« السابقةمتابعة »
religion, but withal to judge much more favourably of that of the sufferers; who, they will be apt to think, would not expose themselves to such extremities, which they might avoid by compliance, if they were not thoroughly satisfied of the justice of their cause.” Here then you allow that taking away men's estates, or liberty, and corporal punishments, are apt to drive away both sufferers and spectators from the religion that makes use of them, rather than to it. And so these you renounce. Now, if you give up punishments of a man, in his person, liberty, and estate, I think we need not stand with you, for any other punishments that may be made use of. But, by what follows, it seems you shelter yourself under the name of severities. For moderate punishments, as you call them in another place, you think may be serviceable; indirectly, and at a distance serviceable, to bring men to the truth. And I say, any sort of punishments disproportioned to the offence, or where there is no fault at all, will always be severity, unjustifiable severity, and will be thought so by the sufferers and bystanders; and so will usually produce the effects you have mentioned, contrary to the design they are used for. Not to profess the national faith, whilst one believes it not to be true; not to enter into church communion with the magistrate as long as one judges the doctrine there professed to be erroneous, or the worship not such as God has either prescribed or will accept; this you allow, and all the world with you must allow, not to be a fault. But yet you would have men punished for not being of the national religion; that is, as you yourself confess, for no fault at all. Whether this be not severity, nay su open and avowed injustice, that it will give men a just prejudice against the religion that uses it, and produce all those ill effects you there mention, I leave you to consider. So that the name of severities, in opposition to the moderate punishments you speak for, can do you no service at all. For where there is no fault, there can be no moderate punishment: all punishment is immoderate, where there is no fault to be punished. But of your moderate punishment we shall have
occasion to speak more in another place. It suffices here to have shown, that whatever punishments you use, they are as likely to drive men from the religion that uses them, as to bring them to the truth; and much more likely, as we shall see before we have done: and so by your own confession they are not to be used.
One thing in this passage of the author, it seems, appears absurd to you; that he should say, “ That to take away men's lives, to make them Christians, was but an ill way of expressing a design of their salvation.” I grant there is great absurdity somewhere in the case. But it is in the practice of those who, persecuting men under a pretence of bringing them to salvation, suffer the temper of their good will to betray itself, in taking away their lives. And whatever absurdities there be in this way of proceeding, there is none in the author's way of expressing it; as you would more plainly have seen, if you had looked into the Latin original, where the words are,
“ Vitâ denique ipsâ privant, ut fideles, ut salvi fiant;" which, though more literally, might be thus rendered, “ To bring them to the faith and to salvation;" yet the translator is not to be blamed, if he chose to express the sense of the author in words that very livelily represented the extreme absurdity they are guilty of, who, under pretence of zeal for the salvation of souls, proceed to the taking away their lives. An example whereof we have in a neighbouring country, where the prince declares he will have all his dissenting subjects saved, and pursuant thereunto has taken away the lives of many of them. For thither at last persecution must come; as I fear, notwithstanding your talk of moderate punishments, you yourself intimate in these words : “ Not that I think the sword is to be used in this business (as I have sufficiently declared already), but because all coactive power resolves at last into the sword; since all (I do not say, that will not be reformed in this matter by lesser penalties, but) that refuse to submit to lesser penalties, must at last fall under the stroke of it.” In which
words, if you mean any thing to the business in hand,
nean you seem to have a reserve for greater punishments, when lesser are not sufficient to bring men to be convinced. But let that
“ If force be used, not instead of reason and arguments, that is, not to convince by its own proper efficacy, which it cannot do," &c. I think those who make laws, and use force, to bring men to churchconformity in religion, seek only the compliance, but concern themselves not for the conviction of those they punish; and so never use force to convince. For, pray tell
any dissenter conforms, and enters into the church-communion, is he ever examined to see whether he does it upon reason, and conviction, and such grounds as would become a Christian concerned for religion ? If persecution, as is pretended, were for the salvation of men's souls, this would be done; and men not driven to take the sacrament to keep their places, or to obtain licences to sell ale, for so low have these holy things been prostituted; who perhaps knew pothing of its institution, and considered no other use of it but the securing some poor secular advantage, which without taking of it they should have lost. So that this exception of yours, of the “use of force, instead of arguments, to convince men,” I think is need less; those who use it, not being, that ever I heard, concerned that men should be convinced. But
you go on in telling us your way of using force, only to bring men to consider those reasons and are guments, which are proper and sufficient to convince them; but which, without being forced, they would not consider.” And, say you,
And, say you, “who can deny but that, indirectly and at a distance, it does some service, towards bringing men to embrace that truth, which either through negligence they would never acquaint themselves with, or through prejudice they would reject and condemn unheard ? Whether this way of punishment is like to increase, or remove prejudice, we have already seen.
