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Protestant, the more he hath to answer for his persecuting than a Papist. No Protestant, therefore, of what sect soever, following Scripture only, which is the common sect wherein they all agree, and the granted rule of every.man's conscience to himself, ought by the common doctrine of Protestants to be forced or molested for religion.
Seducement is to be hindered by fit and proper means ordained in Church discipline, by instant and powerful demonstration to the contrary; by opposing truth to error, no unequal match; truth the strong, to error the weak, though sly and shifting. Force is no honest confutation, but uneffectual, and for the most part unsuccessful, ofttimes • fatal to them who use it: sound doctrine, diligently and duly taught, is of herself both sufficient, and of herself (if some secret judgment of God hinder not) always prevalent against seducers. . . . .
Ill was our condition changed from legal to evangelical, and small advantage gotten by the Gospel, if, for the spirit of adoption to freedom promised us, we receive again the spirit of bondage to fear; if our fear, which was then servile towards God only, must be now servile in religion towards men: strange also and preposterous fear, if, when and wherein it hath attained by the redemption of our Saviour to be filial only towards God, it must be now servile towards the magistrate: who, by subjecting us to his punishment in these things, brings back into religion that law of terror and satisfaction
belonging now only to civil crimes; and thereby in effect abolishes the Gospel, by establishing again the law to a far worse yoke of servitude upon us than before. It will therefore not misbecome the meanest Christian to put in mind Christian magistrates, and so much the more freely by how much the more they desire to be thought Christian, (for they will be thereby, as they ought to be in these things, the more our brethren and the less our lords,) that they meddle not rashly with Christian liberty, the birthright and outward testimony of our adoption; lest while they little think it, nay, think they do God service, they themselves, like the sons of that bondwoman, be found persecuting them who are freeborn of the Spirit, and, by a sacrilege of not the least aggravation, bereaving them of that sacred liberty, which our Saviour with his own blood purchased for them.
TOUCHING THE LIKELIEST MEANS TO REMOVE HIRELINGS OUT OF THE CHURCH.
HE former treatise, which leads in this, began with two things ever found working much mischief to religion, force on the one side restraining, and hire on the other side corrupting, the teachers thereof. The latter of these is by much the more dangerous; for under force, though no thanks to the forcers, true religion ofttimes best thrives and flourishes; but the corruption of teachers, most commonly the effect of hire, is the very bane of truth in them who are so corrupted. Of force not to be used in matters of religion, I have already spoken ; and so stated matters of conscience and religion in faith and divine worship, and so severed them from blasphemy and heresy, the one being such properly as is despiteful, the other such as stands not to the rule of Scripture, and so both of them not matters of religion, but rather against it, that to them who will yet use force, this only choice can
be left, whether they will force them to believe, to whom it is not given from above, being not forced thereto by any principle of the Gospel, which is now the only dispensation of God to all men: or whether, being Protestants, they will punish in those things wherein the Protestant religion denies them to be judges, either in themselves infallible, or to the consciences of other men; or whether, lastly, they think fit to punish error, supposing they can be infallible that it is so, being not wilful but conscientious, and, according to the best light of him who errs, grounded on Scripture: which kind of error all men religious, or but only reasonable, have thought worthier of pardon, and the growth thereof to be prevented by spiritual means and Church discipline, not by civil laws and outward force, since it is God only who gives as well to believe aright, as to believe at all; and by those means, which he ordained sufficiently in his Church to the full execution of his divine purpose in the Gospel. It remains now to speak of hire, the other evil so mischievous in religion; whereof I promised then to speak further, when I should find God disposing me, and opportunity inviting. Opportunity I find now inviting; and apprehend therein the concurrence of God disposing; since the maintenance of Church ministers, a thing not properly belonging to the magistrate, and yet with such importunity called for, and expected from him, is at present under public debate. Wherein,
lest anything may happen to be determined and established prejudicial to the right and freedom of the Church, or advantageous to such as may be found hirelings therein, it will be now most seasonable, and in these matters, wherein every Christian hath his free suffrage, no way misbecoming Christian meekness to offer freely, without disparagement to the wisest, such advice as God shall incline him and enable him to propound: since heretofore in commonwealths of most fame for government, civil laws were not established till they had been first for certain days published to the view of all men, that whoso pleased might speak freely his opinion thereof, and give in his exceptions, ere the law could pass to a full establishment. And where ought this equity to have more place, than in the liberty which is inseparable from Christian religion? This, I am not ignorant, will be a work unpleasing to some: but what truth is not hateful to some or other, as this, in likelihood, will be to none but hirelings. And if there be among them who hold it their duty to speak inpartial truth, as the work of their ministry, though not performed without money, let them not envy others who think the same no less their duty by the general office of Christianity, to speak truth, as in all reason may be thought, more impartially and unsuspectedly without money.
Hire of itself is neither a thing unlawful, nor a word of any evil note, signifying no more than a