Who are to be punished by your scheme.
To justify the largeness of the author’s toleration, who would not have jews, mahometans, and pagans excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth, because of their religion; I said, “I feared it will hardly be believed, that we pray in earnest for their conversion, if we exclude them from the ordinary and profitable means of it, either by driving them from, or persecuting them when they are amongst us.” You reply: “now I confess I thought men might live quietly enough among us, and enjoy the protection of the government against all violence and injuries, without being endenizened, or made members of the commonwealth; which alone can entitle them to the civil rights and privileges of it. But as to jews, mahometans, and pagans, if any of them do not care to live among us, unless they may be admitted to the rights and privileges of the commonwealth; the refusing them that favour is not, I suppose, to be looked upon as driving them from us, or excluding them from the ordinary and probable means of conversion; but as a just and necessary caution in a christian commonwealth, in respect to the members of it: who, if such as profess judaism, or mahometanism, or paganism, were permitted to enjoy the same rights with them, would be much the more in danger to be seduced by them; seeing they would lose no worldly advantage by such a change of their religion: whereas if they could not turn to any of those religions, without forfeiting the civil rights of the commonwealth by doing it, it is likely they would consider well before they did it, what ground there was to expect that they should get any thing by the exchange, which would countervail the loss they should sustain by it.” I thought protection and impunity of men, not offending in civil things, might have been accounted the civil rights of the commonwealth, which the author meant: but you to make it seem more, add the word privileges. Let it be so. Live amongst you then jews, mahometans, and pagans may; but endenizened they must not be. But why? Are there not those who are members of your commonwealth, who do not embrace the truth that must save them, any more than they? What think you of socinians, papists, anabaptists, quakers, presbyterians? If they do not reject the truth necessary to salvation, why do you punish them? Or if some that are in the way to perdition, may be members of the commonwealth, why must these be excluded upon the account of religion? For I think there is no great odds, as to saving of souls, which is the only end for which they are punished, amongst those religions, each whereof will make those who are of it miss salvation. Only if there be any fear of seducing those who are of the national church, the danger is most from that religion which comes nearest to it, and most resembles it. However, this you think, “but a just and necessary caution in a christian commonwealth in respect of the members of it.” I suppose, for you love to speak doubtfully, these members of a christian commonwealth you take such care of, are members also of the national church, whose religion is the true; and therefore you call them in the next paragraph, subjects of Christ’s kingdom, to whom he has a special regard. For dissenters, who are punished to be made good christians, to whom force is used “to bring them to the true religion, and to the communion of the church of God,” it is plain are not in your opinion good christians, or of the true religion; unless you punish them to make them what they are already. The dissenters therefore who are already perverted, and reject the truth that must save them, you are not I suppose so careful of, lest they should be seduced. Those who have already the plague, need not be guarded from infection: nor can you fear that men so desperately perverse, that penalties and punishments, joined to the light and strength of the truth, have not been able to bring from the opinions they have espoused into the communion of the church, should be seduced to judaism, mahometism, or paganism, neither of which has the advantage of truth or interest to prevail by. It has therefore those of the national church, as I conclude also from the close of this paragraph, where you speak of God’s own peculiar people, whom you think would be much the more in danger to be seduced by them, if they were endenizened, since they would lose no worldly advantage by such a change of their religion, i. e. by quitting the national church, to turn jews, mahometans, or pagans.
This shows, whatever you say of the sufficient means of instruction provided by the law, how well you think the members of the national church are instructed in the true religion. It shows also, whatever you say of its being presumable that they embrace it upon conviction, how much you are satisfied that the members of the national church are convinced of the truth of the religion they profess, or rather herd with; since you think them in great danger to change it for judaism, mahometanism, or paganism itself upon equal terms, and because they shall lose no worldly advantage by such a change. But if the forfeiting the civil rights of the commonwealth be the proper remedy to keep men in the communion of the church, why is it used to keep men from judaism or paganism, and not from fanaticism? Upon this account why might not jews, pagans, and mahometans be admitted to the rights of the commonwealth, as far as papists, independents, and quakers? But you distribute to every one according to your good pleasure; and doubtless are fully justified by these following words: “And whether this be not a reasonable and necessary caution, any man may judge who does but consider within how few ages after the flood, superstition and idolatry prevailed over the world, and how apt even God’s own peculiar people were to receive that mortal infection, notwithstanding all that he did to keep them from it.”
What the state of religion was in the first ages after the flood, is so imperfectly kown now, that, as I have showed you in another place, you can make little advantage to your cause from thence. And since it was the same corruption then, which, as you own, withdraws men now from the true religion, and hinders it from prevailing by its own light, without the assistance of force; and it is the same corruption that keeps dissenters, as well as jews, mahometans, and pagans, from embracing of the truth; why different degrees of punishments should be used to them, till there be found in them different degrees of obstinacy, would need some better reason. Why this common pravity of human nature should make judaism, mahometism, or paganism more catching than any sort of nonconformity, which hinders men from embracing the true religion; so that jews, mahometans, and pagans must, for fear of infecting others, be shut out from the commonwealth, when others are not; I would fain know? Whatever it was that so disposed the jews to idolatry before the captivity, sure it is, they firmly resisted it, and refused to change, not only where they might have done it on equal terms, but have had great advantage to boot; and therefore it is possible that there is something in this matter, which neither you nor I do fully comprehend, and may with a becoming humility sit down and confess, that in this, as well as other parts of his providence, God’s ways are past finding out. But of this we may be certain from this instance of the jews, that it is not reasonable to conclude, that because they were once inclined to idolatry, that therefore they, or any other people, are in danger to turn pagans, whenever they shall lose no worldly advantage by such a change. But if we may oppose nearer and known instances to more remote and uncertain, look into the world, and tell me, since Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, where the christian religion meeting judaism, mahometism, or paganism upon equal terms, lost so plainly by it, that you have reason to suspect the members of a christian commonwealth would be in danger to be seduced to either of them, if they should lose no worldly advantage by such a change of their religion, rather than likely to increase among them? Till you can find them some better reason for excluding jews, &c. from the rights of the commonwealth, you must give us leave to look on this as a bare pretence. Besides, I think you are under a mistake, which shows your pretence against admitting jews, mahometans, and pagans to the civil rights of the commonwealth, is ill grounded; for what law I pray is there in England, that they who turn to any of those religions, forfeit the civil rights of the commonwealth by doing it? Such a law I desire you to show me; and if you cannot, all this pretence is out of doors, and men of your church, since on that account they would lose no worldly advantage by the change, are in as much danger to be seduced, whether jews, mahometans, and pagans are endenizened or no.
