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Full text of "The works of John Owen"



No. ."^heJf. ^e\tiXn — 
No. Booh, 

Tho John .>l. Krebs Donation. 















And sold by J. Parker, Oxford; Deighton and Sons, Cambridge ; D. Brown, 
Waugh and Innes, and H. S. Baynes and Co. Edinburgh ; Chalmers and 
Collins, and M. Ogle, Glasgow ; M. Keene, and R. M. Tims, Dublin. 








Complaints of want of love and unity among Christians, how to be managed, 
and whence fruitless. Charge of guilt on some, why now removed, and for 
whose sakes. Personal miscarriages of any not excused. Those who ma- 
nage the charge mentioned not agreed 3 


Commendations of love and unity. Their proper objects, with their general 
rules and measures. Of love toward all mankind in general. Allows not sal- 
vation unto any without faith in Christ Jesus. Of the diiFereuces in religion 
as to outward worship • • 14 

CHAP. in. 

Nature of the catholic church. The first and principal object of Christian love. 
Differences among the membew of this church, of what nature, and how to be 
managed. Of the church catholic as visibly professing. The extent of it, 
or who belongs unto it. Of union and love in the church-state of the church 
of England with respect hereunto. Of particular churches : their institution : 
corruption of that institution. Of churches diocesan, &c. Of separation 
from corrupt particular churches. The just causes thereof, &c 25 


Want of love and unity among Christians justly complained of. Causes of di- 
visions and schisms. 1. Misapprehensions of evangelical unity. Wherein 
it doth truly consist. The ways and means whereby it may be obtained and 
preserved. Mistakes about both. 2. Neglect in churches to attend unto 
known gospel duty. Of preaching unto conversion and edification. Care 
of those that are really godly. Of discipline : how neglected, how corrupted. 
Principles seducing churches and their rulers into miscarriages. 1. Confi- 
dence of their place. 2. Contempt of the people. 3. Trust unto worldly 
grandeur. Other causes of divisions. Remainders of corruption from the 
general apostacy. Meekness and ignorance. Of readiness ti> take of- 
fences. Remedies hereof. Pride. False teachers 59 


Grounds and reasons of nonconformity 104 



Review of the preface 163 

A survey of the first chapter 205 

A survey of the second chapter • 254 

A survey of the third chapter 290 

A survey of the fourth chapter • 306 

A survey of the fifth chapter • 308 

A survey of the sixth chapter 318 










SURES 499 




Of infant baptism 549 

A vindication of two passages in Irenaeus against the exceptions of Mr. Tombs 553 
Of dipping 55g 



I. 577 

II. 581 

III 590 

IV. 599 

V 609 

VI. 616 








Spociosiini quideiu nomen est pacis, et pulchra opinio uiiitatis : sed quis anibigat 
earn solum unicain ecclcsiae pacera esse quas Cliristi est? — Hilar. 







Complaints of want of love and unity among Christians, how to he managed^ 
and tvhence fruitless. Charge of guilt on some, ivhy now removed, and 
for whose sakes. Personal miscarriages of any not excused. Those who 
manage tlie charge mentioned not agreed. 

The great'difFerences that are in the world amongst profes- 
sors of the gospel about things relating to the worship of 
God, do exercise more or less the minds of the generality 
of men of all sorts: for either in themselves, or their con- 
sequences, they are looked on to be of great importance. 
Some herein regard principally that disadvantageous in- 
fluence which they are supposed to have into men's spiritual 
and eternal concernments j others, that aspect which they 
fancy them to have upon the public peace and tranquillity 
of this world. Hence in all ages such divisions have caused 
' great thoughts of heart ;"" especially because it is very 
difficult to make a right judgment either of their nature, or 
their tendency. But generally by all they are looked on as 
evil : by some, for what they are in themselves ; by others, 
from the disadvantage which they bring (as they suppose) 
unto their secular interests. Hence there are amongst many 
great complaints of them, and of that want of love wiiich is 
looked on as their cause. And indeed it seems not only to 
be in the liberty, but to be the duty of every man soberly 
to complain of the evils which he would, but cannot remedy. 
For such complaints testifying a sense of their evil, and a 
desire of their cure, can be no more than what love unto 
the piiblic good requireth of us. And if in any case this 

» Judges V. 15. 



may be allowed, it must be so in that of divisions about 
sacred things, or the worship of God, with their causes and 
manner of management amongst men. For it will be granted 
that the glory of God, the honour of Christ, the progress of 
the gospel, with the edification and peace of the church, 
are deeply concerned in them, and highly prejudiced by 
them. And in these things all men have, if not an equal, 
yet such a special interest, as none can forbid them the due 
consideration of. No man therefore ought to be judged as 
though he did transgress his rule, or go beyond his line, 
who soberly expresseth his sense of their evil, and of the 
calamities wherewith they are attended. Yet must it not be 
denied, but that much prudence and moderation is required 
unto the due management of such complaints. For those 
which either consist in, or are accompanied with, invectives 
against the persons or ways of others, instead of a rational 
discourse of the causes of such divisions, and their remedies, 
do not only open, inflame, and irritate former wounds, but 
prove matters of new contention and strife, to their great in- 
crease. Besides, in the manifold divisions and differences of 
this nature amongst us, all men are supposed to be under an 
adherence unto some one party or other. Herein every man 
stands at the same distance from others as they do from 
him. Now all complaints of this kind carry along with 
them a tacit justification of those by whom they are made. 
For no man can be so profligate as to judge himself, and the 
way of religious worship wherein he is engaged, to be the 
cause of blameable divisions amongst Christians, and yet 
continue therein : reflections therefore of guilt upon others, 
they are usually replenished withal. But if those are not 
attended with evident light and unavoidable conviction, 
because they proceed from persons, supposed not indifferent, 
yea, culpable in this very matter more or less themselves, by 
them whom they reflect upon, they are generally turned into 
occasions of new exasperations and contests. And hence 
it is come to pass, that although all good men do on all oc- 
casions bewail the want of love, forbearance, and condescen- 
sion that is found among professors of the gospel, and the 
divisions which follow thereon, yet no comfortable nor ad- 
vantageous effects do thence ensue. Yea, not only is all 
expectation of that blessed fruit, which a general serious 


consent unto such complaints might produce, as yet utterly 
frustrated ; but the small remainders of love and peace 
amongst us are hazarded and impaired, by mutual charges 
of the want and loss of them, on the principles and practices 
of each other. We have therefore need of no small watch- 
fulness and care, lest in this matter it fall out with us, as 
it did with the Israelites of old,"* in another occasion. For 
when they had by a sinful sedition cast out David from 
amongst them, and from reigning over them, after a little 
while seeing their folly and iniquity, they assembled together 
with one consent to bring him home again. But in the very 
beginning of their endeavours to this purpose, falling into 
a dispute about which of the tribes had the greatest interest 
in him, they not only desisted from their first design, but 
fell into another distemper of no less dangerous importance 
than what they were newly delivered from. It must be ac- 
knowledged that there hath been a sinful decay of love 
among professors of the gospel in this nation, if not a violent 
casting of it out, by such prejudices and corrupt affections, 
as therewith it is wholly inconsistent. And it would be a 
matter of no small lamentation, if upon the blooming of a 
design for its recovery and reduction, with all its train of 
forbearance, condescension, gentleness, and peace, if any 
such design there be, by contests about the occasions and 
causes of its absence, with too much fierceness in our own 
vindication, and pleas of a special interest in it above others, 
new distempers should be raised, hazarding its everlasting 

In this state of things we have hitherto contented our- 
selves with the testimony of our own hearts unto the since- 
rity of our desires, as to walk in love and peace with all 
men, so to exercise the fruits of them on all occasions ad- 
ministered unto us. And as this alone we have thus far 
opposed unto all those censures and reproaches which we 
have undergone to the contrary ; so therewithal have we 
supported ourselves under other things, which we have also 
suffered. Farther to declare our thoughts and principles in 
and about the worship of God, than they are evidenced and 
testified unto, by our practice, we have hitherto forborne ; 
lest the most moderate claims of an especial interest in the 

>• 2 Sara. xix. 41—43. 


common faith and love of Christians, should occasion new 
contests and troubles unto ourselves and others. And we 
have observed, that sometimes an over-hasty endeavour to 
extinguish flames of this nature, hath but increased and 
diffused them ; when perhaps if left alone, their fuel would 
have failed, and themselves expired. Besides, a peaceable 
practice, especially if accompanied with a quiet bearing of 
injuries, gives a greater conviction to unprejudiced minds, 
of peaceable principles and inclinations, than any verbal 
declaration, whose sincerity is continually obnoxious to the 
blast of evil surmises. In a resolution therefore to the same 
purpose we had still continued, had we not so openly and 
frequently been called on, either to vindicate our innocency, 
or to confess and acknowledge our evil. One of these we 
hope is the aim and tendency of all those charges or accusa- 
tions, for want of love, peaceableness, and due compliance 
with others, of being the authors and fomentors of schisms 
and divisions, that have been published against us, on the 
account of our dissent from some constitutions of the church 
of England. For we do not think that any good men can 
please themselves in merely accusing their brethren, where- 
by they add to the weight of their present troubles, and 
evidently expose them unto more. For every charge of 
guilt on those who are already under sufferings, gives new 
encouragement and fierceness to the minds of them from 
whom they suffer. And as no greater encouragement can 
be given unto men to proceed in any way wherein they are 
engaged, than by their justification in what they have 
already done ; so the only justification of those who have 
stirred up persecution against others, consists in charging 
guilt on them that are persecuted. As therefore we shall 
readily acknowledge any evil in our persons, principles, or 
ways, which we are or may be convinced of; so the sober 
vindication of truth and innocency, that none of the ways of 
God be evil spoken of by reason of us, is a duty, in the care 
whereof we are no less concerned. Yea, did we design and 
directly endeavour our own justification, we should do no 
more than the prime dictates of the law of nature, and the 
example of some of the best of men, will give us a sufficient 
warrant for. Besides, the clearing of private persons, espe- 
cially if they are many, from undue charges and false accu- 


sations, belongs unto public good ; that those who have the 
administration of it committed unto them, may not be misled 
to make a wrong judgment concerning what they have to 
do; as David was in the case of Mephibosheth "^ upon the 
false suggestions of Ziba. Neither could we be justly- 
blamed should we be more than ordinarily urgent herein ; 
considering how prone the ears of men are to receive ca- 
lumnious accusations concerning such as from whom they 
expect neither profit nor advantage ; and how slow in giving 
admittance to an address of the most modest defensative. 
But this is the least part of our present design. Our only 
aim is to declare those principles concerning mutual love 
and unity among Christians, and practices in the worship of 
God, wherein our own consciences do find rest and peace, 
and others have so much misjudged us about. This there- 
fore we shall briefly do ; and that without such reflections 
or recriminations, as may any way exasperate the spirits of 
others, or in the least impede that reintroduction of love 
and concord, which it is the duty of us all to labour in. 
Wherefore we shall herein have no regard unto the revilings, 
reproaches, and threatenings of them, who seem to have had 
no regard to truth, or modesty, or sobriety, indeed to God 
or man, in the management of them. With such it is our 
duty not to strive, but to commit our cause to him that 
judgeth righteously, especially with respect unto those im- 
pure outrages which go before unto judgment. Furious 
persons, animated by their secular interests, or desire of re- 
venge, unacquainted with the spirit of the gospel, and the 
true nature of the religion revealed by Jesus Christ, incom- 
passionate towards the infirmities of the minds of men, 
whereof yet none in the world give greater instances than 
themselves, who have no thoughts but to trample under foot 
and destroy all that differ from them, we shall rather pity 
and pray for, than either contend withal, or hope to convince. 
Such they are, as if outward prevalency were added to their 
principles and desires, they would render all Christians like 
the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, who came out to 
fight against Judah.** The two greater parties, upon some 
difference or distaste, conspire at first to destroy the inha- 
bitants of Seir ; not doubting but that when they had de- 

« 2 Sara. xvi. 4. •* 2 Chron. xx. 23. 


spatched them out of the way, they should accord well 
enough among themselves ; but the event deceived their 
exjiectation ; their rage ceased not until issued in the mutual 
destruction of them all. No otherwise would it be with 
those who want nothing but force or opportunity to exter- 
minate their next dissenters in matters of religion. For 
when they had accomplished that design, the same principle 
and rage would arm them to the wasting of the residue of 
Christians, or their own. For a conceit of the lawfulness 
hereof, is raised from a desire of enlarging power and domi- 
nion, which is boundless. Especially is it so, where an 
empire over the reason, faith, and consciences of men is 
affected ; which first produced the fatal engine of papal in- 
fallibility ; that nothing also could have strained the wit of 
men to invent, and nothing less can support. Unto such as 
these we shall not so much as tender satisfaction, until they 
are capable of receiving the advice of the apostle, Eph. iv. 
31. ' Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, 
and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.' 
For until this be done, men are to be esteemed but as * rag- 
ino- waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame,' whom 
it is to no purpose to seek to pacify, much less to contend 

It is for the sake of them alone who really value and 
esteem love, peace, and unity among Christians for them- 
selves, that we here tender an account of our thoughts and 
principles concerning them. For even of them there are 
some who unduly charge us with owning of principles, de- 
structive unto Christian love and condescension, and suited 
to perpetuate the schisms and divisions that are amongst 
us. Whether this hath been occasioned by an over-valua- 
tion of their own apprehensions, conceiting that their judg- 
ments ought to give rule and measure to other men's; or 
whether they have been, it may be insensibly unto them- 
selves, biassed by provocations as they suppose unjustly 
given them, we are not out of hopes but that they may be 
convinced of their mistakes. Upon their indications we have 
searched our consciences, principles, and practices, to find 
whether there be any such way of perverseness in them, as 
we are charged withal ; and may with confidence say, that 
we have a discharge from thence, where we are principally 


concerned. Having, therefore, satisfied that duty which on 
this occasion was in the first place incumbent on us, we shall 
now for their satisfaction and our own vindication with all 
impartial men, declare what are our thoughts and judgments, 
what are our principles, ways, and practices in and about 
the great concerns of Christian love, unity, and peace ; re- 
ferring the final decision of all differences unto him who 
* hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in 
righteousness, by the man whom he hath ordained.' 

This being our present design, none may expect that we 
should attempt to. justify or excuse any of those miscar- 
riages or failings that are charged on some or all of those 
professors of the gospel, who at this day come not up unto 
full communion with the church of England. For we know 
that' no man liveth and sinneth not;' yea, that ' in many 
things we all offend.' We all know but in part and are lia- 
ble to manifold temptations, even all such as are common 
unto men. Those only we have no esteem of, who through 
the fever of pride have lost the understanding of their own 
weak, frail, and sinful condition. And we do acknowledge 
that there are amongst us, * sins against the Lord our God,' for 
which he might not only give us up unto the reproaches and 
wrath of men in this world, but himself also cast us off ut- 
terly and for ever. We shall not, therefore, in the least com- 
plain of those who have most industriously represented unto 
the public view of the world, the weakness and miscarriao-es 
that have fallen out amongst some or more of them whose 
cause we plead, and discovered those corrupt affections, from 
whence, helped on with variety of temptations, they mio-ht 
probably proceed : nor shall we use any reflections on them 
who have severely, and we fear maliciously, laid to their 
charge things which they know not ; as hoping that by the 
former the guilty may learn what to amend, now they are 
taught with such thorns and briers as are the scorns and re- 
proaches of the world ; and by the latter the innocent may 
know what to avoid. Such charges and accusations, there- 
fore, we shall wholly pass over, with our hearty prayers that 
the same or worse evils may never be found amongst them 
by whom they are accused. Much less shall we concern our- 
selves in those r eflections on them, which are raised from 
the words,) < oressions, or actions of particular persons, as 


they have been reported and tossed up and down in the lips 
of talkers. The debate of such things tends only to mutual 
exasperations and endless strife. It may be also that for 
the most part they are false, or misreported invidiously, or 
misapplied ; and true or false have been sufficiently avenged 
by severe retortions. And in such altercations fevv^ men un- 
derstand the sharpness of their own words. Their edge is 
towards them whom they oppose : but when a return of the 
like expressions is made unto themselves, they are sensible 
how they pierce. So are provocations heightened, and the 
first intendment of reducing love ends in mutual defamatory 
contentions. All things, therefore, of this nature we shall 
pass over, and help to bury by our silence. 

