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to be unkindly excluded. However, if such we were in

any one point, cure rather than kill us; and seek the publick good some cheaper way than by our destruction. Is there no expedient to prevent ruin? Let REASON qualify zeal, and conscience opinion.

To conclude, If the publick may be secured, and conscience freely exercised by all, for the same reasons it may by some. And since liberty of conscience is liberty of conscience, and the reasons for it equivalent, we see not in the whole world why any should be deprived of that, which others for no-better reafons are like to enjoy.

Let it not then be unworthy of such to remember, that God affords his refreshing “ fun to all ;” the dunghill is no more excepted than the most delightful plain ; and his “rain falls alike both upon the just " and unjust:” he strips not mankind of what suits their creaturely preservation: Christians themselves have no more peculiar privilege in the natural benefits of heaven, than. Turks or Indians. Would it not then be strange, that Infidels themselves, much less any sort of Christians, should be deprived of natural privileges for mere opinion, by those who pretend to be the best servants of that God, who shews thein quite another example, by the universality of his goodness as Creator; and believers in that Christ, who himself preached the perfeétion of love, both to friends and enemies, and laid down his life to confirm it when he had done. If men should love their enemies, doubtless they ought at least to forbear their friends : and though some differences in judgment about religion be a sufficient reason to excommunicate a man the air ecclesiastical, yet nothing certainly of that sort ought to disprivilege men of their air natural and civil to breathe freely in: and let that good our superiors have observed to be the fruit of our toleration, not be weakened or blafted by an untimely comprehension of some, to the exclusion of the rest; since the reason holds the Vol. III.



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vious of your own condition in the loins of your ancestors, who, you think, with great reason and justice ftrenuously advocated the cause of liberty of con science against the Pope's bulls and the Spanish inquisition : how did they antichristian all force on conscience or punishment for non-conformity? Their own many and large apologies, and particularly their demands at the diers of Norimberg and Spire, are pregnant proofs in the case; and your practice doth not lessen the weight of their reasons; on the contrary, it aggravates your unkindness, let me say, inu fti ce.

PROTESTANTS (and such you glory to be thought) got their name by protesting against impositions; and will you turn imposers? They condemned it; and will you practise it? They thought it a mark peculiar to the beast; and can you repute it the care of a CHRISTIAN magistracy? I mean, that persons must not live under your government, unless they receive


mark in their forehead or right hand?' Which in plainer terms is, to submit their consciences to your edicts, and to ask your leave what religion they should be of. Remember, that “ Faith is the gift of God,” and, that “ what is not of faith is fin.” Nothing can be more unreasonable, than to compel men to believe against their belief, or to trouble them for practising what they believe, when it thwarts not the moral law of God.

You doubtless take yourselves to be Christians, and would esteem it no little injury to be otherwise represented; yet what more unchristian, than to use external force to sway the consciences of men about the exercise of religious worship.

Christ Jesus, the Lord and Author of the Christian religion, censured his own disciples, that would have had fire from heaven to destroy those that conformed . not to what their blessed Master taught. Are you sure

of your religion? Are you better Christians? Or, have you more Christian authority than they, that were the chosen witnesses of Jesus? However, remember they


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called but for fire from heaven; and can you kindle fire on earth to devour them? Them, I say, that are of

