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VI.: LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE - Arthur Sutherland Pigott Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents 
Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents, selected and edited with an Introduction A.S.P. Woodhouse, foreword by A.D. Lindsay (University of Chicago Press, 1951).
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LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
b There are two things contended for in this liberty of conscience: first to instate every Christian in his right of free, yet modest, judging and accepting what he holds; secondly, to vindicate a necessary advantage to the truth, and this is the main end and respect of this liberty. I contend not for variety of opinions; I know there is but one truth. But this truth cannot be so easily brought forth without this liberty; and a general restraint, though intended but for errors, yet through the unskilfulness of men, may fall upon the truth. And better many errors of some kind suffered than one useful truth be obstructed or destroyed. * * * Moses permitted divorce to the Jews, notwithstanding the hardness of their hearts; so must this liberty be granted to men (within certain bounds) though it may be abused to wanton opinions more than were to be wished.
c Christ Jesus, whose is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, both in nature and in grace, hath given several maps and schemes of his dominions . . .: both of his great kingdom, the world, his dominions at large which he hath committed to men to be administered in truth and righteousness, in a various form as they please . . .; and also of his special and peculiar kingdom, the kingdom of grace. Which kingdoms, though they differ essentially or formally, yet they agree in one common subject-matter, man and societies of men, though under a diverse consideration. And not only man in society, but every man individually is an epitome, either of one only or of both these dominions. Of one only, so every natural man (who in a natural consideration is called microcosmus, an epitome of the world) in whose conscience God hath his throne, ruling him by the light of nature to a civil outward good and end. Of both, so every believer who, besides this natural conscience and rule, hath an enlightened conscience, carrying a more bright and lively stamp of the kingly place and power of the Lord Jesus, swaying him by the light of faith or scripture; and such a man may be called microchristus, the epitome of Christ mystical.
This is conscience, and this its division. And of this conscience is the question, or rather of the person that hath this conscience, and the things he holds or practises conscientiously. For the power of conscience itself, as it will not be beholden to any man for its liberty so neither is it capable of outward restraint: they must be moral or spiritual instruments that can work upon conscience. But the exercise or practice of conscience, or the person so exercising, is properly the object of outward restraint in question.
Now then, if we keep but to this term conscience, first, all vicious and scandalous practices, contrary to the light of nature or manifest good of societies, are cut off not to trouble us in this matter, as deriving themselves not from conscience, but a malignant will and unconscienced spirit. Nor yet may all principles that derive themselves from conscience have the benefit of this plea of liberty, so as to save their owners. As first, if they shall be found of a disabling nature, or wanting in their due proportion of benevolence to public peace, liberties, societies; . . . as for instance, scruple of conscience cannot exempt a man from any civil duty he owes to the state or the government thereof, but it may well beseem a state to force men to contribute to their own and the public good and safety. And though God can have no glory by a forced religion, yet the state may have benefit by a forced service. Again, the service of the state is outward, civil, bodily, and is perfect as to its end without the will and conscience of that person from whom it is extorted; so is not the service of God, which is inward and spiritual, yea it must be in spirit and in truth. Then much less may any such principles find favour in this discourse, as, besides the former deficiency, shall be found pregnant with positive malignity (and that in a high nature and consequence too perhaps) to societies, as the doctrines of the Papists. * * *
And of principles thus allayed and qualified, the question is not whether there be not a power to deal with them, and a force to be applied to them, yea to conscience itself, the source of them; for we all agree in this, that there is, viz., Christ’s power, and a spiritual force. But the question is, whether outward force be to be applied. * * *
a Though it be easier to say what the magistrate may not do than what he may [and though] we are never more out than when we go about to make forms and systems and be definitive, comprehensive doctors . . . (especially in things of this nature which may better be perceived and discerned upon occasion from time to time by the humble and godly than digested into a few rules or canons)—this premised, we acknowledge that the duty of a Christian magistrate is somewhat more than of another magistrate. Civil protection is that which all magistrates owe, whether Christian or not Christian, to all quiet livers within their dominions, whether Christian or not Christian, as being founded upon such politic considerations and conditions (setting aside religion) as, being performed on the subjects’ part, it cannot with justice be denied them. But a Christian magistrate owes something more to the truth he professes, and to those that profess the same with him; which duty of his differs only in degree, not in kind, from the duty of another Christian that is no magistrate. For it is the duty of every Christian to improve every talent and advantage entrusted with him, for the honour of Christ and good of the body to the utmost in a lawful way. So a Christian magistrate, if he have (as he hath by virtue of his magistracy) a talent and advantage above other men, he is bound to improve it [in] all lawful ways to the aforesaid purpose. To which he is to direct even all the common acts and parts of his government; for though all do equally share in the outward benefits of magistracy (viz., peace and plenty, &c.), yet ought Christian magistrates principally ex intentione to direct their whole government to the good of the churches, and the glory of God therein, forasmuch as all things are the churches’, and for the churches. And doubtless magistracy, though an ordinance of man, yet is a most glorious ordinance, and of singular use and service, if rightly applied, to the Church; as I shall show gradually in these steps.
First, magistrates do prepare by a good government for the Gospel. Civility, not rested in nor mistaken for godliness, makes men in a more proximousb outward capacity for, and disposition towards, religion, inasmuch as they are thereby restrained from gross profaneness and insolent opposition of the truth, whereby the Word may come amongst them with safety to the persons of those that bring it; according to which part Chrysostom says well that the magistrate helps the ministry, viz., by taking cognizance of all moral vices, and it is their part not to commend only, but to command a good moral conversation of their subjects, at least negative. In which case again Chrysostom says well that good princes make virtue easy while they both urge it with their example and drive men to it by fear and punishments.
But now for supernatural gifts, as illumination, special or common: to make a man of this or that judgment or opinion or faith, to make a man of this or that practice in religion, may not be required by the civil sword; it may be persuaded, induced by exhortation, example, or such means, and that’s all. * * * And by the way, wherefore hath it the denomination or distinction of civil power but that (ex vi vocis) civility is the next, most proper, immediate and almost utmost care and extent of this power? For though the Christian magistrate well discharging his place, doth promote the spiritual good and edification of the churches, yet not immediately and directly, but by and through a politic good, as he procures rest and safety to them, and so they are edified (Acts 9. 31). Which is a very considerable and needful service while the public worship and the churches in the exercise thereof, though according to their being and beauty in the Spirit they transcend the understanding and principles of the world, yet are circumstanced and habited with such outward relations and considerations as need such a worldly provision. * * * And is not here a great deal of work, and enough to take up a whole man; and may not very acceptable service be done to God herein, and much good redound to the Church, while not only the Church hath hereby fairer quarter in the world, but a rude preparation is made for the Gospel?
Thus we have committed to the magistrate the charge of the Second Table; viz., materially, that is, he is not to see God dishonoured by the manifest breach thereof, or any part thereof. But is that all? No, surely. He may enter the vault even of those abominations of the First Table, and ferret the devils and devil-worship out of their holes and dens, so far as nature carries the candle before him. Therefore it seems to me that polytheism and atheistical doctrines (which are sins against the First Table and [First] Commandment), and idolatry (which is against the Second Commandment), such as may be convinced by natural light, or [by] the letter of the command where the scriptures are received, as the worshipping of images, and the breaden-god, the grossest idolatry of all:—these, so far forth as they break out and discover themselves, ought to be restrained [and] exploded by the Christian magistrate; for ’tis that which a heathen’s light should not tolerate, nature carrying so far (Rom. 1). And also blasphemy (which is against the Third Commandment, and is a common nuisance to mankind), and the insolent profanation of the Lord’s day (though the keeping of it be not obvious to nature’s light) ought not to be suffered by the Christian magistrate. For herein (as in the former) no man’s liberty is infringed, no man’s conscience enthralled, truth not at all prejudiced or obstructed, while only manifest impiety and profaneness is excluded, and the peace of those that are better disposed procured, and scandal avoided by these negatives. And thus far the magistrate is custos utriusque tabulæ, not to require the positive so much as to restrain the negative. And all this nature teaches hitherto.
But thirdly, as belonging to the Third Commandment, the Christian magistrate may not only require a conversation and practice, moralized according to the principles and light of nature where they run lowest (as among the heathen), but as they are improved and raised by the Gospel through the common irradiation thereof. For consuetudo est altera natura: custom or education is another nature. And look what notions fall upon every understanding that is so situated, or look what impressions are made upon every natural conscience by the Gospel, which ripens and meliorates nature in some degree, and hath at least some fruit and success wherever it comes, though it do not change and sanctify:—I say these fruits, tales quales, the magistrate is God’s titheman or officer to gather them in for him, and to require a demeanour suitable to such an acknowledged light, at least negatively; that is, to restrain the contrary, that so the name of God be not taken in vain. As to instance, though it be not eruable1 by the light of nature, the article of the Trinity, or the person and office of Jesus Christ, yet sure to teach doctrine that denies either of these where the Gospel hath sounded, is not tolerable; or to deny the Resurrection, or a Judgment Day, &c. I say, the Christian magistrate ought not to tolerate the teaching of such contradictions (in an instructed commonwealth) to received principles and manifest impressions upon all hearts that have lived under the Gospel within his dominions. And the reason is, because these principles fall into the same rank and order and consideration with natural principles (1 Cor. 11. 14), inasmuch as they are not only habituated unto men as natural, but attested unto within by a divinely-impressed conscience, though but natural and in a common way. And although in treating hereof I have reflected much upon the principles and light of nature and the outward good and consisting of societies, yet I make not these the only grounds authorizing the magistrate that is Christian (of whom this chapter speaks) to the premises, nor the ultimate end and scope he is to aim at therein. For though the light of nature be God’s law in the hearts of men, not to be violated, and the preservation of societies one end thereof, not to be despised, yet certainly the Christian magistrate, as he hath his authority from God, so he is to take the rise of exercising it from him who hath not committed to him the sword in vain. And he is to aim at the glory of God (the preventing or redressing his dishonour) in every act thereof, and to punish evil out of that consideration that it is evil, though God hath given him that rule to proceed by, and to make out the evil of evil to the world, even the contrariety thereof to the light of nature and the good of societies. Wherein also God hath admirably showed his wisdom and goodness, both in twisting and combining so the interests of his glory (in this sense we speak which is negative) and the happiness of societies, that this latter cannot be without the former, and in laying no other burden on the Christian magistrate for the material than what is within every man’s cognizance and the light of nature will lead him to. * * *
Fourthly, the Christian magistrate owes a duty about the external peace and order of the churches, to look to that. For though the magistrate take not cognizance of several forms and opinions in religion, yet of the outward manner and order he doth and ought, and to bound and rectify that is his place, and to punish disorder. And all this (whatever noise it makes) is but a civil thing. For there are these two things go to religion: the thing itself, and the managing of it. Though conscience is not to be forced to or from the thing, yet the manner of the practice is to be regulated according to peace and comeliness by the civil magistrate.
But all this yet is but extrinsical to religion. May the Christian magistrate come no nearer? Yes, doubtless. He may and ought to do all that he is able and hath opportunity to do in the behalf of the truth, so that he keep on this side of force; as for instance, he ought to be exemplary in the profession of the truth, as Joshua was (Josh. 24. 15: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord). Wherein (as also in his exhortation of the people) he is without all scruple imitable by all in eminent place or authority. Though the faith of their subjects or tenants is not to be pinned upon their sleeve, yet if their example, countenance, interest, exhortations will gain any credit to the truth, it is an honest way to make use thereof. * * * They may and ought to propose the truth to all, to apply means for the reclaiming of those that err, and to send forth teachers into blind and ignorant places where they are not capable of the care of their own souls, and to call synods or assemblies to confer their light in relation to a work of reformation, or to the solving of some particular difficulties. In a word, he may do anything for the truth, so that, when he have done, he leave men to their consciences that are of a different mind from him, and manage that difference without offence.
