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this Goshen, who neither have, nor (according to your scheme) can have, your necessary means of force and penalties to bring them to embrace the truth that must save them ? for if that be necessary, they cannot without a miracle, either prince or people, be wrought on without it. If a papist at Rome, a Lutheran at Stockholm, or a Calvinist at Geneva, should argue thus for his church, would you not say, that such as these looked like the thoughts of a poor prejudiced mind? But they may mistake, and you cannot; they may be prejudiced, but you cannot. Say too, if you please, you are confident you are in the right, but they cannot be confident they are so. This I am sure, God's thoughts are not as man's thoughts, nor his ways as man's ways, Isaiah ly. 8. And it
And it may abate any one's confidence of the necessity or use of punishments, for not receiving our Saviour, or his religion, when those who had the power of miracles were told, that “ they knew not what manner of spirit they were of,” when they would have commanded down fire from heaven, Luke ix. 55. But you do well to take care to have the church you are of supported by force and penalties, whatever becomes of the propagation of the Gospel, or the salvation of men's souls, in other parts of the world, as not coming within your hypothesis.
In your next paragraph, to prove that God does bless the use of force, you say you suppose I mean, by the words you there cite, that the “magistrate has no ground to hope that God will bless any penalties that he may use to bring men to hear and consider the doctrine of salvation; or (which is the same thing) that God does not (at least not ordinarily) afford his grace and assistance to them who are brought by such penalties to hear and consider that doctrine, to enable them to hear and consider it as they ought, i. e. so as to be moved heartily to embrace it.” You tell me, “ If this be my meaning, then to let me see that it is not true, you shall only desire me to tell you, whether they that are so brought to hear and consider, are bound to believe the Gospel or not? If I say they are ; (and you suppose I dare not say otherwise) then it evidently fol
lows, that God does afford them that grace which is requisite to enable them to believe the Gospel : because without that grace it is impossible for them to believe it; and they cannot be bound to believe what it is impossible for them to believe.” To which I shall only answer, that by this irrefragable argument it is evident, that wherever due penalties have been used,—for those you tell us are sufficient and competent means to make men hear and consider as they ought,—there all men were brought to believe the Gospel : whtch, whether you will resolve with yourself to be true or false, will be to me indifferent, and on either hand equally advantage your cause. Had you appealed to experience for the success of the use of force by the magistrate, your argument had not shown half so much depth of theological learning : but the mischief is, that if you will not make it all of a piece scholastic; and by arguing that all whom the magistrates use force upon “ are brought to consider as they ought, and to all that are so wrought upon God does afford that grace which is requisite;" and so roundly conclude for a greater suc. cess of force, to make men believe the Gospel, than ever our Saviour and the Apostles had by their preaching and miracles; for that wrought not on all ; your unanswerable argument comes to nothing. And in truth, as you have in this paragraph ordered the matter, by being too sparing of your abstract metaphysical reasoning, and employing it by halves, we are fain, after all, to come to the dull way of experience; and must be forced to count, as the parson does his communicants, by his Easter-book, how many those are so brought to hear and consider, to know how far God blesses penalties. Indeed, were it to be measured by conforming, the Easter-book would be a good register to determine it: but since you put it upon believing, that will be of somewhat a harder disquisition.
