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jects) the means of disco. quires them all, under vering the way of salvation, convenient penalties, to and to procure withal, as hearken to the teachers much as in him lies, that and ministers of it, and none remain ignorant of it, to profess and exercise or refuse to embrace it, either it with one accord, unfor want of using those means, der their direction, in or by reason of any such pre- public assemblies: is judices as may render them there any pretence to ineffectual. If this be the ma say, that in so doing he gistrate's business, in refer- applies force only to a ence to all his subjects; I de- part of his subjects, sire you, or any man else, to when the law is general, tell me how this can be done, and excepts none? It by the application of force is true the magistrate inonly to a part of them; un- ficts the penalties, in less you will still vainly sup- that case, only, upon pose ignorance, negligence, them that break the law. or prejudice, only amongst But is that the thing that part which any where you mean by his “ apdiffers from the magistrate. plying force only to a If those of the magistrate's part of his subjects?" church may be ignorant of Would you have him the way of salvation ; if it be punish all indifferently? possible there may beamongst them that obey the law, them those who refuse to em as well as them that do brace it, either for want of not? using those means, or by rea As to ignorance, son of any such prejudices as negligence, and prejumay render them ineffectual; dice, I desire you, or what in this case becomes of any man else, to tell me the magistrate's authority to what better course can procure all his subjects the be taken to cure them, means of discovering the way than that which I have of salvation ? Must these of mentioned. For if after his subjects be neglected, all that God's ministers and left without the means and the magistrate can he has authority to procure do, some will still rethem? Or must he use force main ignorant, negliupon them too? And then, gent, or prejudiced, I pray show me how this can be do not take that to be
done. Shall the magistrąte any disparagement to punish those of his own re it: for certainly that is ligion, to procure them the a very extraordinary remeans of discovering the way medy, which infallibly of salvation, and to procure,
cures all diseased peras much as in him lies, that sons to whom it is apthey remain not ignorant plied. of it, or refuse not to embrace it? These are such con. tradictions in practice, this is such condemnation of a man's own religion, as no one can expect from the magistrate; and I dare say you desire not of him. And yet this is that he must do, if his authority be to procure all his subjects the means of discovering the way to salvation. And if it be so needful, as you say it is, that he should use it, I am sure force cannot do that till it be applied wider, and punishment be laid upon more than you would have it. For, if the magistrate be by force to procure, as much as in him lies, that none remain ignorant of the way of salvation, must be not punish all those who are ignorant of the way of salvation ? And pray tell me how is this any way practicable, but by supposing none in the national church ignorant, and all out of it ignorant, of the way of salvation ? Which what is it, but to punish men barely for not being of the magistrate's religion ; the very thing you deny he has authority to do? So that the magistrate having, by your own confession, no authority thus to use force; and it being otherwise impracticab for the procuring all his subjects the means of discovering the way of salvation; there is an end of force. And so force being laid aside, either as unlawful or im. practicable, the author's argument holds good against force, even in your way of applying it.”
The backwardness and lusts that hinder an impartial examination, as you describe it, is general. The corruption of nature which hinders a real embracing the
true religion, that also you tell us here is universal, I ask a remedy for these in your way. You say the law for conformity is general, excepts none. Very likely, none that do not conform ; but punishes none who, conforming, do neither impartially examine nor really embrace the true religion. From whence I conclude there is no corruption of nature in those who are brought up or join in outward communion with the church of England. But as to ignorance, negligence, and prejudice, you say you desire me, or any man else, to tell what better course can be taken to cure them, than that which you have mentioned.” If your church can find no better way to cure ignorance and prejudice, and the negligence that is in men to examine matters of religion, and heartily embrace the true, than what is impracticable upon conformists; then, of all others, conformists are in the most deplorable state. But, as I remember, you have been told of a better way, which is, the discoursing with men seriously and friendly about matters in religion, by those whose profession is the care of souls; examining what they do understand, and where, either through laziness, prejudice, or difficulty, they do stick; and applying to their several diseases, proper cures ; which it is as impossible to do by a general harangue, once or twice a week out of the pulpit, as to fit all men's feet with one shoe, or cure all men's ails with one, though very wholesome, diet-drink. To be thus “instant in season, and out of season,” some men have thought a better way of cure, than a desire only to have men driven by the whip, either in your, or the magistrate's hand, into the sheepfold : where when they are once, whether they understand, or no, their minister's sermons; whether they are, or can be better for them or no; whether they are ignorant and hypocritical conformists, and in that way like to remain so, rather than to become knowing and sincere converts; some bishops have thought it not sufficiently inquired: but this nobody is to mention, for whoever does so, “ makes himself an occasion to show his good-will to the clergy."
This had not been said by me here, now I see how apt you are to be put out of temper with any thing of this kind, though it be in every serious man's mouth, had not you desired me to show you a better way than force, your way applied. And, to use your way of arguing, since bare preaching, as now used, it is plain, will not do, there is no other means left but this to deal with the corrupt nature of conformists; for miracles are now ceased, and penalties they are free from ; therefore, by your way of concluding, no other being left, this of visiting at home, conferring and instructing, and admonishing men there, and the like means, proposed by the reverend author of the Pastoral Care, is necessary; and men, whose business is the care of souls, are obliged to use it: for you “cannot prove, that it cannot do some service," I think I need not say, " indirectly and at a distance." And if this be proper and sufficient to bring conformists, notwithstanding the corruption of their nature, “ to examine impartially, and really embrace the truth that must save them;" it will remain to show why it may not do as well on non-conformists, whose, I imagine, is the common corruption of nature, to bring them to examine and embrace the truth that must save them ? And though it be not so extraordinary a remedy as will infallibly cure all diseased persons, to whom it is applied : yet since the corruption of nature, which is the same disease, and hinders the “ impartial examination, and hearty embracing the truth that must save them,” is equally in both, conformists and non-conformists; it is reasonable to think it should in both have the same cure, let that be what it will.
Of the Necessity of Force, in Matters of Religion. You tell us “ you do not ground the lawfulness of such force, as you take to be useful for the promoting the true religion, upon the bare usefulness of such force, but
upon the necessity as well as usefulness of it; and therefore you declare it to be no fit means to be used, either for that purpose or any other, where it is not necessary as well as useful.”
How useful force in the magistrate's hand, for bringing men to the true religion, is like to be, we have shown in the foregoing chapter, in answer to what you have said for it. So that it being proved not useful, it is impossible it should be necessary. However we will examine what you say to prove the necessity of it. The foundation you build on for its necessity we have in your Argument considered, p. 10; where having at large dilated on men's inconsiderateness in the choice of their religions, and their persisting in those they have once chosen, without due examination, you conclude thus: “Now if this be the case, if men are so averse to a due consideration, if they usually take up their religion without examining it as they ought, what other means is there left ?” Wherein you suppose force necessary, instead of proving it to be so; for preaching and persuasion not prevailing upon all men, you upon your own authority think fit something else should be done; and that being resolved, you readily pitch on force, because you say you can find nothing else; which in effect is only to tell us, if the salvation of men's souls were only left to your discretion, how you would order the matter.
And in your answer to me, you very confidently tell us,“ the true religion cannot prevail without the assistance either of miracles or of authority.” I shall here