs and Sufferings in their Civil and Religious Rights that the Church-Protestants are liable to; if then both are like to lose by Pope and Foreign Authority, their Interest must needs be one against Pope and Foreign Authority; and if they have but one Interest, it will follow, that the Church-Protestant cannot prejudice the Dissenting-Protestant, but he must weaken and destroy his own Interest.

The Civil Interest of English Protestants being thus the same, and their Religious Interest too, so far as concerns a Negative to the Usurpation and Error of Rome; I do humbly ask, if it be the Interest of the Government, to expose those to Misery that have no other Civil Interest than THAT of the Government? Or if it be just or equal that the Weaker should be prosecuted by the more powerful Protestants, whose Interest is positively the same in Civils, and in Religion Negatively? One would think ’twere reasonable that they should not suffer by Protestants, who if Popery have a Day, are likely to suffer with them, and that upon the same Principles. Experience tells us, That the wisest Architects lay their Foundations broad and strong, and raise their Squares and Structure by the most exact Rules of Art, that the Fabrick may be secure against the Violence of Storms; but if People must be destroy’d by those of the same Interest, truly that Interest will stand but Totteringly, and every Breath of Opposition will be ready to shake it.

’Twas the Inconfutable Answer Christ made to the Blasphemers of that Power by which he wrought Miracles; A Kingdom divided against it self cannot stand: what he said then, let me on another Occasion say now, an Interest divided against it self must fall.4

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I know some Men will take Fire at this, and by crying The CHURCH, The CHURCH, hope to silence all Arguments of this Nature; But they must excuse me, if I pay no Manner of Regard to their Zeal, and hold their Devotion both Ignorant and Dangerous at this Time. It is not the Way to fill the Church, to destroy the People. A Church without People is a Contradiction, especially when the Scripture tells us, that ’tis the People that makes the Church.

And ’tis not without an Appearance of Reason that some good and wise Men are apprehensive, that the greatest Sticklers for persecuting Protestant Dissenters in Favour of the Church of England, are Men addicted and devoted to the Church of Rome, or at least animated by such as are; who, despairing of doing any great Feats, if known, hide themselves under these Pretences; but the Meaning of it is to debilitate the Protestant Cause in general, by exciting the Church of England, to destroy all other Protestant Interests in these Kingdoms, that so nothing may remain for Popery to conflict with but the few Zealous Abettors of that Church.

And that this may not look disingenuous, or like a Trick of mine, I will enforce it by a Demonstration. It is plain Fact, that the Church of Rome hath ever since the Reformation practised the Restoration of her Religion and Power in these Kingdoms. It is as evident that Religion is with her a Word for Civil Interest, that is, that she may have the Rule over Men both Body and Soul. For ’tis Government she aims at, to have the Reins of Power in her Hand, to give Law and wield the Scepter.

To do this she must either have a greater Interest than the Protestants that are now in Possession, or else divide their Interest, and so weaken them by themselves, and make them Instruments to her Ends. That her own Force is Inconsiderable is clear: She has nothing within Doors to give her Hope but the Discord of Protestants. It follows then that she must of Necessity bestir her self, and use her Arts to enflame the Reckoning among Protestants, and carry their Dissents about Religious Matters to a Division in the Civil Interest. And it is the more to be fear’d, because whatever she has been to others, she has been ever true to her self.

If this then be the only Domestick Expedient left her, we are sure she will use it: and if so, it must needs be of great Importance with all Protestants to let fall their private Animosities, and take all possible Care that their Dissents about Faith or Worship, (which regard the other World) divide not their Affection and Judgment about the Common and Civil Interest of their Country: because if that be kept entire, it equally frustrates the Designs of Rome, as if Edition: current; Page: [{125}] you were of one Religion. For since, as I said before, Religion, with the great Men of that Church, is nothing else but a softer Word for Civil Empire, preserve you but your Civil Interest from Fraction, and you are in that Sense of one Religion too; and that such an one, as you need not fear the Temptation of Smithfield, if you will but be true to it.5

This being the Case, I would take Leave to ask the Zealous Gentlemen of the English Church, If Conformity to the Fashion of their Worship be dearer to them than England’s Interest and the Cause of Protestancy? If their Love to Church-Government be greater than to the Church and her Religion, and to their Country and her Laws? Or, lastly, Whether in Case they are sincere in their Allegations for the Church, (which, I confess ingenuously, I am apt to suspect) it is to be supposed that the present Church-men (Conformists I mean) are better able of themselves to secure Protestancy and our Civil Interest against the Attempts of Rome, than in Conjunction with the Civil Interest of all Protestant Dissenters? If they say, yes, I would have them at the same Time, for the same Reason, to give it under their Hands, that ’tis a standing Rule in Arithmetick, that ONE is more than SIX, and that hitherto we have been all mistaken in the Art of Numbers.

Being brought to this Pinch, I conceive they must say, that they had rather deliver up their Church to the Power and Designs of Popery, than suffer Dissenters to live freely among them, though Protestants, of one Negative Religion, and of the same Civil Interest; or else hasten to break those Bonds that are laid upon Dissenters of truly tender (and by Experience) of peaceable Consciences; and by Law establish the free Exercise of their Worship to Almighty God, that the Fears, Jealousies, Disaffection and Distraction, that now affect the one common Interest of Protestants, may be removed; for it seems impossible to preserve a distinct Interest from both. But to which of these they may incline, I must not determine; and yet I hope, they will not be of the Mind of a late Monk of Cullen, that in his publick Exercise exhorted the Civil Magistrates to chuse to have their City Poor and Catholick, that is Popish, rather than Great and Opulent by the Admission of trading Hereticks; but if they should, may our Magistrates have at least their Prudence; for the Culleners gave him the Hearing, but were as true to their Interest, as the Monk to his Superstition.

Under Favour, the Civil Government is greatly concern’d to discountenance such Biggotry; for it Thins the People, Lessens Trade, Creates Jealousies, and Edition: current; Page: [{126}] Endangers the Peace and Wealth of the Whole. And, with Submission, of what should the Civil Magistrate be more tender, than of suffering the Civil Interest of a Great People to be disturb’d and narrow’d for the Humour of any one Party of them? for since the Civil Interest lies as large, as the People of that Interest, the People must be preserv’d in order to preserve that Common Interest. Other Notions ever did divide and weaken Empire, and in the End they have rarely miss’d to pull the Old House about their Ears, that have govern’d themselves by such disproportionable Measures: By all Means, interest the Affections of the People in the Prosperity of the Government, by making the Government a SECURITY to their particular Rights and Properties.

I ask, if more Custom comes not to the King, and more Trade to the Kingdom, by encouraging the Labour and Traffick of an Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Independent, Quaker and Anabaptist, than by an Episcopalian only? If this be true, why should the rest be render’d uncapable of Trade, yea, of Living? What Schism or Heresy is there in the Labour and Commerce of the Anabaptist, Quaker, Independent and Presbyterian, more than in the Labour and Traffick of the Episcopalian?

I beseech you give me Leave, Is there ever a Church-man in England, that in Distress would refuse the Courtesy of one of these Dissenters? If one of them should happen to fall into a Pond or Ditch, would he deny to be helped out by a Dissenter’s Hand? Is it to be supposed, he would in such a Pickle be Stomachful, and chuse to lie there, and be Smother’d or Drown’d, rather than owe Aid to the Good-will of a poor Phanatick? Or if his House were on Fire, may we think that he would have it rather burnt to the Ground than acknowledge it’s Preservation to a Non-conformist? Would not the Act be Orthodox, whatever were the Man? So in Case of being Sick, Imprison’d, Beset, Benighted, out of the Way, far from Kindred or Acquaintance, with an hundred other Cases that may happen daily, can we think, that such Men would ask Questions for Conscience Sake, or charge Schism upon the Relief given them? No, no; Self will always be true to it’s Interest, let Superstition mutter what it will.

But since the Industry, Rents and Taxes of the Dissenters are as currant as their Neighbours, who loses by such narrowness more than England, than the Government and the Magistracy? For till it be the Interest of the Farmer to destroy his Flock, to Starve the Horse he rides, and the Cow that gives him Milk, it cannot be the Interest of England to let a great Part of her Sober and Useful Inhabitants be destroy’d about Things that concern another World. And ’tis to be hoped, that the Wisdom and Charity of our Governors will better guide Edition: current; Page: [{127}] them both to their own real Interest and their People’s Preservation, which are inseparable; that so they may not Starve them for Religion, that are as willing, as able, to work for the Good of King and Country.

I beseech you, let Nature speak, who is so much a better Friend to Human Society, than False or Froward Opinion, that she often rectifies the Mistakes of a Prejudiced Education, that we may say, how Kind, how Gentle, how Helpful does she teach us to be to each other, till that Make-bate OPINION (falsly called Religion) begins the Jangle, and Foments to Hatred.

All the Productions of Nature are by Love, and shall Religion propagate by Force? If we consider the poor Hen, she will teach us Humanity. Nature does not only learn her to hatch, but to be tender over her Feeble Chickens, that they may not be a Prey to the Kite. All the Seeds and Plants that grow for the Use and Nourishment of Man, are produced by the kind and warm Influences of the Sun. Nothing but Kindness keeps up Human Race: Men and Women don’t get Children in Spite, but Affection. ’Tis wonderful to think by what friendly and gentle Ways Nature produces, and Matures the Creatures of the World; and that Religion should teach us to be Froward and Cruel, is Lamentable: This were to make her the Enemy instead of the Restorer of Nature. But I think, we may without Offence say, That since True Religion gives Men Greater Mildness and Goodness than they had before, that Religion which teaches them less, must needs be False. What shall we say then, but that even Nature is a truer Guide to Peace, and better informs us to preserve Civil Interest, than False Religion, and consequently, that we ought to be true to the Natural and Just Principles of Society, and not suffer one of them to be violated for Humour or Opinion.

Let us go together as far as our Way lies, and preserve our Unity in those Principles, which maintain our Civil Society. This is our Common and our Just Interest, all Protestant Dissenters agree in this, and it is both Wise and Righteous to admit no Fraction upon this Pact, no Violence upon this Concord. For the Consequence of permitting any Thing to break in upon the Principles of Human Society, that is Foreign to the Nature of it, will distract and weaken that Society.

We know, that in all Plantations the Wisdom of Planters is well aware of this: and let us but consider, that the same Ways that plant Countries, must be kept to for preserving the Plantation, else ’twill quickly be Depopulated.

That Country which is false to it’s first Principles of Government, and mistakes or divides it’s Common and Popular Interest, must unavoidably decay. Edition: current; Page: [{128}] And let me say, That had there been this Freedom granted Eighteen Years ago,6 Protestancy had been too potent for the Enemies of it; nor had there been those Divisions for Popery to make it’s Advantage by; at least, not in the Civil Interest of the Nation. And where that has been preserv’d entire, it has been never able to prevail: Witness the careful Government of Holland, where the Preservation of their Civil Interest from Fraction hath secured them against the Growth of Popery, though it be almost tolerated by them: So powerful are the Effects of an United Civil Interest in Government. Now because the Civil Interest of this Nation is the Preservation of the Free and Legal Government of it from all Subjection to Foreign Claim, and that the several Sorts of Protestants are united, as in the Common Protestancy, that is, a General Renunciation of Rome, so in the Maintenance of this Civil Government as a Common Security, (for it strikes at both their Rights, Civil and Sacred; their Conscience, Religion and Law, to admit any Foreign Jurisdiction here) it must follow, that had these several, as well English as Protestant Parties, been timely encouraged to this United Civil Interest, they had secured the Government from this Danger by rendring it too formidable for the Attempt.

But there is a two fold Mistake that I think fit to remove. First, That the Difference betwixt Protestants and their Dissenters is generally manag’d, as if it were Civil. Secondly, The Difference betwixt Papist and Protestant is carried on, as if it were chiefly Religious.

To the First, I say, ’Tis plausible, but false; it is an Artifice of ill Men to enflame the Government against good People, to make base Ends by other Mens Ruin; whereas they that dissent, are at a Ne plus ultra on the Behalf of the English Government, as well as themselves. They neither acknowledge nor submit to any other Authority. They hold the one common Civil Head, and not only acquiesce in the Distribution of Justice by Law; but embrace it as the best Part of their Patrimony. So that the Difference between Protestants and their Dissenters is purely Religious, and mostly about Church-Government, and some Forms of Worship, apprehended to be not so pure and Apostolical as could be desired; and here it is, that Tenderness should be exercis’d, if in any Case in the World, or St. Paul is Mistaken.7

But as to the Second, under Correction, the Case is alter’d, for though it be mostly manag’d on the Side of Religion, The great Point is meerly Civil, and Edition: current; Page: [{129}] should never be otherwise admitted or understood. For want of this Caution Protestants suffer themselves to be drawn into tedious Controversies about Religion, and give occasion to the Professors and Favourers of that Way to exclaim against them, as Persecutors for Religion, who had reprobated such Severity in the Papists to their Ancestors (a most plausible and very often a successful Plea) when in reality the Difference is not so much Religious as Civil. Not but that there is a vast Contrariety in Doctrine and Worship too; but this barely should not be the Cause of our so great Distance, and that Provision the Laws make against them; but rather that Fundamental inconsistency they carry with them to the Security of the English Government and Constitution unto which they belong, by acknowledging a Foreign Jurisdiction in these Kingdoms. So that drawing into Question and Danger the Constitution and Government, to which Scripture, and Nature, and Civil Pact, oblige their Fidelity and Obedience, there seems a Discharge upon the Civil Government from any farther Care of their Protection, that make it a Piece of Conscience to seek it’s Ruin and which is worse, a Principle, not to be informed of better Things, for even here not Reason or Law, but the Pope must be Judge.

This being the Brief and modest State of the Case, I must return to my first great Principle, That Civil Interest is the Foundation and End of Civil Government: and that how much Men desert the Interest of a Kingdom, so much they Wound and Subvert the Government of it. I appeal to all Wise and Considerate Men of the Truth of this by the present Posture of Affairs and their proper Cause.

To come then to our Point, Shall English Men by English Men, and Protestants by Protestants, be Free or Opprest? This is, Whether shall we receive as English-men and Protestants, those that have no other Civil Interest than that which is purely English, and who sincerely profess and embrace the same Protestation, for which the Ancient Reformers were stiled Protestants, or for the Sake of Humour or Base Ends disown them and expose them and their Families to utter Misery?

I would hope better of our great Church-Men’s Charity and Prudence; but if they should be so unhappy as to keep to their old Measures, and still play the Gawdy, but empty, Name of Church against the Civil Interest and Religion of the Nation, they will shew themselves deserted of God, and then how long it will be, before they will be seen and left of all sober Men, let them Judge. For to speak freely, after all this Light that is now in the World, no Ignorance can excuse such Zeal, nor will wise Men believe it to be either, but a Trick to Edition: current; Page: [{130}] weaken Protestancy, that her declared Enemy may with less hazard gain the Chair. And there is not so much reason to fear Profest Roman Catholicks, as those Gentlemen, who valuing themselves by their respects to the Church and Tenderness of it’s Independent Honour, have the Opportunity with less Suspicion of letting in Popery at the Back door. These are Men that pay off the Phanatick in the Name of the Church, but for the good of the Pope, to whose Account those Endeavours must be placed.

But it will go a great Way to our Deliverance, if we are not Careless to observe the Secret Workings of those that have vow’d our Misery, and of them, such as are in Masquerade, and wear the Guise of Friends, are most Dangerous: But some Men are Pur-blind, they can see Danger as near as their Nose, but in a Difficulty, that is not a Foot from them, they are Presumptive, Rusty and not to be govern’d. Could some Church-men but see the Irreparable Mischiefs that will attend them (if sincere to their present Profession) unless prevented by a Modest and Christian condescension to Dissenting Protestant Christians, they would never suffer themselves to be Mis-guided by Stiff and Rigid Principles at this Time of Day.

If Christianity, that most Meek and Self-denying Religion, cannot prevail upon them, methinks the Power of Interest, and that Self-interest too, should have some Success, for in those Cases they use not to be obstinate.

But I expect it should be told me, That this is the Way to Ruin the Church, and let in an Anarchy in Religion: Cujus contrarium verum.8 I am glad to obviate this, before I leave you, seeing the Contrary is most true; for it leaves the Church and Church-men as they are, with this Distinction, that whereas now Conformity is Coercive, which is Popish, it will be then Perswasive, which is Christian. And there may be some hopes, when the Parsons, destitute of the Magistrates Sword, shall of necessity enforce their Religion by good Doctrine and Holy Living; nor ought they to murmur, for that which satisfied Christ and his Apostles should satisfy them: His Kingdom is not of this World,9 therefore they should not Fight for him, if they would be his Servants and the Children of his Kingdom, Christ, and not Civil Force, is the Rock his Church is built upon. Nor indeed has any Thing so Tarnisht the Cause of Protestancy, as the Professors of it betaking themselves to Worldly Arms to propagate their Religion. Edition: current; Page: [{131}] David could not wear Saul’s Armour,10 and true Protestants cannot use Popish Weapons, Imposition and Persecution. In short; ’Tis the very Interest of the Church of England, to preserve the civil Interest entire, or else Popery will endanger all; but that cannot be unless all of that Civil Interest be preserved; therefore Protestant Dissenters should be indulg’d.

But some will say, There is a Difference even among Dissenters; Some will give a Security to the Civil Government by taking the Oaths, others will not, and be it through Tenderness, how do we know, but Papists will shrow’d themselves under the Wings of such Dissenters, and so in Tolerating Protestant Dissenters to fortify Protestancy, in reality Popery will be hereby shelter’d incognito.

I answer, First, That such Oaths are little or no Security to any Government, and though they may give some Allay to the Jealousy of Governours, they never had the Effect desired. For neither in private Cases, nor yet in Publick Transactions have Men adher’d to their Oaths, but their Interest. He that is a Knave, was never made Honest by an Oath: Nor is it an Oath, but Honesty, that keeps Honest Men such. Read Story and consult our Modern Times, tell me what Government stood the firmer or longer for them? Men may take them for their own Advantage, or to avoid Loss and Punishment: But the Question is, What real Benefit, or Security comes thereby to the Government? It is certain they have often ensnared a Good Man, but never caught one Knave yet: We ought not to put so great a Value upon Oaths, as to render the Security of our Government so low and hazardous.

God’s Providence and the Wisdom of our Ancestors have found out a better Test for us to rest upon, and that is, our Common Interest, and the Laws of the Land DULY executed: These are the Security of our Government.

For Example, a Man Swears he will not Plot, yet Plots; pray what Security is this Oath to the Government? But though ’tis evident, that this be no Security; that Law which Hangs him for Plotting, is an unquestionable one. So that ’tis not for wise Governours, by Swearing Men to the Government to think to secure it; but all having agreed to the Laws, by which they are to be governed, let any Man break them at his Peril. Wherefore good Laws, and a Just Execution of them, and not Oaths, are the Natural and Real Security of a Government.

But next, though some may scruple the Oaths, ’tis not for the Sake of the Edition: current; Page: [{132}] Matter so much as Form, which you know is not the Case of Roman Catholicks, (pray distinguish) and those very Persons, whoever they be of Protestant Dissenters, I dare say, they will very cheerfully promise their Allegiance on the same Penalties, and subscribe any Renunciation of Pope and Foreign Authority, which the Art of Man can Pen; nor should it be hard for you to believe they should subscribe what they have always liv’d.

To that Part of the Objection, which mentions the danger of Papists concealing themselves under the Character of Protestant Dissenters; under Favour I say, it is most reasonable to believe, that those who will deny their Faith upon Record, as those that subscribe your Declaration do, will swallow the Oaths too; for the Declaration flatly denies the Religion, but the Oaths only the Pope’s Supremacy, which even some of themselves pretend to reject.11 Therefore those that can sincerely subscribe the Declaration cannot be Papists.

If it be yet objected, that Papists may have Dispensations to subscribe the Test, or a Pardon, when they have done it; I answer, they may as well have Dispensations to take the Oaths, or Pardons when they have taken them, and these last six Months prove as much. There is no Fence against this Flail. At this rate they may as well be Protestants, as Protestant-Dissenters; Ministers or Bishops in Churches, as Speakers or Preachers in Meeting-houses: This Objection only shows the Weakness of both Oaths and Declaration for the Purpose intended, and not, that they can hide themselves more under one People than another. For they that can have a Dispensation or Pardon for one Act, can have it for another; especially when the Matter of the Declaration is of a more general weight to them, than that of the Oath; all which confirms my former Judgment of the Insecurity of such Oaths to any Government.

Give me leave then upon this to ask you, if you will bring a certain Ruin upon any Protestant Dissenters for the Sake of such an uncertain Security to your selves? for this is the Question; I beseech you to weigh it as becomes wise and good Men: shall they be Reprobated for tenderly refusing, what being perform’d, cannot save or secure you?

Consider, you have no Reason to believe, but those that are allow’d to subscribe the Declaration, or that will be pardon’d when they have done it, may be allow’d to take the Oaths, or will be pardon’d or absolv’d, when they have taken them: but you are certain on the other Side, that the Imposing of the Edition: current; Page: [{133}] Oaths will be a great Snare to many Protestant-Dissenters, that love the Government, and renounce both Pope and Popery; They will be ruin’d; which to me is of the Nature of an Argument for those People: For their not taking the Oaths, proves plainly, they have no Dispensations nor hopes of Absolution, and therefore no Papists; shall they then lie under the Severities intended against Papists, who have none of their Dispensations or Absolutions to deliver them from them? This is (with Submission but in plain Terms) to make the Case of the Kingdom worse; for it destroys those who are not Guilty, and whom, I believe, you would not destroy.

Having brought the Matter to this, I shall first offer you a new Test; Next, the Ways of taking it, with most Aggravation against the Party rejecting or breaking it; And lastly, how you may secure your selves from Papists disguising themselves among Protestant-Dissenters; that so nothing may remain a Remora12 in the Way, that shall not be removed, to leave you a plain and even Path to Peace and Safety.

The New TEST.

I A. B. do solemnly and in good Conscience, in the Sight of God and Men, acknowledge and declare, that King Charles the second is Lawful King of this Realm, and all the Dominions thereunto belonging. And that neither the Pope nor See of Rome, nor any else by their Authority have Right in any Case to Depose the King, or Dispose of his Kingdom, or upon any Score whatever to absolve his Subjects of their Obedience, or to give leave to any of them to Plot or Conspire the Hurt of the King’s Person, his State or People; and that all such Pretences and Power are False, Pernicious and Damnable.

And I do farther sincerely profess, and in good Conscience declare, that I do not believe, that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar, or Peter’s Lawful Successor, or that He or the See of Rome, severally or joyntly, are the Rule of Faith or Judge of Controversy, or that they can absolve Sins: Nor do I believe, there is a Purgatory after Death; or that Saints should be pray’d to, or Images in any Sense be worship’d. Nor do I believe, that there is any Transubstantiation in the Lord’s Supper, or Elements of Bread and Wine, at or after the Consecration thereof by any Person whatsoever. But I do firmly believe, that the Present Communion of Edition: current; Page: [{134}] the Roman-Catholick Church is both Superstitious and Idolatrous. And all this I do acknowledge, intend, profess and declare without any Equivocation, or reserv’d, or other Sense, than the plain and usual Signification of these Words, according to the real Intention of the Law-makers, and the common Acceptation of all true Protestants.13

This is the Test I offer; large in Matter, because comprehensive of Oaths and Test too, yet brief in Words.

The next Thing is the Ways of taking it with most Aggravation upon the Refusers or Violaters of it.

1. That in all Cities and great Towns, Notice be given by the Magistrates thereof to the Inhabitants of every Ward or Parish to appear on such a Day, be it New-Years-Day or Ash-Wednesday rather (when the Pope Curses all Protestants) at their Publick Hall, or other Places of Commerce, where the Magistrates shall first openly Read, Subscribe, and Seal the Test. Then that it be read again by the proper Officer of the Place to the People, and that those that take it, Do Audibly Pronounce the Words after him that reads it; and when they have so done, that they Subscribe and Seal it. That such Subscriptions be Register’d, and Copies of each Parish’s Subscription, transmitted to the Parish, and affixt upon some publick Place for all that will to see.

2. That in the Countries, the Parishes of each Hundred or Rape,14 may be likewise Summon’d to appear upon the Day aforesaid, at the Head Market-Town in the said Hundred or Rape, and, that the Justices of the Peace within that Part of the Country, shall first Read, Subscribe, and Seal the said Test, in View of the People, and then that the People Say, Subscribe, and Seal the Test, as is before exprest. Which being done, let the said Subscriptions be collected into One Volumn, and kept in the County Court as a Book of Record; and that to each Parish, be transmitted a Copy of the said Parish’s Subscription, to be affixt upon some Publick Place within the said Parish, for all to see.

Lastly, Let this be done Annually, that is, upon every New-Years-Day, or Ash-Wednesday, as a Perpetual Testimony of the People’s Affection to the King and Government, and their Abhorrence of the Practices of Rome.

The Abuse of this Discrimination should be very Penal; For ’tis a Great Lye Edition: current; Page: [{135}] upon a Man’s own Conscience, and a Cheat put upon the Government: Your Wisdom can best proportion and direct the Punishment; but it can scarcely be too severe, as our Business stands.

But as in Case of such Hypocrisie, a severe Penalty should be inflicted, so pray let Provision be made, that if any Person so subscribing, should be afterwards call’d by the Name of Jesuit or Papist, without very good Proof, it should be deem’d and punish’d in open Sessions, for a Slander and Breach of Peace, yet so, as that the Penalty may be remitted at the Request of the Abused Party.

I should think that this Business, carefully done, might render needless my Answer to the last Objection, viz. Which Way shall we be able to prevent Papists from passing for Protestant Dissenters, that so the Security propounded to the Government, be not baffled by Disguise? For no Papist can subscribe this, but he will Lye in the Face of the Government and Country, and that Yearly, and upon Record too; which is Ten Times more than a Transient Oath, mutter’d with One Word spoken, and another dropt. However, that we may carry it as far as Human Prudence can go,—

I yet offer Two Expedients:

First, That upon Jealousie of any Person’s being a Papist, or Popishly Inclined, who is known to frequent the Assemblies of Protestant Dissenters, Four of that Party, of most Note and Integrity, unto which he pretends to adhere, should be Summoned to appear before those Justices of the Peace, unto whom the Complaint is made, to testifie their Knowledge of the Person suspected, his Education, Principles, and Manner of Life; which Way of Inspection, as it goes as far as Man can reach, so can it scarcely fail; for those Persons will not only discover their own Hypocrisie if they conceal him, but expose themselves and their Friends to Ruin. So that to say True, The Government has the Interest and Security of an Entire Party, for the Discovery of every such suspected Person.

But if this will not do, then

Secondly, Be you pleased to refer the Discrimination of suspected Persons, to the Good Old Way of the Government, that is, The Enquiry and Judgment of Twelve Men of the Neighbourhood; to wit, A Jury, provided always, that they be such as have taken, or will themselves take the Test; else, that they may be Excepted against by the Party suspected.

Indeed a Good Expedient may be made out of both, for the First may be the Evidence to the Last, and I think you will hardly fail of your Ends.

Edition: current; Page: [{136}]

I shall conclude with this Request, First, to Almighty God, that He would please to make us truly and deeply sensible of His present Mercies to us, and to Reform our Hearts and Lives to improve them thankfully. And, Secondly, to you, that we may be Loving, Humble and Diligent, one to, and for another; for as from such Amendments we may dare promise great and sudden Felicity to England, so if Loosness in Life, and Bitterness in Religion be not speedily Reprehended and Reform’d, and the Common Civil Interest maintained entire, God will, I justly fear, Repent He has begun to do us Good, Adjourn the Day of our Deliverance to that of our Repentance and Moderation, and Overcast these Happy Dawnings of His Favour, by a thick and dismal Cloud of Confusion and Misery: Which GOD Avert!

These Things that I have written, are no Wild Guesses, or May-Be’s, but the Disease and Cure, the Danger and Safety of England; in treating of which, that God that made the World knows, I have not gratified any private Spleen or Interest (for I am sorry at the Occasion) but singly and conscientiously intended His Honour, and the Lasting Good of England, to which all Personal and Party Considerations ought ever to submit.

Amicus Plato, Amicus Aristoteles, sed magis Amica Veritas. i.e. Anglia:15
Your own Faithful and Most Affectionate
Edition: current; Page: [{137}]

5.: AN Address to Protestants of All Perswasions More Especially the Magistracy and Clergy, for the Promotion of Virtue and Charity (1679)
In Two Parts. By W. P. a Protestant.

2 Pet. 1. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Giving all Diligence, add to your Faith, Virtue; and to Virtue, Knowledge; and to Knowledge, Temperance; and to Temperance, Patience; and to Patience, Godliness; and to Godliness, Brotherly Kindness; and to Brotherly Kindness, Charity. For if these Things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these Things, is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old Sins.


Sect. 8.: An Address to the Civil Magistrate for Redress.

HAVING thus ended my Reflections upon the Five Great Crying Sins of the Kingdom,1 and my Reproof of the Actors and Promoters of them; give me Leave to make my Humble and Christian Address to you that are in Authority. And in the First Place, I beseech you to remember, that tho’ ye are as Gods on Earth, yet ye shall dye like Men: That ye are encompass’d with like Passions, and are subject to Sin. Such therefore of you, as may be concerned in any of these Enormities (to what ever Degree of Guilt it be) I beg you in the Name of God to search your selves, and to be just to your own Souls. O! let Edition: current; Page: [{138}] the Mercies and Providences of God constrain you to Unfeigned Repentance! Turn to the Lord, Love Righteousness, Hate Oppression, and he will turn to you, and love you and bless you.

In the next Place, be pleased to consider your Commission, and examine the Extent of your Authority, you will find that God and the Government have impower’d you to punish these Impieties: And it is so far from being a Crime, that it is your Duty. This is not troubling Men for Faith, nor perplexing People for Tenderness of Conscience; for there can be no Pretence of Conscience to be Drunk, to Whore, to be Voluptuous, to Game, Swear, Curse, Blaspheme and Profane; no such Matter. These are Sins against Nature; and against Government, as well as against the Written Laws of God. They lay the Ax to the Root of Human Society, and are the Common Enemies of Mankind. ’Twas to prevent these Enormities, that Government was instituted; and shall Government indulge that which it is instituted to Correct? This were to render Magistracy Useless, and the Bearing of the Sword Vain: There would be then no such Thing in Government as A Terror to Evil-Doers;2 but every one would do that which he thought Right in his own Eyes. God Almighty defend us from this Sort of Anarchy.

There are three great Reasons, which enforce my Supplication. The First is, The Preservation of the Government, which by such Improvidence and Debauchery, is like to be greatly weakned, if not destroyed. The Industry, Wealth, Health and Authority of the Nation, are deeply concern’d in the Speedy and exemplary Punishment of these Extravagancies. This is the Voice of Interest, for the Common Good of the whole Society; Rulers and Ruled.

But there is an higher Voice, unto which Christian Men ought to have Regard, and that is the Voice of God, who requires us to fear him and obey his Righteous Commandments, at the Peril of making him our Enemy, whom we should make our common Friend and Protector: For upon his Goodness, depends our very Natural and Civil Comforts. So that it is our Interest to be good; and it is none of the least Arguments for Religion, that the Piety and Practice of it is the Peace and Prosperity of Government; and consequently, that Vice the Enemy of Religion, is, at the same Time, the Enemy of Humane Society. What then should be more concern’d for the Preservation of Virtue, than Government; that in it’s abstract and true Sense is not only founded upon Virtue, but without the Preservation of Virtue, it is impossible to maintain the Edition: current; Page: [{139}] best Constitution that can be made? And however some particular Men may prosper, that are Wicked, and several private good Men miscarry in the Things of this World, in which Sense Things may be said to happen alike to all, to the Righteous as to the Wicked, yet I dare boldly affirm, and challenge any Man to the Truth thereof, that in the many Volumes of the History of all the Ages and Kingdoms of the World, there is not one Instance to be found, where the Hand of God was against a Righteous Nation, or where the Hand of God was not against an Unrighteous Nation first or last? Nor where a just Government perish’t, or an unjust Government long prospered? Kingdoms are rarely as short lived as Men, yet they also have a Time to die: But as Temperance giveth Health to Men, so Virtue gives Time to Kingdoms; and as Vice brings Men betimes to their Grave, so Nations to their Ruin.

’Tis the Reason given by God himself, for the Destruction of the old World. We have that Example before our Eyes; that a whole World has perisht for it’s Sin, it’s Forgetfulness of God and their Duty to him; one Family only excepted. Gen. 6. That is the Reason which God renders for casting out the People of those Countries, that he gave into the Hands of the Children of Israel; they were full of Uncleanness, Adulteries, Fornication, and other Impieties. And though he is Soveraign Lord of the World, and may dispose of the Kingdoms therein, as pleaseth him (for he that gives can take away; and he that builds, can cast down; and Mankind is but a Tenant at Will, to receive or surrender at his Lord’s Good Pleasure) yet he useth not that Prerogative to justifie his Gift of those Countries to the Jews; but at the End of his Prohibition of Unlawful Marriages and Lusts, he charges them in these Words; defile not your selves in any of these Things: for in all these the Nations are defiled, which I cast out before you; And the Land is defiled: therefore do I visit the Iniquity thereof upon it; and the Land it self, vomiteth out her Inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my Statutes and Judgments, and shall not commit any of these Abominations, neither any of your own Nation, nor any Stranger, that sojourneth among you; that the Land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the Nations that were before you.3

So Saul’s Disobedience was his Destruction, and his Sin made Way for David’s Title. Saul died (saith the Sacred Story) for his Transgression: This made the Philistines Conquerors; his own Sin beat him and kill’d him.4 Saul Edition: current; Page: [{140}] died for his Transgression; then if he had not sinned, he had lived; he had beaten his Enemies and kept the Kingdom? yes, the Place implies it. This then should deter Men, but Kings especially, who have so much to lose here, and so much to answer for hereafter. But what was Saul’s Sin? It was, First, Not keeping but disobeying the Word of the Lord, both as it came by the Mouth of Samuel, God’s Prophet, and as it spoke the Mind of God to him in his own Conscience (for Moses had said before that the Word of God was nigh, in the Heart, and in God’s Name commanded the Children of Israel to obey and do it.)5 In short, he refused the Counsel of God, and God for his Counsellor: For in the next Place, he betakes himself to one that had a Familiar Spirit for Advice, saith the Story: He enquired not of the Lord, therefore he slew him and turned the Kingdom unto David.6 There are too many People troubled with Familiar Spirits; it were well, if they were less Familiar with them: Had Saul trusted in God, he needed not to have been driven to that Strait. He that was made King by God’s Appointment, and endued with a Good Spirit, so basely to degenerate, as to run to a Witch for Counsel, could not but miscarry. To this Darkness and Extremity Iniquity will bring Men: And truly, a Wo follows all such Persons; answerable to that Expression of God by the Prophet; Wo unto them that take Counsel, and not of me.7 When Saul (saith the Place) was little in his own Eyes, God honour’d him; he made him Head and King of the Tribes of Israel:8 But when Saul grew Proud, God deserted him, and for his Disobedience destroyed him. And what befel the Family of Saul, in some After-Ages befell both Kings and People, and worse: For their Land was invaded, first by the AEgyptians, then by the Chaldeans and Babylonians: Their Temple was rifled, their Treasure taken, and their Kings, Princes, Nobles, Artificers, and Mighty Men of Valour, yea all, save the poorest of the People, were kill’d or carried away Captive, by the King of Babylon. The Reason rendred is this: Because the Kings did that which was Evil in the Sight of God, and stiffned their Necks, and hardned their Hearts from turning unto the Lord God of Israel; and because the Chief of the Priests and of the People transgressed very much after the Abominations of the Heathen.9 And when God sent his Messengers to reprove and warn them, Edition: current; Page: [{141}] and that out of his Great Compassion, they wickedly mocked his Messengers, despised his Words, and mis-used his Prophets, till his Wrath came upon them, and over-threw them.

I will here end my Instances out of Sacred Story; and let us now briefly consider, what the Histories of other Places will tell us; that we may observe some Proportion of Agreement in the Providence of God throughout the World.

The first Empire had Nimrod’s Strength, and the Wisdom of the Chaldeans to establish it; and whilst their Prudence and Sobriety lasted, they prospered. No sooner came Voluptuousness, than the Empire decayed; and was at last by the base Effeminacies of Sardanapalus, in whom that Race ended, transfer’d to another Family.10 It was the Policy of an Assyrian King, in Order to subdue the Strength of Babylon, then under good Discipline, not to invade it with Force, but to debauch it. Wherefore he sent in Players, Musicians, Cooks, Harlots, &c. and by those Means introducing Corruption of Manners, there was little more to do, than to take it. Nebuchadnezzar by his Virtue and Industry, seen in the Siege of Tyre, and in many Enterprises, recover’d and enlarg’d the Empire; and it seems his Discipline (those Times considered) was so excellent, that it was praised in Scripture. But when he grew Proud and Foolish, forgetting that Providence that had shown it self so kind to him, he became a Beast, and grased amongst Beasts; till God, whom he had forgotten, had restored him the Heart of a Man and his Throne together.11

He, dying left Evil-Merodach Heir to his Crown, not his Conduct, nor the Heart to consider what God had done by him: In his Time Pride and Luxury encreased, but came not to it’s full Pitch, till the Reign of Belshazzar, who did not only as Nebuchadnezzar, live, but dye a Beast.12 In him we have the exact Example of a Dissolute and Miserable Prince: He thought to fence himself against Heaven and Earth; dissolved in Pleasures, he worshipped no other God; his Story may make us well conclude, that God and Man desert those, that desert themselves, and neglect the Means of their own Preservation. The City was taken before he knew it, and the Sword almost in his Bowels, before he believed it: His Sensuality had wrapt him in such a Desperate Security. But he Edition: current; Page: [{142}] fell not by the Hand of one like himself; for God who had determined the End, prepared the Means. Cyrus and his Persians were the Men: The People were poor, inhabiting a barren Country; but hardy and of Sober Manners. Cyrus God had endued with Excellent Natural Qualities, cultivated (as Story tells us) by the Care of four of the most temperate, just and Wise Persons of those Times. This was he, whom God honour’d with the Name of his Shepherd, and who was the Executioner of his Vengeance upon the Assyrians. While he reigned, all was well; but after he and his virtuous Companions deceased, their Children fell into the Vices of the Assyrians; and though they reigned from the Indus to the Hellespont, they soon became the Conquest of the Greeks.

Never was there a greater Instance given of the Weakness of Pomp and Luxury, than in the Resistance made at Thermopolae, where Three Hundred Virtuous Spartans encounter’d the Vast Army of Xerxes, consisting of no less than Seventeen Hundred Thousand Men. In short, the Defeats of Salamine and Platea, the Expeditions of Xenophon with Cyrus the Younger, almost into Babylon, and the Wars of Agesilaus into Asia, made it evident, that Greece wanted only Union and an Head, to make her self Mistress of that Vast Empire.13

At last comes Alexander of Macedon, with the best Disciplin’d People that was then known: The Dispute was short, where Steel was against Gold, Sobriety against Luxury, and Men against Men that were turn’d Women. Thus, the Persians prepar’d by their own Vices, God deliver’d into the Hands of the Greeks, who as much excelled them in their Virtue, as they were short of their Dominion and Wealth. But this lasted not long; for Alexander, who died young, surviv’d his Virtue and Reputation, by falling into those Vices of the Nations, God had given him Power to trample under Foot; insomuch that he, who was before Generous, became Barbarous and Tyrannical. Egypt, Asia, and Macedon, held up their Heads a while; but not resisting the Torrent of Lewdness, that came upon them, suffer’d themselves to be over-whelm’d with Misery and Confusion.

Nor has this Calamity been peculiar to Monarchies; for several Republicks have fallen by the same Mischief. That of Lacedaemon or Sparta, so Severe in her Constitution, and so Remarkable for the Virtue of her People, and that Edition: current; Page: [{143}] for many Ages, at last growing slack in the Execution of her Laws, and suffering Corruption insensibly to creep into her Manners, she became no more Considerable, but Weak and Contemptible.

The same may be said of Athens, the Great School of Learning, and of all the Republicks of Greece, most Famous for her Virtue and Philosophy, when that Word was understood not of Vain Disputing, but of Pious Living: She no sooner fell into Luxury, but Confusion and Revolutions made her as Inconsiderable, as she had been Great.

