things as are enjoined or forbidden by divine precept, which else by the light of reason would seem indifferent to be done or not done; and so likewise must needs appear to every man as the precept is understood. Whence I here mean by conscience or religion that full persuasion, whereby we are assured that our belief and practice, as far as we are able to apprehend and probably make appear, is according to the will of God and his Holy Spirit within us, which we ought to follow much rather than any law of man, as not only his word every where bids us, but the very dictate of reason tells us. Acts iv. 19, “Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken to you more than to God, judge ye.” That for belief or practice in religion, according to this conscientious persuasion, no man ought to be punished or molested by any outward force on earth whatsoever, I distrust not, through God's implored assistance, to make plain by these following arguments.

First, it cannot be denied, being the main foundation of our protestant religion, that we of these ages, having no other divine rule or authority from without us, warrantable to one another as a common ground, but the Holy Scripture, and no other within us but the illumination of the Holy Spirit so interpreting that scripture as warrantable only to ourselves, and to such whose consciences we can so persuade, can have no other ground in matters of religion but only from the Scriptures. And these being not possible to be understood without this divine illumination, which no mån can know at all times to be in himself, much less to be at any time for certain in any other, it follows clearly, that no man or body of men in these times can be the infallible judges or determiners in matters of religion to any other men's consciences but their own. And therefore those Bereans are commended, Acts xvii. 11, who after the preaching even of St. Paul, “ searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Nor did they more than what God himself in many places commands us by the same apostle, to search, to try, to judge of these things ourselves: and gives us reason also, Gal. vi. 4, 5, “ Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another: for every man shall bear his own burden.” If then we count it so ignorant and irreligious in the papist, to think himself discharged in God's account, believing only as the church believes, how much greater condemnation will it be to the protestant his condemner, to think himself justified, believing only as the state believes? With good cause, therefore, it is in the general consent of all sound protestant writers, that neither traditions, councils, nor canons of any visible church, much less edicts of any magistrate or civil session, but the Scripture only, can be the final judge or rule in matters of religion, and that only in the conscience of every Christian to himself.Which protestation made by the first public reformers of our religion against the imperial edicts of Charles the Fifth, imposing church-traditions without Scripture, gave first beginning to the name of Protestant; and with that name hath ever been received this doctrine, which prefers the Scripture before the church, and acknowledges none but the Scripture sole interpreter of itself to the conscience. For if the church be not sufficient to be implicitly believed, as we hold it is not, what can there else be named of more authority than the church but the conscience, than which God only is greater, 1 John iii. 20? But if any man shall pretend that the Scripture judges to his conscience for other men, he makes himself greater not only than the church, but also than the Scripture, than the consciences of other men: a presumption too high for any mortal, since every true Christian, able to give a reason of his faith, haih the word of God before him, the VOL. II.


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promised Holy Spirit, and the mind of Christ within him, 1 Cor. ii. 16; a much better and a safer guide of conscience, which as far as concerns himself he may far more certainly know, than any outward rule imposed upon him by others, whom he inwardly neither knows nor can know; at least knows nothing of them more sure than this one thing, that they cannot be his judges in religion. 1 Cor. ii. 15, “ The spiritual man judgeth all things, but he himself is judged of no man.” Chiefly for this cause do all true protestants account the pope Antichrist, for that he assumes to himself this infallibility over both the conscience and the Scripture ;“ sitting in the temple of God,” as it were opposite to God, “and exalting himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped,” 2 Thess. ii. 4. That is to say, not only above all judges and magistrates, who though they be called gods, are far beneath infallible; but also above God himself, by giving law both to the Scripture, to the conscience, and to the Spirit itself of God within us. When as we find, James iv. 12, " There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: Who art thou that judgest another?” That Christ is the only lawgiver of his church, and that it is here meant in religious matters, no well-grounded Christian will deny. Thus also St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 4,“ Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth : but he shall stand; for God is able to make him stand.” As therefore of one beyond expression bold and presumptuous, both these apostles demand, “Who art thou,” that presumest to impose other law or judgment in religion than the only lawgiver and judge Christ, who only can save and destroy, gives to the conscience? And the forecited place to the Thessalonians, by compared effects, resolves us, that be he or they who or wherever they be or can be, they are of far less authority than the church, whom in these things as protestants they receive not, and yet no less Antichrist in this main point of antichristianism, no less a pope or popedom than he at Rome, if not much more, by setting up supreme interpreters of Scripture either those doctors whom they follow, or, which is far worse, themselves as a civil papacy assuming unaccountable supremacy to themselves, not in civil only, but in ecclesiastical causes. Seeing then that in matters of religion, as hath been proved, none can judge or determine here on earth, no not church governors themselves, against the consciences of other believers, my inference is, or rather not mine but our Saviour's own, that in those matters they neither can command nor use constraint, lest they run rashly on a pernicious consequence, forewarned in that parable, Matt. xiii. from the 29th to the 31st verse : “ Lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest : and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather

, ye together first the tares,” &c. Whereby he declares, that this work neither his own ministers nor any else can discerningly enough or judgingly perform without his own immediate direction, in his own fit season, and that they ought till then not to attempt it. Which is further confirmed, 2 Cor. i. 24, “ Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.” If apostles had no dominion or constraining power over faith or conscience, much less have ordinary ministers, 1 Pet. v. 2, 3, “Feed the flock of God, &c. not by constraint, neither as being lords over God's heritage.”