The principal charge against us, and that whereinto all 
other are resolved, is our nonconformity unto the present 
constitutions of the church of England. For hence we are 
accused to be guilty of the want of Christian love and peace- 
ableness, of schism, and an inclination to all sorts of divi- 
sions, contrary to the rules and precepts of the gospel. Now 
we think it not unreasonable to desire, that those who pass 
such censures on us would attend unto the common known 
rule, whereby alone a right judgment in these cases may be 
made. For it is not equal that we should be concluded by 
other men's particular measures, as though by them we were 
to be regulated in the exercise of love and observance of 
peace. And as we doubt not but that they fix those mea- 
sures unto themselves in sincerity, according unto their own 
light and apprehension of things ; so we are sure it will be 
no impeachment of their wisdom or holiness, to judge that 
others who differ from them, do with an equal integrity, en- 
deavour the direction and determination of their consciences 
in what they believe and practise. Yea, if they have not 
pregnant evidence to the contrary, it is their duty so to judge. 
A defect hereof is the spring of all that want of love, whereof 
so great a complaint is made. And rationally they are to 
be thought most sincere and scrupulous herein, who take 
up with determinations that are greatly to their outward dis- 
advantage. For unless it be from a conviction of present 
duty with respect unto God, and their own eternal good, 
men are not easily induced to close with a judgment about 
sacred things and religious worship, which will not only cer- 


tainly prejudice them, but endanger their ruin in things tem- 
poral. It is ordinarily outward secular advantages, where- 
with the minds of men are generally too much affected, that 
give an easy admission unto persuasions and practices in re- 
ligion. By these are men turned and changed every day 
from what before they professed when we hear of no turn- 
ings unto a suffering profession, but what arise from strong 
and unavoidable convictions. Moreover, should we endea- 
vour to accommodate ourselves to the lines of other men, it 
may make some change of the persons with whom we have 
to do, but would not in the least relieve us against the charges 
of guilt of schism and want of love which we suffer under. 
Some would prescribe this measure unto us, that we should 
occasionally join with parish assemblies, as now stated in 
all their worship and sacred administrations, but will not 
require of us that we should absolutely forbear all other ways 
and means of our own edification. Will this measure satisfy 
all amongst us ? will it free us from the imputation we suffer 
under ? shall we not be said any more to want Christian love, 
to be factious or guilty of schism? It is known unto all 
how little it will conduce unto these ends, and how little the 
most will grant that church-peace is preserved thereby. Yea, 
the difficulty will be increased upon us beyond what an ordi- 
nary ability can solve, though we doubt not but that it may 
be done. For if we can do so much, we may expect justly to 
be pressed severely to answer why we do no more. For 
others say immediately, that our attendance on the public 
worship must be constant, with a forbearance of all other 
ways of religious worship beyond that of a family ; yet this 
they would have us so to do, as in the mean time studiously 
to endeavour the reformation of what is judged amiss in the 
doctrine, discipline, and worship of the church. This is the 
measure which is prescribed unto us by some, and we know 
not how many censures are passed upon us for a noncon- 
formity thereunto. Will therefore a compliance unto this 
length better our condition ? will it deliver us from the se- 
verest reflections of being persons unpeaceable and intole- 
rable? shall we live in a perpetual dissimulation of our judg- 
ments as to what needeth reformation ? will that answer our 
duty? or give us peace in our latter end? shall we profess 
the persuasions of our minds in these things, and endeavour 


by all lawful means to accomplish what we desire ? shall we 
then escape the severest censures, as of persons inclined to 
schisms and divisions ? Yea, many great and wise men of 
the church of England do look on this as the most perni- 
cious principle and practice that any can betake themselves 
unto. And in reporting the memorials of former times,^ some 
of them have charged all the calamities and miseries that 
have befallen their church to have proceeded from men of 
this principle, endeavouring reformation according unto mo- 
dels of their own, without separation. 

And could we conscientiously betake ourselves to the 
pursuit of the same design, we should not, especially under 
present jealousies and exasperations, escape the same con- 
demnation that others before us have undergone. And so it is 
fallen out with some, which might teach them that their mea- 
sures are not authentic ; and they might learn moderation 
towards them who cannot come up unto them, by the seve- 
rity they meet withal, from those that do outgo them. Shall 
we, therefore, which alone seems to remain, proceed yet far- 
ther, and making a renunciation of all those principles con- 
cerning the constitution, rule, and discipline of the church, 
with the ways and manner of the worship of God to be ob- 
served in the assemblies of it, which we have hitherto pro- 
fessed, come over unto a full conformity unto the present 
constitutions of the church of England, and all the proceed- 
ings of its rulers thereon ? Yea this is that, say some, 
which is required of you, and that- which would put an end 
unto all our differences and divisions. We know, indeed, 
that an agreement in any thing or way, right or wrong, true or 
false, will promise so to do, and appear so to do, for a season ; 
but it is truth alone that will make such agreements durable, 
or useful. And we are not engaged in an inquiry merely 
after peace, but after peace with truth. Yea, to lay aside 
the consideration of truth, in a disquisition after peace and 
agreement in and about spiritual things, is to exclude a regard 
unto God and his authority, and to provide only for ourselves. 
And what it is which at present lays a prohibition on our 
consciences against the compliance proposed shall be after- 
ward declared ; neither will we here insist upon the dis- 
couragements that are given us from the present state of the 

« Uey\. Hist, of Prcsb. 


church itself, which yet are not a few. Only we must say, 
that there doth not appear unto us in many that steadiness 
in the profession of the truth owned amongst us upon and 
since the reformation, nor that consent upon the grounds 
and reasons of the government and discipline in it that we 
are required to submit unto, which were necessary to invite 
any dissenters to a thorough conformity unto it. That there 
are daily inroads made upon the ancient doctrine of this 
church, and that without the least control from them who 
pretend to be the sole conservators of it, until, if not the 
whole, yet the principal parts of it are laid waste, is suffi- 
ciently evident and may be easily proved. And we fear not to 
own, that we cannot conform to Arminianism, Socinianism, on 
the one hand, or popery on the other, with what new or spe- 
cious pretences soever they may be blended. And for the 
ecclesiastical government, as in the hands of our mere eccle- 
sisastical persons, when it is agreed among themselves, 
whether it be from heaven or of men, we shall know the bet- 
ter how to judge of it. But suppose we should wave all 
such considerations, and come up to a full conformity unto 
all that is, or shall, or may be required of us ; will this give 
us a universally pleadable acquitment from the charges of 
the guilt of want of love, schism, and divisions ? We should 
indeed possibly be delivered from the noise and clamour of 
a few, crying out sectaries, fanatics, schismatics, church- 
dividersj but withal should continue under the censures of the 
great, and at present thriving church of Rome, for the same 
supposed crimes. And sure enough we are, that a com- 
pliance with them who have been the real causes and occa- 
sions of all the schisms and divisions that are amongst 
Christians almost in the whole world, would yield us no solid 
relief in the change of our condition. Yet without this no 
men can free themselves from the loudest outcries against 
them on the account of schism. And this sufficiently manifests 
how little indeed they are to be valued, seeing for the most 
part they are nothing but the steam of interest and party. It 
is therefore apparent, that the accommodations of our judg- 
ments and practices to the measures of other men, will afford 
us no real advantage as to the imputations we suffer under ; nor 
will give satisfaction unto all professors of Christianity that 
we pursue love and peace in a due manner : for what one sort 


requireth of us, another will instantly disallow and condemn. 
And it is well if the judgment of the major part of all sorts 
be not influenced by custom, prejudices, and secular advan- 
tages. We have therefore no way left, but that which in- 
deed ought to be the only way of Christians in these things, 
namely, to seek in sincerity the satisfaction of our own con- 
sciences, and the approving of our hearts unto the searcher 
of them, in a diligent attendance unto our own especial duty, 
according to that rule which will neither deceive us nor fail 
us. And an account of what we do herein we shall now ten- 
der unto them that follow truth with peace. 


Commendations of love and unity. Their prsper objects, with their general 
rules and measures. Of love toward all mankind in general. Allows not 
salvation unto_ any without faith in Christ Jesus. Of the differences in 
religion as to outward worship. 

The foundation of our discourse might be laid in the com- 
mendation of Christian love and unity ; and thereon we might 
easily enlarge, as also abound in a collection of testimonies 
confirming our assertions. But the old reply in such a case, 
by whom ever were they discommended, evidenceth a labour 
therein to be needless and superfluous. We shall therefore 
only say, that they are greatly mistaken, who from the con- 
dition whereunto at present we are driven and necessitated, 
do suppose that we value not these things at as high a rate 
as themselves, or any other professors of Christian religion in 
the world. A greater noise about them may be made possi- 
bly by such as have accommodated their name and notion to 
their own interests, and who point their pleas about them, 
and their pretences of them, to their own secular advantage; 
but as for a real valuation of the things themselves, as they 
are required of us, and prescribed unto us in the gospel, we 
shall not willingly be found to come behind any that own the 
name of Christ in the world. We know that God hath styled 
himself, the God of love, peace, and order, in the church, 
because they are eminently from him, and highly accepted 
with him. And as love is the new commandment which 


Jesus Christ hath given unto his disciples, so he hath ap- 
pointed it to be the bond of perfection unto them ; which 
nothing else will ever be, however finely invented for them, 
or forcibly imposed on them. Without this love, in what 
relates to church communion, whatever else we are, we are 
but as * sounding brass and tinkling cymbals,' And all 
unity or agreement in outward order not proceeding from 
and animated by this love, are things wherein neither Christ 
nor the gospel are much concerned. An endeavour also 
after one mind and one judgment" amongst all believers, 
for a help unto us, to keep the ' unity of the spirit in the 
bond of peace,' we acknowledge to be indispensably required 
of us. And therefore where any opinion or practice in or 
about religion or the worship of God, do apparently in them- 
selves impair the gracious holy principles of love and peace, 
or obstruct men in the exercise of any duties which those 
principles require or lead unto, it is a great and weighty 
prejudice against their truth and acceptation with God. As, 
therefore, we shall not boast of the prevalency of these prin- 
ciples in our minds ; seeing, that though we should know 
nothing to the contrary by ourselves, yet are we not therefore 
justified ; so we are assured that none can justly condemn us 
for the want of them, unless they can make good their charge 
by instances not relating to the peculiar differences between 
them and us. For what doth so will neither warrant any to 
make such a judgment, nor carry any conviction in it towards 
them that are judged. Upon the whole matter, we shall not 
easily be diverted from pursuing our claim unto an equal 
interest in these things with any other professors of the 
Christian religion ; although at present we do it not by en- 
larged commendations of them. Much less are we in the 
least moved or shaken in our minds from the accusations of 
them, who having the advantage of force and power, do make 
a compliance with themselves, in all their impositions and 
self-interested conceptions, the sole measure of other men's 
exercise and actings of these principles. We have a much 
safer rule whereby to make a judgment of them, whereunto 
we know we ' shall do well to attend, as unto a light shining 
in a dark place.' But now whereas all these things, namely, 
love, peace, and unity, are equally dear unto us ; yet there are 

» rhil. ii. 2. 1 Cor. i. 10. 


different rules prescribed for the exercise and pursuit of 
them. Our love is to be catholic, unconfined as the beams 
of the sun, or as the showers of rain that fall on the whole 
earth. Nothing of God's rational creation in this world is 
to be exempted from being the object thereof. And where 
only any exception might seem to be warranted by some 
men's causeless hatred, with unjust and unreasonable perse- 
cution of us, there the exercise of it is given us in especial 
and strictest charge, which is one of the noble singulari- 
ties of Christian religion. But whereas men are cast into 
various conditions on account of their relation unto God, 
the actual exercise of love towards them is required of us in a 
suitable variety. For it is God himself, in his infinite excel- 
lencies, who is the first and adequate object of our love, 
which descends unto others according to their participations 
from him, and the especial relations created by his appoint- 
ment; whereof we shall speak afterward. Our duty in the 
observance of peace is, as unto its object, equally extended. 
And the rule or measure given us herein is the utmost of our 
endeavours in all ways of truth and righteousness which are 
required, or may have a tendency thereunto. For as we are 
commanded to * follow peace with all men"' under the same 
indispensable necessity as to obtain and observe holiness in 
our own persons, ' without which none shall see God ;' so as 
to the measure of our endeavours unto this end, we are di- 
rected, ' if it be possible, and as far as in us lieth, to live 
peaceably with all men."= The rule for unity, as it is sup- 
posed to comprise all church-communion, falls under many 
restrictions. For herein the especial commands of Christ, 
and institutions o( the gospel committed unto our care and 
observance falling under consideration, our practice is pre- 
cisely limited unto those commands, and by the nature of 
those institutions. 

These being the things we are to attend unto, and these 
being their general rules and measures, we shall with respect 
unto the present state of religious affairs in the world, 
amongst those who make profession of the Christian religion, 
plainly declare what are our thoughts and judgments, what 
we conceive to be our duty, and what is our practice, sub- 
mitting them unto the present apprehensions of unprejudiced 

'■ lleb. xil. 14. --Roni. xi, 13. 


persons, leaving the final sentence and determination of our 
cause to the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ. 

Love toward all mankind in general we acknowledge to 
be required of us ; and we are debtors in the fruits of it to 
the whole creation of God. For he hath not only implanted 
the principles of it in that nature whereof we are in common 
partakers with the whole race and kind, whereunto all ha- 
tred and its effects were originally foreign and introduced 
by the devil; nor only given us his command for it, enlarg- 
ing on its grounds and reasons in the gospel ; but in his 
design of recovering us out of our lapsed condition unto a 
conformity with himself, proposeth in an especial manner 
the example of his own love and goodness, which are ex- 
tended unto all, for our imitation ; Mat. v. 44, 45. His 
philanthropy and communicative love, from his own infinite 
self-fulness, wherewith all creatures in all places, times, and 
seasons, are filled and satisfied, as from an immeasurable 
ocean of goodness, are proposed unto us to direct the exer- 
cise of that drop from the divine nature, wherewith we are 
intrusted. ' Love your enemies,' saith our Saviour, ' bless 
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and 
pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute 
you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in 
heaven, who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the 
good, and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust.' Now 
all mankind may be cast into two ranks or orders. For, 
first, there are those who are yet ' without Christ, being 
aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from 
the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God 
in the world ;'<> such we mean as are either negatively or pri- 
vatively infidels, or unbelievers ; who have yet never heard 
the sound of the gospel, or do continue to refuse and reject 
it where it is proposed and tendered unto them. And there 
are those, secondly, who have in one way or other received 
the doctrine of the gospel, and do make profession thereof 
in the world. To both these sorts we do acknowledge that 
we owe the duty of love. Even towards the infidel, pagan, 
and Mahometan world, Jews and Gentiles, we are debtors 
in this duty ; and we desire to be humbled for it as our sin, 
wherein we are wanting in the discharge of it, or wherein the 

'> Eph. ii. 12. 


fruits of it do not abound in us to the praise of God. Now 
love, in the first notion of it, is the willing of a wanted good 
unto the object of it, or those that are loved, producing an 
endeavour to effect it, unto the utmost of the ability of them 
in whom it is. Where this absent good is of great impor- 
tance, the first natural and genuine effect of love is compas- 
sion. This good, as unto all unbelievers, is whatever should 
deliver them from present or eternal misery; whatever 
should lead, guide, or bring them unto blessedness in the 
enjoyment of God. Besides, the absence hereof is accom- 
panied, even in this world, with all that blindness and dark- 
ness of mind, all that slavery unto sin and the devil, that 
can any way concur to make a rational being truly mise- 
rable. If we have not hearts like the flint or adamant, we 
cannot but be moved with compassion towards so many 
perishing souls, originally made like ourselves in the image 
of God, and from whom that we differ in any thing, is an 
effect of mere sovereign grace, and not the fruit of our own 
contrivance, nor the reward of our worth or merit. And 
those who are altogether unconcerned in others, are not much 
concerned in themselves ; for the true love of ourselves is 
the rule of our love unto other men. Again, compassion 
proceeding from love will work by prayer for relief: for it is 
God alone who can supply their wants ; and our only way of 
treating with him about it is by our humble supplications. 
And if herein also we should be found wanting, we should 
more judge ourselves to be defective in true Christian love 
and charity, than we can for many of those mistakes which 
are charged on us in other things, were we convinced that 
such they are, which as yet we are not. It is therefore our 
continual prayer, that God would send out his light and his 
truth unto the utmost parts of the earth, to visit by them 
those dark places which are yet filled with habitations of 
cruelty; that he would remove the veil of covering which is 
yet on the face of many great and populous nations, that * the 
whole earth may be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, 
as the waters cover the sea ;' even that according to his pro- 
mise, * he would turn to the people a pure language, that 
they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him 
with one consent.' And this we desire to be found doing, 
not in a formal or customary manner, but out of a sincere 


compassion for the souls of men, a deep sense of the interest 
herein of the glory of God, and a desire after the accom- 
plishment of those prophecies and promises in the Scripture, 
which speak comfortably towards an expectation of abun- 
dant grace to be manifested unto the residue of sinners, 
both Jews and Gentiles, in the latter days. Moreover, unto 
compassion and suppHcations,love requireth that we should 
add also all other possible endeavours for their relief. Herein 
consists that work and labour of love which are so much 
recommended unto us. But the actings of love in these 
most useful ways are, for the most part, obstructed unto us 
by the want of opportunities, which under the guidance of 
divine providence are the rule of our call unto the duties 
wherein such endeavours consist, and whereby they may be 
expressed. Only this at present we have to rejoice in, that 
through the unwearied labours of some holy and worthy 
persons, sundry churches of Indians are lately called and 
gathered in America, wherein the natives of those parts of 
the world, who for so many generations sat in darkness, and 
in the shadow of death, do, under the guidance of pastors 
and elders of their own, walk in the fellowship of the gos- 
pel, giving glory to God by Jesus Christ. And let it not 
seem impertinent that we have given this account of our 
judgments concerning that love which we do and ought to 
bear unto all, even the worst of men; seeing those by whom 
our testimony is received, will not, nay cannot, easily sup- 
pose that we would wilfully neglect the exercise of the same 
affections towards those, concerning whom our obligations 
thereunto are unspeakably greater and more excellent. 