But that you may not be thought too gracious, you tell us, “That as to pagans particularly, you are so far from thinking that they ought not to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth, because of their religion, that you cannot see how their religion can be suffered by any commonwealth that knows and worships the only true God, if they would be thought to retain any jealousy for his honour, or even for that of human nature.” Thus then you order the matter; jews and mahometans may be permitted to live in a christian commonwealth with the exercise of their religion, but not be endenizened: pagans may also be permitted to live there, but not to have the exercise of their religion, nor be endenizened.
This according to the best of my apprehension is the sense of your words; for the clearness of your thoughts, or your cause, does not always suffer you to speak plainly and directly; as here, having been speaking a whole page before what usage the persons of jews, mahometans, and pagans, were to have, you on a sudden tell us their religion is not to be suffered, but say not what must be done with their persons. For do you think it reasonable that men who have any religion, should live amongst you without the exercise of that religion, in order to their conversion? which is no other but to make them downright irreligious, and render the very notion of a deity insignificant, and of no influence to them in order to their conversion. It being less dangerous to religion in general to have men ignorant of a deity, and so without any religion; than to have them acknowledge a superiour Being, but yet to teach or allow them to neglect or refuse worshipping him in that way, that they believe he requires, to render them acceptable to him: it being a great deal less fault (and that which we were every one of us once guilty of) to be ignorant of him, than acknowledging a God, not to pay him the honour which we think due to him. I do not see therefore how those who retain any jealousy for the honour of God, can permit men to live amongst them in order to their conversion, and require of them not to honour God, according to the best of their knowledge: unless you think it a preparation to your true religion, to require men sensibly and knowingly to affront the Deity; and to persuade them that the religion you would bring them to, can allow men to make bold with the sense they have of him, and to refuse him the honour which in their consciences they are persuaded is due to him, and which must to them and every body else appear inconsistent with all religion. Since therefore to admit their persons without the exercise of their religion, cannot be reasonable, nor conducing to their conversion; if the exercise of their religion, as you say, be not to be suffered amongst us, till they are converted, I do not see how their persons can be suffered amongst us, if that exception must be added, till they are converted; and whether then they are not excluded from the ordinary means of conversion, I leave you to consider.
I wonder this necessity had not made you think on another way of their having the ordinary means of conversion, without their living amongst us, that way by which in the beginning of christianity it was brought to the heathen world by the travels and preaching of the apostles. But the successors of the apostles are not, it seems, successors to this part of the commission, Go and teach all nations. And indeed it is one thing to be an ambassador from God to people that are already converted, and have provided good benefices; another to be an ambassador from heaven in a country where you have neither the countenance of the magistrate, nor the devout obedience of the people. And who sees not how one is bound to be zealous for the propagating of the true religion, and the convincing, converting, and saving of souls in a country where it is established by law? who can doubt but that there those who talk so much of it are in earnest? Though yet some men will hardly forbear doubting, that those men, however they pray for it, are not much concerned for the conversion of pagans, who will neither go to them to instruct them, nor suffer them to come to us for the means of conversion.
It is true what you say, “what pagans call religion is abomination to the Almighty.” But if that requires any thing from those who retain any jealousy for the honour of God, it is something more than barely about the place where those abominations shall be committed. The true concern for the honour of God is not, that idolatry should be shut out of England, but that it should be lessened every-where, and by the light and preaching of the gospel be banished out of the world. If pagans and idolaters are, as you say, the “greatest dishonour conceivable to God almighty,” they are as much so on the other side of Tweed, or the sea, as on this; for he from his throne equally beholds all the dwellers upon earth. Those therefore who are truly jealous for the honour of God, will not, upon the account of his honour, be concerned for their being in this or that place, while there are idolaters in the world; but that the number of those who are such a dishonour to him, should every day be as much as possible diminished, and they be brought to give him his due tribute of honour and praise in a right way of worship. It is in this that a jealousy, which is in earnest for God’s honour, truly shows itself, in wishing and endeavouring to abate the abomination, and drive idolatry out of the world; not in driving idolaters out of any one country, or sending them away to places and company, where they shall find more encouragement to it. It is a strange jealousy for the honour of God, that looks not beyond such a mountain or river as divides a christian and pagan country. Wherever idolatry is committed, there God’s honour is concerned; and thither men’s jealousy for his honour, if it be sincere indeed, will extend, and be in pain to lessen and take away the provocation. But the place God is provoked and dishonoured in, which is a narrow consideration in respect of the Lord of all the earth, will no otherwise employ their zeal, who are in earnest, than as it may more or less conduce to their conversion of the offenders.
But if your jealousy for the honour of God engages you so far against men’s committing idolatry in certain places, that you think those ought to be excluded from the rights of the commonwealth, and not to be suffered to be denizens, who, according to that place in the Romans brought by you, are “without excuse, because when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, but became vain in their imagination, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.” I shall only change some of the words in the text you cite of Isaiah, “I have baked part thereof on the coals, and eaten it, and shall I make the residue thereof a God? shall I fall down to that which comes of a plant?” and so leave them with you to consider whether your jealousy in earnest carries you so far as you talk of; and whether when you have looked about you, you are still of the mind, that those who do such things shall be disfranchised and sent away, and the exercise of no such religion be any-where permitted amongst us? for those things are no less an abomination to God under a christian than pagan name. One word more I have to say to your jealousy for the honour of God, that if it be any thing more than in talk, it will set itself no less earnestly against other abominations, and the practisers of them, than against that of idolatry.
As to that in Job xxxi. 26, 27, 28, where he says “idolatry is to be punished by the judge;” this place alone were there no other, is sufficient to confirm their opinion, who conclude that book writ by a jew. And how little the punishing of idolatry in that commonwealth concerns our present case, I refer you for information to the author’s letter. But how does your jealousy for the honour of God carry you to an exclusion of the pagan religion from amongst you, but yet admit of the jewish and mahometan? Or is not the honour of God concerned in their denying our Saviour?
If we are to look upon Job to have been writ before the time of Moses, as the author would have it, p. 32, and so by a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel; it is plain the general apostacy he lays so much stress on, was not spread so far, but that there was a government by his own confession, established out of Judea, free from, nay zealous against idolatry: and why there might not be many more as well as this, which we hear of but by chance, it will concern him to show.
