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3. “ This belief is to be wrought in men by reason " and argument, not by outward force and compul
4. “ Therefore all such force is utterly of no use for “ the promoting true religion, and the salvation of • souls.
5. “ And therefore nobody can have any right to
use any force or compulsion, for the bringing men “ to the true religion.”
And you tell us, “ the whole strength of what that “ letter urged for the purpose of it, lies in this argu“ ment,” which I think you have no more reason to say, than if you should tell us, that only one beam of a house had any strength in it, when there are several others that would support the building, were
The purpose of the letter is plainly to defend toleration, exempt from all force;, especially civil force, or the force of the magistrate. Now, if it be a true consequence “ that men must be tolerated, if magistrates “ have no commission or authority to punish them for “ matters of religion ;” then the only strength of that letter lies not in the unfitness of force to convince men's understanding. See letter, p. 381.
Again; if it be true that " magistrates being as liable “ to errour as the rest of mankind, their using of force " in matters of religion, would not at all advance the “ salvation of mankind," allowing that even force could work upon them, and magistrates had authority to use it in religion, then the argument you mention is not “ the only one in that letter of strength to prove the si necessity of toleration.” See letter, p. 319. For the argument of the unfitness of force to convince men's minds being quite taken away, either of the other would be a strong proof for toleration. But let us consider the argument as you have put it. “ The two first propositions, you say, you agree
to.” As to the third, you grant, that “ force is very impro
per to be used to induce the mind to assent to any “ truth.” But yet you deny, “ that foree is utterly “ useless for the promoting true religion, and the sal
“ vation of men's souls :” which you call the author's fourth proposition ; but indeed that is not the author's fourth proposition, or any proposition of his, to be found in the pages you quote, or any-where else in the whole letter, either in those terms, or in the sense you
take it. In page 319, which you quote, the author is showing that the magistrate has no power, that is, no right, to make use of force in matters of religion, for the salvation of men's souls. And the reason he gives for it there, is, because force has no efficacy to convince men's minds; and that without a full persuasion of the mind, the profession of the true religion itself is not acceptable to God. Upon this ground, says he, I affirm " that the magistrate's power extends not to the esta
blishing any articles of faith, or forms of worship,
by the force of his laws. For laws are of no force “ at all without penalties; and penalties in this case are “ absolutely impertinent, because they are not proper " to convince the mind.” And so again, p. 331, which is the other place you quote, the author says: “ What
soever may be doubted in religion, yet this at least is certain, that no religion which I believe not to be
true, can be either true, or profitable unto me. In “ vain therefore do princes compel their subjects to “ come into their church-communion, under the pre
tence of saving their souls.” And more to this purpose. But in neither of those passages, nor any-where else, that I remember, does the author say that it is impossible that force should any way, at any time, upon any person, by any accident, be useful towards the promoting of true religion, and the salvation of souls; for that is it which you mean by “utterly of no use." He does not deny that there is any thing which God in his goodness does not, or may not, sometimes graciously make use of towards the salvation of men's souls; as our Saviour did of clay and spittle to cure blindness; and that so force also may be sometimes useful. But that which he denies, and you grant, is, that force has any proper efficacy to enlighten the understanding, or produce belief. And from thence he infers, that therefore the magistrate cannot lawfully compel men in mat
ters of religion. This is what the author says, and what I imagine will always hold true, whatever you or any one can say or think to the contrary.
That which you say is, “ Force indirectly and at a “ distance may do some service.” What you mean by doing service at a distance, towards the bringing men to salvation, or to embrace the truth, I confess I do not understand ; unless perhaps it be what others, in propriety of speech, call by accident. But be it what it will, it is such a service as cannot be ascribed to the direct and proper efficacy of force.