But some will object, that this overthrows all church-discipline, all censure of errors, if no man can determine. My answer is, that what they hear is plain Scripture, which forbids not church-sentence or determining, but as it ends in violence upon the conscience unconvinced. Let whoso will interpret or determine, so it be according to true church-discipline, which is exercised on them only who have willingly joined themselves in that covenant of union, and proceeds only to a separation from the rest, proceeds never to any corporal enforcement or forfeiture of money, which in all spiritual things are the two arms of Antichrist, not of the true church; the one being an inquisition, the other no better than a temporal indulgence of sin for money, whether by the church exacted or by the magistrate; both the one and the other a temporal satisfaction for what Christ hath satisfied eternally; a popish commuting of penalty, corporal for spiritual ; a satisfaction to man, especially to the magistrate, for what and to whom we owe none: these and more are the injustices of force and fining in religion, besides what I most insist on, the violation of God's express commandment in the gospel, as hath been shown. Thus then, if church-governors cannot use force in religion, though but for this reason, because they cannot infallibly determine to the conscience without convincement, inuch less have civil magistrates authority to use force where they can much less judge; unless they mean only to be the civil executioners of them who have no civil power to give them such commission, no, nor yet ecclesiastical, to any force or violence in religion. To sum up all in brief, if we must believe as the magistrate appoints, why not rather as the church? If not as either without convincement, how can force be lawful ?

But some are ready to cry out, what shall then be done to blasphemy? Them I would first exhort, not thus to terrify and pose the people with a Greek word; but to teach them better what it is, being a most usual and common word in that language to signify any slander, any malicious or evil speaking, whether against God or man, or any thing to good belonging: Blasphemy or evil speaking against God maliciously, is far from conscience in religion, according to that of Mark ix. 39, “ T'here is none who doth a powerful work in my name, and can lightly speak evil of me.” If this suffice not, I refer them to that prudent and well-deliberated act, August 9, 1650, where the parliament defines blasphemy against God, as far as it is a crime belonging to civil judicature, plenius ac melius Chrysippo et Crantore; in plain English, more warily, more judiciously, more orthodoxally than twice their number of divines have done in many a prolix volume: although in all likelihood they whose whole study and profession these things are,

should be most intelligent and authentic therein, as they are for the most part, yet neither they nor these unerring always, or infallible. But we shall not carry it thus; another Greek apparition stands in our way, Heresy and Heretic; in like manner also railed at to the people as in a tongue unknown. They should first interpret to them, that heresy, by what it signifies in that language, is no word of evil note, meaning only the choice or following of any opinion good or bad in religion, or any other learning: and thus not only in heathen authors, but in the New Testament itself, without censure or blame ; Acts xv. 5, “Certain of the heresy of the Pharisees which believed ;” and xxvi. 5, " After the exactest heresy of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” In which sense presbyterian or independent

. may without reproach be called a heresy. Where it is mentioned with blame, it seems to differ little from schism; 1 Cor. xi. 18, 19, “I hear that there be schisms among you,” &c. for there must also heresies be among you, &c. Though some, who write of heresy after their own heads, would make it far worse than schism : whenas on the contrary, schism signifies division, and in the worst sense; heresy, choice only of one opinion before another, which may be without discord. In apostolic times, therefore, ere the Scripture was written, heresy was a doctrine maintained against the doctrine by them delivered ; which in these times can be no otherwise de


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fined than a doctrine maintained against the light which we now only have, of the Scripture. Seeing therefore, that no man, no synod, no session of men, though called the Church, can judge definitively the sense of Scripture to another man's conscience, which is well known to be a general maxim of the protestant religion ; it follows plainly, that he who holds in religion that belief, or those opinions, which to his conscience and utmost understanding appear with most evidence or probability in the Scripture, though to others he seem erroneous, can no more be justly censured for a heretic than his censurers; who do but the same thing themselves, while they censure him for so doing. For ask them, or any protestant, which hath most authority, the church or the Scripture? They will answer, doubtless, that the Scripture: and what hath most authority, that no doubt but they will confess is to be followed. He then, who to his best apprehension follows the Scripture, though against any point of doctrine by the whole church received, is not the heretic; but he who follows the church against his conscience and persuasion grounded on the Scripture. To make this yet more undeniable, I shall only borrow a plain simile, the same which our own writers, when they would demonstrate plainest, that we rightly prefer the Scripture before the church, use frequently against the papist in this manner. As the Samaritans believed Christ, first for the woman's word, but next and much rather for his own, so we the Scripture : first on the church's word, but afterwards and much more for its own, as the word of God; yea, the church itself we believe then for the Scripture. The inference of itself follows; if by the protestant doctrine we believe the Scripture, not for the church's saying, but for its own, as the word of God, then ought we to believe what in our conscience we apprehend the Scripture to say, though the visible church, with all her doctors, gainsay: and being taught to believe them only for the Scripture, they who so do are not heretics, but the best protestants: and by their opinions, whatever they be, can hurt no protestant, whose rule is not to receive them but froin the Scripture: which to interpret convincingly to his own conscience, none is able but himself guided by the Holy Spirit ; and not so guided, none than he to himself can be a worse deceiver.