Sixthly, and lastly, the Christian magistrate ought to be a nursing father to the Church, to nourish the truth and godliness. The begetting father he is not; that is Christ, the everlasting Father by the seed of the Word. But the magistrate is to conserve and maintain the churches’ peace and liberty in the exercise of their consciences and worshipping of God, in all his ordinances according to their light; and so he is to exercise a defensive power for religion both at home and abroad.
And this respect he is to bear to all equally, whom he judges to be the children of truth in the main, though scabby or itchy children through some odd differences. In which things though he be not to further them or edify them, wherein he apprehends them alien from the truth, by any compliance, but to leave those opinions to themselves to stand or fall; yet (notwithstanding them) he is to afford to them his civil protection, they managing their differences in a lawful, peaceable manner (as hath been noted before). I say, this provided, these differences ought not to impair or prejudice them at all in the interest they have in common justice and protection; but if any assault them in an unquiet way, they are to be defended, the assailants punished. So that with this difference is the magistrate to carry himself towards the acknowledged truth and the reputed errors (I mean so reputed by him): he may and ought to do all he can to promote and enlarge the truth he owns; he is not to do aught against the other in controversy, nor suffer any to do aught against them, save to apply spiritual means, to preach, write, discourse, dispute, exhort against them, which kind of fighting is allowable among brethren, so it be with right spirits. * * *
And my judgment herein for the magistrate’s intermeddling thus far, is founded upon this reason or principle: It is lawful for every man (and so for the magistrate), nay, it is his duty, to do all he can for the truth; but it is unlawful to do the least thing against the truth. Now because by earnest invitations, hearty recommendations, exemplary profession, general tuition—in a word, by offering and proposing, not magisterially forcing, commanding, imposing, much and great and certain service may be, will be, done for the truth, and nothing against; and because by the other way of forcing, prohibiting, censuring, punishing (impeached in this discourse), though something may light for the truth, and sometimes (as in Austin’s days is noted in the case of the Donatists), yet much more prejudice is much more probably like to redound to the truth (many a truth snibbed, kept low, or quite kept out; men confirmed in obstinacy if in errors, and more prejudiced against the right ways through the force that hangs over them); therefore that is lawful, and this is unlawful. * * *
a That this public determining, binding cognizance belongs not to him appears:
[i] Because it belongs to another charge, viz., to the Church, properly and peculiarly to try the spirits, and judge of doctrines; therefore it is usurpation of the Church’s power and interest to take this out of her hands (1 Tim. 3. 15). * * *
[ii] Christ is the judge of controversies, and the interpreter of Holy Scripture . . .; that is, Christ by his Word and Spirit, in the true ministry of the Church, not in the Pope’s sentence, nor in the commentaries of the Fathers, or the votes of synods, or the interpretations of national assemblies (though much help may be had by them). . . . Now to give the magistrate this cognizance of differences in religion, were to set up him (after we have pulled down these) as judge of controversies and interpreter of scripture.
[iii] This were also to commit unto the magistrate the better part of the ministry, whose office it is to declare the whole counsel of God, and to be the boundsmen between truth and error. . . . Nay, it is to give them a greater power and office than the ministry, who are only to propose doctrines, not to impose them. * * *
[iv] If the determining of religion, and differences therein, belong to the magistrate, quatenus a magistrate: then to all magistrates, or to the magistracy of every country, then to the great Turk, and pagan kings and governors. But how uncapable of such an interest they are who are aliens from the true God, and his commonwealth of Israel, I need not say. The consequence is good, for quatenus and ad omne are terms adequate and convertible. That which belongs to a man as a man, belongs to every man. If you say therefore that it belongs not to the magistrate, quatenus a magistrate, but quatenus a Christian magistrate, and so make it a flower that Christianity sticks in his crown, I answer: that Christianity being altogether accidental and extrinsical to a magistrate, adds nothing of power over others in religion, to him more than to another man, but only personal privilege; for Christianity is the same in all, and why should one man by virtue of his Christianity (for ’tis denied to be by virtue of his magistracy) have power over judgments and consciences in matters of religion, more than another that hath equal and perhaps more Christianity? But the word of God adds nothing of that nature to a Christian magistrate; and let that suffice. For it adds nothing in the same kind, viz. of civil power; therefore it much less adds anything of another kind, as namely, ecclesiastical power. For the same subjection, and degree of subjection, is required of servants and subjects to masters and governors; without distinction of good and bad, Christian and pagan, nay though they be cruel and froward (1 Pet. 2. 18). By Christianity Christ hath settled no advantage of power on the head of the magistrate, though thereby he commend the yoke to the subject with an advantage of sweetness (1 Tim. 6. 1). * * *
[v] The object or matter about which magistracy is conversant, which they punish or reward, is not faith but facts, not doctrines but deeds. * * *
[vi] This practice of magistracy, to be the dictator of truth, and to moderate with the sword, lays an unhappy caution, and too effectual an obstruction, in the way of truth, which comes not in always at the same end of the town—not always by the learned and eminent in parts or power (John 7. 48: Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed on him?) but even by the people oftentimes. * * * Ought not this to be considered, that truth be not prevented, by shutting the door she often chooses to come in at, and opening a stately door which she delights not always in?
[vii] The just care that Christ showed, to maintain the due distinction between magistracy and ministry, the office politic and ecclesiastic, doth likewise impeach this cognizance of the magistrate. * * * If Christ would not judge in civil things (Luke 12. 13), magistrates as such ought not to judge in the things of Christ. * * *
a The immunity and impunity of differing opinions in religion, as in relation to the civil magistrate, may seem to be a principle in nature, founded upon the light of reason, seeing [that] many of the ingenuous heathen practised it, as in that instance of Paul’s case, who was impeached by the Jews of greater heresy than any differing brethren in these days can charge one another withal. For he pulled down the old religion, established by God himself, and preached a new doctrine. Yet see what pleads for Paul in the consciences of his judges, who had nothing in them but what they sucked in with their mother’s milk. You have the story, Acts 23, where I shall not comment upon the deeds of Lysias. * * * And of the same mind in the same case is Festus, chap. 25. 18, where declaring Paul’s cause to King Agrippa, he uses these words: Against whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed, but had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, &c. Observe here the ingenuity of an heathen, that will not by a secular sword cut in sunder those knots in religion which he cannot untie by a theological resolution. * * * See the moderation of a heathen and the stability of his resolution against the importunity of multitudes. He is not so zealous of his gods but he will let a Christian live; nay, he will save him from any that would hurt him; justice so constrains him that he disdains the solicitations of the multitude. * * * And when Paul had declared his own cause before King Agrippa, Festus and Bernice, and the whole council, they saw no reason to be of any other mind (chap. 26. 31), . . . saying, This man doth nothing worthy of death, or of bonds. An instance which Christians in these days may look upon and blush, who think an inconvenient expression deserves a prison. * * * They look[ed] for deeds, evil deeds, and thought it unreasonable to punish him for his different opinions. Now to enervate the force of this instance and argument, some men perhaps will represent my inference thus: These heathens did de facto permit differences of opinion, and remit those that were accused of them, ergo Christian magistrates must be as careless de jure. But I urge it not as a fact only, but as flowing from a principle of reason and justice, that did glow in the hearts of these heathen, and so argues strongly from them to Christians. And let any prove it was from a principle of heathenism.
To employ the magistrate in this kind of compulsion, is a prejudice to the Lord Jesus, and the provision he hath made for the propagation of the Church and truth. Christ hath a sword for the vindicating of truth, for the propulsing of errors, for the conquering of enemies. And what is that? Why, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. * * * And the Apostle cries up not only the sufficiency, but the mightiness of this means (2 Cor. 10. 4): The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God. ’Tis through God indeed, and through him they are so mighty that Christ will not be beholding to king or magistrate for their power to convert men by, though he may use them to correct insolent enemies, and shelter the profession of the truth, as was noted before. * * *
It is contrary to the nature of Christ’s kingdom, to have the ministry of these carnal means; for ’tis a spiritual kingdom. * * * Christ’s kingdom is not of this world nor served by this world. And as the manner of this world is contrary to him, so he delights to walk contrary to the manner of this world, who make their party as strong as they can. But Christ hath chosen (mark, ’tis upon choice, not of necessity) the weak things of the world, even babes, to show forth his praise and strength. * * *
If pastors and teachers, nay the Apostles themselves, be not lords of the people’s faith (in a way humanly authoritative) to impose doctrine or practice upon them, then much less magistrates. * * *
It will be granted on all hands, that if religion be the magistrate’s charge, yet as it is not his only, so neither his first charge (for though it be the highest charge, it follows not that it must be the proper charge of magistracy). But magistracy immediately and directly respects the good of men, their persons and outward being, and religion only obliquely and collaterally; for such an end must be assigned to magistracy as doth competere omni, hold among all, and to level magistracy at a higher and further end than God hath, or its own principle will carry, is vain. Now this will press after the other, to be admitted likewise, that the first charge must be first looked to, and attended upon, and the latter doth not disoblige from the former, much less contra-oblige the former. That is, differing opinions in religion, being of a secondary and remote consideration to the outward well-being of men, doth not oblige to destroy, or to expose to destruction by mulcts, bonds, or banishment, the persons of men; for whom, and in relation to whose preservation, magistracy was erected. For this is a rule: The law of nature supersedes institutions. Men have a natural being before they come to have a spiritual being; they are men before they are Christians. Now therefore for faultiness in Christianity, you must not destroy the man.
’Tis also certain there ought to be a proportion between the fault and the punishment, as that wherein justice mainly consists. Now this proportion is not, nor cannot be observed, when you go out of that nature and capacity in which a man hath offended, and punish him in another, as the magistrate doth when he punishes for such opinions in religion. As for instance, a man is capable of a threefold notion, according to a threefold capacity, viz., natural, politic, religious. He sins or offends in his religious capacity, and hath some heterodox opinions; yet a good subject and fellow-subject, a good father to his family, &c. Why now, such may his errors be, that he may forfeit his religious notion, and ought to be rejected, as the Apostle says, after once or twice admonished in vain. But now to come upon his politic being or privileges, is to punish him in that notion and capacity wherein he hath not at all offended—except he have disturbed the public peace by the turbulent managing of his opinion, and then no man may excuse him. * * *
a In policy ’tis the worst way in the world and will prove the least successful, to extirpate errors by force. For this multiplies them rather, even as the Bishops’ tyrannies did drive men to extremities, and we may thank their strict urging conformity and uniformity, as the instrumental cause and means of those extremities of absolute separation and Anabaptism, which many honest and tender hearts, thinking they could never run far enough from the Bishops, did run into. As the Antinomians likewise have stumbled at our churlish exacting preachers of the Law, who made empty the soul of the hungry, and caused the drink of the thirsty to fail (Isa. 32. 6). And who knows but—if force were removed, and a league made, and free trading of truth set on foot, and liberty given to try all things—straying brethren on the right hand might be reduced? Forasmuch as we know that as sin takes occasion by the Commandment, so do errors by proscription, and to forbid them, is to sow them, and no readier way to make men fond of them than to restrain them by force; for . . . we love to be prying into a closed ark. . . . Our first parents were easily induced by the devil to believe there was more in that forbidden tree than in all the trees of the Garden; and men are not so wise as not to deliver themselves of such a sophistry unto this day.
The Apostle requires us (1 Thess. 5) to prove all things. * * * And this is the dignity, as well as the duty, of a spiritual man, that he judges all things, and is not concluded by the former judgment of any. And this liberty is as worthy the vindication as any in these exonerating times, this liberty of judging.1 And ’tis established upon very good reason, for it makes much to the advantage of truth, both to the getting and holding of it. . . . The Bereans for searching into Paul’s doctrine and examining it by the Word, are recorded by an epithet unusual for the Holy Ghost to give to men: they were more noble, it’s said.