There is indeed another kind of pretended charity to- 
wards this sort of men, which we profess we have not for 
them, although we judge we do not want it. For there can 
be no want unto any of an error or mistake, wherein the 
charity intended doth consist. And this is the judgment of 
some, that they or some of them may attain salvation or 
eternal blessedness in the condition wherein they are, with- 
out the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This we acknowledge 
we neither believe nor hope concerning thera ; nor, to speak 
plainly, can desire it should be so, unless God had otherwise 
revealed himself concerning Jesus Christ and them, than yet 
he hath done. And we are so far from supposing that there 

c 2 


is in US on this account any blameable defect of chanty, that 
we know ourselves to be freed by this persuasion from a 
dangerous error, which if admitted, would both weaken our 
own faith, and impair all the due and proper effects of cha- 
rity towards others. ' For though there be that are called 
gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, 
and lords many), yet unto us there is but one God the Fa- 
ther, of whom are all things, and we in him ; and one Lord 
Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.'* We 
know * there is no salvation in any other' but by Jesus Christ, 
and that * there is no other name under heaven given among 
men whereby we must be saved."^ Nor is this name given 
any otherwise amongst men but by the gospel : for it is not 
the giving of the person of Christ absolutely to be a media- 
tor, but the declaration of his name by the gospel, as the 
means of salvation, that is intended. Hence our Lord Jesus 
Christ, giving that commission to his apostles to preach it, 
' Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every 
creature,' he adds unto it that decretory sentence, concern- 
ing the everlasting condition of all men with respect there- 
unto ; * He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved ; 
and he that believeth not, shall be damned.'^ As the preach- 
ing of the gospel, and the belief on Jesus Christ thereon, 
are the only means of obtaining salvation ; so all those who 
are not made partakers of them must perish eternally. So 
when the apostle affirms that the Jews would have hindered 
them from preaching ' to the Gentiles that they might be 
saved,'** he plainly declares that without it they could not so 
be. Neither were any of them ever better, or in a better 
condition, than they are described by the same apostle, Eph. 
ii. 12. and in sundry other places wherein he allows them 
no possibility of obtaining eternal blessedness. Neither do 
we in this matter consider what God can do, or what he hath 
done, to the communicating of grace and faith in Jesus 
Christ unto any particular persons at any time, or in any 
place, in an extraordinary manner. We are not called to 
make a judgment thereof, nor can any rule be hence collected 
to regulate the exercise of our love. * Secret things belong to 
the Lord our God,but revealed things to us and our children, 
that we may do his will.' When and where such grace and 
e 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. ^Actsvi. 12. e Mark xvi. 15. 16. »> iThess, ii. 16. 


faith do manifest themselves by their effects, we ought rea- 
dily to own and embrace them. But the only inquiry in this 
matter is, what those that are utterly destitute of the reve- 
lation of Jesus Christ, either as made originally in the pro- 
mise, or as explained in the gospel, may, under the mere 
conduct of the light of nature, as consisting of the innate 
principles of reason, with their improvement, or as increased 
by the consideration of the effects of divine power and pro- 
vidence, by the strength and exercise of their own moral 
principles attain unto, as unto their present acceptance with 
God, and future eternal salvation. That they may be saved 
in every sect, who live exactly according to the light of 
nature, is a doctrine anathematized by the church of England, 
article 18. And the reason given hereof is, because the 
Scriptures propose the name of Jesus Christ alone whereby 
we may be saved. And if we do believe that description 
which is given in the Scripture of men, their moral abilities, 
and their works, as they lie in the common state of man- 
kind since the entrance of sin, with respect unto God and 
salvation, we shall not be able to be of another mind : for 
they are said to be blind,' yea, to be darkness, to be 'dead in 
trespasses and sins,' no'^ ' to receive the things of the Spirit 
of God, because they are foolishness unto them;' and their 
minds to be ' enmity against God' ^ himself. That there may 
be any just expectation concerning such persons, that they 
will ' work out their salvation with fear and trembling,' we 
are not convinced : neither do we think that God will accept 
of a more imperfect obedience in them that know not Jesus 
Christ, than he requires of them who do believe in him, for 
then should he prove a disadvantage unto them. Besides, 
all their best works are severely reflected on in the Scrip- 
ture, and represented as unprofitable : for whereas in them- 
selves they are compared to evil trees, thorns, and briers, 
we are assured they neither do, nor can bring forth good 
grapes or figs. Besides, in the Scripture, the whole business 
of salvation in the first place turns upon the hinge of faith 
supernatural and divine ; ' for without faith it is impossible 
to please God ;'' and ' he that believeth not shall be damned ;' 
'he that believeth not in the name of the Son of God is con- 

• Luke iv. 18. "* Acts xxvi. 18. Eph. ii. 1 — 3. iv. 18. Rom. viii. 8. 

' Heb. xi. 6, John iii, 13. 36. Gal. v. 6. 


demned already ; for neither circumcision availeth any thing;, 
nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love :' and it 
is by faith that the just shall live. That this faith may be 
educed out of the obediential principles of nature, it was 
indeed the opinion of Pelagius of old ; but it will not now, 
we hope, be openly asserted by any. Moreover, this faith 
is in the Scripture, if not limited and determined, yet di- 
rected unto Jesus Christ as its necessary peculiar object : 
• For this is life eternal, that we may know the only true 
God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.' It seems there- 
fore that the knowledge of the only true God is not sufficient 
to attain eternal life, unless the knowledge of Jesus Christ 
also do accompany it : for ' this is the record of heaven, that 
God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his 
Son. He that hath the Son hath life ; and he that hath not 
the Son of God hath not life;'" which is enough to determine 
the controversy. And those assertions, that * there is no 
other name given amongst men whereby they may be saved ;' 
and that ' other foundation can no man lay, save what is laid, 
that is, Jesus Christ;'" are of the same importance : and it 
were needless to multiply the testimonies that are given us 
to that purpose elsewhere. Neither can it be made to ap- 
pear that the concatenation of the saving means, whereby 
men that are adult are brought into glory, is not absolutely 
universal : and amongst them there is vocation, or an effec- 
tual calling" to the knowledge of Christ by the gospel. Nei- 
ther will the same apostle allow a saving invocation of the 
name of God to any but those that are brought to believe by 
hearing the word preached.*" It is said that God may by 
ways secret and unknown to us, reveal Jesus Christ to them, 
and so by faith in him sanctify their natures, and endow 
them with his Spirit ; which things, it is granted we sup- 
pose, are indispensably necessary unto salvation. Those 
whom God thus deals withal are not pagans, but Christians, 
concerning whom none ever doubted but they might be 
saved. It is also granted that men may learn much of the 
power, wisdom, and goodness of God, which both require 
and teach many duties to be performed towards him ; but 
withal we believe, that without the internal sanctification of 

"< 1 John V. 11, 12. " Acts iv. 12. 1 Gor. Hi. 11. 

" Rom. viii. 29, 30. p Rom. x. 13— l*?. 


the Spirit, communicated by and with the knowledge of 
Jesus Christ, no man can be saved. But we intend not here 
to dispute about these things. Instead of an effect of love 
and charity, it is manifest that the opinion which grants 
salvation unto the heathen, or any of them, upon the due 
improvement of their rational faculties and moral principles, 
ariseth from a want of due consideration of the true nature 
of sin and grace, of the fall of man and his recovery, of the 
law and gospel, and of the wisdom and love of God in send- 
ing Jesus Christ to make atonement for sinners, and to 
bring in everlasting righteousness. And not only so, but it 
evidently prepares the way unto those noxious opinions 
which at this day among many infest and corrupt Christian 
religion, and foment those seeds of atheism which spring up 
so fast as to threaten the overspreading of the whole field 
of Christianity. For hence it will follow by an easy deduc- 
tion, that every one may be saved, or attain unto his utmost 
happiness in his own religion, be it what it will, whilst 
under any notion or conception he acknowledgeth a divine 
Being, and his own dependence thereon. And seeing that 
on this supposition it must be confessed, that religion con- 
sists solely in moral honesty and a fancied internal piety of 
mind towards the Deity (for in nothing else can a centring 
of all religions in the world unto a certain end be imagined), 
it follows, that there is no outward profession of it indispen- 
sably necessary, but that every one may take up and make 
use of that which is best suited unto his interest in his pre- 
sent condition and circumstances. And as this being once 
admitted, will give the minds of men an indifferency as unto 
the several religions that are in the world, so it will quickly 
produce in them a contempt of them all. And from an en- 
tertainment of, or an indifferency of mind about, these and 
the like noisome opinions, it is come to pass that the gos- 
pel, after a continued triumph for sixteen hundred years over 
hell and the world, doth at this day in the midst of Chris- 
tendom, hardly with multitudes maintain the reputation of its 
truth and divinity ; and is by many, living in a kind of out- 
ward conformity unto the institutes of Christian religion, 
despised and laughed to scorn. But the proud and foolish 
atheistical opiniators of our days, whose sole design is to 
fortify themselves by the darkness of their minds against 


the charges of their own conscience upon theit wicked and 
debauched conversations, do but expose themselves to the 
scorn of all sober and rational persons. For what are a few 
obscure, and for the most part vicious renegadoes, in com- 
parison of those great, wise, numerous, and sober persons, 
whom the gospel, in its first setting forth in the world by the 
evidence of its truth, and the efficacy of its power, subdued 
and conquered ? Are they as learned as the renowned phi- 
losophers of those days, who, advantaged by the endeavours 
and fruits of all the great wits of former ages, had advanced 
solid rational literature to the greatest height that ever it 
attained in this world; or possibly ever will do so; the 
minds of men having now something more excellent and 
noble to entertain themselves withal? Are they to be 
equalled in wisdom and experience with those glorious 
emperors, senators, and princes, who then swayed the 
sceptres and affairs of the world ? Can they produce any 
thing to oppose unto the gospel, that is likely to influence 
the minds of men, in any degree comparably to the religion 
of these great, learned, wise, and mighty personages, which 
having received by theirTathers from days immemorial, was 
visibly attended with all earthly glories and prosperities, 
which were accounted as the reward of their due observance 
of it? And yet, whereas there was a conspiracy of all those 
persons, and this influenced by the craft of infernal powers, 
and managed with all that wisdom, subtlety, power, and 
cruelty, that the nature of man is capable to exercise, on 
purpose to oppose the gospel, and keep it from taking root 
in the world ; yet, by the glorious evidence of its divine 
extract and original wherewith it is accompanied, by the 
eflScacyand power which God gave the doctrine of it in and 
over the minds of men, all managed by the spiritual wea- 
pons of its preachers, ' which were mighty through God, to 
the pulling down of those strong holds, casting down ima- 
ginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against 
the knowledge of God ;'^ it prevailed against them all, and 
subdued the world unto an acknowledgment of its truth, 
with the divine power and authority of its author. Cer- 
tainly there is nothing more contemptible, than that the 
indulgence of some inconsiderable persons unto their lusts 
y 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. 


and vices, who are void of all those excellencies in notion 
and practice, which have already been triumphed over by 
the gospel when set up in competition with it, or opposition 
unto it, should be once imagined to bring it into question, 
or to cast any disreputation upon it. But to treat of these 
things is not our present design ; we have only mentioned 
them occasionally, in the account which it was necessary 
we should give concerning our love to all men in general, 
with the grounds we proceed upon in the exercise of it. 


Nature of the catholic church. The first and principal object of Christian 
love. Differences amon^ the members of this church, of what nature, 
and hotv to be managed. Of the church catholic as visibly professing. 
The extent of it, or ivho belongs unto it. Of union and love in this 
church-state of the church of England with respect hereunto. Of par- 
ticidar churches : their institution : corruption of that institution. Of 
churches diocesan, ^c. Of separation from corrupt jiarticular churches. 
The just causes thereof, <^c. 

In the second sort of mankind before mentioned, consists 
the visible kingdom of Christ in this world. This being 
grounded in his death and resurrection, and conspicuously 
settled by his sending of the Holy Ghost after his ascen- 
sion, he hath ever since preserved in the world, against all 
the contrivances of Satan, or oppositions of the gates of 
hell, and will do so unto the consummation of all things. 
* For he must reign until all his enemies are made his foot- 
stool.' Towards these on all accounts our love ought to be 
intense and fervent, as that which is the immediate bond of 
our relation unto tliem, and union with them. And this 
kingdom or church of Christ on the earth may be, and 
is generally by all considered under a threefold notion. 
First, As therein, and among the members of it, is com- 
prised that real living and spiritual body of his, which is 
firstly, peculiarly, and properly the catholic church mili- 
tant in this world. These are his elect, redeemed, justified, 
and sanctified ones, who are savingly united unto their 
head, by the same quickening and sanctifying Spirit, dwell- 


ing in him in all fulness, and communicated unto them by 
him, according to his promise. This is that catholic church 
which we profess to believe, which being hid from the eyes 
of men, and absolutely invisible in its mystical form, or 
spiritual saving relation unto the Lord Christ, and its unity 
with him, is yet more or less always visible, by that pro- 
fession of faith in him, and obedience unto him, which it 
maketh in the world, and is always obliged so to do. ' For 
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness ; and with 
the mouth confession is made unto salvation.''' And this 
church we believe to be so disposed over the whole world, 
that wherever there are any societies or numbers of men 
who ordinarily profess the gospel, and subjection to the 
kingly rule of Christ thereby, with a hope of eternal 
blessedness by his mediation ; we no way doubt but that 
there are among them some who really belong thereunto. 
In and by them doth the Lord Christ continually fulfil and 
accomplish the promise of his presence by his Spirit with 
them that believe in his name ; who are thereby interested 
in all the privileges of the gospel, and authorized unto the 
administration and participation of all the holy ordinances 
thereof. And were it not that we ought not to boast our- 
selves against others, especially such as have not had the 
spiritual advantages that the inhabitants of these nations 
have been intrusted withal, and who have been exposed 
unto more violent temptations than they, we should not 
fear to say, that among those of all sorts who in these 
nations hold the head, there is probably according unto a 
judgment to be made by the fruits of that Spirit which is 
savingly communicated unto the church in this sense alone, 
a greater number of persons belonging thereunto, than in 
any one nation or church under heaven. The charge there- 
fore of some against us, that we paganize the nation, by 
reason of some different apprehensions from others, con- 
cerning the regular constitution of particular churches for 
the celebration of gospel worship, is wondrous vain and 
ungrounded. But we know that men use such severe 
expressions and reflections, out of a discomposed habit of 
mind which they have accustomed themselves unto, and not 

a Roill, X. 10. 


from a sedate judgment and consideration of the things 
themselves. And hence they will labour to convince others 
of that, whereof, if they would put it unto a serious trial, 
they would never be able to convince themselves. 