You go on, “But as to the converting jews, mahometans, and pagans to christianity, I fear there will be no great progress made in it, till christians come to a better agreement and union among themselves. I am sure our Saviour prayed that all that should believe in him, might be one in the Father and him.” (i. e. I suppose in that holy religion which he taught them from the Father) that the world might believe that the Father had sent him: “and therefore when he comes to make inquisition, why no more jews, mahometans, and pagans have been converted to his religion; I very much fear, that a great part of the blame will be found to lie upon the authors and promoters of sects and divisions among the professors of it: which therefore, I think, all that are guilty, and all that would not be guilty, ought well to consider.”
I easily grant that “our Saviour prayed that all might be one in that holy religion which he taught them;” and in that very prayer teaches what that religion is, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” John xvii. 3. But must it be expected, that therefore they should all be of one mind in things not necessary to salvation? for whatever unity it was our Saviour prayed for here, it is certain the apostles themselves did not all of them agree in every thing: but even the chief of them have had differences amongst them in matters of religion, as appears, Gal. ii. 11.
An agreement in truths necessary to salvation, and the maintaining of charity and brotherly kindness with the diversity of opinions in other things, is that which will very well consist with christian unity, and is all possibly to be had in this world, in such an incurable weakness and difference of men’s understandings. This probably would contribute more to the conversion of jews, mahometans, and pagans, if there were proposed to them and others, for their admittance into the church, only the plain simple truths of the gospel necessary to salvation, than all the fruitless pudder and talk about uniting christians in matters of less moment, according to the draught and prescription of a certain set of men any-where.
“What blame will lie on the authors and promoters of sects and divisions,” and, let me add, animosities amongst christians, “when Christ comes to make inquisition why no more jews, mahometans, and pagans were converted, they who are concerned ought certainly well to consider.” And to abate in great measure this mischief for the future, they who talk so much of sects and divisions, would do well to consider too, whether those are not most authors and promoters of sects and divisions, who impose creeds, and ceremonies and articles of men’s making; and make things not necessary to salvation, the necessary terms of communion, excluding and driving from them such as out of conscience and persuasion cannot assent and submit to them; and treating them as if they were utter aliens from the church of God, and such as were deservedly shut out as unfit to be members of it: who narrow christianity within bounds of their own making, which the gospel knows nothing of; and often, for things by themselves confessed indifferent, thrust men out of their communion, and then punish them for not being of it.
Who sees not, but the bond of unity might be preserved, in the different persuasions of men concerning things not necessary to salvation, if they were not made necessary to church communion? What two thinking men of the church of England are there, who differ not one from the other in several material points of religion, who nevertheless are members of the same church, and in unity one with another? Make but one of those points the shibboleth of a party, and erect it into an article of the national church, and they are presently divided; and he of the two, whose judgment happens not to agree with national orthodoxy, is immediately cut off from communion. Who I beseech you is it in this case that makes the sect? Is it not those who contract the church of Christ within limits of their own contrivance? who, by articles and ceremonies of their own forming, separate from their communion all that have not persuasions which just jump with their model?
It is frivolous here to pretend authority. No man has or can have authority to shut any one out of the church of Christ, for that for which Christ himself will not shut him out of heaven. Whosoever does so, is truly the author and promoter of schism and division, sets up a sect, and tears in pieces the church of Christ, of which every one who believes, and practises what is necessary to salvation, is a part and member; and cannot, without the guilt of schism, be separated from, or kept out of its external communion. In this “lording it over the heritage of God,” 1 Pet. v. 2, 3, and thus over-seeing by imposition on the unwilling, and not consenting, (which seems to be the meaning of St. Peter,) most of the lasting sects which so mangle christianity, had their original, and continue to have their support: and were it not for these established sects under the specious names of national churches, which, by their contracted and arbitrary limits of communion, justify against themselves the separation and like narrowness of others; the difference of opinions which do not so much begin to be, as to appear and be owned under toleration, would either make no select nor division; or else, if they were so extravagant as to be opposite to what is necessary to salvation, and so necessitate a separation, the clear light of the gospel, joined with a strict discipline of manners, would quickly chase them out of the world. But whilst needless impositions and moot points in divinity are established by the penal laws of kingdoms, and the specious pretences of authority; what hope is there, that there should be such an union amongst christians anywhere, as might invite a rational Turk or infidel to embrace a religion, whereof he is told they have a revelation from God, which yet in some places he is not suffered to read, and in no place shall he be permitted to understand for himself, or to follow according to the best of his understanding, when it shall at all thwart (though in things confessed not necessary to salvation) any of those select points of doctrine, discipline, or outward worship, whereof the national church has been pleased to make up its articles, polity, and ceremonies? And I ask, what a sober sensible heathen must think of the divisions amongst christians not owing to toleration, if he should find in an island, where christianity seems to be in its greatest purity, the south and north parts establishing churches upon the differences of only whether fewer or more, thus and thus chosen, should govern; though the revelation they both pretend to be their rule, say nothing directly one way or the other: each contending with so much eagerness, that they deny each other to be churches of Christ, that is, in effect, to be true christians? To which if one should add transubstantiation, consubstantiation, real presence, articles and distinctions set up by men without authority from scripture; and other less differences, which good christians may dissent about without endangering their salvation, established by law in the several parts of Christendom: I ask, whether the magistrates interposing in matters of religion, and establishing national churches by the force and penalties of civil laws, with their distinct (and at home reputed necessary) confessions and ceremonies, do not by law and power authorize and perpetuate sects among christians, to the great prejudice of christianity, and scandal to infidels, more than any thing that can arise from a mutual toleration, with charity and a good life?
Those who have so much in their mouths, “the authors of sects and divisions,” with so little advantage to their cause, I shall desire to consider, whether national churches established as now they are, are not as much sects and divisions in christianity, as smaller collections, under the name of distinct churches, are in respect of the national? Only with this difference, that these subdivisions and discountenanced sects, wanting power to enforce their peculiar doctrines and discipline, usually live more friendly like christians, and seem only to demand christian liberty; whereby there is less appearance of unchristian division among them; whereas those national sects, being backed by the civil power, which they never fail to make use of, at least as a pretence of authority over their brethren, usually breathe out nothing but force and persecution, to the great reproach, shame, and dishonour of the christian religion.
