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ftrates' right to govern nations, much less can heresy, &c. inva-
39. The great Dr. Owen zealously pled for authoritative tolera.
phemy or Idolatry.
The Solemn nature of Vous and Covenant,
The Religious nature of the Scotch Covenants,
Objections against the Religious nature of the Scotch Covenants,
Objections against the perpetual obligation of the Scotch Covenants,
On the absurdity of AUTHORITATIVE TOLERATION
of gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry.
God himself connected religion, and the civil welfare of nations, in his ancient laws, almost the whole of the Old Testament doth bear witness. That religion is the great basis of civil happiness, was the common, the avowed belief of every sensible Heathen: It was, for ought I know, the infamous monster Tiberius, who first pretended, That the gods alone ought to regard or refent the injuries done them. Before the happy Reformation, the Popish clergy had reduced civil rulers into mere tools for executing their pleafure in religious matters; and pretended that they had no power of judging in them. To free these rulers from such Antichrif. tian claims, the Protestant reformers, every where, as their Confessions of Faith and other writings make evident, loudly maintained, That to magiftrates themselves independent of clergymen, belongs a dism tinguished power in the reformation and preservation of Teligion. Not long after, Erastus, a German physician and his followers, to curry favour with their respective princes, pretended, That magistrates are the proper lords of the Christian Church, from whom her ministers and other rulers derive their whole
power, and to whom they must be accountable. This notion, exceedingly flattering their ami bition, was too greedily embraced by most of the
Protestant princes; nor do I know of one Proteftant Church, which hath not suffered by means of it. Meanwhile, the German Anabaptists, having experienced the frowns, and sometimes the improper feverities of magistrates, copied after the ancient Donatifts in the like circumstances, and warmJy contended, That magistrates have no more power about religious matters than any private person, and ought to punish none for different sentiments in doctrine or forms of worship. The Socinians and remonstrant Arminians, except when magiftrates favoured themselves, and promoted their cause, zealously contended for the same notion, at least in the case of ministers and worship, which were not maintained at the public expence. Many, if not most of the English Independents in the last century were much of the same mind; and hence, by their influence, some passages in the Westminster Confession of Faith could never obtain à ratification by the English Parliament, or a place in their own Savoy Confession. Part of these passages, relative to the magiftrate's power, are also dropt from the Confession of Faith agreed to by the Independents of New England in 1082. Most of the English Diflenters of this century seem to be much of the same mind; especially such as might otherwise have been exposed to danger on account of their open maintenance of Arian, Socinian, and Quakerish blafphemies. Locke and bishop Hoadly, and some others of the Episcopalian party, warmly espoused the same, cause.
This notion never received much countenance in Scotland, till Mr. Glass of Tealing commenced a furious new-fashioned Independent. He: mightily contended, That the Jewish nation was an ecclefiaftical one, and their kings ecclefiaftical rulers; that Chriftian magiftrates have no more power in
religious matters than private Christians, and ought not to employ their power in advancing the true religion, or in making laws with penalties in favour of it; or in restraining or punishing heretics or false teachers, nor ought they to give more encouragement to good Christians, than to other peaceable subjects;—that the example of the reforming kings of Judah in punishing idolatry and false worship, and in promoting the true religion, is not now to be imitated; and that our fathers' national covenanting against Popery and other wickedness, in favour of the true religion was unwarrantable, and is not binding upon us.Dr. Wifeart, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, in his fermons contended, That magiftrates have only a right to punish such crimes as itrike immediately against the persons or property of men; but not to punish any thing which Itrikts immediately against the honour of God, as blasphemy or heresy; that all men ought to have civil liberty to think and speak as they please, providing they make no attack upon the welfare of civil fociety; that none ought to be hampered in their search after truth by any requirement of their subscriptions to Formulas or Confessions of Faith; that children in their education, ought never to be biaffed to a fide by learning catechisms which maintain the peculiar principles of a party. These or the like notions have been adopted by not a few of the pretenders to modern illumination.
In her public Standards, the Church of Scotland hath renounced, and in her solemn covenants hath abjured both these extremes. In her Old Confeffion of Faith, which is expressly sworn to in the national covenant of 1581, &c. as in all points the undoubted truth of God, Art. xxiv, she asserts, that “ the power and authority of magiftrates is God's holy ordinance, ordained for manifestation of his own glory, and for