Page images


from it, 2 Theff. ï. 10-12. 2 Tim. iii. 13. iv. 3, 4.

6. If we do evil in licensing, encouraging, or protecting the free propagation of gross errors, that good refutations may be thereby occasioned, our damnation is juft, Rom. i. 8. ,,

7. Few of those boasted glorious defenders of Chrifti, anity are real and thorough friends to the gospel of Chrift, bụt often proceed upon the Arminian, and fometimes the Socinian scheme, the last of which is as bad, if not worse, than Heathenism itselfi And, it is certain, that Tens, if not HUŅDKED$, ilave been seduced by deiftical publications, for every ONE, that has been converted from Deism by almoft all these defences of the Christiani religion.

OBJECT. XIII, « Chrift hath appointed for his Church, rulers of her own, who govern her in every duty of religion.” .: Answ. i. This can no more prove, thât magia Atrates ought to make and execute no laws refpe&ting the duties required by the first table of the moral law, than it will prove that they ought to make no laws respecting duties of the second table,-lince Church-rulers are as much authorized by God to govern, in the one as in the other. Let magiftrates and Church-rulers be allowed to govern their diftine departments in their different manner, in the very same things, and nothing but harmony, order and advantage will ensue.

2. Magistrates as well as Church-rulers, are dia vinely denominated, Rulers, Watchmen, Shepherds, and therefore ought politically to direct, govern and feed their subjects as members of the Commonwealth, by making and executing wholesome; laws relative to both tables of God's law;while minifters ecclefiaftically feed them, as members of the visible Church, by preaching the gospel, adminiftring the

[ocr errors]

proper end."

facraments, and exercising Church government and discipline, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 4. Rom. xiii. 1-6. 2 Chron. xii. 1o, II. & xvii. xix. Neh. xïï. 10

17. Ezek. xxxiv. 9, 10. : OBJECT. XIV.'« The Church hath sufficient power in herself to obtain every end neceffary to her own welfare. That cannot be an ordinance of Jesus Christ, which needs any foreign affistance to gain its

ANSW. 1. 'The Church hath as sufficient power to gain her ends, with respect to the duties of the fecond table, as to gain her ends in what respects the first table. Will it therefore follow, that magiAratés ought to make no laws refpecting murder, unchastity, theft, calumny, &c.??

2. Public transgressions of the first table of the moral law injure the State, as well as they do the Church. The State, which also hath a power in itself sufficient to gain all its ends, neceffary to promote its own welfare, ought therefore to restrain or punith such transgressions as crimes injurious to itself, while the Church restrains and censures them as fcandals defiling and hurtful to herself.

3. If soundness in the faith, purity in worship, holiness in practice, and beautiful order in the Church, be an excellent mean of promoting the happiness of that nation, where the Church hath her residence, magiftrates ought to promote those things, out of a regard to the prosperity of their State, in subordination to the honour of God.

4. However complete the intrinsic power of the Church be, it is manifest, that it can be exercised to more advantage, if parents, masters, and magiftrates regularly exert their power in promoting the true religion, in their different departments. It is no less certain, that after the Church hath done her utmost, by conference, injunction and censure, fome

turbulent heretics or blafphemers may do as much, if not more, hurt to her than before, unless magistrates restrain or punish them.

OBJECT. XV. * For almoft three hundred years after Christ, the truths of the gospel gloriously prevailed against errors and corruptions, without any care of magiftrates to restrain or punish the erroneous.”

ANSW. I: It was proper, that the Christian religion should be spread in the world, not only without the countenance of the civil magistrate, but also in opposition to his severe laws and bloody persecutions, that it might the more abundantly appear to be of God.

2. In that period, it prevailed notwithstanding the most furious opposition, and the cruel persecution and murder of millions of its adherents, as well as without magistratical assistance. Will you therefore plead, that peace and freedom in preaching the gofa pel ought to be hated and avpided, and furious perfecution coveted and prayed for? 3.

In that period, the miraculous powers, which attested the doctrines of Christ did more than balance the want of magistratical helpfulness to the truth, Heb. ii. 4.

4. In that period, the hardships to which Christi. ans were exposed, deterred such naughty persons from entering the Church, as might have plagued her with their blasphemies and heresies.

5. And nevertheless, even then blasphemers and heretics did no small hurt to the Church.

6. If God had not reckoned the magistratical countenance a real blessing to his Church, he had never promised it, as in the texts above quoted.

OBJECT. XVI. “It is horrid cruelty and unchristian persecution to restrain or punish men for believe ing, teaching, and worshipping, according to the dictates of their own conscience, as charity obligeth


[ocr errors]

us to believe is the case with heretics, blasphemers and idolaters. It is altogether diabolical' the very worft part of Popery, and that which peculiarly fupports the whole Antichriflian scheme --Men ought to follow the didates even of an erring conscience.”

Answ. 1. Where is your proof, from either Scripture or reason, that an erring conscience binds men to believe, teach or practise, gross heresy, blafphemy or idolatry, any more than their promises or vows to do evil, bind to performance? or than it can bind them to theft, murder, adultery, calumny, or the like? If we have an erring conscience, our immediate duty is to get rid of that error, by the illumination of God's word, as being finful in itself, especially if procured through floth or wickedness; it will hinder our right performance of duty, but can never make sin lawful. If, Sir, you can believe, that an erring conscience, can outdo the almighty power of God, in making heresy, blasphemy, or idolatry innocent things, you may quickly believe, that a Romish priest can outdo his Maker, in making a god, and then eating him, in the mystery of tranfubftantiation.

2. Even when conscience is perfectly clear, pute and unbiaffed, it is wholly subordinated and subjected to the authority of God's law. How can the entrance of sinful error into it, exalt it abore his law, and make such a god of it, as can ftampits wicked dictates into incontroulable laws, in oppofition to the mandates of Jehovah himself. This will not only prove, that Adam and Eve became gods by the entrance of sin, but go far to justify Popes and devils in the whole of their conduót.

3. If the devil, who deceiveth the world, get into men's conscience by his strong delusions, hath God alloted him that as a quiet city of refuge, from

which no ineans ought to be used to dislodge him, and from which' he may use the whole man unreftrained in his service,---in facrificing children to Moloch, murdering faints, blafpheming God, &c.?

4. Where is your proof, that I ought to believe, that the man, who hath access to the Bible, acts according to the dictates of his conscience in gross heresy, blaspliemy or idolatry, any more than that he ads according to them, in murder, treason, theft, uachastity, 6 c.? Men have laboured and suffers ed as much, in courses of the latter kind, as in those of the former, and died as impenitently at last.

5. If pretence of conscience, and more than pretence in favours of fin we can never be certain of, be a sufficient ground for magistrates' licensing, encouraging and protecting men in contradicting and blafpheming God, or robbing him of his worship, to bestow it on devils,-or in robbing his Church of his oracles or ordinances,-in murdering the souls of men, and sowing the seeds of confusion and every evil work, -Why ought it not to warrant their licensing, encouraging and protecting them in high treason, calumny, theft, robbery, murder? - It is hoped, you, who are fo generous in allowing men, if they can but pretend conscience for it, to abufe and rob Jehovah, will be as ready to allow them equal freedom, if they can but pretend conscience, in abusing and injuring yourself. If God's giving up men to strong delusions, that they may believe lies warrant magistrates to encourage or protect them, in spreading gross heresy, or in open blafphemy and idolatry, Why ought not his giving them up to vile affections,—to their own hearts' lusts, equally to warrant their encouraging and protecting of them in open whoredom, bestiality, incest, robbery, &C.. Men can as little conquer their lusts and cleante their

« PreviousContinue »