Rome, as she was the Greatest Common-Wealth, so the greatest Example of Gentiles in Virtue and Vice, in Happiness and in Misery: Her Virtue and Greatness are Commemorated by Austin the Father, and the latter made the Effect of the former. God (saith he) gave the Romans the Government of the World, as a Reward for their Virtue.14 Their Manners were so Good, and their Policy so Plain and Just, that nothing could stand before them. And truly, they seem’d to have been employ’d by God to punish the Impious, and to instruct the Barbarous Nations: And so very Jealous was she of the Education of her Youth, that she would not suffer them to converse with the Luxurious Greeks. But Carelessness, with Length of Time, over-coming the Remarkable Sobriety of her Manners, who before seemed invincible, she falls into equal, if not greater Miseries, than those that went before her, though she had not only Warning enough from their Example, but from Hannibal’s Army, and her great Enemy: For one Winter’s Quarter of Hannibal and his Army, in the Luxurious City of Capua, prov’d a greater Overthrow to them, than all the Roman Consuls and Armies had given them. They that had been Victors in so many Battles, turn’d Slaves at last to Dancers, Buffoons, Cooks and Harlots; so as from that Time they never did any Thing suitable to the Reputation gain’d by their former Actions; but fell without much Difficulty into the Roman Hands.15 Nay, not long before, Rome her self encountred one of the greatest Dangers, that ever had befallen her, by the Corruption of her own People, in the same Place, by the like Means: And though this Defection was recover’d by those that remain’d entire in their Manners, yet after the Overthrow of Antiochus, Mithridates, Tigranes, that the Riches and Vices of Asia came with a full Stream upon them, the very Heart of the City became infected; and the Lewd Asiaticks had this Revenge in their own Fall, that they ruin’d, by their Vices, Edition: current; Page: [{144}] those they were no Ways able to resist by their Force; like the Story of the Dying Centaur.16 Thus Pride, Avarice and Luxury having prepared Rome for Destruction, it soon followed. Virtue now grew intolerable in Rome, where Vice dared not for Ages to show it’s Face. The Worthiest Men were cut off by Proscriptions, Battels or Murders, as if she resolved Ipsam Virtutem exscindere:17 She destroyed her own Citizens, and sent for Strangers to protect her, which ruin’d her. Which proves, that the Kingdom or State, that, under God, doth not subsist by it’s own Strength, Prudence and Virtue, cannot stand: For the Goths, Hunns, and others, despised to serve those, whom they excelled in Power and Virtue, and instead of Guarding, took their Dominion from them. And truly, it might rather be called a Journey, than a Military Expedition, to go and pillage Rome; so weak had her Vices made her. Thus she that was feared by all Nations, became the Prey of all Nations about her. So ended that once Potent and Virtuous Common-Wealth.

The Vandals in Africk soon became Effeminate and Lewd, which brought upon themselves speedy Ruin. The Goths set up a Powerful Kingdom in Spain and Part of France, and by the Sobriety of their Manners, it flourished near Four Hundred Years; but it’s End was not unlike the rest. Two corrupt Princes, Vuitza, and Roderic, by their dissolute Example, debauch’d the People, insomuch that Men ran an Hazard to be Virtuous: This made their Destruction easie to those whom God sent against them; which were the Moors, occasion’d by the last of these Kings dishonouring Count Juliano’s Daughter. In the Time of his Calamity, in vain did he expect the Aid of those that had been the Flatterers, and the Companions of his Vices: His Security (the Effect of his Luxury) was his Ruin. For whilst he thought he had no Body to subdue, but his own People, by abusing them, he Cut off his own Arms, and made himself an easie Prey to his Real Enemies: And so he perisht with his Posterity, that had been the Cause of the Mischief, which befel that Great Kingdom. However, so it came to pass, that the Remainder of the Goths mixing with the Ancient Spaniards (to that Day distinct) recovered the Liberty and Reputation of the Kingdom by an Entire Reformation of Manners, and a Virtue in Edition: current; Page: [{145}] Conversation as Admirable, as the Vices, by which their Fathers had fallen, were Abominable. But the present impoverisht State of Spain can tell us, they have not continued that Virtuous Conduct of their Ancestors; the Increase of their Vices having decayed their Strength, and lessened their People and their Commerce.

But why should we overlook our own Country? that, whether we consider the Invasion of the Romans, Saxons, or Normans, it is certain the Neglect of Virtue and Good Discipline, and the present Inhabitants giving themselves up to Ease and Pleasure, was the Cause (if Gildas the Brittain, and Andrew Horn may be credited) of their Overthrow: For as the first bitterly inveighed against the Looseness of the Brittains, threatning them with all those Miseries that afterwards followed; so the last tells us, that the Brittains having forgotten God, and being overwhelm’d with Luxury and Vice, it pleased God to give the Land to a poor People of the Northern Parts of Germany, called Saxons, that were of plain and honest Manners.18 God is unchangeable in the Course of his Providence, as to these Things: The like Causes produce the like Effects, as every Tree doth naturally produce it’s own Fruits. ’Tis true, God is not careless of the World; He feeds the young Ravens, clothes the Lillies, takes Care of Sparrows, and of us, so as not an Hair of our Heads falls to the Ground without his Providence;19 but if Men despise his Law, hate to be Reformed, spend their Time and Estate in Luxury, and persist to work Wickedness, he will visit them in his Wrath, and consume them in his sore Displeasure. To conclude, Wars, Bloodshed, Fires, Plunders, Wastings, Ravishments, Slavery, and the like, are the Miseries that follow Immoralities, the Common Mischiefs of Irreligion, the Neglect of Good Discipline and Government.

Nothing weakens Kingdoms like Vice; it does not only displease Heaven, but disable them. All we have said, proves it: But, above all, the Iniquity and Voluptuousness of the Jews, God’s chosen, who from being the most Prudent, Pious and Victorious People, made themselves a Prey to all their Neighbours. Their Vice had prepared them to be the Conquest of the First Pretender; and thus from Freemen they became Slaves. Is God asleep, or does he change? Shall not the same Sins have the like Punishment? At least, shall they not be punisht? Can we believe there is a God, and not believe, that he is the Rewarder, Edition: current; Page: [{146}] as of the Deeds of Private Men, so of the Works of Government? Ought we to think him Careful of the Lesser, and Careless of the Greater? This were to suppose he minded Sparrows more than Men, and that he took more Notice of private Persons than of States. But let not our Superiors deceive themselves, neither put the Evil Day afar off; they are greatly accountable to God for these Kingdoms. If every poor Soul must account for the Employment of the small Talent he has received from God, can we think, that those High Stewards of God, the Great Governors of the World, that so often account with all others, must never come to a Reckoning themselves? Yes, there is a Final Sessions, a General Assize, and a Great Term once for all, where he will Judge among the Judges, who is Righteous in all his Ways. There Private Men will answer only for themselves, but Rulers for the People, as well as for themselves. The Disparity that is here, will be observed there, and the Greatness of such Persons, as shall be then found Tardy, will be so far from extenuating their Guilt, that it will fling Weight in the Scale against them. Therefore give me Leave, I do beseech you, to be earnest in my humble Address to you; Why should ye not, when none are so much concern’d in the Good Intention of it? Thus much for the First Reason of my Supplication.


Sect. 1.: Five Capital Evils that relate to the Ecclesiastical State of these Kingdoms.

HAVING finish’d the First Part of my Address relating to the Immoralities of the Times, and left it with the Civil Magistrate, as, in Conscience, I found my self oblig’d to do, whose peculiar Charge it is, and, I earnestly and humbly desire and pray, that it may be his great Care effectually to rebuke them, I shall betake my self to the Second Part of this Address, that more immediately concerns us as Profess’d Christians and Protestants. But before I begin, I desire to premise, and do with much Sincerity declare, that I intend not the Reproach of any Person or Party: I am weary with seeing so much of it in the World: It gains nothing, that is worth keeping; but often hardens, what ’tis our Duty to endeavour to soften and win. But if, without Offence, I may speak the Truth, that which, to the best of my Understanding, tends to the Edition: current; Page: [{147}] present Settlement and future Felicity of my poor Country, I shall, by God’s Help, deliver my self with the Modesty, Plainness and Integrity, that becomes a Christian, a Protestant, and an Englishman.

Those Capital Sins and Errors that relate to the Ecclesiastical State or Church-Capacity of these Kingdoms, and which are so inconsistent with Christian Religion and Purest Protestancy, and that, above all, displease Almighty God, are,

First, Making Opinions Articles of Faith, at least giving them the Reputation of Faith, and making them the Bond of Christian Society.

Secondly, Mistaking the Nature of True Faith, and taking that for Faith which is not Gospel-Faith.

Thirdly, Debasing the true Value of Morality under Pretence of Higher Things, mistaking much of the End of Christ’s Coming.

Fourthly, Preferring Human Authority above Reason and Truth.

Fifthly, Propagating Faith by Force, and Imposing Religion by Worldly Compulsion.

These I take to be the Church-Evils, that have too much and too long prevail’d even in these Parts of the Reformed World: And though the Roman Church hath chiefly transcended other Societies in these Errors, and may, in a Sense, be said to be the Mother of them, She, from whom they took Birth, by whom they were brought forth and have been propagated in Christendom, yet there hath not been that Integrity to the Nature of Christianity, and First Reason of Reformation from the Papacy in our own Country, as had been and is our Duty to conserve.

Sect. 2.: Of Opinions passing for Faith.

FIRST, That Opinions pass for Faith, and are made Articles of Faith, and are enjoyn’d to be embrac’d as the Bond of Communion.

That this is so, let us take the most impartial View we can, and we shall find it to be true, both of the National and many other Select Societies. That I may be understood in the Signification of the Word Opinions, I explain it thus: “Opinions are all those Propositions or Conclusions made by Men Doctrines of Faith and Articles of Communion, which either are not Expresly laid Edition: current; Page: [{148}] down in Scripture, or not so evidently Deduceable from Scripture, as to leave no Occasion of Doubt of the Truth of them in their Minds who sincerely and reverently believe the Text: Or, lastly, such as have no new or Credible Revelation to vouch them.

That this is our Case, let the several Confessions of Faith published by almost every Party in England be perused, and you will find such Propositions translated into Doctrines of Faith and Articles of Communion, as are, first, not only not express’d in Scripture, but, perhaps not well deduceable from Scripture: And if one Party may be but believ’d against another, we can want no Evidence to prove what we say. And, in the next Place, such as are, though not express’d, yet it may be, deduceable as to the Matter of them, are either carried so high, spun so fine, or so disguised by barbarous School-Terms, that they are rather a Bone of Contention, than a Bond of Concord to Religious Societies. Yet this has been the Unhappiness even of this Kingdom after all the Light of Reformation, which God hath graciously sent amongst us, Men are to be received or rejected for denying or owning of such Propositions. Wilt thou be a Presbyterian? Embrace and keep the Covenant, subscribe the Westminster-Confession and Directory: And so on to the End of every Society, that grounds Communion upon Conformity to such Propositions and Articles of Faith.

What a Stir have we had in England about the Word Ἐπίσκοπος He that says it signifies an Higher Office than Πρεσβύτερος shall have no Part or Fellowship with us: On t’other Hand, they that will debase Episcopos to Presbuteros,20 and turn Levellers or Degraders of Episcopal Dignity, shall be excommunicated, silenc’d, punish’t. Is not this plain Fact? can any deny it, that love Truth more than a Party? The Fire kindled by this Contention, hath warm’d the Hands of Violence: It had been well, if Men had entertained Equal Zeal against Impiety, and been but half as much Enemies to Sin, as they have been against one another on such Accounts.

If we look a little back, we shall find, that the Debate of Free-Will and unconditional Reprobation filled this Kingdom with Uncharitableness and Division. In the Arch-Episcopacy of Abbot (reputed in himself a good Man) whosoever held, that Christ so died for all Men, that all Men might be saved, (if Edition: current; Page: [{149}] they would accept the Means) and that none were absolutely decreed to Eternal Reprobation, was reputed an Heretick, and Excommunicated as an Enemy to the Free-Grace of God, which, it seems, at that Time of Day, lay in being narrow.

In the Reign of Arch-Bishop Laud the Tide turned: And those that held an absolute Election, and Reprobation, without Regard had to the Good or Evil Actions of Men, and asserted, that Christ only died for the Elect, and not for all, must be discountenanced, displaced and pointed at as Men out of Fashion, though at the same Time Conscientious, Sober and (at worst) mistaken; and to be pitied rather than persecuted; and informed, not destroyed.

This Controversie begat the Synod of Dort: He that reads the Epistles of that Judicious Man J. Hales of Eaton Colledge, upon the Matter and Conduct of that Assembly, will find Cause of being sad at Heart; too many of them talking of Religion without the Spirit of it.21 Men, perhaps, learned in Books, but few of the Sticklers gave any great Testimony of their Proficiency in that Science, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easie to be entreated.22 This Flame kindled between Arminius and Episcopius, &c. for the Remonstrants, and Gomarus, Sibrandus, &c. for the Predestinarians, distracted Holland not a little, and had an ill Influence upon the Affairs of England, at least so far, as concerned the Church. But the mournfullest Part of that History is the ill Usage, Martinius Crocius, the Bishop of Landaff, and others had; who, though they were acknowledg’d to be sound in the Faith of those Things, which generally followed the Judgment of Calvin, as to the main Points controverted, yet if at any Time they appeared moderate in their Behaviour, gentle in their Words, and for Accomodation in some particulars, with the Remonstrants or Free-Willers; Gomarus and his Followers, not observing the Gravity due to the Assembly, the Rules of Debate, and least of all the Meekness of Christian Communion, fell foul of their Brethren, reproached their Tenderness, and began to fix Treachery upon their sober Endeavours of Accommodation; as if they intended to execute as well as maintain their Reprobation, and blow up their Friends rather than not destroy their Adversaries.

But if we will rise higher in our Enquiry, and view the Mischiefs of earlier Edition: current; Page: [{150}] Times, flowing from this Practice, the Fourth and Fifth Centuries after Christ will furnish us with Instances enough. We cannot possibly forget the heavy Life some Men made about the Observation of Easter-Day, as if their Eternal Happiness had been in Jeopardy: For so far were they degenerated from the Love and Meekness of Christianity, that about keeping of a Day, which perhaps was no Part, but to be sure, no Essential Part of the Christian Religion, they fell to Pieces; reproach’t, revil’d, hated, and Persecuted one another. A Day was more to them than Christ, who was the Lord and End of Days; and Victory over Brethren, sweeter than the Peace and Concord of the Church, the great Command of Jesus, whom they called Lord.23

But the remarkable and tragical Story of Alexander Bishop of Alexandria and Arius his Priest, in their known Debate about the Nature and Existence of the Son of God, with the lamentable Consequence thereof, (as all Writers upon that Subject have related) witnesseth to the Truth of what I say. The Bishop’s Curiosity, and the Strictness of Arius; the Presumption of the one to expound beyond the Evidence and Simplicity of the Text, and the captious Humour of the other, that would not bate the Bishop any Thing for his Age, or Rank he held in the Church, but Logically exacted the utmost Farthing of the Reckoning from his old Pastor, first began the Fray: Which as it became the Perplexity of Church and State some Ages, so it raged to Blood; and those that had been persecuted like Sheep by the Heathen not long before, turned Wolves against each other, and made Sport for the Infidels, doing their Work to their own Destruction. Nay, so much more Christian was Themistius the Philosopher, that he in his Oration, called CONSUL, commended the Emperour Jovianus for his Moderation, and advised him to give that Liberty of Conscience, which profest Christians, refused to allow each other; who seemed to think, they never did God better Service, than in Sacrificing one another for Religion, even as soon as ever they had escaped the Heathen’s Shambles.24

Did we duly reflect upon the unnatural Heats, Divisions and Excommunications among them, the many Councils that were called, the strong and tedious Debates held, the Translations of Sees, the Anathemas, the Banishments, Wars, Sackings, Fires and Blood-shed that followed this unnatural Division, that sprang from so nice a Controversie, one would verily believe no less, Edition: current; Page: [{151}] than that Religion it self had been in utmost Hazard; that Judaism or Paganism were over-running Christianity; and not, that all this Stir had been made about an Iota. For the whole Question was, whether Homousia, or Homoiousia should be received for Faith? In which the Difference is but the single Letter, I: Certainly, we must do Violence to our Understanding, if we can think that these Men were Followers of that Jesus that loved his Enemies and gave his Blood for the World, who hated their Brethren and shed one another’s Blood for Opinions: The Heathen Philosophers, never were so barbarous to one another, but maintained a better Understanding and Behaviour in their Differences.

But how easily might all these Confusions have been prevented; if their Faith about Christ had been delivered in the Words of Scripture; since all Sides pretend to believe the Text? And why should any Man presume to be wiser, or plainer in Matters of Faith, than the Holy Ghost? ’Tis strange, that God and Christ should be wanting to express or discover their own Mind; or that the Words used by the Holy Ghost, should have that Shortness, Ambiguity or Obliquity in them, that our frail Capacities should be needed to make them more easie, proper and intelligible. But that we should scarcely deliver any one Article of Faith in Scripture-Terms, and yet make such Acts the Rule and Bond of Christian Communion, is, in my Judgment, an Offence hainous against God and Holy Scripture, and very injurious to Christian Charity and Fellowship. Who can express any Man’s Mind so fully, as himself? And shall we allow that Liberty to our selves, and refuse it to God? The Scriptures came not in old Time (said the Apostle Peter) by the Will of Man; but holy Men of God spake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.25 Who can speak better, or express the Mind of the Holy Ghost plainer, than the Holy Ghost? The Scripture is the great Record of Truth, That which all these Parties in Controversie agree to be the declared Mind and Will of God, and they unanimously say, it ought to be believed, and profest as such. If this be true, in what Language can we so safely and properly declare our Belief of those Truths, as in the very Language of the Scripture?

And I cannot see how those Persons can be excused in the Day of Gods Judgment, who make Men Heterodox or Heretical, for refusing to subscribe their Articles of Faith that are not in Scripture-Terms, who in the same Time offer to declare their Belief of God, Christ, Spirit, Man’s Lapse or Fall, Repentance, Sanctification, Justification, Salvation, Resurrection, and Eternal Recompence in the Language of Holy Scripture? I must say, it is preposterous and a Contradiction, Edition: current; Page: [{152}] that those who desire to deliver their Faith of Truth, in the Language of Truth, shall not be reputed true Believers, nor their Faith admitted. This were to say, that therefore their Faith is not to be received, because it is declared in the Language of that very Truth, which is the Object of that Faith, for which it ought to be received, and which is, on all Hands, concluded to be our Duty to believe. It seems then we must not express our Belief of God in his Words, but our own; nor is the Scripture a Creed plain or proper enough to declare a true Believer, or an Orthodox Christian, without our Glosses.

Are not Things come to a sad pass, that to refuse any other Terms than those the Holy Ghost has given us, and which are confest to be the Rule or Form of sound Words, is to expose a Man to the Censure of being unsound in the Faith and unfit for Christian-Communion? Will nothing do but Man’s Comment instead of God’s Text? His Consequences and Conclusions in the Room of Sacred Revelation? I cannot see how any Man can be obliged to receive, or believe revealed Truths in any other Language, than that of the Revelation it self; especially if those that vary the Expression, have not the same Spirit to lead them in doing so, or that it appears not to me that they have the Guidance of that Holy Spirit. If the Holy Ghost had left Doubts in Scripture, which is yet irreverent to believe, I see not how Men can resolve them; it is the Work of that Spirit. And since Men are so apt to err, Doubts are better left in Scripture, than made or left by us. But it is to cross that Order of Prudence and Wisdom among Men, who chuse to conform their Expressions to the Thing they believe. If an honest Man hath related a Story to me, of something he hath seen, and I am to declare my Faith about it, if I believe the Fact, I will chuse to deliver it in the Terms of the Relator, as being nearest to the Truth.

Suppose a Father dying, makes his Last Will and Testament, and, as he thinks, so plain, that there can be no Mistake made by the Executors, but what is wilful: If they, instead of proving this Will, and acting according to the Plainness of it, turn Commentators, make more Difficulties than they find, and perplex the whole Matter, to the Children and Legatees, and send them to the Law for Right; will we not esteem such Executors ill Men, and justifie those Persons concern’d in their Refusal of their Paraphrase? God hath at sundry Times and in diverse Manners, by his Prophets, his Beloved Son and his Apostles, delivered to the World a Declaration of his blessed Will;26 but some have claim’d and taken to themselves the Keeping, Explanation and Use of it, so as those Edition: current; Page: [{153}] that chuse to be concluded by the Letter and Text of Christ’s Testament in it’s most important Points, expose themselves to great Prejudice for so doing; for they are Excommunicated from all other Share in it, than the Punishment of the Breakers of it, which is part of their Anathema, who, of all others, are most guilty of adding or diminishing, by undertaking to determine, for others as well as themselves, the Mind and Intention of the holy Ghost in it.

But if it be True, as True it is, that few have writ of the Divine Authority of Scripture, who do not affirm that the very Penmen of it were not only inspired by the Holy Ghost, but so extraordinarily acted by him, as that they were wholly asleep to their own Will, Desires or Affections, like People taken out of themselves, and purely Passive, as Clay in the Hand of the Potter, to the Revelation, Will, and Motion of the Spirit;27 and for this End, that nothing deliver’d by them, might have the least Possibility of Mistake, Error, or Imperfection, but be a Compleat Declaration of the Will of God to Men; I cannot see which Way such Men can excuse themselves from Great Presumption, that will, notwithstanding, have the Wording of Creeds of Communion, and reject that Declaration of Faith as insufficient, which is deliver’d in the very Terms of the Holy Ghost; and deny those Persons to be Members of Christ’s Church, that in Conscience refuse to subscribe any other Draught than that the Lord has given them.

Two Things oppose themselves to this Practice: The Glory of God, and the Honour of the Scripture; in that it naturally draws People from the Regard due to God and the Scripture, and begets too much Respect for Men and their Tradition. This was the Difficulty Christ met with, and complained of in his Time; they had set up so many Rabbies to learn them Religion, that the Lord of the True Religion could hardly find Place amongst them. And what did they do? They taught for Doctrines the Traditions of Men:28 They gave their own and their Predecessors Apprehensions, Constructions, and Paraphrases upon Scripture, for the Mind and Will of God, the Rule of the People’s Faith. They were near at this Pass in the Church of Corinth, when they cryed out, I am for Paul, I am for Apollos, and I am for Cephas, though they had not the same Temptation.29

And that which followed then, ever will follow in the like Case, and that Edition: current; Page: [{154}] is Distraction; which is the contrary to the Second Thing that opposeth it self to this Practice, and that is the Concord of Christians. For the Sake of Peace consider it: Lo here and Lo there always followed; one of this Mind, and another of that: As many Sects as Great Men to make and Head them. This was the Case of the Jews; and yet I do not hear, that they devoured one another about their Opinions and Commentaries upon Scripture; but the Christians have done both; Divided and Persecuted too. First, they have divided, and that mostly upon the Score of Opinions about Religion. They have not been contented with the Expressions of the Holy Ghost; they liked their own better. And when they were set up in the Room of Scripture, and in the Name of Scripture, Submission was required upon Pain of Worldly Punishments. This dissatisfied Curiosity, this Unwarrantable, what shall I say? This Wanton Search has cost Christendom dear, and poor England dearest of any Part of it.

I design not to grate upon any, or to revive old Stories, or search old Wounds, or give the least Just Occasion of Displeasure to those that are in present Power; yet I must needs say, that Opinion on one Side or t’other, has been the Cause of much of that Discord, Animosity and Confusion that have troubled this Kingdom. And it seems to have been the great Stratagem of Satan, to prevent the spreading of the Glorious Gospel of Salvation in the World, by taking Men off from the Serious Pursuit of Piety and Charity, Humility, and Holy Living, Peace, and Concord: And, under Pretence of more raised Apprehensions, and sublime Knowledge of Religion, to put them upon introducing Curious and Doubtful Questions, that have given Occasion, first for Contention, and That, for Persecution. This was no more uncondemned, than unforeseen of the Apostle Paul, who exhorted his beloved Son Timothy, 1 Tim. 6. 3, 4, 5. To avoid those that doted about Questions, those Men that would be thought Skilful, Inquisitive Searchers after Truth, such as love to exercise their Faculties, and improve their Talents; but let us hear his Judgment, Of which (says he) cometh Strife, Railing, Surmises, perverse Disputings of Men of Corrupt Minds. And the Truth is, none else love such Disputings: They, who seek a Daily Victory over the World, the Flesh and the Devil, and press fervently after Fellowship with God, and that Consolation that ensues such an Employment of their Time, have very little to lose upon Contention about Words. I could wish I were able to say, that Vain Controversie were not our Case! But this is not all, the Apostle does expressly tell Timothy, That if any Man consent not to Wholsom Words, even the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Doctrine that is according to Godliness, he is Proud, knowing nothing, Edition: current; Page: [{155}] but doting about Questions, &c.30 They were such as used Philosophy, and Vain Deceit, as he writes to the Colossians, Col. ii. 8. Beware, says he, lest any Man spoil you through Philosophy and Vain Deceit, that is, drawn them away from the Simplicity of the Gospel, and the Wholsome Words of Christ, after the Traditions of Men, after the Rudiments of the World, and not after Christ. He used no Humane Wisdom, yet he spake Wisdom, but it was in a Mystery, tho’ to the humble Disciples of Jesus nothing was plainer; but it was a Mystery to the Wise Men of this World.31 And truly, they that are not unacquainted with the more degenerate Ages of the Greek Philosophers, how Philosophy, once taken for the Love of Virtue and Self-Denial, which they esteem’d Truest Wisdom, and was begun by Men of ordinary Rank, but great Example of Life, became little else, than an Art of Wrangling upon a Multitude of idle Questions, and so they entertain’d the Apostle Paul at Athens,32 may very well guess which Way Apostacy entred among Christians; especially, when we consider, that in the third and fourth Centuries, the Heathen-Philosophers had the Education of Christian Youth, and that no Man had any Reputation among the Christian Doctors, who were not well initiated in the Philosophy, Rhetorick, and Poetry of the Gentiles. Which made for Impurity of Language, and laid a Foundation for great Feuds in the Church: Christ and his Doctrine must be prov’d by Aristotle and his Philosophy. Yes, Aristotle must explain Scripture, and by Degrees methodize the loose Parts of it, and reduce them to Formal Propositions and Axioms; and by the Help of such Philosophers, the poor Fisher-Men were taught to speak Metaphysically, and grew Polite in the Sense of Athens, who, to say True, were neither Guilty of using nor understanding it. But as the first Rules of Philosophy were few and plain, and consisted in Virtuous Living, so the Christian Religion was deliver’d with much Brevity, yet much Plainness; suited to the Capacity of the Young, the Ignorant, and the Poor; to inform their Understandings, subdue their Affections, and convert their Souls to God, as well as Persons of more Age, Knowledge, and Ability.

And truly, when we consider the Smallness of the Writings of the Evangelists, the Shortness of Christ’s Sermons, the Fewness of the Epistles writ by the Apostles, and the many and great Volumes of Commentators and Criticks since, we may justly say, The Text is almost lost in the Comment, and Truth hid, rather than Edition: current; Page: [{156}] revealed in those Heaps of Fallible Apprehensions. Where by the Way, let me say, That the Voluminousness of the Books is no small Token of the Unclearness of the Writers; for the more evident and better digested any Matter is, the more easie and short it will be in expressing. But after the Christians had declin’d the Simplicity of their own Religion, and grew Curious and Wanton, loving God above All, their Neighbours as themselves, and keeping the Plain Commandments of Christ, that relate to Good Life, became but Ordinary and Homely Things: Their Easiness rendred them Contemptible: They gave but little Pleasure to Speculative Minds; they had nothing in them above Ordinary Capacities; and it seemed hard, that Men of Inquisitive and Rais’d Spirits, should sit down with the Lesson of Rusticks and Peasants: Philosophers did not do so; and they would be like other Nations. ’Twas not enough now to know There was a GOD, and that He was but One, Just and Good, the Observer of their Actions, and the Rewarder of their Deeds, and that therefore they should serve him; but they must be distinctly inform’d of his Nature, and all his Attributes, his Purposes and his Decrees, and the Suitableness of them all to the Line and Plummet of their Understanding: So that God was to be, what their Conclusions would allow him to be; that yet knew not themselves. Nor did it satisfie that there was a Christ, that this Christ was the Son of God, that God so loved Mankind, as beholding them in a Way of Destruction, he sent his Son to proclaim Pardon upon True Repentance, and offer’d a General Reconciliation to as many as received and embrac’d his Testimony; and that to that End He laid down his Life a Ransom, Rose and Ascended, and gave his Good Spirit to lead his Followers after his Example, in the Way of Truth and Holiness: But they must search into the Secret of this Relation, how, and after what Manner he is the Son of God? His Nature, Power and Person must be discuss’d: They will be satisfied in this, before they can find in their Hearts to believe in him. Next, Whether he be the Cause, or the Effect of God’s Love? What was that Price he paid, and Ransom he gave? And how he died for us? If Properly and Strictly, or Tropically and Elegantly, to satisfie the Justice of God? And whether God could, or could not have Saved Man another Way? If this Mercy were offer’d to all, or but some? And whether Acceptance and Repentance be with the Consent of the Creature, or by an irresistible Grace? What Body he Rose and Ascended with? And what Bodies we shall have in the Resurrection, in Nature, Stature, and Proportion? Lastly, What this Spirit is, that comes from Christ? If it comes from God also? Whether it be God, or an Inferior Minister? How it Exists? If a Person, in what Relation, Degree, or Dignity it stands to the Father and Son? With Abundance more of this Unreasonable Edition: current; Page: [{157}] Strain, flowing from the Curious, Ungovern’d, and Restless Minds of Men. No Man would be used by his Servant as they treat God. He must wait our Leisure, before we will believe, receive, and obey him: His Message is obscure, we don’t understand it; he must gratifie our Curiosity; we desire to be better satisfied with it before we believe or deliver it; it comes not presently up to Men’s Understandings; ’tis too obscurely exprest; we will explain it, and deliver it with more Caution, Clearness and Success, than it is delivered to us. Thus God’s Revelation hath been scan’d, and his Precepts examin’d, before Licens’d by his Creature: Man would be Wiser than God; more wary then the Holy Ghost. Our Lord, it should seem, understood not what Kind of Creature Man was; he wanted his Wisdom to admonish him of the Danger; or haply he thought not upon that Corruption, which should befall Mankind in these Latter Ages of the World, which might require the Abilities of Men to supply the Wants and Defects left by the Holy Ghost, in the Wording of the Scripture.—I wrong not this Practice; I render it not more Odious than it is: It is an inexcusable Piece of Presumption, that which debases the External Testimony of God, and draws Men off from that which is Eternal too. It introduces the Traditions of Men, in the Room of God’s Records, and setteth up their Judgment and Results for the Rule of Christian Faith, and Canons of Christ’s Church. This is one of those Things, that made Rome so hateful, and her Yoke intolerable to our Predecessors: Pretended Deductions from Scripture, put in the Room of Scripture, with a Superfedeas to all Dissent upon never so Just a Ground of Dissatisfaction.

I beseech you Protestants, by the Mercies of GOD, and Love of JESUS CHRIST, ratified to you in his Most Precious Blood, Flee Rome at Home; Look to the Enemies of your own House! Have a Care of this Presumption; carry it not too high; lay not Stress, where God has laid none, neither use His Royal Stamp to Authorize your Apprehensions in the Name of his Institutions.

I do not say, that Men are never to express their Minds upon any Place of Scripture to Edification: There is a Christian Liberty not to be denied; but never to lay down Articles of Faith, which ever ought to be in the Very Language of Holy Writ, to avoid Temptation and Strife. You see, how the contrary Method hath been the Great Make-Bate in all Ages, and the Imposition of such Opinion, the Privilege of Hypocrites, but the Snare of many Honest Minds; to be sure the sad Occasion of Feuds and miserable Divisions. It was plainly seen, that by the many Disputes that rose from hence, Men’s Wits were confounded with their Matters, Truth was lost, and Brotherhood was destroyed. Edition: current; Page: [{158}] Thus the Devil acted the Part both of Opponent and Defendant, and managed the Passions of both Parties to his End, which was Discord. And but too many were ready to perswade themselves, from the Miscarriages on both Sides, That nothing Certain could be concluded about Religion; for it so fell out, that whilst Men were perpetually wrangling and brawling about some one Opinion of Religion, the most important Points of Faith and Life were little regarded, Unity broken, Amity destroyed, and those Wounds made, that were never closed but with the Extinction of one Party: Not a Good Samaritan being to be found to heal and close them.33 Now it was that a Godly Man was distinguish’d from an Ungodly by this, let his Life have been almost what it would, that he seem’d to maintain the Opinions in Vogue, and to abhor the Doctrine, which, in some One or Two Points, might be reputed Heretical, or Schismatical.

O that we could but see how many, and how Great Defeats Satan hath given to the Work of God in the Hearts of Men! What Desolations he hath made by this one Evil, Controversie; begot of Opinion, and used for it; and how few have contended for the Faith, as it was once deliver’d to the Saints!34 He must be a Man of Brass, that could refrain from Weeping at these Calamities. And truly I must desire to take Leave sometimes to bewail this Broken Condition of Christendom, and to bestow my Tears in Secret upon these Common Ruins: And I beseech God Almighty, with a Soul sensibly touch’t with the Mischiefs that naturally flow from this Practice, to awaken you to a most speedy and serious Consideration of your present Standing, and Amendment of your Miscarriage in this and all other Points that may concern your Good, and his Glory. Put away Wrath! Away with Clamours! Away with Arrogance and Impatience! Let that Holy Spirit of God, which we in common profess to be the Christian’s Guide, have the ordering of our Understandings in Spiritual Things, lest Ignorance should mistake, Interest wrest, or Prejudice pervert the Sense of God’s Book. For as too many are Ignorant of the Divine Truth through their own Concupiscence, and Vile Affections, that carry them away to the Desire of other Things, and therefore easily mistake about Nice or Obscure Matters; so there are not a few, who come to search the Scriptures with Pre-possess’d Minds, that are sorry to meet with a Contradiction to their own Judgment, instead of being glad to find the Truth, and who use their Wits to Edition: current; Page: [{159}] rack out another Sense than that which is Genuine; which Sort of Men use the Scripture for it’s Authority, and not it’s Sense, or Truth.

All this While, the Head is set at Work, not the Heart, and that which Christ most insisted upon, is least concerned in this Sort of Faith and Christianity; and that is, Keeping His Commandments.35 For ’tis Opinion, not Obedience; Notion, and not Regeneration, that such Men pursue. This Kind of Religion leaveth them as bad as it finds them, and worse; for they have something more to be proud of. Here is a Creed indeed, but of what? The Conclusions of Men, and what to do? To prove they believe in Christ, who, it seems, never made them. It had been happy for the World, that there had been no other Creeds, than what He and His Apostles gave and left. And it is not the least Argument against their being needful to Christian Communion, that Christ and His Apostles did not think so, who were not wanting to declare the Whole Counsel of God to the Church.

To conclude: If you desire Peace, love Truth, seek Piety, and hate Hypocrisie, lay by all those Things called Articles of Faith, and Canons of the Church, that are not to be found in express Terms in Scripture, or so plainly Authorized by Scripture, as may, with Ease, be discerned by every Honest and Conscientious Person. And in the Room of those numerous and disputed Opinions, made the Bond of External Communion, let some Plain, General and Necessary Truths be laid down in Scripture Terms, and let them be few; which leads me to the next Point, and that is FAITH, which is generally mistaken in the very Nature of it.

Sect. 3.: Of Faith, and Mistakes about it.

THE Second Mischief that is amongst us, is the Misunderstanding of the Nature of FAITH; whence it comes to pass, that Men take that for Faith, which is not; and sit down in a Security pernicious to their Eternal Happiness. I shall briefly say something of what is not Faith, before I speak of that, which appears to me to be Truly and Scripturally such.

The Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only not believing Men’s Opinions and Determinations from the Sacred Text, of which I have so freely deliver’d Edition: current; Page: [{160}] my self, but it is not meerly the Belief even of the Things contain’d in Scripture, to be True: For this the Devils and Hypocrites do, and yet are very Bad Believers: They refuse not the Authority of Scripture: The Devil made Use of it to Christ himself; but he would have the explaining and applying of it:36 And since he could not hinder the Divine Inspiration, if he may but be allow’d the Exposition, he hopes to secure his Kingdom. Since then the Verity and Authority of both History and Doctrine may be believ’d by the Devil and Hypocrites, that are false to their own Faith and Knowledge, we cannot without great Injustice to the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Faith of all His Followers, allow, That a meer Belief of the Verity and Authority of the History and Doctrine of Scripture, is that True and Precious Faith, which was the Saint’s Victory over the World.

Faith then, in the Sense of the Holy Ghost, is by the Holy Ghost thus defined: viz. The Evidence of Things not seen and the Substance of Things hoped for.37 This is General and runs through all Ages; being received of all Sorts of Christians as a true Definition of Faith: But with leave, I shall express it thus: True Faith in God is entirely believing and trusting in God, confiding in his Goodness, resigning up to his Will, obeying his Commands, and relying upon his Conduct and Mercies, respecting this Life and that which is to come. For a Man cannot be said to believe in God, that believes not what he says and requires: And no Man can be said to do that, who does not obey it, and conform to it; for that is believing in God, to do as he says. This is in Scripture called the Gift of God;38 and well it may, for it is Supernatural: It crosses the Pride, Confidence and Lust of Man: It grows out of the Seed of Love, sown by God in the Heart, at least it works by Love:39 And this distinguishes it from the Faith of Ill Men and Devils, that though they do believe, they don’t Love God above all, but something else instead of God, and are full of Pride, Anger, Cruelty and all Manner of Wickedness. But this Faith that works by Love, that Divine Love which God plants in the Heart, it draws and inclines Man, and gives him Power to forsake all that displeaseth God: And every such Believer becomes an Enoch, Translated, that is, Changed from the Fashion of this World, the Earthly Image, the Corrupt Nature; and is renewed in the Likeness of the Son Edition: current; Page: [{161}] of God, and walks with God.40 The Just shall live by Faith:41 They have in all Ages liv’d by this Faith; that is, been sustain’d, supported, preserved: The Devil within nor the World without could never conquer them. They walked not by Sight, but by Faith, and had Regard to the Eternal Recompence: No Visible Things prevailed with them to depart from the Invisible God, to quench their Love, or slacken their Obedience to him; the great Testimony of their Faith in Him.

This Holy Faith excludes no Age of the World; the Just Men, the Cornelius’s in every Generation have had some Degree of it: It was more especially the Faith of the simpler Ages of the World, such as those in which the Patriarchs lived, who having not an outward Law, became a Law to themselves, and did the Things contained in the Law; for they believed in God, and, through Faith, obtained a good Report.42 But because that it hath pleased God, in order to Man’s Recovery from that grievous Lapse Disobedience hath cast him into, at sundry Times and in divers Manners to appear to the Sons of Men, first by his Prophets, and last of all by his Son;43 and that these several Manifestations have had something peculiar to them, and very remarkable in them, so that they claim a Place in our Creed; It will not be amiss, that we briefly consider them.

The first was that of the Prophets, in which Moses preceded, by whom the Law came to the Jews, but Grace and Truth to mankind by Jesus Christ.44 The first brought Condemnation, the last Salvation; the one Judgment, the other Mercy; which was glad Tidings indeed. The one did fore-run the other, as in Order of Time, so in Nature of Dispensation: The Law was the Gospel begun, the Gospel was the Law fulfilled or finisht: They cannot be parted.

The Decalogue or Ten Commandments were little more than what had been known and practised before; for it seem’d but an Epitome and Transcript of the Law writ in Man’s Heart by the Finger of God: This is confest on all Hands and in all Ages since, as the Writings of ancient Gentiles as well as Jews and Christians tell us. This therefore must needs be a Part of our Creed; for it relates to that Righteousness which is Indispensible and Immutable: The other Part of their Constitution that was peculiar to their Politick, Typical and Mutable Edition: current; Page: [{162}] State, the Gospel is either unconcerned in it, or else ended it by the bringing in of a better Hope and a more enduring Substance. But Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ:45 Grace is opposed to the Condemnation of the Law, and Truth to Shadows. This is the most excellent Dispensation; it is ours, and it becomes us to weigh well our Interest in it. Take it in other Words of the Holy Ghost. God, who at sundry Times and in divers Manners spake in Times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last Days spoken to us by his Son. God so loved the World, that (after all the World’s Provocations by Omissions and Commissions) he gave his only begotten Son into the World, that the World through him might be saved.46

And here Two Things present themselves to our Consideration: First, the Person, who he was? What his Authority? Secondly, his Message, his Doctrine, what he taught? Which though never so reasonable in it self, depended very much, in it’s Entertainment among the People, upon the Truth of his Mission and Authority, that he was no Impostor, but came from God, and was the promised Messiah. This was done two Ways; by Revelation and by Miracles. By Revelation, to such as were as well prepared and inclined, as honest Peter, the Woman of Samaria, and those that were mov’d to believe him from the Authority in which he spake, so unlike that of the Formal Scribes.47 By Miracles, to those that being blinded by Ignorance or Prejudice, needed to have their Senses struck with such Supernatural Evidences, from many of whom this Witness came, that he was the Messiah, the Christ and Son of God.