This then is that church which on the account of their 
sincere faith and obedience shall be saved ; and out of 
which, on the account of their profession, there is no sal- 
vation to be obtained ; which things are weakly and arro- 
gantly appropriated unto any particular church or churches 
in the world. For it is possible that men may be members 
of it, and yet not belong or relate unto any particular 
church on the earth; and so it often falleth out, as we could 
manifest by instances, did that work now lie before us. 
This is the church which the * Lord Christ loved and gave 
himself for it ; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with 
the washing of water by the word ; that he might present 
it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot or 
wrinkle or any such thing ; but that it should be holy and 
without blemish.''' And we must acknowledge that in all 
things this is the church, unto which we have our first and 
principal regard, as being the spring from which all other 
considerations of the church do flow. Within the verge 
and compass of it do we endeavour to be found, the end 
of the dispensation of the gospel unto men being that they 
should do so. Neither would we to save our lives (which 
for the members of this church and their good, we are 
bound to lay down,'= when justly called thereunto), wilfully 
live in the neglect of that love towards them or any of 
them, which we hope God hath planted in our hearts, and 
made natural unto us, by that one and selfsame Spirit, by 
whom the whole mystical body of Christ is animated. We 
do confess, that because the best of men in this life do 
knowbut in part, that all the members of this church are 
in many things liable to error, mistakes, and miscarriages : 
and hence it is, that although they are all internally acted 
and guided by the same Spirit, in all things absolutely 
necessary to their eternal salvation, and do all attend unto 
the same rule of the word, according as they apprehend 
the mind of God in it, and concerning it, have all for the 

b Ei.h. V. 26, 27. *" 1 Johniii. 16. 


nature and substance of it, the same divine faith and love, 
and are all equally united unto their head ; yet in the pro- 
fession which they make of the conceptions and persuasions 
of their minds, about the things revealed in the Scripture, 
there are, and always have been, many differences among 
them. Neither is it morally possible it should be otherwise, 
whilst in their judgment and profession they are left unto 
the ability of their own minds, and liberty of their wills, 
under that great variety of the means of light and truth, 
with other circumstances, whereinto they are disposed by 
the holy wise providence of God. Nor hath the Lord Christ 
absolutely promised that it shall be otherwise with them ; 
but securing them all by his Spirit in the foundations of 
eternal salvation, he leaves them in other things to the 
exercise of mutual love and forbearance ; with a charge of 
duty after a continual endeavour to grow up unto a perfect 
union, by the improvement of the blessed aids and assist- 
ances which he is pleased to afford unto them. And those 
who by ways of force would drive them into any other 
union or agreement, than their own light and duty will 
lead them into, do what in them lies to oppose the whole 
design of the Lord Christ towards them, and his rule over 
them. In the mean time it is granted, that they may fall 
into divisions and schisms, and mutual exasperations among 
themselves, through the remainders of darkness in their 
minds, and the infirmity of the flesh. '^ And in such cases 
mutual judgings and despisings are apt to ensue; and that 
to the prejudice and great disadvantages of that common 
faith which they do profess. And yet notwithstanding all 
this (such cross entangled wheels are there in the course of 
our nature), they all of them really value and esteem the 
things wherein they agree incomparably above those wherein 
they differ. But their valuation of the matter of their 
union and agreement is purely spiritual; whereas their dif- 
ferences are usually influenced by carnal and secular consi- 
derations, which have for the most part a sensible impres- 
sion on the minds of poor mortals. But so far as their 
divisions and differences are unto them unavoidable, the 
remedy of farther evils proceeding from them is plainly 

^ Rom. XIV. 3. 


and frequently expressed in the Scripture. It is love, meek- 
ness, forbearance, bowels of compassion, with those other 
graces of the Spirit, wherein our conformity unto Christ 
doth consist, with a true understanding and the due valua- 
tion of the * unity of faith/ and the common hope of be- 
lievers, which are the ways prescribed unto us, for the 
prevention of those evils which, without them, our una- 
voidable differences will occasion. And this excellent way 
of the gospel, together with a rejection of evil surmises, 
and a watchfulness over ourselves against irregular judging 
and censuring of others, together with a peaceable walking 
in consent and unity so far as we have attained, is so fully 
and clearly proposed unto us therein, that they must have 
their eyes blinded by prejudices and carnal interests, or 
some effectual working of the god of this world on their 
minds, into whose understandings the lio;ht of it doth not 
shine with uncontrollable evidence and conviction. That 
the sons or children of this church of * Jerusalem which is 
above, and is the mother of us all,' should on the account 
of their various apprehensions of some things relating to 
religion or the worship of God, unavoidably attending their 
frail and imperfect condition in this world, yea, or of any 
schisms or divisions ensuing thereon, proceeding from cor- 
rupt and not thoroughly mortified aff'ections, be warranted 
to hate, judge, despise, or contemn one another, much more 
to strive by external force to coerce, punish, or destroy them 
that differ from them, is as foreign to the gospel, as that we 
should believe in Mahomet, and not in .Tesus Christ. What- 
ever share, therefore, we are forced to bear in differences 
with, or divisions from, the members of this church (that 
is, any who declare and evidence themselves so to be, by a 
visible and regular profession of faith and obedience), as itis 
a continual sorrow and trouble unto us ; so we acknowledge 
it to be our duty (and shall be willing to undergo any blame, 
where we are found defective in the discharge of it, unto 
the utmost of our power) to endeavour after the strictest 
communion with them in all spiritual things that the gospel 
doth require, or whereof our condition in this world is 
capable. In the mean time, until this can be attained, it is 
our desire to manage the profession of our own light and 
apprehensions, without anger, bitterness, clamours, evil 


speaking, or any other thing that may be irregular in our- 
selves, or give just cause of offence unto others. Our prayers 
are also continually for the spiritual prosperity of this church, 
for its increase in faith and holiness, and especially for the 
healing of all breaches that are among them that belong 
thereunto throughout the w^orld. And were we not satisfied 
that the principles which we own, about the right constitu- 
tion of the churches of Christ, and the worship of God to 
be observed in them, are singularly suited to the further- 
ance and preservation of union and due order among all the 
members of this church, we should not need to be excited 
by any unto their renunciation. But our main design in all 
these things is, that both they, and we with them, may 
enjoy that peace which the Lord Christ hath bequeathed 
unto us, and walk in the way which he hath prescribed for 
us. And these things we mention, neither to boast of, nor 
yet to justify ourselves, but only to acknowledge what is 
our conviction concerning our duty in this matter. And 
might there any sedate, peaceable, unprejudicate endea- 
vours be countenanced and encouraged, for the allaying of 
all occasional distempers, and the composing of all differ- 
ences among them who belong to this church of Christ, so 
as that they might all of them (at least in these nations) 
not only ' keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,' 
but also agree and consent in all ways and acts of religious 
communion ; we doubt not to manifest, that no rigid adhe- 
rence unto the practice of any conceptions of our own, in 
things wherein the gospel alloweth a condescension and 
forbearance, no delight in singularity, no prejudice against 
persons or things, should obstruct us in the promotion of it 
to the utmost of our power and ability. Upon the whole 
matter we own it as our duty to follow and seek after 
peace, unity, consent and agreement in holy worship, 
with all the members of this church, or those who by a 
regular profession manifest themselves so to be ; and will 
with all readiness and alacrity renounce every principle or 
practice, that is either inconsistent with such communion, 
or directly or indirectly is in itself obstructive of it. 

Secondly, The church of Christ may be considered with 
respect unto its outward profession, as constitutive of its 
being, and the formal reason of its denomination. And 


this is the church catholic visible, whereunto they all 
universally belong, who profess the invocation of the name 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours, under the li- 
mitations that shall be mentioned afterward. And this is 
the visible kingdom of Christ, which on the account of its 
profession, and thereby, is distinguished from that world 
which lieth in evil, and is absolutely under the power of 
Satan. And so in common use the church and the world 
are contradistinguished. Yet on other accounts many who 
belong unto this church, by reason of some kind of profes- 
sion that they make, may justly be esteemed to be the 
world, or of it. So our Lord Jesus Christ called the gene- 
rality of the professing church in his time : * The world,' 
saith he, * hateth me.''' And that we may know that he 
thereby intended the church of the Jews, besides that the 
circumstances of the place evince it, he puts it out of ques- 
tion by the testimony which he produceth in the confirma- 
tion of his assertion concerning their unjust and causeless 
hatred ; namely, * It is written in their law. They have 
hated me without a cause ;' which being taken out of the 
Psalms,' was part of the law, or rule of the Judaical church 
only. Now he thus terms them, because the generality 
of them, especially their rulers, although they professed to 
know God, and to worship him according to his word and 
the tradition of their fathers, yet were not only corrupt and 
wicked in their lives, but also persecuted him and his disci- 
ples, in whom the power and truth of God were manifested 
beyond what they were able to bear. And hence a general 
rule is established, that what profession soever any men do 
make of the knowledge and worship of God, to what church 
soever they do, or may be thought to belong, yet if they are 
wicked or ungodly in their lives, and persecutors of such as 
are better than themselves, they are really of the world, and 
with it will perish, without repentance. These are they, 
who receiving on them a form or delineation of godliness, 
do yet deny the power of it ; from whom, we are commanded 
to turn away. But yet we acknowledge that there is a real 
difference to be made between them who in any way or man- 
ner make profession of the name of Christ with subjection 

<> John xvii. 18, 19. 25. « Psal. xxxv. 19. 


unto him, and that infidel world by whom the gospel is 
totally rejected, or to whom it was never tendered. 

In this catholic visible church, as comprehensive of all 
who throughout the world outwardly own the gospel, there 
is an acknowledgment of 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism,' 
which are a sufficient foundation of that love, union, and 
communion among them, which they are capable of, or are 
required of them. For in the joint profession of the same 
Lord, faith, and baptism, consists the union of the church, 
under this consideration, that is, as catholic and visibly pro- 
fessing, and in nothing else. And hereunto also is required 
as the principle animating that communion, and rendering 
it acceptable, mutual love with its occasional exercise ; as a 
fruit of that love which we have unto Jesus Christ, who is 
the object of our common profession. And setting aside 
the consideration of them who openly rejected the principal 
fundamentals of Christian religion (as denying the Lord 
Christ to be the eternal Son of God, with the use and 
efficacy of his death, as also the personal subsistence and 
Deity of the Holy Spirit), and there is no known community 
of these professors in the world, but they own so much of 
the truths concerning ' one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,' 
as are sufficient to guide them into life and salvation. And 
thereon we no way doubt, but that among them all there are 
some really belonging to the purpose of God's election, who 
by the means that they do enjoy, shall at length be brought 
unto everlasting glory. For we do not think that God, by 
his providence, would maintain the dispensation of the gospel 
in any place, or among any people, among whom there are 
none whom he hath designed to bring unto the enjoyment 
of himself. For that is the rule of his sending and continu- 
ing of it ; whereon he enjoined the apostle PauF to stay in 
such places where he had much people whom he would have 
to be converted. He would not continue from generation to 
generation, to scatter his pearls where there were none but 
rending swine, nor send fishers unto waters wherein he 
knew there were nothing but serpents and vipers. It is 
true the gospel, as preached unto many, is only a testimony 
against them,^ leaving them without excuse; and proves unto 

f Acts xviii. 9—11. R Matt. xxiv. 14. 


them ' a savour of death unto death.' But the first, direct, and 
principal design of the dispensation of itbeing the conversion 
of souls, and their eternal salvation, it will not probably be 
continued in any place, nor is so, where this design is not 
pursued nor accomplished towards any. Neither will God 
make use of it any where merely for the aggravation of men's 
sins and condemnation ; nor would his so doing consist with 
the honour of the gospel itself, or the glory of that love and 
grace which it professeth to declare. Where it is indeed 
openly rejected, there that shall be the condemnation of 
men; but where it finds any admittance, there it hath some- 
what of its genuine and proper work to effect. And the 
gospel is esteemed to be in all places dispensed and admitted, 
where the Scripture being received as the word of God, men 
are from the light, truth, and doctrine contained therein, by 
any means so far instructed, as to take upon them the pro- 
fession of subjecting their souls to Jesus Christ, and of ob- 
serving the religious duties by him prescribed, in opposition 
to all false religions in the world. Amongst all these the 
foundations of saving faith are at this day preserved : for 
they universally receive the whole canonical Scripture, and 
acknowledge it to be the word of God, on such motives as 
prevail with them to do so sincerely. Herein they give a 
tacit consent unto the whole truth contained in it ; for they 
receive it as from God, without exception or limitation. And 
this they cannot do without a general renunciation of all 
the falsities and evils that it doth condemn. Where these 
things concur, men will not believe nor practise any thing 
in religion, but what they think God requires of them, and 
will accept from them. And we find it also in the event, 
that all the persons spoken of, wherever they are, do uni- 
versally profess, that they believe in the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, and in his only and eternal Son. 
They all look also for salvation by him, and profess obedi- 
ence unto him, believing that God raised him from the 
dead. They believe in like manner that the Holy Spirit is 
the Spirit of the Father and the Son, with many other sacred 
truths of the same importance ; as also, that ' without holi- 
ness no man shall see God.' However therefore they are 
differenced and divided among themselves, however they are 
mutually esteemed heretics and schismatics, however through 

vol.. XXI. i> 


the subtlety of Satan they are excited and provoked to curse 
and persecute one another, with wonderful folly, and by an 
open contradiction unto other principles which they profess; 
yet are they all subjects of the visible kingdom of Christ, 
and belong all of them to the catholic church, making pro- 
fession of the name of Christ in the world, in which there is 
salvation to be obtained, and out of which there is none. 

We take not any consideration at present of that absurd, 
foolish, and uncharitable error, which would confine the 
catholic church of Christ unto a particular church of one 
single denomination ; or indeed rather unto a combination 
of some persons, in an outward mode of religious rule and 
worship ; whereof the Scripture is as silent, as of things 
that never were, nor ever shall be. Yea, we look upon it as 
intolerable presumption, and the utmost height of unchaa- 
tableness, for any to judge, that the constant profession of 
the name of Christ, made by multitudes of Christians, with 
the lasting miseries and frequent martyrdoms which for his 
sake they undergo, should turn unto no advantage either of 
the glory of God, or their own eternal blessedness, because 
in some things they differ from them. Yet such is the 
judgment of those of the church of Rome ; and so are they 
bound to judge by the fundamental principles and laws of 
their church-communion. But men ought to fear lest they 
should ' meet with judgment without mercy, who have 
shewed no mercy.'** Had we ever entertained a th ought un- 
charitable to such a prodigy of insolence, had we ever ex- 
cluded any sort of Christians absolutely from an interest in 
the love of God or grace of Jesus Christ, or hopes of salva- 
tion, because they do not, or will not, comply with those 
ways and terms of outward church-communion which we 
approve of, we should judge ourselves as highly criminal in 
want of Christian love, as any can desire to have us esteemed 
so to be. 

It is then the universal collective body of them that pro- 
fess the gospel throughout the world which we own as the 
catholic church of Christ. How far the errors in judgment, 
or miscarriages in sacred worship, which any of them have 
superadded unto the foundations of truth which they do 
profess, may be of so pernicious a nature as to hinder them 

'' James ii. 13. 

C H R I ST I A N LO V E A N D }^ E A € E . 5 

from an interest in the covenant of God, and so prejudice 
their eternal salvation, God only knows. But those notices 
which we have concerning the nature and will of God in the 
Scriptures, as also of the love, care, and compassion of 
Jesus Christ, with the ends of his mediation, do persuade 
us to believe, that where men in sincerity do improve the 
abilities and means of the knowledge of divine truth where- 
with they are intrusted, endeavouring withal to answer 
their light and convictions with a suitable obedience, there 
are but few errors of the mind, of so malignant a nature, as 
absolutely to exclude such persons from an interest in eter- 
nal mercy. And we doubt not but that men, out of a zeal 
to the glory of God, real or pretended, have imprisoned, 
banished, killed, burned others for such errors, as it hath 
been the glory of God to pardon in them, and which he hath 
done accordingly. But this we must grant, and do, that 
those whose lives and conversations are no way influenced by 
the power of the gospel, so to be brought to some conformity 
thereunto ; or who, under the covert of a Christian profes- 
sion, do give themselves up unto idolatry and persecution of 
the true Worshippers of God ; are no otherwise to be 
esteemed but as enemies to the cross of Christ. For as 
' without holiness no man shall see God ;' so ' no idolater, or 
murderer, hath eternal life abiding in him.'' 

