« السابقةمتابعة »
you to it.
the yielding and corrigible, not to the perverse and obstinate; contrary to the common discretion which has hitherto made laws in other cases, which levels the punishments against refractory offenders, and never spares them because they are obstinate. This, however, I will not blame as an oversight in you. Your new method, which aims at such impracticable and inconsistent things as laws cannot bear, nor penalties be useful to, forced
The uselessness, absurdity and unreasonableness of great severities, you had acknowledged in the foregoing paragraphs. Dissenters you would have brought to consider by moderate penalties. They lie under them; but whether they have considered or no, (for that you cannot tell) they still continue dissenters. What is to be done now? Why, the incurable are to be left to God, as you tell us, p. 12. Your punishments were not meant to prevail on the desperately perverse and obstinate, as you tell us here, and so whatever be the success, your punishments are however justified.
You have given us in another place something like another boundary to your moderate penalties: but when examined, it proves just like the rest, trifling only, in good words, so put together as to have no direct meaning; an art very much in use amongst some sort of learned men. The words are these : “such penalties
as may not tempt persons who have any concern for “ their eternal salvation, and those who have none,
ought not to be considered) to renounce a religion " which they believe to be true, or profess one which
they do not believe to be so." If by any concern, you mean a true concern for their eternal salvation, by this rule you may make your punishments as great as you please; and all the severities you have disclaimed may be brought in play again: for none of those will be able to make a man, “who is truly concerned for “ his eternal salvation, renounce a religion he believes “ to be true, or profess one he does not believe to be “ so." If by those who have any concern, you mean such who have some faint wishes for happiness hereafter, and would be glad to have things go well with them in the other world, but will venture nothing in
this world for it; these the moderatest punishments you can imagine, will make change their religion. If by any concern, you mean whatever may be between these two; the degrees are so infinite, that to proportion your punishments by that, is to have no measure of them at all.
One thing I cannot but take notice of in this passage, before I leave it: and that is, you say here, “ those who have no concern for their salvation, de“ serve not to be considered." In other parts of your letter, you pretend to have compassion on the careless, and provide remedies for them: but here, of a sudden, your charity fails you; and you give them up to eternal perdition, without the least regard, the least pity, and say they deserve not to be considered. Our Saviour's
“ the sick and not the whole need a phy“ sician.” Your rule here is, those that are careless are not to be considered, but are to be left to themselves. This would seem strange, if one did not observe what drew you to it. You perceived that if the magistrate was to use no punishments but such as would make nobody change their religion, he was to use none at all ; for the careless would be brought to the national church, with any slight punishments; and when they are once there, you are, it seems, satisfied, and look no farther after them. So that by your own ineasures, “if the “ careless, and those who have no concern for their “ eternal salvation,” are to be regarded and taken care of; if the salvation of their souls is to be promoted, there is to be no punishment used at all; and therefore you leave them out as not to be considered.
There remains yet one thing to be inquired into, concerning the measure of the punishments, and that is the length of their duration. Moderate punishments that are continued, that men find no end of, know no way out of, sit heavy, and become immoderately uneasy. Dissenters, you would have punished, to make them consider. Your penalties have had the effect on them you intended; they have made them consider; and they have done their utmost in considering. What now must be done with them?. They must be punished on; for
they are still dissenters. If it were just, if you had reason at first to punish a dissenter, to make him consider, when you did not know but that he had considered alredy; it is as just, and you have as much reason to punish him on, even when he has performed what your punishments were designed for, when he has considered, but yet remains a dissenter. For I may justly suppose, and you must grant, that a man may remain a dissenter, after all the consideration your moderate penalties can bring him to; when we see greater punishments, even those severities you disown, as too great, are not able to make men consider so far as to be convinced, and brought over to the national church.
If your punishments may not be inflicted on men, to make them consider, who have or may have considered already for aught you know ; then dissenters are never to be once punished, no more than any other sort of men. If dissenters are to be punished, to make them consider, whether they have considered or no: then their punishments, though they do consider, must never cease, as long as they are dissenters; which whether it be to punish them only to bring them to consider, let all men judge. This I am sure; punishments, in your method, must either never begin upon dissenters, or never cease. And so pretend moderation as you please, the punishments which your method requires, must be either very immoderate, or none at all.