To my saying, (upon that place out of Isaiah, vi. 10, “ Make the heart of this people fat, lest they understand, and convert, and be healed) will all the force you can use be a means to make such people hear and understand, and be converted ?” You reply,
No, sir, it will not. But what then? What if God de. clares that he will not heal those who have long resisted all his ordinary methods, and made themselves, morally speaking, incurable by them? (which is the utmost, you say, I can make of the words I quote). Will it follow from thence, that no good can be done by penalties upon others, who are not so far gone
in wickedness and obstinacy? If it will not, as it is evident it will not, to what purpose is this said ?" It is said to this purpose, viz. to show that force ought not to be used at all. Those ordinary methods which, resisted, are punished with a reprobate sense, are the ordinary methods of instruction, without force; as is evident from this place and many others, particularly Romans i. From whence I argue, that what state soever you will suppose men in, either as past, or not yet come to the day of grace, nobody can be justified in using force to work upon them. For till the ordinary methods of instruction and persuasion can do no more, force is not necessary; for you cannot say what other means is there left, and so by your own rule not lawful. For till God hath pronounced this sentence here, on any one, “make his heart fat,” &c. the ordinary means of instruction and persuasion may, by the assistance of God's grace, prevail. And when this sentence is once passed upon them, and “God will not afford them his grace to heal them," (I take it, you confess in this place) I am sure you must confess your force to be wholly useless, and so utterly impertinent; unless that can be pertinent to be used, which you own can do nothing. So that whether it will follow or no, from men's being given up to a reprobate mind, for having resisted the preaching of salvation, “that no good can be done by penalties upon others ;” this will follow, that not knowing whether preaching may not, by the grace of God, yet work upon them; or whether the day of grace be past with them; neither you nor any body else can say that force is necessary; and if it be not necessary, you yourself tell us it is not to be used.
In your next paragraph, you complain of me, as reVOL. VI.
presenting your argument, as you say "I commonly do, as if you allowed any magistrate, of what religion soever, to lay penalties upon all that dissent from him.” Unhappy magistrates that have not your allowance! But to console them, I imagine they will find that they are all under the same obligation, one as another, to propagate the religion they believe to be the true, whether you allow it them or no. For to go no farther than the first words of your argument, which you complain I have misrepresented, and which you tell me runs thus, “When men fly from the means of right information;" I ask you here, who shall be judge of those means of right information; the magistrate who joins force with them to make them be hearkened to, or no? When you have answered that, you will have resolved a great part of the question, what magistrates are to use force?
But that you may not complain again of my misrepresenting, I must beg my readers' leave to set down your argument at large in your own words, and all you say upon it: “When men fly from the means of a right information, and will not so much as consider how reasonable it is thoroughly and impartially to examine a religion, which they embraced upon such inducements as ought to have no sway at all in the matter, and therefore with little or no examination of the proper grounds of it; what human method can be used to bring them to act like men in an affair of such consequence, and to make a wiser and more rational choice, but that of laying such penalties' upon them, as may balance the weight of those prejudices, which inclined them to prefer a false way before the true ?" &c. Now this argument, you
pretend to retort in this manner: “and I say, I see no other means left, (taking the world as we now find it, wherein the magistrate never lays penalties for matters of religion upon those of his own church, nor is it to be expected they ever should) to make men of the national church, any where, thoroughly and impartially examine a religion, which they embraced upon such
inducements as ought to have no sway at all in the matter, and therefore with little or no examination of the proper grounds of it: and therefore I conclude the use of force by dissenters upon conformists necessary. I appeal to all the world, whether this be not as just and natural a conclusion as yours?” And you say you are “well content the world should judge. And when it determinest hat there is the same reason to say, that to bring those who conform to the national church to examine their religion, it is necessary for dissenters (who cannot possibly have the coactive power, because the national church has that on its side, and cannot be national without it) to use force upon conformists; as there is to say, that where the national church is the true church, there to bring dissenters (as I call them) to examine their religion, it is necessary for the magistrate (who has the coactive power) to lay moderate penalties upon them for dissenting : you say, when the world determines thus, you will never pretend any more to judge what is reasonable, in any case whatsoever. For you doubt not but
you may safely presume, that the world will easily admit these two things. 1. That though it be very fit and desirable, that all that are of the true religion should understand the true grounds of it, that so they may be the better able both to defend themselves against the assaults of seducers, and to reduce such as are out of the way; yet this is not strictly necessary to their salvation : because experience shows (as far as men are capable to judge of such matters) that many do heartily believe and profess the true religion, and conscientiously practise the duties of it, who yet do not understand the true grounds upon which it challenges their belief; and no man doubts, but whosoever does so believe, profess, and practise the true religion, if he perseveres to the end, shall certainly attain salvation by it. 2. That how much soever it concerns those who reject the true religion (whom I may call dissenters if I please) to examine and consider why they do so; and how needful soever penalties may be to bring them to this; it is, however, utterly unreasonable, that