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Independent Position From The Ancient Bounds (1645) a - 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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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. * * *
 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].
[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.