Now this liberty of trying and judging is in vain if there be not a liberty of profession; and to hinder this were a most tyrannical usurpation over that connection which God hath made between the act of the understanding and the will, whereby voluntas sequitur dictamen intellectus, and to put asunder what God hath joined together, and indeed to violate the law of God and nature. A man cannot will contrary to the precedent act of judgment; he wills weakly without an act of judgment preceding. To force a man to a profession or practice which he wills not, nay, which he nills, is to offer unto God a sacrifice of violence on the part of the compulsor, and an unreasonable service on the part of the compelled, and therefore necessarily unacceptable. * * *
Who art thou, says the Apostle, that judgest another man’s servant? (Rom. 14. 4). Man in a natural or politic consideration, is the servant of men, of his prince, and the republic; but man in a religious consideration, is only the servant of God, and he stands or falls to his own master. He is the servant of men to their edification by holding forth his light and conscience before them; but he receives neither his law nor his judgment from man. God accepts perhaps whom man rejects. * * *
Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased (Dan. 12. 4). As a dog doth in following the scent, so do men in following the truth; and they that will not give this liberty, must not expect they should discreetly follow the track. We have a proverb, that they that will find must as well seek where a thing is not as where it is. Let us look upon the truth as God’s, and not ours, and let us look upon ourselves in all our discourses as hunting after it; every one acting and seeking for himself and for his part only, acknowledging that God must lead every man by a sense and instinct. So shall we give God his due glory, and save ourselves much unprofitable vexation. And this liberty of free disquisition is as great a means to keep the truth as to find it. The running water keeps pure and clear, when the standing pool corrupts. * * * The true temper and proper employment of a Christian is always to be working like the sea, and purging ignorance out of his understanding, and exchanging notions and apprehensions imperfect for more perfect, and forgetting things behind to press forward. * * *
The practice of forcing straitens men in their liberty they have as they are men and reasonable creatures, who are born with this privilege and prerogative, to be led forth always under the conduct of their own reason. Which liberty is much enlarged by being Christians. Therefore the Apostle says, The spiritual man judgeth all things, which is not only the clergyman, but (as Alsted glosses well) spiritualis homo, i.e., vere Christianus. And to the test and trial of such doth Paul submit his doctrine, 1 Cor. 10. 15: I speak as unto wise men; judge ye what I say. And 1 Cor. 14. 29: Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the rest judge. * * * To this argument I will add the words of a late, and (for aught I know) yet living author:
The true office of a man, his most proper and natural exercise, his worthiest profession, is to judge. Why is he a man, discoursing, reasoning, understanding? Why hath he a spirit? To build (as they say) castles in the air, and to feed himself with fooleries and vanities, as the greatest part of the world doth? * * * No, doubtless; but to understand, to judge of all things. * * * To go about to deprive him of this right is to make him no more a man, but a beast. If not to judge hurts the simple and proper nature of man, what shall it do to a wise man, who is far above the common sort of men? * * * It is strange that so many men . . . deprive themselves willingly of this right and authority so natural, so just and excellent, who, without the examining or judging of anything, receive and approve whatsoever is presented, either because it hath a fair semblance and appearance or because it is in authority, credit, and practice. Yea, they think it is not lawful to examine or doubt of anything; in such sort do they debase and degrade themselves. They are forward and glorious in other things, but in this they are fearful and submiss, though it do justly appertain unto them and with so much reason. Since there are a thousand lies for one truth, a thousand opinions of one and the same thing, and but one that is true, why should not I examine with the instrument of reason, which is the better, the truer, the more reasonable, honest, and profitable? It is to play the part of profane men and beasts, to suffer ourselves to be led like oxen. What can a wise or holy man have above a profane if he must have his spirit, his mind, his principal and heroical part, a slave to the vulgar sort? Why should it not be as lawful for one to doubt and consider of things as doubtful, as ’tis for others to affirm them? How should we be capable to know more, if we grow resolute in our opinions, settle and repose ourselves in certain things, and in such manner that we seek no farther, nor examine any more, that which we think we hold? They know not that there is a kind of ignorance and doubt, more learned and certain, more noble and generous, than all their science and certainty. * * * It is a very sweet, peaceable, and pleasant sojourn, or delay, where a man feareth not to fail or miscount himself, where a man is in the calm under covert, and out of danger of participating so many errors (produced by the fantasy of man, and whereof the world is full), of entangling himself in complaints, divisions, disputes, of offending divers parts, of belying and gainsaying his own belief, of changing, repenting, and readvising himself. For how often hath time made us see that we have been deceived in our thoughts, and hath enforced us to change our opinions! * * * There is an universality of spirit in a wise man, whereby he takes a view, and enters into the consideration of the whole universe. Like Socrates, who contained in his affection all human kind, he walketh through all as if they were near unto him; he seeth, like the sun with an equal and settled regard, as from an high watch-tower, all the changes and interchangeable courses of things; which is a livery of the Divinity, and a high privilege of a wise man, who is the image of God upon earth. * * * The most beautiful and greatest spirits are the more universal, as the more base and blunt are the more particular. Every man calleth that barbarous that agreeth not with his palate and custom; and it seemeth that we have no other touch of truth and reason than the example and the idea of the opinions and customs of that place or country where we live. These kind of people judge of nothing, neither can they: they are slaves to that they hold; a strong prevention and anticipation of opinions doth wholly possess them &c.
Thus Charron, of Wisdom (second book, chap. 2), which he speaks of in general as a disposition to wisdom. But who knows but he might intend it in the nature of the woman of Tekoah’s parable, as an advantage to Divine truth? However, I bring it not as an authority, but as reason.
 Furthermore, are there not several statures in Christ, and that in knowledge as well as in other graces, as there are several kinds of metals in the earth, some more precious and better concocted than other? And doth not one star differ from another star in glory? Even so do men, and so will they (do we what we can), in the accurateness of their knowledge, and in the clearness of their apprehensions. Some can only see a rule of discipline in the scripture confusedly and indistinctly, like the purblind man that saw men like trees walking (and in truth ’tis most proper for them to cry for a toleration, and he had a hard heart that would deny it them). Others see more clearly the perfect draft, and all the lineaments thereof, not through the excelling of their own wit, but the teaching of Christ’s Spirit, yet not assuming to themselves a greater measure of it than the other, who perhaps in other things may see more than they by the same Spirit (1 Cor. 12. 8, &c.).
Lastly, I shall conclude the positive part of this discourse with opening, in some measure, the design of Christ in establishing no other more specious, better satisfying order and means for the propagation of the truth, and in excluding force and power and authority human, from ministering in his kingdom in this particular—leaving this, and all that hath been said, to spiritual men to judge, who can compare spiritual things with spiritual.
It is in this matter as ’tis in the government of particular churches: the adversary carries it the same way, and turns upon the same common hinge of human reason, and must be answered the same way in both. They diffide the sufficiency of a particular church to manage its own affairs, and why? Because they have so few officers, and in some churches perhaps but one, and he none of the greatest scholars, and the brethren a company of illiterate men; and a good mess of government these are like to make! This error proceeds now from not considering where the strength and sufficiency of this poor flock doth lie, which is not in themselves (were they as eloquent as Apollo, as logical as Paul), but in Christ their head, who is by his special promise present with them (Matt. 18): Where two or three are gathered together in his name [&c.]. The Lord is in the midst of her; therefore she cannot be moved (Psalm 46). And the government is upon his shoulder (Isa. 9. 6). Now hence (I say) is the mistake, through not considering that the government of the Church by officers is but ministerial, and that they are guided and acted by Christ, and he puts wisdom into their hearts, and right words into their mouths. * * * He doth fill carefully all his own institutions with force and efficacy; and they do not wisely that judge of them according to their appearance, for so, they are the most contemptible, unlikely things in the world. But could you see the virtue and power that Christ conveys secretly under them, you would fall down before them. So I say now in this matter of suppressing errors (as before qualified), which we say must be only by the ministry of the Spirit, by the word of God (which in the hand of the Spirit is quick and powerful), by brotherly admonitions and earnest exhortations, and holding forth the contrary light, doctrinally and practically, &c. Now alas, say our carnal hearts, what are these like to do? ’Tis true, look upon them in the outward appearance only and they promise little; but men do not consider that these are but the veil and covering of that arm and power which must do the deed. For God himself is judge (Psalm 50. 6). Christ Jesus is the Prince of Light and Truth, the decider of controversies, dictator to his Church, and in the observation of Gospel rules he discovers himself unto his people, and, by and through his people, to those that err. The Oracle in the Temple spake not—’twas but a form or image; but God spake in the Oracle. The scriptures themselves are but a sealed book except Christ by his Spirit speak in them, and by them, to our understandings and hearts. What matter is it what the form be if God fill it? * * * We forget that Christ will have his Church in all their ordinances, affairs, and administrations to show forth his death, that all things and persons in the Church must bear a suitableness and correspondency to Christ crucified, the head of the Church. * * * And I, brethren, came not, says Paul (who could have afforded it as soon as any man), with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, &c. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2). Mark here the ground and root of the whole matter (I mean of the simplicity of Christ’s ways and ordinances): ’tis Christ crucified. Christ’s death is thus avenged upon the glory of the world, whilst the power and greatness of this world is reprobated and rejected from the most noble uses and honourable services, namely, from ministering in his kingdom. Go, says Christ to man’s wisdom and human eloquence, I will have none of thee in preaching my Gospel; and return into the scabbard, says he to the magistrate’s sword, I will have none of thee to cut the way for my truth, through woods and rocks and mountains, through stony hearts and implicated reasonings. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. Thus Christ reprobates parts and learning, and the most specious and likely means. Shall he be crucified, and shall these be in their flower and blossom? And he brings down the mighty things of the world by the weak, and things that are, by things that are not, that no flesh may glory in his presence, but he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord; that neither our faith, nor the ordinance’s success, should stand in the wisdom of men, nor in the likeliness of the means, approving themselves so to man’s understanding, but in the power of God. These, and such-like, are the reasons rendered in the first and second chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians; and these are enough, I conceive, to satisfy a moderate understanding. For my own part, I must profess it is the clue of thread that carries me through this labyrinth; ’tis the pole-star by which I steer my judgment, and by which my doubts are resolved satisfactorily. I see reason enough for that slender and abject provision which Christ hath made (in the world’s account) for the propulsing of errors, and for that mean form and guise wherein all Christ’s ordinances appear unto us, when I look upon the death of Christ, or upon Christ crucified. * * *
Nam in senatu, ut fertur, patuit omnibus ad dicendum locus, nec ulli hominum generi potestas contradicendi, suamq; fidem profitendi interclusa est; imo integrum fuit cuiq; liberis velitari ac pugnare sententiis in quo summa elucet aequitas & moderatio principum qui allicere, ducere, persuadere; non cogere, trahere, jubere voluerunt; ut impudens mendacium sit, si quis jam dixerit, authoritatem vicisse, non veritatem. Illud etiam constat, liberum fuisse adversariae parti in publica disputatione suas partes tueri, arbitris adhibitis incorruptioribus, sive voce sive calamo certare, sive opponere sive respondere maluissent.
I quote the words because if they had never been realized, yet the idea of such a carriage when men are seeking out the truth is lovely as being very equal and rational. * * *
[9a Regarding the main objection, the example of the kings of Judah]: Whatsoever they did rightly . . . yet cannot be drawn into precedent by us. . . .