I said, “that if the magistrates would severely and impartially set themselves against vice in whomsoever it is found, and leave men to their own consciences in their articles of faith, and ways of worship, true religion would spread wider, and be more fruitful in the lives of its professors than ever hitherto it has done by the imposing of creeds and ceremonies.” Here I call only immorality of manners, vice; you on the contrary, in your answer, give the name of vice to errours in opinion, and difference in ways of worship from the national church: for this is the matter in question between us, express it as you please. This being a contest only about the signification of a short syllable in the English tongue, we must leave to the masters of that language to judge which of these two is the proper use of it. But yet, from my using the word vice, you conclude presently, taking it in your sense, not mine, that the magistrate has a power in England, for England we are speaking of, to punish dissenters from the national religion, because it is a vice. I will, if you please, in what I said, change the word vice into that I meant by it, and say thus, if the magistrates will severely and impartially set themselves against the dishonesty and debauchery of men’s lives, and such immoralities as I contra-distinguish from errours in speculative opinions of religion, and ways of worship; and then pray see how your answer will look, for thus it runs: “It seems then with you the rejecting the true religion, and refusing to worship God in decent ways prescribed by those to whom God has left the ordering of those matters, are not comprehended in the name vice.” But you tell me, “If I except these things, and will not allow them to be called by the name of vice, perhaps other men may think it as reasonable to except some other things [i. e. from being called vices] which they have a kindness for: for instance, some may perhaps except arbitrary divorce, polygamy, concubinage, simple fornication, or marrying within degress thought forbidden.” Let them except these, and if you will, drunkenness, theft and murder too, from the name of vice; nay, call them virtues: will they, by their calling them so, be exempt from the magistrate’s power of punishing them? Or can they claim an impunity by what I have said? Will these immoralities by the names any one shall give, or forbear to give them, “become articles of faith, or ways of worship?” Which is all, as I expressly say in the words you here cite of mine, that I would have the magistrates leave men to their own consciences in. But, sir, you have, for me, liberty of conscience to use words in what sense you please: only I think, where another is concerned, it savours more of ingenuity and love of truth, rather to mind the sense of him that speaks, than to make a dust and noise with a mistaken word, if any such advantage were given you.
You say, “that some men would through carelessness never acquaint themselves with the truths which must save them, without being forced to do it, which (you suppose) may be very true, notwithstanding that (as I say) some are called at the third hour, some at the ninth, and some at the eleventh hour; and whenever they are called, they embrace all the truths necessary to salvation. At least I do not show why it may not: and therefore this may be no slip, for any thing I have said to prove it to be one.” This I take not to be an answer to my argument, which was, that, since some are not called till the eleventh hour, nobody can know who those are, “who would never acquaint themselves with those truths that must save them, without force,” which is therefore necessary, and may indirectly and at a distance do them some service. Whether that was my argument or no, I leave the reader to judge: but that you may not mistake it now again, I tell you here it is so, and needs another answer.
Your way of using punishments in short is this, that all that conform not to the national church, where it is true, as in England, should be punished; what for? “to make them consider.” This I told you had something of impracticable. To which you reply, that you used the word only in another sense, which I mistook. Whether I mistook your meaning in the use of that word or no, or whether it was natural so to take it, or whether that opinion which I charged on you by that mistake, when you tell us, “that not examining, is indeed the next end for which they are punished,” be not your opinion, let us leave to the reader; for when you have that word in what sense you please, what I said will be nevertheless true, viz. “That to punish dissenters, as dissenters, to make them consider, has something impracticable in it, unless not to be of the national religion, and not to consider, be the same thing.” These words you answer nothing to, having as you thought a great advantage of talking about my mistake of your word only. But unless you will suppose, not to be of the national church, and not to consider, be the same thing, it will follow, that to punish dissenters, as dissenters, to make them consider, has something of impracticable in it.
The law punishes all dissenters: for what? To make them all conform, that’s evident; to what end? To make them all consider, say you: that cannot be, for it says nothing of it; nor is it certain that all dissenters have not considered; nor is there any care taken by the law to inquire whether they have considered, when they do conform; yet this was the end intended by the magistrate. So then with you it is practicable and allowable in making laws, for the legislator to lay punishments by law on men, for an end which they may be ignorant of, for he says nothing of it; on men, whom he never takes care to inquire, whether they have done it or no, before he relax the punishment, which had no other next end but to make them do it. But though he says nothing of considering, in laying on the penalties, nor asks any thing about it, when he takes them off; yet every body must understand that he so meant it. Sir, Sancho Pancha, in the government of his island, did not expect that men should understand his meaning by his gaping: but in another island it seems, if you had the management, you would not think it to have any thing of impracticable or impolitic in it: for how far the provision of means of instruction takes this off, we shall see in another place. And, lastly, to lay punishments on men for an end which is already attained, for some among the dissenters may have considered, is what other law-makers look on as impracticable, or at least unjust. But to this you answer, in your usual way of circle, That “if” I “suppose you are for punishing dissenters whether they consider or no,” I “am in a great mistake; for the dissenters (which is my word, not yours) whom” you “are for punishing, are only such as reject the true religion proposed to them, with reasons and arguments sufficient to convince them of the truth of it, who therefore can never be supposed to consider those reasons and arguments as they ought, whilst they persist in rejecting that religion, or (in my language) continue dissenters; for if they did so consider them, they would not continue dissenters.” Of the fault for which men were to be punished, distinguished from the end for which they were to be punished, we heard nothing, as I remember, in the first draught of your scheme, which we had in “the argument considered,” &c. But I doubt not but in your general terms you will be able to find it, or what else you please: for now having spoken out, that men, who are of a different religion from the true which has been tendered them with sufficient evidence, (and who are they whom the wise and benign disposer and governor of all things has not furnished with competent means of salvation?) are criminal, and are by the magistrate to be punished as such, it is necessary your scheme should be completed; and whither that will carry you, it is easy to see.
But pray, sir, are there no conformists that so reject the true religion? and would you have them punished too, as you here profess? Make that practicable by your scheme, and you have done something to persuade us that your end in earnest, in the use of force, is to make men consider, understand, and be of the true religion; and that the rejecting the true religion tendered with sufficient evidence, is the crime which bonâ fide you would have punished; and till you do this, all that you may say concerning punishing men “to make them consider as they ought, to make them receive the true religion, to make them embrace the truth that must save them,” &c. will, with all sober, judicious, and unbiassed readers, pass only for the mark of great zeal, if it scape amongst men as warm and as sagacious as you are, a harsher name: whilst those conformists, who neglect matters of religion, who reject the saving truths of the gospel, as visibly and as certainly as any dissenters, have yet no penalties laid upon them.