In fine, all was done within the Compass of that People, among whom he daily conversed, that was needful to prove he was from God, and had God’s Message to declare to the World. In so much that when some of his Disciples were not so firm in their Belief of his Authority, as he deserved at their Hands, he calls his own Works to prove his Commission and convict them of Incredulity: If ye will not believe, that the Father is in me, that he doth these Works by me; believe me for the very Works sake, Thus he argueth with the Jews: Say ye of him the Father hath sanctified and sent into the World, thou Blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the Works of my Father, believe me Edition: current; Page: [{163}] not (this is reasonable; he that shall Judge the World, offers to be tryed himself; he goes on) But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me.48 And he laid the Sin of the Jews upon this Foot, viz. That they rejected him, after he had made Proof of his Divine Mission by such extraordinary Works, As no Men among them all could do: which, to give them their Due, they do not deny, but shamefully pervert and foolishly abuse, by attributing them to the Power of the Devil. To which Malice and Slander he returned this inconfutable Answer; A Kingdom divided against it self cannot stand: What! cast out Devils by the Prince of Devils? ’Tis a Contradiction, and very Madness it self.49

I have nothing to do now with Atheists, or those that call themselves Theists; but such as own themselves Christians; and shall therefore keep to my Task, namely; What of the Christian Dispensation is so Peculiar and Important, as to challenge of Right the Name of Creed or Faith? I say then, That the Belief of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Promised Messiah, the Son and Christ of God, come and sent from God to restore and save Mankind, is the first and was then the only requisite Article of Faith, without any large Confessions, or an Heap of Principles or Opinions resolv’d upon after Curious and Tedious Debates by Councils and Synods: And this may be proved both by Example and Doctrine.

It is evident from Example, as in the Case of Peter, who for having believed in his Heart and confess’d with his Mouth, That Jesus was the Christ and Son of God, obtained that Signal Blessing, Mat. 16. This made Nathaniel a Disciple; Rabbi, said he, Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel. It was the like Confession, that made Amends for Thomas’s Incredulity, when he was sensibly assured of the Resurrection of Jesus, My Lord and my God! This was also the Substance of Martha’s Confession of Faith to Jesus, when he said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in me shall never die: believest thou this? She answer’d, Yea Lord, I believe, that thou art the Christ the Son of God, which should come into the World? She answered him not as to that Particular of the Resurrection, but in General, That he was the Christ, the Messiah, that was to come into the World, and that sufficed. ’Twas a Confession not unlike to this, that the Blind Man made, to whom Christ gave Sight, when Jesus said to him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? Lord, said he, I do believe; and he worshipped him. What shall we say of the Centurion, preferred Edition: current; Page: [{164}] by Christ himself before any in Israel, though a Gentile? Or of the Faith of the Woman and Inhabitants of Samaria, that he was the Messiah? Or of that Importunate Woman that cry’d to Jesus, To cast a Devil out of her possest Daughter, and would not be put off, to whom Christ said, O Woman, great is thy Faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt? To which let me add the Faith of the People, that brought the Man sick of the Palsy to Christ, who uncover’d the Roof to let him down to be toucht; the Faith of Jairus the Ruler; and of that Good Woman, who pressed through the Crowd to touch the Hem of Christ’s Garment, to whom Jesus said, Be of good Comfort, Daughter, thy Faith has made thee whole: Also the Two Blind Men, that followed him out of the Ruler’s House, crying, Thou Son of David, have Mercy on us; who, when Jesus had said, Believe ye that I am able to do this? Answer’d, Yea, Lord; upon which he touch’d their Eyes and said, According to your Faith be it unto you: Also the Blind Man near Jericho; The Leprous Samaritan that Christ cleansed; and that notable Passage of the Woman that kissed his Feet and anointed his Head; to whom he pronounced this happy Sentence; Thy Faith hath saved thee, go in Peace.50

I will conclude this with that famous Instance of the Thief upon the Cross, who neither knew nor had Time to make a large Confession like the Creeds of these Days: but it seems he said enough; Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to Day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.51 By which it is easy to learn that t’was the Heart, not the Mouth; the Sincerity, not the Words, that made the Confession Valid.

Nor was this only, in the Days of Christ, the Effect of his Gracious Dispensation or peculiar Indulgence, for after-times afford us the like Instances. This was the main Bent of Peter’s Sermon; and when the Three Thousand believed that he whom the Jews had crucified, was both Lord and Christ, and repented of their Sins, and gladly received his Word, they are said to have been in a State of Salvation. Thus Cornelius and his Houshold and Kindred, so soon as Peter declared Jesus to be the Messiah, and that they had believed, the Holy Ghost Edition: current; Page: [{165}] fell upon them; and they were received into the Christian Communion. But the Story of the Eunuch is very pat to our Purpose: As he rid in his Chariot, he was reading these Words out of the Prophet Isaiah, viz. That he was led as a Sheep to the Slaughter, and like a Lamb dumb before the Shearers, so opened he not his Mouth. In his Humiliation his Judgment was taken away; and who shall declare his Generation? for his Life is taken from the Earth. Philip join’d to him and ask’d him, If he understood what he read? He desir’d Philip to interpret the Mind of the Prophet, whether he spoke of himself or another? Philip upon the Place preached to him Jesus: The Eunuch was so well perswaded by the Apostle, that coming to a Water, he said, What doth hinder me to be Baptized? Philip answered him, If thou believest with all thine Heart, thou may’st: To this the Eunuch reply’d, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Upon which he was baptized; and ’tis said, He went away Rejoycing; which indeed he might well do, that felt the Comfort of his Faith, the Remission of his Sin and the Joys of the Holy Ghost, which always follow true Faith in Christ.52

I will conclude these Examples with a Passage in the Acts, of Paul at Thessalonica; ’tis this: Paul, as his Manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures; opening and alledging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the Dead; and that this Jesus (said he) whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas, and of the devout Greeks a great Multitude, and of the Chief Women not a few.53 Thus we may plainly see, that they were baptiz’d into the Faith of Jesus, and not into Numerous Opinions; and that this one Confession, from true Faith in the Heart, was the Ground and Principle of their Church-Fellowship. Then God’s Church was at Peace; she thrive; there were then no Snares of Words made to catch Men of Conscience with. Then not many Words, but much Integrity; now much Talk, and little Truth: Many Articles, but O ye of little Faith!

Nor was this only the Judgment and Practice of that Time out of Condescension to Weakness, and Charity to Ignorance; for both Christ Jesus himself and his Apostles (those blessed Messengers of Holy Truth) have doctrinally laid it down, as the Great Test to Christians; that which should distinguish them from Infidels, and justly intitle them to his Discipleship, and Christian Communion Edition: current; Page: [{166}] one with another. Let us read a little farther: Then said they to Jesus, what shall we do, that we might work the Works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the Work of God, that ye Believe on him, whom God hath sent. Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, hath Everlasting Life. And upon another Occasion, to the Jews, he said, For if ye believe not, that I am he, ye shall die in your Sins. It must follow then, that if they did believe him to be the Messiah, the Anointed of God to Salvation, they should be saved. Most plain is that Answer of the Apostle to the Goaler, when he came trembling to them and said, Sirs, What must I do to be saved? Believe (said they) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The Apostle Paul confirms this in his Epistle to the Romans, when he says, If thou shalt confess with thy Mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine Heart, that God hath raised him from the Dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the Heart Man believeth unto Righteousness, and with the Mouth Confession is made unto Salvation: For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him, shall not be ashamed. For there is no Difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all, that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.54 This was the Word of Faith which they preached; and he testify’d, that it was nigh in the Heart, as Moses had done before him.55 And, saith the Apostle John, on this Occasion, Who is a Lyar, but he that denieth, that Jesus is the Christ?—Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every Spirit that confesseth (or every one that in Heart or Spirit confesseth) that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh, is of God. Again, says he, Whosoever shall confess, that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God: Yet once more he affirms, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.56 But this is more than an Historical Belief, a true Sound and hearty Perswasion: A Faith that influenceth the whole Man into a suitable Conformity to the Nature, Example and Doctrine of the object of that Faith.

I will conclude these Doctrinal Testimonies out of Scripture, with a conclusive Passage the Apostle John useth towards the End of his Evangelical History of Jesus Christ: And many other Signs truly did Jesus in the Presence of his Disciples, Edition: current; Page: [{167}] which are not written in this Book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have Life in his Name.57 In which Place two Things are remarkable; First, That whatever Things are written of Jesus, are written to this End, that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ. Secondly, That those that sincerely believe, shall through him obtain Eternal Life. Certainly then, if this be true, their Incharity and Presumption must be great who have taken other Measures, and set another Rule of Christianity, than Jesus and his Apostles gave. This sincere Confession contented Christ and his Apostles; but it will not satisfy those that yet pretend to believe them: It was enough then for a Miracle and Salvation too, but it goes for little or nothing now. A Man may sincerely believe this, and be stigmatiz’d for a Schismatick, an Heretick, an Excommunicate: but I may say, as Christ did to the Jews in another Case, From the Beginning it was not so.58

But here I expect to be assaulted with this Objection: If this be all that is necessary to be believ’d to Salvation, Of what Use is the rest of Scripture?

I Answer, Of Great Use, as the Apostle himself teaches us; All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness, that the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnish’d unto all good Works.59 It concerns the whole Life and Conversation of a Man; but every Passage in it is not therefore fit to be such an Article of Faith, as upon which Christian-Communion ought or ought not to be maintained. For though it be all equally true, it is not all equally important: There is a great Difference between the Truth and Weight of a Thing. For Example: It is as true that Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, as that he suffered; and that he was pierced, as that he died; and that he did eat after his Resurrection, as that he rose from the Dead at all; but no Person of common Understanding will conclude an equal Weight or Concernment in these Things, because they are equally true: The Death of Christ was of much greater Value than the Manner of it; his Resurrection, than any Circumstance of his Appearance after he was risen. The Question is not whether all the Truths contain’d in Scripture are not to be believ’d; but whether those Truths are equally Important? And whether the Belief with the Heart and Confession with the Edition: current; Page: [{168}] Mouth that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God,60 be not as sufficient now to entitle a Man to Communion here and Salvation hereafter, as in those Times? against which nothing can be, of Weight, objected.

If it be said, that this Contradicts the Judgment and Practice of many great and good Men.

I Answer, I can’t help that. If they have been tempted, out of their own Curiosity or the Corruption of Times, to depart from the Ancient Paths, the Foot-steps of purest Antiquity and best Examples, let their Pretences have been what they will, it was Presumption: And it was Just with God, that Error and Confusion should be the Consequence of those Adventures; nor has it ever fail’d to follow them.

Lastly, if it be alledg’d, That this will take in all Parties, yea, that Schismaticks and Hereticks will creep in under this General Confession, since few of them will refuse to make it.

I do say, ’Twould be an Happy Day. What Man, loves God and Christ, seeks Peace and Concord, that would not rejoyce if all our Animosities and Vexations about Matters of Religion were buried in this one Confession of Jesus, the great Author and Lord of the Christian Religion, so often lost in pretending to contest for it? View the Parties on Foot in Christendom among those called Protestants, observe their Differences well, and how they are generally maintain’d, and you will tell me that they are rent and divided about their own Comments, Consequences and Conclusions: Not the Text, but the Meaning; and that too, which perhaps is not in it self essential to Salvation, as the Dispute betwixt the Lutherans and Calvinists, the Arminians and Predestinarians, and the like. Is it not lamentable to think that those who pretend to be Christians, and Reformed ones also, should divide with the Winds and fight, as pro Aris & Focis,61 for such Things, as either are not expresly to be found in Scripture, or if there, yet never appointed or intended by Christ or his Apostles for Articles of Communion. Should they then erect their Communion on another Bottom, or break it for deviating from any other Doctrines than what they in so many Words have deliver’d to us for Necessary?

If we consider the Matter well, I fear it will be found that the Occasion of Disturbance in the Church of Christ hath in most Ages been found to lie on the Side of those who have had the greatest Sway in it. Very pertinent to our Edition: current; Page: [{169}] present Purpose is that Passage of J. Hales of Eaton in his Tract concerning Schism:62

It hath, saith he, been the Common Disease of Christians from the Beginning, not to content themselves with that Measure of Faith, which God and Scriptures have expresly afforded us; but out of a Vain Desire to know more than is Revealed, they have attempted to discuss Things, of which we can have no Light neither from Reason nor Revelation. Neither have they rested here, but upon Pretence of Church-Authority, which is NONE, or Tradition, which for the most Part is but FIGMENT, they have peremptorily concluded and confidently imposed upon others a Necessity of Entertaining Conclusions of that Nature; and to strengthen themselves have broken out into Divisions and Factions, opposing Man to Man, Synod to Synod, till the Peace of the Church vanished without all Possibility of Recall. Hence arose those Ancient and many Separations amongst Christians, Arianism, Eutychianism, Nestorianism, Photinianism, Sabellianism; and many more both Ancient and in our Time.

And as he hath told us one great Occasion of the Disease, so he offers what follows for the Cure:

And were Liturgies (says he) and Publick Forms of Service so framed, as that they admitted not of particular and private Fancies, but contained only such Things, as in which all Christians do agree, Schisms on Opinion were utterly vanished: Whereas to load our Publick Forms with the Private Fancies upon which we differ, is the most soveraign Way to perpetuate Schism unto the World’s End.—Remove from them, whatsoever is scandalous to any Party, and leave nothing, but what all agree on; and the Event shall be that the Publick Service and Honour of God shall no ways suffer. For to charge Churches and Liturgies with Things unnecessary, was the First Beginning of all Superstition—If the spiritual Guides and Fathers of the Church would be a little sparing of incumbring Churches with Superfluities, and not over-rigid, either in reviving obsolete Customs, or imposing New, there were far less Danger of Schism or Superstition—Mean while wheresoever false or suspected Edition: current; Page: [{170}] Opinions are made a Piece of the Church Liturgy, he that separates is not a Schismatick: For it is alike Unlawful to make Profession of known or suspected Falshoods, as to put in Practice Unlawful or Suspected Actions.

He farther tells us in his Sermon of Dealing with Erring Christians, That it is the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace, and not the Identity (or Oneness) of Conceit, which the Holy Ghost requires at the Hands of Christians—

A better Way my Conceit cannot reach unto, than that we should be willing to think, that these Things, which with some Shew of Probability we deduce from Scripture, are at the best but our Opinions. For this Peremptory Manner of setting down our Conclusions under this high Commanding Form of Necessary Truths, is generally one of the greatest Causes, which keeps the Churches this Day so far asunder; when as a Gracious Receiving of each other by mutual Forbearance, in this kind, might peradventure, in Time, bring them nearer together.63

Thus much of this Great Man concerning Schism, the Cause and Cure of it? And for the Notion of Hereticks he will help us altogether as well: For though they are generally taken for such who err in Judgment about Doctrines and Articles of Faith, yet if this Man may have any Credit, and perhaps none of his Profession has deserv’d more, he tells us, that “Heresie is an Act of the Will, not of Reason, and is indeed a Lye, not a Mistake: else (says he) how could that known Speech of Austin go for true, Errare possum, Haereticus esse nolo: I may err, but I am unwilling to be an Heretick.” And indeed this is no other than what Holy Scripture teacheth; A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, reject; knowing, that he that is such, is subverted and sinneth; being Condemned of Himself.64 Which is as much as to say, that no Body is an Heretick, but he that gives the Lye to his own Conscience and is Self-condemned: Which is not the Case of Men meerly mistaken, or who only err in Judgment. And therefore the Term of Hereticks is as Untruly as Uncharitably flung upon those that conscientiously dissent, either in Point of Discipline or Doctrine, from any Society of Christians; and it is not hard to observe that those who have most merited that Character, have most liberally bestow’d it.

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But to show you that neither true Schismatick, who is One that unnecessarily and unwarrantably separates from that Part of the Visible Church of which he was once a Member, nor true Heretick who is a Wilful Subverter of True or an Introducer of false Doctrines, a Self-condemned Person, can ever shelter himself under this Common Confession of Christianity, sincerely made: Let us consider, that who-ever so declares Jesus to be the Messiah and Anointed Saviour of God to Men, must be supposed to believe all that of him, with Respect to which he is so called. Now that for which he is so denominated, is that which God sent him to do: The Reason and End of his coming he could best tell, who hath told us thus; I am come, that ye may have Life, and that ye may have it more abundantly.65 The World was dead in Trespasses and Sins, the Guilt and Defilement of Transgression had kill’d the Soul as to Spiritual Life and Motion; and from under this powerful Death he came to redeem the Soul unto Life: In short, to restore Man from that fearful Degeneracy his Disobedience to God had reduced him unto.

The Way he took to accomplish this Blessed Work was First, To preach Repentance and the Approach of the Kingdom of God, which is his Rule and Authority in the Hearts of Men, and that brings to the Second Thing to be believed, namely.——

What he Taught?

First, His Doctrine led Men to Repentance: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at Hand.66 No Man could receive the Kingdom of God, whilst he lived under the Kingdom and Power of Satan: so that to Repent is not only to bring their Deeds to the Light, which Christ exhorteth Men to; but to forsake that upon Examination, which appears to be Evil. Wherefore I conclude, that such as have not been acquainted with this Holy Repentance, do not sincerely believe, neither can rightly confess Jesus to be the Christ the Son of God, the Saviour of the World. Therefore saith the Apostle, Let him that nameth the Name of the Lord, depart from Iniquity;67 plainly implying that those do rather Prophane than Confess the Name of the Lord, who do not Depart from their Iniquities. And, saith the Apostle in another Place, No Man can call Jesus Lord, but Edition: current; Page: [{172}] by the Holy Ghost,68 Which opens to us the Nature of the True Confession we ought to make, and which, being truly made in a Scripture Sense, makes us Christians in a right Christian Acception; to wit, That the True Confession of Jesus to be both Lord and Christ, is from such a Belief in the Heart as is accompany’d with the embracing and practising of his Holy Doctrine: such a Faith is the Work of the Holy Ghost, and those that do not so Confess him or call upon him, that is, by Virtue of the overshadowing of this Divine Spirit and Power, are not truly Christians, true Worshippers, or Believers and Disciples of our Lord Jesus.

Furthermore, they that receive Christ receive his Kingdom, his Power and Authority in their Souls; whereby the strong Man that kept the House becomes bound, and his Goods spoil’d by this stronger Man, the Lord’s Christ; who is come from Heaven to dwell in us and be the Hope of our Glory; for so he was preached to the Gentiles. This Kingdom, the Apostle tells us, stands in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost; and Christ tells us, where it is to be set up? The Kingdom of God is within you, saith the King himself; and where should the King be, but in his own Kingdom?69 They are blessed that feel him to Rule, and that live under the Swaying of his Righteous Scepter: for when this Righteous One Rules the Earth, the Sons of Men rejoyce.

So that no Man can truly Confess and rightly believe Jesus to be the Christ and Son of God, who does not receive him to be his King to rule his Heart and Affections. For can a Man be said to believe in one that he will not receive? but To as many as received Christ of old, gave he Power to become the Sons of God; which were born, not of Blood, nor of the Will of the Flesh, nor of the Will of Man, but of God.70 What is this Will of God? Paul answers the Question: The Will of God is your Sanctification;71 for this Christ came into the World. So that those that believe and receive Christ, he is made to them Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption;72 that is, he has saved them from their Sins, both Guilt and Defilement, and sanctified them from their Corruptions: They live now by the Grace of God, that teaches them to be of a Sober, Righteous, Godlike Life. Ye shall know them by their Fruits, saith Christ of the Pharisees;73 Edition: current; Page: [{173}] so shall Men know them, that sincerely believe and confess Christ, by their sanctified Manners and blameless Conversations. And Wo from the true and just God to them that make other Distinctions! for God has made no other; there will be but Goats and Sheep at the Last Day;74 Holy and Unholy; Just and Unjust. Therefore let that be our Distinction, which ever was and will be God’s Distinction; for all other Measures are the Effects of the Passions and Presumptions of Men. But because it may be expected, that I should fix upon some few General Heads of Christian Doctrine from the Mouth of Christ and his Apostles, as requisite to Christian Communion, I should proceed to mention what Christ eminently taught.

He that reads his Sermon upon the Mount will find in the Entrance, how many States and Conditions Christ Blessed; The Poor in Spirit, The Mourners, The Meek, They that hunger after Righteousness; The Merciful, The Pure in Heart, and the Peace-makers; which indeed comprehend the whole of Christianity.75

By Mourners we understand true Penitents, Men of Unfeigned Repentance; which leads them not only to confess but forsake their Sins. This Godly Sorrow Strips Men of all false Rests and Comforts, makes them Poor in Spirit, Empty of themselves, wanting the Comfort of the Light, Life and Power of Jesus to support and sustain them; yet as they stedfastly walk in that Measure they have, the Atonement of the Blood is felt, and it cleanseth them from all Unrighteousness, which makes them Pure in Heart. And in this Condition no Food will serve their Turn but Righteousness; after this they Hunger and Thirst more than for the Bread that perisheth. They are full of Meekness and Mercy, Making Peace and Promoting Concord where-ever they come: For being themselves reconciled to God, they endeavour to reconcile all Men unto God and one unto another: Submitting all Worldly Considerations to this incomparable Peace, that passeth all human Understanding.

In short, let us bring it Home to our Consciences, and deal faithfully with our selves. Do we know this Holy Mourning? This Godly Sorrow? Are we Poor in Spirit indeed? Not Self-conceited but Humble, Meek and Lowly in Heart, like him that bid us do so? Do we Hunger after the Kingdom of God and Righteousness of it? And are our Hearts purified by the Precious Faith of the Son of God that is a working, cleansing and conquering Faith? In fine, Are we Merciful? Edition: current; Page: [{174}] Tender Hearted? Lovers of Peace more than Lovers of our selves? Persecuted, rather than Persecutors? Such as receive Stripes for Christ’s Sake, and not those that beat our Fellow-Servants? No Man has True Faith in Christ Jesus, that is not acquainted with these Blessed Qualifications. This is Christ’s Doctrine; and to believe in him, is to obey it, and be like him.

The great Intention of this Sermon,76 is to press People to a more Excellent Righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. For, saith Jesus to the Multitude, Except your Righteousness shall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no Case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

(1.) He taught, not only that Killing, but Anger without a very Just Cause, is Unlawful to his Disciples, his Followers.

(2.) He prefers Concord above Devotion; Mercy before Sacrifice: He that will not use his utmost Endeavour to be reconciled to his Brother, shall find no Place for his Prayers with him that can only make them Effectual. And every Man is this Brother.

(3.) He not only forbids Adultery, which the Law forbids, but Lust. The Ax of his Doctrine is laid to the Root of the Tree; it reaches to the First Seeds of Things, to the innermost and most hidden Conceptions of the Mind because he has brought his Light near, and searches the innermost Parts of the Belly with his Divine Candle.

(4.) From keeping and performing Legal Vows, to Not Swearing at all: And indeed, what Use can there be of any Swearing, where Men’s Yea is Yea, and their Nay, Nay. There their Speech, their Answers, on all Occasions, should be, at the most, but Yea, Yea; or Nay, Nay.

(5.) He taught not to resist Evil, but to suffer Loss, rather than enter into Contention: His Divine Wisdom did fore-see how much easier it would be to overcome the Violent Passions of Men by Patience, than Controversie. And he that justly considers the Unruliness of some Men’s Dispositions, their Heats and Prejudices, will find, that it is not always a Real Injury, or Loss, but some Passion, Revenge, or base Interest, that puts them upon Clamours, and Suits of Law.

(6.) He taught us the highest Complacency and Charity: If any Man compel thee to go a Mile, go with him Twain. Be of an easie and ready Mind to Do Edition: current; Page: [{175}] Good; to all Friendly Offices be easily perswaded; and therein rather exceed, than fall short of any one’s Entreaty, or Necessity.

(7.) He taught as Great Liberality and Bounty, To give to him that asks, and from him that would borrow, not to turn away. In short, to be Stewards of our External Substance for the Good of Mankind, according to our respective Abilities; not grudging, knowing whose it is, nor disbelieving, as knowing him who is both Able and Bountiful.

(8.) He advances the Doctrine of Loving Friends, to the Degree of Loving Enemies. Ye have heard, said Jesus, that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour, and shalt hate thine Enemy; but I say unto you, Love your Enemies, bless them that Curse you, do Good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. Surely then, where no Anger dwells, no Revenge can grow; and if we must Love Enemies, there is no Man left to be hated. This is the Doctrine of that Jesus that laid down his Life for all; and this is the End for which he preached it, That (says he) ye may be the Children of your Father which is in Heaven; for he maketh his Sun to Rise on the Evil and the Good, and sendeth Rain on the Just and on the Unjust. It is as much as if Christ had said, No Man can be like God, who does not Love his Enemies, and cannot Do Good to All. Consequently, He that does Love Enemies, and is ready to Do Good unto All, he is like God the Father that is in Heaven, who is Love.

(9.) Christ teaches us to avoid Ostentation in our Charity: Take Heed that ye do not your Alms before Men, to be seen of them.

(10.) He teaches us the Duty of Prayer, and what: Not in the Corners of the Street, nor in the Synagogues to be seen of Men; but in the Closet, in the Secret of the Heart, betwixt God and the Soul. O Heavenly Precepts! He knew our Natures, our Weakness, and how to meet with it, and mend it. A Blessed Physician indeed! Let us receive Him, for He is sure, and He is Free.

(11.) He forbids Hoarding, and Laying up of Money in Bank; but presses Our Treasuring up Wealth in Heaven; and the Reason is this, That the One is Corruptible, and the other is Incorruptible.

(12.) He teaches Dependence upon the Providence of God; calling the Distrustful, O ye of Little Faith. Which of you (says he) by taking Thought, can add One Cubit to his Stature? Therefore take no Thought, saying, What shall we Eat, or what shall we Drink, or wherewith shall we be Clothed? For after all these Things the Gentiles seek; for your Heavenly Father knoweth, that you have Need Edition: current; Page: [{176}] of all these Things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these Things shall be added to you.

(13.) He sets up a Discrimination or Distinction between False and True Prophets; those that are his Disciples, from Counterfeits. Ye shall know them, said Christ, by their Fruits: Do Men gather Grapes of Thorns, or Figs of Thistles? Even so every Good Tree bringeth forth Good Fruit, but a Corrupt Tree bringeth forth Evil Fruit. A Good Tree cannot bring forth Evil Fruit, neither can a Corrupt Tree bring forth Good Fruit: Wherefore by their Fruits ye shall know them. This was the Distinction given by Christ to His Followers; the Tree was not accounted a Good Tree by the Leaves, but the Fruits; not by a meer Opinion, but Holy Living. The Faith in that Day, was an Entire Resignation and Dependence upon God, and not a Subscription to Verbal Propositions and Articles, though never so True: That was the Work of After-times, more Corrupt and Superstitious Ages, that laid more Stress upon Consent, ay, the very Show of it, than Holiness, without which no Man shall ever see the Lord. But—

(14.) Lastly, Christ preaches the General Judgment. Many will say to me in that Day, [What Day? the Last Day, or Day of Account, and Final Reckoning with Mankind:] Lord, Lord, have we not Prophesied in thy Name, and in thy Name Cast out Devils, and done many Wonderful Works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, Depart from me, ye that work Iniquity. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doth the Will of my Father which is in Heaven. Therefore whosoever heareth these Sayings of mine, and doth them, I will liken him unto a Wise Man, which built his House upon a Rock, and the Rain descended, and the Floods came, and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House, and it fell not, for it was builded upon a Rock. And every one that heareth these Sayings of mine, and doth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish Man, which built his House upon the Sand: And the Rain descended, and the Floods came, and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House, and it fell, and great was the Fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these Sayings, the People were astonished at his Doctrine; for he taught them as one having Authority, and not as the Scribes.

By all which it is most plain, that as Christ is the Rock, on which True Christians build, so none can be said truly to build upon this Rock, but those that keep his Sayings, that do his Commandments, that obey his Doctrine. Wherefore that Faith of Jesus to be the Son and Christ of God, must be such a Faith, as does the Will of the Heavenly Father, and keepeth these Sayings of Christ.

There are Two Places, in which Christ seems to sum up his blessed Doctrine: Edition: current; Page: [{177}] One is this, Therefore all Things, whatsoever ye would that Men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets; Which (by the Way) Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil. But the other Passage seems to be more full, the first relating only to our Dealings with Men; this Second Passage comprehending our Duty both to God and Men, viz. Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind; this is the first and great Commandment: and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.77

This is the Sum and Perfection of the Christian Religion, the great Commandment of Christ, and the certain Token of Discipleship, A new Commandment (said Christ) I give unto you, that ye Love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another: By this shall all Men know, that ye are my Disciples, if ye have love one to another. Again Christ speaks to his Disciples; If ye keep my Commandments, ye shall abide in my Love, even as I have kept my Father’s Commandments, and abide in his Love: And this is my Commandment, that ye Love one another as I have loved you. Yea, once more: Ye are my Friends, if ye do, whatsoever I command you, that you Love one another. He that hath my Commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest my self to him: but he that loveth me not, keepeth not my Sayings.78 So that only those are Friends and Disciples of Christ Jesus that do his Sayings and keep his Commandments; and the Great Commandment of all is Love; for upon this one Commandment do all the rest depend.

And indeed the Reason is very obvious, since he that loves God above all, will leave all for God: Not one of his Commandments shall be slighted: And he that loves his Neighbour will much more love the Houshold of Faith.79 Well may such be True Christians, when their Faith in Christ works by Love, by the Power of this Divine Power: He that dwells in this Love, dwells in God, (if John say True) for he is Love.80 And in this he recommended his Love unto us, that he sent his Only Begotten Son,—that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have Everlasting Life. Also herein did Christ manifest his Love, Edition: current; Page: [{178}] in laying down his Life for us. This is my Commandment, said Christ, that ye Love one another, as I have loved you; and greater Love hath no Man than this, that a Man lay down his Life for his Friends; ye are my Friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Indeed he gave his Life for the World, and offered up One Common Sacrifice for Mankind: And by this One Offering up of himself, once for all, he hath for ever perfected, that is, Quitted and discharged, and taken into Favour, them that are sanctified; who have received the Spirit of Grace and Sanctification in their Hearts; for such as resist it, receive not the Benefit of that Sacrifice, but Damnation to themselves.81

This Holy Offering up of Himself by the Eternal Spirit, is a great Part of His Messiahship; for therein he hath both confirmed His Blessed Message of Remission of Sins, and Life Everlasting, to as many as truly believe in His Name, and hath given Himself a Propitiation for all that have sinned, and thereby come short of the Glory of God: Insomuch that God is said by the Apostle Paul, to be Just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God.82

Unto which I shall join His Mediatorship or Advocacy, link’d together both by the Apostle of the Gentiles, and the Beloved Disciple John: The first in these Words; For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a Ransom for all, to be Testified in due Time. The Apostle John expresseth it thus: My little Children, these Things write I unto you, that you Sin not; and if any Man sinneth, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; he is the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for ours only, but also for the Sins of the whole World.83 So that to be brief, the Christian Creed, so far as it is Declaratory, lies eminently in a Confession of these Particulars: Of the Divine Authority of the New, as well of the Old Testament Writings, and particularly of these Great, General, and Obvious Truths therein expressed, to wit, Of God, and Christ, his Miracles, Doctrine, Death, Resurrection, Advocateship or Mediation, the Gift of his Light, Spirit or Grace: Of Faith, and Repentance from Dead Works unto Remission of Sins, keeping his Commandments, and lastly, Of Eternal Recompence.—Less, once, than all this, would have done; and it does not shew the Age more Christian, but more Edition: current; Page: [{179}] Curious, indeed more Infidel, to be sure more Captious and Froward, That there is this Stir made about External Creeds of Communion: For Distrust of Brethren, and Incredulity among Christians, are no small Signs of their Decay of Faith towards God: From the Beginning it was not so.

But it may be here objected, How shall we know that such a Declaration of Faith is Sincere? I answer, By recurring to that Evidence which God shall give us.84 They that can Try Spirits under the Most Sheep-like-Clothing, have the most immediate and certain Proof, and such an One there is by the Savour and Relish the Spirit of God gives, to them that have it, of the Spirits of Men: But let it suffice, that Christ hath told us, By their Fruits ye shall know them. If any Man, says Christ, will come after me, let him take up his Cross and follow me: And in another Place he tells us thus: My Sheep hear my Voice, and I know them, and they follow me; that is, they are led by my Spirit, they live my Life, they obey my Doctrine, they are of my own Nature. And the Apostle Peter assures us, That True Faith purifies the Heart, and no Impurity can flow from a Pure Heart.85 You may know this Faith by that Way, by which Abraham’s Faith was known to be True, to wit, Obedience. He believed God, that is, He obeyed God; he submitted to the Will of God, and relied upon his Goodness: As if he had said, and he said it doubtless to himself, He that gave me my Son by a Miracle, can work another to save him: To God all Things are possible.86 It is called by the Apostle Paul, The Spirit of Faith; something more near and inward, than any External Articles and Declaration of Faith: That from whence all True Confessions and Good Works came; which made the Apostle Paul thus to say, We give Thanks to God always for you all, making Mention of you in our Prayers, remembring without ceasing, your Work of Faith.87

’Twas this true Faith, that brings forth Works of Righteousness, by which Abel offered to God, Enoch was translated, Noah was saved. It is said of him, that he became the Heir of the Righteousness which is by Faith. By this Faith Abraham left his own Country, and obeyed the Voice of God. By Faith Moses was preserved from his Childhood; and when he came to Years, refused to be called the Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter; By Faith he forsook AEgypt, and passed the Red Sea. By Faith the Walls of Jericho fell down, and Rahab was saved. By Faith Edition: current; Page: [{180}] Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jephtha, David, Samuel, and the Prophets, subdued Kingdoms, wrought Righteousness, obtained Promises, stopped the Mouths of Lyons, quenched the Violence of Fire, escaped the Edge of the Sword, with much more, too large to be utter’d here.88

This is that Faith, which the Apostle James magnifies against all false Faiths: Faith (says he) if it has not Works, is dead. A Man may say, Thou hast Faith, and I have Works; shew me thy Faith without thy Works, and I will shew thee my Faith by my Works. And as if he had fore-seen the Pother made by the Men of Creeds and Articles, he speaks on this wise; Thou believest that there is one God, thou dost well; the Devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain Man, that Faith without Works, is dead? Was not Abraham our Father, justified by Works, when he had offered Isaac his Son upon the Altar? Seest thou how Faith wrought with his Works? and by Works was Faith made perfect.—And he was called the Friend of God.89 Very notable and informing is that Expression of his, The Devils also believe and tremble; and as if he had said, the Devil believes as well as you, and trembles too, which is more. This shows there is a Faith that is not the true Faith, and that not with Relation to the Matters believed, but the Spirit of the Mind in believing; For the Devils believe the Truth, literally, but their Faith works not by Love, no more than their Knowledge by Obedience, and therefore it does them no Good, and is not the true Faith. O that Christendom would lay this very one Thing to Heart! But I must proceed.

The Exhortation of the Apostle Peter is a farther and plain Discrimination of true Faith; And besides this, giving all Diligence, add to your Faith Virtue, and to Virtue Knowledge, and to Knowledge Temperance, and to Temperance Patience, and to Patience Godliness, and to Godliness Brotherly Kindness, and to Brotherly Kindness Charity. For if these Things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful, in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these Things is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old Sins:90 As if he had said, they have forgot where they begun, that think they can be Christians without a Life of Holiness.

I will seal up these Scripture-Testimonies of Faith, with that Account which Edition: current; Page: [{181}] is given us by the Apostle John, For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the World: And this is the Victory, that overcometh the World, even our Faith. Who is he that overcometh the World, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?91 So that the Belief in the Son of God, must have this Evidence to prove it a true Belief in God’s Account, that by it Men are born of God and overcome the World: Wherefore their Faith is false whom the World overcomes: I am not of this World, saith Christ Jesus;92 neither can that Faith be, that is rightly called the Faith of the Son of God.

There are three Passages left us upon Record by this Beloved Disciple of Jesus of great Weight and Importance to us: When he had discoursed of the Propitiation and Advocateship of Christ, he does immediately add; And hereby do we know, that we know him, if we keep his Commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Lyar and the Truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his Word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: Hereby know we, that we are in him.93 He that saith, he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

The Second Passage very pertinent to this Matter, is in the next Chapter; My little Children, let us not love in Word, neither in Tongue, but in Deed and in Truth. And hereby we know that we are of the Truth, and shall assure our Hearts before him: For if our Heart condemn us, God is greater than our Heart, and knoweth all Things. Beloved; if our Heart condemn us not, then have we Confidence towards God: And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his Commandments, and do those Things that are pleasing in his Sight. And this is his Commandment, that we should believe on the Name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us Commandment.94

The Third and last Passage, which I shall mention on this Account, is in his fourth Chapter of the same Epistle, viz. And we have seen and do testifie, that the Father sent the Son, to be the Saviour of the World. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the Love God hath to us. God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein our Love is made perfect, that we may have Boldness in the Day of Judgment, because, as he is, so are Edition: current; Page: [{182}] we in this World.95 So that keeping God’s Word, and Commandments, and our Consciences from accusing us, and our being like to Christ in this World, is our loving of God as we ought to love him.

These are the Holy Fruits of all those that love God, and believe in Christ, that are the Family of the Faithful, regenerated and redeemed from the Earth: Where-ever two or three of them, are met together, Christ is in the Midst of them; they neither ask nor hope in Vain.96 With this Character let us take a View of all Persons and Societies of Christians throughout the World, not forgetting our selves: Let us hereby try their Faith and Religion, and our own; if it be of God the Father, it is Pure and Undefiled; it leads them that have it, to Visit the Fatherless and Widows in their Affliction, and to keep themselves Unspotted from the World.97 Is this our Case? O that it were so!

If it be objected, Which Way shall we obtain this like Precious Faith? I answer, You must take diligent Heed to the Light and Grace that come by Jesus; that Candle of the Lord which he has set up in our Souls: We must bring our Deeds to this Light, and see if they be wrought in God or no?98 For this gives us to discern betwixt the Precious and the Vile; the one gives Joy, the other brings a Load of Guilt upon the Soul. Do we not know, That we do the Things we ought not; and that we leave undone the Things we ought to do. This, alas! will be our Judgment one Day, the Last, the Terrible Day: For therefore Men are Condemnable, because they know.

Those, therefore, that would obtain this Precious Faith, that overcomes the World, must embrace the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which this Faith is begotten; and they, who believe not in this Grace, nor receive it in the Love of it, nor give themselves up to be taught and led by it, can never be said truly to believe in him, from whom it comes, any more than the Jews may be said, To believe in God, when they rejected Him that came from God, His Beloved Son. He that denies the Measure, can never own or receive the Fulness. John bears Record, that he was full of Grace and Truth, and that of his Fulness they received, and Grace for Grace: For the Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ:99 So that ’tis utterly impossible for a Man, to believe Edition: current; Page: [{183}] in Christ, and not to be taught and led by the Grace that comes from him, and by him.

’Tis a common Saying of People in these Days, We are not under the Law, but under Grace; who are in Truth under Sin and the Law of Death, and Subjects to the Prince of the Power of the Air; who reigns in the Hearts of the Children of Disobedience; and their Lives show it: No, those are under Grace, that live the holy Life of Grace. For the Grace of God, that bringeth Salvation, saith the Apostle Paul, hath appeared unto all Men, teaching us, that denying Ungodliness and the Worldly Lusts, we should live Soberly, Righteously, and Godly in this present World:100 These are the People that believe in Christ, unto the Saving of the Soul. This is that blessed Light which shines in the Hearts of those that believe, and gives the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. The Ancients walkt in it, and found Eternal Life by it. I am the Light of the World, said Christ, he that follows me, shall not walk in Darkness, but have the Light of Life.101 The Saints armed themselves with it, against the Fiery Darts of Satan, and by the Virtue and Power that is in it, were enabled to overcome Temptation. And this will be the Condemnation of Disobedient Men, that they see, but shut their Eyes; they know the Light, but rebel against it. Christ, by his holy Light in the Conscience, shews Men their Danger, warns them of it, before it comes upon them: No Man on Earth can plead either Ignorance or Surprise.