With respect unto these things we look upon the church 
of England, or the generality of the nation professing Chris- 
tian religion (measuring them by the doctrine that hath 
been preached unto them, and received by them, since the 
reformation), to be as sound and healthful a part of the ca- 
tholic church as any in the world. For we know no place, 
nor nation, where the gospel for so long a season hath been 
preached with more diligence, power, and evidence for con- 
viction ; nor where it hath obtained a greater success or ac- 
ceptation. Those therefore who perish amongst us, do not 
do so for want of truth, and a rig t belief, or miscarriages 
in sacred worship, but for their own personal infidelity and 
disobedience. For according to the rules before laid down, 
we do not judge that there are any such errors publicly ad- 
mitted among them, nor any such miscarriages in sacred ad- 

' Heb. xii. 14. Rev. xxi. 8. 1 John iii. 15. 
D 2 


ministration, as should directly or absolutely hinder their 
eternal salvation. That they be not any of them, through 
the iofnorance or neglio-ence of those who take upon them 
the conduct of their souls, encouraged in a state or way of 
sin, or deprived of due advantages to further their spiritual 
good, or are led into practices in religion neither accepta- 
ble unto God, nor tending to their own edification, whereby 
they may be betrayed into eternal ruin, is greatly incumbent 
on themselves to consider. 

Unto this catholic church we owe all Christian love, 
and are obliaed to exercise all the effects of it, both towards 
the whole, and every particular member, as we have advan- 
tage and occasion. And not only so, but it is our duty to 
live in constant communion with it. This we can no other- 
wise do, but by a profession of that faith, whereby it be- 
comes the church of Christ in the notion under considera- 
tion. For any failure herein we are not, that we know of, 
charged by any persons of modesty or sobriety. The re- 
flections that have been made of late by some on the doc- 
trines we teach or own, do fall as severely on the generality 
of the church of England (at least until within a few years 
last past), as they do on us. And we shall not need to own 
any especial concernment in them, until they are publicly 
discountenanced by others. Such are the doctrines con- 
cerning God's eternal decrees, justification by faith, the loss 
of original grace, and the corruption of nature, the nature of 
regeneration, the power and efficacy of grace in the conver- 
sion of sinners, that we say not of the Trinity and satisfac- 
tion of Christ. But we do not think that the doctrines pub- 
licly taught and owned among us, ever since the reforma- 
tion, will receive any great damage by the impotent assaults 
of some few; especially considering their management of 
those assaults, by tales, railing, and raillery, to the lasting 
reproach of the religion which themselves profess, be it what 
it will. 

Thirdly, The church of Christ, or the visible professors of 
the gospel in the world, may be considered as they are dis- 
posed of by providence, or their own choice, in particular 
churches. These at present are. of many sorts, or are 
esteemed so to be. For whereas the Lord Christ hath insti- 
tuted sundry solemn ordinances of divine worship to be ob- 


served jointly by his disciples, unto his honour and their 
edification, this could not be done but in such societies, 
communities, or assemblies of them to that purpose. And 
as none of them can be duly performed, but in and by such 
societies; so some of them do either express the union, love, 
and common hope that is amonsi; them, or do consist in the 
means of their preservation. Of this latter sort are all the 
ways whereby the power of Christ is acted in the discipline 
of the churches. Wherefore we believe that our Lord Jesus 
Christ, as the king, ruler, and lawgiver of his church, hath 
ordained that all his disciples, all persons belonging unto his 
church in the former notions of it, should be gathered into 
distinct societies, and become as flocks of sheep in several 
folds, under the eye of their great Shepherd, and the respec- 
tive conducts of those emjiloyed under him. And this con- 
junction of professors in and unto particular churches, for 
the celebration of the ordinances of sacred worship appointed 
by Christ, and the participation of his institutions for their 
edification, is not a matter of accident, or merely under the 
disposal of common providence ; but is to be an act in them 
of choice and voluntary obedience unto the commands of 
Christ. By some this duty is more expressly attended unto 
than by others, and by some it is totally neglected. For 
neither antecedently nor consequentially unto such their 
conj miction, do they consider what is their duty unto the 
Lord Christ therein, nor what is most meet for their own 
edification : they go on in these things with others, accord- 
ing to the customs of the times and places wherein they live, 
confounding their civil and spiritual relations. And these 
we cannot but judge to walk irregularly, through ignorance, 
mistakes, or prejudices : neither will they in their least se- 
cular concernments, behave themselves with so much re- 
gardlessness or negligence. For however their lot previously 
unto their own choice, may be cast into any place or society, 
they will make an after-judgment whether it be to their ad- 
vantaoe, according to the rules of prudence, and by that 
judgment either abide in their first station, or otherwise dis- 
pose of themselves. But a liberty of this nature regulated 
lay the gospel, to be exercised in and about the great con- 
cernments of men's souls, is by many denied, and by most 
neglected. Hence it is come to pass, that the societies of 


Christians are for the most part mere effects of their political 
distributions by civil laws, aiming principally at other ends 
and purposes. It is not denied but that civil distributions 
of professors of the gospel may be subservient unto the ends 
of religious societies and assemblies ; but when they are 
made a means to take off the minds of men from all regard 
to the authority of the Lord Christ, instituting and appoint- 
ing such societies, they are of no small disadvantage unto 
true church-communion and love. 

The institution of these churches, and the rules for their 
disposal and government throughout the world, are the same; 
stable and unalterable. And hence there was in the first 
churches, planted by the apostles, and those who next suc- 
ceeded them in the care of that work, great peace, union, 
and agreement. For they were all gathered and planted 
alike, according unto the institution of Christ, all regulated 
and ordered by the same common rule. Men had not yet 
found out those things which were the causes of differences 
in after ages, and which yet continue so to be. Where there 
was any difference, it was for the most part on the account 
of some noisome, foolish, fantastical opinions, vented by im- 
postors, in direct opposition to the Scripture, which the ge- 
nerality of Christians did, with one consent, abhor. But on 
various occasions, and by sundry degrees, there came to be 
great variety in the conceptions of men about these parti- 
cular churches appointed for the seat and subject of all gos- 
pel ordinances, and wherein they were authoritatively to be 
administered in the name of Jesus Christ: for the church, in 
neither of the former notions, is capable of such administra- 
tions. Some therefore rested in particular assemblies, or 
such societies, who did or might meet together under the 
guidance and inspection of their own elders, overseers, 
guides, or bishops :^ and hereunto they added the occasional 
meetings of those elders and others, to advise and determine 
in common about the especial necessities of any particular 
church, or the general concernments of more of them, as the 
matter might require. These in name, and some kind of 
resemblance, are continued throughout the world in paro- 
chial assemblies. Others suppose a particular church to be 

^ Acts xiv. 23. XX. 28, 1 Pet. v. 1—3. Acts xv. 2. Phil. i. 1. 


such a one as is now called diocesan ; though that name in 
its first use and application to church affairs was of a larger 
extent than what it is now applied unto, for it was of old 
the name of a patriarchal church. And herein the sole rule, 
guidance, and authoritative inspection of many, perhaps a 
multitude of particular churches, assembling for sacred wor- 
ship and tlie administration of gospel ordinances distinctly, 
is committed unto one man, whom, in contradistinction 
from others, they call the bishop. For the joining of others 
with him, or their subordination unto hira in the exercise of 
jurisdiction, hinders not, but that the sole ecclesiastical 
power of the diocese may be thought to reside in him alone : 
for those others do either act in his name, or by power de- 
rived from him, or have no pretence unto any authority 
merely ecclesiastical; however in common use, what they 
exercised may be so termed. But the nature of such 
churches, with the rule and discipline exercised in them and 
over them, is too well known to be here insisted on. Some 
rest not here, but unto these diocesan add metropolitan 
churches, which also are esteemed particular churches, 
though it be uncertain by what warrant, or on what grounds. 
In these one person hath in some kind of resemblance, a 
respect unto, and over, the diocesan bishops, like that which 
they have over the ministers of particular assemblies. But 
these things being animated and regulated by certain arbi- 
trary rules and canons, or civil laws of the nations, the due 
bounds and extent of their power cannot be taken from any 
nature or constitution peculiar unto them. And therefore 
are there, wherever they are admitted, various degrees in 
their elevation. But how much or little the gospel is con- 
cerned in these things is easy for any one to judge. Neither 
is it by wise men pretended to be so, any farther than that, 
as they suppose, it hath left such things to be ordered by 
human wisdom, for an expediency unto some certain ends. 
One or more of these metropolitan churches have been 
required, in latter ages, to constitute a church national. 
Though the truth is, that appellation had originally another 
occasion; whereunto the invention of these metropolitan 
churches was accommodated : for it arose not from any 
respect unto ecclesiastical order or rule, but unto the su- 
preme political power, whereunto the inhabitants of such a 


nation as gives denomination to the church, are civilly sub- 
ject. Hence that which was provincial at the first erection 
of this fabric, which was in the Romish empire, whilst the 
whole was under the power of one monarch, became national 
when the several provinces were turned into kingdoms, with 
absolute sovereign power among themselves, wholly inde- 
pendent of any other. And he who, in his own person 
and authority, would erect an ecclesiastical image of that 
demolished empire, will allow of such provisional churches 
as have a dependence upon himself; but cares not to hear 
of such national churches, as in their first notion include a 
sovereign power unto all intents and purposes within them- 
selves. So the church of England became national in the 
days of king Henry the Eighth, which before was but pro- 

Moreover, the consent of many had prevailed, that there 
should be patriarchal churches, comprehending under their 
inspection and jurisdiction many of these metropolitical 
and provincial churches. And these also were looked on as 
particular; for, from their first invention, there having been 
four or five of them, no one of them could be imagined to 
comprise the catholic church; although those who presided 
in them, according to the pride and vanity of the declining 
ages of the church, styled themselves Oecumenical and Ca- 
tholic. Things being carried thus far, about the fifth and 
sixth century of years after Christ, one owned as principal 
or chief of this latter sort, set up for a church denominated 
papal, from a title he had appropriated unto himself. For 
by artifices innumerable he ceased not from endeavouring to 
subject all those other churches and their rulers unto him- 
self: and by the advantage of his pre-eminence over the 
other patriarchs, as theirs over metropolitans, and so down- 
wards, whereby all Christians were imagined to be comprised 
within the precincts of some of them, he fell into a claim of 
a sovereignty over the whole body of Christianity and every 
particular member thereunto belonging. This he could have 
had no pretence for, but that he thought them cast into such 
an order, as that he might possess them on the same grounds, 
on which that order itself was framed : for, had not dio- 
cesan, metropolitical, and patriarchal churches made viay 
for it, the thought of a church papal, comprehensive of all 


believers, had never befallen ^the minds of men. For it is 
known, that the prodigious empire which the pope claimed, 
and had obtained over Christianity, was an emergency of 
the contests that fell out amongst the leaders of llie greater 
sorts of churches, about the rights, titles, and pre-eminencies 
among themselves, with some other occasional and intestine 
distempers. Only he had one singular advantage for the 
promotion of his pretence and desire. For whereas this 
whole contignation of churches into all these stories, in the 
top whereof he emerged and lifted up himself, was nothing 
but an accommodation of the church and its affairs unto the 
government of the Roman empire, or the setting up of an 
ecclesiastical image and representation of its secular power 
and rule, the centring therein of all subordinate powers and 
orders in one monarch, inclined the minds of men to comply 
with his design, as very reasonable. Hence the principal 
plea for that power over the whole church which at present 
he claims, lies in this, that the government of it ought to be 
monarchical. And therein consists a chief part of the mys- 
tery of this whole work ; that whereas this fabric of church- 
rule was erected in imitation of, and compliance with, the 
Roman empire ; that he could never effect his sovereignty 
whilst that empire stood in its strength and union, under 
the command of one or more emperors by consent; yet when 
that empire was destroyed, and the provinces thereof became 
parcelled out unto several nations, who erected absolute in- 
dependent sovereignties among themselves, he was able by 
the reputation he had before obtained, so to improve all 
emergencies and advantages, as to gather all these new king- 
doms into one religious empire under himself, by their com- 
mon consent. In the mean time, by the original divisions 
of the empire, and the revolutions that happened afterward 
amongst the nations of the world, the greatest number of 
Christians were wholly unconcerned in this new church- 
sovereignty which was erected in the western provinces of 
that empire. So was the mystery of iniquity consummated ; 
for whereas the pope, to secure his new acquisitions, endea- 
voured to empale the title and privileges of the catholic 
church, unto those Christians which professed obedience 
unto himself, unto an exclusion of a greater number; there 


ensued such a confusion of the catholic, and a particular 
church, as that both of them were almost utterly lost. 

Concerning these several sorts of conceited particular 
churches, it is evident that some of them, as to their nature 
and kind, have no institution in, or warrant from, the Scrip- 
ture, but were prudential contrivances of the men of the 
days wherein they were first formed ; which they effected 
by various degrees, under the conduct of an apprehension 
that they tended unto the increase of concord and order 
among Christians. Whether really and effectually they 
have attained that end, the event hath long since mani- 
fested. And it will be one day acknowledged, that no reli- 
gious union or order among Christians will be lasting, and 
of spiritual use or advantage unto them, but what is 
appointed and designed for them by Jesus Christ. The 
truth is, the mutual intestine differences and contests among 
them who first possessed the rule of such churches, about 
their dignities, pre-eminencies, privileges, and jurisdictions, 
which first apparently let in pride, ambition, revenge, and 
hatred, into the minds and lives of church guides, lost us 
the peace of Christendom ; and the degeneracy of their 
successors more and more, into a secular interest and 
worldly frame of spirit, is one great means of continuing 
us at a loss for its retrieval. 

How far any man may be obliged in conscience unto 
communion with these churches in those thino;s wherein 
they are such, and as such behave themselves in all their 
rule and administrations, may be inquired into by them who 
are concerned. What respect we have unto them, or what 
duty we owe them, as they may in any place be established 
by the civil laws of the supreme magistrate, is not of our 
present consideration. But whereas in their original and 
rise, they have no other warrant, but the prudential contri- 
vance of some men, who unquestionably might be variously 
influenced by corrupt prejudices and affections in the find- 
ing out and management of their inventions ; what ground 
there is for holding a religious communion with them, and 
wherein such communion may consist, is not easy to be 
declared. For the notion that the church-communion of 
the generality of Christians and ministers, consists only in 


a quiet subjection unto them, who by any means may pre- 
tend to be set over them, and claim a right to rule them, is 
fond and impious. In the mean time, we wholly deny that 
the mistakes or disorders of Christians in complying with, 
or joining themselves unto, such churches as have no war- 
rantable institution ought to be any cause of the diminish- 
ing of our lovc- towar>!s them, or of withdra ing it from 
them. For notwithstanding their errors and wanderings 
from the paths of truth in this matter, they do, or may 
continue interested in all that love which is due from us unto 
the church of Christ upon the double account before insisted 
on : for they may be yet persons born of God, united unto 
Christ, made partakers of his Spirit, and so belong to the 
church catholic mystical, which is the first principal object 
of all Christian love and charity. The errors wherewith 
they are supposed to be overtaken, may befall any persons 
under those qualifications, the admittance of them, though 
culpable, being not inconsistent with a state of grace and 
acceptation with God. And they may also, by a due pro- 
fession of the fundamental truths of the gospel, evince 
themselves to be professed subjects of the visible kingdom 
of Christ in the world, and so belong to the church catho- 
lic visibly professing ; under which notion, the disciples of 
Christ are in the next place commended unto our love. 
And it is the fondest imagination in the world, that we must 
of necessity want love towards all those with whom we 
cannot join in all acts of religious worship ; or that there 
need be any schism between them and us, on the sole 
account thereof, taking schism in the common received 
notion of it. If we bear unkindness towards them in our 
minds and hearts; if we desire or seek their hurt; if we 
persecute them, or put them to trouble in the world for 
their profession; if we pray not for them; if we pity them 
not in all their temptations, errors, or sufferings ; if we say 
unto any of them when naked, ' Be thou clothed ;' and when 
hungry, ' Be thou fed ;' but relieve them not according unto 
our abilities and opportunities ; if we have an aversion to 
their persons, or judge them any otherwise than as they 
cast themselves openly and visibly under the sentence of 
natural reason or Scripture rule, we may bejustly thought to 
fail in our love towards them. But if our hearts condemn 



US not in these things, it is not the difference that is or may 
be between them and us, about church-constitutions or 
order, that ought to be a cause, or can be an evidence of 
any want of love on our parts. There will indeed be a dis- 
tinct and sejDarate practice in the things wherein the differ- 
ence lies, which in itself, and without other avoidable evils, 
need not on either side to be schismatical. If by censures 
or any kind of power, such churches or persons would force 
us to submit unto, or comply with, such things or ways in 
religious worship, as are contrary unto our light, and 
which they have no authority from the Lord Christ to impose 
upon us, the whole state of the case is changed, as we shall 
see afterward. 

