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men into the right way?" and that it needs a better answer than you have given to it: and therefore you might have spared the pains you have taken in this paragraph, to prove that the magistrate's being liable as much as other men to humour, prejudice, passion, and error, makes not force, in his hands, wholly unserviceable to the administration of civil government; which is what nobody denies: and you would have better employed it to prove, that if the magistrate's being as liable to passion, humour, prejudice, and error, as other men, made force, in his hands, improper to bring men to the true religion; this would take away government out of the world : which is a consequence, I think, I may deny.
To which let me now add, what if God foresaw, that if force, of any kind or degree whatsoever, were allowed in behalf of truth, it would be used by erring, passionate, prejudiced men, to the restraint and ruin of truth, -as constant experience in all ages has shown,and therefore commanded that the tares should be suf. fered to grow with the wheat, till the harvest, when the infallible Judge shall sever them? That parable of our Saviour's plainly tells us, if force were once permitted, even in favour of the true religion, what mischief it was like to do in the misapplication of it, by forward, busy, mistaken men, and therefore he wholly forbid it; and yet, I hope, this does not take away civil government out of the world.
To my demanding, “What if there be other means?" and saying, “ Then yours ceases to be necessary upon that account, that there is no other means left ; for the grace of God is another means :" you answer, That “though the grace of God is another means, yet it is none of the means of which you were speaking in the place I refer to; which any one, who reads that paragraph, will find to be only human means. In that place you were endeavouring to prove force necessary to bring men to the true religion, as appears; and there having dilated for four or five pages together upon the “carelessness, prejudices, passions, lusts, impressions of education, worldly respects,” and other
the like causes, which you think mislead and keep men from the true religion; you at last conclude force necessary to bring men to it, because admonitions and entreaties not prevailing, there is no other means left. To this, grace being instanced in as another means, you tell us here you mean no other human means left. So that, to prove force necessary, you must prove that God would have other human means used besides praying, preaching, persuasion, and instruction; and for this, you will need to bring a plain direction from revelation for your moderate punishments; unless you will pretend to know, by your own natural wisdom, what means God has made necessary; without which, those whom he hath foreknown and predestinated, and will in his good time call, Romans viii. 29, by such means as he thinks fit, according to his purpose, cannot be brought into the way of salvation. Perhaps you have some warrant we know not of, to enter thus boldly into the counsel of God; without which, in another man, a modest Christian would be apt to think it presumption.
You say, there are many who are not prevailed on by prayers, entreaties, and exhortations, to embrace the true religion. What then is to be done? “Some degrees of force are necessary" to be used. Why? Because there is no other human means left. Many are not prevailed on by your moderate force. What then is to be done? Greater degrees of force are necessary, because there is no other human means left. No, say you, God has made moderate force necessary, because there is no other human means left where preaching and entreaties will not prevail; but he has not made greater degrees of force necessary, because there is no other human means left where moderate force will not prevail. So that your rule changing, where the reason continues the same, we must conclude you have some way of judging concerning the purposes and ways of the Almighty in the work of salvation, which every one understands not. You would not else, upon so slight ground as you have yet produced for it, which is nothing but your own imagination, make force, your moderate force, so necessary, that you bring in question the wisdom and
bounty of the Disposer and Governor of all things, as if he “had not furnished mankind with competent means for the promoting his own honour in the world, and the good of souls,” if your moderate force were wanting to bring them to the true religion ; whereas you know that most of the nations of the world always were destitute of this human means to bring them to the true religion. And I imagine you would be put to it, to name me one now, that is furnished with it.