And so, say you, “ Force, indirectly, and at a distance, may do some “ service.” I grant it : make your best of it. What do you conclude from thence, to your purpose ? That therefore the magistrate may make use of it? That I deny, that such an indirect, and at a distance usefulness, will authorise the civil power in the use of it, that will never be proved. Loss of estate and dignities may make a proud man humble : sufferings and imprisonment may make a wild and debauched man sober: and so these things may " indirectly, and at a dis“ tance, be serviceable towards the salvation of men's “ souls.” I doubt not but God has made some, or all of these, the occasions of good to many men. But will you therefore infer, that the magistrate may take away a man's honour, or estate, or liberty for the salvation of his soul; or torment him in this, that he may be happy in the other world? What is otherwise unlawful in itself, as it certainly is to punish a man without a fault; can never be made lawful by some good that, indirectly and at a distance, or, if you please, indirectly and by accident, may follow from it. Running a man through, may save his life, as it has done by chance, opening a lurking imposthume. But will you say therefore, that this is lawful, justifiable chirurgery? The gallies, it is like, might reduce many a vain, loose protestant to repentance, sobriety of thought, and a true sense of religion : and the torments they suffered in the late persecution might make several consider the pains of hell, and put a due estimate of vanity and contempt on all things of this world. But will you say, because those punishments might, indirectly and at a distance, serve to the salvation of men's souls, that therefore the king of France had right authority to make use of them ? If your indirect and at a distance serviceableness may authorize the magistrate to use force in religion, all the cruelties used by the heathens against christians, by papists against protestants, and all the persecuting of christians one among another are all justifiable.
But what if I should tell you now of other effects, contrary effects, that punishments in matters of religion may produce; and so may serve to keep men from the truth and from salvation ? What then will become of your indirect and at a distance usefulness ? For in all pleas for any thing because of its usefulness, it is not enough to say as you do, and is the utmost that can be said for it, that it may be serviceable : but it must be considered not only what it may, but what it is likely to produce : and the greater good or harm like to come from it ought to determine the use of it. To show you what effects one may expect from force, of what usefulness it is to bring men to embrace the truth, be pleased to read what you yourself have writ: “ I can“ not but remark, say you, that these methods (viz.
depriving men of estates, corporal punishment, stary
ing and tormenting them in prisons, and in the end “ even taking away their lives, to make them chris“tians) are so very improper in respect to the design “ of them, that they usually produce the quite con. “ trary effect. For whereas all the use which force can “ have for the advancing true religion, and the salva“ tion of souls, is (as has already been showed) by dis
posing men to submit to instruction, 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 detestable, without ever vouch
“ safing to consider the rational 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 beforehand well instructed in those grounds “ and motives, they will be much tempted likewise
not only to entertain the same opinion of such a re
ligion, but withal to judge much more favourably “ of that of the sufferers; who, they will be apt to " think, would not expose themselves to such extre“ mities, which they might avoid by compliance, if " they were not thoroughly satisfied of the justice of ( their cause,
Here then you allow that taking away men's estates, or liberty, and corporal punishments, are apt to drive away both sufferers and spectators from the religion that makes use of them, rather than to it. And so these you renounce. Now if you give up punishments of a man, in his person, liberty, and estate, I think we need not stand with you, for any other punishments that may be made use of. But, by what follows, it seems you shelter yourself under the name of severities. For moderate punishments, as you call them in another place, you think may be serviceable; indirectly, and at a distance serviceable, to bring men to the truth. And I say, any sort of punishments disproportioned to the offence, or where there is no fault at all, will always be severity, unjustifiable severity, and will be thought so by the sufferers and by-standers; and so will usually produce the effects you have mentioned, contrary to the design they are used for. Not to profess the national faith, whilst one believes it not to be true; . not to enter into church-communion with the magistrate as long as one judges the doctrine there professed to be erroneous, or the worship pot such as God has either prescribed, or will accept; this you allow, and all the world with you must allow, not to be a fault. But yet you would have men punished for not being of the national religion ; that is, as you yourself confess, for no fault at all. Whether this be not severity, nay so open and avowed injustice, that it will give men a just prejudice against the religion that uses it, and produce all