You talk much “of considering and not considering as one ought; of embracing and rejecting the true religion,” and abundance more to this purpose; which all, however very good and savoury words, that look very well, when you come to the application of force to procure that end expressed in them, amount to no more but conformity and non-conformity. If you see not this, I pity you; for I would fain think you a fair man, who means well, though you have not light upon the right way to the end you propose: but if you see it, and persist in your use of these good expressions to lead men into a mistake in this matter; consider what my pagans and mahometans could do worse to serve a bad cause.
Whatever you may imagine, I write so in this argument, as I have before my eyes the account I shall one day render for my intention and regard to truth in the management of it. I look on myself as liable to errour as others; but this I am sure of, I would neither impose on you, myself, nor any-body; and should be very glad to have the truth in this point clearly established: and therefore it is, I desire you again to examine, whether all the ends you name to be intended by your use of force, do in effect, when force is to be your way put in practice, reach any farther than bare outward conformity? Pray consider whether it be not that which makes you so shy of the term dissenters, which you tell me is mine, not your word. Since none are by your scheme to be punished, but those who do not conform to the national religion, dissenters, I think, is the proper name to call them by; and I can see no reason you have to boggle at it, unless your opinion has something in it you are unwilling should be spoke out, and called by its right name: but whether you like it or no, persecution and persecution of dissenters, are names that belong to it as it stands now.
And now I think I may leave you your question, wherein you ask, “But cannot dissenters be punished for not being of the national religion, as the fault, and yet only to make them consider, as the end for which they are punished?” to be answered by yourself, or to be used again, where you think there is any need of so nice a distinction, as between the fault for which men are punished by laws, and the end for which they are punished. For to me I confess it is hard to find any other immediate end of punishment in the intention of human laws, but the amendment of the fault punished: though it may be subordinate to other and remoter ends. If the law be only to punish non-conformity, one may truly say, to cure that fault, or to produce conformity, is the end of that law: and there is nothing else immediately aimed at by that law, but conformity; and whatever else it tends to as an end, must be only as a consequence of conformity, whether it be edification, increase of charity, or saving of souls, or whatever else may be thought a consequence of conformity. So that in a law, which with penalties requires conformity, and nothing else; one cannot say, properly I think, that consideration is the end of that law; unless consideration be a consequence of conformity, to which conformity is subordinate, and does naturally conduce, or else is necessary to it.
To my arguing that it is unjust as well as impracticable, you reply, “Where the national church is the true church of God, to which all men ought to join themselves, and sufficient evidence is offered to convince men that it is so: there it is a fault to be out of the national church, because it is a fault not to be convinced that the national church is that true church of God. And therefore since there men’s not being so convinced, can only be imputed to their not considering as they ought, the evidence which is offered to convince them; it cannot be unjust to punish them to make them so to consider it.” Pray tell me which is a man’s duty, to be of the national church first; or to be convinced first, that its religion is true, and then to be of it? If it be his duty to be convinced first, why then do you punish him for not being of it, when it is his duty to be convinced of the truth of its religion, before it is his duty to be of it? If you say it is his duty to be of it first; why then is not force used to him afterwards, though he be still ignorant and unconvinced? But you answer, “It is his fault not to be convinced.” What, every one’s fault every-where? No, you limit it to places where “sufficient evidence is offered to convince men that the national church is the true church of God.” To which pray let me add, the national church is so the true church of God, that nobody out of its communion can embrace the truth that must save him, or be in the way to salvation. For if a man may be in the way to salvation out of the national church, he is enough in the true church, and needs no force to bring him into any other: for when a man is in the way to salvation, there is no necessity of force to bring him into any church of any denomination, in order to his salvation. So that not to be of the national church, though true, will not be a fault which the magistrate has a right to punish, until sufficient evidence is offered to prove that a man cannot be saved out of it. Now since you tell us, that by sufficient evidence you mean such as will certainly win assent; when you have offered such evidence to convince men that the national church, any-where, is so the true church, that men cannot be saved out of its communion, I think I may allow them to be so faulty as to deserve what punishment you shall think fit. If you hope to mend the matter by the following words, where you say, that where such “evidence is offered, there men’s not being convinced can only be imputed to men’s not considering as they ought,” they will not help you. For “to consider as they ought,” being, by your own interpretation, “to consider so as not to reject;” then your answer amounts to just thus much, “That it is a fault not to be convinced that the national church is the true church of God, where sufficient evidence is offered to convince men that it is so. Sufficient evidence is such as will certainly gain assent with those who consider as they ought, i. e. who consider so as not to reject, or to be moved heartily to embrace,” which I think is to be convinced. Who can have the heart now to deny any of this? Can there be any thing surer, than that men’s not being convinced, is to be imputed to them if they are not convinced, where such evidence is offered to them as does convince them? And to punish all such, you have my free consent.
Whether all you say have any thing more in it than this, I appeal to my readers: and should willingly do it to you, did not I fear, that the jumbling of those good and plausible words in your head, “of sufficient evidence, consider as one ought,” &c. might a little jargogle your thoughts, and lead you hoodwinked the round of your own beaten circle. This is a danger those are much exposed to, who accustom themselves to relative and doubtful terms, and so put together, that, though asunder they signify something, yet, when their meaning comes to be cast up as they are placed, it amounts to just nothing.
You go on, “What justice it would be for the magistrate to punish one for not being a cartesian, it will be time enough to consider when I have proved it to be as necessary for men to be cartesians, as it is to be christians, or members of God’s church.” This will be a much better answer to what I said, when you have proved that to be a christian or a member of God’s church, it is necessary for a dissenter to be of the church of England. If it be not justice to punish a man for not being a cartesian, because it is not as necessary to be a cartesian, as to be a christian; I fear the same argument will hold against punishing a man for not using the cross in baptism, or not kneeling at the Lord’s Supper; and it will lie on you to prove, that it is as necessary to use the cross in baptism, or kneeling at the Lord’s Supper, as it is to be a christian: for if they are not as necessary as it is to be a christian, you cannot by your own rule, without injustice, punish men for not conforming to a church wherein they are made an indispensable part of conformity; and by this rule it will be injustice to punish any man for not being of that church wherein any thing is required not necessary to salvation; for that, I think, is the necessity of being a christian.
