« السابقةمتابعة »
they do also prove, that a good life is the only way to seek as we ought; and that therefore the magistrates, if they would put men upon seeking the way of salvation as they ought, should by their laws and penalties force them to a good life; a good conversation being the surest and readiest way to a right understanding. And that if magistrates will severely and impartially set themselves against vice, in whomsoever it is found, truereligion will be spread wider than ever hitherto it has been by the imposition of creeds and ceremonies.” To this you reply, - Whether the magistrates setting them. selves severely and impartially against what you sup. pose I call vice, or the imposition of sound creeds and decent ceremonies, does more conduce to the spreading the true religion, and rendering it fruitful in the lives of its professors, we need not examine; you confess, you think, both together do best; and this, you think, is as much as needs be said to that paragraph.” If it had been put to you, whether a good living, or a good prebend, would more conduce to the enlarging your fortune, I think it would be allowed you as no improper or unlikely answer, what you say here, “I think both together would do best;" but here the case is otherwise : your thinking determines not the point: and other people of equal authority may, and I will answer for it, do think otherwise; but because I pretend to no authority, I will give you a reason why your thinking is insufficient. You tell us, that “ force is not a fit means, where it is not necessary as well as useful;" and you prove it to be neces: sary, because there is no other means left. Now if the severity of the magistrate, against what I call vice, will, as you will not deny, promote a good life, and that be the right way to seek the truths of religion; here is another means besides imposing of creeds and ceremonies, to promote the true religion; and therefore your argument for its necessity, because of no other means left, being gone, you cannot say “ both together are best,” when one of them being not necessary, is therefore, by your own confession, not to be used.
I having said, That if such an indirect and at a
distance usefulness were sufficient to justify the use of force, the magistrate might make his subjects eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven: you reply, that you suppose I will not say castration is necessary, because you hope I acknowledge, that marriage, and that grace which God denies to none who seriously ask it, are sufficient for that purpose.” And I hope you acknowledge, that preaching, admonitions, and instructions, and
that grace which God denies to none who seriously ask it, are sufficient for salvation. So that by this answer of yours, there being no more necessity of force to make men of the true religion, than there is of castration to make men chaste; it will still remain that the magistrate, when he thinks fit, may, upon your principles, as well castrate men to make them chaste, as use force to make them embrace the truth that must save them. If castration be not necessary,
“ because marriage and the grace of God are sufficient” without it: nor will force be necessary, because preaching and the grace of God are sufficient without it; and this, I think, by your own rule, where you tell us, “ Where there are many useful means, and some of them are sufficient without the rest, there is no necessity of using them all.” So that you must either quit your necessity of force, or take in castration too: which, however it might not go down with the untractable and desperately perverse and obstinate people in these western countries, yet is a doctrine, you may hope, may meet with a better reception in the Ottoman empire, and recommend
you to some of my Mahometans. To my saying, “ If what we are apt to think useful, were thence to be concluded so, we might be in danger to be obliged to believe the pretended miracles of the church of Rome, by your way of reasoning; unless we will say, that which without impiety cannot be said, that the wise and benign Disposer and Governor of all things does not use all useful means for promoting his own honour in the world, and the good of souls. This, I think, will conclude as much for miracles as
for force : you reply, “ you think it will not; for in the place I intend, you speak not of useful, but of competent, i. e. sufficient means. Now, competent or sufficient means are necessary; but you think no man will say that all useful means are so: and therefore though, as you affirm, it cannot be said without impiety, that the wise and benign Disposer and Governor of all things has not furnished mankind with competent means for the promoting his own honour in the world, and the good of souls; yet it is very agreeable with piety, and with truth too, to say that he does not now use all useful means: because, as none of bis attributes obliges
him to use more than sufficient means; may use sufficient means, without using all useful