And what that truth is, which you can positively say any man, “ without being forced by punishment, would through carelessness never acquaint himself with," I desire you to name. Some are called at the third, some at the ninth, and some at the eleventh hour. And whenever they are called, they embrace all the truth necessary to salvation. But these slips may be forgiven, amongst so many gross and palpable mistakes, as appear to me all through your discourse. For example: you tell us that “force used to bring men to consider, does, indirectly, and at a distance, some service.” Here now you walk in the dark, and endeavour to cover yourself with obscurity, by omitting two necessary parts. As, first, who must use this force: which, though you tell us not here, yet by other parts of your treatise it is plain you mean the magistrate. And, secondly, you omit to say upon whom it must be used, who it is must be punished: and those, if you say any thing to your purpose, must be dissenters from the national religion, those who come not into churchcommunion with the magistrate. And then your proposition, in fair plain terms, will stand thus: “ If the magistrate punish dissenters, only to bring them to consider those reasons and arguments which are proper to convince them; who can deny but that, indirectly and at a distance, it may do service, &c. towards bringing men to embrace that truth which otherwise they would never be acquainted with ?”' &c. In which proposition, 1. There is something impracticable. 2. Something unjust. And, 3. Whatever efficacy there is in force, your way applied, to bring men to consider and be convinced, it makes against you.
1. It is impracticable to punish dissenters, as dissenters, only to make them consider. For if you punish them as dissenters, as certainly you do, if you punish them alone, and them all without exception, you punish them for not being of the national religion. And to punish a man for not being of the national religion, is not to punish him only to make him consider; unless not to be of the national religion, and not to consider, be the same thing. But you will say, the design is only to make dissenters consider; and therefore they may be punished only to make them consider. To this I reply; it is impossible you should punish one with a design only to make him consider, whom you punish for something else besides want of consideration; or if you punish him whether he consider or no; as you do, if you lay penalties on dissenters in general. If
you should make a law to punish all stammerers; could any one believe you, if you said it was designed only to make them leave swearing? Would not every one see it was impossible that punishment should be only against swearing, when all stammerers were under the penalty? Such a proposal as this is, in itself, at first sight monstrously absurd. But you must thank yourself for it. For to lay penalties upon stammerers, only to make them not swear, is not more absurd and impossible than it is to lay penalties upon dissenters only to make them consider.
2. To punish men out of the communion of the national church, to make them consider, is unjust. They are punished, because out of the national church: and they are out of the national church, because they are not yet convinced. Their standing out therefore in this state, whilst they are not convinced, not satisfied in their minds, is no fault; and therefore cannot justly be punished. But your method is, “ Panish them, to make them consider such reasons and arguments as are proper to convince them.” Which is just such justice, as it would be for the magistrate to punish you for not being a Cartesian, “ only to bring you to consider such reasons and arguments as are proper and sufficient to convince you :" when it is possible, 1. That you, being satisfied of the truth of your own opinion in philosophy, did not judge it worth while to consider that of Des Cartes. 2. It is possible you are not able to consider and examine all the proofs and grounds upon which he endeavours to establish his philosophy. 3. Possibly you have examined, and can find no reasons and arguments proper and sufficient to convince
you. 3. Whatever indirect efficacy there be in force, applied by the magistrate your way, it makes against you. ir Force used by the magistrate to bring men to consider those reasons and arguments, which are proper