’Tis true, the Candle of the Wicked is often put out;102 But that implies, It is often lighted, and that Men Sin against Conviction, against Sight and Knowledge: It is wilful, and that’s dangerous. No Faith in Disobedience will do; no Faith without Holy Fruits, Holy Works, will save. Men must be born again if ever they will enter into the Kingdom of God: there is no Fellowship between Christ and Belial: People must part with their Vile Affections and Inordinate Desires, or they are no Company for Christ;103 they have no Share in him. What Part can Pride have in Humility, Wrath in Meekness, Lust in Self-denial, Revenge in Forgiveness? To pretend to believe in Christ, and not to be like him, is a Contradiction. This is the Message (said the Beloved Disciple) which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is Light; and in him is no Edition: current; Page: [{184}] Darkness at all: If we say, that we have Fellowship with him, and walk in Darkness, we Lye and do not the Truth. The Truth is, all such Faith and Profession are a Lye, and that in the Right Hand, a Cheat upon a Man’s self. But, says he, if we walk in the Light as God is in the Light, we have Fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin. If we say, that we have no Sin, [to be cleansed from] we deceive our selves, and the Truth is not in us: But if we confess our Sins, he is Faithful and Just to forgive us our Sins, and to cleanse us from all Unrighteousness.104

To conclude, Christ Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of the World, is Holy, Harmless, and Undefiled, and so must his Followers be: He is no Head of a Corrupt Body, nor Master of Rebellious Servants: He that has not the Wedding Garment, must be cast out:105 The Branch, that brings not forth Fruit, will be cut off. But those that truly believe in his Name, walk in his Light, and are taught by his Grace to renounce the Lusts of the Eye, the Lusts of the Flesh, and Pride of Life; the unjust Profits, Pleasures and Pomps of the World, and chuse to follow him in his own Holy Way of Resignation and Re-generation, the same is his Brother, his Sister and his Mother. And whatever Losses they may here sustain for his Name’s Sake, they have the Promise of an Hundred Fold in this Life and the Inheritance of that which is Eternal.106

And I do fervently beseech Almighty God, the Giver of all Saving Faith, mercifully to vouchsafe, more and more, to beget a Serious Inquiry in us, What that Faith is which we have? Who is the Author of it? And what Fruits it hath brought forth? That so we may not profane the Name of God by a Vain Profession of it, nor abuse our selves unto Eternal Perdition; But that we may endeavour, by God’s Assistance, to approve our selves such Believers as sincerely fear God, love Righteousness, and hate every Evil Way, as becomes the Redeemed of God by the Precious Blood of his Son. Since therefore we are not our own, but the Lord’s, who hath bought us with that Great Price,107 let us glorifie him in our Bodies, in our Souls, and in our Spirits, which are his: Then shall we be Children of Abraham, indeed, Heirs of the Promises, Partakers of that Resurrection and Life, that Immortality and Glory, which God the Righteous Judge will, one Day, plentifully distribute to them that abide in Edition: current; Page: [{185}] this precious Faith unto the End. This naturally brings me to my third Head, and an Unhappiness we have long labour’d under.

Sect. 4.: Of Debasing the true Value of Morality under Pretence of Higher Things; and mistaking, in great Measure, the very End of Christ’s Coming.

BY MORALITY I understand Virtuous Living, Purity of Manners; that Justice, Temperance, Truth, Charity, and Blamelesness in Conversation, out of Conscience and Duty to God and Man, which may well Denominate the Man that lives that Life, a Man Just, Virtuous, and Pious: In short, one that does unto all Men, as he would have all Men do unto him;108 this is my Mortal Man. It is notorious how small an Estimate two Sorts of People have put upon him, the Profane and the Professors, the Publicans and the Pharisees: The first despise him as too Squeamish, Nice and Formal; they deride his Regularity, and make a Jest of his Preciseness. And thinking No Man can be good, because they are Naught, and that all must needs fall by those Temptations they will not resist, they construe Sobriety to be a Trick to decoy Mankind, and put a Cheat upon the World. If they hear any one say, Such a Man is a Sober and Just Person, they have learned, by themselves, to call him Knave; that he has a Design upon some Body, by being Just in little Things, to cheat in Things of more Moment. This Man is very Unfashionable among Men of Immoral Principles; for his very Looks and Life carry a Reproof with them upon Vicious Men; who, as if Virtue were their Common Enemy, are in Combination against the Lovers and Entertainers of her: The Reason is, because such true Virtuoso will neither do the Ill Things they would have them, nor flatter them in the Ill they do; and therefore where Ill Men have the Power, Good Men are sure to be made the Common Enemy.

But the Reproaches that Men of Morality receive at the Hands of Lewd Men, are more their Honour than their Suffering: That which is most of all Anxious, is, that Morality is denied to be Christianity, that Virtue has any Claim to Grace, and that those who glory to be called Christians, can be so Partial and Cruel as to renounce a meer Just Man their Society, and send him packing among the Heathen for Damnation. And pray what’s the Matter? Why! though this Person be a sober Liver, yet he is but a General Believer; Edition: current; Page: [{186}] his Faith is at large. ’Tis true, he believes in God, but I hear little of his Faith in Christ. Very well: Does he not therefore believe in Christ? or must he therefore be without the Pale of Salvation? Is it possible that a Man can truly believe in God and be damned? But as he that believes in Christ, believes in God, so he that believes in God, believes in Christ: For he that believes on him, that raised up Jesus from the Dead, his Faith shall be imputed to him for Righteousness, and says Christ himself; He that believeth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath Everlasting Life:109 Has he that believes in God no Interest in this Expression? But more particular is that Place of the Apostle to the Hebrews, viz. For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Diligent Rewarder of them that seek him.110 Now if those who so believe can come to God, the Moral Man’s Condition is not Dangerous even in the strictest Sense of the Word; not only such as have a General Faith of Christianity, and never adher’d to any particular Party, a Sense, we shall anon consider, but even those who never heard the History of Christ, nor had a distinct Knowledge of him, as we profess him.

For it seems a most unreasonable Thing, that Faith in God and keeping his Commandments should be no Part of the Christian Religion: But if a Part it be, as upon serious Reflection who dare deny it, then those before and since Christ’s Time, who never had the External Law nor History, and have done the Things contained in the Law, their Consciences not accusing nor Hearts Condemning, but excusing them before God, are in some Degree concern’d in the Character of a true Christian. For Christ himself preach’d and kept his Father’s Commandments, and came to fulfil and not to destroy the Law; and that not only in his own Person, but that the Righteousness of the Law might be also fulfilled in us.111

Let us but soberly consider What Christ is, and we shall the better know whether Moral Men are to be reckon’d Christians. What is Christ but Meekness, Justice, Mercy, Patience, Charity and Virtue in Perfection? Can we then deny a meek Man to be a Christian; a Just, a Merciful, a Patient, a Charitable and a Virtuous Man to be like Christ? By me Kings Reign and Princes decree Justice, saith Wisdom, yea, the Wisdom that is from above; so may I say here, Edition: current; Page: [{187}] By Christ Men are Meek, Just, Merciful, Patient, Charitable and Virtuous;112 and Christians ought to be distinguished by their Likeness to Christ and not their Notions of Christ; by his Holy Qualifications rather than their own Lofty Professions and Invented Formalities. What shall we say then of that Extravagancy which those Men are guilty of who upon hearing a sober Man commended, that is not of any great Visible Profession, will take upon them to cast him off with this Sentence; Tush, he is but a Moral Man; he knows nothing of Saving Grace: he may be damn’d for all his Morality. Nay, some have gone so far as to say and preach, if not print, That there are Thousands of Moral Men in Hell.

But ’tis worth our while to consider that he that sins is not saved by Grace in that State, and that the Virtuous Man is the Gracious Man; For ’tis the Nature and End of true Grace, to make Men so. Unanswerable is that Passage of the Apostle, to the Romans, Therefore if the Uncircumcision keep the Righteousness of the Law, shall not his Uncircumcision be counted for Circumcision? and shall not Uncircumcision, which is by Nature, if it fulfil the Law, judge thee, who by the Letter and Circumcision dost transgress the Law? For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly, neither is that Circumcision, which is outward in the Flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly, and Circumcision is that of the Heart, in the Spirit, and not in the Letter, whose Praise is not of Men, but of God.113 So that he who keeps the Law of God, and abstains from the Impurity of the World, is the good Man, the Just Liver; he is the Apostle’s true Jew and Circumcision.

Wherefore it is not ill express’d by that extraordinary Man J. Hales of Eaton: The Moral Man, says he, is a Christian by the surer Side: As if he had said, Speculations may fail, Notions be mistaken, Forms wither, but Truth and Righteousness will stand the Test; and the Man that loves them will not be moved. He tells us, That the Fathers had that Opinion of the Sincerity of the Life of some Heathens, that they believ’d God had in Store for such even his Saving Grace, and that he would make them Possessors of his Everlasting Kingdom. And measuring your Satisfaction by the Pleasure I took in reading what the Author both quotes and comments upon this Subject, I will venture to transcribe him at large, whose Authority ought to go as far as his Reason, and he claims no Edition: current; Page: [{188}] more, nor indeed does any reasonable Man, since God himself seems to submit to that Method of overcoming us, to wit, Conviction, viz.114

Let it not trouble you (saith he) that I entitle them to some Part of our Christian Faith, and therefore without Scruple to be receiv’d as Weak, and not to be cast forth as Dead. Salvianus disputing what Faith is; Quid est igitur Credulitas vel Fides? (saith he) Opinor fideliter hominem Christo credere, id est, Fidelem Deo esse, hoc est, Fideliter Dei mandata servare, What might this Faith be? (saith he) I suppose, it is nothing else, but Faithfully to believe Christ; and this is to be Faithful unto God; which is nothing else, but Faithfully to keep the Commandments of God.115 Not therefore only a bare Belief, but the Fidelity and Trustiness of God’s Servants, faithfully accomplishing the Will of our Master, is required as a Part of our Christian Faith.

Now, all those good Things which Moral Men by the Light of Nature* do, are a Part of God’s Will written in their Hearts: wherefore so far as they were Conscientious in performing them (if Salvianus his Reason be good;) so far have they Title and Interest in our Faith. And therefore Regulus, that Famous Roman, when he endured infinite Torments, rather than he would break his Oath, may thus far be counted a Martyr and Witness for the Truth.116 For the Crown of Martyrdom sits not only on the Heads of those, who have lost their Lives, rather than they would cease to profess the Name of Christ; but on the Head of every one that Edition: current; Page: [{189}] suffers for the Testimony of a Good Conscience and for Righteousness Sake. And here I cannot pass by one very General and Gross Mistake of our Age. For in our Discourses concerning the Notes of a Christian Man, by what Signs we may know a Man to be one of the Visible Company of Christ, we have so tied our selves to this outward Profession, that if we know no other Virtue in a Man, but that he hath con’d his Creed by Heart, let his Life be never so profane, we think it Argument enough for us to account him within the Pale and Circuit of the Church. On the contrary Side, let his Life be never so upright, if either he be little seen in, or peradventure quite ignorant of the Mystery of Christ, we esteem of him but as dead. And those, who conceive well of those Moral good Things, as of some Tokens giving Hope of Life, we account but as a Kind of Manichees, who thought the very Earth had Life in it. I must confess that I have not yet made that Proficiency in the Schools of our Age, as that I could see, why the Second Table and the Acts of it are not as properly the Parts of Religion and Christianity, as the Acts and Observations of the First? If I mistake, then it is St. James that hath abus’d me; for he describing Religion by its proper Acts, tells us, that Pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is, to visit the Fatherless and the Widows in their Affliction, and to keep himself unspotted of the World.117 So that the Thing which is an especial refined Dialect of the New Christian Language signifies nothing but Morality and Civility, that in the Language of the Holy Ghost imports True Religion. Thus far J. Hales.

He hath said so well on this Account, that there is little Need I should say any more; yet let me add thus much: Did Men mind the Language of the Holy Ghost more than their own Conceits, they would not stile those meer Moral Men in a Way of Disgrace, who are not of their Perswasion; it would suffice, that those that Fear God and work Righteousness in all Nations are accepted of him; That Christ himself hath said, He that doth the Will of my Father which is in Heaven, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; and of them that work Iniquity, Depart from me, I know you not.118

My Friends, Let us not deceive our selves, God will not be mocked; Such as we sow, we shall certainly reap. The Tree is known by it’s Fruits, and will be judg’d according to it’s Fruits. The Wages of Sin is Death: Men will find it so; Edition: current; Page: [{190}] and every Man shall receive his Reward suitable to his Work.119 For People to talk of Special Grace, and yet be carried away by Common Temptations: To let Pride, Vanity, Covetousness, Revenge, &c. predominate, it is Provoking to God: But to conceit that the Righteous God will indulge his People in that Latitude, which he condemns in other Men, is abominable. ’Tis Sanctification, that makes the Saint; and Self-denial that constitutes the Christian; and not filling our Heads and elevating our Fancies by applying those Promises to our selves, which as yet we have no Interest in, though we may think they belong to no Body else: This Spiritual Flattery of our selves is most pernicious. I cannot but say, with the Apostle, ’Tis neither Circumcision nor Uncircumcision, Jew nor Gentile (this not t’other Thing) but the New Creature, created after Christ Jesus in Holiness: for without Holiness no Man shall ever see the Lord.120 And what is Holiness, but abstaining from Wickedness? And what’s that but keeping the Law of God? Great Peace have they that love thy Law, said David, that had known the Trouble of breaking it: Therefore it is that Grace and Truth are come by Jesus Christ, to help us to fulfil the Law, not to excuse our Disobedience to the Law: And what before we were unable, this gives us Force to do.121 So that Christianity is not an Indulgence of People under Weakness and Disobedience, but the Compleating and Perfection of that Righteousness which without him was but short and Imperfect, through the all-sufficient Grace and Power that came by Jesus Christ.

Give me Leave, I beseech you, for I have a Godly Jealousie upon me; I fear, lest the very End of Christ’s Coming is mistaken; and of how dreadful a Consequence such a Mistake would be, you cannot possibly be ignorant, that believe there is No Salvation in any other Name. Let us hear the Testimony of Scripture: They are the Words of Christ himself, I must preach the Kingdom of God for therefore am I sent. Now, what is this Kingdom of God, but God’s Government? And where is this Kingdom and Government to be set up, but in Man? So Christ tells us, Behold the Kingdom of God is within you. So that the Reason of his being sent, is, that the Kingdom and Government of the Devil may be destroyed, the strong Man that kept the House, the Heart, be dispossessed, and the Kingdom and Government of God in the Soul, erected and established. We are taught to pray for it, as little as we make of it. Thy Kingdom Edition: current; Page: [{191}] come, thy Will be done.122 Would to God People would but consider what they Pray for! For they are scandaliz’d at the Thing they ask, and both neglect and revile the Substance of their own Prayers: Thy Kingdom come, and thy Will be done; but believe neither. It was the Office God designed his Son to. The Thief (says Christ) does not come but to kill, to steal, and to destroy; that is to steal away the Heart from God, and to kill and destroy all good Desires and Inclinations in the Soul: For the Devil is the Thief and Destroyer: But I am come (says Christ) that ye might have Life, and that ye might have it more abundantly.123 Again, O Death, I will be thy Death! as if he had said, I will kill that which kills the Soul: I will breath the Breath of Life into it again; and, by my Spirit and Grace, I will beget Holy Motions, and kindle Heavenly Desires in it after God, after the Kingdom of God, and the Righteousness thereof: This is the Newness of Life:124 And I will not only restore that Life the Soul has lost, but I will increase it: I will add to it, that it may have Life more abundantly; more Power and Strength to resist Evil, and embrace and delight in that which is Good.

Indeed he was Anointed of God for this Purpose; and is therefore called the Restorer of Paths, the Repairer of Breaches, and the Builder up of Waste Places; that is, he is ordained of God for the Recovery of Man from his Fallen and Disobedient State, This is the Reason of his Name: Thou shalt call his Name JESUS, said the Angel, for he shall save his People from their Sins:125 Not from Wrath only, but from Sin, which is the Cause of Wrath. That is, of Bad Men, he will make them really Good Men; and of Sinful and Unholy, he will make them Holy and Righteous Men, such as truly believe in him. This is the Burden of John’s Testimony: There is One, says he, that cometh after me, is mightier than I, He shall Baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with Fire; whose Fan is in his Hand, and he will throughly Purge his Floor. And seeing Jesus coming to him, said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the Sins of the World!126

I know the Use that too many make of these Scriptures, as if they were an Hebraism, borrow’d from the Old Sacrifices, which may be said, To take away Sin by taking away the Guilt, and not that the Natures of Men are Restored and Perfected. And indeed, this is that Sense which I dread above all others, because Edition: current; Page: [{192}] it perverts the End of Christ’s Coming, and lodges Men in a Security pernicious to their own Souls. For though it is most true, that Remission of Sin was, and is preached in his Name and Blood, and that Sin, in a Sense, may be said to be taken away, when the Guilt of the Sin is removed by Remission; yet this is only of Sin past, that upon Repentance is forgiven:127 But this is not the Whole, Full and Evangelical Sense, as Christ’s own Words do plainly import. For, says he, the Son of Man is come to save that which was Lost. And upon another Occasion he expresseth himself to the same Purpose, and almost in the same Words, For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was Lost.128 Now, who is this that is Lost, but Man? And in what Sense can Man be said to be Lost, but by Sin and Disobedience? That it was which cast him out of the Presence and Garden of God, and put him in a Condition of Eternal Misery. If Christ then came to Save Lost Man, he must be understood to Save him from that which puts him into a Lost Condition, and that is Sin; for The Wages of Sin is Death, and the Servant of Sin is a Son of Perdition.129

Christ has determin’d this Point beyond all Exception, in his Discourse with the Jews, (John 8. 31, 32, 33, 34.) Then said Jesus to those Jews, which believed on him, if ye continue in my Word, then are ye my Disciples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you Free. What Freedom was this? Certainly from Sin; suitable to that Passage in his Prayer: Sanctify them through thy Truth, thy Word is Truth.130 But some Jews present, proud of their Privileges, apprehended not the Liberty Christ spoke of, and therefore answer’d him thus: We are Abraham’s Seed, and were never in Bondage to any Man; how sayst thou, Ye shall be made Free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth Sin, is the Servant of Sin. In which Place it is very remarkable, that Men are only to be distinguished by their Works; that no Claims, Privileges, Successions, or Descents are available, but he that commits Sin, is the Servant of Sin.131 So that Christ’s Free Man is he that is freed from Sin: This is his Follower and Disciple. And as Christ oppos’d the Works of the Jews, who unjustly sought to kill him, to their Pretensions they made to be Abraham’s Seed; so must we oppose the Actions of ill Men to their better Edition: current; Page: [{193}] Professions: We must faithfully tell them, He that commits Sin, is the Servant of Sin; from which Servitude Christ came to Save his People, and is therefore rightly called, The Saviour and the Redeemer.

This Doctrine is closely followed by the Apostle Paul in his sixth Chapter to the Romans. Therefore we are buried with him by Baptism into Death, that like as Christ was raised up from the Dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in Newness of Life—Knowing this, that our Old Man is crucified with him, that the Body of Sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve Sin—Likewise reckon ye also your selves to be Dead indeed unto Sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. As if he had said, The End of Christ’s coming, is to turn People from their Sins; and that those who persist in their Disobedience, resist the Benefits that come by him.

Let not Sin therefore reign in your Mortal Body, that ye should obey it in the Lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your Members as Instruments of Unrighteousness unto Sin; but yield your selves unto God, as those that are Alive from the Dead, and your Members as Instruments of Righteousness unto God—Know ye not, that to whom ye yield your selves Servants to obey, his Servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of Sin unto Death, or of Obedience unto Righteousness?—For when ye were the Servants of Sin, ye were free from Righteousness. What Fruit had ye then in those Things, whereof ye are now ashamed? For the End of those Things is Death. But now being made Free from Sin, and become Servants to God, ye have your Fruit unto Holiness, and the End Everlasting Life. For the Wages of Sin is Death, but the Gift of God is Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To conclude, nothing can be more apparent, than that Freedom from Actual Sinning, and giving Newness of Life to the Souls of Men, was the Great Reason of Christ’s Coming, and the End for which he hath given us out of his Fulness of Grace and Truth, Grace for Grace; and that to be under Grace, and not under the Law, is not to have Liberty to do that now, which ought not to have been done before, or to be excused from former moral Obligations, as the Ranters interpret it;132 but to be freed from the Condemnation of the Law, First, through Remission of the Sins that are past upon Faith and Repentance, and next, by freeing us of that Weakness by which we were disabled from Edition: current; Page: [{194}] keeping God’s Just Law, and fulfilling the Righteousness of it, in receiving and obeying the Light and Grace that comes by Jesus Christ.

Very pertinent is that Passage of the Apostle Paul to Titus, to our present Purpose, for it seems to comprehend the End of Christ’s Coming, and the Faith and Duty of his People; which our Great Selden, after all his Painful Readings, and Curious Inquisitions, said, but a little before his Death, Was the Most Weighty Passage of the whole Bible to him, as the Bible was the Best of Books in the World, viz. For the Grace of God, that bringeth Salvation, hath appeared to all Men, teaching us, that denying Ungodliness, and Worldly Lusts, we should live Soberly, Righteously, and Godly in this present World; looking for that Blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of the Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all Iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar People, Zealous of Good Works.133

In which comprehensive Passage, we find the End of Christ’s Coming to be Our Redemption from all Iniquity, both to blot out our Sins that are past, and to purify our Hearts from the Sin that remains. We have the Means that works and brings this Salvation into our Souls, which is the Grace; and the Way, by which this Grace doth accomplish it, is by Teaching us to deny Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts, and to live Soberly, Righteously, and Godly in this present World. Which has this great Encouragement joyned to it, that those who so live, have only Right to look for that Blessed Hope and the Glorious Appearing of the Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

I will add the Testimony of his Beloved Disciple John, who has defined to us the End of Christ’s Coming, thus: Whosoever committeth Sin, Transgresseth also the Law; and ye know, that he was manifested to take away our Sins. And to shew that this is understood, not only of the Guilt of Sins past, but of the Nature and present Power of Sin in Man, observe what follows; Whosoever abideth in him (Christ) Sinneth not. As if this Apostle had foreseen the present Mischief Christianity labours under both on the Side of Evil Men, and of but too many mistaken Professors. He adds, Little Children, let no Man deceive you; he that doth Righteousness is Righteous, even as he is Righteous; he that committeth Sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sinneth from the Beginning. (Now comes his most express Passage to the Matter in Hand) For this Purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the Works of the Devil: Which is more than the Remission of Sins that are past; here is the Destruction of the Edition: current; Page: [{195}] Power and Kingdom of Satan. They that know not this, know not Christ as he should be known, not savingly. For as we, so our Lord is known by his Fruits, by the Works which he works in us: Therefore it is said, That his own Works praise him. And said Christ, If I had not done among them the Works which no other Man did, &c.134 So that he referred to his Works to prove his Nature and Mission.

He therefore that lives in Sin denies Christ, by denying the End of his Coming. The Fool did not say with his Mouth, but in his Heart, There is no God;135 yet but too many now a-days, plead with their Tongues and Pens for Sin Term of Life, by endeavouring to shew the Impossibility of over-coming Sin. But what saith this Apostle farther of the Business? Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit Sin: In this the Children of God are manifest, and the Children of the Devil, whosoever doth not Righteousness, is not of God; neither he that loveth not his Brother. But if you walk in the Light, as God is in the Light, we have Fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all Sin. He that saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as Christ walked. A little lower in the same Chapter he says, I have written unto you, Young Men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the Wicked One.136

I will add one Scripture-Testimony more in the present Case, and it is this: Herein (saith John) is our Love made perfect, that we may have Boldness in the Day of Judgment, because as he is, so are we in this World.137

Behold now the true End of Christ’s Coming! viz. To save from Sin and to purge us from all Iniquity; that he might present us to God without Spot or Blemish.138 Let us not then flatter our selves, for we shall be the Losers: Neither let us make that impossible through our Infidelity, which a Grain of Sincere Faith can make not only Possible but Easie. What has been, may be again; nay, in this Case must be. Did the First Christians overcome the Wicked one? so must the Last Christians too. Were those Ages led by the Holy Spirit, and taught by the Grace of God to live God-like, or like God in the World? so must we of these latter Ages too, if we will be blessed for ever; that, having put off the old Man, the Devil and his Works, we may put on Christ the new and heavenly Edition: current; Page: [{196}] Man, the second Adam, with his Holy Life and Works; so shall the Fruits of his Spirit shine through us, which are Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Patience, Gentleness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance; for they that are Christ’s have Crucified the Flesh, with the Affections and Lusts:139 They hear his Voice that leads them out of the Concupiscences of this Vile World, and they follow him, and he gives unto them Eternal Life, and a Stranger they will not follow.140 The World, the Flesh and the Devil make up this Stranger, and those that are carried away by this Stranger are in an Unreconciled State to God, and, so dying, must inevitably perish. Well, then will we be true Christians? Have we Faith? then let us take the Advice of that good Man Peter; Let us add to our Faith Virtue, and to Virtue Knowledge, and to Knowledge Temperance, and to Temperance Patience, and to Patience Godliness, and to Godliness Brotherly-Kindness, and to Brotherly-Kindness Charity: For says he, if these Things be in you and abound, they make you, that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these Things is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old Sins. Wherefore the rather, Brethren, give Diligence, to make your Calling and Election sure; for if ye do these Things, ye shall never fall. For so an Entrance shall be ministred unto you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.141 Thus much, O ye Protestants! That profess a Reformation, and value your selves upon it, Of the true Reformed Doctrine of Godliness, a virtuous and good Life, without which your Profession will be the Aggravation of your Guilt. For know this once for all, that a true Reformation lies in the Spirit of Reformation, reforming the Minds and Manners of such as profess it. God Almighty open your Eyes and affect your Hearts with this great Truth.

Sect. 5.: The Fourth great Ecclesiastical Evil, is Preferring Humane Authority above Reason and Truth.

THIS and the next Evil, which is the last now to be considered, to wit, Propagation of Faith by Force, Religion by Arms, are the Two Legs upon which the false Church hath in all Ages stood. Under this Degeneracy we find the Jewish Church at Christ’s coming, and he complains of it, Ye teach for Edition: current; Page: [{197}] Doctrines the Traditions of Men, ye seek to kill me, a Man that has told you the Truth:142 But I challenge the whole Account of Time, and Records of the World, which are come to the Hands of this Age, to tell me When, Where, and by whom, these Principles have been received, improved and used, in any Sort of Proportion or Comparison, with the Practice of that Church, which has long prided her self in the Name of Catholick and Christian. And yet I could wish nothing of these Two Ill Principles had found any Place amongst Us, that call our selves Protestants; though to the great Men of her Communion, in divers Countries of Europe, is chiefly owing most of that Ignorance, Superstition, Idolatry, Persecution and Blood-shed that have been among Christians, since the Christian Profession hath grown to any Power in the World. I shall consider them severally, respecting us, and in their due Order, with as much Brevity as well I can.

That Humane Authority hath been preferred above Reason and Truth, that is, That the Apprehensions, Interpretations, Conclusions and Injunctions of Men have been reputed the great Necessaries or Essentials to Salvation and Christian Communion, insomuch as a sober and reasonable Dissent hath been too often over-rul’d, not by Weight of Argument or Evidence of Truth, but by the Power and Numbers of Men in Ecclesiastical Office and Dignity, is, and speak Modestly, in a large Degree true among us. The First Church-Evil reprehended in this Discourse may begin the Proof, and give the first Witness upon this Part of the Charge, viz. That Opinions have been made Articles of Faith; that is, The Constructions and Conclusions of Men from Sacred Writ, and not the Text it self, have been enjoyn’d and impos’d as Essential to Eternal Salvation, and External Christian Communion. Insomuch as no Reason, Scripture or purest Antiquity hath been suffered to prevail against such Determinations, and too often not enough to excuse those that have pleaded for a Conscientious Dissent from them; the Authors of them either resting upon the Authority of their own Judgments, or conforming themselves to the Example of Ages less pure and clear.

I Conscientiously refuse to name Parties, because I am tender of giving the least Offence; but upon a Just Observance of those Revolutions of Protestancy that have been amongst us, we may see, with what Stiffness, not to say Obstinacy, several Models of Religion and Draughts of Creeds have been contended for. I would beseech every Party, in Christ’s Name, to look into it self; for I Edition: current; Page: [{198}] don’t, because such are best able (if they will be Impartial and put no Cheat upon themselves) to make the Application of what I say. However, I will name those Points, about which the Authority of Man, as it seems to me, has been so positive. Of God, as to his Prescience and Predetermination: Of Christ, as to his Natures and Personality, and the Extent of his Death and Intercession: Of Free-Will and Grace: Of Faith and Works: Of Perseverance and Falling away: Of the Nature and Power of the Church: And Lastly, of the Dignity and Power of the Clergy.

And if Men please but to lay their Hands upon their Hearts, and cast their Eyes upon the Scriptures; if they will but use the Light that God has afforded them, and bring such Debates and Results to the Test of that Light and the Sound Form of Words, the Holy Ghost hath used and preserv’d amongst us, I need not take the Employment upon me of pointing to Humane Authority among the several Parties of Protestants, as to these Points, since nothing will be clearer. For it is about the Meaning of this, and the Intention of that Place of Scripture, the Contest hath been and still is; and how to maintain and propagate those Conceits: So that the falling out is in the Wood of our own Opinions, and there the Contention is kindled, that consumes all about our Ears. A most unwarrantable Curiosity and Nicety, for the most Part, that hath more Influence upon our Passions, than our Practice, which is usually the worse in Point of Charity, and not the better for them in any Thing. O that we would but be impartial, and see our own Over-plus to the Scriptures, and retrench that redundancy, or keep it modestly! for ’tis an horrid Thing that we Protestants should assume a Power of ranging our human Apprehensions with the Sacred Text, and injoining our Imaginations for Indispensible Articles of Faith and Christian Communion.

But the next Proof of the Prevalency of Humane Authority amongst us Protestants, is The great Power and Sway of the Clergy, and the People’s Reliance upon them for the Knowledge of Religion, and the Way of Life and Salvation. This is such plain Fact, that every Parish more or less proves it. Is not Prophecy, once the Church’s, now engrost by them and wholly in their Hands? Who dare publickly Preach or Pray, that is not of that Class or Order? Have not they only the Keys in keeping? May any body else pretend to the Power of Absolution or Excommunication? Much less to constitute Ministers? Are not all Church Rites and Privileges in their Custody? Don’t they make it their proper Inheritance? Nay, so much larger is their Empire than Caesar’s, that only they begin with Births and end with Burials: Men must pay them for Coming in and Going out Edition: current; Page: [{199}] of the World. To pay for dying is hard! Thus their Profits run from the Womb to the Grave, and that which is the Loss of others, is their Gain, and a Part of their Revenue. Both Lives and Deaths do bring Grist to their Mill, and Toll to their Exchequer, for they have an Estate in us for our Lives, and an Heriot at our Deaths.

’Tis of this great Order and Sept of Men only, that all Synods and Convocations are, of modern Ages, compounded; and what they determin, is called the Canons or Decrees of the Church; though, Alas! She is only to Obey, what they of the Gown Ordain; giving us thereby to understand, that they want the Authority of her Name, where they deny her to have a Part, or to be present.

But they have not only been the usual Starters of new Opinions, and the great Creed-Makers among Christians, but the Sway they have long had with the People, makes them so considerable an Interest in the Eyes of the Civil Magistrate, that he often finds it not for his Safety to disoblige them. Upon this it is, we see them so Successful in their Solicitations of Publick Authority to give its Sanction to their Opinions and Forms; and not only recommend them (which goes certainly a great Way with the People) but impose their Reception, and that on severe Penalties: Insomuch, that either Men must offer up their Understandings to their Fears, and dissemble Conviction to be safe, or else perish: There is no Medium. Something of this lies near us: God Almighty open our Eyes to see both the Truth and Mischief of this Thing.

But what shall I say of that implicit Reverence the People have for the Clergy, and Dependence upon them about Religion and Salvation; as if they were the only Trustees of Truth, and high Treasurers of Divine Knowledge to the Laity: And we daily see, that the blind Opinion they have of their Office (as that which is peculiar to that Order, and not common to Christians, be their Gifts as they will) disposes them to rely entirely upon their Performances. The Minister is Chooser and Taster and every Thing for them: They seem to have deliver’d up their Spiritual Selves, and made over the Business of Religion, the Rights of their Souls to their Pastor; and that scarcely with any Limitation of Truth too: And as if he were, or could be their Guarantee, in t’other World, they become very insolicitous of any further search here. So that if we would examine the respective Parishes of Protestant as well as Popish Countries, we shall find, and it is come to that sad pass, that very few have any other Religion than the Tradition of their Priest. They have given up their Judgment to him, and seem greatly at their Ease, that they have discharged themselves of the Trouble of Working out their own Salvation and Proving all Things, that they Edition: current; Page: [{200}] might hold fast that which is good.143 And in the Room of that Care bequeath’d the Charge of those Affairs to a standing Pensioner for that Purpose.

Thus the Clergy are become a sort of Mediators betwixt Christ and us, that as we must go to God by Christ, so must we come to Christ by them: They must be, it seems, like the High Priest under the Law, who only enter’d into the Holy of Holies; whose Lips preserved Knowledge; and by them we must understand the Divine Oracle.144 As if the Mysteries of Salvation were not to be intrusted with the Vulgar; or that it were a kind of Prophanation to expose them to their View, and the only way to make them cheap and contemptible to suffer every Christian to have the keeping of them; though they belong to every Christian. But this Language, thanks be to God, is that of Humane Authority that would magnify the Mysteries of Salvation by the Ignorance of those that should know them, as if the Gospel-Dispensation were not that of full Age, but Infancy or Minority.

’Tis true, the State of People under the Law and the Levitical Priesthood is called a State of Bondage, Childhood and Minority, and the Law therefore is term’d a School-master to bring us to Christ; but it is as true, that the State of Christianity is reputed the Age of Grace, Freedom, Manhood and Inheritance by the same Apostle:145 And that we should have external Guardians of our Faith and Religion upon us after we are come to Years of Discretion, that might be very allowable under the feeble State of our Minority, is not to obtain greater Freedom, but to make our Case worse. For it is more tolerable to be used as Children when we are Children, and know nothing above that Condition, than when riper Years have brought us to the Understanding and Resentment of Men. But it is almost as unpardonable as it is unsufferable, to make that Infancy the Perfection of the Christian-Religion, as if there were nothing beyond wearing a Bib and being fed, carried and govern’d as Nurses please; that is, as the Priest will. It is a Knowing and Reasonable, and not a blind Obedience, that commends a Man: Children should be ruled, because they have not so ripe an Understanding or Choice; but because ’tis not so with Men, Reason ought to conduct them in their Duty, that the Service they perform to God, may be such as the Apostle calls a Reasonable one;146 The Edition: current; Page: [{201}] Will is no longer Will if not Free, nor Conscience to be reputed Conscience, where it is compelled. The Gospel is not the Time of Ceremonial Works, but of Faith, therefore not coercive, because out of our own Power; it is the Gift of God.

But though this be very unhappy, that so excellent a Reformation, founded upon the freest Principles of Inquiry, common to all that had Souls to save, should so miserably degenerate into Formality and Ignorance, Implicit Faith and blind Obedience; yet that Part of our History is most lamentable to me, where we find the Noble Bereans, the diligent Inquirers, People that desire to prove all Things, that they may hold fast that which is good;147 such as would see with their own Eyes, and that dare not transfer the Right of Examination of Points that so nearly concern their Immortal Souls to any mortal Man; but who desire to make their Faith and Religion, the Faith and Religion of their Conscience and Judgment, that on which they dare depend and rest their Eternal Happiness in the Day of Judgment: That these, I say, should instead of being cherisht, be therefore exposed to the Displeasure of the Clergy, the Scorn of the Rude Multitude, and the Prosecution of the civil Magistrate, has some thing in it, I confess, is harsh and anxious to remember, and I only do it for this Purpose, that it may put us in mind of our great Declension from Primitive Protestancy, and how much Humane Authority has crept into the Affairs of Religion since that Time of the Day, when we made it a prime Article of our Protestant Creed to reject and renounce it.

And that you may yet see your selves short of your own Pretences, if not contrary to your express Principles, and how much you have narrow’d your selves from the use of your First Principle; let us suppose a Turk is convinced, that Christ is that, which he believed Mahomet to be, the Greatest of all Prophets, That Mahomet was an Impostor, That Jesus is the only Saviour and Mediator; but being Catechistically taught the Two Natures in one Person, the Hypostatical Union, in fine, the Athanasian Creed and other Articles of Faith, or Rites of your Church, not so clearly express’d in Scripture, nor easily apprehended or assented to, will not this poor Creature be looked upon either as Infidel or Heretick, and renounced all share in Christ and Christian Fellowship, because his Weakness or Understanding will not allow him to come up to the full Inventory of Articles believed and imposed by you? Certainly you must either be partial, and give him that Liberty you deny to Persons of equal Edition: current; Page: [{202}] Tenderness, or else you must, after your present Streightness, conclude him Infidel or Heretick, tho’ he believe one God, Christ to be the only Mediator, the Gift of the Spirit, the Necessity of Holiness, Communion and Charity. But I would beseech you that we may consider if this bears any Proportion with the Wisdom and Love of God, in sending Christ into the World to save you and me?

The Apostle became all unto all, to win some;148 but this is becoming all unto none, to force all: he thereby recommends the utmost Condescension that can be lawful; but this Use of Humane Authority seems to make it unlawful to condescend: As if Faith per Force were better than Love; and Conformity, however it be come at, than Christian Condescension:

The blessed Apostle had his Eye to the Good Intention and Sober Life of the Weak; and used an holy Sort of Guile to catch them: He seems as if he dissembled the Knowledge of those averse Opinions which they held, or the Necessity of their embracing those Doctrines, which as yet they might not believe. He fell not to debate and canvass Points in Difference between them, which, instead of Union, would have enflam’d the Difference and rais’d Contention: No, no, he became all unto all, that is, he stooped to all Capacities, and humbled himself to those Degrees of Knowledge that Men had, and valued that which was good in all; and with this Sweetness he practised upon them to their farther Proficiency in the School of Christ. These Allurements were all his Injunctions? Nay, in this Case he makes it an Injunction to use no other: Let us therefore (says he) as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any Thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.149 Which is to say, you shall not be imposed upon, stigmatiz’d or excommunicated for Want of full Satisfaction, or because you do not consent before Conviction; for God shall reveal it to you; you shall see and know what you do, and to God you shall owe your Knowledge and Conformity, and not to Human Authority and Imposition: Your Faith shall not be implicit, nor your Obedience blind, the Reason of your Hope shall be in you.

Pray let us compare this with the Language of our own Times, where because People cannot come up to the Prescriptions of Men, but plead the Liberty of Dissent, though with never so much Sobriety and true Tenderness of Conscience, they are upbraided after this Manner: Are you wiser than your Superiors? Edition: current; Page: [{203}] Were our Fore-fathers out of the Way? Did no body know the Truth ’till you came? Are you abler than all our Ministers and Bishops, and your Mother the Church? Cannot it content you to believe as she believes? Is not this Pride and Presumption in you, a Design to make and head Sects and Parties? with the like Entertainment.

Now this is that which you your selves, at least in the Persons of your Ancestors, have stiled Popery; yea, Popery in the Abstract; to wit, Implicit Faith and Blind Obedience: If so, then say I, let us also have a Case of Popery in Protestant Guise, for that Popery is likely to do us most Injury that is least suspected. I beg you, by the Love of God and Truth, and as you would lay a sure Foundation of Peace here, and eternal Comfort to your own Souls, that you would consider the Tendency of upbraiding and violently over-ruling the Dissent of Conscientious and Peaceable People: For if you will rob me once of the Liberty of my Choice, the Use of my Understanding, the Distinction of my Judgment, no Religion comes amiss; indeed it leads to no Religion. It was the Saying of the Old King to the then Prince of Wales and our present King; Make the Religion of your Education the Religion of your Judgment:150 which to me is of the Nature of an Appeal from his Education to his Judgment about the Truth of his Religion that he was Educated in: And that Religion which is too tender to be examined is unsound: Prove all Things, and hold fast that which is good, lies as an Impeachment against Imposition, deliver’d upon Record by the Apostle Paul in the Name of the Holy Ghost. ’Twas the same Apostle that commended the Bereans of Old, for that they diligently searched the Scriptures, whether those Things, deliver’d by the Apostles concerning the Messiah, were true.151

Nay Christ himself, to whom all Power was given in Heaven and in Earth, submitted himself to the Test: He did not require them to believe him, because he would be believ’d; he refers them to the Witness that God bore to him: If I bear Witness of my self, my Witness is not true. He also sends them to the Scriptures; and pleads the Truth of his Authority from that of his Doctrine and Miracles: If I had not done among them the Works which none other Man did. And finally challenges them to convince him but of one Sin: Which of you convinceth me of Sin? and if I say the Truth, why do ye not believe me?152 Edition: current; Page: [{204}] He offers to Reason the Matter, and submit himself to the Judgment of Truth, and well he might, who was Truth it self.

But an Imposing Church bears Witness of her self, and will be both Party and Judge: She requires Assent without Evidence, and Faith without Proof, therefore false: Christian Religion ought to be carried on only by that Way, by which it was introduced, which was Perswasion; If any Man will be my Disciple, let him take up his Cross and follow me:153 And this is the Glory of it, that it does not destroy, but fairly conquer the Understanding.

