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titude of cavils may be started against the magiftrates' power about religious matters mentioned in our excellent Standards, as may be against every divine truth, the most fundamental not excepted; and that the proper application of it to practice may be, in some circumstances, not a little difficult. But not cavils however fpecious; nor difficulty of upright performance of duty, but demonstrative arguments of its sinfulness will warrant my renouncing a principle which I have so folemnly espoused in ordination vows and covenants with God; and far less to admit, That men's conscience and magistrates ought, in the name of God, to warrant, encourage, and protect men in grofs heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, though they cannot warrant, encourage, or protect them in doing any civil injury to men. Perhaps, Tindal alone hath raised as many shrewd objections against the divine authority of our Bible, as have, or can be, raised against that power of magistrates mentioned in our Standards; and yet Wo, wo, wo for ever, to my soul, if, on that account, I-renounce it, as an įmposture of Satan.

L E T T E R II.

On the PERFIDr of all AUTHORITATIVE TOLE

RATION of gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry, in
BRITAIN.

SIR, To exhibit the contrariety of an authoritative to

leration of gross heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, to many, if not all the Burgess Oaths, in our country, and to the established oaths of allegiance

to His Majesty, or even to his own Coronation Oath, to maintain the true Proteftant religion, as by law established in his dominions, and to our Solemn vows in Baptism and the Lord's Supper, I leave to some fiter hand, and fhall only represent it as a violation of these public covenants with God, which our fathers framed, as their strongest human secu. rities against grofs heresy, blafphemy, idolatry, Popery, and every thing similar.

Being treacherously and cruelly opposed in their reformation of religion, by their two Popish Queens, the Protestant lords and others in Scotland, entered into five several bonds, A. D. 1557, 1559, 1560, 1563, in which they folemnly engaged to assist and protect each other, in promoting the free exercise of the Protestant religion. It was only the smaller part of the Protestants in our land, which entered: into these bonds,-nor doth it appear, they were intended as general obligations. But, when the Papilts abroad were labouring, with all their might, to extirpate the Protestant religion; and the Pope was found to have granted dispensations for qualifying his votaries, to undermine it in our land,-the National Covenant was formed and sworn in 1581in order to frustrate their attempts, and secure the reformation attained. In it the abominations of Popery were expressly and particularly abjured; and and it was understood as adhered to and renewed in every religious bond that followed. After God had marvellously frustrated the attempts of the Spaniards and other Papists against Britain, our fathers, in thankfulness to Hiin and to secure themselves an gainst the Popish confederates abroad and their friends at home, with much unanimity and joy rem newed their National Covenant, A. D. 1590, along with the subscription of a General bond for prefere vation of the Protestant religion, and the King's Majesty. In 1596, apprehensions of danger from the Popish lords, and the treacherous regard shewed them by K. James, and especially a very extraordinary effusion of the Holy Ghost on the General Assembly, issued in much folemn mourning for fin, and renovation of their covenant with God. After forty years of fearful perfidious apostacy, and much finful veering towards the abjured abominations of Popery, they, awakened by K. Charles and Archbishop Laud's imposition of an almost Popish Liturgy and Book of Canons, --Searched out, and lamented, their perfidy to God, as the cause of their manifold miseries; and solemnly renewed their covenant with Him, as a mean of obtaining his gracious asfistance, and securing their Protestant religion and liberties. Affrighted by the Papists' massacring of a. bout two hundred thousand Protestants in Ireland, instigated by their diftreffes in England, and encouraged by the remarkable countenance of God's Spirit and Providence to the Scotch covenanters, most of the English and Irish Protestants in 1643 and 1644. along with them, entered into a Solemn League and Covenant with God, and with one another, in which they expressly abjured Popery, and Prelacy as a branch of it..-K. Charles had scarce granted a peace, a kind of establishment of their religion to the murderous Papists in Ireland; and Duke Hamilton's attempts to restore him to his throne without giving any security for religion or liberty miscarried in England, when the Scots, and not a few of the Irish renewed their Covenant, with a solemn acknowledg. ment of fins and engagement to duties.

-Το manifest the fearful perfidy of all authoritative toleration of gross heresy, blafphemy, idolatry, Popery, and

every other form of encouragement to, or rec ception of them, the folemn, the religious nature of

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these covenants, and their extensive and perpetual, obligation must be considered.

God alone hath a supreme and unlimited authority and right to regulate his own, and the conduct of all his creatures, Pfal. lxxxiii. 18. Dan. iv. 35. James iv. 12. But the very constitution of a rational creature, implies a power derived from him to govern itself, even as men's ftanding in the relation of parents, masters, magistrates, or Church-rulers, neceffarily implies their power to govern others, jn subordination to him. By virtue of their divinely originated authority over others, parents, masters, and other rulers make laws, or binding rules, for directing the external behaviour of those who are commited to their charge. And by their authority derived from God to rule their oun Spirit, and to govern and keep in subjection their whole body, Prov. xvi. 32. James ij. 2. i Cor. ix. 27. all men are empouvered to make for themselves laws of self engage ment, in promises, oaths, vows and covenants, which extend to their purposes and inclinations as well as to their external acts. And, as all the authority, which men have over themselves or others, is derived from that supreme and independent authority, which is in God himself, and is communicated to them, by an act of his will, and is implied in his giving them such a nature and station, it is plain, thāt no human laws of authority, or self-engagement, can have any obligation or binding force, but what are regulated by and subordinated to the divine laws of nature or revelation, 2 Cor. xiii. 8. and that, if fuch laws and engagements be lawful, God, not only doth, but muft neceffarily ratify them, his law requiring the fulfilment of them, under pain of his highest displeasure, Rom. xiii. 1-6. Mat. v. 33.

As no deputed authority derived from God, can increase that supreme, that infinte authority, which

he hath in himself; fo no human command or en. gagement can increase that infinite obligation to duty, which his law hath in itfelf. But, if lawful, they have in them a real obligation, distinct, though neither separated nor separable, from the obligation of God's law. To pretend with Bellarmine and other Papists, that our promises or vows do not bind us in moral duties commanded by the law of God, is manifestly absurd. It neceffarily infers, that all human commands of superiors as well as human promises,' oaths, vows, and covenants, are in themselves destitute of all binding force, except in so far as they relate to such trifling things, as the law of God doth not require of men in such particular circumstances; and thus faps the foundation of all relative otder and mutal trust and confidence among mankind. Commands of superiors must be mere declarations of the will of God in his law, and promises, satho, vows and covenants mult be nothing but mere acknowledgments, that God's law requires such things from us, -in so far as relating to moral duties. It represents the authority which God hath in himself, and with which he hath invested men, as his deputies, as fo inconsistent and mutually destructive of each other, that men cannot be bound to the same thing by both. It represents the law of God as necessarily destructive of the being of an ordinance appointed by itfelf, to promote the more exact observance of itself,-in so far as that ordinance binds to a conscientious and diligent obedience to it. It is contrary to the common sense of mankind in every age, who have all along considered men's promises, oaths and covenants, as binding them to pay their just debts, perform their juft duties of allegiance or the like, and to declare the truth and nothing but the truth in witness bearing, &c. It is contrary to Scripture, which represents promises, promillory

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