To show the unreasonableness of punishing dissenters to make them examine, I said, “that so they were punished for not having offended against a law; for there is no law of the land that requires them to examine.” Your reply is, That “you think the contrary is plain enough: for where the laws provide sufficient means of instruction in the true religion, and then require all men to embrace that religion; you think the most natural construction of those laws is, that they require men to embrace it upon instruction and conviction, as it cannot be expected they should do without examining the grounds upon which it stands.” Your answer were very true, if they could not embrace without examining and conviction. But since there is a shorter way to embracing, which costs no more pains than walking as far as the church, your answer no more proves that the law requires examining, than if a man at Harwich being subpœnaed to appear in Westminster-Hall next term, you should say the subpœna required him to come by sea, because there was sufficient means provided for his passage in the ordinary boat that by appointment goes constantly from Harwich to London: but he taking it to be more for his ease and dispatch, goes the shorter way by land, and finds that having made his appearance in court as was required, the law is satisfied, and there is no inquiry made, what way he came thither.
If therefore men can embrace so as to satisfy the law without examining, and it be true that they so “fly from the means of right information, are so negligent in, and averse to examining,” that there is need of penalties to make them do it, as you tell us at large; how is it a natural construction of those laws, that they require men to examine, which having provided sufficient means of instruction, require men only to conform, without saying any thing of examining? especially when the cause assigned by you of men’s neglecting to examine, is not want of “means of instruction, but want of penalties to over-balance their aversion” to the using those means; which you yourself confess, where you say, “When the best provision is made that can be, for the instruction of the people, you fear a great part of them will still need penalties to bring them to hear and receive instruction:” and therefore perhaps the remainder of that paragraph, when you have considered it again, will not appear so impertinent a declamation as you are pleased to think it: for it charged your method, as it then stood, of punishing men for not considering and examining, with these absurdities, that it punished men for not doing that which the law did not require of them, nor declare the neglect of to be a fault; contrary to the ends of all laws, contrary to the common sense of mankind, and the practice of all law-makers; who always first declared the fault, and then denounced penalties against those who after a time set should be found guilty of it. It charged your method, that it allows not impunity to the innocent, but punishes whole tribes together, the innocent with the guilty; and that the thing designed in the law was not mentioned in it, but left to the people, whose fault was want of consideration, to be by consideration found out.
To avoid these absurdities, you have reformed your scheme, and now in your reply own with the frankest persecutors, that you punish men downright for their religion, and that to be a dissenter from the true religion is a fault to be punished by the magistrate. This indeed is plain dealing, and clears your method from these absurdities as long as you keep to it: but wherever you tell us, that your laws are to make men hear, to make men consider, to make men examine; whilst the laws themselves say nothing of hearing, considering, and examining; there you are still chargeable with all these absurdities: nor will the distinction, which without any difference you would set up, between the fault for which men were to be punished, and the end for which they are to be punished, do you any service herein, as I have showed you in another place.
To what I said L. II. from p. 88 to p. 95, concerning those who by your scheme are to be punished, you having thought fit not to answer any thing, I shall here again offer it to your consideration:
“Let us inquire, first, Who it is you would have be punished. In the place above cited, they are those who are got into a wrong way, and are deaf to all persuasions. If these are the men to be punished, let a law be made against them: you have my consent; and that is the proper course to have offenders punished. For you do not, I hope, intend to punish any fault by a law, which you do not name in the law; nor make a law against any fault you would not have punished. And now, if you are sincere, and in earnest, and are, as a fair man should be, for what your words plainly signify, and nothing else; what will such a law serve for? Men in the wrong way are to be punished: but who are in the wrong way, is the question. You have no more reason to determine it against one, who differs from you, than he has to conclude against you, who differ from him: no, not though you have the magistrate and the national church on your side. For if to differ from them be to be in the wrong way; you who are in the right way in England, will be in the wrong way in France. Every one here must be judge for himself: and your law will reach nobody, till you have convinced him he is in the wrong way: and then there will be no need of punishment to make him consider: unless you will affirm again what you have denied, and have men punished for embracing the religion they believe to be true, when it differs from yours or the public.
“Besides being in the wrong way, those who you would have punished, must be such as are deaf to all persuasions. But any such, I suppose, you will hardly find, who hearken to nobody, not to those of their own way. If you mean by deaf to all persuasions, all persuasions of a contrary party, or of a different church; such, I suppose, you may abundantly find in your own church, as well as elsewhere; and I presume to them you are so charitable, that you would not have them punished for not lending an ear to seducers. For constancy in the truth, and perseverance in the faith, is, I hope, rather to be encouraged, than by any penalties checked in the orthodox. And your church, doubtless, as well as all others, is orthodox to itself in all its tenets. If you mean by all persuasion, all your persuasion, or all persuasion of those of your communion; you do but beg the question, and suppose you have a right to punish those who differ from, and will not comply with you.
“Your next words are,—When men fly from the means of a right information, and will not so much as consider how reasonable it is thoroughly and impartially to examine a religion, which they embraced upon such inducements as ought to have no sway at all in the matter, and therefore with little or no examination of the proper grounds of it; what human method can be used to bring them to act like men, in an affair of such consequence, and to make a wiser and more rational choice, but that of laying such penalties upon them, as may balance the weight of those prejudices which inclined them to prefer a false way before the true, and recover them to so much sobriety and reflection, as seriously to put the question to themselves, Whether it be really worth the while to undergo such inconveniences for adhering to a religion, which, for any thing they know, may be false, or for rejecting another (if that be the case) which, for any thing they know, may be true, till they have brought it to the bar of reason, and given it fair trial there?—Here you again bring in such as prefer a false way before a true: to which having answered already, I shall here say no more, but that, since our church will not allow those to be in a false way who are out of the church of Rome, because the church of Rome, which pretends infallibility, declares hers to be the only true way; certainly no one of our church, nor any other, which claims not infallibility, can require any one to take the testimony of any church, as a sufficient proof of the truth of her own doctrine. So that true and false, as it commonly happens, when we suppose them for ourselves, or our party, in effect, signify just nothing, or nothing to the purpose; unless we can think that true or false in England, which will not be so at Rome or Geneva; and vice versâ. As for the rest of the description of those, on whom you are here laying penalties; I beseech you consider whether it will not belong to any of your church, let it be what it will. Consider, I say, if there be none in your church who have embraced her religion upon such inducements as ought to have no sway at all in the matter, and therefore with little or no examination of the proper grounds of it; who have not been inclined by prejudices; who do not adhere to a religion which for any thing they know may be false; and who have rejected another, which for any thing they know may be true. If you have any such in your communion, and it will be an admirable, though I fear but a little flock, that has none such in it, consider well what you have done. You have prepared rods for them, for which I imagine they will con you no thanks. For to make any tolerable sense of what you here propose, it must be understood that you would have men of all religions punished, to make them consider whether it be really worth the while to undergo such inconveniences for adhering to a religion, which for any thing they know may be false. If you hope to avoid that, by what you have said of true and false; and pretend that the supposed preference of the true way in your church ought to preserve its members from your punishment; you manifestly trifle. For every church’s testimony, that it has chosen in the true way, must be taken for itself; and then none will be liable; and your new invention of punishment is come to nothing; or else the differing churches testimonies must be taken one for another; and then they will be all out of the true way, and your church need penalties as well as the rest. So that upon your principles, they must all or none be punished. Choose which you please; one of them, I think, you cannot escape.