I am not unacquainted with the Pretences of Romanists to Abnegation, to a Mortified and Self-denying Life, and I do freely acknowledge, that the Author of the German Theology, Taulerus, Thomas a Kempis, and other Mysticks in that Communion, have written Excellent Practical Things, but there is scarcely any Thing of this Violent Popery in those Tracts:154 On the contrary, the very Nature and Tendency of them is Diametrically Opposite to the compulsory Spirit and Constitution of that Church, and all others that practise Imposition in Religion, whatever name they walk under.

And as it is one great Mark of the false Church to pervert the right End of True Doctrine, so hath she excelled in the Abuse of that Excellent Word Self-denyal: For she hath translated it from Life to Understanding, from Morals to Faith; Subjugare intellectum in Obsequium fidei, to subject the Understanding to the Obedience of Faith, is the perpetual Burden of their Song, and Conclusion of their Conferences. But what is this Faith? That which conquers the World and purifies the Heart? By no Means: But ’tis to believe that the Church of Rome is the True Church, and the Pope Christ’s Vicar, and the Visible Head of that Church.

Thus that Self-denyal which relates to our Wills and Affections in a corrupt State, they apply to the Use of our Understanding about Religion, as if it were the same Thing to deny that which we understand and know to be the Will of God that we should deny, (which is the Christian Self-denyal) and to deny that very Knowledge and Understanding which is God’s Gift and our Honour. Whereas Religion and Reason are so consistent, that Religion can neither be Edition: current; Page: [{205}] understood nor maintain’d without Reason: For if this must be laid aside, I am so far from being infallibly assured of my Salvation, that I am not capable of any Measure or Distinction of Good from Evil, Truth from Falshood. Why? I have no Understanding, or at least, not the Use of any. All the Disadvantage the Protestant is under in this, is that of his greater Modesty, and that he submits his Belief to be tried, which the other refuses, under the Pretence of unaccountable Infallibility; to that Authority Reason Demurs; right Reason I mean; the Reason of the first Nine Verses of the First of John. For so Tertullian, and some other Ancients as well as Modern Criticks, gives us the Word Logos; and the Divine Reason is One in all; that Lamp of God which lights our Candle and enlightens our Darkness, and is the Measure and Test of our Knowledge.

So that whereas some People excuse their Embracing of that Religion by urging the Certainty that is in it, I do say, ’Tis but a Presumption. For a Man can never be certain of that, about which he has not the Liberty of Examining, Understanding or Judging: Confident (I confess) he may be; but that’s quite another Thing than being certain.

Yet I must never deny, but that every Christian ought to believe as the Church believes, provided the Church be true; but the Question is, Which is that true Church? And when that is answer’d, as a Man may Unlawfully Execute a Lawful Sentence, so he may falsly believe as the True Church believes: For if I believe what she believes, only because she believes it, and not because I am convinced in my Understanding and Conscience of the Truth of what she believes, my Faith is false, though hers be true: I say, it is not true to me, I have no Evidence of it.

What is this Church, or Congregation rather (as worthy Tindal every where translates it)155 but a Company of People agreed together in the sincere Profession and Obedience of the Gospel of Christ. Now look what Inducement they severally had to believe and embrace the Gospel and unite into Fellowship, that we must have to join with them: For as they made not one another an infallible Authority to one another, upon which they first embraced the Gospel, neither are we to ground our Belief thereof upon their Authority jointly; but as they had a Rule to believe and commune, so must we have the same Rule to embrace their Communion. So that the Church cannot properly be the Rule Edition: current; Page: [{206}] of my Faith, who have the same Faith, and Object for my Faith, that she has. I argue thus,

I must believe as the Church believes, that is, I must have the same Faith the Church has; then I must have the same Rule, because the Church can be no more the Rule of that Faith, than she can be that Faith of which some would make her the Rule. If then the Church has Faith, and that Faith have a Rule, and that she can no more be the Rule of her own Faith, than she can be that Faith it self, it follows she cannot be the Rule of the Faith of her Members, because those Members have the same Faith, and make up this Church. For that which is the Rule of the Congregation’s Faith in general, must reasonably be the Rule of every Member’s Faith that makes up that Congregation, and consequently of every Member that may hereafter adhere to it. So that to talk of believing as the Church believes, to flourish upon that Self-denyal and Humility, which takes all upon Trust, and revile those with the bitterest Invectives that are modestly scrupulous and act the Bereans for their Souls (who think that Easiness of Nature and Condescention may be better used, and in this Occasion is ill placed and dangerous) is to put the Knife to the Throat of Protestancy; and, what in them lies, to sacrifice it to implicit Faith and blind Obedience. For it cannot be denied but that the great Foundation of our Protestant Religion is the Divine Authority of the Scriptures from without us, and the Testimony and Illumination of the Holy Spirit within us. Upon this Foot the first Reformers stood, and made and maintain’d their Separation from Rome, and freely offered up their innocent Lives in Confirmation. With good Cause therefore it is the general Consent of all sound Protestant Writers, That neither Traditions, Councils, nor Canons of any visible Church, much less the Edicts of any Civil Sessions or Jurisdiction, but the Scriptures only, interpreted by the Holy Spirit in us, give the final Determination in Matters of Religion, and that only in the Conscience of every Christian to himself. Which Protestation made by the first publick Reformers against the Imperial Edicts of Charles the Fifth, imposing Church Traditions without Scripture Authority, gave first Beginning to the Name of Protestant, and with that Name hath ever been receiv’d this Doctrine, which prefers the Divine Authority of the Scripture and Spirit to that of the Church and her Traditions. And if the Church is not sufficient to be implicitly believed, as we hold it is not, what can there else be named of more Force with us, but the Divine Illumination in the Conscience, or Conscience in the best Sense of the Word; than which, God only is greater? But if any Man shall pretend that the Scripture judges, according to his Conceptions or Conscience, Edition: current; Page: [{207}] for other Men, and that they must take their Religious Measures by the Line of his Direction; such a Person makes himself greater than either Church, Scripture or Conscience. And, pray, let us consider if in any Thing the Pope is by our Protestant Divinity so justly resembled to Antichrist, as in assuming Infallibility over Conscience and Scripture, to determine as he thinks fit; and so in effect to give the Law to God, Scripture, Magistrates and Conscience. To this Protestants have, without Scruple, apply’d that to the Thessalonians, Sitting in the Temple of God, exalting himself above all that is called God.156

To check this Exorbitancy; the Apostle Paul demands, Who art thou that judgest another’s Servant? to his own Lord he stands or falls?157 Which showeth with great Evidence, that Christians of all Sizes, great and small, are but Brethren, and consequently, all Superiority, Lordship and Imposition are excluded: But if there be a Difference, ’tis in this, that, as Christ taught, he that is greatest is to be Servant to the rest:158 But what is more opposite to a Servant than a Lord, and to Service than Injunction and Imposition, and that on Penalties too: Here it is that Christ is Lord and Lawgiver, who is only King of this inward Kingdom of the Soul. And it is to be noted that the Apostle did not write this to a private Brother; or in some special Case, but to the Church, as a General and standing Truth, and therefore now as Authentick and proper as then. And if this be true, I cannot see how any, or even the most Part of the Church, that are still but Brethren to the rest, of one voluntary Communion and Profession, can with any Shew of Reason impose upon them; and escape the Reproof of this Scripture: For all Societies are to govern themselves, according to their Institution, and first Principles of Union. Where there is Violence upon this Part, Tyranny and not Order is introduced. Now since Perswasion and Conviction began all true Christian Societies, they must uphold themselves upon the same free Bottom, or they turn Antichristian. I beseech you here, let us examine our selves faithfully, and I am perswaded that something of this will yet appear among some of us, who shew great Reverence to that free Name.

But to make good their unreasonable Conceit of Church-Authority, they object Christ’s Words; go tell the Church,159 that is, say they, The Church is the Rule and Guide of Faith; whatever the Church agrees upon, and requireth your Assent to and Faith in, that you must necessarily believe and submit to. But though, as Edition: current; Page: [{208}] before, it is confest, in a Sense, we must believe as the true Church believes, yet not because she so believes; but for the same Reasons that she her self did and does so believe; in that none can truly believe as she believes; but must do so upon the same Principles and Motives, for which they believed, that first made up that Christian Church. To talk of being the Rule and Guide in Point of Faith, is to contradict Scripture, and justle Christ out of his Office, which is peculiar to him. He is given to his Church an Head, that is, a Councellor, a Ruler, a Judge, and is called a Lawgiver, and says the Apostle, if any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; and the Children of God are led by the Spirit of God.160 And he was Wisdom and Righteousness to the Church Apostolick, and is so to his own Church all the World over. Besides ’tis absurd that the Church can be the Rule and Guide of Faith, for as such, she must be her own Rule and Guide, the Faith of the Members being that of the Church, which cannot be.

But what then can be the Meaning of Christ’s Words, Go tell the Church? Very well. I answer, ’tis not about Faith, but Injury, that Christ speaks; and the Place explains it self, which is this: Moreover, if thy Brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his Fault, between thee and him alone. Here is Wrong, not Religion; Injustice, not Faith or Conscience concerned; as some would have it, to maintain their Church-Power. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy Brother, but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses, every Word may be established; and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an Heathen Man and a Publican. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Heaven, &c. The Matter and Manner of which Passage deliver’d by Christ, shews that he intended not to set up Church Power about Faith and Worship, unto which all must bow, even without, if not against Conviction. The Words Trespass and Fault, prove abundantly, that he meant private and personal Injuries, and that not only from the common and undeniable Signification and Use of the Words Trespass and Fault, but from the Way Christ directs and commands for Accommodation, viz. That the Person wronged, speaks to him that commits an Injury alone, if that will not do, that he take one or two with him; but no Man can think that if it related to Faith and Worship, I ought to receive the Judgment of one, or Edition: current; Page: [{209}] two, or three, for a sufficient Rule. This has not been the Practice, at least not the Principle of the most degenerated Church since the primitive Times; for most, if not all, agree, that nothing lower than the Church can determine about Matters of Faith and even many with Reason cannot go so far; I mean as to Injunction and Imposition. Yet Christ seems to fix a Blame upon him, that complies not with the Person he has offended, and more if he refuse to give Satisfaction, after one or two have also entreated him; but therefore it cannot relate to Matters of Faith and Scruples of Conscience, but Personal and Private Injuries. Which is yet clearer from this Part of Christ’s Saying, viz. That in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses every Word may be established: Which implies a Tryal and Judicial Proceeding, as is customary in civil Cases, about personal and private Trespasses; for it were not so proper to speak of Witnesses on any other Account. This is interpreted, beyond Exception, by the Apostle to the Corinthians, where he reproves and forbids them to go to Law one with another before Unbelievers; arguing thus, Do you not know that the Saints shall judge the World; and if the World shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest Matters?161 This shews the meaning of Church Authority in those Days, and is a natural Exposition upon Christ’s Words, in Case of Trespass and Refractoriness, tell the Church. And ’tis yet the Practice of all Sober, just and quiet People, rather to refer their Controversies to approv’d Men, than to tear one another to Pieces at Law.

But it is worth our Notice, that as any Decision upon an Arbitration, obliges only the Parties to set down content with that award, be it loss or gain, which the Arbitrators think equal, as the next best Way to accomodate Differences, and not that such award should alter their first Thoughts and Opinions they had of their Right, or force them to declare they are of the Arbitrators Mind; so is it most unreasonable, where the Church is only an Arbitrator about personal Trespasses, or Umpire at most, from thence to imagine a Power to determine and impose Faith, and that upon severe Penalties, as well of this World unto which Christ’s Church has no Relation, as of the other World. I say, this very Thing, well weighed, breaks all their Fallacies to Pieces, and decides the Business beyond all Contradiction, between those that stand upon the Spirit within and the Scripture without, on the one Hand, and such as meerly rest upon the Traditions of Men and Authority of the Church, on the other Hand. For, if in an Arbitration, I am not bound to be of the Arbitrators Mind, though Edition: current; Page: [{210}] for Peace Sake I submit to their Award, and that the Church Power, in this Place controverted, relates only to external and personal Trespasses, Injuries or Injustices, as the Place it self plainly proves, there can be no Sense, Reason or Modesty in the Earth, on the Part of those High Church Men, from hence to wring and extort the Power of defining, resolving and imposing upon all People, under temporal and eternal Punishment, Articles of Faith and Bonds of Christian Communion.

I conclude this of the Church, with saying, that ’tis not Identity of Opinion, but Justice, not Religious Uniformity, but Personal Satisfaction that concerns the Text, and therefore Reason, sober Conscience and good Sense may at any Time lawfully insist upon their Claim, to be heard in all their Scruples or Exceptions, without Disrespect to that excellent Doctrine when rightly understood, go tell the Church.

To this, let me add something about this great Word Church. Some Men think they are sure enough, if they can but get within the Pale of the Church, that have not yet considered what it is. The Word Church signifies any Assembly, so the Greeks used it: And it is by worthy Tindal every where translated Congregation. It has a two fold Sense in Scripture. The first and most excellent Sense is that, in which she is called the Body and Bride of Christ. In this Respect she takes in all Generations, and is made up of the Regenerated, be they in Heaven or on Earth, thus Ephes. 1. 22, Ch. 5. 23. to 33. Col. 1: 16, 17, 18. Heb. 12. 22, 23. Rev. 21. 2. Chap. 22. 17. Here Christ only can be Head: This Church is washed from all Sin; not a Spot nor a Wrinkle left: Ill Men have nothing to do with this Church, within whose Pale is only Salvation; nor is this universal and truly Catholick Church capable of being convened to be told of Wrongs or Trespasses. The other Use of that Word in Scripture is always referred to particular Assemblies and Places, that is the Church, which by Christ’s Doctrine, is to be told of Personal Injuries, and whose Determination, for Peace Sake, is to be adher’d and submitted to: They must of Necessity be the adjacent or most contiguous Company of Christian Believers, those to whom the Persons in Difference are by external Society and Communion related: And that such private and distinct Assemblies are called the Church, is apparent from the Acts and Writings of the Apostles: The Church of Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Rome, Galatia, Thessalonica, Crete, &c. Peruse these Places, Acts 5. 11. and 9. 31. and 11. 22. 26. and 14. 23, 27. Rom. 15. 5. 1 Cor. 1. 2. and 4. 17. and 14. 4. Rev. 2. and 3 Chap. By which it plainly appears that the universal and visible Edition: current; Page: [{211}] Church; so much bragg’d of, for the Rule and Judge of Faith, &c. is an upstart Thing, and like mean Families, or ill got Goods, it uses false Heraldry to give it a Title.

For the Apostolick Times, to which all others must vail, and by whom they must be tried, knew no such Conceit: And the Truth is, it was first started, when the Pride of one Man made him ambitious, and his Power able to bid for Headship, Empire and Soveraignty: It was then needful to his being Universal Head, that he should first have an Universal Body. But suppose such a Church there were, ’tis utterly impossible that such a Church could be called together in any one Place; or at any one Time, to be told, or to determine of any Thing: So that yielding the Thing by them desired, ’tis useless and impracticable to the Ends for which they desire it. But alas! who knows not, that loves not to be blind, that the Church among them is the Priesthood? The few cunning Men govern the Majority, and intitle their Conceits the Canons of Christ’s Church, to give them Entrance and Acceptance: And then Humane Power and Force, the Policy and Weapons of this World, must be employed to back their Decrees. And all this comes from the Ignorance and Idleness of the People, that give the Pride and Industry of the Clergy an Opportunity to effect their Designs upon them. For so mean Spirited are the People, as to take all upon Trust for their Souls, that would not trust or take from an Arch-Bishop a brass Shilling or a slit Groat.

’Tis prodigious to think what Veneration the Priesthood have raised to themselves, by their usurpt Commission of Apostleship, their pretended Successions, and their Clink Clank of extraordinary Ordination. A Priest, a God on Earth, a Man that has the Keys of Heaven and Hell; do as he says or be damn’d! What Power like to this? The Ignorance of the People, of their Title and Pretences, hath prepared them to deliver up themselves into their Hands, like a crafty Usurer, that hedges in the Estate on which he has a Mortgage; and thus they make themselves over in Fee to the Clergy, and become their proper Patrimony, instead of being their Care, and they the true Ministers or Servants of the People: So that believing as the Church believes, is neither more nor less than rooking Men of their Understandings, or doing as ill Gamesters are wont to do, get by using false Dice. Come, come, it’s believing as the Priesthood believes, which has made Way for the Offence, wise and good Men have taken against the Clergy in every Age. And did the People examine their Bottom, the Ground of their Religion and Faith, it would not be in the Power of their Leaders to cause them to err. An implicit Veneration to the Clergy Edition: current; Page: [{212}] begun the Misery. What, doubt my Minister, arraign his Doctrine, put him to the Proof! by no Means: But the Consequence of not doing it, has been the Introduction of much false Doctrine, Superstition and Formality, which gave just Occasion for Schism; for the Word has no Hurt in it’s self, and implies only a Separation; which may as well be right as wrong.

But that I may not be taxed with Partiality, or upbraided with Singularity, there are two Men, whose Worth, Good Sense, and true Learning, I will at any Time engage against an entire Convocation of another Judgment, viz. Jacobus Acontius and John Hales of Eaton, that are of the same Mind, who, though they have not writ much, have writ well and much to the Purpose. I will begin with Jacobus Acontius at large, and do heartily beseech my Readers to be more than ordinarily intent in reading what I cite of him; their Care and Patience will be requited by his Christian and very acute Sense.162

It remains that we speak of such Causes of the not perceiving that a Change of Doctrine is introduced, as consist in the Persons that are taught. Now they are chiefly two, Carelesness and Ignorance. Carelesness for the most Part ariseth hence, In that the People trust too much to their Pastors; and perswade themselves, that they will not slip into any Error, and that therefore they have small Need to have an Eye over them, but that they are bound rather to embrace whatsoever they shall hold forth, without any curious Examination. Hereunto may be added many other Businesses, whereunto Men addict themselves: For that Saying is of large Extent, Where Men’s Treasure is, there is their Heart, and that other, No Man can serve two Masters.163 Now, how it may come to pass that after a People hath once had a great Knowledge of Divine Truths, the said Knowledge may as it were vanish away, besides that Cause which hath been even now alledged, we shall in another Place make Discovery of some other Reasons. We shall for the present add only this one, that the People themselves are in a perpetual Kind of Mutation, some daily dying and departing, others succeeding and growing up in their Stead. Whence it comes to pass, That since the Change which is made in every Age is small, either the People cannot perceive it, or if they do observe it, yet they esteem it not of such Moment, as to think fit to move any Edition: current; Page: [{213}] Difference thereabout. This Thing also is of very great Force to keep the People from taking Notice of a Change in Doctrine, when Men shall perswade themselves, that they are not able to judge of Matters of Religion, as though It is, It is not, and other Words used in Scripture, do not signify the same which they do in common discourse; or as if nothing could be understood without some great Knowledge in the Tongues, and Arts or Sciences, and as if the Power of the Spirit were of no Efficacy without these Helps. Whereby it cometh to pass, that whilst they think they understand not even those Things which in some Sort they do understand, being expressed in most clear and evident Words, they do at length arrive to that Blockishness, that they cannot understand them indeed; so that, though they have before their Eyes a Sentence of Scripture so clear, that nothing can be more evident, yet if they to whose Authority they in all Things subject themselves, shall say any Thing Point blank opposite thereunto, they will give Credit unto them, and imagine themselves not to see that which they see as clear as the Light. And by these Means verily it comes to pass, that when the Doctrine of Religion is corrupted, the Mutation is not discover’d. Furthermore, when the Doctrine is once begun to be changed, it must needs be, that out of one Error another should spring and propagate infinitely; and God, for Just Reasons of his own, blinding them, Men bring upon themselves so great Darkness, and slip into such foul Errors, that if God of his Mercy open a Man’s Eyes, and let him see those Errors he lives in, he can scarcely believe himself, or be perswaded that he was ever envelop’d with such blind Errors. Which thing is as true, and as well to be seen in Men of greatest Learning and Experience. If thou shalt thoroughly peruse the Writings of some of the School-men (as they call them) thou shalt in some Places meet with so much Acuteness, as will make thee admire: Thou shalt see them oftentimes cleave a fine Thread into many Parts, and accurately Anatomise a Flea, and a little after fall so foully, and avouch such Absurdities, that thou can’st not sufficiently stand amazed; wherefore we must obey that Advice of the Poet;

    • Principiis obsta, sero medicina paratur,
    • Cum mala per longas invaluere moras,
    • Resist betimes; that Med’cine stays too long,
    • Which comes when Age has made the Grief too strong.
Edition: current; Page: [{214}]

Now there is Need of a double Caution, viz. That there be no Change made in the Doctrine, when it is pure: And if any Change be made, that there be notice taken of it. Now look what change is made in this Kind, all the Blame is laid upon those whose Office it is to instruct the People: For though themselves are the Authors of the Change, yet will the People impute it to the Ministers Sleepiness, and want of Care at least. It concerns therefore the Pastors and Teachers to be Eagle-eyed, and to be very well acquainted with those Causes whereby the Change of Doctrine becomes undiscover’d, and to have them at their Fingers Ends, and to be wary, that on no Hand they may miscarry. Now it will be an excellent Caution for the keeping of Doctrine pure, if they shall avoid all curious and vain Controversies: If they shall set before their Eyes the Scope and End of all Religious Doctrines, and likewise a Series or Catalogue of all such Things as make to the Attainment of that End (of which we formerly spake); if they shall affect, not only the Matter it self, but also, the Words and Phrases which the Holy Ghost in Scripture makes Use of, and exceedingly suspect all different Forms of Speaking. Not that I would have them speak nothing but Hebraisms; for so their Language would not be plain nor intelligible: but I wish that they would shun all such Expressions, as have been invented by overnice Disputants, beyond what was necessary to express the Sense of the Hebrew and Greek, and all those Tenets which Men by their own Wits do collect and infer from the Scriptures. Now of what Concernment this will be, we may gather by this Instance: The Papists think it one and the same Thing to say, The Church cannot Err; and to say in the Words of our Lord, Wheresoever two or three shall be gathered together in my Name, there will I be in the midst of them.164 Yet is the Difference very great, which may thus appear, forasmuch as in Case any one shall conceive the Church to be the Pope, Cardinals, and Bishops anointed by the Pope; he hearing the aforesaid Sentence, will judge, that whatsoever they shall decree, ought to be of Force. But if he shall rather mind the Words of our Lord, and shall consider that those Kind of Men do regard nothing but their own Commodity, Wealth and Dominion; he will be so far from so understanding them, that peradventure not being able to allow the Deeds and Practices of these Men, he will come to hope from those Edition: current; Page: [{215}] Words, That if himself, with some other good Men, loving God with their whole Heart, shall come together, and unanimously implore the Assistance of God, they shall be better able to determine what it is that ought to be believ’d and practised for the Attainment of Salvation, than if they should persist to put their Confidence in such Pastors. Now this Rule, that the Words of the Scripture ought to be used rather than any other, is then especially to be observ’d, when any Thing is delivered as a certain and tryed Truth, or as a Rule of Faith or Life, or out of which any other Thing is to be inferred. For in Expositions and Explanations, as there is need happily of greater Liberty, so is there less Danger if it be taken. For, when as the Word of God, and the Exposition thereof, are at one and the same Time both together in View as it were, there no Man can be ignorant, that the Exposition is the Word of Man, so that he may reject it, in case it seem impertinent. And look, by what Means a Man may hinder the Doctrine of Religion from being changed, by the self-same he may find whether it be changed or no. Now every Man ought to compare the Doctrine of that Age wherein he lives, with no other Doctrine than that which was out of Question spotless, which is the Doctrine of the Apostles. Wherefore, notwithstanding that in our Age the Gospel is as it were revived, yet ought not any Man thus to think, that he ought to Examine whether the Gospel hath not lost any of that Purity whereunto it had at this Time arrived; he ought rather to look again and again, whether some Corruption do not yet remain, whether it be not in some Part as yet not sufficiently restored to its ancient Purity and Lustre; and confidently perswade himself, That he cannot be (that I may so speak) sufficiently superstitious in rejecting every Word which is not in the Scriptures. For as much as Man will ever be more wise and wary than the Holy Spirit, and can very hardly forbear to mingle somewhat from his own Head: So that whatever comes from Man, can never be sufficiently suspected. And because a Thing will be so much the better preserv’d, by how much the Greater is the Number of those that keep it; the People ought often to be put in Mind, that both the Reading of the Scriptures and the Care of Religion belongs not to the Pastors of the Church only; but that every one that would be sav’d ought to make diligent Search, whether any Corruption be already, or is for the future like to be introduc’d; and this to do no less carefully, than if he were perswaded that all beside himself were asleep: And whatsoever is wont to Edition: current; Page: [{216}] take the common People off from such Studies, Care must be taken that that Thing be wholly taken away. Concerning which Matter, we shall more conveniently discourse anon.

Now, Forasmuch as the Profit will be small, if some private Man shall observe that an Error is introduc’d, unless he discover the said Error, and lay it open: there must of Necessity be some Way how this may conveniently be done. Now there cannot be a more fitting Way, than that which the Apostle propounds to the Corinthians. Let two or three Prophets speak, and let the rest judge; and if any thing be revealed to him that sits by, let the former be silent. For ye may all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted.165 If some one Person shall always speak in the Church, and no Man at any Time may contradict him, it will be a very strange Thing, if that one Man be not puffed up, if he do not fall into such a Conceit of himself, as to think that he is the only Man, that he only hath Understanding, he alone is wise: That all the rest are a Company of Brute Animals as it were, who ought to depend only upon him, and to do nothing but learn of him. And if any Man shall think, that himself likewise hath some Ability to teach, he will account that Man an heinous Offender. But what says the Apostle to this? Did the Word of God come from you? or came it unto you only? If any seem to be a Prophet, or Spiritual; let him acknowledge what I write unto you to be the Commands of the Lord. But if any one be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore Brethren, labour that ye may Prophecy, and forbid not to speak with Tongues, let all Things be done decently and in order.166 It is exceedingly to be lamented, that this Custom, and the Practise of this Command of the Lord, is not again restored into the Churches, and brought into Use. But some Men may say, Such is the Rashness of this Age of ours, such the Boldness, such the Impudence, that if it were allowed to every one to speak in the Congregation, there will be no End of Brawls and Contention. Why so? Is a Man another Kind of Creature now, than what he was of Old? Thou wilt say, He is: For Mankind hath continually degenerated, grown worse and worse, and seems now to have attained the Top of Corruption. Is it so indeed? But, suppose it to be so; Thou that art the Teacher of the People, art not thou also thy self made of the Edition: current; Page: [{217}] same Mold? Art not thou born in the same Age? Inasmuch as this Ordinance principally was intended to keep Pastors within the Bounds of Modesty that they may understand that they are not the Authors of the Word of God, that they have not alone received the Spirit: By how much the more Mankind hath degenerated, by so much the greater Need is there thereof; for that there is now more Rashness, Arrogance, Pride, than of Old; this is true, as well of the Pastors and Teachers, as of the rest of the People. Art thou a Prophet? Hast thou any Portion of the Spirit? If thou hast not, so unfitting it is, that thou alone should’st speak in the Congregation, that there will hardly be found any that deserves rather to be silenc’d, than thy self. But if thou art a Prophet, if thou hast the Spirit, mark what the Apostle says, Acknowledge (quoth he) that those Things which I write, are the Commandments of the Lord. Go to then, On the one Side we have the Judgment of our Lord, willing that Prophecy (for this is a Word that we are obliged to use) should be common to all, and that not for the Destruction, but the Salvation of the Church: On the other Side, we have thy Judgment, who fearest least that may breed Contention and Confusion; whose Judgment now ought we rather to stand to? If thou shalt conceive we must stand to thine, consider what thou assumest unto thy self, and what will become of thy Modesty. Our Lord, it should seem, understood not what a Kind of Creature Man was; he wanted thy Wisdom belike, to admonish him of the Danger; or haply he thought not upon that Corruption which should befal Mankind, whereby such a Liberty might prove unprofitable. But Paul answers thee, That God is not the Author of Contention, but of Peace:167 Who well knowing what might move Contentions, what begat Peace, and not loving nor willing to have Contention, but Peace, willed that this Liberty of Prophecy should be in the Church. What can’st thou say to the contrary? What hast thou to object against God himself, wilt thou accuse him of Indiscretion? No Man hath so wicked a Tongue, as to dare to do it, Yet if thou shalt diligently search thine Heart, thou shalt find there a certain Disposition ready to contend even with God himself: Which Motion of thy Heart, must by no Means be hearken’d unto, but sharply repressed, and wholly subjected to the Spirit of God. It may seem peradventure an absurd Thing, that after some very learned Person hath Edition: current; Page: [{218}] spoken, some contemptible Person shall be allow’d to contradict him. Can such a Person so do without great Rashness and Temerity? Were I to speak according to the Judgment of Man, verily I could not deny it. But if we be really perswaded, that the Knowledge of Matters Divine, ought not to be attributed to our Watchings, Studies, Wits, but to God and to his Spirit, wherewith he can in a Moment endue the simplest Person in the World, and that with no more Labour or Difficulty than if he were to give it to one that had spent Nestor’s Age in Study.168 What Reason is there for me to judge that this Man does rashly and unadvisedly, if he shall arise and contradict? Is not the Spirit able to reveal somewhat to him, which he hath hidden from thee? Now, if the Spirit have revealed somewhat to him, and to that End revealed it that he might contradict, that by his Means the Thing may be revealed to the Church; shall I say that he hath done rashly in obeying the Holy Ghost? And if thou think otherwise, verily thou art not perswaded that the Spirit is the Author and Teacher of this Knowledge, but that all the Praise thereof is due to Studies, Watchings, and the Wits of Men. And if this be thy Judgment, I tell thee again, that thou art not only unworthy to be sole Speaker, but worthy rather to be the only Person not permitted to speak in the Congregation.

And that thou mayst the better understand, that the most unlearned ought to be allowed to speak, consider, God will have himself to be acknowledged the Author of his own Gifts: He will not have his Praise attributed unto our Studies or Wits, but unto himself. But if the Man that hath spent all his Life in Study, speak wisely, it is not attributed to God, but to Study: In Word, perhaps, it may be attributed to God, yet not without a vehement Reluctancy of our Judgment; and this is that which, I say, God will not abide. But if so be thou shalt hear a wise Word come out of the Mouth of some unlearned Person, thou must needs, whether thou wilt or no, acknowledge God to be the Author thereof. So, when God was minded to give unto Israel a Victory against the Midianites, under the Conduct of Gideon; and Gideon had gathered together Thirty Thousand Men, lest the Israelites should boast that they had gotten the Victory by their own Strength, and not by the Assistance of God, (which might have been conceived, if Gideon had fought with so numerous an Edition: current; Page: [{219}] Army) he would not suffer him to have above Three Hundred, that it might appear that he was the Cause of the Victory, and not the Number or Valour of those that fought.169 Now, besides the Glory of God, hereby great Profit does accrue to the Church, For if the People shall see now one Man, now another, endued with the Spirit, beyond all Expectation; many will thereby be encouraged to hope for the same Gift, if they shall ask it: many will learn and profit; and it will thereby come to pass, that when Occasion shall be to choose a Minister, the Church shall not need to call strange and unknown Persons to that Office, but she may have of her own such as are fit to be chosen; Men whose Conversation and Manners are sufficiently known. And when the Number of such as are able to prophecy, shall be great, the Church will not be forced to use such Pastors as from their very Childhood have proposed to themselves such Office as the Reward of their Studies; and addicted themselves to the Study of Scripture and Religion, no otherwise then they would have done to some Trade, whereby they meant in Time to get their Living: So that a Man can expect but very few of them to prove other than Mercenary or Hireling Pastors.

Now, that it was the Custom of the Jewish Church, that all might thus Prophesie, we may hence conjecture, in that it is upon Record, Luke 4, how our Lord, upon the Sabbath-day, according to the Custom, came into the Synagogue, took a Book and expounded a place of Esay; and how, being twelve Years of Age, he sate at Jerusalem in the Temple among the Doctors, and did Dispute. For he could not so do by virtue of any ordinary Office, forasmuch as his Age was uncapable, neither did the Doctors know who he was. Yea rather, our Lord in so doing must needs make use of the Power which was granted to every one to speak. It remained in the Christians Congregations until the Times of Constantine at the least. Forasmuch as we have these Words of Eusebius, the Writer of Church Affairs, to that Effect: If any Man inspired by the Grace of God, should speak unto the People, They all with great Silence, fixing their Eyes upon him, gave such Attention, as if he had brought them some Errand from Heaven. So great was the Reverence of the Hearers, such order was seen among the Ministers. One after another, another after him. Neither were there only two or three that prophesied, according to what the Edition: current; Page: [{220}] Apostle said, but to all was given to speak; so that the Wish of Moses seems rather to have been fulfilled in them, when he said, Would God all the People might Prophecy.170 There was no Spleen, no Envy, the Gifts of God were dispensed, every one according to his Ability, contributing his Assistance for the Confirmation of the Church: And all was done with Love, in such sort, That they strove mutually to honour each other, and every one to prefer another before himself. But to the End this common Prophecying may be profitable to the Church, we must diligently mark what the Apostle advises. For a sure Thing it is, that the Pride of Man is so great, that whatever hath once fallen from him, he will by any Means have it stand for a Truth; neither can he suffer that any Man should infringe the same. So that if he might be permitted to judge, that last spake, it will be a Miracle if a Man in his Life Time should see any one give way to him that contradicts him: What is Paul’s Advice therefore in this Case? Let two or three Prophets speak, and let the rest judge. He will not therefore have the same Persons to be Parties and Judges. And he adds a little after, And the Spirit of the Prophets, is subject to the Prophets; for God is not the Author of Dissension, but of Peace.171 So that as soon as any Man hath spoken his own Mind, he ought to rest himself satisfied with the Judgment of the rest, and not obstinately to make no End of contending: If this be not done, a sure Thing it is; there will be no End of Strife. But what if any Man will not be content to submit to the Judgment of the rest: Verily I would avouch, that being sharply admonished, that he disturb not the Congregation, and that he go not against the Command of the Apostle, or rather of our Lord, commanding the Spirits of the Prophets to be subject to the Prophets, he ought to be cast out of the Society, though he should hold the prime Place in the Congregation. The People likewise must frequently be admonished, that Liberty for any one to speak in the Congregation, is not therefore granted by the Apostle, to the end every one should speak what comes to his Tongue’s End, as if he were in a Market; but whereas he gives Liberty to him to speak to whom any Thing is revealed, he would have all Rashness and Impudence to be laid aside. He that reverences not the Church of God, let that Man know, he despiseth the Spirit of God, who Edition: current; Page: [{221}] is President there; and shall be sure not to escape unpunished. Before a Man propounds any Thing to the Church, he ought to consider again and again, how sure a Manifestation he hath of that Thing, and whatever the Matter be, let him be sure not to forget a sober, modest, bashful Behaviour, without which Virtues, doubtless no good can be effected. But here we must attentively consider, both how far a Man ought to submit to the Judgment of the Congregation, and who may deservedly be accounted a Troubler of the Church. Verily, I conceive a Man ought so far to give way, as that after I have alledged what I had to say for my Opinion, if yet the rest shall not allow of my Judgment, I ought to give over defending of it, and cease to be troublesome to the Congregation concerning the same: But I ought not to be compelled to confess that I have erred, nor to deprecate any fault, while I do not yet understand that I have erred, for so I should sin against God. He therefore is a Troubler of the Church, that will not, so far as we have expressed, submit to the Judgment of the Church, but goeth on to be troublesome; but especially that Man who would exact of another that which he ought not to do; viz. to recant, being not perswaded that he is in an Error. But those Men are commonly reputed Troublers of the Church, who refuse to ratifie whatever shall any Ways fall out of the Pastors Mouths. Again, in this Place it may reasonably be demanded, whether, when that a Matter hath been once or twice debated, and some Man, knowing the Judgment of the Congregation, would again reduce it into Controversie, he ought to be heard, or enjoyned Silence, and take the Matter for determined: But of this we shall in another Place more conveniently dispute. That which remains therefore, is, that we wrestle with God, by daily Prayers, to grant that we may have the Use of this so soveraign and saving Liberty, so profitable to the Church, and that thereby we may reap Abundance of Fruit. And that he would, to that end, break and tame our Spirits with his Spirit, and render them mild and gentle: and not suffer, what he hath ordained for the Confirmation and Establishment of his Church, to be, by the Stubbornness and Perversness of our Wits and Minds, turned to the Mischief and Destruction thereof.

With much more to the same Purpose, too large to be here inserted.

What I have cited, makes an Apology, for doing so, needless; His whole Book is a most accurate Account of Satan’s Stratagems, to cause and keep up Edition: current; Page: [{222}] Divisions among Christians; deserving a first Place with the most Christian Writers since the Apostolical Times. He was an Italian, of excellent Natural and Supernatural Endowments, banisht about Luther’s Time for the Gospel.

Let us now inform our selves of the Judgment of that great Man of our own Country J. Hales of Eaton in his Treatise of the Power of the Keys.172 Upon the Matter in hand, viz.

To your second Query, Whether the Keys were confined to the Apostles only? The answer is in no case hard to give, it may perchance, in some case, be dangerous; for there is a Generation of Men in the World, the Clergy they call them, who impropriate the Keys unto themselves, and would be very angry to understand, that others from themselves should claim a right unto them. To your Question then, no doubt but originally none received the Keys from the Mouth of our Saviour, but the Apostles only; none did or ever could manage them with that Authority and Splendor, as the Apostles did, who were, above all most amply furnished with all Things fitting so great a Work. For whereas you seem to intimate, that the preaching Mission was communicated to others, as the seventy two Disciples, as well as the Apostles, you do but mistake your self, if you conceive that the Keys of the Gospel were any way committed to them: For concerning the Mystery of Jesus Christ, and him crucified for the Sins of the World (wherein, indeed, the opening the Kingdom of Heaven did consist) They received it not, they knew it not. To be the prime Reporters of this, was an Honour imparted only to the Apostles: Yet were they not so imparted, as that they should be confin’d to them. Every one that heard and received the Light of the saving Doctrine from them, so far forth as he had understanding in the Ways of Life, had now the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven committed to his Power, both for his own and others use. Every one, of what State or Condition soever, that hath any occasion offered him, to serve another in the Ways of Life, Clergy, or Lay, Male or Female, whatever he be, hath these Keys, not only for himself, but for the Benefit of others. For if Natural Goodness teach every Man, Lumen de Lumine, Erranti comiter monstrare viam, &c.173 Edition: current; Page: [{223}] then how much more doth Christian Goodness require of every one, to his Ability, to be a Light to those who sit in Darkness, and direct their steps, who most dangerously mistake their Way? To save a Soul, every Man is a Priest. To whom I pray you, is that said in Leviticus, Thou shalt not see thy Brother Sin, but shalt reprove, and save thy Brother?174 And if the Law binds a Man, when he saw his Enemies Cattel to stray, to put them in their Way; How much more doth it oblige him to do the like for the Man himself? See you not how the whole World conspires with me in the same Opinion? Doth not every Father teach his Son, every Master his Servant; every Man his Friend? How many of the Laity in this Age, and from time to time in all Ages, have by writing for the publick good, propagated the Gospel of Christ, as if some secret Instinct of Nature had put into Men’s Minds thus to do, &c.

To this let me add his Sense of the Force of the Fathers Authority in the Decision of Controversies, and how far the Ancients, whether Fathers or Councils, ought to be interested in the Debates of these Times, which may not be improper to the present subject, because not a few build upon their Bottom, the Clergy to be sure, that pretend to direct the rest.175

You shall find (says he) that all Schisms have crept into the Church by one of these three Ways; either upon Matter of Fact, or Matter of Opinion, or Point of Ambition. For the first; I call that Matter of Fact, when something is required to be done by us, which either we know or strongly suspect to be unlawful; so the first notable Schism, of which we read, in the Church, contained in it Matter of Fact; For it being, upon Error, taken for necessary that an Easter must be kept; and upon worse than Error, if I may so speak, (for it was no less than a Point of Judaism, forced upon the Church upon worse than Error, I say) thought further necessary, that the ground for the Time of our keeping that Feast, must be the Rule left by Moses to the Jews; there arose a stout Question, Whether we were to Celebrate with the Jews, on the fourteenth Moon, or the Sunday following? This Matter, though most unnecessary, most vain, yet caused as great a Combustion, as ever was in the Church, The Edition: current; Page: [{224}] West separating and refusing Communion with the East, for many Years together.176 In this Fantastical Hurry, I cannot see, but all the World were Schismaticks: Neither can any Thing excuse them from that Imputation; excepting only this, that we charitably suppose that all Parties, out of Conscience, did what they did.