your own people, merely for their religious diffent from you? Doubtless, if that was then thought no fit argument to induce men to conformity by him that was wiser than Solomon, it reflects greatly upon your modesty and prudence, that you should find out new ways, or rather old exploded ones, to effect fo ill a design. Besides, you do not say you know all you ought to know, or that there is nothing farther to be revealed : have a care, therefore, that you persecute not angels, by being harsh to that which you call strange : think not ill, much less speak, and least of of all act that which is so, against what you do not perfectly understand. I am well persuaded, that those you indict such severe penalties upon, mean well in what they believe (to be sure much better than you think they do, or else you are extremely to blame); and that the reason of their present distance from you, is not to introduce or insinuate dangerous or exotick opinions; but to live a life of more holiness, purity, and self-denial, than before. They do not think that you walk up to your own principles; and have reason to believe that the power of godliness is much lost among you; and having long lain under a decay and languishing of soul for want of true fpiritual nourishment, they have now betaken themselves to that heavenly gift and grace of God in themselves for divine satisfaction, even that holy anointing that is able to teach them all things necessary for them to know, as the blessed apostle speaks; and they find the joys of the Holy Ghost in so doing. And I am persuaded they are not less peaceable, sober, just, and neighbourly than formerly, and altogether as consistent with the prosperity of civil society; and I am sure, it is both found and confessed among us here, by some men of quality, learning, and virtue. Farther, be pleased to consider with yourselves, that you justify the ancient persecutions of the Christians and first reformers, whose superiors thought as ill of them, as


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you do of these men; nay, you fhew the Papifts what to do in their dominions to your own brethren. Do as you would be done by. If you would have liberty, give it; you know that God's witness in your hearts dictates this to you, as an immutable law.

Could you give faith, it were more excufable for you to punish such as should resist. But since that is impossible, the other is unreasonable; for it is to afflict men for not being what they cannot be, uniess they turn hypocrites: that is the highest pitch your coercive power can arrive at; for never did ié convert or preserve one foul to God: instead thereof it offers violence unto conscience, and puts a man either upon the denial of his faith and reason, or being destroyed for acting according to them: but what greater dirproportion can there be, than what lieth between the intellect of man, and prisons, fines, and banishments ? They inform no man's judgment, resolve no doubts, convince no understandings: the power of persuasion is not to be found in any such barbarous actions, no more than the doctrine of Christianity. This course destroys the bodies and estates of men,instead of saving their souls: were they in the wrong, it would become you to use God's weapons, his sword of the fpirit, that saveth the creature, and slayeth the evil in him. This course tends to heart-burnings and destrućtion; I am sure it is no gospel argument.

I beseech you, for the sake of thar Lord Jesus Christ that suffered fo patiently for his own religion, and so sharply prohibited making other men to suffer for theirs, that you would have a care how you exercise power over mens consciences. My friends, conscience is God's throne in man, and the power of it his prerogative: it is to usurp his authority, and boldly afcend his throne, to set lords over it. Were their conversation scandalous, and destructive to the good of your state, you were to be held excusable: but

And property, which they repute themselves guardians of, is hereby loft.

verily, verily, no man'of mercy and conscience can defend your practice upon poor men so peaceable and inoffensive. Gamaliel will rise up in judgment against you, if you perlevere in this course. Do not you help to fill the catalogue of perfecutors, in much love I entreat you; but as becomes Christian men and true Proteitants, leave men to their particular persuasions of affairs, relative of the other world, which have no ill aspect on the affairs of this; but vice hath an evil consequence as to both: therefore punish vice, and affect truth and righteousness, and bend not your civil power to torinent religious Diflenters; but to retrieve good life, lamentably lost amidft the great pretences that are made to religion. Doubtless magistracy was both ordained of God, and elected by men, to be “a “ terror to evil-doers,” and not to them that do well, though of different judgments. You oppugn the Roman church for assuming infallibility to herself, and yet your own practice maketh you guilty of the same presumption, or worse : for either you do exercise that ieverity upon an infallible knowledge, or you do not ; if you do, you take that to yourselves your principles deny to any church whatever, which is a contradiction; if

you do not, you punish people for not conforming to what you yourselves deny any certainty about: and how do you know but you compel them to that which is false, as well as that which is true ? Verily, this dilemma is not easily avoided, as well as that this inhuman practice will stain your profession, infame your government, and bring a blot upon your posterity.

Remember that they are men, as well as yourselves, born free, and have equal plea to natural and civil common privileges with yourselves: the different persuasion of their consciences about things relating to another life, can no ways render them unfit for this ; it neither unmans nor uncivilizes them. They have the same right to their liberty and property as ever, having by no practice of theirs in the least forfeited any of those human advantages, the great charters of G4


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