As for those particular churches, which in any part of 
the world consist of persons assembling together for the 
worship of God in Christ, under the guidance of their own 
lawful pastors and teachers, we have only to say, that we 
are full well assured that ' wherever two or more are ga- 
thered together in the name of Christ,' there he is present 
with them ; and farther than this, there are very few con- 
cerning whom we are called to pass any other censure or 
judgment. So we hope it is with them, and so we pray 
that it may be. And therefore we esteem it our duty to 
hold that communion with all these assemblies, when called 
thereunto, which is required of any Christians in the like 
cases and circumstances. Unless we are convinced that 
with respect unto such or such instances, it is the mind of 
Christ that neither among ourselves, nor in conjunction 
with others, nor for the sake of the present communion 
with them, we should observe them in his worship, we 
judge ourselves under an obligation to make use of their 
assemblies in all acts of religion unto our edification, as 
occasion shall require. But where the authority of Christ 
in the things of sacred worship doth intervene, all other 
considerations must be discarded ; and a compliance there- 
with will secure us from all irregular events. 

It must be acknowledged that many of these churches 
have wofuUy degenerated, and that any of them may so do, 
both from their primitive institutio-n, and also the sole rule 
of their worship. And this they may do, and have done in 
such various degrees and ways, as necessarily requires a 


great variety in our judgments concerning them, and our 
communion with them. The whole Christian world gives 
us instances hereof at this day; yea, we have it confirmed 
unto us in what is recorded concerning sundry churches 
mentioned in the Scripture itself. They were newly planted 
by the apostles themselves, and had rules given by them 
to attend unto for their direction. And besides they were 
obliged in all emergencies to inquire after and receive those 
commands and directions, which they were enabled infal- 
libly to give unto them. And yet notwithstanding these 
great advantages, we find that sundry of them were sud- 
denly fallen into sinful neglects, disorders, and miscar- 
riages, both in doctrine, discipline, and worship. Some of 
these were reproved and reformed by the great apostle, in his 
epistles written unto them for that end: and some of them 
were rebuked and threatened by the- Lord Christ himself 
immediately fiom heaven.' That in process of time they 
have increased in their degeneracy, waxing worse and 
worse; their present state and condition in the world, or 
the remembrance of them which are now not at all, with 
the severe dealings of God with them in his holy wise pro- 
vidence do sufficiently manifest. Yea some of them, though 
yet continuing under other forms and shapes, have by their 
superstition, false worship, and express idolatry, joined 
with wickedness of life and persecution of the true wor- 
shippers of Christ; as also by casting themselves into a 
new worldly constitution, utterly foreign unto what is ap- 
pointed in the gospel, abandoned their interest in the state 
and rights of the churches of Christ. So are sundry faith- 
ful cities become harlots ; and where righteousness inha- 
bited, there dwells persecuting murderers. Such churches 
were planted of Christ wholly noble vines, but are dege- 
nerated into those that are bitter and wild. Whatever our 
judgment may be concerning the personal condition of the 
members of such apostatized churches, or any of them ; all 
communion with them, as they would be esteemed the seat 
of gospel ordinances, and in their pretended administrations 
of them, is unlawful for us; and it is our indispensable duty 
to separate from them. For whatever indifferency many 

' Rev. iii. 3. 


may be growing into in matter of outward worship, which 
ariseth from ignorance of the respect that is between the 
grace and institutions of Christ, as that, from an appre- 
hension that all internal religion consists in moral honesty 
only ; yet we know not any other way whereby we may 
approve ourselves faithful in our profession, but in the ob- 
servance of all whatever Christ hath commanded,"" and to 
abstain from what he condemns. For both our faith and 
love, whatever we pretend, will be found vain, if we en- 
deavour not to keep his commandments." 

Such was the state of things in the church of Israel of 
old, after the defection under Jeroboam. It was no more 
a true church, nor any church at all, by virtue of positive 
institution : for they had neither priests, nor sacrifices, nor 
any ordinances of public worship, that God approved of. 
Hence it was the duty of all that feared God in the ten 
tribes, not to join with the leaders and body of the people 
in their worship ; as also to observe those sacred institu- 
tions of the law, which were forbidden by them, in the 
order that they should not go up to Jerusalem," but attend 
unto all their sacred solemnities in the places where the 
calves were set up. Accordingly many of the most zealous 
professors among them, with the priests and Levites, and 
with a great multitude of the people, openly separated from 
the rest, and joined themselves unto Judah in the worship 
of God, continued therein. Others amongst them secretly 
in the worst of times preserved themselves from the abomi- 
nations of the whole people. In like manner under the New 
Testament, when some have deserved the title of Babylon, 
because of their idolatry, false worship, and persecution, we 
are commanded ' to come out from among them,' in an open 
visible professed separation, that we be not partakers of 
their sins and plagues. But this judgment we are not to 
make, nor do make concerning any, but such as among 
whom idolatry spreads itself over the face of all their solemn 
assemblies, and who join thereunto the persecution of them 
who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth. The con- 
stitution of such churches, as to their being acceptable as- 
semblies of worshippers before God, is lost and dissolved : 
neither is it lawful for any disciple of Christ to partake with 

■" Matt, xxviji. 20. " John xv. 10, 14. o 2 Chron, xi, xiii. 1 Kings xii. xiii. 


them in their sacred administrations ; for so to do, is plainly 
to disown the authority of Christ, or to set up that of wicked 
and corrupt men above it. 

Yet all this hinders not but that there may in such 
apostatical churches remain a profession of the fundamental 
truths of the gospel. And by virtue thereof, as they main- 
tain the interest of Christ's visible kingdom in the world ; 
so we no way doubt but that there may be many amongst 
them, who by a saving faith in the truths they do profess, 
do really belong to the mystical church of Christ. 

An instituted church therefore may, by the crimes and 
wickedness of its rulers, and the generality of its members, 
and their idolatrous administrations in holy things, utterly 
destroy their instituted estate, and yet not presently all of 
them cease to belong; unto the kingdom of Christ. For we 
cannot say, that those things which will certainly annul 
church-administrations, and render them abominable, will 
absolutely destroy the salvation of all individual persons 
who partake in them ; and many may secretly preserve them- 
selves from being defiled with such abominations. So in 
the height of the degeneracy and apostacy of the Israelitish 
church, there were seven thousand who kept themselves 
pure from Baalish idolatry, of whom none were known to 
Elijah. And therefore did God still continue a respect unto 
them as his people, because of those secret ones, and because 
the token of his covenant was yet in their flesh ; affording 
unto them an extraordinary ministry by his prophets, when 
the ordinary by priests and Levites was utterly ceased. 
This we are to hope concerning every place where there is 
any profession made of the name of Christ ; seeing it was 
the passion of Elijah which caused him to oversee so great 
a remnant as God had left unto himself in the kingdom of 
Israel. And from his example we may learn, that good men 
may sometimes be more severe in their censures for God, 
than he will be for himself. 

Moreover, such as were baptized in those churches, were 
not baptized into them as particular churches, nor initiated 
into them thereby ; but the relation which ensued unto 
them thereon, was unto the catholic church visible, together 
with a separation from the infidel world, lying wholly in 
darkness and evil, by a dedication unto the name of Christ. 


Upon a personal avowment of that faith whereinto they were 
baptized, they became complete members of that church. 
Whatever state they are hereby admitted into, whatever 
benefit or privilege they are personally interested in, they 
lose them not by the miscarriage of that particular church 
whereunto they do relate : yea, losing the whole advantage 
of an instituted church-state, they may still retain whatever 
belongs unto their faith and profession. Were baptism 
only an institution into a particular church, upon the failure 
of that church, baptism, as to all its benefits and privileges, 
must cease also. We do therefore own, that amongst those 
whose assemblies are rejected by Christ, because of their 
false worship and wickedness, there may be persons truly 
belonging to the mystical church of God, and that also by 
their profession are a portion of his visible kingdom in the 
world. How far they do consent unto the abominations of 
the churches whereunto they do belong, how far they have 
lighl against them, how far they do bewail them, how far 
they repent of them, what God will bear withal in them, we 
know not, nor are called to judge. Our love is to be towards 
them as persons relating unto Jesus Christ in the capacity 
mentioned ; but all communion with them in the acts of 
false worship is forbidden unto us. By virtue also of that 
relation which they still continue unto Christ and his church 
as believers, they have power, and are warranted (as it is 
their duty) to reform themselves, and to join together anew 
in church-order, for the due celebration of gospel ordinances, 
unto the glory of Christ, and their own edification. For it 
is fond to imagine, that by the sins of others, any disciples 
of Christ in any place of the world, should be deprived of a 
right to perform their duty towards him, when it is dis- 
covered unto them. And these are our thoughts concerning 
such churches as are openly and visibly apostatical. 

Again, there are corruptions that may befall or enter into 
churches that are not of so heinous a nature as those before 
insisted on: especially if, as it often falls out, the whole lump 
be not leavened ; if the whole body be not infected, but only 
some part or parts of it, which others more sound do resist and 
give their testimony against. And these may have none of the 
pernicious consequences before mentioned. Thus many er- 
rors in doctrines disorders, and miscarriages in sacred ad- 


ministrationSjirregular walking in conversation, with neglect 
or abuse of discipline in rulers, may fall out in some churches, 
which yet may be so far from evacuating their church-state, 
as that they give no sufficient warrant unto any person imme- 
diately to leave their communion or to separate from them. 
The instances that maybe given of the failingsof someof the 
primitive churches in all these things, with the considera- 
tion of the apostolical directions given unto them on such 
occasions, render this assertion evident and uncontrollable. 
Nor do we in the least approve of their practice (if any such 
there be that are considerable), who upon every failing in 
these things in any church, think themselves sufficiently 
warranted immediately of their own minds, to depart from 
its communion. Much more do we condemn them who suf- 
fer themselves in these things to be guided by their own 
surmises and misapprehensions. For such there may be as 
make their own hasty conceptions to be the rule of all 
church administrations and communion ; who unless thev 
are in all things pleased, can be quiet nowhere. Where- 
fore when any church, whereof a man is by his own consent 
antecedently a member, doth fall in part or in whole from 
any of those truths which it hath professed, or when it is 
overtaken with a neglect of discipline, or irregularities in its 
administration, such a one is to consider, that he is placed in 
his present state by divine providence, that he may orderly 
therein endeavour to put a stop unto such defections, and to 
exercise his charity, love, and forbearance towards the persons 
of them whose miscarriages at present he cannot remedy. In 
such cases there is a large and spacious field for wisdom, 
patience, love, and prudent zeal to exercise themselves. And 
it is a most perverse imagination that separation is the only 
cure for church disorders. All the gifts and graces of the 
Spirit bestowed on church-members, to be exercised in their 
several stations at such a season, all instructions given for 
their due improvement unto the good of the whole ; the na- 
ture, rules, and laws of all societies, declare that all other 
remedies possible and lawful are to be attempted, before a 
church be finally deserted. But these rules are to be ob- 
served, provided always that it be judged unlawful for any 
persons, either for the sake of peace, or order, or concord, 
or on any other consideration, to join actually in any thing 



that is sinful, or to profess any opinion which is contrary to 
sound doctrine or the form of wholesome words, which we 
are bound to hold fast on all emergencies. And farther, if 
we may suppose, as sure enough we may, that such a church 
so corrupted shall obstinately persist in its errors, miscar- 
riages, neglects, and maleadministrations ; that it shall re- 
fuse to be warned or admonished, or being so by any means, 
shall wilfully reject and despise all instruction; that it will 
not bear with them that are yet sound in it, whether elders or 
members, in peaceable endeavours to reduce it unto the or- 
der of the gospel, but shall rather hurt, persecute, and seek 
their trouble for so doing, whereby their edification comes 
continually to be obstructed, and their souls to be hazarded 
through the loss of truth and peace ; we no way doubt but 
that it is lawful for such persons to withdraw themselves 
from the communion of such churches, and that without any 
apprehension that they have absolutely lost their church- 
state or are totally rejected by Jesus Christ. For the 
means appointed unto any end, are to be measured and re- 
gulated according unto their usefulness unto that end. And 
let men's present apprehensions be what they will, it will one 
day appear that the end of all church-order, rule, communion, 
and administrations, is not the grandeur or secular advan- 
tages of some few, not outward peace and quietness, unto 
whose preservation the civil power is ordained ; but the edi- 
fication of the souls of men in faith, love, and gospel obe- 
dience. Where, therefore, these things are so disposed of 
and managed, as that they do not regularly further and pro- 
mote that end, but rather obstruct it, if they will not be re- 
duced unto their due order and tendency, they may be laid 
aside and made use of in another way. Much more may 
any refuse the communion of such churches, if they impose 
on them their corruptions, errors, failings, and mistakes, as 
the condition of their communion : for hereby they directly 
make themselves lords over the faith and worship of the dis- 
ciples of Christ, and are void of all authority from him in 
what they so do or impose. And it is so far, that any men's 
withdrawing of themselves from the communion of such 
churches, and entering into a way of reformation for their 
own good, in obedience to the laws of Christ, should infer 
in them a want of love and peaceableness, or a spirit of di- 


vision, that to do otherwise were to divide from Christ and 
to cast out all true Christian love, embracing a cloud of sloth- 
ful negligence and carelessness in the great concernments 
of the glory of God and flieir own souls in the room thereof. 
We are neither the authors nor the guides of our own love : 
he who implants and worketh it in us, hath given us rules 
how it must be exercised, and that on all emergencies. It 
may work as regularly by sharp cutting rebukes, as by the 
most sUken and compliant expressions ; by manifesting an 
aversation from all that is evil, as by embracing and approv- 
ing of what is good. In all things and cases it is to be 
directed by the word. And when under the pretence of it 
we leave that rule, and go off from any duty which we owe 
immediately unto God, it is will, pride, and self-conceit in 
us, and not love. And among all the exhortations that are 
given us in the Scripture unto unity and concord, as the 
fruits of love, there is not one that we should agree or com- 
ply with any in their sins or evil practices. But as we are 
commanded in ourselves to abstain ' from all appearance of 
evil,' so are we forbidden a participation in the sins of other 
men, and all ' fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness.' 
Our love towards such churches is to work by pity, compas- 
sion, prayer, instructions, which are due means for their 
healing and recovery^ not by consent unto them or com- 
munion with them, whereby they may be hardened in the 
error of their way and our own souls be subverted : for if we 
have not a due respect unto the Lord Christ and his autho- 
rity, all that we have or may pretend to have unto any 
church, is of no value. Neither ought we to take into con- 
sideration any terms of communion, whose foundation is not 
laid in a regard thereunto. 

Moreover (as hath been declared), there is no such so- 
ciety of Christians in the world, whose assemblies, as to in- 
stituted worship, are rejected by Christ, so that they have a 
bill of divorce given unto them by the declaration of the 
will of the Lord Jesus to that purpose in the Scripture ; but 
that until they are utterly also as it were extirpate by the 
providence of God (as are many of the primitive planta- 
tions), we are persuaded of them that there are yet some 
secret hidden ones among them that belong unto the pur- 
pose of God's grace. For we do judge that wherever th 

E 2 


name of Jesus Christ is called upon, there is salvation to be 
obtained ; however the ways of it may be obstructed unto 
the most by their own sins and errors. They may also re- 
tain that profession which distinguisheth them from the in- 
fidel world. In these things we are still to hold com- 
munion with them; and on these accounts is our love to be 
continued unto them. Some kind of communion we may 
hold with them that are of no instituted or particular 
churches, or whose church-state is rejected, even as a per- 
son excommunicated is to be admonished as a brother. And 
some kind of communion we may la^wfully refuse with some 
true churches ; instances whereof shall be given afterward. 

There is, therefore, no necessity that any should deny all 
them to be true churches, from whom they may have just 
reason to withdraw their communion. For such as are so 
may require such things thereunto as it is not lawful for them 
to accept of or submit unto. What assemblies of Christians 
We behold visibly worshipping God in Christ, we take for 
granted to be true visible churches. And when we judge of 
our own communion with them, it is not upon this question, 
whether they are true churches or no, as though the deter- 
mination of our practice did depend solely thereon : for as 
we are not called to judge of the being of their constitution, 
as to the substance of it, unless they are openly judged in 
the Scripture, as in the case of idolatry and persecution per- 
sisted in ; so a determination of the truth of their constitu- 
tion, or that they are true churches, will not presently re- 
solve us in our duty as to communion with them for the rea- 
sons before given. But in such a case, two things are by 
us principally to be considered. 1. That nothing sinful 
in itself, or unto us, be required of us as the condition of 
communion. 2. That we may in such churches obtain the 
immediate end of their institution and our conjunction with 
them, which is our edification in faith, love, and obedience. 

