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interest, not to be careful of his own soul than other left wholly to him men are of theirs : nor whether he self in matters of be less exposed, in matters of rereligion.” ligion, to prejudices, humours, and
crafty seducers, than other men: nor yet, whether he be not more in danger to be in the wrong than other men, in regard that he never meets with that great and only antidote of mine (as you call it) against error, which I here call molestation. But the point upon which this matter turns is only this, whether the salvation of souls be not better provided for, if the magistrate be obliged to procure, as much as in him lies, that every man take such care as he ought of his soul, than if he be not so obliged, but the care of every. man's soul be left to himself alone? which certainly any man of common sense may easily determine. For as you will not, I suppose, deny but God has more amply provided for the salvation of your own soul, by obliging your neighbour, as well as yourself, to take care of it; though it is possible your neighbour may not be more concerned for it than yourself; or may not be more careful of his own soul than you are of yours; or may be no less exposed, in matters of religion, to prejudices, &c. than you are; because if you are yourself wanting to your own soul, it is more likely that you will be brought to take care of it, if your neighbour be obliged to admonish and exhort you to it, than if he be not; though it may fall out that he will not do what he is obliged to do in that case. So I think it cannot be denied, but the salvation of all men's souls is better provided for, if besides the obligation which every man has to take care of his own soul (and that which every man's neighbour has likewise to do it) the magistrate also be intrusted and obliged to see that no man neglect his soul; than it would be, if every man were left to himself in this matter: because though we should admit that the magistrate is not like to be, or is not ordinarily more concerned for other men's souls than they themselves are, &c. it is nevertheless undeniably true still, that whoever neglects
his soul, is more likely to be brought to take care of it, if the magistrate be obliged to do what lies in him to bring him to do it, than if he be not. Which is enough to show, that it is every man's true interest, that the care of his soul should not be left to himself alone, but. that the magistrate should be so far intrusted with it as I contend that he is."
Your complaint of my not having 'formally contradicted the words above cited out of A. p. 26, looking as if there were some weighty argument in them: I must inform my reader, that they are subjoined to those, wherein you recommend the use of force in matters of religion, by the gain those that are punished shall make by it, though it be misapplied by the magistrate to bring them to a wrong religion. So that these words of yours, “ all the hurt that comes to them by it,” is all the hurt that comes to men by a misapplication of the magistrate's power, who being of a false religion, he uses force to bring men to it. And then your proposition stands thus, “ That the suffering what you call tolerable inconveniencies for their following the light of their own reasons, and the dictates of their own consciences, is no such mischief to mankind as to make it more eligible, that there should be no power vested in the magistrate” to use force to bring men to the true religion, though the magistrates misapply this power, i. e. use it to bring men to their own religion when false.
This is the sum of what you say, if it has any coberent meaning in it: for it being to show the usefulness of such a power vested in the magistrate, under the miscarriages and misapplications it is in common practice observed to be liable to, can have no other sense. But I having proved, that if such a power be by the law of nature vested in the magistrate, every magistrate is obliged to use it for the promoting of his religion as far as he believes it to be true, shall not much trouble myself, if like a man of art you should use your skill to give it another sense: for such is your natural talent, or
great caution, that you love to speak indefinitely, and, as seldom as may be, leave yourself
accountable for any propositions of a clear, determined sense; but under words of doubtful, but seeming plausible signification, conceal a meaning, which plainly expressed would, at first sight, appear to contradict your own positions, or common sense : instances whereof, more than one, we have here in this sentence of yours. For, 1. The words tolerable inconveniencies carry a very fair show of some very slight matter; and yet, when we come to examine them, may comprehend any of those severities lately used in France; for these tolerable inconveniencies are the same you in this very page and elsewhere call convenient penalties. Convenient for what? In this very place they must be such as may keep men “from fol. lowing their own groundless prejudices, unaccountable humours, and crafty seducers.” And you tell us, the magistrate may require men “under convenient penalties to forsake their false religions, and embrace the true.” Who now must be judge, in these cases, what are convenient penalties ? Common sense will tell us, the