First, those were the times of the Old Testament, these of the New; therefore ’tis not a sound way of arguing from them to us in everything. * * * However it was that their service was compulsorily required from them, we have a word that ours should be free (Psalm 110): Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. * * *
Secondly, their worship was carnal, bodily, outward, consisting much in the conformity of the outward man and practice to certain worldly ordinances (Heb. 9). . . . But the worship of the New Testament is chiefly in the heart and hidden man, in spirit and in truth (John 4), which is at the beck of no human force or power. Therefore it is no good argument from that worship to this.
Thirdly, the kings of Judah (as it is generally received) had a peculiar notion from kings now. Therefore ’tis no good argument from them to these. * * * They were types of Christ, the King of the Church, and did bear visibly, and execute typically, his kingly office (even as priests and prophets did his other two offices). * * * Our kings are only the ministers of God in the world, ruling indeed for the Church, not in the Church and over it as then. * * *
Fourthly and lastly, the people of the Jews were interchangeably a church and a nation (so that he who was head of the state, was so also of the Church in a typical way; as he that was a member of the commonwealth, was by that a member of the Church, and vice versa), which no people ever since were. Therefore the argument will not hold from Israel to England, or any other nation. * * * Now though I know a national church in one sense is the apple of some men’s eye . . . ; yet in this sense they will none of them hold it: that as in Israel, so in England, so in Scotland, the nation is holy, and all that are born in it are of the Church ipso facto, or ipso natu. And if not so, then may not Christ’s kingly sceptre, which relates only to his Church, be swayed over them all generally. Therefore kings or magistrates may not now as then compel men to religion; but that which those kings did in a typical way, Christ, the King of his Church, doth in a spiritual, antitypical way of accomplishment. * * *
 Now if there be light in the things that have been brought and that they conclude for a greater liberty than some brethren want, I hope you will save them the labour of asking their liberty at your hand. * * * We never go before the throne of grace but we carry you in our hearts and prayers along with us . . . and are full of hope that God, who hath concurred with you thus far and acted you to so many worthy and memorable degrees of service to him and his Son Jesus Christ, hath not conceived that displeasure against both you and us as to reserve your further counsels, to shut the door of Christian liberty that was first opened to us by your means. And let it not be imputed to us as arrogance if in the day wherein ourselves are but probationers our principles speak for others as well as ourselves. * * * We shall bless God if he shall so far clear us and our way in your thoughts, but our peace and liberty will not fall with that rich and full contentment into our bosoms except all who walk conscientiously and inoffensively may enjoy the same with us. * * *
[Summary of Contents and Contentions]b
* * * Pregnant scriptures and arguments are throughout the work proposed against the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience. * * * All civil states with their officers of justice, in their respective constitutions and administrations, are proved essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of the spiritual, or Christian, state and worship. It is the will and command of God that, since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only, in soul matters, able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God’s Spirit, the word of God. The state of the land of Israel (the kings and people thereof, in peace and war) is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor precedent for any kingdom or civil state in the world to follow. God requireth not an uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity, sooner or later, is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls. * * * An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. The permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can, according to God, procure a firm and lasting peace; good assurance being taken, according to the wisdom of the civil state, for uniformity of civil obedience from all sorts. True civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, not withstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile. * * *
[Religion and the Civil Peace]c
* * * First for civil peace, what is it but pax civitatis, the peace of the city? . . . Thus it pleased the Father of Lights to define it. Jer. 29. 7: Pray for the peace of the city. Which peace of the city, or citizens so compacted in a civil way of union, may be entire, unbroken, safe, &c., notwithstanding so many thousands of God’s people, the Jews, were there in bondage and would neither be constrained to the worship of the city Babel, nor restrained from so much of the worship of the true God as they then could practise, as is plain in the practice of the three worthies, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as also of Daniel (Dan. 3; and 6)—the peace of the city or kingdom being a far different peace from the peace of the religion, or spiritual worship, maintained and professed of the citizens. This peace of their worship (which worship also in some cities being various) being a false peace, God’s people were and ought to be nonconformitants, not daring either to be restrained from the true or constrained to false worship; and yet without breach of the civil or city peace, properly so called.
Hence it is that so many glorious and flourishing cities of the world maintain their civil peace; yea, the very Americans and wildest pagans keep the peace of their towns or cities, though neither in one nor the other can any man prove a true church of God in those places, and consequently no spiritual and heavenly peace—the peace spiritual, whether true or false, being of a higher and far different nature from the peace of the place or people, [that] being merely and essentially civil and human.
* * * To illustrate this. The church, or company of worshippers, whether true or false, is like unto a body or college of physicians in a city, like unto a corporation, society, or company of East India or Turkey merchants, or any other society or company in London; which companies may hold their courts, keep their records, hold disputations, and in matters concerning their society may dissent, divide, break into schisms and factions, sue and implead each other at the law, yea, wholly break up and dissolve into pieces and nothing, and yet the peace of the city not be in the least measure impaired or disturbed; because the essence or being of the city, and so the well-being and peace thereof, is essentially distinct from those particular societies; the city courts, city laws, city punishments, distinct from theirs. The city was before them, and stands absolute and entire when such a corporation or society is taken down. For instance further. The city or civil state of Ephesus was essentially distinct from the worship of Diana in the city, or of the whole city. Again the church of Christ in Ephesus, which were God’s people, converted and called out from the worship of that city unto Christianity or worship of God in Christ, was distinct from both. Now suppose that God remove the candlestick from Ephesus, yea, though the whole worship of the city of Ephesus should be altered; yet, if men be true and honestly ingenuous to city covenants, combinations, and principles, all this might be without the least impeachment or infringement of the peace of the city of Ephesus. * * *
[Parable of the Tares (Matt. 13. 24-30) Interpreted]a
I shall make it evident, that by these tares in this parable are meant persons in respect of their religion and way of worship, open and visible professors, as bad as briars and thorns,1 not only suspected foxes, but as bad as those greedy wolves which Paul speaks of (Acts 20. ), who with perverse and evil doctrines labour spiritually to devour the flock, and to draw away disciples after them, whose mouths must be stopped, and yet no carnal force or weapon to be used against them; but their mischief to be resisted with those mighty weapons of the holy armoury of the Lord Jesus, wherein there hangs a thousand shields (Cant. 4. ).
That the Lord Jesus intendeth not doctrines, or practices, by the tares in this parable, is clear. For . . . the Lord Jesus expressly interpreteth the good seed to be persons, and those the children of the kingdom; and the tares also to signify men, and those the children of the wicked one (ver. 38). * * *
Again, hypocrites were not intended by the Lord Jesus in this famous parable.
First, the original word ζιζάνια, signifying all those weeds which spring up with the corn, as cockle, darnel, tares, &c., seems to imply such a kind of people as commonly and generally are known to be manifestly different from, and opposite to, the true worshippers of God, here called the children of the kingdom: as these weeds, tares, cockle, darnel, &c., are commonly and presently known by every husbandman to differ from the wheat, and to be opposite, and contrary, and hurtful unto it. * * *
The second reason why these tares cannot signify hypocrites in the church, I take from the Lord Jesus his own interpretation of the field in which both wheat and tares are sown, which, saith he, is the world, out of which God chooseth and calleth his Church.
The world lies in wickedness, is like a wilderness, or a sea of wild beasts innumerable, fornicators, covetous, idolaters, &c.; with whom God’s people may lawfully converse and cohabit in cities, towns, &c., else must they not live in the world, but go out of it. In which world, as soon as ever the Lord Jesus had sown the good seed, the children of the kingdom, true Christianity, or the true Church, the enemy Satan presently . . . sowed also these tares, which are Antichristians or false Christians. These strange professors of the name of Jesus the ministers and prophets of God beholding, they are ready to run to heaven to fetch fiery judgments from thence to consume these strange Christians, and to pluck them by the roots out of the world. But the Son of Man, the meek Lamb of God—for the Elect’s sake which must be gathered out of Jew and Gentile, pagan, Antichristian—commands a permission of them in the world, until the time of the end of the world, when the goats and sheep, the tares and wheat, shall be eternally separated each from other. * * *
Such, then, are the good seed, good wheat, children of the kingdom as are the disciples, members, and subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ, his Church and kingdom; and therefore, consequently, such are the tares as are opposite to these, idolaters, will-worshippers, not truly but falsely submitting to Jesus, and in especial, the children of the wicked one, visibly so appearing. * * *
Secondly, it is manifest that the Lord Jesus in this parable intends no other sort of sinners, ofa whom he saith, Let them alone, in church or state; for then he should contradict other holy and blessed ordinances for the punishment of offenders, both in Christian and civil state.
First in civil state. From the beginning of the world, God hath armed fathers, masters, magistrates, to punish evil-doers; that is, such, of whose actions fathers, masters, magistrates are to judge, and accordingly to punish such sinners as transgress against the good and peace of their civil state, families, towns, cities, kingdoms—their states, governments, governors, laws, punishments, and weapons being all of a civil nature; and therefore neither disobedience to parents or magistrates, nor murder, nor quarrelling, uncleanness nor lasciviousness, stealing nor extortion, neither aught of that kind, ought to be let alone either in lesser or greater families, towns, cities, kingdoms (Rom. 13), but seasonably to be suppressed, as may best conduce to the public safety.
Again, secondly, in the kingdom of Christ Jesus, whose kingdom, officers, laws, punishments, weapons, are spiritual and of a soul nature, he will not have Antichristian idolaters, extortioners, covetous, &c., to be let alone; but the unclean and lepers to be thrust forth, the old leaven purged out, the obstinate in sin spiritually stoned to death, and put away from Israel; and this by many degrees of gentle admonition in private and public, as the case requires.
Therefore, if neither offenders against the civil laws, state, and peace ought to be let alone, nor the spiritual estate, the Church of Jesus Christ, ought to bear with them that are evil (Rev. 2. ), I conclude that these are sinners of another nature—idolaters, false worshippers, Antichristians, who without discouragement to true Christians must be let alone and permitted in the world to grow and fill up the measure of their sins, after the image of him that hath sown them, until the great harvest shall make the difference. * * *
Now if any imagine that the time or date is long, that in the mean season they may do a world of mischief before the world’s end, as by infection, &c.;a first, I answer that as the civil state keeps itself with a civil guard, in case these tares shall attempt aught against the peace and welfare of it, let such civil offences be punished; and yet, as tares, opposite to Christ’s kingdom, let their worship and consciences be tolerated. Secondly, the Church, or spiritual state, city or kingdom, hath laws and orders and armouries, . . . weapons and ammunition, able to break down the strongest holds (2b Cor. 10. ), and so to defend itself against the very gates of earth or hell. Thirdly, the Lord himself knows who are his, and his foundation remaineth sure; his elect or chosen cannot perish nor be finally deceived.
Lastly, the Lord Jesus here, in this parable, lays down two reasons, able to content and satisfy our hearts to bear patiently this their contradiction and Antichristianity, and to permit or let them alone.
First, lest the good wheat be plucked up and rooted up also out of this field of the world. If such combustions and fightings were as to pluck up all the false professors of the name of Christ, the good wheat also would enjoy little peace, but be in danger to be plucked up and torn out of this world by such bloody storms and tempests. And, therefore, as God’s people are commanded (Jer. 29. ) to pray for the peace of material Babel, wherein they were captivated, and (1 Tim. 2. [1, 2]) to pray for all men, and specially [for] kings and governors, that in the peace of the civil state they may have peace: so, contrary to the opinion and practice of most, drunk with the cup of the Whore’s fornication, yea, and of God’s own people fast asleep in Antichristian Delilah’s lap, obedience to the command of Christ to let the tares alone will prove the only means to preserve their civil peace, anda without obedience to this command of Christ, it is impossible (without great transgression against the Lord in carnal policy, which will not long hold out) to preserve the civil peace. Beside, God’s people, the good wheat, are generally plucked up and persecuted, as well as the vilest idolaters, whether Jews or Antichristians; which the Lord Jesus seems in this parable to foretell.
