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them to judge of, and punish those crimes? Do God's infinite holiness and cquity, disqualify him from judging of finners?
OBJECT. XXX. “If heretics, blafphemers, and idolaters, be punishable, orthodox magistrates, who happen to become governors of heretical, blasphemous and idolatrous nations, must kill the most of their subjects."
ANSW. 1. We hold none punishable, especially
any severe manner, till they appear openly obstinate in it, notwithstanding sufficient means of conviction, which these subjects are not supposed to have had; and so are not punishable at all by magistrates.
2. Nothing, and particularly the infliction of punishment, ought to be done, merely, because it is lawful, till it also become expedient, 1 Cor. vi. 12. & x. 23. Eccl. iii. 1, 11. Now it would be highly inexpedient to proceed to extremities against the greater part of a society. Nay, in the case suppored, they would prove a barbarously sinful mean of prejudicing men against the gospel of Christ.
3. Great difference ought to be made between such as were never reformed from a false religion, and those who obstinately apostatize from the true religion to a false one;---between such as live in a nation generally corrupted with a false religion, and those who live in a nation generally enlightened and reformed by the gospel of Chrift; and between fuch as are only feduced, and those who exert themselves to seduce others. Much more forbearance is due to the former than to the latter; for
4. However peremptorily the Jews were commanded by God to punish even.unto death, the ob Itinate false prophets, idolaters and blafphemers of their own Church or nation, they were never required to punish their idolatrous tributaries in their
conquered countries of Syria, Philiftia, Edom, Am. mon, or Moab. And mean-while, were never allowed, and never did grant them any legal establishthent or authoritative toleration, of their idolatry.
5. Even God himself, for the ends of his glory, exerciseth much forbearance towards heretics, blar. phemers and idolaters, but never grants them any legal eftablishment or authoritatve toleration, securing them of protection in their wickedness. Let magiArates, who are bis minifters for good to men, go and do fo likewife.
OBJECT. XXXI. “The Christian law of doing to others that which we would have them do to us, demands, That we should allow every man to think, profess, and act in religion as he pleaseth. If we think men heretics, blafphemers or idolaters, our proper method is to manifeft the utmost kindness and fam miliarity to them, that we may gain them to the truth. Every other method is no less dangerous than un. charitable. If orthodox Christian magistrates restrain and punish the spreading of Heathen, Mahometan, and Popish errors or worship,--Heathen, Mahometan and Popish princes will be thereby, tempted to restrain and punish the spread of gospel, truth in their dominions, and can plead the very fame right for their conduct."
Answ. 1. Strange! Did not God know the meaning of his own law of equity and kindness be tween man and man, and the true method of secure ing or propagating his own religion, when he made or encouraged the laws against seducers, idolaters, and blafphemers above mentioned; when he commanded his people to avoid falfe teachers, and not so much as to lodge them in their houses.
2. With all your pretended benevolence, Would you familiarly lodge in your family a notorious pickpocket or an harlot, along with your own children,
in order to gain them to the ways of piety and virtue? You would not. Why then, in direct contradiction to the command of God, do you plead for familiarity with robbers of God, defilers, of murderers of fouls!
3. The Christian law of kindness and equity requires me to do all that for the real welfare of
my neighbour, in subordination to the glory of God, which I could lawfully wish him, in like circumftan. ces, to do for me? But, muft I do evil that good may come, rendering my damnation juft? Must Iproa cure my juft liberty to believe and serve God accord. ing to his own appointment, by granting my neighbour an unjust, an authoritative licence to infult and blaspheme God, and worship the devil in his stead? Because I wilh my neighbour to be helpful to me, in honouring God, and in labouring to render myself and others happy in time and eternity, Muf affist and encourage them in horribly disonouring God, and destroying themselves and others. None but an atheist, who believes no real difference between moral good and evil, can pretend it.
4. When and where have faithful adherents to gospel-truth, got much liberty and safety by means of their friends encouraging and protecting gross herefy, blafphemy and idolatry? Since Proteftants became so kind to Papists in their dominions, Have not the Popish powers, in return, cruelly murdered, banished, or oppressed their Protestant subjects, in Hungary, Poland, Germany, France, &c. till they have left few of them remaining? While Britions were lavishly expendi:g their blood and treasure in support of the Popish house of Austria about 1709 and 1741, She returned our kindness in the most villanous destruction of about 230 Congregations of our Proteftant brethren in Silefia and Hungary.
s. Ought Elijah to have spared, nay protected
and encouraged the prophets of Baal, as a mean of securing for himself the prote&tion of Ahab and Jer, zebel, or, because she was disposed to avenge their death? Mult thieves and robbers be benevolently used, protected and suffered to pass unpunished, for fear of provoking their associates to revenge the just severities used towards them? Let magiftrates do their duty, and leave events to God.
6. Till you honestly profess yourself an atheist, who believes no intrinsical difference between moral good and evil, never pretend that magistrates, who have their whole power from God, have any power against the truth, or have a right to exercise that power derived from God for the good of mankind, to his dishonour and to the hurt of mankind. Altonishing! Because a power originating from God may be rightfully exercised in promoting his declarative glory, the spread or protection of his gospel, and the happiness of mankind, May it, must it, therefore, in the hand of other magistrates, be rightfully exercised in promoting blasphemy and robbery of God, and worshipping of devils? Because it may be rightfully exercised in punishing obftinate and notorious heretics, blafphemers and idolaters, May it, must it, therefore be rightfully exercised in perfecuting and murdering the faithful preachers and professors of Gospel-truths, and worshippers of the true God? Because magistrates in Britain have a right to punish thieves and murderers, muft these in France have as good a right to use Alms givers and skilful and diligent Physicians in the fame manner?----Because that which tends to the highest honour of God, and temporal and eternal happiness of mankind ought to be authoritatively tolerated, nay established, every where ---may,--must, that which tends to his highest dishonour, and the most dread. ful temporal and eternal ruin of mankind, be every
where, in like manner, tolerated or established?-Because in a dearth, benevolent persons may be tolerated, nay highly encouraged in freely distributing wholesome provisions to the poor and needy, may, or must, malicious murderers be therefore tolerated and encouraged in distributing their poisoned morfels, especially if abundantly sweetened among the unwary
infants or others? 7. The restraint or suitable and seasonable punishment of that which is contrary to God's law, being commanded by himself, can never have any
tendency to introduce corruptions in religion, or perfecution for an adherence to gospel-truth. And if some will abuse their power, that must not hinder others, either in Church or State, to use theirs aright.
OBJECT. XXXII. “If infidelity and difference in religion do not make void magiftrates' right to govern nations, much lefs can heresy, idolatry, or btasphemy, invalidate subjects' right to protection, or of admission to all the privileges of other subjects."
Answ. 1. In almost every case, the restraint or punishment of superiors is more difficult than that of inferiors.
2. If the profeffors of the true religion be the minority in number and power, both Scripture and Teafon demand their subjection to their common-rul. ers, in all their lawful commands, till they become manifest tyrants, and Providence afford a proper opportunity of shaking off their yoke. But, if the profeflors of the true religion be the majority in a nation or society, both Scripture and reason forbid their fetting up a magiftrate of a false religion, or a wicked practice,-and allow that, if after his advancement, he apoftatize, and obftinately attempt to promote a false" religion, or notoriously wicked practice, he may
be deposed and even punished, as far as the