magistrate that uses them: but besides, we have your word for it, that the magistrate's prudence and experience enable him to judge best what penalties do agree with your rule of moderation, which, as I have shown, is no rule at all. So that at last your tolerable inconveniencies are such as the magistrate shall judge convenient to oppose to men's prejudices, humours, and to seducers; such as he shall think convenient to bring men from their false religions, or to punish their rejecting the true: which, whether they will not reach men's estates and liberties, or go as far as any the king of France has used, is more than you can be security for. 2. Another set of good words we have here, which at first hearing are apt to engage men's concern, as if too much could not be done to recover men from so perilous a state as they seem to describe; and those are “men following their own groundless prejudices, unaccountable humours, or crafty seducers.” Are not these expressions to set forth a deplorable condition,
and to move pity in all that hear them? Enough to make the inattentive reader ready to cry out, Help for the Lord's sake! do any thing rather than suffer such poor, prejudiced, seduced people to be eternally lost! Where he that examines what persons these words can in your scheme describe, will find they are only such as any where dissent from those articles of faith, and ceremonies of outward worship, which the magistrate, or at least you his director, approve of; for whilst you talk thus of the true religion in general, and that so general, that you cannot allow yourself to descend so near to particulars, as to recommend the searching and study of the Scriptures to find it; and that the power in the magistrate's hands to use force is to bring men to the true religion ; I ask, whether you do not think either he or you must be judge which is the true religion, before he can exercise that power? and then he must use his force upon all those who dissent from it, who are then the prejudiced, humorsome, and se
here speak of. Unless this be so, and the magistrate be judge, I ask, who shall resolve which is the prejudiced person, the prince with his politics, or he that suffers for his religion? Which the more dangerous seducer, Louis XIV. with his dragoons, or Mr. Claud with his sermons? It will be no small difficulty to find out the persons who are guilty of following groundless prejudices, unaccountable humours, or crafty seducers, unless in those places where you shall be graciously pleased to decide the question; and out of the plenitude of your power and infallibility to declare which of the civil sovereigns now in being do, and which do not, espouse the one only true religion ; and then we shall certainly know that those who dissent from the religion of those magistrates, are these prejudiced, humorsome, seduced persons.
But truly, as you put it here, you leave the matter very perplexed, when you defend the eligibleness of vesting a power in the magistrate's hands, to remedy by penalties men's following their own groundless prejudices, unaccountable humours, and crafty seducers;
when in the same sentence you suppose the magistrate, who is vested with this power, may inflict those penalties on'men, "for their following the light of their own reason, and the dictates of their own consciences;' which when you have considered, perhaps you will not think my answer so wholly beside the matter, though it showed you but that one absurdity, without a formal contradiction to so loose and undetermined a proposition, that it required more pains to unravel the sense of what was covered under deceitful expressions, than the weight of the matter contained in them was worth. For besides what is already said to it: how is it pos
. sible for any one, who had the greatest mind in the world to contradiction, to deny it to be more eligible that such a power should be vested in the magistrate, till he knows to whom you affirm it to be more eligible ? Is it more eligible to those who suffer by it, for following the light of their own reason, and the dictates of their own consciences ? for these you know are gainers by it, for they know better than they did before where the truth does lie. Is it more eligible to those who have no other thoughts of religion, but to be of that of their country without any farther examination ? Or is it more eligible to those who think it their duty to examine matters of religion, and to follow that which upon examination appears to them the truth? The former of these two make, I think, the greater part of mankind, though the latter be the better advised: but upon what grounds it should be more eligible to either of them, that the magistrate should, than that he should not, have a power vested in him, to use force to bring men to the true religion, when it cannot be employed but to bring men to that which he thinks the true, i.e. to his own religion, is not easy to guess. Or is it more eligible to the priests and ministers of national religions every where, that the magistrate should be vested with this power? who being sure to be orthodox, will have right to claim the assistance of the magistrate's power to bring those whom their arguments cannot prevail on to embrace their true religion, and to worship God in decent ways prescribed by those to whom God has left