The second reason noted in the parable, which may satisfy any man from wondering at the patience of God, is this. When the world is ripe in sin, in the sins of Antichristianism (as the Lord spake of the sins of the Amorites, Gen. 15.b ), then those holy and mighty officers and executioners, the angels, with their sharp and cutting sickles of eternal vengeance, shall down with them, and bundle them up for the everlasting burnings. Then shall that man of sin (2 Thess. 2. ) be consumed by the breath of the mouth of the Lord Jesus; and all that worship the Beast and his picture, and receive his mark into their forehead or their hands, shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God; which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment shall ascend up for ever and ever (Rev. 14. 10, 11). * * *
I conceive this charge of the Lord Jesus to his messengers, the preachers and proclaimers of his mind, is a sufficient declaration of the mind of the Lord Jesus if any civil magistrate should make question what were his duty concerning spiritual things.
The Apostles, and in them all that succeed them, being commanded not to pluck up the tares, but let them alone, received from the Lord Jesus a threefold charge. First, to let them alone, and not to pluck them up by prayer to God for their present temporal destruction. * * * Secondly, God’s messengers are herein commanded not to prophesy, or denounce, a present destruction or extirpation of all false professors of the name of Christ, which are whole towns, cities, and kingdoms full. * * * Thirdly, I conceive God’s messengers are charged to let them alone, and not pluck them up by exciting and stirring up civil magistrates, kings, emperors, governors, parliaments, or general courts or assemblies, to punish and persecute all such persons out of their dominions and territories as worship not the true God according to the revealed will of God in Christ Jesus. * * * And therefore saith Paul expressly (1 Cor. 5. 10), we must go out of the world in case we may not company in civil converse with idolaters, &c. * * *
I shall conclude this controversy about this parable, in this brief sum and recapitulation of what hath been said.
I hope, by the evident demonstration of God’s Spirit to the conscience, I have proved, negatively: . . . that the tares in this parable cannot signify doctrines or practices, as was affirmed, but persons; . . . the tares cannot signify hypocrites in the church, either undiscovered or discovered; . . . the tares here cannot signify scandalous offenders in the church, . . . nor scandalous offenders in life and conversation against the civil state; . . . the field in which these tares are sown is not the church.
Again, affirmatively: . . . The field is properly the world, the civil state or commonwealth; . . . the tares here intended by the Lord Jesus are Antichristian idolaters, opposite to the good seed of the kingdom, true Christians; . . . the ministers or messengers of the Lord Jesus ought to let them alone to live in the world, and neither seek by prayer or prophecy to pluck them up before the harvest; . . . this permission or suffering of them in the field of the world is not for hurt, but for common good, even for the good of the good wheat, the people of God. Lastly, the patience of God is that, that the patience of men ought to be exercised toward them; and yet notwithstanding, their doom is fearful at the harvest, even gathering, bundling, and everlasting burnings, by the mighty hand of the angels in the end of the world. * * *
[The Blind Pharisee, Matt. 15. 14]a
* * * Beside, let it be seriously considered by such as plead for present corporal punishment, as conceiving that such sinners though they break not civil peace, should not escape unpunished—I say, let it be considered, though for the present their punishment is deferred, yet the punishment inflicted on them will be found to amount to a higher pitch than any corporal punishment in the world beside. . . . First by just judgment from God, false teachers are stark blind. God’s sword hath struck out the right eye of their mind and spiritual understanding, ten thousand times a greater punishment than if the magistrate should command both the right and left eye of their bodies to be bored or plucked out. . . . Secondly, how fearful is that wound that no balm in Gilead can cure! How dreadful is that blindness which for ever to all eye-salve is incurable! For if persons be wilfully and desperately obstinate, after light shining forth, Let them alone, saith the Lord. * * * Thirdly, their end is the ditch, that bottomless pit of everlasting separation from the holy and sweet presence of the Father of Lights, Goodness, and Mercy itself—endless, easeless, in extremity, universality, and eternity of torments. * * * Fourthly, of those that fall into this dreadful ditch, both leader and followers, how deplorable in more especial manner is the leader’s case, upon whose neck the followers tumble—the ruin not only of his own soul being horrible, but also the ruin of the followers’ souls eternally galling and tormenting.
Some will say, these things are indeed full of horror; yet such is the state of all sinners, and of many malefactors, whom yet the state is bound to punish, and sometimes by death itself.
I answer, the civil magistrate beareth not the sword in vain, but to cut off civil offences, yea, and the offenders too in case. But what is this to a blind Pharisee, resisting the doctrine of Christ, who haply may be as good a subject, and as peaceable and profitable to the civil state as any? And for his spiritual offence against the Lord Jesus in denying him to be the true Christ, he suffereth the vengeance of a dreadful judgment, both present and eternal, as before.
Yea, but it is said that the blind Pharisees, misguiding the subjects of a civil state, greatly sin against a civil state, and therefore justly suffer civil punishment; for shall the civil magistrate take care of outsides only, to wit, of the bodies of men, and not of souls, in labouring to procure their everlasting welfare?
I answer, it is a truth. The mischief of a blind Pharisee’s blind guidance is greater than if he acted treasons, murders, &c.; and the loss of one soul by his seduction is a greater mischief than if he blew up parliaments, and cuta the throats of kings or emperors; so precious is that invaluable jewel of a soul above all the present lives and bodies of all the men in the world! And therefore I affirm that justice, calling for eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, calls also [for] soul for soul; which the blind-guiding, seducing Pharisee shall surely pay in that dreadful ditch which the Lord Jesus speaks of. But this sentence against him the Lord Jesus only pronounceth in his Church, his spiritual judicature, and executes this sentence in part at present, and hereafter to all eternity. Such a sentence no civil judge can pass; such a death no civil sword can inflict.
I answer, secondly, dead men cannot be infected. The civil state, the world, being in a natural state, dead in sin (whatever be the state-religion unto which persons are forced), it is impossible it should be infected. Indeed the living, the believing, the Church and spiritual state, that and that only is capable of infection; for whose help we shall presently see what preservatives and remedies the Lord Jesus hath appointed.
Moreover, as we see in a common plague or infection the names are taken how many are to die, and not one more shall be struck than the destroying angel hath the names of: so here, whatever be the soul-infection breathed out from the lying lips of a plague-sick Pharisee, yet the names are taken; not one elect or chosen of God shall perish. God’s sheep are safe in his eternal hand and counsel, and he that knows his material, knows also his mystical stars, their numbers, and calls them every one by name. None fall into the ditch on the blind Pharisee’s back but such as were ordained to that condemnation, both guide and followers (1 Pet. 2. 8; Jude 4). The vessels of wrath shall break and split, and only they—to the praise of God’s eternal justice (Rom. 9. 22). * * *
[Romans 13. Examined]a
The next scripture produced against such persecution is 2 Cor. 10. 4: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. * * *
I acknowledge that herein the spirit of God denieth not civil weapons of justice to the civil magistrate, which . . . Rom[ans] 13. abundantly testifie[s]. * * *
I . . . observe that there being in this scripture [2 Cor. 10. 4] held forth a twofold state, a civil state and a spiritual, civil officers and spiritual, civil weapons and spiritual weapons, civil vengeance and punishment and a spiritual vengeance and punishment—although the Spirit speaks not here expressly of civil magistrates and their civil weapons—yet, these states being of different natures and considerations, as far differing as spirit from flesh, I . . . observe that civil weapons are most improper and unfitting in matters of the spiritual state and kingdom, though in the civil state most proper and suitable. * * *
Now, in the second place, concerning that scripture (Rom[ans] 13.) . . . my humble request . . . is for your care . . . to enlighten and clear this scripture.
First, then, upon the serious examination of this whole scripture it will appear that from the ninth verse of the twelfth chapter to the end of this whole thirteenth chapter, the Spirit handles the duties of the Saints in the careful observation of the Second Table in their civil conversation or walking towards men, and speaks not at all of any point or matter of the First Table concerning the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. For having in the whole Epistle handled that great point of free justification by the free grace of God in Christ, in the beginning of the twelfth chapter he exhorts the believers to give and dedicate themselves unto the Lord both in soul and body; and unto the ninth verse of the twelfth chapter he expressly mentioneth their conversation in the kingdom or body of Christ Jesus, together with the several officers thereof. And from the ninth verse to the end of the thirteenth [chapter], he plainly discourseth of their civil conversation and walking one toward another, and with all men, from whence he hath fair occasion to speak largely concerning their subjection to magistrates in the thirteenth chapter.
Hence it is that [at] verse 7 of this thirteenth chapter, Paul exhorts to performance of love to all men, magistrates and subjects . . .: Render, therefore, to all their due; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. * * *
The Spirit of God here commands subjection and obedience to higher powers, even to the Roman emperors and all subordinate magistrates; and yet the emperors and governors under them were strangers from the life of God in Christ, yea, most averse and opposite, yea, cruel and bloody persecutors of the name and followers of Jesus: and yet unto these is this subjection and obedience commanded. * * * Now then, I argue, if the Apostle should have commanded this subjection unto the Roman emperors and Roman magistrates in spiritual causes . . .: I say, if Paul should have, in this scripture, put this work upon these Roman governors and commanded the churches of Christ to have yielded subjection in any such matters, he must, in the judgment of all men, have put out the eye of faith and reason and sense, at once. * * *
I dispute from the nature of the magistrate’s weapons (ver. 4). He hath a sword, which he bears not in vain, delivered to him, as I acknowledge, from God’s appointment in the free consent and choice of the subjects for common good.
We must distinguish of swords. We find four sorts of swords mentioned in the New Testament: First, the sword of persecution . . .; secondly, the sword of God’s Spirit, expressly said to be the word of God (Eph. 6. ), a sword of two edges . . . piercing . . . between the soul and the spirit (Heb. 4. ); thirdly, the great sword of war and destruction, given to him that rides that terrible red horse of war, so that he takes peace from the earth, and men kill one another, as is most lamentably true in the slaughter of so many hundred thousand souls within these few years in several parts of Europe, our own and others. None of these three swords are intended in this scripture. Therefore, fourthly, there is a civil sword, called the sword of civil justice, which being of a material, civil nature, for the defence of persons, estates, families, liberties of a city or civil state, and the suppressing of uncivil or injurious persons or actions by such civil punishment, it cannot, according to its utmost reach and capacity, now under Christ when all nations are merely civil, without any such typical, holy respect upon them as was upon Israel, a national church—I say, [it] cannot extend to spiritual and soul-causes, spiritual and soul-punishment, which belongs to that spiritual sword with two edges, the soul-piercing (in soul-saving, or soul-killing), the word of God. * * *
Lastly, that the Spirit of God never intended to direct or warrant the magistrate to use his power in spiritual affairs and religious worship, I argue from the term or title it pleaseth the wisdom of God to give such civil officers, to wit (ver. 6) God’s ministers.
Now at the very first blush, no man denies a double ministry. The one appointed by Christ Jesus in his Church, to gather, to govern, receive in, cast out, and order all the affairs of the Church, the house, city, or kingdom of God (Eph. 4; 1 Cor. 12). Secondly, a civil ministry or office, merely human and civil, which men agree to constitute, called therefore a human creation (1 Pet. 2. ), and is as true and lawful in those nations, cities, kingdoms, &c., which never heard of the true God, nor his holy Son Jesus, as in any part of the world beside, where the name of Jesus is most taken up.
From all which premises, viz., that the scope of the Spirit of God in this chapter is to handle the matters of the Second Table (having handled the matters of the First in the twelfth); since the magistrates of whom Paul wrote were natural, ungodly, persecuting, and yet lawful magistrates, and to be obeyed in all lawful civil things; since all magistrates are God’s ministers, essentially civil, bounded to a civil work, with civil weapons or instruments, and paid or rewarded with civil rewards;—from all which, I say, I undeniably collect that this scripture is generally mistaken, and wrested from the scope of God’s Spirit and the nature of the place, and cannot truly be alleged by any for the power of the civil magistrate to be exercised in spiritual and soul-matters. * * *
Against this, I know, many object, out of the fourth verse of this chapter, that the magistrate is to avenge or punish evil: from whence is gathered that heresy, false Christs, false churches, false ministries, false seals, being evil, ought to be punished civilly, &c.
