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which perhaps, whilst it sounded well, every one would not stand to examine.
One thing give me leave here to observe to you, which is, that when you speak of the entertainment subjects are to give to truth, i. e. the true religion, you call it believing ; but this in the magistrate you call knowing. Now let me ask you, whether
any magistrate, who laid penalties on any who dissented from what he judged the true religion, or, as you call it here, were alienated from the truth; was or could be determined in his judg. ing of that truth by any assurance greater than believing? When you have resolved that, you will then see to what purpose is all you have said here concerning the magistrate's knowing the truth; which at last amounting to no more than the assurance wherewith a man certainly believes and receives a thing for true, will put every magistrate under the same, if there be any obligation to use force, whilst he believes his own religion. Besides, if a magistrate knows his religion to be true, he is to use means not to make his people believe, but know it also; knowledge of them, if that be the way of entertaining the truths of religion, being as necessary to the subjects as the magistrate. I never heard yet of a master of mathematics, who had the care of informing of others in those truths, who ever went about to make any one believe one of Euclid's propositions.
The pleasantness of your answer, not withstanding what you say, doth remain still the same: for you making, as is to be seen, “the power of the magistrate is ordained for the bringing men to take such care as they ought of their salvation,” the reason why it is every man's interest to vest this power in the magistrate must suppose this power so ordained before the people vested it; or else it could not be an argument for their vesting it in the magistrate. For if not here built upon your fundamental supposition, that this power of the magistrate is ordained by God to that end, the proper and intelligible way of expressing your meaning had not been to say as you do: “As the power
of the magistrate is ordained for bringing, &c. so if we suppose this power vested in the magistrate by the people:” in which way of speaking, this power of the magistrate is evidently supposed already ordained. But a clear way of making your meaning understood had been to say, That for the people to ordain such a power of the magistrate, or to vest such a power in the magistrate, which is the same thing, was their true interest : but whether it were your meaning or your expression that was guilty of the absurdity, I shall leave it with the reader.
As to the other pleasant thing of your answer, it will still
appear by barely reciting it: the pleasant thing I charge on you is, that you say, That “the power of the magistrate is to bring men to such a care of their salvation, that they may not blindly leave it to the choice of any person, or their own lusts or passions, to prescribe to them what faith or worship they shall embrace;" and yet that it is their best course “to vest a power in the magistrate,” liable to the same lusts and passions as themselves, to choose for them. To this you answer, by asking, where it is that you say that it is the people's best course to vest a power in the magistrate to choose for them ? That you tell me I do not pretend to show. If you had given yourself the pains to have gone on to the end of the paragraph, or will be pleased to read it as I have here again set it down for your perusal, you will find that I at least pretended to show it. My words are these : “ If they vest a power in the magistrate to punish them when they dissent from his religion, to bring them to act even against their own inclination, according to reason and sound judgment,” which is, as you explain yourself in another place, "to bring them to consider reasons and arguments proper and sufficient to convince them; how far is this from leaving it to the choice of another man to prescribe to them what faith or worship they shall embrace ?” Thus far you cite my words; to which let me join the remaining part of the paragraph, to let you see that I pretended to show that the course
you proposed to the people, as best for them, was to vest a power in the magistrate to choose for them. My words, which follow those where you left off, are these : “ Especially if we consider, that you think it a strange thing, that the author would have the care of every man's soul left to himself alone. So that this care being vested in the magistrate, with a power to punish men to make them consider reasons and arguments proper and sufficient to convince them of the truth of his religion; the choice is evidently in the magistrate, as much as it can be in the power of one man to choose for another what religion he shall be of; which consists only in a power of compelling him by punishments to embrace it.” But all this, you tell me, “is just nothing to the purpose.” Why, I beseech you ? “ Because you speak not of the magistrate's religion, but of the true religion, and that proposed with sufficient evidence.”