Besides, if you please to remember what you say in the next words : “ And therefore, though the grace of God be both a proper and sufficient means, and such as can work by itself, and without which neither penalties nor any other means can do any thing,” and by consequence can make any means effectual; how can you say any human means, in this supernatural work, unless what God has declared to be so, is necessary? Preaching, and instruction, and exhortation, are human means that he has appointed: these, therefore, men may and ought to use; they have a commission from God, and may expect his blessing and the assistance of his grace; but to suppose, when they are used and prevail not, that force is necessary, because these are not sufficient, is to exclude grace, and ascribe this work to human means; as in effect you do, when you call force competent and sufficient means, as you have done. For if bare preaching, by the assistance of grace, can and will certainly prevail: and moderate penalties, as you confess, or any kind of force, without the assistance of grace, can do nothing; how can you say, that force is in any case a more necessary or a more competent or sufficient means than bare preaching and instruction ; unless you can show us, that God hath promised the co-operation and assistance of his grace to force, and not to preaching? The contrary whereof has more of appearance. Preaching and persuasion are not competent means, you say: Why? because without the co-operation of grace they can do nothing: but by the assistance of grace they can prevail even without force. Force too, without grace, you acknowledge can do nothing; but, joined with preaching and grace, it can prevail. Why then, I
pray, is it a more competent means than preaching; or why necessary, where preaching prevails not ? since it can do nothing without that, which, if joined to preaching, can make preaching effectual without it.
You go on, " Yet it may be true however, that when admonitions and entreaties fail, there is no human means left but penalties, to bring prejudiced persons to hear and consider what may convince them of their errors, and discover the truth to them: and then penalties will be necessary in respect to that end, as an human means." Let it be true or not true, that when entreaties, &c. fail, there is no human means left but penalties: your inference I deny, that then penalties will be necessary as an human means. For I ask you, since you lay so much stress to so little purpose on human means, is some human means necessary ? if that be your meaning, you have human means in the case, viz. admonitions, entreaties; being instant in season and out of season. I ask you again, Are penalties necessary because the end could not be obtained by preaching, without them ? that you cannot say;
prevail. Are penalties then necessary, as sure to produce that end ? nor so are they necessary; for without the assistance of grace, you confess, they can do nothing. So that penalties, neither as human means, nor as any means, are at all necessary. And now you may understand what 1 intend, by saying that the grace of God is the only means, which is the inquiry of your next paragraph, viz. this I intend, that it is the only efficacious means, without which all human means is ineffectual. You tell me, If by it “ I intend that it does either always, orordinarily exclude all other means; you see no ground I have to say it." And I see no ground you have to think I intended, that it excludes any other means that God in his goodness will be pleased to make use of : but this I intend by it, and this, I think, I have ground to say, that it excludes all the human means of force from being necessary, or so much as lawful to be used ; unless God hath required it by some more authentic declaration than your bare saying or imagining it is necessary.
And you must have more than human confidence, if you continue to mix this poor and human contrivance of yours with the wisdom and counsel of God in the work of salvation; since he having declared the means and methods to be used for the saving men's souls, has in the revelation of the Gospel, by your own confession , prescribed no such human means.
To my saying, “ God alone can open the ear that it may hear, and open the heart that it may understand :" you reply, “ But, by your favour, this does not prove that he makes use of no means in doing of it.” Nor needs it: it is enough for me, if it proves, that if preaching and instruction do not open the ear, or the heart, it is not necessary any one should try his strength with a hammer or an augre.
Man is not in this business, (where no means can be effectual, without the assistance and co-operation of his grace) to make use of any means which God hath not prescribed. You here set up a way of propagating Christianity according to your fancy, and tell us how you would have the work of the Gospel carried on: you commission the magistrate by the argument of congruity; you find an efficacy in punishment towards the converting of men; you limit the force to be used to low and moderate degrees, and to countries where sufficient means of instruction are provided by the law, and where the magistrate's religion is the true, i. e. where it pleases you; and all this without any direction from God, or any authority so much as pretended from the Gospel ; and without its being truly for the propagation of Christianity, but only so much of it as you think fit, and what else you are pleased to join to it. Why else, in the religion you are content to have established by law, and promoted by penalties, is any thing more or less required than is espressly contained in the New Testament?
This indeed is well suited to any one, who would have a power of punishing those that differ from his opinion, and would have men compelled to conformity in England. But in this your fair contrivance, what becomes of the rest of mankind, left to wander in darkness out of