I answer, that the word κακὸν is generally opposed to civil goodness or virtue in a commonwealth, and not to spiritual good or religion in the Church.
Secondly, I have proved from the scope of the place, that here is not intended evil against the spiritual or Christian estate handled in the twelfth chapter, but evil against the civil state in this thirteenth, properly falling under the cognizance of the civil minister of God, the magistrate, and punishable by that civil sword of his, as an incivility, disorder, or breach of that civil order, peace, and civility, unto which all the inhabitants of a city, town, or kingdom, oblige themselves. * * *
[‘Christ Jesus the deepest politician that ever was’]a
* * * It is evil, saith he [Cotton], to tolerate notorious evil-doers, seducing teachers, scandalous livers. In which speech I observe two evils.
First, that this proposition is too large and general, because the rule admits of exception, and that according to the will of God. (1) It is true that evil cannot alter its nature but it is alway evil, as darkness is alway darkness; yet (2) it must be remembered that it is one thing to command, to conceal, to counsel, to approve evil, and another thing to permit and suffer evil with protestation against it or dislike of it—at least without approbation of it. Lastly, this sufferance or permission of evil is not for its own sake, but for the sake of good, which puts a respect of goodness upon such permission.
Hence it is that for God’s own glory’s sake, which is the highest good, he endures (that is, permits or suffers) the vessels of wrath (Rom. 9. ). And therefore, although he be of pure eyes and can behold no iniquity, yet his pure eyeb patiently and quietly beholds and permits all the idolatries and profanations, all the thefts and rapines, all the whoredoms and abominations, all the murders and poisonings; and yet, I say, for his glory’s sake he is patient and long permits.
Hence for his people’s sake (which is the next good, in his Son), he is oftentimes pleased to permit and suffer the wicked to enjoy a longer reprieve. * * *
It may be said, this is no pattern for us, because God is above law, and an absolute sovereign.
I answer, although we find him sometime dispensing with his law, yet we never find him deny himself, or utter a falsehood. And therefore, when it crosseth not an absolute rule, to permit and tolerate—as in the case of the permission of the souls and consciences of all men in the world, I have shown, and shall show further, it doth not—it will not hinder our being holy as he is holy, in all manner of conversation. * * *
This ground, to wit, for a common good of the whole, is the same with that of the Lord Jesus’ commanding the tares to be permitted in the world because, otherwise, the good wheat should be endangered to be rooted up out of the field or world also, as well as the tares. And therefore, for the good’ sake, the tares, which are indeed evil, were to be permitted: yea, and for the general good of the whole world, the field itself, which, for want of this obedience to that command of Christ, hath been and is laid waste and desolate with the fury and rage of civil war, professedly raised and maintained, as all states profess, for the maintenance of one true religion—after the pattern of that typical land of Canaan—and to suppress and pluck up these tares of false prophets and false professors, Antichristians, heretics, &c., out of the world.
Hence illae lachrymae: hence Germany’s, Ireland’s, and now England’s tears and dreadful desolations, which ought to have been, and may be for the future, by obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus concerning the permission of tares to live in the world, though not in the Church—I say, ought to have been, and may be, mercifully prevented.
I pray descend now to the second evil which you observe in the answerer’s position, viz., that it would be evil to tolerate notorious evil-doers, seducing teachers, &c.
I say, the evil is that he most improperly and confusedly joins and couples seducing teachers with scandalous livers. * * *
First, it is not an homogeneal (as we speak), but an heterogeneal commixture or joining together of things most different in kinds and natures, as if they were both of one consideration. For who knows not but that many seducing teachers, either of the paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian religion, may be clear and free from scandalous offences in their life, as also from disobedience to the civil laws of a state? * * * Again, who knows not that a seducing teacher properly sins against a church or spiritual estate and laws of it, and therefore ought most properly and only to be dealt withal in such a way, and by such weapons, as the Lord Jesus himself hath appointed; gainsayers, opposites, and disobedients—either within his Church or without—to be convinced, repelled, resisted, and slain withal? Whereas scandalous offencea against parents, against magistrates in the Fifth Command[ment], and so against the life, chastity, goods, or good name in the rest, is properly transgression against the civil state and commonweal, or the worldly state of men. And therefore, consequently, if the world or civil state ought to be preserved by civil government or governors, such scandalous offenders ought not to be tolerated, but suppressed according to the wisdom and prudence of the said government.
Secondly, as there is a fallacious conjoining and confounding together persons of several kinds and natures, differing as much as spirit and flesh, heaven and earth, each from other: so is there a silent and implicit justification to all the unrighteous and cruel proceedings of Jews and Gentiles against all the prophets of God, the Lord Jesus himself, and all his messengers and witnesses, whom their accusers have ever so coupled and mixed with notorious evil-doers and scandalous livers. * * *
Yea, but he produceth scriptures against such toleration, and for persecuting men for the cause of conscience: ‘Christ,’ saith he, ‘had something against the angel of the church of Pergamos, for tolerating them that held the doctrine of Balaam, and against the church of Thyatira, for tolerating Jezebel to teach and seduce (Rev. 2. 14, 20).’
* * * From this perverse wresting of what is writ to the church and the officers thereof, as if it were written to the civil state and officers thereof, all may see how, since the apostasy of Antichrist, the Christian world (so-called) hath swallowed up Christianity; how the church and civil state, that is, the Church and the world, are now become one flock of Jesus Christ. Christ’s sheep, and the pastors or shepherds of them, all one with the several unconverted, wild, or tame beasts and cattle of the world, and the civil and earthly governors of them: the Christian Church, or kingdom of the Saints, that stone cut out of the mountain without hands (Dan. 2. ) now made all one with the mountain or civil state, the Roman empire, from whence it is cut or taken; Christ’s lilies, garden, and love, all one with the thorns, the daughters and wilderness of the world, out of which the spouse or church of Christ is called—and amongst whom in civil things, for a while here below, she must necessarily be mingled and have converse, unless she will go out of the world before Christ Jesus, her Lord and husband, send for her home into the heavens (1 Cor. 5. 10). * * *
I affirm that the state-policy and state-necessity, which, for the peace of the state and preventing of rivers of civil blood, permits the consciences of men, will be found to agree most punctually with the rules of the best politician that ever the world saw, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, in comparison of whom Solomon himself had but a drop of wisdom compared to Christ’s ocean, and was but a farthing candle compared with the all- and ever-glorious Sun of Righteousness. That absolute rule of this great politician for the peace of the field which is the world, and for the good and peace of the Saints who must have a civil being in the world, I have discoursed of in his command of permitting the tares, that is, Antichristians, or false Christians, to be in the field of the world, growing up together with the true wheat, true Christians. * * *
[Toleration for Roman Catholics]a
‘As for the testimony of the popish book,’ saith he [Cotton], ‘we weigh it not, as knowing whatever they speak for toleration of religion where themselves are under hatches, when they come to sit at stern they judge and practise quite contrary, as both their writings and judicial proceedings have testified to the world these many years.’
I answer, although both writings and practices have been such, yet the scriptures and expressions of truth alleged and uttered by them, speak loud and fully for them when they are under the hatches, that for their conscience and religion they should not there be choked and smothered, but suffered to breathe and walk upon the decks, in the air of civil liberty and conversation in the ship of the commonwealth, upon good assurance given of civil obedience to the civil state.
Again, if this practice be so abominable in his eyes from the papists, viz., that they are so partial as to persecute when they sit at helm, and yet cry out against persecution when they are under the hatches, I shall beseech the Righteous Judge of the whole world to present, as in a water or glass where face answereth to face, the faces of the Papist to the Protestant, answering to each other in the sameness of partiality, both of this doctrine and practice. When Mr. Cotton and others have formerly been under hatches, what sad and true complaints have they abundantly poured forth against persecution! How have they opened that heavenly scripture (Cant. 4. 8) where Christ Jesus calls his tender wife and spouse from the fellowship with persecutors in their dens of lions and mountains of leopards! But coming to the helm, as he speaks of the papists, how, both by preaching, writing, printing, practice, do they themselves—I hope in their persons lambs—unnaturally and partially express towards others the cruel nature of such lions and leopards! Oh that the God of Heaven might please to tell them how abominable in his eyes are a weight and a weight, a stone and a stone, in the bag of weights—one weight for themselves when they are under hatches, and another for others when they come to helm! Nor shall their confidence of their being in the truth, which they judge the papists and others are not in—no, nor the truth itself—privilege them to persecute others, and to exempt themselves from persecution. * * *
[‘A Model of Church and Civil Power’ Examined]
. . . I observe that although the kingdom of Christ, the Church, and the civil kingdom or government be not inconsistent, but that both may stand together; yet that they are independent according to that scripture [My kingdom is not of this world (John 18. 36)]; and that therefore there may be, as formerly I have proved, flourishing commonweals and societies of men where no church of Christ abideth. And secondly, the commonweal may be in perfect peace and quiet, notwithstanding the Church, the commonweal of Christ, be in distractions and spiritual oppositions, both against their religions and sometimes amongst themselves (as the church of Christ in Corinth, troubled with divisions, contentions, &c.).
Secondly, I observe, it is true, the Church helpeth forward the prosperity of the commonweal by spiritual means (Jer. 29. 7). The prayers of God’s people procure the peace of the city where they abide; yet that Christ’s ordinances and administrations of worship are appointed and given by Christ to any civil state, town, or city, as is implied by the instance of Geneva, that I confidently deny.
The ordinances and discipline of Christ Jesus, though wrongfully and profanely applied to natural and unregenerate men, may cast a blush of civility and morality upon them, as in Geneva and other places—for the shining brightness of the very shadow of Christ’s ordinances casts a shame upon barbarism and incivility—yet withal I affirm that the misapplication of ordinances to unregenerate and unrepentant persons hardens up their souls in a dreadful sleep and dream of their own blessed estate and sends millions of souls to hell in a secure expectation of a false salvation. * * *
* * * If the powers of the world or civil state are bound to propose external peace in all godliness for their end, and the end of the Church be to preserve internal peace in all godliness, I demand, if their end (godliness) be the same, is not their power and state the same also; unless they make the Church subordinate to the commonwealth’s end, or the commonweal subordinate to the Church’s end, which—being the governor and setter-up of it, and so consequently the judge of it—it cannot be? * * *
I ask further, what is this internal peace in all godliness? Whether intend they internal, within the soul, which only the eye of God can see, opposed to external or visible, which man also can discern? Or else, whether they mean internal, that is spiritual soul-matters, matters of God’s worship? And then I say, that peace, to wit, of godliness or God’s worship, they had before granted to the civil state.
The truth is, as I now perceive, the best and most godly of that judgment declare themselves never to have seen a true difference between the Church and the world, and the spiritual and civil state; and howsoever these worthy authors seem to make a kind of separation from the world, and profess that the Church must consist of spiritual and living stones, Saints, regenerate persons, and so make some peculiar enclosed ordinances, as the Supper of the Lord, which none, say they, but godly persons must taste of; yet by compelling all within their jurisdiction to an outward conformity of the church worship, of the word and prayer, and maintenance of the ministry thereof, they evidently declare that they still lodge and dwell in the confused mixtures of the unclean and clean, of the flock of Christ and herds of the world together—I mean, in spiritual and religious worship. * * *
I confess that without godliness, or a true worshipping of God with an upright heart according to God’s ordinances, neither subjects nor magistrates can please God in Christ Jesus, and so be spiritually or Christianly good. Which, few magistrates and few men either come to, or are ordained unto, God having chosen a little flock out of the world, and those generally poor and mean (1 Cor. 1. ; James 2. ).