And the things whereof we have discoursed, comprise 
our thoughts concerning those societies of Christians, whose 
degeneracy from their primitive rule and institution is most 
manifest and notorious. Whilst there is any profession of 
the gospel, any subjection of souls unto Jesus Christ 
avowed, or any expectation of help from him continued 
among them, we cannot but hope that there are in all of 


them, at least some few names that ' are written in the Lamb's 
book of life,' and which shall be saved eternally. For as a 
relation unto a particular visible church walking according 
to the order and rule of the gospel, is the duty of every be- 
liever to give himself up unto ; as that which is a means ap- 
pointed and sanctified to the furtherance of his edification 
and salvation; so where it cannot be obtained through in- 
vincible outward impediments, or is omitted through igno- 
rance of duty, or is on just causes refused where opportuni- 
ties make a tender of it, or where the being and benefit of 
it is lost through the apostacy of those churches whereunto 
any persons did belong ; the utter want of it, and that always, 
is not such as necessarily infers the eternal loss of their 
souls who suffer under it. 

Other churches there are in the world, which are not evi- 
dently guilty of the enormities in doctrine, worship, and dis- 
cipline, before discoursed of. These all we judge to be true 
churches of Christ ; and do hope that his promised presence 
is with them in their assemblies. Answerable hereunto is 
our judgment concerning their officers or rulers, and all 
their sacred administrations. It becomes us to think and 
believe, that the one have authority from Christ ; and that 
the other are accepted with him. For it is most un- 
warrantable rashness and presumption, yea, an evident fruit 
of ignorance, or want of love, or secular private interest, 
when, upon lesser differences men judge churches to be no 
true churches, and their ministers to be no true ministers, 
and consequently all their administrations to be invalid. 
So do some judge of churches, because they have no bishops ; 
and so do more of others, because they have none. But the 
validity or invalidity of the ordinances of Christ, which are 
the means of union and communion with him unto all his 
disciples, depend not on the determination of things highly 
disputable in their notion, and not inconsistent with true 
gospel obedience in their practice. And we are unduly 
charged with other apprehensions. God forbid that any 
such thought should ever enter into our hearts, as though 
the churches constituted in all things according unto our 
light, and the rules we apprehend appointed in the Scrip- 
ture for that purpose, should be the only true churches in 
the world. They do but out of design, endeavour to expose 


US to popular envy and hatred, who invent and publish such 
things concerning us, or any of us. But whatever be the 
judgment of others concerning us, we intend not to take 
from thence any such provocation as might corrupt our 
judgments concerning them ; nor to relieve ourselves by re- 
turning the like censures unto them, as we receive from them. 
Scripture rule and duty must in these matters regulate our 
thoughts on all occasions. And whilst we judge others to 
be true churches, we shall not be much moved with their 
judgment that we are none, because we differ from them. We 
stand to the judgment of Christ and his word. We cannot 
but judge indeed that many churches have missed, and do 
miss in some things the precise rules of their due constitu- 
tion and walking ; that many of them have added useless 
superfluous rites to the worship of God among them ; that 
there is in many of them a sinful neglect of evangelical dis- 
cipline, or a carnal rule erected in the stead of it; that errors 
in doctrines of importance and danger are prevalent in sun- 
dry of them ; that their rulers are much influenced by a spirit 
of bitterness and envy against such as plead for reformation 
beyond their measure or interest; yet that hereupon they 
should all or any of them immediately forfeit their church- 
state, so as to have no lawful ministers, nor acceptable sa- 
cred administrations, is in itself a false imagination, and such 
as was never by us entertained. 

In particular, as to those churches in Europe, which are 
commonly called reformed ; we have the same thoughts of 
them, the same love towards them, the same readiness for 
communion with them, as we would desire any disciples of 
Christ in the world to have, bear, or exercise towards our- 
selves. If we are found negligent in any office of love to- 
wards them, or any of their members, in compassion, help, 
or assistance, or such supplies in outward or inward things 
as we have opportunity or ability for, we are willing to bear 
the guilt of it as our sin, and the reproach of it as our shame. 
And herein we desire to fulfil the royal law, according to the 
Scripture, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' The 
same we say concerning all the churches in England of the 
same mould and constitution with them, especially if it be 
true which some say, that parochial churches are under a 
force and power, whereby they are enjoined the practice of 


sundry things, and forbidden the performance of others, 
wherein the compliance of some is not over-voluntary, nor 
pleasing to themselves. Neither is there a nullity or invali- 
dity in the ordinances administered in them any otherwise 
than as some render them ineffectual unto themselves by their 
unbelief. And this is the paganizing of England which some 
of us are traduced for. We believe that among the visible 
professors in this nation, there is as great a number of sin- 
cere believers as in any nation under heaven ; so that in it 
are treasured up a considerable portion of the invisible mys- 
tical church of Christ. We believe that the generality of 
the inhabitants of this nation, are by their profession consti- 
tuted aneminent part of the kingdom of Christ in this world. 
And we judge not, we condemn not those, who walking accord- 
ing to their light and understanding in particular rites, do 
practise such things in the worship of God as we cannot 
comply withal. For we do not think that the things wherein 
they fail, wherein they miss, or outgo the rule, are in their 
own nature absolutely destructive of their particular church- 
state. And what more can reasonably be required of us, or 
expected from us in this matter we know not. The causes 
of the distance that doth remain between us and them shall 
be afterward inquired into. For our duty in particular 
presential communion, at the celebration of the same indi- 
vidual ordinances, with such churches as are remote from us 
in Asia or Africa, we shall we hope be directed to determine 
aright concerning it, when we are called thereunto. In the 
mean time, what are our thoughts concerning them hatli 
been before declared: to love them as subjects of the 
kingdom of Jesus Christ in the world, to pray for them that 
they may have all needful supplies of grace, and the Holy 
Spirit from above, that God would send out his light and 
truth to guide them in their worship and obedience, and to 
help them in things spiritual and temporal, as we have op- 
portunity, is the sum of the duty which is required in us to- 
wards them. Those we are more concerned in who are with- 
in the lines of our ordinary communication, among whom 
we walk and converse in the world. Unto any of these it is 
in the liberty and power of every believer to join himself by 
his own consent. And no more is required hereunto, in the 
present constitution of churches among ourselves, but that 


♦• ... 

a man remove his habitation, to comply with his own desires 

herein: and this choice is to be regulated by a judgment 
how a man may best improve and promote his own edifica- 
tion. We see not therefore how any man, with the least pre- 
tence of sobriety or modesty, can charge us with the want of 
an esteem and valuation of evangelical unity ; for we em- 
brace it on all the grounds that it is in the gospel recom- 
mended unto us. And we do know within what narrow 
bounds the charity and unity of some are confined, who yet 
advantage themselves by a noise of their pretence. But 
that we do not in the least disturb, break, or dissent from the 
catholic church, either as it is invisible, in its internal form, 
by faith and the renovation of the Holy Ghost, or as visibly 
professing necessary fundamental truths of the gospel, we 
have sufficiently evinced. And the principles laid down 
concerning particular churches, congregations, assemblies, 
or parishes, have not as yet been detected by any to spring 
from want of love, or to be obstructive of the exercise of it. 
Having therefore thus briefly given some account of what we 
conceive to be our duty in relation unto the whole church 
of God, we can with confidence and much assurance of 
mind, own as dear a valuation of love, unity, and peaceable- 
ness in the profession of the gospel, as any sort of profes- 
sors whatever. And we are persuaded that our principles 
do as much tend and conduce unto the improvement of 
them, as any that are or can be proposed unto that end. 
For we either do, or are in a readiness to embrace every 
thing or way, that the Lord Christ hath appointed, or doth 
bless thereunto. 

We doubt not, as hath been before acknowledged, but 
that there have been many failings and sinful miscarriages 
among all sorts of professors, who separate, or are rather 
driven from the present public worship. There is no question 
but that in them all there are some remainders of the bitter 
root of corrupt affections, which under the various temp- 
tations and provocations they have been exposed unto, hath 
brought forth fruit of an unpleasant relish. It is no new 
thing that irregular prejudices should be found acting them- 
selves in professors of the gospel : it hath been so among 
them from the beginning. And we hope that where there 
is or hath been any guilt of this nature, that the reproofs 


which have been publicly given unto it (with what spirit or 
intention soever managed) may be useful to the amendment 
of them who have offended. But for our own parts, we 
must bear this testimony unto our sincerity, that we not 
only condemn, but abhor all evil surmises among professors, 
all rash and uncharitable censures, all causeless aversions 
of mind and affections, all strife, wrath, anger, and debate, 
upon the account of different apprehensions and practices in 
and about the concerns of religious worship. Much more 
do we cast out all thoughts of judging men's eternal state 
and condition with respect unto such differences ; nor do 
we, nor dare we, give countenance unto any thing that is in 
the least really opposite to love, peace, unity, or concord, 
amongst the disciples of Christ. And as we shall not ex- 
cuse any of those extravagancies and intemperate heats in 
words or otherwise, which some it may be have been guilty 
of, until their repentance must bear their own judgment; so 
we will not make a recharge on others who differ in persua- 
sion from us, of the same or the like crimes ; nor indeed need 
we so to do, their principles and practices, contrary unto all 
Christian love and charity, being written as with the beams of 
the sun. And we do not complain of our lot in the world, 
that the appearance of such things in any of us would be 
esteemed a scandalous crime, which others that condemn 
them in us indulge in themselves without the least check 
or control. The law of this condition is put upon us by 
the profession which we do avow. Only we are not willing 
that any should make advantage against us by their pleas, 
for love, unity, and concord, as if indeed they were for 
peace, but that we make ourselves ready for war. Could 
they convince us that we come behind them in the valuation 
and seeking after these things by all ways and means blessed 
by Christ to that purpose, we should judge ourselves with a 
severity at least commensurate to the utmost they are able 
to exercise against us, whilst free from malice and evil 
designs. Only we must add, that there is no true measure 
of love to be taken by the accessions that men can make 
towards them who depart from truth. If it were so, those 
must be judged to abound most with it, who can most com- 
ply with the practices of the church of Rome. But we are 
persuaded that such discourses, with the application of 


them unto those who differ from their authors, do proceed 
from sincerity in them; only, as we fear, somewhat leavened 
with an apprehension that their judgments and practices 
being according unto truth, ought to be the standard and 
measure of other men's; perhaps no less sincere and confi- 
dent of the truth than themselves, though differing from 
them. And hence it is unhappily fallen out, that in the 
reproofs which some do manage on the foundations men- 
tioned, and in the way of their management, many do sup- 
pose that there is as great an appearance, if not evidence of 
evil surmises, ungrounded temerarious censures, of self- 
conceit and elation of mind, of hard thoughts of, undue 
charges on, and the contempt of others, and in all of a want 
of real love, condescension, and compassion, as in any 
things that are true, and to be really found among professors 
blamed by them. For these things, both as charged and 
recharged, have a double appearance. Those from whom 
they proceed look on them in the light of that sincerity and 
integrity which they are conscious of to themselves, wherein 
they seem amiable, useful, and free from all offence; whereas 
others that are concerned viewing of them in the disordered 
reflections of their opposition unto them, and the disad- 
vantage which they undergo by them, do apprehend them 
quite of another nature. And it is a matter of trouble unto 
us, to find that when some are severely handled for those 
principles and ways wherein they can and do commend 
their consciences unto God, and thereby apprehending that 
their intentions, purposes, principles, and affections, are 
injuriously traduced and perverted ; they fall with an equal 
severity on them by whom they are reproved, though their 
reproofs proceed from an equal sincerity unto what them- 
selves profess and expect to be believed in. Especially are 
such mutual reflections grievous and irksome unto men, 
when they apprehend that in them, or by them, professed 
friends do industriously expose them to the contempt and 
wrath of professed adversaries. 



Want of love and unity among Christians justly complained of. Causes of 
divisions ayid schisms. 1. Misapprehensions of evangelical unity . Where- 
in it doth truly consist. The ways and means toherehy it may he obtained 
and preserved. Mistakes about both. 2. Neglect in churches to attend 
unto kmnvn gospel duty. Of preaching unto conversion and edification. 
Care of those that are really godly. Of discipline : how neglected, how 
corrupted. Principles seducing churches and their rulers into miscar- 
riages. 1. Confidence of their place. 2- Contempt of the people, 3. 
Trust unto ivorldly grandeur. Other causes of divisions. Remainders 
of corruption from the general apostacy. Meekness and ignorance. Of 
readiness to take offences. Remedies hereof. Pride. False teachers. 

Upon the whole matter, it is generally acknowledged that 
there is a great decay of love, a great want of peace and 
unity among professors of the gospel in the world. And it 
is no less evident, nor less acknowledged, that these things 
are frequently commanded and enjoined unto them in the 
Scripture. Might they be obtained, it would greatly further 
the ends of the gospel and answer the mind of Christ : and 
their loss is obstructive unto the one, and no less dishonour- 
able unto that profession which is made of the name of the 
other. For the divisions of Christians (occasioned chiefly 
by false notions of unity, and undue means of attaining it) 
are the chief cause of offences unto them who are yet 
strangers from Christianity. The Jews object unto us the 
wars among Christians, which they suppose shall have no 
place under the kingdom and reign of the true Messiah. 
And we have been reproached with our intestine differences 
by Gentiles and Mahometans. For those who never had 
either peace or love or unity among themselves, do yet think 
meet to revile us with the want of them ; because they know 
how highly we are obliged unto them. But any men may 
be justly charged with the neglect of that duty which they 
profess, if they be found defective therein. Under the sad 
effects of the want of these things we may labour lono- 
enough, if we endeavour not to take away the causes of it. 
And yet in the entrance of our disquisition after them we 
are again entangled. Christians cannot come to an agree- 
ment about these causes, and so live under the severity of 


their effects, as not being able to conclude on a remedy. 
The multitude of them is here divided, and one crieth one 
thing, another another : most place the cause of all our 
differences in a dissent from themselves and their judg- 
ments ; yea, they do so apparently who yet disavow^ their so 
doing. And it may be here expected that we should give 
some account of our thoughts as to the causes of these 
differences whereof we also have now complained, so far as 
they are contrary to the nature, or obstructive of the ends of 
the gospel. We shall therefore briefly endeavour the satis- 
faction of such as may have those expectations. Particular 
evils which contribute much unto our divisions we shall not 
insist upon; much less shall we reflect upon and aggravate 
the failings of others, whether persons or societies. Some 
of the principal and more general reasons and causes of 
them, especially amongst Protestants, it shall suffice us to 

The principal cause of our divisions and schisms, is no 
other than the ignorance or misapprehension that is among 
Christians, of the true nature of that evangelical unity which 
they ought to follow after, with the ways and means whereby 
it may be attained and preserved. Hence it is come to pass, 
that in the greatest pleas for unity and endeavours after it, 
most men have pursued a shadow, and fought uncertainly, 
as those that beat the air. For having lost every notion of 
gospel unity, and not loving the thing itself, under what 
terms soever proposed unto them, they consigned the name 
of it unto, and clothed with its ornaments and privileges a 
vain fio-raent of their own, which the Lord Christ never 
required, nor ever blessed any in their endeavours to attain. 
And when they had changed the end, it was needful for them 
also to change the means of attaining it; and to substitute 
those in their room which were suited to the new mark and 
aim they had erected. Farther to evidence these things, 
we shall give some account of the nature of evangelical 
unity, the means of attaining it, with the false notion of it 
that some have embraced, and the corrupt means which they 
have used for the compassing of the same. 

First, That unity which is recommended unto us in the 
gospel is spiritual ; and in that which is purely so, lies the 
foundation of the whole. Hence it is called * the unity of 



the Spirit,' which is to be kept ' in the bond of peace;' because 
there is one body, and one spirit, whereby that body is ani- 
mated." Thus all true believers become one in the Father 
and the Son; or perfect in one.'' It is their participation of, 
and quickening by, the same Spirit that is in Christ Jesus, 
whereby they become his body, or members of it, * even of 
his flesh and of his bones ;''^ that is, no less really partakers 
of the same divine spiritual nature with him,"* than Eve was 
of the nature of Adam, when she was made of his flesh and 
his bones.® The real union ofall true believers unto the Lord 
Christ as their head, wrought by his Spirit which dwelleth 
in them, and communicates of his grace unto them, is that 
which we intend. For as hereby they become one with, and 
in him, so they come to be one among themselves, as his 
body; and all the members of the body, being many, are yet 
but one body, wherein their oneness among themselves doth 
consist. The members of the body have divers forms or 
shapes, divers uses and operations, much more may be di- 
versely clothed and adorned; yet are they one body still, 
wherein their unity doth consist. And it were a ridiculous 
thing to attempt the appearance of a dead useless unity 
among the members of the body by clothing of them all in 
the same kind of garments or covering. But granting them 
their unity by their relation unto the head, and thence to one 
another, unto the constitution of the whole; and their dif- 
ferent forms, shapes, uses, operations, ornaments, all tend to 
make them serviceable in their unity unto their propei ends. 
And saith the apostle, ' as the body is one, and hath many 
members, and all the members of that one body, being many, 
are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all 
baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, 
whether we be bond or free ; and have been all made to drink 
into one Spirit.'^ And he doth elsewhere so describe this 
fundamental unity of believers in one body, under, and in 
dependence on, the same head, as to make it the only means 
of the usefulness and preservation of the whole. They 
' grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even 
Christ: from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and 

»Eph. iv. 3, 4. b John xvii.21, 22. "^ Eph. v. 30. '' 2 Pet. i. 4. 