“What you say in the next words: Where instruction if stiffly refused, and all admonitions and persuasions prove vain and ineffectual; differs nothing, but in the way of expressing, from deaf to all persuasions: and so that is answered already.
“In another place, you give us another description of those you think ought to be punished, in these words: Those who refuse to embrace the doctrine, and submit to the spiritual government of the proper ministers of religion, who by special designation are appointed to exhort, admonish, reprove, &c. Here then, those to be punished, are such who refuse to embrace the doctrine, and submit to the government of the proper ministers of religion. Whereby we are as much still at uncertainty as we were before, who those are who, by your scheme, and laws suitable to it, are to be punished; since every church has, as it thinks, its proper ministers of religion: and if you mean those that refuse to embrace the doctrine, and submit to the government of the ministers of another church; then all men will be guilty, and must be punished, even those of your own church as well as others. If you mean those who refuse, &c. the ministers of their own church, very few will incur your penalties: but if by these proper ministers of religion, the ministers of some particular church are intended, why do you not name it? Why are you so reserved in a matter, wherein, if you speak not out, all the rest that you say will be to no purpose? Are men to be punished for refusing to embrace the doctrine, and submit to the government of the proper ministers of the church of Geneva? For this time, since you have declared nothing to the contrary, let me suppose you of that church; and then I am sure, that is it that you would name: for of whatever church you are, if you think the ministers of any one church ought to be hearkened to, and obeyed, it must be those of your own. There are persons to be punished, you say; this you contend for all through your book, and lay so much stress on it, that you make the preservation and propagation of religion, and the salvation of souls, to depend on it: and yet you describe them by so general and equivocal marks, that, unless it be upon suppositions which nobody will grant you, I dare say, neither you nor any-body else will be able to find one guilty. Pray find me if you can, a man whom you can judicially prove (for he that is to be punished by law, must be fairly tried) is in a wrong way, in respect of his faith; I mean who is deaf to all persuasions, who flies from all means of a right information, who refuses to embrace the doctrine, and submit to the government of the spiritual pastors. And when you have done that, I think I may allow you what power you please to punish him, without any prejudice to the toleration the author of the letter proposes.
“But why, I pray, all this boggling, all this loose talking, as if you knew not what you meant, or durst not speak it out? Would you be for punishing somebody, you know not whom? I do not think so ill of you. Let me then speak out for you. The evidence of the argument has convinced you that men ought not to be persecuted for their religion: That the severities in use amongst christians cannot be defended: That the magistrate has not authority to compel any one to his religion. This you are forced to yield. But you would fain retain some power in the magistrate’s hands to punish dissenters, upon a new pretence, viz. not for having embraced the doctrine and worship they believe to be true and right, but for not having well considered their own and the magistrate’s religion. To show you that I do not speak wholly without book, give me leave to mind you of one passage of yours: the words are,—Penalties to put them upon a serious and impartial examination of the controversy between the magistrates and them. Though these words be not intended to tell us who you would have punished, yet it may be plainly inferred from them. And they more clearly point out whom you aim at, than all the foregoing places, where you seem to, and should, describe them. For they are such as between whom and the magistrate there is a controversy; that is, in short, who differ from the magistrate in religion. And now indeed you have given us a note by which these you would have punished, may be known. We have with much ado found at last whom it is we may presume you would have punished. Which in other cases is usually not very difficult: because there the faults to be amended easily design the persons to be corrected. But yours is a new method, and unlike all that ever went before it.
“In the next place, let us see for what you would have them punished. You tell us, and it will easily be granted you, that not to examine and weigh impartially, and without prejudice or passion, all which, for shortness sake, we will express by this one word consider, the religion one embraces or refuses, is a fault very common, and very prejudicial to true religion, and the salvation of men’s souls. But penalties and punishments are very necessary, say you, to remedy this evil.
“Let us see now how you apply this remedy. Therefore, say you, let all dissenters be punished. Why? Have no dissenters considered of religion? Or have all conformists considered? That you yourself will not say. Your project therefore is just as reasonable as if a lethargy growing epidemical in England, you should propose to have a law made to blister and scarify, and shave the heads of all who wear gowns; though it be certain that neither all who wear gowns are lethargic, nor all who are lethargic wear gowns:
—“Dii te, Damasippe, Deæque Verum ob consilium donent tonsore.
“For there could not be certainly a more learned advice, than that one man should be pulled by the ears, because another is asleep. This, when you have considered of it again, (for I find, according to your principle, all men have now and then need to be jogged,) you will, I guess, be convinced is not like a fair physician, to apply a remedy to a disease; but, like an enraged enemy, to vent one’s spleen upon a party. Common sense, as well as common justice, requires, that the remedies of laws and penalties, should be directed against the evil that is to be removed, wherever it be found. And if the punishment you think so necessary be, as you pretend, to cure the mischief you complain of, you must let it pursue, and fall on the guilty, and those only, in what company soever they are; and not, as you here propose, and is the highest injustice, punish the innocent considering dissenter, with the guilty; and on the other side, let the inconsiderate guilty conformist escape, with the innocent. For one may rationally presume that the national church has some, nay, more, in proportion, of those who little consider or concern themselves about religion, than any congregation of dissenters. For conscience, or the care of their souls, being once laid aside; interest, of course, leads men into that society, where the protection and countenance of the government, and hopes of preferment, bid fairest to all their remaining desires. So that if careless, negligent, inconsiderate men in matters of religion, who, without being forced, would not consider, are to be rouzed into a care of their souls, and a search after truth, by punishments; the national religion, in all countries, will certainly have a right to the greatest share of those punishments, at least, not to be wholly exempt from them.