To protestants, therefore, whose common rule and touchstone is the Scripture, nothing can with more conscience, more equity, nothing more protestantly can be permitted, than a free and lawful debate at all times by writing, conference, or disputation of what opinion soever, disputable by Scripture: concluding that no man in religion is properly a heretic at this day, but he who maintains traditions or opinions not probable by Scripture, who, for aught I know, is the papist only; he the only heretic, who counts all heretics but himself. Such as these, indeed, were capitally punished by the law of Moses, as the only true heretics, idolaters, plain and open deserters of God and his known law: but in the gospel such are punished by excommunication only. Tit. iii. 10, “An heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.” But they who think not this heavy enough, and understand not that dreadful awe and spiritual efficacy, which the apostle hath expressed so highly to be in church-discipline, 2 Cor. x., of which anon, and think weakly that the church of God cannot long subsist but in a bodily fear, for want of other proof will needs wrest that place of St. Paul, Rom. xiii., to set up civil inquisition, and give power to the magistrate both of civil judgment, and punishment in causes ecclesiastical. But let us see with what strength of argument; “let every soul be subject to the higher powers.First, how prove they that the apostle means other powers, than such as they to whom he writes were then under; who meddled not at all in ecclesiastical causes, unless as tyrants and persecutors ? And from them, I hope, they will not derive either the right of magistrates to judge in spiritual things, or the duty of such our obedience. How prove they next, that he entitles them here to spiritual causes, from whom he withheld, as much as in him lay, the judging of civil? 1 Cor. vi. 1, &c. If he himself appealed to Cæsar, it was to judge his innocence, not his religion. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil :" then are they not a terror to conscience, which is the rule or judge of good works grounded on the Scripture. But heresy, they say, is reckoned among evil works, Gal. v. 20, as if all evil works were to be punished by the magistrate; whereof this place, their own citation, reckons up besides heresy a sufficient number to confute them; "uncleanness, wantonness, enmity, strife, emulations, animosities, contentions, envyings ;” all which are far more manifest to be judged by him than heresy, as they define it; and yet I suppose they will not subject these evil works, nor many more such like, to his cognizance and punishment. “Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” This shows that religious matters are not here meant; wherein from the power here spoken of, they could have no praise; “For he is the minister of God to thee for good :" True; but in that office, and to that end, and by those means, which in this place must be clearly found, if from this place ihey intend to argue. And how, for thy good by forcing, oppressing, and ensnaring thy conscience? Many are the ministers of God, and their offices no less different than many; none more different than state and church government. Who seeks to govern both, must needs be worse than any lord prelate, or church pluralist: for he in his own faculty and profession, the other not in his own, and for the most part not thoroughly understood, makes himself supreme lord or pope of the church, as far as his civil jurisdiction stretches; and all the ministers of God therein, his ministers, or his curates rather in the function only, not in the government; while he himself assumes to rule by civil power things to be ruled only by spiritual : whenas this very chapter, verse 6, appointing him his peculiar office, which requires utmost attendance, forbids him this worse than church plurality from that full and weighty charge, wherein alone he is “the minister of God, attending continually on this very thing." To little purpose will they here instance Moses, who did all by immediate divine direction ; no nor yet Asa, Jehosaphat, or Josiah, who both might, when they pleased, receive answer from God, and had a commonwealth by him delivered them, incorporated with a national church, exercised more in bodily than in spiritual worship: so as that the church might be called a commonwealth, and the whole commonwealth a church : nothing of which can be said of Christianity, delivered without the help of magistrates, yea, in the midst of their opposition ; how little then with any reference to them, or mention of them, save only of our obedience to their civil laws, as they countenance good, and deter evil? which is the proper work of the magistrate, following in the same verse, and shows distinctly wherein he is the minister of God, “a revenger to execute wrath on him that doth evil.” But we must first know who it is that doth evil: the heretic they say among the first. Let it be known then certainly who is a heretic; and that he who holds opinions in religion professedly from tradition, or his own inventions, and not from Scripture, but rather against it, is the only heretic: and yet though such, not always punishable by the magistrate, unless he do evil against a civil law, properly so called, hath been already proved, without need of repetition. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid.” To do by


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