Yet this I must remember you of: that when the most high God created all things of nothing, he saw and acknowledged divers sorts of goodness, which must still be acknowledged in their distinct kinds—a good air, a good ground, a good tree, a good sheep, &c. I say the same in artificials, a good garment, a good house, a good sword, a good ship. I also add, a good city, a good company or corporation, a good husband, father, master. Hence also we say, a good physician, a good lawyer, a good seaman, a good merchant, a good pilot for such or such a shore or harbour; that is, morally, civilly, good in their several civil respects and employments.
Hence (Psalm 122a ) the Church, or city of God, is compared to a city compact within itself; which compactness may be found in many towns and cities of the world where yet hath not shined any spiritual or supernatural goodness. Hence the Lord Jesus (Matt. 12 ) describes an ill state of an house or kingdom, viz., to be divided against itself, which cannot stand.
These I observe to prove that a subject, a magistrate, may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness (which thousands want, and where it is it is commendable and beautiful), though godliness, which is more beautiful, be wanting, and which is only proper to the Christian state, the commonweal of Israel, the true Church, the holy nation (Eph. 2; 1 Pet. 2). * * *
* * * Whereas they say that the civil power may erect and establish what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, I acknowledge the proposition to be most true, both in itself, and also considered with the end of it, that a civil government is an ordinance of God to conserve the civil peace of people so far as concerns their bodies and goods, as formerly hath been said.
But from this grant I infer, as before hath been touched, that the sovereign original and foundation of civil power lies in the people, whom they must needs mean by the civil power distinct from the government set up. And if so, that a people may erect and establish what form of government seems to them most meet for their civil condition. It is evident that such governments as are by them erected and established, have no more power, nor for no longer time, than the civil power, or people consenting and agreeing, shall betrust them with. This is clear not only in reason, but in the experience of all commonweals where the people are not deprived of their natural freedom by the power of tyrants.
And if so—that the magistrates receive their power of governing the Church from the people—undeniably it follows that a people as a people, naturally considered—of what nature or nation soever, in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America—have fundamentally and originally as men, a power to govern the Church, to see her do her duty, to correct her, to redress, reform, establish, &c. And if this be not to pull God and Christ and Spirit out of heaven, and subject them unto natural, sinful, inconstant men, and so consequently to Satan himself, by whom all peoples naturally are guided, let heaven and earth judge!
It cannot, by their own grant, be denied but that the wildest Indians in America ought (and in their kind and several degrees do) to agree upon some forms of government, some more civil compact in towns, &c., some less; as also, that their civil and earthly governments be as lawful and true as any governments in the world. And therefore, consequently, their governors are keepers of the Church, or both Tables, if any church of Christ should arise or be amongst them. And therefore, lastly, if Christ have betrusted and charged the civil power with his Church, they must judge according to their Indian or American consciences, for other consciences it cannot be supposed they should have.
Again, whereas they say that outward civil peace cannot stand where religion is corrupted (and quote for it 2 Chron. 15. 3, 5, 6; and Judges 8), I answer with admiration how such excellent spirits as these authors are furnished with, not only in heavenly but earthly affairs, should so forget and be so fast asleep in things so palpably evident, as to say that outward civil peace cannot stand where religion is corrupt, when so many stately kingdoms and governments in the world have long and long enjoyed civil peace and quiet, notwithstanding their religion is so corrupt as that there is not the very name of Jesus Christ amongst them. And this every historian, merchant, traveller in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, can testify. For so spake the Lord Jesus himself (John 16. ): The world shall sing and rejoice.
Secondly, for that scripture, 2 Chron. 15. 3, &c., relating the miseries of Israel and Judah, and God’s plagues upon that people for corruption of their religion, it must still have reference to that peculiar state unto which God called the seed of one man, Abraham, in a figure, dealing so with them as he dealt not with any nation in the world (Psalm 147a ; Rom. 9). The antitype to this state I have proved to be the Christian Church, which consequently hath been and is afflicted with spiritual plagues, desolations, and captivities, for corrupting of that religion which hath been revealed unto them. This appears by the seven churches, and [by] the people of God, now so many hundred years in woeful bondage and slavery to the mystical Babel, until the time of their joyful deliverance. * * *
Their fifth head is concerning the magistrates’ power in making of laws.
‘First, they have power to publish and apply such civil laws in a state as either are expressed in the word of God in Moses’ judicials—to wit, so far as they are of general and moral equity, and so binding all nations in all ages—[or are] to be deduceda by way of general consequence and proportion from the word of God. For in a free state no magistrate hath power over the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of a free people but by their free consents. And because free men are not free lords of their own estates, but are only stewards under God, therefore they may not give their free consents to any magistrate to dispose of their bodies, goods, lands, liberties at large, as themselves please, but as God, the sovereign Lord of all, alone. And because the Word is a perfect rule, as well of righteousness as of holiness, it will be therefore necessary that neither the people give consent nor that the magistrate take power to dispose of the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of the people, but according to the laws and rules of the word of God.
‘Secondly, in making laws about civil and indifferent things about the commonweal: first, he hath no power given him of God to make what laws he please, either in restraining from or constraining to the use of indifferent things; because that which is indifferent in its nature, may sometimes be inexpedient in its use, and consequently unlawful (1 Cor. 2. 5), it having been long since defended upon good ground, Quicquid non expedit, quatenus non expedit, non licet. Secondly, he hath no power to make any such laws about indifferent things wherein nothing good or evil is shown to the people, but only or principally the mere authority or will of the imposer, for the observance of them (Col. 2. 21, 22; 1 Cor. 7. 23, compared with Eph. 6. 6).
‘It is a prerogative proper to God, to require obedience of the sons of men because of his authority and will. The will of no man is regula recti, unless first it be regula recta. It is an evil speech of some, that in some things the will of the law, not the ratio of it, must be the rule of conscience to walk by; and that princes may forbid men to seek any other reason but their authority, yea, when they command frivola et dura. And therefore it is the duty of the magistrate, in all laws about indifferent things, to show the reasons, not only the will; to show the expediency as well as the indifferency of things of that nature. For, we conceive, in laws of this nature it is not the will of the lawgiver only, but the reason of the law, which binds. Ratio est rex legis, et lex est rex regis. * * *’
In this passage these worthy men lay down such a ground as the gates of hell are not able to shake, concerning the magistrates’ walking in indifferent things; and upon which ground that tower of Lebanon may be raised, whereon there hang a thousand shields and bucklers (Cant. 4. ), to wit, that invincible truth, that no man is to be persecuted for cause of conscience. The ground is this: ‘The magistrate hath not power to make what laws he please, either in restraining [from] or constraining to the use of indifferent things.’ * * *
Hence I argue, if the civil magistrate have no power to restrain or constrain hisa subjects in things in their own nature indifferent, as in eating of meats, wearing this or that garment, using this or that gesture, but that they are bound to try and examine his commands, and satisfy their own reason, conscience, and judgment before the Lord, and that they shall sin if they follow the magistrate’s command, not being persuaded in their own soul and conscience that his commands are according to God: it will be much more unlawful and heinous in the magistrate to compel the subjects unto that which according to their consciences’ persuasion is simply unlawful, as unto a falsely constituted church, ministry, worship, administration, and they shall not escape the ditch by being led blindfold by the magistrate. * * *
[V]bTruth [in the course of proving in great detail that Israel is merely a prophetic type of the Christian Church, and not a model for the Christian state, explains that ‘the dispute lies not concerning the monarchical power of the Lord Jesus . . . but concerning a deputed and ministerial power,’ and proceeds]:
There are three great competitors for this deputed or ministerial power of the Lord Jesus.
First, the arch-vicar ofc Satan, the pretended vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals. * * *
The second great competitor to this crown of the Lord Jesus is the civil magistrate, whether emperors, kings, or other inferior officers of state, who are made to believe by the false prophets of the world that they are the antitypes of the kings of Israel and Judah, and wear the crown of Christ.
Under the wing of the civil magistrate do three great factions shelter themselves, and mutually oppose each other, striving as for life who shall sit down under the shadow of that arm of flesh.
First, the Prelacy: who, though some extravagants of late have inclined to waive the king, and to creep under the wings of the pope, yet so far depends upon the king that it is justly said they are the king’s bishops.
Secondly, the Presbytery: who, though in truth they ascribe not so much to the civil magistrate as some too grossly do, yet they give so much to the civil magistrate as to make him absolutely the head of the church. For if they make him the reformer of the church, the suppressor of schismatics and heretics, the protector and defender of the church, &c., what is this in true plain English but to make him the judge of the true and false church, judge of what is truth and what error, who is schismatical, who heretical? Unless they make him only an executioner, as the pope doth in his punishing of heretics.
I doubt not but the aristocratical government of Presbyterians may well subsist in a monarchy, not only regulated but also tyrannical; yet doth it more naturally delight in the element of an aristocratical government of state, and so may properly be said to be (as the prelates the king’s, so these) the state’s bishops.
The third (though not so great, yet growing) faction is that so-called Independent. (I prejudice not the personal worth of any of the three sorts.) This latter, as I believe this discourse hath manifested, jumps with the Prelates, and, though not more fully, yet more explicitly than the Presbyterians, cast[s] down the crown of the Lord Jesus at the feet of the civil magistrate. And although they pretend to receive their ministry from the choice of two or three private persons in church-covenant, yet would they fain persuade the mother,a Old England, to imitate her daughter New England’s practice, viz. to keep out the Presbyterians, and only to embrace themselves both as the state’s and the people’s bishops.
The third competition for this crown and power of the Lord Jesus is of those that separate both from one and the other, yet divided also amongst themselves into many several professions. Of these, they that go furthest profess they must yet come nearer to the ways of the Son of God. And doubtless so far as they have gone, they bid the most and make the fairest plea for the purity and power of Christ Jesus—let the rest of the inhabitants of the world be judges. Let all the former well be viewed in their external state, pomp, riches, conformity to the world, &c. And on the other side, let the latter be considered in their more thorough departure from sin and sinful worship, their condescending (generally) to the lowest and meanest contentments of this life, their exposing of themselves for Christ to greater sufferings, and their desiring no civil sword nor arm of flesh, but the two-edged sword of God’s Spirit to try out the matter by. And then let the inhabitants of the world judge which come nearest to the doctrine, holiness, poverty, patience, and practice of the Lord Jesus Christ; and whether or no these latter deserve not so much of humanity and the subjects’ liberty, as (not offending the civil state) in the freedom of their souls to enjoy the common air to breathe in. * * *
But to your last proposition, whether the kings of Israel and Judah were not types of civil magistrates? Now I suppose by what hath been already spoken, these things will be evident.
First, that those former types of the land, of the people, of their worships, were types and figures of a spiritual land, spiritual people and spiritual worship under Christ. Therefore consequently their saviours, redeemers, deliverers, judges, kings, must also have their spiritual antitypes, and so consequently [be] not civil but spiritual governors and rulers, lest the very essential nature of types, figures and shadows be overthrown.
Secondly, although the magistrate by a civil sword might well compel that national church, to the external exercise of their nationala worship; yet it is not possible, according to the rule of the New Testament, to compel whole nations to true repentance and regeneration, without which (so far as may be discerned true) the worship and holy name of God is profaned and blasphemed. An arm of flesh and sword of steel cannot reach to cut the darkness of the mind, the hardness and unbelief of the heart, and kindly operate upon the soul’s affections to forsake a long-continued father’s worship, and to embrace a new, though the best and truest. This work performs alone that sword out of the mouth of Christ, with two edges (Rev. 1; and 3).
