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of one opinion before another, which may be without discord. In apostolic times, therefore, ere the scripture was written, heresy was a doctrine maintained against the doctrine by them delivered; which in these · times can be no otherwise defined than a doctrine maintained against the light, which we now only have, of the scripture. Seeing therefore that no man, no synod, no session of men, though called the Church, can judge definitively the sense of scripture to another man's conscience, which is well known to be a general maxim of the protestant religion; it follows plainly, that he who holds in religion that belief, or those opinions, which to his conscience and utmat understanding appear with mostovidence or probability in the scripture, though to others he seem erroneous, can no more be justly censured for a heretic than his censurers; who do but the same thing themselves, while they censure him for so doing. For ask them, or any protestant, which hath most authority, the Church or the Scripture? They will answer, doubtless, that the scripture : and what hath most authority, that no doubt but they will confess is to be followed. He then, who to his best apprehension follows the scripture, though against any point of doctrine by the whole church received, is not the heretic; but he who follows the church against his conscience and persuasion grounded on the scripture. ***
To protestants, therefore, whose common rule and touchstone is the scripture, nothing can with more con-,. science, more equity, nothing more protestantly can be permitted, than a free and lawful debate at all times by writing, conference, or disputation of what opinion soever, disputable by scripture : concluding, that no man in religion is properly a heretic at this day, but he who maintains traditions or opinions not probable by scrip
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ture, who, for aught I know, is the papist only; he the only heretic, who counts all heretics but himself.
But heresy, they say, is reckoned among evil works, Gal. v. 20, as if all evil works were to be punished by the magistrate; whereof this place, their own citation, reckons up besides heresy a sufficient number to confute them ; " uncleanness, wantonness, enmity, strife, emulations, animosities, contentions, envyings;" all which are far more manifest to be judged by him than heresy, as they define it; and yet I suppose they will not subject these evil works, nor many more suchlike, to his cognizance and pnnishment. ****
How many persecutions then, imprisonments, banishnients, penalties, and stripes; how much bloodshed have the forcers of conscience to answer for, and protestants rather than papists ! For the papist, judging by his principles, punishes them who believe not as the church believes, though against the scripture; but the protestant, teaching every one to believe the scripture, though against the church, counts heretical, and persecutes against his own principles, them who in any particular so believe as he in general teaches them ; them who most honour and believe divine scripture, but not. against it any human interpretation though universal ; them who interpret scripture only to themselves, which by his own position, none but they to themselves can interpret: them who use the scripture no otherwise by his own doctrine to their edification, than he himself uses it to their punishing; and so whom his doctrine acknowledges a true believer, his discipline persecutes as a heretic.
The papist exacts our belief as to the church due above scripture ; and by the church, which is the whole people of God, understands the pope, the general councils, prelatical only, and the surnamed fathers : but the forcing protestant, though he deny such belief to any church whatsoever, yet takes it to himself and his teachers, of far less authority than to be called the church, and above scripture believed : which renders his practice both contrary to his belief, and far worse than that belief, which he condemns in the papist. By all which, well considered, the more he professes to be a true 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. But as for popery and idolatry, why they also may not hence plead to be tolerated, I have much less to say. Their religion the more considered, the less can be acknowledged a religion ; but a Roman principality rather, endeavouring to keep up her old: universal dominion under a new name, and mere shadow of a catholic religion ; being indeed more rightly named a catholic heresy against the sçripture, supported mainly by a civil, and except in. Rome, by a foreign power : justly therefore to be suspected, not tolerated by the magistrate of another coun-try. Besides, of an implicit faith which they profess, the conscience also becomes implicit, and so by voluntary servitude to man's law, forfeits her christian liberty. Who then can plead for such a conscience, as bem ing implicity enthralled to nian instead of God, almost becomes no conscience, as the will not free, becomes no will? Nevertheless, if they ought not to be tolerated it is for just reason of state, more than of religion; which they who force, though professing to be protestants, deserve as little to be tolerated themselves, being
no less guilty of popery, in the most popish point. Lastly, for idolatry, who knows it not to be evidently against all scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, and therefore a true heresy, or rather an impiety, wherein a right conscience can have nought to do; and the works thereof so manifest, that a magistrate can hardly err in prohibiting and quite removing at least the public and scandalous use thereof?
From the riddance of these objections, I proceed yet to another reason why it is unlawful for the civil magistrate to use force in matters of religion ; which is, because to judge in those things, though we should grant him able, which is proved he is not, yet as a civil magistrate he hath no right. Christ hath a government of his own, sufficient of itself to all his ends and purposes in governing his church, but much different from that of the civil magistrate ; and the difference in this very thing principally consists, that it governs not by outward force ;. and that for two reasons, First, Because it deals only with the inward man and his actions, which are all spiritual, and to outward force not liable. 2dly, To show us the divine excellence of his spiritual kingdom, able, without worldly force, to subdue all the powers and kingdoms of this world, which are upheld by outward force only. That the inward man is nothing else but the inward part of man, his understanding and his will; and that his actions thence proceeding, yet not simply thence, but from the work of divine grace upon them, are the whole matter of religion under the gospel, will appear plainly by considering what that religion is; whence we shall perceive yet more plainly that it cannot be forced. What evangelic religion is, is told in two words, Faith, and Charity, or Belief and Practice. That both these flow, either, the one from the understanding, the other from the will, or both jointly from both ; ** is in part evident to common sense and principles unquestioned, the rest by scripture : Concerning our belief, Mat. xvi. 17, “ Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.” Concerning our practice, as it is religious, and not merely civil, Gal. v, 22, 23, and other places, declare it to be the fruit of the spirit only. Nay, our whole practical duty in reli-gion is contained in charity, or the love of God and our neighbour, no way to be forced, yet the fulfilling of the whole law; that is to say, our whole practice in reli-gion. If then both our belief and practice, which comprehend our whole religion, Aow from faculties of the inward man, free and unconstrainable of themselves by nature, and our practice not only from faculties endued with freedom, but from love and charity besides,. incapable of force, ** how can such religion as this admit of force from man, or force be any way applied to such religion, ** but it must forthwith frustrate and make of no effect, both the religion and the gospel ? And that to compel outward profession, which they will say perhaps ought to be compelled, though inward religion cannot, is to compel hypocrisy, not to advance religion, shall yet; though of itself clear enough, be ere the conclusion further manifest. The other reason why Christ rejects outward force in the government of his church, is, as I said before, to show us the divine excellence of his spiritual kingdom, able without worldly force to subdue all the powers and kingdoms of this world, which are upheld by outward force only; by which to uphold religion otherwise than to defend the religious from outward violence, is no service to Christ or his kingdom, but rather a disparagement, and