A Thing which befel them through the Ignorance of their Guides, for I will not say their Malice, and that through the just Judgment of God, because through Sloth and Blind Obedience, Men examined not the Things which they were taught, but like Beasts of Burden, patiently couched down, and indifferently underwent whatsoever their Superiors laid upon them. By the Way, by this you may plainly see the Danger of our Appeal unto Antiquity, for Resolution in Controverted Points of Faith, and how small Relief we are to expect from thence. For if the Discretion of the chiefest Guides and Directors of the Church, did in a Point so trivial, so inconsiderable, so mainly fail them, as not to see the Truth in a Subject, wherein it is the greatest Marvel how they could avoid the Sight of it; can we, without Imputation of extream Grosness and Folly, think so Poor Spirited Persons, competent Judges of the Questions now on Foot, betwixt the Churches? Pardon me! I know not what Temptation drew that Note from me.

How these Two worthy Men will come off, I can’t tell: They have ventured fairly, and yet I think their Case not hazardous at all. You have them in three Points plain. First, That relying upon the Clergy as Guardians of Truth to the People, and the People’s not examining the Truth of Things from them, is not Apostolical, but Apostatical. Secondly, That no Councils or Fathers ought to be the Rule or Judge of our Faith. Thirdly, That to Save Souls, every Man is a Priest: That is, the People are interested in the Christian Ministry, which is not tied to Times, Places, Persons and Orders, as under the Law; but free to all that have obtained Mercy and Grace from God. And therefore Peter calls the Believers, 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9. an Holy and Royal Priesthood. So that every Believer is a Priest to himself under the Gospel. But all this I have mentioned with design, if it be possible, to beat Men off that superstitious and dangerous Veneration they carry to the Names of Church, Priesthood, and Fathers; as if they were to be saved by them, and not by Christ, who is the Only Head and Saviour Edition: current; Page: [{225}] of the True Church, and God over all, Blessed for ever. And truly, when I consider the wide Dependence some People have upon the Church, whilst they know not what She is, and make it a Principle not to enquire, I am amaz’d, and often struck with Horror, to observe with what Confidence they expose their Souls. This Principle it is, and not Enquiry, that makes Men careless and unactive about their own Salvation. But let none deceive themselves, as they Sow they shall Reap, Gal. vi. 5. 7. Every one must bear his own Burden. ’Tis not to be saved to be within the Pale of any Visible Church in the World. That is putting an Eternal Cheat upon our selves. Ill Things are ill Things, within or without the Pale: That matters not; and as Sin can’t be Christened, nor Impiety reconciled to Christianity by any Arts of Men, So the Wages of Sin will be Death, Rom. vi. 23. Eternal Death. To be therefore of the Church of which Christ is Head, the Redeemed, Regenerated Church of Christ, is quite another Thing, than to be of any Visible Society whatever; for in all such Communions there are, but too many, that have no True Title to Christianity. If then that Immaculate Church, of which Christ is Head, be made up only of Holy and Regenerated Souls throughout the Societies of Christians, this will administer but little Comfort to those, that presume upon their being within the Pale of the Visible Church, that are without the Pale of Virtue and Holiness.

But to proceed to those Scriptures that are irreconcileable to implicit Faith and Blind Obedience: He that believeth, hath the Witness in himself, 1 John v. 10. This General Rule respects no Persons: It is the Result of the Holy Ghost to all Believers. Such have no Need to go to Rome, nor Winifred’s Well,177 to the Shrines of Saints, the Priests, nor the Church, for a Proof of their Faith. They have an Evidence nearer Home: They have the Witness of their Faith, and the Reason of their Hope in themselves.

It is true, this is a Private Judge; but (as it happens) ’tis one of the Holy Ghost’s setting up; of all Things, I confess, most destructive to Papacy, no Doubt; for there is a Judge in every Man, that sincerely believes, to whom he must stand and fall in this and the other World. For (saith the Apostle) If our Heart condemn us, God is greater than our Heart, and knoweth all Things: Beloved, if our Heart condemn us not, then have we Confidence towards God. Edition: current; Page: [{226}] 1 John iii. 20, 21. That is, the Witness in our selves discharges us. The Spirit beareth Witness with our Spirits, that we are the Children of God, Rom. viii. 16. and Sons of the True Church: Not She that hath fatted her self with the Flesh of Saints, and died her Garments in the Blood of Martyrs, who hath Merchandized in the Souls of Men: But of that Church which is Crowned with Stars, and Cloathed with the Sun, and has the Moon under her Feet. A Church of Light and Knowledge, of Understanding and Truth, and not of implicit Faith and blind Obedience: One that tramples upon all Sublunary Glory, and not she that makes her Pretences to Religion a Decoy to catch the Empire of the World.

Of like Tendency is that Notable Passage of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xiii. v. Examine your selves, whether ye be in the Faith; prove your own selves: Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be Reprobates? Here is not a Word of the Pope, nor an External Judge; no Humane Inquisition or Authority. Examine your selves, whether ye be in the Faith? Prove your own selves: But which Way shall we do this? By Christ, who is the Great Light, that shines in our Hearts, to give us the Knowledge of God and our selves: He that believes in him, has the Witness in himself; he is no Reprobate; his Heart condemns him not.

To which I will add another Passage to the same Purpose, in his Epistle to the Galatians, Gal. vi. 4, 5. But let every Man prove his own Work, then shall he have Rejoycing in himself alone, and not in another: For every Man shall bear his own Burden. Here every Man is enjoyned to turn Inquisitor upon himself; and the Reason rendred shews the Justice of the Thing; because my Rejoycing must be in my self alone, and not in another. I stand and fall to no Man; such as I Sow, I must Reap at the Hand of God, if Paul say true. Men’s Pardons are Vain, and their Indulgences Fictious; For every Man shall bear his own Burden in that Great Day of the Lord. It cannot therefore be Reasonably thought that another Man should have the keeping of my Understanding at my Eternal Cost and Charge, or that I must entirely depend upon the Judgment of a Man or Men, who erring, (and thereby causing me to err) cannot be Damned for me, but I must pay their Reckoning at the Hazard of my own Damnation.

I am not unacquainted with the great Objection that is made by Roman Catholicks, and some Protestants too, High Church-Men perhaps, That Love the Treason, but hate the Traytor; That like this Part of Popery, but hate the Pope, viz. There are Doubts in Scripture, even about the most important Points of Faith: Some Body must guide the Weak; there must be some One Ultimate, Edition: current; Page: [{227}] External, and Visible Judge to appeal to, who must determine and conclude all Persons as to their Doubts and Apprehensions concerning the Interpretation of Scripture; otherwise, So many Men, so many Minds; the Church would be filled with Controversie and Confusion.

I Answer, That the Scriptures are made more doubtful than they are, by such as would fain preserve to themselves the Umpirage and Judgship of their Meaning. I deny it in Point of Fact, that Man’s Duty is not most plainly exprest in all that concerns Eternal Salvation. But ’tis very strange, that when God intends nothing more by the Scriptures, than to reach the Capacities of Men, as to Things on which their Eternal Salvation depends, that no Book, if such Men say true, should be so obscure, or subject to so many various, nay, contradictory Constructions. Name me one Author, Heathen, Jew, or Christian, that ever wrote with that Obscurity and seeming Inconsistency, which some gladly pretend to find in the Holy Scripture, that they might have the use and keeping of them from the Vulgar, and make their own Ends by it. Is then every Body’s Book to be understood but God’s? Was that Writ not to be understood? In short, One of these Two Things must be True; Either that God intended not to be understood, or to be understood, in what he commanded to be written. If he resolved Not to be understood, it had been better there had been nothing writ; for then there had been no Doubts about the Meaning of it; but if it was his Purpose To be understood of Men, it must be supposed, that what he caused to be written, was plain enough for Men to understand, or he mist his own Aim and End, and writ it to no Purpose, which were too low and absurd a Thought of the Infinite Goodness and Wisdom.

If it should be told me, That it is not denied but that the Scriptures may be understood by some Body, but not by every Body, for that the Great, Visible Judge must needs understand them, because it belongs to his Office to resolve those Doubts, and determine those Controversies that may arise about understanding them, but not every one that reads them.

Answ. I must also say, that this is not True in Fact: For it is ridiculous to imagine, that Luke did not make Theophilus his own Judge in the reading of what he writ to him,178 or that the Apostles in writing to the several Churches, as Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, &c. to whom they directed their Epistles, did not intend that they should understand what they writ, or that they erected any such Officer in the Church, as an Expounder of their Epistles to the Assembly Edition: current; Page: [{228}] to be necessarily believed. For we know in those Days, the People made the Church, they were the χληρός the Clergy, however it came about that it be now engrossed into fewer Hands, as you may see in the Greek of Peter, 1 Pet.v.4. Μηδ’ ὡς κατακυριεύοντες τῶν κλήρων, which κλήρων, is Translated Heritage in all our Bibles. But this is as if the Priests only were the Lord’s Heritage; which can’t be, for a Reason obvious to all, namely, that they have long reign’d as Lords over God’s Heritage, or Clergy, forbid expresly by Peter, therefore not the Heritage and Clergy over which they so Rule like Lords; by no Means. I will say no more but this, ’tis no Convincing Proof to me of their Humility. But to shut up this Argument about the Difficulty of Understanding the Scripture, and pretended Necessity of a Visible Judge; I say, Whatsoever may be spoken, may be written; or thus; Whatsoever a Visible Judge can now say, the Holy Penmen by God’s Direction might have written; and what an Omniscient and Omnipotent God did know, and could do for Man’s Salvation, an Omnibenevolent God, that tells us, He delights not in the Death of one Soul, but rather that he should be saved, would certainly have done for Man. And because God is as Omnibenevolent, as Omniscient and Omnipotent, we must conclude he has done it; and ’tis great Presumption, and a mean Shelter to Ignorance or Ambition, to raise a Credit to Human Devices, by beating down the True Value of the Scriptures.

They are dark; What follows? They must not be read? What follows then? Why then such Teachers may do as they list with the People. But did the Pharisees, with their broad Phylacteries, know God’s Mind better than the Prophets?179 Or could they deliver it clearer? No such Matter: It is by the same strange Figure, that the School-Men know the Mind of Christ better than the Apostles, and that the Council of Trent can declare Faith more clearly than the Holy Ghost in the Scripture hath done; and yet this is the English of their Doctrine, that hold to us those Lights to read the Scripture by; and that would have us search their Canons and Decrees, to find out the Mind of the Holy Ghost in Scripture.

The Confusions that are pretended to follow such an Enquiry, are but the wretched Arts of Selfish Men, as much as in them lies, to keep Light and Truth out of the World. When the Net was cast into the Sea, there came some Good, some Bad Fish; it was not the Fisher’s Fault they were no better. Enquiry is not to be blamed for the ill Use weak, or worse Men, make of it. The Bereans Edition: current; Page: [{229}] might not all believe, though they might all search;180 for Men don’t enquire with equal Wisdom, Love, and good Desire: Some seek and find not, some ask and receive not; James iv.3. therefore must none ask or seek after that which is Good? Or because some ask or seek amiss, will it follow that the Thing it self is naught? If Superstition, Error, Idolatry, and Spiritual Tyranny be detected, and Truth discover’d, will it not more than make amends for all that Weakness and Folly some Men have brought forth by the Liberty of such an Enquiry? The Enemies of Light may be as Rhetorical as they please upon the Excess or Presumption of some, Bolder than Wise, and more Zealous than Knowing, but if they had nothing to lose by the Discovery, they would never be the Enemies of a Christian Search. It is to be fear’d, such get that Obedience and Subjection by a blind Devotion, which no Man could yield them upon better Information; And is it Reasonable that Men of that Stamp, should secure their Empire by the Ignorance of the People? Ignorance ought to be the Mother of Devotion with none but those that cannot be Devout upon better Terms: It is the Glory of a Man that he is Religious upon Reason, and that his Duty and (Lev. 22. 18, 29.) Sacrifice, are not Blind or forc’d, but Free and Reasonable. Truth upon Knowledge, though vext with Schism, Wise and Good Men will chuse before ignorant Religion, and all it’s Superstitious Effects with Uniformity. Enough of this.

But this Notion Of an Infallible Visible Judge, is as False in Reason as in Fact. For first, it takes away the Use of every Man’s Reason, and it is a Contradiction to have any, unless he were such an Interpreter, and such a Judge, as would conclude us by Conviction, and not by Authority: That would be the most Welcome Person in the World. But to over-rule my own Sight, to give the Lye to my own Understanding, say, Black is White, and that Two and Three make Ten; thus Subjugare intellectum in Obsequium fidei; to yield my Understanding to such an In-evident Way of Faith, nay, which is worse, to believe a Lye, for so it is to them, to whom the Thing to be believed, appears Untrue, is most Unreasonable.

If we must be Led, it had been easier for us to have been born Blind, we might then have better follow’d the Dog and the Bell; for we could not mend our selves; but to See, and to be Led; and that in Ways we see to be foul or wrong, this is Anxious. Here lies the Dispute: And truly here the Question might fairly end, Either put out our Eyes, or let us use them: But if we have Eyes for our Edition: current; Page: [{230}] Minds as well as for Bodies, I see no Reason why we should trust any Man, or Men, against the Eyes of our Understanding, any more than we ought to confide in them against the Sense and Certainty of the Eyes of our Bodies.

Where is the poorest Mechanick that would be paid his Labour in base Coin for Silver, by either Pope or Bishop? And can we be so Brutish, as to think our Nobler Part void of Distinction, about that Treasure which is of Eternal Moment. For though Peter was to feed the Sheep, yet the Sheep were not to follow Peter, but Christ.181 My Sheep hear my Voice, says he, and follow me, and a Stranger they will not follow, John x. 14. Here is no Mediator betwixt Christ and his Sheep; nor does any Body else hear his Voice for them; but they hear his Voice themselves. And though the Shepherd may have many Servants, yet He only is their Shepherd, and they are only the Sheep of his Fold.

But there are three Places of Scripture, that come fresh into my Remembrance, that are very pertinent to the present Occasion. The first is this, Rom. i. 19. That which may be known of God, is manifest in Men, for God hath shewed it unto them: That is, The Spirit of Man being the Candle of the Lord, Prov. xx. 27. God hath enlightned it to manifest unto Man, what is necessary for him to know both of God and himself. Here is no Need of Wax-Candles, or Tapers, or a Visible Guide and Church; for still, He that believes, has the Witness in himself.

Another Passage is this: Be ye Followers of me, even as I am also of Christ, 1 Cor. xi. 1. In which the Apostle is so far from setting himself up a Judge over the Church of Corinth, that he makes his Appeal to them concerning his Doctrine and Conversation, regulating both by that of His Lord Jesus Christ, and making them Judges of the Truth of his Conformity to that Example. Be ye Followers of me: How? After what Manner? What! Absolutely, without Examination? Must we believe Thee without any Trial, and take what thou sayest for granted, without any more to do? No such Thing. Be ye Followers of me, even as I also am of Christ: I submit my self to be judg’d by you according to that Rule; and all Men and Churches are to be thus measur’d, that lay Claim to the Name of Christian: The Text will bear it.

The Third Passage is in his Second Epistle to the same Church of Corinth; ’tis this; 2 Cor. 4. 1, 2. Therefore seeing we have this Ministry, as we have received Mercy, we faint not: but have renounced the hidden Things of Dishonesty, not walking in Craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by Manifestation of the Truth, commending our selves to every Man’s Conscience in the Sight Edition: current; Page: [{231}] of God. Here is the utmost Imposition the Apostle makes Use of: He requires not Men to receive him without Evidence, and refers himself to that of their own Consciences in the Sight of God. This was the Way of making Christians then; it must be the Way of keeping and making Men Christians now.

Conscience, in the best Sense of the Word, has ever been allowed to be a Bond upon Men in all Religions: But that Religion, whoever holds it, which under Pretence of Authority, would supersede Conscience, and instead of making Men better, the End of Religion, make them worse, by confounding all Sense and Distinction betwixt Good and Evil, and resolving all into an implicit Faith and blind Obedience unto the Commands of a visible Guide and Judge, is false, it cannot be otherwise. For to admire what Men don’t know, and to make it a Principle not to inquire, is the last Mark of Folly in the Believer, and of Imposture in the Imposer. To be short, a Christian implies a Man, and a Man implies Conscience and Understanding; but he that has no Conscience nor Understanding, as he has not, that has deliver’d them up to the Will of another Man, is no Man, and therefore no Christian.

I do beseech you Protestants of all Sorts, to consider of the Danger of this Principle, with Respect to Religion. Of Old ’twas the Fool that said in his Heart, there is no God?182 But now, upon this Principle, Men must be made Fools in Order to believe there is one. Shall Folly, which is the Shame, if not the Curse of Man, be the Perfection of a Christian? Christ indeed has advised us to become as little Children,183 but never to become such Fools; for as the Proverb is, this is to be led by the Nose, and not by our Wits. You know that God hates the Sacrifices of Fools: Eccle. 5. 1. I will pray with the Spirit and with Understanding also, saith the Apostle. 1 Cor. 14. Let us commend that Testimony, which we believe to be true, to the Consciences of Men, and let them have the Gospel Privilege of Examination. Error only loses upon Tryal: If this had been the Way to Christianity, with Reverence be it spoken, God had not made our Condition better, but worse; for this translates our Faith and Dependence upon God, to Man; and the Possibility, if not Probability of Mans erring, exposes us to a greater Insecurity than before: For where I never trusted, I never could be deceived: But if I must abandon my own Sense and Judgment, and yield my self up to the Faith and Authority of another (to say no more of the Blindness and Lameness of such Belief and Devotion) what Security can I have, that the Edition: current; Page: [{232}] Man or Men whom I trust, may not err, and deceive me? And that Deceit is irreparable.

Again, since Man is a reasonable Creature, and that the more reasonable he is in his Religion, the nearer to his own being he comes, and to the Wisdom and Truth of his Creator, that did so make him: A Religion without Reason, imposed by an unaccountable Authority, against Reason, Sense and Conviction, cannot be the Religion of the God of Truth and Reason: For it is not to be thought that he requires any Thing that carries any Violence upon the Nature of his Creature, or that gives the Lye to that Reason or Sense with which he first endowed him. In short, either convince my Understanding by the Light of Truth and Power of Reason, or bear down my Infidelity with the Force of Miracles: For not to give me Understanding or Faith, and to press a Submission that requires both, is most unreasonable.

But if there were no other Argument than this, it goes a great Way with me, that as to such as have their Understanding at Liberty, if they are mistaken there may be Hopes of reclaiming them, by informing them; but where the Understanding and Conscience are enslaved to Authority, and where Men make it a Principal Doctrine, to suspect their own Sense, and Strive against their own Convictions; to move only by other Men’s Breath and fall down to their Conclusions; nothing seems to be left for the soundest Arguments, and clearest Truths, to work upon. They had almost need to be Re-Created in Order to be converted; for who can reasonably endeavour to make him a Christian, that is not a Man; which he cannot be truly said to be, who has no Understanding, or resolves not to use it, but reject it, which is yet worse: For he that has no Understanding, has no Prejudice against it, but he that purposely denies and abuses it, is so much worse, as that he turns Enemy to him that has and uses his Understanding. He therefore can never be convinced of his Error, who is prejudiced against the necessary Means of Conviction, which is the Use of his Understanding, without which ’tis impossible he should ever be convinced.

To conclude, I have reserved, till last, one Argument, which is ad Hominem, unanswerable by us Protestants, and without yielding to which, we cannot be consistent with our selves, or be thought to do unto others, what we would have others do unto us, and that is this: The Translation of the Scripture was the painful Work of our Ancestors; and this I call their most solemn Appeal to the People, against the Pope and Traditions of Rome in the Business of their Separation. For when the Question arose of the divine Authority of this or Edition: current; Page: [{233}] the other Practice in the Doctrine or Worship of the Roman Church, presently they recurred to the Scriptures, and therefore made them speak English, that they might witness for them to the People. This appeal to the People in Defence of their Separation, by making them Judges of their Proceeding against the Church, according to the Testimony of the Holy Scripture, puts every Man in Possession of them. Search the Scriptures, say the first Protestants, prove all Things; see if what we say against the Pope and Church of Rome be not true; and in Case any Difficulty did arise, they exhorted all to wait upon God, for the divine Aid of his Spirit, to illuminate their Understandings, that one should not impose upon the other, but commend them to God: Be Brotherly, Patient, Long-Suffering, ready to help the Weak, inform the Ignorant, shew Tenderness to the Mistaken, and with Reason and Moderation to gain the Obstinate. In short, Protestancy, is a restoring to every Man his just Right of Inquiry and Choice: And to it’s Honour be it ever spoken, there is a greater Likelihood of finding Truth, where all have Liberty to seek after it, than where it is denyed to all, but a few Grandees, and those too as short sighted as their Neighbours. But now let us Protestants examine, if we have not departed from this Sobriety, this Christian Temperance? How comes it that we who have been forgiven much, have our selves fallen upon our Fellow-Servants, who yet owe us nothing? Have not we refused them this reasonable Choice? Have we not threatned, beaten and imprisoned them? Pray consider, have you not made Creeds, framed Faiths, formed and regulated a Worship; and strictly enjoyn’d all Men’s Obedience, by the Help of the Civil Power, upon Pain of great Sufferings, which have not been spared upon Dissenters; though they have been, in common, Renouncers and Protesters with you, against the Pope and Church of Rome. For this the Land mourns, Heaven is displeased, and all is out of due Course.

To give us the Scriptures, and knock our Fingers for taking them: To translate them that we may read them, and punish us for endeavouring to understand and use them as well as we can, both with respect to God and our Neighbour, is very unreasonable upon our Protestant Principles. I wish we could see the Mischief we draw upon our selves, and which is worse upon our Cause; for the Papist, in this Case, acts according to his Principle, but we against our Principle, which shews indeed that we profess the better Religion, but that we also are more condemnable. If we will consider it seriously, we shall find it not much more injurious to Scripture, Truth and good Conscience, that we believe as the Church believes, than that we believe as the Church says the Scripture would have us believe. For where is the Difference, since I am not Edition: current; Page: [{234}] allowed to use my Understanding about the Sense of Scripture any more than about the Faith or Worship from Scripture, but what is handed to me through the Meanings of the Church, or her Clergy, I see my self in as ill Terms, as if I had sat down with the old Doctrine of believing as the Church believes. And had the Controversy been only for the Word Scripture, without the Use and Application of it, for, at this Rate, that is all that is left us, truly the Enterprise of our Fathers had been weak and unadvised; but because nothing less was intended by them, and that the Translation of the Scripture was both the Appeal and Legacy of those Protestant Ancestors; for the Reasons before-mentioned, I must conclude we are much degenerated from the Simplicity of Primitive Protestancy, and need to be admonished of our Backslidings: And I heartily pray to Almighty God, that he would quicken us by his repeated Mercies and Providences to return to our first Love, to the Light and Spirit of his Son, that we may become Sons indeed, the Ground of true Christianity, and from whence the true Ministry hath it’s Spring, which is open and free to those that are Proficients in that Holy School.

Let the Scriptures be free, Sober Opinion tolerated, Good Life cherish’d, Vice punish’d: Away with Imposition, Nick-Names, Animosities, for the Lord’s Sake, and let the Scripture be our Common Creed, and Pious Living the Test of Christianity, that God may please to perfect his good Work of Grace he has begun, and deliver us from all our Enemies, both within and without.

Sect. 6.: Of the Propagation of Faith by Force.

I AM now come to the last Point, and that is Propagation of Faith by Force: In which I shall, with the Ecclesiastick, consider the Civil Magistrate’s Share herein: For tho’ the Churchmen are principally guilty, who being profest Ministers of a Religion which renounces and condemns Force, excite the Civil Magistrate to use it, both to impose their own Belief, and suppress that of other Men’s; yet the Civil Magistrate in running upon their Errands, and turning Executioner of their Cruelty upon such as dissent from them, involves himself in their Guilt.

That in this Protestant Country Laws have been made to prosecute Men for their Dissent from the National Worship, and that those Laws have been executed, I presume will not be deny’d: For not only our own Histories since the Reformation will furnish us with Instances unbecoming our Pretences, as Edition: current; Page: [{235}] the Case of Barrow, Penrey, &c. in Queen Elizabeth’s Time,184 and others in the Reign of King James and Charles the First, but our own Age abounds with Proofs. Thousands have been excommunicated and imprison’d; whole Families undone; not a Bed left in the House, not a Cow left in the Field, nor any Corn in the Barn: Widows and Orphans stript without Pity, no Regard being had to Age or Sex: And what for? only because of their Meeting to Worship God after another Manner than according to the Form of the Church of England; but yet in a very peaceable Way.

Nor have they only suffered this by Laws intended against them, but, after an excessive Rate, by Laws known to have been never design’d against them, and only intended against the Papists. And in these Cases four Times the Value hath not served their Turn. We can prove Sixty Pounds taken for Thirteen, and not One Penny return’d, as we made appear before a Committee of the late Parliament, which is the Penalty of four Offences for one; to say nothing of the gross Abuses that have been committed against our Names and Persons, by Men of ill Fame and Life, that have taken the Advantage of our Tenderness, and the present Posture of the Law against us, to have their revengeful and covetous Ends upon us. And tho’ we are yet unredrest, not a Session of Parliament has past these Seventeen Years, in which we have not humbly remonstrated our Suffering Condition: We have done our Part, which has been patiently to suffer and modestly to complain: It is yours now to hear our Groans, and, if ever you expect Mercy from God, to deliver us. The late Parliament, just before it’s Dissolution, was preparing some Relief for us; if that Parliament could think of it, yea, begin it, we hope you will finish and secure it.

The better to remove all Scruples or Objections, that Politically or Ecclesiastically, on the Part of the State or the Church, may be advanced against us in this Request, I shall divide this Discourse into two Parts: First, Caesar’s Authority; next, the Church’s Power in Things that relate to Faith and Conscience; with my Considerations upon both.

* Our Blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, did long since distinguish the Things of Caesar from the Things of God, in his plain and notable Answer unto that ensnaring Question of the Jews, Is it lawful to pay Tribute to Caesar or not. Render (says he) unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar’s, and to God the Edition: current; Page: [{236}] Things that are God’s: That is, Divine Worship, and all Things relating to it, belong unto God, Civil Obedience to Caesar.185 God can only be the Author of right Acts of Worship in the Mind: This is granted by all; therefore it is not in the Power of any Man or Men in the World, to compel the Mind rightly to worship God. Where this is but attempted, God’s Prerogative is invaded, and Caesar, by which Word I understand the Civil Government, engrosseth All. For he doth not only take his own things as much as he can, but the Things appertaining to God also; since if God hath not Conscience for his Share, he hath nothing. My Kingdom, says Christ, is not of this World,186 nor is the Magistrate’s Kingdom of the other World: Therefore he exceeds his Province and Commission when ever he meddles with the Rights of it. Let Christ have his Kingdom, he is sufficient for it; and let Caesar have his, ’tis his Due. Give unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar’s, and to God the Things that are God’s. Then there are Things that belong not to Caesar, and we are not to give those to him which belong not to him; and such are God’s Things, Divine Things, Things of an Eternal Reference: But those that belong to Caesar and his Earthly Kingdom, must be, of Duty, rendred to him.

If any shall ask me, What are the Things properly belonging to Caesar? I answer in Scripture Language, To love Justice, do Judgment, relieve the Oppressed, right the Fatherless, and in general be a Terror unto Evil-doers, and a Praise to them that do well; for this is the Great End of Magistracy: And in these Things they are to be obey’d of Conscience as well as Interest.

But perhaps my Answer shall be reckoned too general and ambiguous, and a fresh Question started, Who are the Evil-doers, to whom the Civil Authority ought to be Terrible? But this ought in my Judgment to be no Question with Men that understand the Nature of Civil Authority; for those are the Evil-doers that violate those Laws which are necessary to the Preservation of Civil Society, as Thieves, Murderers, Adulterers, Traytors, Plotters, Drunkards, Cheats, Vagabonds, and the like mischievous and dissolute Persons: Men void of Virtue, Truth and Sincerity, the Foundation of all good Government, and only firm Bond of human Society. Whoever denies me this, must at the same Time say, that Virtue is less necessary to Government than Opinion, and that the most Vitiated Men, professing but Caesar’s Religion, are the best Subjects to Caesar’s Authority, consequently, that other Men, living never so honestly and Edition: current; Page: [{237}] industriously, and having else as good a Claim to Civil Protection and Preferment, shall, meerly for their Dissent from that Religion, (a Thing they can’t help; for Faith is the Gift of God)187 be reputed the worst of Evil-doers; which is followed with exposing their Names to Obloquy, their Estates to Ruin, and their Persons to Goals, Exiles, and Abundance of other Cruelties. What is this, but to confound the Things of Caesar with the Things of God, Divine Worship with Civil Obedience, the Church with the State, and perplex human Societies with endless Debates about Religious Differences? Nay, is not this to erect new Measures to try the Members of Worldly Societies by, and give an Accession to another Power, than that which is necessary to the Constitution of Civil Government? But that which ought to deter wise Rulers from assuming and exercising such an Authority, is the Consideration of the pernicious Consequences of doing so.

For, First, It makes Property, which is the first and most fix’d Part of English Government floating and uncertain; for it seems, no Conformity to the Church, no Property in the State: And doubtless, the Insecurity of Property can be no Security to the Government: Pray think of that.

II. It makes me owe more to the Church than to the State; for in this Case, the Anchor I ride by, is not my Obedience to Laws relating to the Preservation of Civil Society, but Conformity to certain Things belonging to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church: So that though I may be an honest, industrious Englishman, a great Lover of my Country, and an Admirer of the Government I live under, yet if I refuse to profess the Religion that either now is, or hereafter may be imposed, be it never so false, that is all one, I must neither enjoy the Liberty of my Person, nor the quiet Possession of my Estate.

III. This not only alters the Government, by sacrificing Men’s Properties for that which cannot be called a Sin against Property, nor an Offence to the Nature of Civil Government, if any Transgression at all, but it narrows the Interest and Power of the Governours: For look what Number they cut off from their Protection, they cut off from themselves and the Government; not only rendring thereby a great Body of People useless, but provoking them to be Dangerous: To be sure it clogs the Civil Magistrate in his Administration of Government, making that necessary which is not at all necessary to him as Caesar.

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It is a Sort of Duumvirateship in Power, by which the Civil Monarchy is broken: For as that was a Plurality of Men, so this is a Plurality of Powers. And to speak freely, the Civil Power is made to act the Lackey, to run of all the unpleasant Errands the froward Zeal of the other sends it upon; and the best Preferment it receives for it’s Pains, is to be Informer, Constable, or Hangman to some of the best Livers, and therefore the best Subjects in the Kingdom.

O! What greater Injustice to Caesar than to make his Government vary by such Modes of Religion, and oblige him to hold his Obedience from his People, not so much by their Conformity to him, as to the Church, a meer Relative of to’ther World.

IV. This is so far from resembling the Universal Goodness of God, who dispenses his Light, Air, Showers and comfortable Seasons to all, and whom Caesar ought always to imitate, and so remote from increasing the Trade, Populacy and Wealth of this Kingdom, as that it evidently tends to the utter Ruin of Thousands of Traders, Artificers and Husbandmen, and their Families; and by increasing the Charges, It must needs encrease the Poor of the Nation.

V. This must needs be a great Discouragement to Strangers from coming in, and setling themselves amongst us, when they have Reason to apprehend that they, and their Children after them, can be no longer secured in the Enjoyment of their Properties, than they shall be able to prevail with their Consciences to believe, That the Religion which our Laws do now, or shall at any Time hereafter approve and impose, is undoubtedly True; and that the Way of Worshipping God, which shall be at any Time by our Laws enjoyned, is, and shall be more agreeable to the Will of God, than any other Way in which God is Worshipped in the World.

VI. That Way of Worship we are Commanded Conformity to, doth not make Better Livers, that is a Demonstration, Nor Better Artists, for it cannot be thought that going to Church, hearing Common-Prayer, or believing in the present Episcopacy, learn Men to Build Ships or Houses; to make Clothes, Shoes, Dials or Watches; Buy, Sell, Trade, or Commerce better, than any that are of another Perswasion. And since these Things are Useful, if not Requisite in Civil Society, is not prohibiting, nay ruining, such Men, because they will not come to hear Common-Prayer, &c. destructive of Civil Society? Pray shew me better Subjects. If any object, Dissenters have not always been so, the Answer is ready, Do not expose them, protect them in their Lives, Liberties and Estates; for in this present Posture they think they can call Nothing their own, and that all the Comforts they have in this World, are Hourly liable to Forfeiture for their Faith, Hope Edition: current; Page: [{239}] and Practice concerning the other World. Is not this to destroy Nature and Civil Government, when People are ruined in their Natural and Civil Capacity, not for Things relating to either, but which are of a Supernatural Import?

VII. This deprives them of Protection, who protect the Government. Dissenters have a great Share in the Trade, which is the Greatness of this Kingdom; and they make a large Proportion of the Taxes that maintain the Government. And is it Reasonable, or can it be Christian, when they Pay Tribute to Caesar, to be preserved in an Undisturbed Possession of the Rest, that the Rest should be continually exposed for the Peaceable Exercise of their Consciences to God?

VIII. Neither is it a Conformity to True and Solid Religion, such as is Necessary to Eternal Salvation, wherein most Parties Verbally agree, but for a Modification of Religion; some peculiar Way of Worship and Discipline. All confess One God, One Christ, One Holy Ghost, and that it is indispensably requisite to Live Soberly, Righteously, and Godly in this present Evil World, 2 Tit. xi. 12. yet is one prosecuting the other for his Conscience, Seizing Corn, Driving away Cattel, Breaking open Doors, taking away, and spoiling of Goods; in some Places not leaving a Cow to give poor Orphans Milk, nor a Bed to lie on; in other Places Houses have been swept so clean, that a Stool hath not been left to Sit on, nor so much as Working Tools to Labour for Bread. To say nothing of the Opprobrious Speeches, Bloody Blows, and Tedious Imprisonments, even to Death it self, through Nastiness of Dungeons, that many innocent People have suffered only for their Peaceable Conscience.

IX. But this Way of proceeding for Maintenance of the National Religion, is of an ill Consequence upon this Account, that Heaven is barred as much as in Men lies, from all farther Illuminations. Let God send what Light he pleases into the World, it must not be received by Caesar’s People, without Caesar’s Licence; and if it happen that Caesar be not presently Convinced as well as I, that it is of God, I must either renounce my Convictions, and lose my Soul to please Caesar, or profess and persevere in my Perswasion, and so lose my Life, Liberty or Estate, to please God. This hath frequently occurr’d, and may again. Therefore I would entreat Caesar to consider the sad Consequence of Imposition, and remember both that God did never ask Man Leave to introduce Truth, or make farther Discoveries of his Mind to the World, and that it hath been a Woful Snare to those Governments that have been drawn to employ their Power against his Work and People.

X. This Way of Procedure endeavours to stifle, or else to punish Sincerity; for Fear or Hopes, Frowns or Favour, prevail only with base Minds; Souls degenerated Edition: current; Page: [{240}] from True Nobleness. Every Spark of Integrity must be extinguisht, where Conscience is sacrificed to Worldly Safety and Preferment. This Net holds no Temporizers: Honest Men are all the Fish it catches: But one would think they should make but an ill Treat to such as reckon themselves Generous Men, and what is more, Christians too. That which renders the Matter more unjustifiable, is the Temptation such Severity puts Men upon, not hardy enough to Suffer for Conscience, yet strongly perswaded they have Truth on their Side, to desert their Principles, and smother their Convictions, which in plain Terms, is to make of Sincere Men, Hypocrites: Whereas it is one Great End of Government, by all Laudable Means, to preserve Sincerity; for without it there can be no Faith or Truth in Civil Society. Nor is this all, for it’s a Maxim worthy of Caesar’s Notice, Never to think him True to Caesar, that is False to his own Conscience: Besides, raped Consciences treasure up Revenge, and such Persons are not likely to be longer Friends to Caesar, than he hath Preferments to allure them, or Power to deter them from being his most implacable Enemies.

XI. There is not so ready a Way to Atheism, as this of extinguishing the Sense of Conscience for Worldly Ends: Destroy that Internal Rule of Faith, Worship and Practice towards God, and the Reason of my Religion will be Civil Injunctions, and not Divine Convictions; consequently, I am to be of as many Religions as the Civil Authority shall impose, however untrue or contradictory. This Sacred Tye of Conscience, thus broken, farewel to all Heavenly Obligations in the Soul, Scripture-Authority, and Ancient Protestant Principles. Christ may at this Rate become what the Jews would have had Him and His Apostles to be reputed, to wit, Turners of the World up-side down, as their Enemies represented them;188 and the Godly Martyrs of all Ages, so many Self-Murtherers; for they might justly be esteem’d Resisters of Worldly Authority, so far as that Authority concerned it self with the Imposition of Religion, because they refused the Conformity commanded by it, even to Death.

And it may not be unworthy of Caesar’s Consideration, that from these Proceedings People are tempted to infer, there is nothing in Religion but Worldly Aims and Ends, because so much Worldly Power is abus’d, under the Name of Religion, to vex and destroy Men for being of another Religion; and that he hazards the best Hold and Obligation he hath to Obedience, which is Conscience: For where they are taught only to Obey for Interest; Duty and Edition: current; Page: [{241}] Conviction are out of Doors. By all Means let Conscience be Sacred, and Virtue and Integrity (though under Dissenting Principles) cherish’d: Charity is more powerful than Severity, and Perswasion than all the Penal Laws in the World.

Lastly, To the Reproach of this Course with wise Men, it hath never yet obtain’d the End desired, since instead of Compliance, the Difference is thereby widened, and the Sufferers are pitied by Spectators, which only helps to increase the Number of Dissenters, for whoever is in the Wrong, few think the Persecutor in the Right. This in all Ages, having been the Issue of severe Prosecution of Dissenters for Matters of Religion; what a Cruel, Troublesome, Thankless, Succesless Office is it for Caesar to be employ’d in? May he take better Measures of his Authority and Interest, and use his Power to the Encouragement of all the Virtuous and Industrious, and Just Punishment of the Lazy and Vicious in all Perswasions; so shall the Kingdom Flourish, and the Government Prosper.

Church Power supposeth a Church first. It will not be improper therefore to examine; first, What a Scripture New-Testament-Church is; and next, what is the Scripture-Power belonging to such a Church. A Scripture-Church as she may be called Visible, is a Company or Society of People, believing, professing and practising according to the Doctrine and Example of Christ Jesus and his Apostles, and not according to the Scribes and Pharisees, that taught for Doctrine the Traditions of Men. They are such as are Meek in Heart, Lowly in Spirit (a) Chast in Life, (b) Virtuous in all Conversation, (c) full of Self Denial, (d) Long-suffering and Patient, (e) not only forgiving, (f) but loving their very Enemies; which answers Christ’s own Character of himself, Religion and Kingdom, which is the most apt Distinction that ever can be given of the Nature of his Church and her Authority, viz. (g) My Kingdom is not of this World. Which well connects with Render unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the Things that are God’s.189

It was an Answer to a very suspicious Question; for it was familiarly bruited that he was a King, and came to possess his Kingdom, and was, by some, called the King of the Jews.

The Jews being then subjected to the Roman Empire, it concerned Pilate, Caesar’s Deputy, to understand his Pretensions, which upon better Information Edition: current; Page: [{242}] he found to center in this, My Kingdom is not of this World, else would my Subjects fight for me.190 As if he had said, these Reports are a meer Perversion of my Peaceable and Self-denying Intentions; an Infamy invented by malicious Scribes and Pharisees, that they might the better prevail with Caesar to Sacrifice me to their hatred and revenge.

I am Caesar’s Friend, I seek none of his Kingdoms from him, nor will I sow Sedition, plot or conspire his Ruin; no, Let all Men render unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar’s: That’s my Doctrine; for I am come to erect a Kingdom of another Nature than that of this World, to wit, a Spiritual Kingdom, to be set up in the Heart; and Conscience is my Throne, upon that will I sit, and rule the Children of Men in Righteousness; and whoever lives Soberly, Righteously and Godlily in this World, shall be my good and loving Subjects. And they will certainly make no ill ones for Caesar, since such Virtue is the End of Government, and renders his Charge both more easie and safe than before. Had I any other Design than this, would I suffer my Self to be reproached, traduced and persecuted by a conquered People? Were it not more my Nature to suffer than revenge, would not their many Provocations have drawn from me some Instance of another kind than the Forbearance and Forgiveness I teach? certainly, were I animated by another Principle than the Perfection of Meekness and Divine Sweetness, I should not have forbidden Peter fighting, saying, put up thy Sword, or Instructed my Followers to bear Wrongs;191 but have revenged all Affronts, and, by Plots and other Stratagems, have attempted Ruin to my Enemies, and the Acquisition of worldly Empire: And no doubt but they would have fought for me. Nay, I am not only patiently, and with Pity to Enemies, sensible of their cruel Carriage towards me for my Good Will to them, whose Eternal Happiness I only seek; but I foresee what they further intend against me: They design to crucifie me: And to do it, will rather free a Murderer than spare their Saviour. They will perform that Cruelty with all the Aggravation and Contempt they can; deriding me themselves, and exposing me to the Derision of others: They will mock my Divine Kingship with a Crown of Thorns, and in mine Agonies of Soul and Body, for a Cordial, give me Gall and Vinegar to drink. But notwithstanding all this, to satisfie the World that my Religion is above Wrath and Revenge, I can forgive them.

