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molestation, either to take no care at all of his soul, if he be so pleased; or, in doing it, to follow his own groundless prejudices, or unaccountable humour, or any crafty seducer, whom he may think fit to take for his guide.” Why should not the care of every man's soul be left to himself, rather than the magistrate? Is the magistrate like to be more concerned for it? Is the magistrate like to take more care of it? Is the magistrate commonly more careful of his own, than other men are of theirs ? Will you say the magistrate is less exposed, in matters of religion, to prejudices, humours, and crafty seducers, than other men? If you cannot lay your hand upon your heart, and say all this, what then will be got by the change? And “why may not the care of every man's soul be left to himself?” Especially, if a man be in so much danger to miss the truth, “ who is suffered quietly, and without the least molestation, either to take no care of his soul, if he be so pleased, or to follow his own prejudices,” &c. For if want of molestation be the dangerous state, wherein men are likeliest to miss the right way; it must be confessed, that, of all men, the magistrate is most in danger to be in the wrong, and so the unfittest, if you take the care of men's souls from themselves, of all men, to be intrusted with it. For he never meets with that great and only antidote of yours against error, which you here call molestation. He never has the benefit of your sovereign remedy, punishment, to make him consider; which you think so necessary, that look on it as a most dangerous state for men to be without it; and therefore tell us, “it is every man's true interest, not to be left wholly to himself in matters of religion.”
Thus, sir, I have gone through your whole treatise, and, as I think, have omitted nothing in it material. If I have, I doubt not but I shall hear of it. And now I refer it to yourself, as well as to the judgment of the world, whether the author of the letter, in saying nobody hath a right, or you, in saying the magi. strate hath a right, to use force in matters of religion,
has most reason. In the mean time, I leave this request with you: that if ever you write again, about “the means of bringing souls to salvation,” which certainly is the best design any one can employ his pen in, you would take care not to prejudice so good a cause, by ordering it so, as to make it look as if you writ for a party.
I am, Sir,
PHILANTHROPUS. May 27, 1690.