“This is that which the author of the letter, as I remember, complains of, and that justly, viz. That the pretended care of men’s souls always expresses itself, in those who would have force any way made use of to that end, in very unequal methods; some persons being to be treated with severity, whilst others guilty of the same faults, are not to be so much as touched. Though you are got pretty well out of the deep mud, and renounce punishments directly for religion; yet you stick still in this part of the mire; whilst you would have dissenters punished to make them consider, but would not have any thing done to conformists, though ever so negligent in this point of considering. The author’s letter pleased me, because it is equal to all mankind, is direct, and will, I think, hold every where; which I take to be a good mark of truth. For I shall always suspect that neither to comport with the truth of religion, or the design of the gospel, which is suited to only some one country or party. What is true and good in England, will be true and good at Rome too, in China or Geneva. But whether your great and only method for the propagating of truth, by bringing the inconsiderate by punishments to consider, would, according to your way of applying your punishments only to dissenters from the national religion, be of use in those countries, or any-where but where you suppose the magistrate to be in the right; judge you. Pray, sir, consider a little, whether prejudice has not some share in your way of arguing, for this is your position: Men are generally negligent in examining the grounds of their religion. This I grant. But could there be a more wild and incoherent consequence drawn from it, than this; therefore dissenters must be punished?”—
All this you are pleased to pass over without the least notice: but perhaps you think you have made me full satisfaction in your answer to my demand, who are to be punished? We will here therefore consider that as it stands, where you tell us, “Those who are to be punished according to the whole tenour of your answer, are no other but such, as having sufficient evidence tendered them of the true religion, do yet reject it: whether utterly refusing to consider that evidence, or not considering as they ought, viz. with such care and diligence as the matter deserves and requires, and with honest and unbiassed minds; and what difficulty there is in this, you say, you cannot imagine.” You promised you would tell the world who they were, plainly and directly, And though you tell us, you cannot imagine what difficulty there is in this your account of who are to be punished, yet there are some things in it, that make it to my apprehension not very plain and direct. For first they must be only those who have the true religion tendered them with sufficient evidence; wherein there appears some difficulty to me, who shall be judge what is the true religion: and for that, in every country it is most probable the magistrate will be. If you think of any other, pray tell us. Next there seems some difficulty to know, who shall be judge what is sufficient evidence. For where a man is to be punished by law, he must be convicted of being guilty; which since in this case he cannot be, unless it be proved he has had the true religion tendered to him with sufficient evidence, it is necessary that somebody there must be judge what is the true religion, and what is sufficient evidence; and others to prove it has been so tendered. If you were to be of the jury, we know what would be your verdict concerning sufficient evidence, by these words of yours, “To say that a man who has the true religion proposed to him with sufficient evidence of its truth, may consider it as he ought, or do his utmost in considering, and yet not perceive the truth of it, is neither more nor less, than to say that sufficient evidence is not sufficient: for what does any man mean by sufficient evidence, but such as will certainly win assent, wherever it is duly considered?” Upon which his conforming or not conforming, would without any farther questions determine the point. But whether the rest of the jury could upon this be able ever to bring in any man guilty, and so liable to punishment, is a question. For if sufficient evidence be only that which certainly wins assent, wherever a man does his utmost in considering; it will be very hard to prove that a man who rejects the true religion has had it tendered with sufficient evidence, because it will be very hard to prove he has not done his utmost in considering it. So that, notwithstanding all you have here said, to punish any man by your method is not yet so very practicable.
But you clear all in your following words, which say, “there is nothing more evident than that those who reject the true religion, are culpable, and deserve to be punished.” By whom? By men: that is so far from being evident, as you talk, that it will require better proofs than I have yet seen for it. Next you say, “It is easy enough to know when men reject the true religion.” Yes, when the true religion is known, and agreed on what shall be taken to be so in judicial proceedings, which can scarce be till it is agreed who shall determine what is true religion, and what not. Suppose a penalty should in the university be laid on those who rejected the true peripatetic doctrine, could that law be executed on any one, unless it were agreed who should be judge what was the true peripatetic doctrine? If you say it may be known out of Aristotle’s writings: then I answer, that it would be a more reasonable law to lay the penalty on any one, who rejected the doctrine contained in the books allowed to be Aristotle’s, and printed under his name. You may apply this to the true religion, and the books of the scripture, if you please: though, after all, there must be a judge agreed on, to determine what doctrines are contained in either of those writings, before the law can be practicable.
But you go on to prove, that “it is easy to know when men reject the true religion: for, say you, that requires no more than that we know that that religion was tendered to them with sufficient evidence of the truth of it. And that it may be tendered to men with such evidence, and that it may be known when it is so tendered, these things, you say, you take leave here to suppose.” You suppose then more than can be allowed you. For that it can be judicially known that the true religion has been tendered to any one with sufficient evidence, is, what I deny, and that for reasons above-mentioned, which, were there no other difficulty in it, were sufficient to show the impracticableness of your method.
You conclude this paragraph thus, “which is all that needs be said upon this head to show the consistency and practicableness of this method: and what do you any-where say against this?” Whether I say any thing or no against it, I will bring a friend of yours that will say that dissenters ought to be punished for being out of the communion of the church of England. I will ask you now, how it can be proved that such an one is guilty of rejecting the one only true religion? Perhaps it is because he scruples the cross in baptism, or godfathers and godmothers as they are used, or kneeling at the Lord’s Supper; perhaps it is because he cannot pronounce all damned that believe not all Athanasius’s Creed; or cannot join with some of those repetitions in our Common-prayer; thinking them to come within the prohibition of our Saviour; each of which shuts a man out from the communion of the church of England, as much as if he denied Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. Now, sir, I beseech you, how can it be known, that every sufficient evidence was tendered to such a dissenter to prove, that what he rejects is a part of that one only true religion, which unless he be of, he cannot be saved? Or indeed how can it be known, that any dissenter rejects that one only true religion, when being punished barely for not conforming, he is never asked, what part it is he dissents from or rejects? And so it may be some of those things which I imagine will always want sufficient evidence to prove them to be parts of that only one true religion, without the hearty embracing whereof no man can be saved.