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And to secure Caesar and his People from all Fears of Imposition, notwithstanding my Authority, and the many Legions of Angels I might command, both to my Deliverance, and the Enforcement of my Message upon Mankind; I resolve to promote neither with worldly Power; for it is not of the Nature of my Religion and Kingdom. And as I neither assume nor practice any such Thing my self, that am the great Author, Promoter and Example of this Holy Way; so have I not only never taught my Disciples to live or act otherwise, or given them a Power I refuse to use my self, but expresly forbad them, and warn’d them, in my Instructions, of exercising any the least Revenge, Imposition or Coercion towards any. This is evident in my Sermon preached upon the Mount, where I freely, publickly, and with much Plainness, not only prohibited Revenge, and enjoyned Love to Enemies, making it to be a great Token of true Discipleship to suffer Wrongs, and conquer Cruelty by Patience and Forgiveness;192 which is certainly very far from Imposition or Compulsion upon other Men.

Furthermore, when I was strongly bent for Jerusalem, and sent Messengers before to prepare some Entertainment for me and my Company, in a Village belonging to the Samaritans, and the People refused because they apprehended I was going to Jerusalem, though some of my Disciples, particularly James and John, were provok’d to that Degree, that they asked me, if I were willing that they should command Fire from Heaven to destroy those Samaritans, as Elias in another Case had done; I turned about, and rebuked them, saying, Ye know not what Manner of Spirit ye are of; for I am not come into the World to destroy Men’s Lives, but, by my peaceable Doctrine, Example and Life, to save them.193

At another Time, one of my Disciples relating to me some Passages of their Travails, told me of a certain Man they saw, that cast out Devils in my Name, and because he was not of their Company, nor followed them, said he, we forbad him; as if they thereby served and pleased me; but I presently testified my Dislike of the Ignorance and Narrowness of their Zeal, and, to inform them better, told them, they should not have forbid him; for he that is not against us is for us.194

My Drift is not Opinion, but Piety: They that cast out Devils, convert Sinners, Edition: current; Page: [{244}] and turn Men to Righteousness, are not against me, nor the Nature and Religion of my Kingdom, and therefore ought to be cherisht rather than forbid. That I might sufficiently declare and inculcate my Mind in this Matter, I did at another Time, and upon a different Occasion, preach against all Coercion and Persecution for Matters of Faith and Practice towards God, in my Parable of the Sower, as my Words manifest, which were these; The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a Man which sowed good Seed in his Field; but while Men slept, his Enemy came, and sowed Tares among the Wheat, and went his Way; but when the Blade sprung up, and brought forth Fruit, there appeared the Tares also; so the Servants of the Housholder came and said, didst thou not sow good Seed in thy Field? from whence then hath it Tares? he answered, an Enemy hath done this; the Servants said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? but he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up also the Wheat with them, let both grow together till the Harvest, and in the Time of Harvest I will say to the Reapers, gather ye together first the Tares, and bind them in Bundles to burn them, but gather the Wheat into my Barn.

And that I might not leave so necessary a Truth mis-apprehended of my dear Followers, or liable to any Mis-constructions, my Disciples, when together, desiring an Explanation, I interpreted my Words thus:

He that soweth the good Seed is the Son of Man; the Field is the World; the good Seed are the Children of the Kingdom; but the Tares are the Children of the Wicked One; the Enemy that sowed them is the Devil; the Harvest is the End of the World; and the Reapers are the Angels.195

This Patience, this Long Suffering and great Forbearance belonging to my Kingdom and the Subjects of it; my Doctrine speaks it, and mine Example confirms it, and this can have no possible Agreement with Imposition and Persecution for Conscience. ’Tis true, I once whipt out the Profaners of my Father’s Temple; but I never whipt any in. I call’d, I cry’d to every one that thirsted to come, and freely offer’d my Assistance to the Weary and heavy Laden; but I never impos’d my Help, or forced any to receive me; for I take not my Kingdom by Violence, but by Suffering. And that I might sufficiently deter my Followers from any such Thing, as I profess my self to be their Lord and Master, so have I commanded them to love one another in a more especial Manner.196 But if instead thereof any shall grow proud, high-minded, and beat Edition: current; Page: [{245}] or abuse their Fellow-Servants in my Religious Family, when I come to take an Account of my Houshold, he shall be cut asunder, and appointed his Portion among the Unbelievers. Behold the Recompence I appoint to imposing Lordly Persons, such as count others Infidels, and to make them such Believers as themselves, will exercise Violence towards them, and if they prevail not, will call for Fire from Heaven to devour them; and if Heaven refuse to gratify their Rage, will fall a Beating and Killing, and think, it may be, they do God good Service too; but their Lot shall be with Unbelievers for ever.

Nay, I have so effectually provided against all Mastery, that I expresly charged them, not to be many Masters; for one was their Master: I told them, the greatest amongst them was to be Servant to the rest, not to impose upon the rest: Nay, that to be great in my Kingdom, they must become as gentle and harmless as little Children, and such cannot force and punish in Matters of Religion. In fine, I strictly commanded them to love one another, as I have loved them, who am ready to lay down my Life for the Ungodly, instead of taking away Godly Men’s Lives for Opinions. And this is the great Maxim of my Holy Religion, He that would be my Disciple, must not Crucifie other Men, but take up his Cross and follow me, who am meek and lowly, and such as endure to the End, shall find Eternal Rest to their Souls; this is the Power I use, and this is the Power I give.197

How much this agrees with the Language, Doctrine and Example of Jesus Christ, the Son and Lamb of God, I shall leave them to consider that read and believe Scripture. But some affected to present Church-Power, and desiring their Ruin that conform not to her Worship and Discipline, will object, That Christ did give his Church Power to bind and loose, and bid any Persons aggrieved tell the Church.198

I grant it; but what binding was that? was it I Pray with outward Chains and Fetters, in nasty Holes and Dungeons? nothing less: Or, was it that his Church had that true Discerning in her, and Power with him, that what she bound, that is, condemned, or loosed, that is, remitted, should stand so in God’s Sight and Christ’s Account?

But tell the Church; and what then? Observe Christ’s Extent in the Punishment Edition: current; Page: [{246}] of the Offender: If the Offender will neither receive private Admonition, nor hear the Church, then (says Christ) let him be to thee as an Heathen, &c. Here’s not one Word of Fines, Whips, Stocks, Pillories, Goals, and the like Instruments of Cruelty, to punish the Heretick: For the Purport of his Words seems to be no more than this; If any Member of the Church refuse thy private Exhortation, and the Church’s Admonition, look upon such a Person as obstinate and perverse, have no more to do with him; let him take his Course, thou hast done well, and the Church is clear of him.

Well, but say the Church Fighters of our Age, Did not St. Paul wish them cut off that troubled the Church in his Time? Yes: But with what Sword think you? Such as Christ bid Peter put up, or the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God? Give him leave to explain his own Words; For though we walk in the Flesh, We do not War after the Flesh; for the Weapons of our Warfare are not Carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong Holds, casting down Imaginations, and every high Thing that exalteth it self against the Knowledge of God, and bringing every Thought into Obedience to Christ.199

What think you of this? Here are Warfares, Weapons, Oppositions and Conformity, and not only no external Force about Matters of Religion used or countenanced, but the most express and pathetical Exclusion and disclaiming of any such Thing that can be given.

It was this great Apostle that askt that Question, Who art thou that judgest the Servant of another? To his own Lord he standeth or falleth: but he shall stand; for God is able to make him stand.200 Can we think that Imposition or Persecution is able to Answer him this Question in the Day of Judgment? Do we with Reason deny it to the Papacy? With what Reason then can we assume it to our selves? Let us remember who said, Not that we have Dominion over your Faith, but are Helpers of your Joy.201 Helpers, then not Imposers nor Persecutors. What Joy can there be in that to the Persecuted? But if Paul had no such Commission or Power over Conscience, I would fain know by what Authority more inferiour Ministers and Christians do claim and use it.

The Apostle Peter is of the same Mind; Feed says he, the Flock of God, not Edition: current; Page: [{247}] by Constraint, &c. neither as being Lords over God’s Heritage. The Heritage of God is free, they have but one Lord in and of their Religion, Christ Jesus, and they are Brethren.202

The Apostle Paul says, That where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty, but where Coercion, Fines and Goals are, there is no Liberty. Is it to be supposed that Men in these Days are instructed by the Spirit of the Lord to destroy People in this World for their Faith about the other World? That cannot possibly be; such mock at it. Again, says that Apostle to the Christians of his Time, You are called to Liberty;203 from what I pray, Sin and the Ceremonies of the Law? And shall the End of that call be the enthralling Conscience to human Edicts in Religion, yea, about meer Ceremonies of Religion, under the Gospel? This would make our Case worse than the Jews, for their Worship stood on divine Authority; and if Christ came to make Men free from them, and that those very Ordinances are by the Apostle call’d beggarly Elements and a burdensom Yoak, Is it reasonable that we must be subject to the Injunctions of Men in the Worship of God, that are not of equal Authority with them?

The Apostle yet informs us, for this End, says he, Christ both dyed and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the Dead and Living: But why dost thou judge thy Brother?204 Than which nothing can more expresly oppose the Imposition, Excommunication, and Persecution that are among us; ’Tis as if he had said, Christ is Lord of Christians, by what Authority dost thou pretend to judge his Servants? Thou also art but one of them: A Brother at most. Thou hast no Dominion over their Faith, nor hast thou Commission to be Lord over their Consciences; ’tis Christ’s Right, his Purchase, he has paid for it: For this End he both dyed and rose again, that he might be Lord of Dead and Living; that he might rescue them, from the Jaws of Oppression; from those that usurp over their Consciences, and make a Prey of their Souls, But why dost thou judge thy Brother? If not judge; then not Persecute, Plunder, Beat, Imprison to Death our Brethren; that must needs follow. Come, let us Protestants look at Home, and view our Actions, if we are not the Men.

In short, Let every Man be fully perswaded in his own Mind, and if any Thing be short, God will reveal it;205 let us but be patient. It was not Flesh and Blood Edition: current; Page: [{248}] that revealed Christ to Peter, they are Christ’s Words, therefore let us leave off the Consultation, and Weapons of Flesh and Blood, and trust Christ with his own Kingdom: He hath said, that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it;206 and we cannot think that he would have us seek to Hell’s Gates to maintain it: And if it is not of this World, then not to be maintain’d by Force and Policy, which are the Props of the Kingdoms of this World. God, the Apostle tells us, has chosen the weak Things of this World, to confound the Mighty:207 Therefore he has not chosen the Strength and Power of this World, to suppress conscientious People, that as to humane Force, are justly accounted weakest and most destitute, in all Ages, of Defence.

I will here conclude my Scripture-Proofs with this Exhortation or Injunction rather of the Apostle. Ye are bought with a Price, be not ye the Servants of Men.208 The Subject here is not human, wherein human Ordinances are to be obeyed; that is not the Question; but Divine; and those that for Fear or Favour of Men desert their Principles, and betray their Consciences, they renounce their Lord, deny him that bought them, and tread his Blood, the Price of their Souls, under their Feet: Ye are bought with a Price, Christ has purchas’d you, you are not your own, but his that bought you, therefore be not the Servants of Men, about God’s Things or Christ’s Kingdom; vail to no Man’s Judgment, neither make Man’s Determinations, your Rule of Faith and Worship. Stand fast in the Liberty, wherewith he has made you free, and be not entangled again, into Bondage, for we are not come to that Mountain that we cannot touch, to Sinai: We are not now to be kept under like School-Boys or Minors:209 That Imposition might be useful then, which is a Bondage now. Moses was God’s Servant and faithful, he saw, heard, and went up to the Mount for the People; but Christians are come to Mount Zion, to Jerusalem, the Mother of Peace and Freedom. Much then depended upon the Integrity of Moses, and yet God sent for the People near the Mount, that they might see his Glory; and wrought Wonders and Miracles to engage their Faith and vindicate the Integrity of Moses his Servant (as the 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 Chapters of Numbers declares) and which none now can pretend to vouch the Exercise of their Authority: I say it pleased God then to appear by those Ways; but now the Law is brought Edition: current; Page: [{249}] Home to every Man’s Heart, and every one shall know God for himself, from the least to the greatest, My Sheep, says Christ, hear my Voice.210 And let us remember that there is no Possibility of Deception here, where there is no Necessity of trusting. In fine, Ye are bought with a Price, be not ye the Servants of Men. One is Lord, even Christ, and ye are Brethren.

But methinks I hear a stout Objection, and ’tis this: At this Rate you will overthrow all Church-Discipline, all Censure of Errors, if no Man or Men can determine. My Answer is ready and short, No Scripture Church-Discipline is hereby oppugned or weakned: Let not the Sentence end in Violence upon the Conscience unconvinced: Let who will expound or determine, so it be according to true Church-Discipline, which can be exercised on them only, who have willingly joyn’d themselves in that Covenant of Union, and which proceeds only to a Separation from the rest, a disavowing or disowning, and that only in Case of falling from Principles or Practices once received, or about known Trespasses: But never to any Corporal or Pecuniary Punishment; The two Arms of Anti-Christ, or rather of the great Beast which carries the Whore.

But let us observe what sort of Church-Government the Apostle recommends. Avoid foolish Questions, and Genealogies, and Contentions, and Striving about the Law; for they are unprofitable and vain: A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of (or in) Himself; or Self-condemned.211

It’s very remarkable, First, That this great Apostle, instead of exhorting Titus to stand upon Niceties, and sacrifice Men’s Natural Comforts and Enjoyments for Opinions of Religion, injoyns him to shun Disputes about them; leaving the People to their own Thoughts and Apprehensions in those Matters, as reputing the Loss of Peace, in striving, greater than the Gain that could arise from such an Unity and Conformity: Which exactly agrees with another Passage of his; Let us therefore as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any Thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.212 He did not say you shall be fined, pillaged, Excommunicated and flung into Prison, if ye be not of our Mind.

2dly, That, in the Apostle’s Definition, an Heretick is a Self-condemned Person, Edition: current; Page: [{250}] one conscious to himself of Error and Obstinacy in it; but that are not conscientious Dissenters; for many ten Thousands in this Nation act as they believe, and dissent from the national Religion purely upon a Principle of Conscience to Almighty God; and would heartily conform if they could do it upon Conviction, or with any Satisfaction to their own Minds: And with Men of any Tenderness or common Sense, their continual great Sufferings in Person and Estate, and their Patience under them, are a Demonstration, or there can be none in the World, that Conscience and not Humour or Interest is at Bottom.

Nor can their Persecutors disprove them, unless they could search Hearts, and that is a little too far for a fallible Spirit to reach, and an infallible One they deny. So that the Apostle makes not the Heretick to lie upon the Side of Mis-believing, or not coming up to his Degree of Faith and Knowledge, but upon the Side of Wilfully, Turbulently, Obstinately, and Self-condemnedly, maintaining, Things inconsistent with the Faith, Peace and Prosperity of the Church.

Granting us then not to be Obstinate and Self-condemned Dissenters, and you cannot reasonably refuse it us, How do you prove us Erroneous in the other Part? All Parties plead Scripture, and that for the most opposite Principles. The Scripture, you say, cannot determine the Sense of it self; it must have an Interpreter: if so, he must either be Fallible or Infallible: If the first, we are worse than before; for Men are apt to be no less confident, and yet are still upon as uncertain Grounds: If the last, this must either be an external or an internal Judge: If an external, you know where you are without pointing; for there stands nothing between you and Popery in that Principle: If an internal Judge, either it is our selves or the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us: Not our selves, for then the Rule would be the Thing ruled, which cannot be; and if it be the Spirit of Christ Jesus, and the Apostle tells us, Rom. 8. That unless we have the Spirit we are none of Christ’s, then is the Neck of Imposition broken; and what hast thou to do to judge me? Let me stand or fall to my own Master: And upon this Foot when Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Melancthon, Beza, Bullinger, Zanchius Abroad, and Tindal, Barns, Cranmer, Ridley, Hooper, Jewel, Bradford, Philpot, Sanders, Rogers, &c. at Home; and as good Men, and constant Martyrs, in Ages before them.

But suppose Conscientious Dissenters as ill Men as the Apostle describes an Heretick to be; what is the Punishment? This is close to the Point: Stand it.

3dly. A Man that is an Heretick after the first and second Admonition, reject;213 Edition: current; Page: [{251}] that is, deny his Communion, declare he is none of you, condemn his Proceedings by a publick Censure from among your selves. What more can be strained, by the fiercest Prosecutors of Men for Religion, out of these Words?

But will we be governed by the Rules of Holy Writ? Have we any true Veneration for the Exhortations and Injunctions therein? Then let us soberly consider, what the Apostle Paul advises and recommends to his beloved Timothy upon the present Occasion, and I dare promise an End to Contest and Persecution for Religion. Flee youthful Lusts; but follow Righteousness, Faith, Charity, Peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure Heart; but foolish and unlearned Questions avoid, knowing that they do gender Strifes. And the Servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto Edition: current; Page: [{252}] all Men, apt to teach, patient, in Meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them Repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth. 2 Tim. 2. 22, 23, 24, 25.

There is such a Depth of Wisdom lodged in this one Passage, that I find Difficulty to express my self upon it, and yet I shall with Pleasure endeavour it. Here is both Faith and Government, Religion and Duty, all that becomes us towards God, our Brethren, our Neighbour, our Selves, yea, our Opposers and Enemies.

Flee youthful Lusts: that is, avoid Sin, turn away from every Appearance of Evil, flee the Temptation as soon as thou seest it, lest it ensnare thee; but follow Righteousness, Charity and Peace; seek and love Holiness and there will be Charity and Peace to thy self, and in thee, to all Men. Rom. 14. 17. 1 Cor. 4. 20. For the Kingdom of God stands in Righteousness and Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost; not in Contest about Words, nor in maintaining foolish and unlearned Questions, which reach not the Soul, nor carry any Force upon our Affections, nor learn Men to be better, to have more Piety, Virtue, Goodness; but are meer Notions and Speculations, that have no Influence upon Holy Living, or Tendency to the Regiment of our Passions: Such Questions as the Curiosity or Wantonness of Men’s Wit or restless Fancy are apt to start under Pretence of Divine Truth, and Sublime Mysteries: These Niceties, Conceits and Imaginations of Men, (not bottomed on the Revelation of the Eternal Spirit, but Human Apprehension and Tradition) such Questions avoid, meddle not with them; but, next to Youthful Lusts, flee them by all Means; for they draw to Strife, to Heats, Animosities, Envy, Hatred and Persecution, which unbecome the Man of God; for says this Apostle, He must not strive, but be gentle unto all Men, apt to teach, patient: Let his Rank, Notion, Opinion or Faith be what it will, he must not be Fierce, nor Censorious, much less should he persecute or excite Caesar to do it for him; no such Matter: He must be apt to teach and inform the Ignorant; and in Case it succeed not, he ought not to be Outragious, or go about to whip or club it into him: He must be patient, that is, he must not think to force and bend things to his own Will or Time, but commit his Honest Endeavours to God’s Blessing, that can raise, of the Stones of the Streets, Children unto Abraham.214 This Sort of Man will serve God against his Will, instead of submitting his Will to God’s: There is no Evil he will stick at to serve God his Way, he will plunder and kill for God’s Sake, and meritoriously send all his Passions upon the Errands of his ignorant Zeal; and the Trophies that it loves, are the Spoils and Havock it makes upon Mankind; the most unnatural and dangerous Temper in the World. Our Blessed Lord, that knew what was in Man, has left us his Remark upon it, Luke 9. 55. The Want of this Patience has been the Undoing of all.

But some will object, O! but it is not Ignorance! ’tis Obstinacy and Opposition: Hardly judged, my Friend; but admit it were so, here’s a Receipt for the Malady, and that of the Apostle’s prescribing. Observe the following Words: In Meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them Repentance, to the acknowledging of the Truth.215 Then not Fining, Plundering, Beating, Stocking, Imprisoning, Banishing and Killing, even Opposers themselves, for Religion; unless there be a Way of doing these Things with Gentleness, Patience and Meekness; which I confess I think no Body ever heard of.

But as the Apostle gives Timothy another Method than is now used by the Sons of Violence for reclaiming Opposers, so the Reason of the Counsel makes all other Ways unlawful, viz. If God peradventure will give them Repentance to the Acknowledgment of the Truth. I would hereupon enter the List with a Persecutor: Is Repentance in my own Power, or is it in thine to give me? The Apostle says neither: ’Tis God’s Gift alone; If God peradventure will give them Repentance, &c. Since Repentance then is in the Case, and that God alone can give it, of what Use are Violent Courses, which never beget Repentance? On the contrary, they have rarely fail’d to raise Prejudice and beget Hardness in the Sufferer, and Pity in the Beholder.

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But was this the Evangelical Rule and Practice! Yes, that it was. O then! whence comes Imposition, Force, Cruelty, Spoil of Goods, Imprisonments, Knockings, Beatings, Bruisings, Stockings, Whippings, and Spilling of Blood for Religion? What Church is that whose Officers are so far from clothing the Naked that they strip the Clothed; from feeding the Hungry, that they take their Bread from them; and those, some of them, poor Widows and helpless Orphans? And so remote are they from visiting the Sick and Imprison’d, that they drag away their Beds from under them, and cast their Persons into Prison for Conscience Sake. Nay, some have been so unnatural that they haled away an Honest Man from a Meeting to Goal at Reading, a while since, not permitting him to take Leave of his poor Wife, newly delivered, and in a Dying Condition, though she much desired it, and liv’d but just by the Meeting, from whence they took him; with an Hundred more Things, that I forbear being particular in, because I would not be thought to provoke when I aim only at Christian Reproof and Amendment. In fine, What are they that for no other Cause pass such Dreadful Excommunications, as render the Excommunicants little better than Outlawed Persons, subjecting their Civil and Natural Rights to their Pride, Passion, Interest or Revenge, unless they will purchase their Enjoyment at the dear Rate of giving their own Consciences the Lye? For what else can be the Consequence of conforming to that I do not believe? Is not this to destroy sincere Men, and make and save Hypocrites? When it is but too palpable that Vice reigns without Controul, and few of these busy Men, these Conscientious-Hunters, give themselves the thought of correcting Manners, defending Virtue, or suppressing Vice.

O, that such as are concerned would soberly consider if any Thing be so Scandalous to True Religion as Force! Who can think that Evidence Good that is extorted? And what a Church is that which is made up of such Proselytes, or that employs such Means to make them? It is base Coyn that needs Imposition to make it current, but true Metal passeth for it’s own intrinsick Value. O where is that Christian Meekness, Patience and Forbearance! How many have been ruined, that were never exhorted, and excommunicated before they were once admonished? This is not to serve God, but worldly Interest: It’s quite contrary to Christ’s Counsel and his Followers and Practice. He came to save, and not to destroy Nature, to magnify his Grace. You pretend most of you, to dislike J. Calvin’s unconditional Reprobation, yet practise it: If you say, no, Conformity is your Condition, I answer, It is as unreasonable to require an Impossibility, as cruel to damn Men for not doing it: For, as you say, Edition: current; Page: [{254}] his Doctrine makes God to command them to repent, that cannot repent; and yet damn them if they repent not: So you enjoin Men to relinquish their present Faith and Worship, and conform to yours, which is not in their Power to do, yet damn them in a temporal Respect if they refuse it: For you make such an unavoidable Dissent punishable with the Destruction of Men’s Liberties and Estates. You had better leave off valuing your selves upon the Mercy and Well-natur’dness of that Tenet of the Universal Love of God to Mankind ’till you love more than your selves, and abominate that the Church of England should be the Elect to the Civil Government and all others as Reprobates, since you pretend to detest the like Injustice in John Calvin’s Notion of Election and Reprobation.216

And the Truth of it is, this helps on Atheism as much as any Enormity in the Land; when witty Men are not willing to take Pains to examine after the Truth and Excellency in Religion, so that People that call themselves Christ’s Ministers and the Apostles Successors and Followers, affect and seek Government, and yet twice deny it, when they go to receive it: That some others grow Lordly, live Voluptuously, and watch after the biggest Preferments, not being excited by most Service for God, but earthly Power and Wealth for themselves; and that, at the same Time, they persecute Men of more Self-denyal, for Matters of Opinion about Faith and Worship towards God; so that Non-Conformity to the Church, No Protection from the State. Which, among Protestants, is so much the more unreasonable; First, Because they, by these Courses, implicitly own and assume the highest Infallibility and Perfection, and yet deny any such Thing. For it supposes that nothing is Truer, nothing Perfecter; or else they both persecute Men to embrace a Fallible and Imperfect Religion, and with cruel Penalties provide against any thing more true or Infallible; which is the greatest Injury to the World that can be, in as much as it is a plain Endeavour to frustrate all those excellent Prophecies and gracious Promises God hath given, and the Holy Scriptures declare of the latter Days. But Secondly, It exposes Protestants to the Lash and Scorn of the Papist unavoidably; for, at this Rate, you that, with Reason, think it Ignorance and Irreligion in the Papist to imagine himself discharged in God’s Account, by believing only as the Church believes, conceive your selves, at the same Time, justify’d by believing only as a few of your own Doctors, or else as the State believes. But if the Church cannot use Force in Religion, because she cannot infallibly Edition: current; Page: [{255}] determine to the Conscience without Convincement, much less ought a few Doctors or the Civil Authority to use Force where they can much less judge. Unless you would make them the Civil Executioners of your Displeasure who have no Civil Power to give them such Commission; and to be sure no Ecclesiastical Authority to Exercise any Force or Violence about Religion. For the Papist, judging by his Principles, punishes them that believe not as the Church believes, though against Scripture; but the Protestant, who teaches every one to believe the Scripture, though against Church-Authority, persecutes, against his own Principles, even them that in any Particular so believe as he, in general, teaches them to believe. This is hard, but true upon the Protestant; for what is plainer than that he afflicts those, that, according to his own Doctrine, believe and honour Holy Scripture, but, against it, will receive no Human Interpretation. Them, I say, who interpret Scripture to themselves, which, by his Position, none but they to themselves can interpret; Them, that use the Scripture no otherwise, by his own Doctrine, to their Edification, than He himself uses it to their Punishing; and so whom his Doctrine acknowledges true Believers, his Discipline persecutes as Hereticks.

To sum up all at this Time, If we must believe as Caesar appoints, why not then as the Church believes? But if not as either, without Convincement, pray how can Force be lawful? Let me recommend one Book to you, that of Right claims a Place with you, and that is Bishop Taylor’s of Liberty of Prophecy;217 never answer’d, that I have heard of, and I have Reason to believe, never will be attempted; for indeed it is unanswerable. That was the Judgment of a Doctor under Persecution, I could be glad if it might be the Practice of Bishops in their Power: I may say the same of J. Tillotson’s sober and seasonable Discourse before the Commons on the Fifth of November.218 And, the Truth is, I am the more earnest with you at this Time, because I find that God daily shews us he has great good Will to poor England. O why should we drive him from us by our Disobedience to him, and our Severities to one another! He has lately put a Price into our Hands, and continues to pour his Favours upon us: All depends upon a sincere Reformation and our Perseverance therein.

To give Testimony of this, let us with our whole Hearts turn to God, and Edition: current; Page: [{256}] keep his Holy Law; and let us but be jealous of his Glory, by punishing Vice, and cherishing Virtue, and we may assure our selves he will interest himself in our Safety. Of this we cannot doubt; for he who has begun to do it under our Disobedience, will not desert us in our sincere Repentance. And as this is our Duty to God, without which we vainly hope for Deliverance, so is there a Duty we owe to one another, that is the next requisite to our Preservation.

Let, therefore, all Asperities be avoided, Nick-Names forbidden, and the Oppressed Protestant delivered. Revive the noble Principle of Liberty of Conscience, on which the Reformation rose: For in Vain do we hope to be deliver’d from Papists, ’till we deliver our selves from Popery. This Coercion upon Conscience and Persecution for Religion are that Part of Popery which is most justly hated and feared: And if we either fear or hate Popery for it’s Cruelty, shall we practise the Cruelty we fear or hate it for? God forbid! No, not on those that have used it to us. This were the Way to be deserted of God, and left to their Cruelty. The same Sins will ever fix the same Odium, and find the same Punishment where-ever they are; yea greater, by how much Protestants pretend to better Things: If they burnt your Ancestors, don’t you strip and starve your Brethren: Remember the many Thousands now persecuted in this Kingdom for the Sake of their tender and very peaceable Consciences; Husbands are unlawfully separated from their Wives, and Parents from their Children, their Corn, Cattle and Houshold-stuff swept away, perhaps at the Instigation of some lewd and indigent Informer, or to please the Malice of an ill-dispos’d Neighbour. In the mean Time many, once sufficient, are expos’d to Charity, the Fruits of their honest Labour and Bread of their poor helpless Children being now made the Forfeiture of their Conscience.

Friends and Country Men, there is a deep Doctrine in this Providence; examine it well, that you may reap the Benefit of it: And among the rest, let me tell you, this is not the least Part of it, that God is shewing you Mercy, that you may shew Mercy, and has awaken’d you at the Brink of the Pit, that you may help your Brethren out of it, ay, your Enemies. Be wise and considerate; It will be much your own Fault if you are not happy. And truly I have no Manner of Scruple, but God will preserve us, if we will not cast away our selves. For our own Sins and Folly can only direct the Hand that seeks to hit and hurt us; and shall we make it successful to our own Ruin? Let us therefore turn away from all Impiety; let the Magistracy discourage and punish it; and let us forbear and love one another. If we begin with God, we shall end with God, and that Edition: current; Page: [{257}] is with Success: Else, be assured, we shall only inherit the Wind of our own Invention, and be deserted of him then, when we shall most want him.

In short, reverence the present Providence; and though your Lives have not deserv’d it, let them now be grateful and not abuse it. Pursue your Advantages throughly, but wisely; be as temperate as zealous, and to your Enemies as generous as just. Insult not over ill Men for the Sake of their ill Principles, but pity their Unhappiness, whilst you abhor the Cause of it: Let them see that you had rather inform than destroy them, and that you take more Pleasure in their Conversion than your own Revenge. This will be the greatest Confutation upon them, that they be taught the Goodness of your Religion by the Mildness of it; and by it’s Mercy the Cruelty of their own. The Indian Atabaliba rejected the Romish Baptism because of the Spanish Tyranny; whence it was usual with those Poor Americans to desire they might not go to Heaven if the Spaniards went thither. I know there be little Arts used to prevent Protestant Union, and that in a Protestant Guise? and ’tis a Trick, not of Yesterday, to put one Party of Protestants upon devouring four or five, that both the Protestant Church may have the Odium of Eating or Devouring her own Children, and that another Interest, behind the Hangings, may find the more easy and creditable Accession to the Chair: It is the Men of this Strain, though under Disguise, that now seek to distract you; and to effect it the better, old Stories must be had up, Acts of Oblivion violated, the Dead disturb’d, their Tombs rifled, and they haled out of their Graves to receive a new Sentence: That condemning the Living of that Interest by the Dead, they might be deserted of those, that, to say True, cannot be long safe without them.

If any Thing Sober and Judicious be propos’d for allaying Asperities, accomodating Differences, and securing to Prince and People a just and legal Union of Interest, as our Government requires, we must presently be told of 41, and 42, as if there were a sort of Necromancy in the Numbers, or that the naming of those Figures (long since made Cyphers by an Act of Oblivion) had Power enough to lay the active and generous Spirits of our Times:219 But they find themselves mistaken in their black Art, and that Things as well as Times Edition: current; Page: [{258}] are changed; The Mask is off, and he that runs may read, Res Nolunt malè Administrari.220

Men in their Pleas and Endeavours for Truth, Justice and Sincere Religion will not be overborn or staggered by such stale and trifling Reflections, rarely used, of late, but to palliate wretched Designs, or discredit good ones with Men of weak Judgment, though perhaps of loyal Principles.

I beseech you let us not be unskilful in these Tricks, that we may not be mistaken or abused by them: I cannot tell a Time in which the Minds of all Sorts of Protestants have been more powerfully and unanimously engag’d to endeavour a good Understanding between the King and People. And as I am sure it was never more needed, so, let me say, no Age hath put a richer Price into the Hands of Men, or yielded a fairer Occasion to fix an happy and lasting Union upon: In order to which let me prevail with you that we may study to improve this great Principle as the necessary Means to it, viz. That God’s Providence and our own Constitution have made the Interest of Prince and People One; and that their Peace and Greatness lie in a most industrious and impartial Prosecution of it.

Those that teach other Doctrine, as that the Prince hath an Interest apart from the Good and Safety of the People, are the sole Men that get by it, and therefore find themselves oblig’d to study their Misunderstanding; because they only are disappointed and insecured by their Union.

Experience truly tells us that such Persons have another Interest than that which leads to a common Good, and are often but too artificial in interesting Princes in the Success of it: But prudent and generous Princes have ever seen that it is neither safe nor just; and that no Kingdom can be govern’d with true Glory and Success but there where the Interest of the Governour is one with that of the Governed, and where there is the strictest Care to steer all Transactions of State, by the Fundamentals, or the first and great Principles of their own Constitution: Especially, since swerving from them hath always made Way for Confusion and Misery in Government. Our own Stories are almost every where vext by this Neglect; and those of our Neighbours must submit to the same Truth.

To conclude and sum up the whole Discourse; If you will both cure present and prevent future Grievances, it will greatly behove you to take a most deliberate and unbyass’d View of the present State of Things, with their proper Edition: current; Page: [{259}] Causes and Tendencies. Let us confront our Ecclesiastical Matters with the plain Text and Letter of Holy Scripture; this is Protestant. And let us compare our Civil Transactions with the Ancient Laws and Statutes of the Realm; this is English. And I do humbly and heartily beseech Almighty God, that he would so dispose the Hearts of Prince and People, as that firm Foundations may be now laid for a Just and Lasting Tranquility to these Nations: And believe me if you please, unless they are Just and Equal they cannot last. Time will prove it, because it always has, and that God is unchangeable in the Order and Justice of his Providence. And, since Righteousness exalts a Nation, and that Sin is the Shame of any People:221 therefore will I close with David’s Prayer, Psal. 7. 9. O let the Wickedness of the Wicked come to an End, but Establish the Just: For the Righteous God tryeth the Hearts and the Reins.

An APPENDIX of the Causes and Cure of Persecution.

I IMPUTE all Persecution for Religion to these Seven ensuing Causes, tho properly speaking, there is but one Original Cause of this Evil, and that is the Devil, as there is but one Original Cause of Good, and that is God.

I. The first Cause of Persecution is this, That the Authors and Users of it have little or no Religion at Heart; They are not subject to the Ground and first Cause of true Religion in their own Souls; for it is the Part of true Religion to humble the Mind, break the Heart, and soften the Affection; It was God himself that said, Unto this Man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite Spirit, and trembles at my Word;222 not one that breaks Pates, and plunders Goods for Religion. Blessed are they that mourn, said Christ, they shall be comforted;223 but not Those that sell Joseph and make Merry. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God; Those that are low in their own Eyes; not such as devour and damn all but themselves. Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the Earth; such as are gentle and ready to help, and not Tyrannize over Neighbours. Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy; what then shall become of those that are Cruel, under Pretence of Edition: current; Page: [{260}] doing it for God’s Sake? Blessed are the Peace-makers, for they shall be called the Children of God; then Disturbers and Destroyers of their peaceable Neighbours shall not be called so. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled; but not those that hunger and thirst after our Corn and Cattel, Houses and Land for Conscience sake. And Blessed are you, says Christ, when Men shall Revile and Persecute you, &c. Then not those that Revile and Persecute others that are Sober and Harmless: Not one Blessing to his Conscience-hunting Doctrine and Practice, that devour the Widow and Orphans for Religion. Were Men inwardly and truly Religious, they would have so low an Opinion of themselves, so tender a Regard to Mankind, so great an awe of Almighty God, as that none of these froward Passions would have any Sway with them. But, the Mischief is, unmortified Passions pretend to Religion; a proud, impatient, arrogant Mind would promote it; than which, nothing of Man is more remote from it; mistaking the very Nature and End of Christ’s peaceable Religion, Which if the Apostle James say true, is to visit the Fatherless and Widow, and keep our selves unspotted of the World.224 But, on the contrary, They turn Widow and Fatherless out of House and Home, and spot themselves with the Cruelty and Injustice of usurping their poor Patrimony, the Bread of their Lives, and Sustenance of their Natures: Such Men as these are void of natural Affection; their Religion has no Bowels, or they are without Mercy in the Profession of it; which is the Reverse of true Religion, that makes us love Enemies, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us:225 And so much stronger, in Souls truly Religious, is the Power of Love to Mankind than any self revenging Passion, that from an humble and serious Reflection upon the Mercies and Goodness of God to them, they do not only suppress any rising of Heart against their Persecutors (much more against peaceable Dissenters) but with much softness and Charity, commiserate their Ignorance and Anger: Offering to inform them, and praying that they may be forgiven. This is to be Religious, and therefore those that Persecute for Religion any ways are Irreligious.

II. The next Cause of Persecution is the gross but general mistake which People are under concerning the Nature of the Church and Kingdom of Christ: For the lamentable Worldliness of Mens Minds hath put them upon those Carnal Constructions which have made Way for all the external Coercion and Edition: current; Page: [{261}] Violence, used by bad and suffer’d by good Men, on the Score of Religion, from the Beginning. And no wonder if ordinary Persons tumble upon this Construction, when the Disciples of Jesus shew’d themselves so ill read in the Mysteries of his Kingdom, that after all the Intimacy they had had with him, they refrain’d not to ask, When shall the Kingdom be restored to Israel.226 They look’t abroad, had a Worldly Idea in their Minds; Jews like, they waited for external Deliverance from the Power of the Romans, rather than an Internal Salvation from the Dominion of Satan; and interpreted those Words to Worldly Loss and Freedom, which did relate to the Loss and Redemption of the Soul: But Jesus taught them better Things; yet so, as not to deny or flatly discourage and rebuke them; for that, though true, might have been more at that Time, than they could have born; therefore he winds off with them upon the Time and the Season of the Thing, knowing that the Time was at Hand, that they should be better taught and satisfied of the Nature of his Kingdom, unto which he referred them. When the Spirit of Truth comes, it shall lead you into all Truth, &c:227

That the Kingdom of Christ is not of this World, has been before observed, and the Reason is so great that all Men of Common Sense must allow it, upon Christ’s Principle and Argument; for says he, then would my Servants fight for me;228 truly implying, because the Kingdoms of this World are evidently set up and maintained by worldly Force, and that he will have no worldly Force used in the Business of his Kingdom, that therefore it is not of this World. Consequently, those that attempt to set up his Kingdom by worldly Force, or make that their Pretence to use it, are none of his Servants: They are truly but Men of this World; such as seek an Earthly, and not an Heavenly Crown and Kingdom: Themselves, and not Christ Jesus. Where, by the way, let me observe, that though the Jews, to engage Pilate the more easily to their side, impeach’t Christ of being an Enemy to Caesar, they were Enemies, and He appeared a Friend to Caesar; for he came to reform the Lives of Men, to make them better Subjects; to obey Caesar, not for Fear, but for Conscience-sake: A way to make Caesar’s Province, both easie and safe. But the Jews would have had him Caesar’s Enemy; one that should have forceably rescu’d them from Caesar Power; That was what they waited for; a Captain General to head the Edition: current; Page: [{262}] Revolt, and with an High Hand to overbear and captive Caesar, as he had done them: And, ’tis more than probable, that this Appearance being after quite another Manner and to another End than they expected; They therefore rejected him; their Hearts being set upon the Desire of Worldly Empire:

But to return; Christ told his Disciples, that he had chosen them out of the World;229 how pray? Not to converse or live bodily in it? No such Matter: But he had chosen or singled them from the Nature, Spirit, Glory, Policy and Pomp of this World. How Persons, so qualified, can make a Worldly Church or Kingdom, unless they desert Christ’s Doctrine, is past my Skill to tell. So that the Capacity that Christians stand in to Christ is Spiritual, and not Worldly or Carnal; and for that Reason not Carnal or Worldly, but Spiritual Methods and Weapons only are to be used to inform or reclaim such as are Ignorant or Disobedient. And if we will give Ancient Story credit, we shall find that Worldly Weapons were never employed by the Christian Church till she became Worldly, and so ceast to be truly Christian.