The case in short is this: men are apt to be misled by their passions, lusts, and other men, in the choice of their religion. For this great evil you propose a remedy, which is, that men (for you must remember you are here speaking of the people putting this power into the magistrate's hand) should choose some of their fellow-men, and give them a power by force to guard them, that they might not be alienated from the truth by their own passions, lusts, or by other men. So it was in the first scheme; or, as you have it now, to punish them, whenever they rejected the true religion, and that proposed with sufficient evidence of the truth of it. A pretty remedy, and manifestly effectual at first sight; that because men were all promiscuously apt to be misled in their judgment, or choice of their religion, by passion, lust, and other men, therefore they should choose some amongst themselves, who might, they and their successors, men made just like themselves, punish them that rejected the true religion.
“ If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch,” says our Saviour. If men, apt to be misled by their passions and lusts, will guard themselves from
falling into error by punishments laid on them by men as apt to be misled by passions and lusts as themselves, how are they safer from falling into error ? Now hear the infallible remedy for this inconvenience, and admire: the men to whom they have given this power must not use it till they find those who gave it them in an error. A friend, to whom I showed this expedient, answered, This is none: for why is not a man as fit to judge for himself when he is in an error, as another to judge for him, who is as liable to error himself? I answered, This power, however, in the other can do him no harm, but may, indirectly and at a distance, do him good; because the magistrate, who has this power to punish him, must never use it but when he is in the right, and he that is punished is in the wrong. But, said
my friend, who shall be judge whether he be in the right or no? For men in an error think themselves in the right, and that as confidently as those who are most
To which I replied, Nobody must be judge; but the magistrate may know when he is in the right. And so may the subject too, said my friend, as well as the magistrate, and therefore it was as good still to be free from a punishment, that gives a man no more security from error than he had without it. Besides, said he, who must be judge whether the magistrate knows or no? For he may mistake, and think it to be knowledge and certainty, when it is but opinion and belief. It is no matter for that, in this scheme, replied I; the magistrate, we are told, may know which is the true religion, and he must not use force but to bring men to the true religion; and if he does, God will one day call him to an account for it, and so all is safe. As safe as beating the air can make a thing, replied my friend; for if believing, being assured, confidently being persuaded that they know that the religion they profess is true, or any thing else short of true knowledge, will serve the turn, all magistrates will have this power alike, and so men' will be well guarded, or recovered from false religions, by putting it into the magistrate's hand to punish them when they have alienated themselves from it.
If the magistrate be not to punish men but when he knows, i. e. is infallibly certain (for so is a man in what he knows), that his national religion is all true, and knows also, that it has been proposed to those he punishes with sufficient evidence of the truth of it: it would have been as good this power had never been given him, since he will never be in a condition to exercise it : and at best it was given him to no purpose, since those who gave it him were one with another as little indisposed to consider impartially, examine diligently, study, find, and infallibly know the truth, as he. But, said he at parting, to talk thus of the magistrate's punishing men that reject the true religion, without telling us who those magistrates are, who have a power to judge which is the true religion, is to put this power in all magistrates' hands alike, or none; for to say he only is to be judge which is the true religion who is of it, is but to begin the round of inquiries again, which can at last end nowhere but in every one's supposing his own to be it. But, said he, if you will continue to talk on thus, there is nothing more to be done with
you, but to pity or laugh at you; and so he
I assure you, sir, I urged this part of your hypothesis with all the advantage I thought your answer afforded me; and if I have erred in it, or there be any way to get out of the strait (if force must in your way be used) either of the magistrate's punishing men for rejecting the true religion, without judging which is the true religion ; or else that the magistrate should judge which is the true religion; which way ever of the two you sh determine it, I see not what advantage it can be to the people, to keep them from choosing amiss, that this power of punishing them shall be put into the magistrate's hands. •
And then, if the magistrate must judge which is the true religion; as how he should, without judging, punish any one who rejects it, is hard to find; and punish men who reject it until they embrace it, let it be to make them consider, or what you please, he does, I think, choose their religion for them. And if you have