And now, you having yielded to our author, and that upon very good reasons which you yourself urge, and which I shall set down in your own words, " that to
prosecute men with fire and sword, or to deprive “ them of their estates, to maim them with corporal “ punishments, to starve and torture them in noisome “ prisons, and in the end even to take away their lives, " to make them christians, is but an ill way of express“ ing men's desire of the salvation of those whom they “ treat in this manner. And that it will be very dif. “ ficult to persuade men of sense, that he who with
dry eyes and satisfaction of mind can deliver his bro“ ther to the executioner, to be burnt alive, does sin
cerely and heartily concern himself to save that bro:
" ther from the flames of hell in the world to come. “ And that these methods are so very improper, in re
spect to the design of them, that they usually pro“ duce the quite contrary effect. For whereas all the
use which force can have for the advancing true re
ligion, and the salvation of souls, is (as has already “ been showed) by disposing men to submit to instruc" tion, and to give a fair hearing to the reasons which
are offered, for the enlightening their minds, and “ discovering the truth to them; these cruelties have “ the misfortune to be commonly looked upon as so
just a prejudice against any religion that uses them,
as makes it needless to look any farther into it; and “ to tempt men to reject it, as both false and detest“ able, without ever vouchsafing to consider the ra. “ tional grounds and motives of it. This effect they “ seldom fail to work upon the sufferers of them; and “ as to the spectators, if they be not before-hand well “ instructed in those grounds and motives, they will be “ much tempted likewise, not only to entertain the
same opinion of such a religion, but withal to judge “ much more favourably of that of the sufferers; who,
they will be apt to think, would not expose them“ selves to such extremities, which they might avoid
by compliance, if they were not thoroughly satisfied “ of the justice of their cause." And upon these reasons you conclude, “ that these severities are utterly
unapt and improper for the bringing men to embrace " that truth which must save them." Again, you having acknowledged, “ that the authority of the “ magistrate is not an authority to compel any one to “ his religion.” And again, “ that the rigour of laws “ and force of penalties are not capable to convince “ and change men's minds.” And yet farther, “ that
you do not require that men should have no rule, “ but the religion of the court ; or that they should be
put under a necessity to quit the light of their own “ reason, and oppose the dictates of their own consci
ences, and blindly resign up themselves to the will “ of their governors; but that the power you ascribe “ to the magistrate, is given him to bring men not to “ his own, but to the true religion.” Now you having, I say, granted this, whereby you directly condemn and abolish all laws that have been made here, or anywhere else, that ever I heard of, to compel men to conformity; I think the author, and whosoever else are most for liberty of conscience, might be content with the toleration you allow, by condemning the laws about religion, now in force; and are testified, until you had made your new method consistent and practicable, by telling the world plainly and directly,
1. Who are to be punished.
5. What advantage to true religion it would be, if magistrates every-where did so punish.
6. And lastly, whence the magistrate had commission to do so.
When you have done this plainly and intelligibly, without keeping in the uncertainty of general expressions, and without supposing all along your church in the right, and your religion the true; which can no more be allowed to you in this case, whatever your church or religion be, than it can be to a papist or a lutheran, a presbyterian or an anabaptist ; nay no more to you, than it can be allowed to a jew or a mahometan ; when, I say, you have by settling these points framed the parts of your new engine, set it together, and show that it will work, without doing more harm than good in the world; I think then men may be content to submit to it. But imagining this, and an engine to show the perpetual motion, will be found out together, I think toleration in a very good state, notwithstanding your answer ; wherein you have said so much for it, and for aught I see nothing against it: unless an impracticable chimera be, in your opinion, something mightily to be apprehended.
We have now seen and examined the main of your treatise; and therefore I think I might here end, without going any farther. But, that you may not think yourself, or any of your arguments neglected, I will go