But why should I say the Church? the most abused Word in the World; It is her Leaders have taught her to err; and that of believing as the Church believes, is so far from being true in Point of Fact as well as Reason, that the Church her self has long believed as the Clergy, that is, the Priest, believed, ever since that Sort of Men have practised a Distinction from, and Superiority upon, the Laity. He that will peruse the Ecclesiastical Story delivered us by Eusebius Pamphilus, Socrates Scholasticus, Evagrius, Ruffinus, Sozomen, and more especially the Councils, B. Usher, ay, and Baronius himself, will find but too many and sad Instances of the Truth of this.230

In short, People apprehending the Church and Kingdom of Christ to be Visible and Worldly, like other Societies and Governments, have thought it not only to be Lawful, but Necessary to use the Arts and Force of this World to support his Church and Kingdom; especially since the Interest of Religion hath been incorporated with that of the Civil Magistrate: For from that Time he hath been made Custos utriusque Tabulae,231 and such as offend, though Edition: current; Page: [{263}] about Church Matters, have been reputed Transgressors against the State, and consequently the State interested in punishing the Offence. Whereas had Christians remain’d in their primitive Simplicity and Purity, in the Self-denying, Patient and Suffering Doctrine of Christ; Christianity had stood in Holy Living and not in Worldly Regiment; and it’s Compulsion would have been Love, it’s Arms Reasons and Truth, and it’s utmost Rigour, even to obstinate Enemies or Apostates, but Renouncing of their Communion, and that not till much Forbearance and many Christian Endeavours had been used to reclaim them.

To sum up all; The Kingdoms of this World, stand in outward, Bodily and Civil Matters, and here the Laws and Power of Men reach and are effectual. But the Kingdom and Church of Christ, that is chosen out of the World, stands not in Bodily Exercise (which the Apostle says profits little) nor in Times nor Places, but in Faith, and that Worship which Christ tells us is in Spirit and in Truth:232 To this no worldly Compulsion can bring or force Men; ’tis only the Power of that King of Righteousness whose Kingdom is in the Minds and Souls of the Just, and he rules by the Law of his own free Spirit, which, like the Wind, Bloweth where it listeth:233 And as without this Spirit of Regeneration no Man can be made a Member of Christ’s Church or Kingdom, and less a Minister, so neither is it in the Power of Man to command or give it, and consequently all worldly Force employ’d to make Men Members of Christ’s Church and Kingdom is as ineffectual as unnatural. I could be very large upon this Point, for it is very fruitful, and so much the Cause of Persecution, that if there were never another to be assign’d, this were enough; and upon due Consideration it must needs meet with every Man’s Judgment and Experience, I will here add the Sense of Memorable Hales of Eaton upon this Subject.234

When our Saviour, in the Acts, after his Resurrection, was discoursing to his Disciples concerning the Kingdom of God, they presently brake forth into this Question, Wilt thou now restore the Kingdom unto Israel?235 Certainly this Question betrays their Ignorance: Their Thoughts still ran upon a Kingdom, like unto the Kingdoms of the World, notwithstanding they had so long and so often heard our Saviour to the Edition: current; Page: [{264}] contrary: Our Saviour therefore shortly takes them up, Non est vestrum, your Question is nothing to the Purpose; the Kingdom that I have spoken of is another Manner of Kingdom than you conceive. Sixteen hundred Years, & quod excurrit,236 hath the Gospel been preached unto the World, and is this Stain spunged out yet? I doubt it. Whence arise those novel and late Disputes, de Notis Ecclesiae, of the Notes and Visibility of the Church? Is it not from hence, they of Rome take the World and the Church to be like Mercury and Sosia in Plautus his Comedies, so like one another, that one of them must wear a Toy in his Cap, that so the Spectators might distinguish them;237 whence comes it, that they stand so much upon State and Ceremony in the Church? Is it not from hence, that they think the Church must come in like Agrippa and Bernice in the Acts μετὰ πολλἦς φαντασίας, as St. Luke speaks, with a great deal of Pomp, and Train, and Shew, and Vanity?238 And that the Service of God, doth necessarily require this Noise and Tumult of outward State and Ceremony? Whence comes it, that we are at our Wits End, when we see Persecution, and Sword, and Fire, to range against the true Professors of the Gospel? Is it not because, as these bring Ruin and Desolation upon the Kingdoms of the World, so we suppose they work no other Effect in the Kingdom of Christ? All these Conceits, and many more of the like Nature, spring out of no other Fountain than that old inveterate Error, which is so hardly wiped out of our Hearts, That the State of the Church and Kingdom of Christ, doth hold some Proportion, some likeness with the State and managing of temporal Kingdoms: Wherefore to pluck out of our Hearts, Opinionem tam insitam, tam vetustam, a Conceit so ancient, so deeply rooted in us, our Saviour spake most excellently, most pertinently, and most fully, when he tells us that his Church, that his Kingdom is not of this World.239

In which Words of his, there is contained the true Art of discovering and knowing the true Nature and Essence of the Church. For as they which make Statues, cut and pare away all Superfluities of the Matter Edition: current; Page: [{265}] upon which they work; so our Saviour, to shew us the true Proportion and Feature of the Church, prunes away the World, and all Superfluous excrescencies, and sends her to be seen, at he did our first Parents in Paradise, stark naked: As those Elders in the Apocryphal Story of Susanna, when they would see her Beauty, commanded to take off her Mask;240 so he that longs to see the Beauty of the Church, must pull off that Mask of the World, and outward shew. For as Juda in the Book of Genesis, when Thamar sat vail’d by the Way Side, knew not his Daughter from an Whore;241 so whilst the Church, the Daughter and Spouse of Christ, sits vail’d with the World, and Pomp and Shew, it will be an hard Matter to discern her from an Harlot. But yet further, to make the Difference betwixt these Kingdoms the more plainly to appear, and so better to fix in your Memories, I will briefly touch some of those Heads, in which they are most notoriously differenced.

The first Head wherein the Difference is seen, are the Persons and Subjects of this Kingdom: For as the Kingdom of Christ is not of this World, so the Subjects of this Kingdom are Men of another World, and not of this. Every one of us bears a double Person, and accordingly is the Subject of a double Kingdom: The Holy Ghost, by the Psalmist, divides Heaven and Earth betwixt God and Man, and tells us, as for God, He is in Heaven, but the Earth has he given to the Children of Men: So hath the same Spirit, by the Apostle St. Paul, divided every one of our Persons into Heaven and Earth, into an outward and earthly Man, and into an inward and Heavenly Man:242 This Earth, that is, this Body of Clay hath he given to the Sons of Men, to the Princes under whose Government we live; but Heaven, that is, the inward and spiritual Man, hath he reserved unto himself: They can restrain the outward Man, and moderate our outward Actions by Edicts and Laws; they can tye our Hands and our Tongues;—Illâ se jactet in aula AEolus:243 Thus far they can go, and when they are gone thus far, they can go no farther: But to rule the inward Man in our Hearts and Souls, to set up an Impartial Throne in our Understandings, and Wills, this Part of our Government belongs to Edition: current; Page: [{266}] God and to Christ: These are the Subjects, this the Government of his Kingdom: Men may be Kings of Earth and Bodies, but Christ alone is the King of Spirits and Souls. Yet this inward Government hath Influence upon our outward Actions: For the Authority of Kings over our outward Man is not so absolute, but that it suffers a great Restraint; it must stretch no farther than the Prince of our inward Man pleases: For if secular Princes stretch out the Skirts of their Authority to command ought by which our Souls are prejudic’d, the King of Souls hath in this Case given us a greater Command, That we rather obey God than Men.244

III. A Third Great Cause of Persecution for Religion is this, that Men make too many Things necessary to be believed to Salvation and Communion. Persecution entred with Creed-making; for it so falls out, that those who distinguish the Tree in the Bulk, cannot with the like Ease discern every Branch or Leaf that grows upon it; and to run out the necessary Articles of Faith to every good or true Thing that the Wit of Man may deduce from the Text, and so too, as that I ought to have a distinct Idea or Apprehension of every one of them, and must run them over in my Mind as a Child would conn a Lesson by Heart, of which I must not miss a Tittle upon my Salvation; this I think to be a Temptation upon Men to fall into Dispute and Division, and then we are taught, by long Experience, that he that has most Power will oppress his Opinion that is weaker; whence comes Persecution: This certainly puts Unity and Peace too much upon the Hazard. Mary’s Choice therefore was not of many Things, but the one Thing necessary, as Christ, the Lord of the true Divinity Terms it. Luke 10. 42. And pray what was this one needful Thing, but Christ Jesus himself, and her Faith, Love and Obedience in and to him? Here is no perplex’d Creed to subscribe, no System of Divinity to charge the Head with; This One needful Thing was Mary’s Choice and Blessing: May it be ours, and, I should hope a quick End to Controversies, and consequently to Persecutions.

IV. Another Cause of Persecution, is The Prejudice of Education, and that Byass Tradition gives to those Men, who have not made their Religion the Religion of their Judgment: For such will forbid all the Inquiry which might question the Weakness or Falshood of their Religion, and had rather be deceiv’d in an honourable Descent, than be so uncivil to the Memory of their Ancestors as to seek the Truth, which found, must reprove the Ignorance of their Ages; Edition: current; Page: [{267}] of this, the vainest of all Honours, they are extream careful; and at the very Mention of any Thing, to them new, tho’ as old as Truth, and older than this World, are easily urg’d into a Tempest, and are not appeased but by a Sacrifice. This Ignorance and Want of Inquiry helps on Persecution.

V. Another Reason, and that no small one, is Self-Love and Impatience of Men under Contradiction, be it of Ignorance, that they are angry with what they cannot refute, or out of private Interest, it matters not: Their Opinion must reign alone, they are tenacious of their own Sense and can’t indure to have it questioned, be there never so much Reason for it. Men of their Passions are yet to learn that they are ignorant of Religion, by the want they have of Mortification; such Persons can easily let go their Hold on Charity, to lay violent Hands upon their Opposers: If they have Power, they rarely fail to use it so; not remembring, that when they absolv’d themselves from the Tye of Love, Meekness and Patience, they abandoned true Religion, and contended not for the Faith, once deliver’d to the Saints,245 which stood therein, but for meer Words.

It is here that proud Flesh, and a capricious Head disputes for Religion, and not an humble Heart and a Divine Frame of Spirit. Men that are angry for God, Passionate for Christ, that can call Names for Religion, and fling Stones for Faith, may tell us they are Christians if they will, but no Body would know them to be such by their Fruits; to be sure they are no Christians of Christ’s making.

I would to God that the Disputants of our Time did but calmly weigh the Irreligiousness of their own Heats for Religion, and see if what they contend for will quit the Cost, will countervail the Charge of departing from Charity, and making a Sacrifice of Peace to gain their Point. Upon so seasonable a Reflection I am confident they would find that they rather show their Love to Opinion than Truth, and seek Victory more than Concord.

Could Men be contented, as he whom they call their Lord was, to declare their Message, and not strive for Proselytes, nor vex for Conquest, they would recommend all to the Conscience, and if it must be so, patiently endure Contradiction too, and so lay their Religion, as he did his, not in Violence but Suffering: But I must freely profess, and in Duty and Conscience I do it, that I cannot call that Religion, which is introduced against the Laws of Love, Meekness and Friendship: Superstition, Interest or Faction, I may.

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There is a Zeal without Knowledge, that is Superstition; there is a Zeal against Knowledge, that is Interest or Faction, the true Heresie; there is a Zeal with Knowledge, that is Religion; therefore blind Obedience may be Superstition, it can’t be Religion; And if you will view the Countries of Cruelty, you shall find them superstitious rather than Religious. Religion is gentle, it makes Men better, more friendly, loving and patient then before. And the Success, which followed Christianity, whilst the ancient Professors of it betook themselves to no other Defence, plainly proves both the Force of those passive Arguments above all corporal Punishments, and that we must never hope for the same Prosperity, till we fall into the same Methods. Gal. 5. 22. James 3. 17. Are Men impatient of having their Conceits own’d? they are then most to be suspected. Error and Superstition, like crackt Titles, only fear to be searcht, and run and cry for Authority and Number. Truth is plain and stedfast, without Arts or Tricks; will you receive her, well; if not, there is no Compulsion. But, pray tell me, what is that desired Uniformity that has not Unity, and that Unity, which has not Love, Meekness and Patience in it? I beseech you hear me, for those Men depart from the Spirit of Christianity that seek with Anger and Frowardness to promote it. Let us not put so miserable a Cheat upon our selves, nor such an Affront upon Christianity as to think that a most gentle and patient Religion can be advanced by most ungentle and impatient Ways. I should sooner submit to an humble Opposition, than to the greatest Zealot in the World, and rather deliver up my self to him that would modestly drop a controverted Truth, than to such as seek tempestuously to carry it; for even Error, bashfully and patiently defended, endangers Truth, in the Management of imprudent and hasty Zeal; and gives to it that Lustre, which only good Eyes can see from Gold. Alas! it is for want of considering that Men don’t see, that to disorder the Mind in Controversie is a greater Mischief, than to carry the Point can be a Benefit; inasmuch as it is not to be Religious to apprehend rightly, but to do well: The latter can scarcely be without the former, but the former often is without the latter, which brings me to my sixth Cause of Persecution.

VI. Another, and that no small Cause of Persecution, is a Misapprehension of the Word Religion. For when once the Ignorance or Prejudice of Men, has perswaded them to lay more weight upon their own Opinion, or Dissent of their Neighbours, than in Truth the Thing will bear, to excuse their Zeal or justifie their Spleen or Credit, they presently heighten the Difference to a new Religion; whence we so frequently hear of such Reflections as these, new Gospels and Faiths, upstart Religions and Lights, and with the like Scare-Crows, Edition: current; Page: [{269}] amuse the Vulgar, and render their own Design of ruining honest Men the more practicable. But I would obviate this Mischief; for a new Religion has a new Foundation, and consequently where there is the same Foundation, there cannot be a new Religion. Now the Foundation of the Christian Religion is Christ, and that only is another Religion than the Christian which professes another Foundation, or corruptly adds to that Foundation; by adding of other Mediators, and introducing a new Way of Remission of Sin: Which at least cannot be said of the several sorts of Protestants? For Protestants therefore to reproach each other with new Religions and Gospels; and by their indecent and unchristian Behaviour, to enflame their own Reckoning, and draw into more Discord, is a Sin against God, an Injury to the common Cause of Protestancy, and to the Security of the civil Interest of that Country, where the Inhabitants are of that Religion, as well as a real Injustice to one another: For Protestants don’t only agree in the same Fundamentals of Christianity, but of Protestancy too, that is, in the Reasons of Separation from Rome, which was also Christian. Let not every circumstantial Difference or Variety of Cult be Nicknam’d a new Religion, neither suffer so ill an Use to be made of such Dissents as to carry them beyond their true Bounds; for the Meaning of those Arts of ill Men, is to set the People farther off from one another than they really are, and to aggravate Differences in Judgment to Contrariety in Affection: And when they have once inflam’d them to Variance and Strife, nothing can hinder Persecution but Want of Power; which being never wanted by the strongest Side, the Weakest, though truest, is opprest, not by Argument but Worldly Weapons.

VII. The seventh and last Cause I shall now assign for Persecution is this, That Holy Living is become no Test among us, unless against the Liver. The Tree was once known by it’s Fruits: It is not so now: The better Liver, the more dangerous, is not a Conformist, and so the more in Danger, and this has made Way for Persecution. There was a Time, when Virtue was Venerable and good Men admired; but that is too much derided, and Opinion carries it.

He that can perswade his Conscience to comply with the Times, be he Vicious, Knavish, Cowardly, any Thing, he is protected, perhaps preferred. A Man of Wisdom, Sobriety and Ability to serve his King and Country, if a Dissenter, must be blown upon for a Phanatick, a Man of Faction, of disloyal Principles, and what not?

Rewards and Punishments are the Magistrates Duty and the Government’s Interest and Support. Rewards are due to Virtue, Punishments to Vice. Let us not mistake nor mis-call Things; let Virtue be what it always was in Government; Edition: current; Page: [{270}] good Manners, sober and just Living; and Vice, ill Manners and dishonest Living. Reduce all to this; Let such good Men have the Smiles and Rewards, and such ill Men the Frowns and Punishments of the Government: This ends Persecution, and lays Opinion to Sleep. Ill Men will make no more Advantages by such Conformity, nor good Men no more suffer for Want of it.

In short: As that Religious Society deserves not the Protection of the Civil Government which is inconsistent with the Safety of it; so those Societies of Christians that are not only not Destructive of the Civil Government, but Lovers of it, ought, by the Civil Government, to be secured from Ruin.

God Almighty open our Understandings and Hearts, and pour out the Spirit of thorough Reformation upon us; for it is in the Spirit, and not in the Words of Reformation, that the Life and Prosperity of Reformation stands; that so we may be all conscientiously dispos’d to seek and pursue those things which make for Love, Peace and Godliness, that it may be well with us and ours, both here and for ever.

For yet a little while and the Wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his Place, and it shall not be; but the Meek shall inherit the Earth, and shall delight themselves in Abundance of Peace. The Wicked Plotteth against the Just, and gnasheth upon him with his Teeth; the Lord shall laugh at him; for he seeth that his Day is coming. Psal. 37. 10, 11, 12, 13.

The Judgment of King James and King Charles the First about Persecution for Religion.

WE FIND it asserted by King James in his Speech to the Parliament in the Year 1609. That it is a pure Rule in Divinity, That God never loves to plant his Church with Violence and Blood: And he furthermore said, It was usually the Condition of Christians to be Persecuted, but not to Persecute.246

And we find the same Things in Substance asserted again by his Son, King Charles the First, in his Book known by the Name of ΕΙΚΩΝ ΒΑΞΙΛΙΚΗ, printed for R. Royston, as followeth.

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Page 67. In his Prayer to God, he said, Thou seest how much Cruelty, amongst Christians, is acted under the Colour of Religion; as if we could not be Christians, unless we Crucify one another.

Page 28. Make them at length seriously to consider, that nothing Violent and Injurious, can be Religion.

Page 70. Nor is it so proper to hew out Religious Reformations by the Sword, as to polish them by fair and equal Disputations, among those that are most concern’d in the Differences, whom not Force but Reason ought to convince.

Sure, in Matters of Religion, those Truths gain most upon Men’s Judgments and Consciences, which are least urged with Secular Violence, which weakens Truth with Prejudices.

Page 115. It being an Office not only of Humanity, rather to use Reason than Force, but also of Christianity to seek Peace and ensue it.

Some Words of Advice from King Charles the First to the then Prince of Wales, now King of England, &c.

Page 165. MY COUNSEL and Charge to you is, That you seriously consider the former Real or Objected Miscarriages, which might Occasion my Troubles, that you may avoid them, &c.

Beware of Exasperating any Faction, by the Crosness and Asperity of some Men’s Passions, Humours and private Opinions, employ’d by you, grounded only upon Differences in lesser Matters, which are but the Skirts and Suburbs of Religion, wherein a Charitable Connivance and Christian Toleration, often dissipates their Strength, when rougher Opposition fortifies, and puts the Despised and Oppressed Party into such Combinations, as may most enable them to get a full Revenge on those they count their Persecutors.

Page 166. Take Heed that Outward Circumstances and Formalities of Religion devour not all.

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6.: A BRIEF EXAMINATION AND STATE of Liberty Spiritual, both With Respect to Persons in their Private Capacity, and in their Church Society and Communion (1681)

Written for the Establishment of the Faithful, Information of the Simple-Hearted, and Reproof of the Arrogant and High-minded, by a Lover of True Liberty, as it is in Jesus.

William Penn.

To go amongst the People of the Lord, called Quakers.

If the Son shall make you Free, ye shall be Free indeed. John 8. 36.

If we walk in the Light as he is in the Light, we have Fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin, 1 John 1. 7.

To the People of the Lord, called QUAKERS.

Dear Friends and Brethren,

IT HATH of long Time rested with some pressure upon my Spirit, for Zion’s Sake, and the Peace of Jerusalem, to write something of the Nature of True Spiritual Liberty; Liberty, one of the most Glorious Words and Things in the World, but little understood, and frequently abused by many. I beseech Almighty God to preserve you, his People, in the right Knowledge and Use of that Liberty, which Jesus Christ, the Captain of our Salvation, hath purchased for us, and is redeeming us into, who hath led Captivity captive, and is giving Gifts to them that truly believe in his Name.1 Christ’s Liberty is obtain’d through Christ’s Cross; they that would be his Free-men, must be his Bonds-men, and wear his blessed Yoke.2 His Liberty is from Sin, not to Sin; to do his Will, and not our Edition: current; Page: [{273}] own; no, not to speak an Idle Word. ’Tis not I that live (saith the Apostle) but Christ that liveth in me, who had set him Free from the Power of Sin, and brought Immortality to Light in him; whence he learned thus to triumph, O Death, where is thy Sting! O Grave, where is thy Victory!3 This is the Personal Freedom that comes by Jesus Christ, to as many as receive him in the Way, and for the End for which God hath given him, to wit, to be a Saviour and a Leader, to save us from our Corruptions, and guide us in the Narrow Way of his Holy Cross, and through the strait Gate of Self-denyal, which leads to Eternal Life. And as many as have enter’d at this Door, are come to have Unity with God, and one with another; To love him above all, and their Neighbours as themselves;4 yea, to prefer each other before themselves. Such will not violate the great Law of their Lord and Master; Love one another;5 the New, and yet the Old Commandment: These dwell in Love, and so they dwell in God; for God is Love. ’Twas the beloved Disciple’s Testimony, and it comes up to what another Man of God hath said, namely, The Church that dwells in God, if she dwells in God, then in Love; consequently her Members are in Union, of one Mind in Church Matters, since she has but one Head to Rule her.6

Peruse this brief Discourse in this Love, and it may be to Edification. My Aim is to assert the Truth, detect Error, and point in true Brotherly Kindness at those Shoals and Sands some by Mistake, or Overboldness, have and may run upon. O Friends! I greatly desire, that the Spirit of Love, Wisdom, and a sound Understanding, of Meekness, Judgment and Mercy, may ever rest upon you, that blamelesly you may be kept, an Holy Family, at Unity with it self, to the Lord God your Redeemer, that he over all may in you, through you, and by you, be Exalted, Honoured and Praised, who is worthy and blessed for ever.


Quest. WHAT is Spiritual Liberty?

Answ. It is twofold; there is a true and a false Liberty, as a true and false Spirit, the right discerning of which concerns every one’s Eternal Well-being. Edition: current; Page: [{274}]

Qu. What is true Spiritual Liberty?

Answ. Deliverance from Sin by the Perfect Law in the Heart, The Perfect Law of Liberty James 2. otherwise called, The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, that makes free from the Law of Sin and Death; else-where stiled, The Law of Truth writ in the Heart, which makes Free indeed, as saith Christ, If the Son shall make you Free, ye shall be Free indeed.7 So that the Liberty of Gods People stands in the Truth, and their Communion in it, and in the Perfect Spiritual Law of Christ Jesus, which delivers and preserves them from every Evil Thing that doth or would embondage. In this blessed Liberty, it is not the Will nor Wisdom of Man, neither the vain Affections and Lusts that rule, or give Law to the Soul; for the Minds of all such as are made Free by the Truth, are by the Truth conducted in doing and suffering through their Earthly Pilgrimage.

Qu. What is False Liberty?

Answ. A Departing from this blessed Spirit of Truth, and a Rebelling against this Perfect Law of Liberty in the Heart,8 and being at Liberty to do our own Wills; upon which cometh Reproof and Judgment.

Qu. But are there not some Things wherein we ought to be left to our own Freedom?

Answ. We are not our own, for we are bought with a Price; and in all Things ought we to glorify God with our Bodies, Souls and Spirits, which are the Lord’s.9

Qu. But must we have a Motion or Command from the Spirit of Truth for all Things that we do?10

Answ. That may be according to the Truth, which may not be by the immediate Motion or Command of the Truth; for that is according to the Truth, that is not against the Mind of the Truth, either particularly or generally exprest. The Truth commands me to do all to the Praise and Glory of God;11 but not that I should wait for a Motion to do every particular Thing. For Example: The variety of Actions in Trading, Commerce and Husbandry, the Variety of Flesh, Fish and Fowl for Food, with more of the same Nature, in all which Edition: current; Page: [{275}] there is a Choice and Liberty, but still according to the Truth, and within the Holy Bounds and Limits of it.

Qu. Then it seems there are some Things left to our Freedom.

Answ. Yes; but it must still be according to the Mind of God’s Truth: There are Things enjoyned, such as relate to our Duty to God, to our Superiors, to the Houshold of Faith and to all Men and Creatures, these are Indispensible. There are also Things that may be done or left undone, which may be called Indifferent;12 as what sort of Meat I will eat to day, whether I will eat Flesh, Fish or Herbs, or what Hours I will eat my Meals at, with many such outward Things of Life and Converse; yet even in such Cases I ought to act according to the Truth, in the Temperance and Wisdom of it.

Qu. But doth not Freedom extend farther than this; for since God hath given me a Manifestation of his Spirit to profit withal, and that I have the Gift of God in my self, should I not be lest to act according as I am free and perswaded in my own Mind, in the Things that relate to God, left looking upon my self as obliged by what is revealed unto another, though it be not revealed unto me, I should be led out of my own Measure, and act upon another’s Motion, and so offer a blind Sacrifice to God?

Answ. This is true in a Sense, that is, if thou art such an one that canst do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth, then mayst thou safely be left to thy Freedom in the Things of God, and the Reason is plain; because thy Freedom stands in the Perfect Law of Liberty, in the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, and in the Truth, which is Christ Jesus, which makes thee Free indeed, that is, perfectly Free from all that is Bad, and perfectly Free to all that is Holy, Just, Lovely, Honest, Comely, and of good Report;13 but if thou pleadest thy Freedom against such Things, yea, obstructest and slightest such Good, Edition: current; Page: [{276}] Wholesome and Requisit Things, thy Freedom is Naught, Dark, Perverse, out of the Truth, and against the perfect Law of Love and Liberty.

Qu. But must I conform to Things whether I can receive them or no? Ought I not to be left to the Grace and Spirit of God in my own Heart?

Answ. To the first Part of the Question, Nay; to the last, Yea. But now let us consider what is the Reason thou canst not receive them: Is the Fault in the Things themselves? Are they inconsistent with Truth, or will not the Truth own or assent unto them, or is the Fault in thee? that is to say, Is it thy Weakness, or thy Carelesness; If thy Weakness, it is to be born with, and to be informed; if thy Carelesness, thou ought’st to be admonished; for it is a dangerous Principle, and pernicious to true Religion, and which is worse, it is the Root of Ranterism to assert, That nothing is a Duty incumbent upon thee, but what thou art perswaded is thy Duty;14 for the Seared Conscience pleads his Liberty against all Duty, the Dark Conscience is here unconcerned, the Dead Conscience is here uncondemned, unless this Distinction be allowed of, that there may be an Ignorance or an Insensibility from Inability or Incapacity, or a Dark Education; and an Ignorance and Insensibility, from Carelesness, Disobedience, Prejudice, &c. So that though thou art not to conform to a Thing ignorantly, yet thou art seriously to consider, why thou art ignorant, and what the Cause of such Ignorance may be; certainly it can’t be in God, nor in his Gift to thee; it must then needs be in thy self, who hast not yet received a Sense for or against the Matter, about which thou art in doubt. To the second Part of the Question; Ought I not to be left to the Grace of God in my own Heart? Ans. That is of all Things most desirable, since they are well left that are there left; for there is no Fear of want of Unity, where all are left with the one Spirit of Truth; they must be of one Mind, they can’t be otherwise. So that to plead this against Unity, is to abuse the very Plea, and to commit the greatest Contradiction to that very Doctrine of Scripture, viz. That all should be guided by the Grace and Spirit of God in themselves;15 for the End of that Doctrine is certainty. They shall all know me, saith the Lord, from the least to the greatest. And I will give them one Heart, and one Way, that they may fear me for ever, for the Good of them, and of their Children after them, Jer. 32. 39. And I will give them one Heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you; and I will take the Stony Heart out of their Flesh, and will give them an Heart of Flesh, Ezekiel 11. 19. And the Multitude of them Edition: current; Page: [{277}] that believed were of one Heart, and of one Soul, Acts 4. 32. Is not this Unity too? I will restore unto you a pure Language; they shall be of one Heart and of one Mind, and great shall be their Peace.16 Therefore I must say to thee, Friend, What if thou wilt not be left with the Grace and Spirit of God in thy self, nor wait for it’s Mind, nor be watchful to it’s Revelations, nor humble and quiet till thou hast received such necessary Manifestations, but pleadest against the Counsel of the Spirit of the Lord in other faithful Persons, under the Pretence of being left to his Spirit in thy self; by which Means thou opposest the Spirit to the Spirit, and pleadest for Dis-unity, under the Name of Liberty; I ask thee, May not I exhort thee to the Practice of that I am moved to press thee to the Practice of? If not, thou art the Imposer, by restraining me from my Christian Liberty; and not only so, but away goeth Preaching, and with it the Scriptures, that are both appointed of God for Exhortation, Reproof and Instruction.17

Quest. But are there not various Measures, diversities of Gifts, and several Offices in the Body?18

Answ. True; but therefore are not the Members of one Mind, one Will, and one Judgment in common and universal Matters, especially relating to the Family and Church of God; And indeed there can’t be a falser Reasoning than to conclude Discord from Diversity, Contrariety from Variety. Is there Contrariety of Bloods, Lifes, Feelings, Seeings, Hearings, Tastings, Smellings, in one and the same Body, at one and the same Time? No such Matter: Experience is a Demonstration against all such Insinuations. So that though it be granted, that there is Diversity of Gifts, yet there is no Disagreement in Sense; and though Variety of Offices, yet no Contrariety in Judgment concerning those Offices. Well, say the Holy Scriptures of Truth, there is but one God; the Lord our God is but one Lord; there is but one God and Father of all Things; (that are good) and there is but one Lord, one Faith, and One Baptism;19 and his Light, Life and Spirit is at Unity with it self in all; what comes from the Light, Life or Spirit in one, it is the same in Truth and Unity to the rest, as if it did rise in themselves: This is seen in our Assemblies every Day, and will be throughout all Generations in the Church of God, among those that live in the lowly Truth, in which the pure Sense and sound Judgment stands; God is not the God of Edition: current; Page: [{278}] Confusion, but Order:20 Every one in his Order is satisfied, hath Unity and true Fellowship with whatever comes from the Life of God in another; for this precious Life reacheth throughout the Heritage of God, and is the common Life that giveth the common Feeling and Sense to the Heritage of God. Degree or Measure in the same Life can never contradict or obstruct that which is from the same Life for the common Benefit of the Family of God. The Lord is the Unmeasurable and Incomprehensible Glorious Being of Life, yet have we Unity with him in all his Works, who are come to his Divine Measure of Light and Truth in our own Hearts, and live therein; and shall we not have Unity with that which proceeds from a Fellow Creature? In short, the Saints Way is in the Light, wherein there is neither Doubt nor Discord; yea, they are Children of the Light, and called Light, and The Lights of the World;21 and can it be supposed that such should disagree and contradict each other in their exterior Order and Practice in the Church before the World; O the blessed seamless Garment of Jesus! where that is known, these Things can never rise. But yet again, The Just Man’s Path is not only a Light, but a shining Light, Brightness it self: Certainly there can be no Stumbling. It is also said, That Light is sown for the Righteous;22 then the Righteous shall never want Light upon any Occasion: And saith that beloved Evangelist and Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, They that walk in the Light, have Fellowship one with another, 1 John 1. Whence it is easy to conclude, they that go out of the Fellowship, go out of the Light; but if they that walk in the Light, have Fellowship one with another, what shall we say of those that plead being left to the Light to justify their not having Fellowship one with another? and, which is yet worse, who suppose People may conscientiously and Justifiably Dissent within themselves, and that by Reason of the Variety of the Degrees of the Spirit and Grace that are given of God unto them; as if the lesser Degree may dissent from the greater, because of it’s not being able to comprehend it. And to make this Principle more Authentick, such tell us, This is the Ancient Principle of Truth; and object, How will you else be able to maintain the Quakers Principles? The Fallacy of all which, lieth (as I said before) in not rightly distinguishing between Diversity and Disagreement, Variety and Contrariety; for this Diversity hath Concord, and this Variety hath Unity? And it is a Blindness that hath too much of late happened Edition: current; Page: [{279}] to some, by going from the one Life and Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, first to fall into Disagreements, and then plead for it, under the Notion of Diversity of Measures. I would ask all such Persons, who arrogate to themselves such a peculiar Knowledge of the Ancient Principles of Truth, or the Quakers first Principles; 1st, Whether they believe there be a Christian Body? 2dly, Whether this Body hath an Head? 3dly, Whether Christ be not this Head? 4thly, Whether this Head be without Eyes, Ears, Smell and Taste, and this Body without Sense and Feeling? If not, Whether this Head Seeth, Heareth, Smelleth, Tasteth DIFFERINGLY and CONTRARILY to it self? And whether this Body hath a contrary Feeling at the same Time about the same Thing? And if it be true, that the Church of Christ, redeemed by his most precious Blood to live to him, see with the same Eye, hear with the same Ear, speak with the same Mouth, live by the same Breath, and are led by the same Spirit, where is this Disagreement, Contrariety or Dissent about the Things of his Church?

Quest. But the Members of Christ’s Church in the Primitive Times had different Apprehensions; as the Apostles, and the People gathered by them.

Answ. Pray let me know who they were, and in what Cases?

Quest. The Persons were PAUL and PETER, and those Christians that differed about Meats; and the Scripture is plain in the Case.23

Answ. The Difference between Peter and Paul (in the Acts) testifies the Weakness of Peter, and the Place justifies Paul’s Reproof of his too great Compliance with the Jews in some of their Rites; which makes against Liberty of various Practices, in the Church of Christ, and not for indulging them. That Instance about the Difference of Christians as to Meats, &c. has nothing in it to the End for which it is alledged; for this related not to Church-Order or Communion, but Private and Personal Freedoms, what each might do with Respect to themselves; that is, they might make Laws to themselves, in Things that only concern’d private Persons, and it centred there; Here, What I will eat, When I will eat, Things to my self, and for my self, as a Man having Power over my own Appetite: The Liberty in Things Private, Personal, and Indifferent, makes nothing for Dissenting about Church Matters in Things of Communion and Society, and that also are not indifferent, as to eat Fish, or eat Flesh, or Edition: current; Page: [{280}] eat Herbs, plainly is: But necessary; As to be careful and orderly about the External Business of the Church: These are no Jewish Rites, nor Shadowy Ceremonies, no Meats nor Drinks that are Private and Personal, where Weakness is apt to mistake (That were an Unnecessary and an Unchristian Yoke to bear) but Things comely, orderly, and of good Report, that tend to Purity, Peace and Diligence in Things acceptable to God, and requisite among his People in their Temporal Christian Capacity. And herein the Apostle Paul exercised his Godly Authority; and we find that not only those that opposed themselves to it, as thinking, he took too much upon him, (demanded a Mark of Christ’s speaking in him) are in Scripture branded with Contention. But the true Believers, that had in themselves a Mark of Christ’s speaking in him, were of One Mind, and avoided such as were given to Contention; for it was not the Custom of the Churches of Christ. Thus were Christ’s People of One Heart, in Things relating to their Communion. Yet a little farther; They that have the Mind of Christ, are of one Mind; for Christ is not divided:24 They that have Christ for their Head, have One Counsellor and Prophet, One Seer and Bishop, they disagree not in their Judgments in Things relating to him, and the Good of his Church; they have one and the same Guide; For the one Spirit, into which they have all drank, and by it are baptized into one Body, leads them all.25 Now to every Member is a Measure of the same Spirit given to profit with; and though every Member is not an Eye, nor an Ear, nor a Mouth, yet every Member hath Unity with the Eye, with the Ear, with the Mouth, in their proper and respective Acts, and they one with the other: The Eye sees for the Mouth, the Mouth speaks for the Eye, and the Ear hears for both; this Variety hath no Discord, but in this Diversity of Gifts and Offices, each Member is sensible of the other, and moves and Acts by one and the same Life, Spirit and Guidance, which is Omnipresent, proportionable to every Member in it’s distinct Office. It must be granted, that there are Helps in the Church, as well as that there is a Church at all; and the Holy Ghost has compared those Helps (as is before-mentioned) to several Members and Senses of Man’s Body, as an Eye, an Hand, a Foot, Hearing, Smelling, &c. All then cannot be the Eye, neither can all be the Hand, for then they would confound their Office, and act disagreeably to the Ordination of the great Orderer of his Church. And if I will not comply with him that God hath made an Eye, because I am not that Eye, or an Hand, because Edition: current; Page: [{281}] I am not that Member my self, nor a Party to the Action, or Performance of that Member, I resist the Lord, though under Pretence of resisting Man for the Lord’s Sake. And truly, this is the Rock that some of our own Time, as well as Persons of former Ages, have split upon, they have not been contented with their own Station in the Body, they have not kept to their own Gift, nor been taken up with the Duty of their own Place in the Church. If he that is a Foot would be an Hand, and the Hand covets to be an Eye, envying others their allotted Station, through Height of Mind, and walking loose from the Holy Cross, there can be no such Thing as Concord and Fellowship in the Church of Christ.

Farthermore, since the Spirit of the Lord is one in all, it ought to be obey’d through another, as well as in one’s self; and this I affirm to you, That the same lowly Frame of Mind that receives and answers the Mind of the Spirit of the Lord in a Man’s self, will receive and have Unity with the Mind of the same Spirit through another, and the Reason is plain; Because the same Self-evidencing Power and Virtue that ariseth from the Measure of the Spirit of Truth in one’s self, and that convinceth a Man in his own Heart, doth also attend the Discovery of the Mind of the same Spirit, when delivered by another; for the Words of the Second Adam, the quickning Spirit,26 through another, are Spirit and Life, as well as in thy own Particular; this is discern’d by the Spiritual Man that judgeth all Things, although the Carnal Man pleadeth, Being left to his Freedom; and it may be talks of being left to the Spirit in himself too; the better to escape the Sense and Judgment of the Spiritual Man:27 It is my earnest Desire, that all that have any Knowledge of the Lord, would have a tender Care how they use that Plea against their faithful Brethren, that God put into their Mouths against the persecuting Priests and Hirelings of the World, namely, I must mind the Spirit of God in my self; for though it be a great Truth that all are to be left thereunto, yet it is as true, that he whose Soul is left with the Spirit of Truth in himself, differs not from his Brethren that are in the same Spirit; and as true it is, that those who err from the Spirit of Truth, may plead, being left to the Spirit in themselves, against the Motion and Command of the Spirit through another, when it pleaseth not his or her High Mind and perverse Will; for a Saying may be true or false, according to the subject Matter it is spoken upon, or applied to; We own the Assertion, we deny the Application: There Edition: current; Page: [{282}] lies the Snare. ’Tis true, the People of God ought to be left to the Guidings of the Spirit of God in themselves; but for this to be so applied, as to disregard the Preachings or Writings of Christ’s enlightned Servants, because by them applied properly to the Preaching or Writing of false Prophets and Seducers, will by no Means follow. I say the Doctrine is true, but not exclusively of all external Counsel or Direction; therefore false in Application, where Men are allowed to have had the Fear of God, and the Mind of his Spirit, and are not prov’d to have acted in their own Wills and Wisdom, or without the Guidance of the Spirit of God, about the Things of his Church and Kingdom.

Quest. But though this be True, which hath been alledged for Heavenly Concord, yet what if I do not presently see that Service in a Thing, that the Rest of my Brethren agree in; In this Case, what is my Duty and theirs?

Answ. It is thy Duty to wait upon God in Silence and Patience, out of all Fleshly Consultations; and as thou abidest in the Simplicity of the TRUTH, thou wilt receive an Understanding with the Rest of thy Brethren, about the Thing doubted. And it is their Duty, whilst thou behavest thy self in Meekness and Humility, to bear with thee, and carry themselves tenderly and loving towards thee; but if on the contrary, thou disturbest their Godly Care and Practice, and growest Contentious, and exaltest thy Judgment against them, they have Power from God to Exhort, Admonish, and Reprove thee; and (if thou perseverest therein) in His Name to refuse any farther Fellowship with thee, till thou repentest of thy Evil.28

Quest. But lest I should mistake, when thou speakest of True Liberty, that it stands in being made Free by the Truth, from all Unrighteousness, dost thou mean, That no other Persons ought to have the Liberty of Exercising their Dissenting Consciences, but that Force may be Lawful to reduce such as are reputed Erroneously Conscientious?29

Answ. By no Means: It were a great Wickedness against God, who is Lord of the Souls and Spirits of Men, and ought to preside in all Consciences, who, Edition: current; Page: [{283}]