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eeclesiastical toleration of heretics, idolaters, blat phemers.
3. If these tares mean only hypocrites, who have a visible appearance of holiness or innocency, we plead, that neither magistrates nor ministers ought to attempt plucking them up. If they mean all the children of the devil, as ver. 38. your objection ought honestly to plead, that no crimes of theft, murder, &c. manifesting them to be fuch, ought to be reftrained or punished.
OBJECT. IX. “ By rebuking his disciples, who would have commanded fire from heaven to confume those Samaritans who refused him lodging in his way to Jerusalem; and by his declaring, That he came not to destroy men's lives, but to fave them, Luke ix. şi-56. our benevolent Saviour plainly in-. timated, That under the gospel, magistrates ought to lay no restraint on heresy, blasphemy or idolatry."
ANSW. 1. As the Samaritans did not live under: magistrates or laws, which established the true religion, it is not pled, that even their gross heresy, blasphemy,, or idolatry, however notorious and obftinate, could have been regularly punishable by: men,
2. They were in ihis matter guilty of no heresy,. blasphemy or idolatry,--or of attempting to seduce . or disturb Christ or his disciples. --but merely of not giving lodging to a mean-like Jew, of whose Mesfiah ship they had but little, if any information or proof.
3. Though the Samaritans had been guilty of gross heresy, blafphemy and idolatry, publicly and obfinately professed and practised, contrary to the civil laws of the country, and been regularly, punishable - Christ's disciples being no magistrates in that place, had no right to call them to account.
4. The disciples never-fought to have the conteinpt shown to themselves and their Master punished by the civil law, but by the miraculous vengeance of God. Without any warrant from God, and to gratify their own proud, passionate, and revengeful temper, they would have required him to work a miraa cle for the destruction of these poor ignorant Samaritans. So, if you will drag in this text, it ought to be to prove, That neither God nor mini. fters ought to restrain heretics, blafphemers, or idol. aters.
5. While Christ was in his debased state, obeying and suffering for the falvation of mankind, it would have been extremely improper for God, visibly to punish every flight put upon him. But his coming to fave men with an everlasting falvation, can no more infer, that he came to protect criminals from just punishment by men, than that he came to save obo stinate unbelievers from hell. He came to save men's lives, by saving them from their fins, not by protecting and warranting them in a public and obftinate commission of them. There is no hint in Scripture, that he, who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, came to procure men a lia berty of conscience, or a magistratical license or protection in public and gross heresy, blafphemy, and idolatry, more than in theft, murder, adultery. It would be highly blafphemous to suppose it.
OBJECT. X. «Christ requires us not to judge others,--to judge nothing before the time, Mat. vii. 1. 1 Cor. iv. 5: We ought to believe our own opinions in religion to be as probably erroneous, as those of our opponents; and if they do not acknowledge themselves heretics, blasphemers, or idolaters, we ought never to hold them such, or plead for their being restrained as fuch."
Answ. 1. We must never rashly or uncharitably judge others, or judge their hearts and intentions, which God alone knoweth. But that will no more infer, that magiftrates ought to give no judgment about religious matters, than that magistrates and ministers Thould judge of nothing at all respecting either God or men, but encourage every person to live as his inclinations dire& him.
2. Is there indeed no certainty in religion? If men ought to be complete sceptics in it; why not as well downright atheifs?
3. If men's own acknowlgements be fustained as the standard of our judgment concerning them, what rare work must enlue! None ought to be held blasphemers, heretics; or idolaters, till they have become penitent convicts. None ought to be held thieves murderers, calumniators, &c. till they ac.. knowledge themselves such. Ali impenitent criminals must thus escape every degree of infamy, re, Atraint or punishment.
OBJEC r. XI. “Men ought to be perfunded, not, forced into faith and holinels. It is in vain to at, tempt rooting out corruptions, especially in religon, out of men's outward behaviour unless they be first footed out of their hearts."
Answ. 1. It requires no small share of ignorance, impudence and fraud, to infinuate that the many thou, sands of Potestant advocates for the magistrate's power to restrain grofs heresy, blasphemy or idolatry, plead for the FORCING of men to faith and holia ness, when they so harmonioufly plead for the contrary.
2: None ought to be forced into the faith and profefsion of the true religion, as hath been repeatedly declared, but all proper methods, taken to render their compliance judicious and voluntary. Yet that will not infer; that no man ought to be restrained from, or even suitably and feasonably punished for, open and gross heresy, blafphemy or idolatry, which, while they publicly oppose, insult, and undermine the true religion,-- produce terrible immorali, ties and disorders in Churches and nations, and draw upon then the ruinous vengeance of God; and far less will it infer, that magiftrates, as vicegerents of God, ought, in his name and authority, tolia cenfe a false religion, and promise men protection and encouragement in it. No magistrate hath power to force me to esteem, love, delight in, sympathize with, maintain, or even commend my neighbour, But he hath power to refuse me a warrant to calum: niate, rob or murder him, and even to restrain or punish me for so doing. It would be absurd to attimpt forcing of the British Jacobites, to believe and folemnly profess, that K. George, not the Pretender, is rightful Sovereign of this kingdom. But would it therefore be absurd, to restrain and punish them for publicly and infolently reviling him as an usurper, -or feducing their fellow-fubjects to dethrone him,-or for taking arms against hiin, or paying his jut revenues to the Pretender?
3. It is certain, that Christ, who hath power over the hearts of all men, curbed the external corruptions of the Jewilh buyers and sellers in the temple, without firit cafting the corruptions out of their heart. And pray would you have all thieves, robbers, murderers, &c. to have full liberty in their courses, till their wickedness can be got rooted out of their heart?
OBJECT. XII. « Such is the reasonableness and the glory of divine trutlis, that if they be but freely, clearly and distinctly preached, their native lustre will render them victorious over every error and corruption in religion, however boldly published, or craftily varnished. What a fagular advantage hath it been to Britian, that Deists have had full freedom to make their attacks upon the Christian religion,
and fo to occasion fo many glorious defer.ces of it ?". ; ANSW. 1. Did not God under the Old Testament, know the conquering power of his truth as well as you do? Did not Chriit know it when he drove the buyers and sellers from the temple. : 2. Did the inexpressibly amiable and edifying conduct of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life, render him the universal, the fixed DARLING of the Jewish nation, among whom he went about doing good? You dare not pretend it. And yet it is certain that examples do more affect than instruce tions.
3. You'must not only, with Pelagians, deny original fin, but effectually disprove it, before your objection can have any sense in it. While men are fo blinded by Satan and their own lufts, and fo full of enmity against God, they cannot but be much more disposed to receive and practise error, than to discern, embrace, and practise gospel-truths, however clearly and faithfully preached, i Cor. ii. 14. Rom. viii. 7. 8. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. Ifa. liii. 1. vi.
4. The common experience of every one, who attempts to instruct children and servants in the truths of God, even when they are young, and their minds most unbiaffed, irrefragably demonstrates, that almost any thing is more readily embraced than the plain truths of the gospel; and that earneft prayers, ferious admonitions, external encouragments, and Christian nurture, have all enough, and too often more than enough of work, to make men learn them. • 5. If profeffed Christians, by encouraging others in gross error and wickedness, provoke God to give up themselves to strong delusions, that they may be. lieve lies, will the native lustre of divine truths then enlighten and captivate them? Far,--very far