Thirdly, we have not one tittle in the New Testament of Christ Jesus, concerning such a parallel, neither from himself nor from his ministers with whom he conversed forty days after his resurrection, instructing them in the matters of his kingdom (Acts 1. ). Neither find we any such commission or direction given to the civil magistrate to this purpose, nor to the Saints for their submission in matters spiritual, but the contrary (Acts 4; and 5; 1 Cor. 7. 23; Col. 2. 18).
Fourthly, we have formerly viewed the very matter and essence of a civil magistrate, and find it the same in all parts of the world, wherever people live upon the face of the earth, agreeing together in towns, cities, provinces, kingdoms—I say the same, essentially civil, both from (1) the rise and fountain whence it springs, to wit, the people’s choice and free consent, [and] (2) the object of it, viz., the common weal or safety of such a people in their bodies and goods, as the authors of this model have themselves confessed. This civil nature of the magistrate we have proved to receive no addition of power from the magistrate being a Christian, no more than it receives diminution from his not being a Christian, even as the commonweal is a true commonweal although it have not heard of Christianity; and Christianity professed in it, as in Pergamos, Ephesus, &c., makes it ne’er thea more a commonweal; and Christianity taken away, and the candlestick removed, makes it ne’er the less a commonweal.
Fifthly, the Spirit of God expressly relates the work of the civil magistrate under the Gospel (Rom. 13), expressly mentioning as the magistrates’ object, the duties of the Second Table concerning the bodies and goods of the subject. * * *
Sixthly, since the civil magistrate[s], whether kings or parliaments, states and governors, can receive no more in justice than what the people give, and are therefore but the eyes and hands and instruments of the people, simply considered, without respect to this or that religion, it must inevitably follow, as formerly I have touched, that if magistrates have received their power from the people, then the greatest number of the people of every land have received from Christ Jesus a power to establish, correct, reform his Saints and servants, his wife and spouse, the Church. And she that, by the express word of the Lord (Psalm 149. ), binds kings in chains and nobles in links of iron, must herself be subject to the changeable pleasures of the people of the world, which lies in wickedness (1 John 5. ), even in matters of heavenly and spiritual nature. Hence, therefore, in all controversies concerning the church, ministry and worship, the last appeal must come to the bar of the people or commonweal, where all may personally meet, as in some commonweals of small number, or in greater, by their representatives. Hence, then, no person esteemed a believer, and added to the church; no officer chosen and ordained; no person cast forth and excommunicated: but as the commonweal and people please. And in conclusion, no Church of Christ in this land or world, and consequently no visible Christ the head of it; yea, yet higher, consequently no God in the world worshipped according to the institutions of Christ Jesus: except the several peoples of the nations of the world shall give allowance. * * *
I may, therefore, here seasonably add a seventh, which is a necessary consequence of all the former arguments, and an argument itself: viz., we find expressly a spiritual power of Christ Jesus in the hands of his Saints, ministers, and churches, to be the true antitype of those former figures in all the prophecies concerning Christ his spiritual power (Isa. 9; Dan. 7; Mic. 4; &c., compared with Luke 1. 32; Acts 2. 30; 1 Cor. 5; Matt. 18; Mark 13. 34, &c.) * * *
Secondly, concerning the laws themselves: it is true the Second Table contains the law of nature, the law moral and civil; yet such a law was also given to this people as never to any people in the world. Such was the law of worship (Psalm 147) peculiarly given to Jacob, and God did not deal so with other nations; which laws for the matter of the worship . . . were never to be paralleled by any other nation, but only by the true Christian Israel established by Jesus Christ amongst Jews and Gentiles throughout the world.
Thirdly, the law of the ten words (Deut. 10), the epitome of all the rest, it pleased the most high God to frame and pen twice with his own most holy and dreadful finger, upon Mount Sinai, which he never did to any other nation before or since, but only to that spiritual Israel, the people and the Church of God, in whose hearts of flesh he writes his laws, according to Jer. 31; Heb. 8 and 10.* * *
In the fifth place, consider we the punishments and rewards annexed to the breach or observation of these laws.
First, those which were of a temporal and present consideration, of this life: blessings and curses of all sorts, opened at large (Lev. 26; and Deut. 28), which cannot possibly be made good in any state, country, or kingdom, but in a spiritual sense in the Church and kingdom of Christ. The reason is this. Such a temporal prosperity of outward peace and plenty of all things, of increase of children, of cattle, of honour, of health, of success, of victory, suits not temporally with the afflicted and persecuted estate of God’s people now; and therefore spiritual and soul-blessedness must be the antitype: . . . in the midst of revilings and all manner of evil speeches for Christ’s sake, soul-blessedness, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions, soul-blessedness (Matt. 5; and Luke 6); and yet herein the Israel of God should enjoy their spiritual peace (Gal. 6. 16).
Out of that blessed temporal estate to be cast or carried captive, was their excommunication or casting out of God’s sight (2 Kings 17. 23). Therefore was the blasphemer, the false prophet, the idolater, to be cast out or cut off from this holy land; which punishment cannot be paralleled by the punishment of any state or kingdom in the world, but only by the excommunicating or out-casting of person or church from the fellowship of the Saints and churches of Christ Jesus in the Gospel. And therefore, as before I have noted, the putting away of the false prophet by stoning him to death (Deut. 13) is fitly answered, and that in the very same words, in the antitype: when, by the general consent or stoning of the whole assembly, any wicked person is put away from amongst them; that is, spiritually cut off out of the land of the spiritually living, the people or Church of God (1 Cor. 5; Gal. 5).
Lastly, the great and high reward or punishment of the keeping or breach of these laws to Israel, was such as cannot suit with any state or kingdom in the world beside. The reward of the observation was life, eternal life; the breach of any one of these laws was death, eternal death, or damnation from the presence of the Lord (so Rom. 10; James 2). Such a covenant God made not before nor since with any state or people in the world. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Rom. 10. 4). And he that believeth in that Son of God, hath eternal life; he that believeth not hath not life, but is condemned already (John 3; and 1 John 5). * * *
What state, what kingdom, what wars and combats, victories and deliverances, can parallel this people but the spiritual and mystical Israel of God in every nation and country of the world, typed out by that small typical handful in that little spot of ground, the land of Canaan? The Israel of God now, men and women, fight under the great Lord-General, the Lord Jesus Christ: their weapons, armour, and artillery area like themselves, spiritual, set forth from top to toe (Eph. 6), so mighty and so potent that they break down the strongest holds and castles, yea in the very souls of men, and carry into captivity the very thoughts of men, subjecting them to Christ Jesus. * * *
This glorious army of white troopers, horses and harness—Christ Jesus and his true Israelb —gloriously conquer and overcome the Beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, up in arms against them (Rev. 19). And lastly, reigning with Christ a thousand years, they conquer the devil himself, and the numberless armies, like the sand on the sea-shore, of Gog and Magog. And yet not a tittle of mention of any sword, helmet, breast-plate, shield, or horse, but what is spiritual and of a heavenly nature. All which wars of Israel have been, may be, and shall be, fulfilled mystically and spiritually. * * *
I have in part, and might further discover that, from the king and his throne to the very beasts, . . . their civils, morals, and naturals were carried on in types. And however I acknowledge that what was simply moral, civil, and natural in Israel’s state, in their constitutions, laws, punishments, may be imitated and followed by the states, countries, cities, and kingdoms of the world; yet who can question the lawfulness of other forms of government, laws and punishments, which differ—since civil constitutions are men’s ordinances or creation (2 Pet. 2. 13), unto which God’s people are commanded even for the Lord’s sake to submit themselves, which if they were unlawful they ought not to do? * * *
I dare not assent to that assertion, that even original sin remotely hurts the civil state. ’Tis true some do, as inclinations to murder, theft, whoredom, slander, disobedience to parents and magistrates; but blindness of mind, hardness of heart, inclination to choose or worship this or that God, this or that Christ, beside the true, these hurt not remotely the civil state, as not concerning it, but the spiritual. * * *
But to wind up all. As it is most true that magistracy in general is of God (Rom. 13) for the preservation of mankind in civil order and peace—the world otherwise would be like the sea wherein men, like fishes, would hunt and devour each other, and the greater devour the less—so also it is true that magistracy in special, for the several kinds of it, is of man (1 Pet. 2. 13). Now what kind of magistrate soever the people shall agree to set up, whether he receive Christianity before he be set in office, or whether he receive Christianity after, he receives no more power of magistracy than a magistrate that hath received no Christianity. For neither of them both can receive more than the commonweal, the body of people and civil state, as men, communicate unto them and betrust with them. All lawful magistrates in the world, both before the coming of Christ Jesus and since, excepting those unparalleled typical magistrates of the church of Israel, are but derivatives and agents, immediately derived and employed as eyes and hands, serving for the good of the whole. Hence they have and can have no more power than fundamentally lies in the bodies or fountains themselves, which power, might or authority is not religious, Christian, &c., but natural, human, and civil. * * *
 Evidently coined from eruo (dig, or search, out).
 The margin quotes Charron, Of Wisdom: ‘What monster is this, for a man to desire to have all things free, his body, his members, his goods, and not his spirit, which, nevertheless, is only born unto liberty? A man will willingly make benefit of whatsoever is in the world that comes from the east or the west, for the good and service, nourishment, health, ornament of his body, and accommodate it all unto his use, but not for the culture, benefit, and enriching of his spirit, giving his body the liberty of the fields, and holding his spirit in close prison.’
 Humfred. de vera Relig. &c. [i.e., Laurence Humphrey’s De religionis conservatione et reformatione vera (Basle, 1559), pp. 31-2]. For translation see Introduction, pp. [77-8].
 Though the dispute with Cotton originated in New England, Williams wrote in England, and with frequent reference to the situation there.
 ‘Briars and thorns’ signify for Williams natural or unconverted persons; ‘tares’ signify heretics and false worshippers. Both groups are to be tolerated in the world (so long as they do not infringe the civil peace); neither is to be tolerated in the church.
[247. (a)]The Ancient Bounds, or Liberty of Conscience, tenderly stated, modestly asserted, and mildly vindicated. 1 Cor. 10. 15: I speake as to wise men, judge yee what i say. * * * Licensed and entred according to order. London, Printed by M. S. for Henry Overton . . . 1645 [June 10]. Compared with corrected copy in McAlpin Collection. Chapter numbers and marginal gloss omitted; biblical references incorporated, in brackets; Address to the Reader, preceding that headed ‘A Light to the Work,’ omitted; all other omissions indicated; numbers in square brackets supplied; notes thereon indicate the chapter from which the selection is taken;
[(b)] ‘A Light to the Work’;
[(c)] Chap. 1.
[249. (a)] Chap. 2;
[254. (a)] Chap. 3.
[255. (a)] Chap. 4.
[258. (a)] Chap. 6.
[263. (a)] Chap. 9.
[264. (a)] Chap. 10.
[266. (a)]The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, discussed in a conference betweene Truth and Peace. Who in all tender affection present to the High Court of Parliament . . . these, among other passages of highest consideration. Printed in the year 1644 [July 15]. Chapter numbers and marginal gloss omitted; headings, and under the last heading section numbers, supplied;
[(b)] Numbering omitted;
[(c)] Chap. 6.
[268. (a)] Chaps. 19-28.
[270. (a)] + Truth;
[271. (a)] + that;
[272. (a)] Chaps. 31-3.
[274. (a)] Chaps. 44-52.
[277. (a)] Chaps. 53 (wrongly numbered 54)-60; heading is from chap. 60;
[280. (a)] Chap. 74.
[281. (a)] Chap. 83.
[282. (a)] Chaps. 86-91.
[(b)] Chaps. 92-3.
[(b)] Chap. 94.
[(b)] Chaps. 120-3, 128, 131;
[(b)] + Rev. 19.