For where there are many useful means, and some of them are sufficient without the rest, there is no necessity of them all. So that from God's not using miracles now, to promote the true religion, I cannot conclude that he does not think them useful now, but only that he does not think them necessary. And therefore, though what we are apt to think useful were thence to be concluded so; yet if whatever is useful be not likewise to be concluded necessary, there is no reason to fear that we should be obliged to believe the miracles pretended to by the church of Rome. For if miracles be not now necessary, there is no inconvenience in thinking the miracles pretended to by the church of Rome to be but pretended miracles.” To which I answer, Put it how you will, for competent means, or useful means, it will conclude for miracles still as much as for force. Your words are these, “ If such a degree of outward force, as has been mentioned, be really of great and necessary use for the advancing these ends, as, taking the world as we find it, you say, you think it appears to be; then it must be acknowledged there is a right somewhere to use it for the advancing those ends; unless we will say, what without impiety cannot be said, that the wise and benign Disposer of all things has not furnished mankind with competent means for the promoting his
own honour in the world, and the good of souls.” What, I beseech you, now is the sum of this argument, but this, “ force is of great and necessary use; therefore the wise and benign Disposer of all things, who will not leave mankind unfurnished (which it would be impiety to say) of competent means for the promoting his honour in the world, and the good of souls, has given somewhere a right to use it pus
Let us try it now, whether it will not do as well for miracles. Miracles “ are of great and necessary use, as great and necessary, at least, as force; therefore the wise and benign Disposer of all things, who will not leave mankind unfurnished, which it would be impiety to say, of competent means for the promoting his honour in the world, and the good of souls,” has given somewhere a power of miracles. I ask you, when I in the second letter used your own words, applied to miracles instead of force, would they not conclude then as well for miracles as for force? For you must remember there was not then in all your scheme one word of miracles to supply the place of force. Force alone was mentioned, force alone was necessary; all was laid on force. Nor was it easy to divine, that miracles should be taken in, to mend the defects of your hypothesis; which in your answer to me you now have done, and I easily allow it, without holding you to any thing you have said, and shall always do so. For seeking truth, and not triumph, as you frequently suggest, I shall always take your hypothesis as you please to reform it, and either embrace it, or show you why I do not.
Let us see, therefore, whether this argument will do any better now your scheme is mended, and you make force or miracles necessary. If force or miracles are of
great and necessary use for the promoting true religion and the salvation of souls; then it must be acknowledged, that there is somewhere a right to use the one, or a power to do the other, for the advancing those ends; unless we will say,what without impiety cannot be said, that the wise and benign Disposer and Governor of all things has not furnished mankind with competent means for the promoting his own honour, and the good
souls.” From whence it will follow, if your argument be good, that where men have not a right to use force, there still we are to expect miracles, unless we will say, &c. Now, where the magistrates are not of the true religion, there, by this part of your scheme, there is a right in nobody to use force; for if there were, what need of miracles, as you tell us there was, in the first age of Christianity, to supply that want? since the magistrates, who were of false religions then, were furnished with as much right, if that were enough, as they
So that where the magistrates are of false religions, there you must, upon your principles, affirm miracles are still to supply the want of force; “ unless you will say, what without impiety cannot be said, that the wise and benign Disposer and Governor of all things hath not furnished mankind with competent means for the promoting his own honour in the world, and the good of souls.” Now how far this will favour the pretences of the church of Rome to miracles in the East and West Indies, and other parts not under popish governments, you were best consider. This is evident, that in all countries where the true religion is not received for the religion of the state, and supported and encouraged by the laws of it, you must allow miracles to be as necessary now, as ever they were any where in the world, for the supply of the want of force, before the magistrates were Christians. And then what advantage your doctrine gives to the church of Rome is very visible. For they, like you, supposing theirs the only true religion, are supplied by you with this argument for it; viz. That the “true religion will not prevail by its own light and strength, without the assistance of miracles or authority, which are the competent means, which, without impiety, it cannot be said, that the wise and benign Disposer and Governor of all things has not furnished mankind with.” From whence they will not think it hard to draw this consequence, that therefore the wise and benign Governor of all things has continued in their church the power of miracles ; (which yours does not so much as pretend to) to supply the want of the magistrate's assistance,