<^ Gen. V. 2, 3. '1 Cor. xii. 12, 13. 


compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according 
to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh 
increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.s The 
conjunctions of all the members into one body, their mutual 
usefulness unto one another, the edification of the whole, 
with its increase, the due exercise of love (which things 
contain the whole nature, and the utmost ends of all church- 
communion) do depend merely and solely upon, and flow 
from, the relation that the members have to the head, and 
their union with him. He speaketh again to the same pur- 
pose in the reproof of them who ' hold not the head from 
which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment 
ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase 
of God.' ^ This is the foundation of all gospel unity among 
believers, whereunto all other things which are required 
unto the completing of it, are but accessory ; nor are they, 
without this, of any value or acceptation in the sight of 
God. Whatever order, peace, concord, union in the church, 
any one may hold or keep, who is not interested herein, he 
is but like a stone in a building, laid, it may be, in a comely 
order, but not cemented and fixed unto the whole, which 
renders its station useless to the building, and unsafe unto 
itself; or like a dead, mortified part of the body, which 
neither receives any vital influence from the head, nor ad- 
ministers nourishment unto any other part. Now it cannot 
be denied but that in the contests that are in the world 
about church-union and divisions, with what is pleaded 
about their nature and causes, there is little or no considera- 
tion had thereof. Yea, those things are principally insisted 
on for the constituting of the one, and the avoiding of the 
other, which cast a neglect, yea, a contempt upon it. It is 
the Romanists who make the greatest outcries about church- 
union, and who make the greatest advantage by what they 
pretend so to be. But hereunto they contend expressly on 
the one side, that it is indispensably necessary that all 
Christians should be subject to the pope of Rome, and 
united unto him; and, on the other, that it is not necessary 
at all that any of them be spiritually and savingly united 
unto Christ. Others also place it in various instances of 

« Eph.iv. 15, 16. hCol. ii. 19. 


conformity unto, and compliance with, the commands of men, 
which, if they are observed, they are wondrous cold in their 
inquiries after this relation unto the head. But the truth 
is, that where any one is interested in this foundation of all 
gospel unity, he may demand communion with any church 
in the world, and ought not to be refused, unless in case of 
some present offence or scandal. And those by whom such 
persons are rejected from communion, to be held on gospel 
terms, on the account of some differences not intrenching 
on this foundation, do exercise a kind of church tyranny, 
and are guilty of the schism which may ensue thereon. So 
on the other side, where this is wanting, men's compliance 
with any other terms or conditions that may be proposed 
unto them, and their obtainingof church-communion thereon, 
will be of little advantage unto their souls. 

Secondly, Unto this foundation of gospel unity among 
believers, for and unto the due improvement of it, there is 
required a unity of faith, or of the belief and profession of 
the same divine truth. For as there is one Lord, so also one 
faith and one baptism unto believers. And this ariseth from, 
and followeth the other. For those who are so united unto 
Christ, are all taught of God to believe the truths wluch 
are necessarily required thereunto. And however by the 
power of temptation they may fall in it, or from it for a sea- 
son, as did Peter, yet, through the love and care of Jesus 
Christ, they are again recovered. Now unto this unity of 
faith two things are required : First, A precise and express 
profession of the fundamental articles of Christian religion. 
For we outwardly hold the head by a consent unto the form 
of wholesome words Vv'herein the doctrine of it is contained. 
Of the number and nature of such fundamental truths, whose 
express acknowledgment belongs unto the unity of faith, so 
much hath been discoursed by others, as that we need not 
add any thing thereunto. The sum is, that they are but few, 
plainly delivered in the Scripture ; evidencing their own ne- 
cessity; all conducing to the begetting and increase of that 
spiritual life, whereby we live unto God. Secondly, It is 
required hereunto, that in other things and duties, * every 
man be fully persuaded in his own mind,' and walking ac- 
cording to what he hath attained, do follow peace and 


love, with those who are otherwise persuaded than he is.^ 
For the unity of faith did never consist in the same precise 
conceptions of all revealed objects : neither the nature of 
man, nor the means of revelation, will allow such a unity to 
be morally possible. And the figment of supplying this va- 
riety by an implicit faith, is ridiculous. For herein faith is 
considered as professed ; and no man can make profession 
of what he knoweth not. It is therefore condescension and 
mutual forbearance whereby the unity of faith, consisting in 
the joint belief of necessary truths, is to be reserved with re- 
spect unto other things about which differences may arise. 

Yet is not this so to be understood as though Chris- 
tians, especially ministers of the gospel, should content 
themselves with the knowledge of such fundamentals, or 
confine their Scripture inquiries unto them. Whatever is 
written in the Scripture, is 'written for our instruction;"' 
and it is our duty to search diligently into the whole 
counsel of God therein revealed: yea, to inquire with 'all 
diligence," in the use of all means, and the improvement of 
all advantages, with fervent supplications for light and aid 
from above, into the whole mystery of the will of God, as re- 
vealed in the Scripture, and all the parts of it, is the princi- 
pal duty that is incumbent on us in this world. And those 
who take upon them to be ministers and instructors of others, 
by whom this is neglected, who take up with a superficiary 
knowledge of general principles, and those such for the most 
part as have a coincidence with the light of nature, do but 
betray the souls of those over whom ^they usurp a charge, 
and are unworthy of the title and office which they bear. 
Neither is there any thing implied in the means of preserv- 
ing the unity of faith, that should hinder us from explaining, 
confirming, and vindicating any truth that we have received, 
wherein others differ from us ; provided that what we do, be 
done with a spirit of meekness and love : yea, our so doing is 
one principal means of minii^tering nourishment unto the 
body, whereby the whole is increased as 'with the increase 
of God.' 

But in the room of all this, what contendings, fightings, 

' Rom. xiv. 5. Phil. iii. 15. k l Cor. x. 11. 

' iTini. iv. 13—16. 2 Tim. iii. 15—17. 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. 


destructions of men, body, and soul, upon variety of judg- 
ments about sacred things, have been introduced by the 
crafts of Satan and the carnal interest of men of corrupt 
minds, is known to all the world. 

Thirdly, There is a unity of love that belongs vinto the 
evangelical unity which we are in the description of. For 
love is the bond of perfection, that whereby all the members 
of the body of Christ are knit together among themselves, 
and which renders all the other ingredients of this unity 
useful unto them. And as we have discoursed of the nature 
of this love before, so the exercise of it, as it hath an actual 
influence into gospel unity among Christians, may be re- 
duced unto two heads. For, first. It worketh effectually 
according to the measure pf them in whom it is, in the con- 
tribution of supplies of grace and light, and helps of obe- 
dience unto other members of the body. Every one in whom 
this love dwelleth, according to his ability, call, and oppor- 
tunities, which make up his measure, will communicate the 
spiritual supplies which he receiveth from the head Christ 
Jesus unto others, by instructions, exhortations, consola- 
tions, and example, unto their edification. This he will do 
in love, and unto the ends of love; namely, to testify a joint 
relation unto Christ the head of all, and the increase of the 
whole by supplies of life from him. Instead hereof, some 
have invented bonds of ecclesiastical unity, which may bind 
men together in some appearance of order, whilst in the 
mean time they live in envy, wrath, and malice, biting and 
devouring one another; or if there be any thing of love 
among them, it is that which is merely natural, or carnal and 
sensual, working by a joint consent in delights and pleasure, 
or at best in civil things, belonging unto their conversation 
in this world. The love that is among such persons in this 
world is of the world, and will perish with the world. But 
it is a far easier thing to satisfy conscience with a pretence 
of preserving church-unity, by anacquiescency in some out- 
ward rules and constitutions, wherein men's minds are little 
concerned, than to attend diligently unto the due exercise of 
this grace of love, against all oppositions and temptations 
unto the contrary: for indeed the exercise of this love re- 
quires a sedulous and painful labour; Heb. vi. 10. But yet 
this is that alone which is the bond of peferction unto the 
VOL. XXI, r 


disciples of Christ, and without which all other pretences or 
appearances of unity are of no value with hin>. Secondly, 
This love acts itself by forbearance and condescension to- 
wards the infirmities, mistakes, and faults of others ; wherein, 
of what singular use it is for the preservation of church- 
peace and order, the apostle at large declares, 1 Cor. xiii. 

Fourthly, The Lord Christ by his kingly authority hath 
instituted orders for rule, and ordinances for worship,"^ to be 
observed in all his churches. That they be attended unto, 
and celebrated in a due manner, belongs unto the unity 
which he requires among his disciples. To this end he com- 
municates supplies of spiritual ability and wisdom, or the 
gifts of his Spirit, unto the guides and rulers of his churches, 
for their administration unto edification. And hereon, if a 
submission unto his authority be accompanied with a due 
attendance unto the rule of the word, no such variety or 
difference will ensue as shall impeach that unity which is 
the duty of them all to attend unto. 

In these things doth consist that evangelical church- 
unity which the gospel recommends unto us, and which the 
Lord Christ prayed for" with respect unto all that should 
believe on his name. One Spirit, one faith, one love, one 
Lord, there ought to be in and unto them all. In the pos- 
session of this unity, and no other, were the first churches 
left by the apostle : and had they in succeeding generations 
continued according to their duty in the preservation and 
liberty of it, all those scandalous divisions which afterward 
fell out among them on account of pre-eminences, jurisdic- 
tions, liturgies, rites, ceremonies, violently or fraudulently 
obtruded on their communion, had been prevented." 

The ways and means whereby this unity may be obtained 
and preserved amongst Christians, are evident from the na- 
ture of it : for whereas it is spiritual, none other are suited 
thereunto ; nor hath the Lord Christ appointed any other but 
his Spirit and his word. For to this end doth he promise 
the presence of his Spirit^ among them that believe, unto the 
consummation of all things. And this he doth, both as to 
lead and ' guide them unto all truth' necessary unto the ends 
mentioned, so to assist and help them iiT the orderly per- 

"Mattxxviii.l9, 20. Eph. iv. 8—13. "John xvli. 20— 22. 

»2 Cor. X. 4, 5. p Matt, xxviii, 20. John xiv. 1(3. 


formances of their duties in and about them. His word 
also, as the rule which they are to attend unto, he hath 
committed unto them ; and other ways and means for the 
compassing of this end, besides the due improvement of 
spiritual assistances in a compliance v/ith the holy rule, he 
hath not designed or appointed. 

This is that gospel unity which we are to labour after, 
and these are the means whereby we may do so. But now 
through the mistake of the minds of men, with the strong 
influence which carnal and corrupt interests have upon 
them, we know how it hath been despised, and what hath 
been set up in the room thereof, and what have been the 
means whereby it hath been pursued and promoted. We 
may take an instance in those of the church of Rome. No 
sort of Christians in the world (as we have already observed) 
do at this day more pretend unto unity, or more press the 
necessity of it, or more fiercely judge, oppose, and destroy 
others for the breach of it which they charge upon them, 
nor more prevail or advantage themselves by the pretence of 
it, than do they : but yet notwithstanding all their pretences, 
it will not be denied, but that the unity which they so make 
their boast of, and press upon others, is a thing utterly fo- 
reign to the gospel, and destructive of that peace, union, 
and concord among Christians, which it doth require. They 
know how highly unity is commended in the Scripture, how 
much it is to be prized and valued by all true believers, how 
acceptable it is to Jesus Christ, and how severely they are 
condemned who break it, or despise it : these things they 
press, and plead, and make their advantage by. But when 
we come to inquire what it is that they intend by church- 
unity, they tell us long stories of subjection unto the pope, 
to the church in its dictates and resolutions without farther 
examination, merely because they are theirs. Now these 
things are not only of another nature and kind than the 
unity and concord commended unto us by Jesus Christ; but 
perfectly inconsistent with them, and destructive of them. 
And as they would impose upon us a corrupt confederacy 
for their own secular advantage, in the room of the spiritual 
unity of the gospel, so it was necessary that they should find 
out means suitable unto its accomplishment and preserva- 
ion ; as distant from the means appointed by Christ for the 

r 2 


attaining of gospel union, as their carnal confederacy is from 
the thing itself. And they have done accordingly: for the 
enforcing men by all ways of deceit and outward violence 
unto a compliance with, and submission unto, their orders, 
is the great expedient for the establishment and preserva- 
tion of their perverse union, that they have fixed on. Now 
that this fictitious unity and corrupt carnal pursuit of it, 
have been the greatest occasion and causes of begetting, 
fomenting, and continuing the divisions that are among 
Christians in the world, hath been undeniably proved by 
learned men of all sorts. And so it will fall out, wherever 
any reject the union of Christ's institutions, and substitute 
in the room thereof an agreement of their own invention ; as 
his will be utterly lost, so they will not be able to retain 
their own. 

Thus others also, not content with those bounds and mea- 
sures which the gospel hath fixed unto the unity of Chris- 
tians and churches, will have it to consist almost wholly in 
an outward conformity unto certain rites, orders, ceremonies, 
and modes of sacred administrations, which themselves have 
either invented and found out, or do observe and approve. 
Whoever dissents from them in these things, must immedi- 
ately be branded as a schismatic, a divider of the church's 
unity, and an enemy unto the peace and order of it. How- 
beit, of conformity unto such institutions and orders of men, 
of uniformity in the observation of such external rites in the 
worship of the church, there is not one word spoken, nor any 
thing of that nature intimated, in all the commands of unity 
which are given unto us, nor in the directions that are sancti- 
fied unto the due preservation of it. Yet such a uniformity 
being set up in the room of evangelical unity and order, means 
suited' unto the preservation of it, but really destructive of 
that whose name it beareth, and whose place it possesseth, 
have not been wanting. And it is not unworthy considera- 
tion, how men endeavour to deceive others, and are deceived 
themselves, by manifold equivocations in their arguings about 
this matter. For, first, they lay down the necessity of unity 
among Christians, with the evil that is in breaches, divisions 
and schisms ; which they prove from the commands of the one, 
and the reproofs of the other, that abound in the Scripture. 
Then, with an easy deduction, they prove that it is a duty 


incumbent on all Christians in their several capacities to ob- 
serve, keep, further, and promote this unity, and to prevent, 
oppose, resist, and avoid all divisions that are contrary there- 
unto. If so, the magistrate must do the same in his place 
and capacity. Now seeing it is his office, and unto him of 
God it is committed, to exercise his power in laws and pe- 
nalties for the promoting of what is good, and the punishing 
of what is contrary thereunto, it is his duty to coerce, re- 
strain, and punish all those who oppose, despise, or any way 
break or disturb the unity of the church. And this ratio- 
cination would seem reasonable, were it not doubly defec- 
tive. For first, the unity intended in the first proposition, 
whose necessity is confirmed by Scripture testimonies, is 
utterly lost before we come to the conclusion, and the out- 
ward uniformity mentioned is substituted in the room there- 
of. And hereby, in the second place, are they deceived to 
believe that external force and penalties are a means to be 
used by any for the attaining or preserving of gospel unity. 
It is not improbable, indeed, but that it may be suited to 
give countenance unto that external uniformity which is in- 
tended ; but that it should be so unto the promotion of gos- 
pel union among believers, is a weak imagination. Let such 
persons keep themselves and their argument unto that union 
which the Scripture commends amongst the disciples of 
Christ and his churches, with the means fitted and appointed 
unto the preservation of it, and they shall have our com- 
pliance with any conclusion that will thence ensue. 

Herein, therefore, lies the fundamental cause of our divi- 
sions, which will not be healed until it be removed and taken 
out of the way. Leave believers or professors of the gospel 
unto their duty in seeking after evangelical unity in the use 
of other means instituted and, blessed unto that end ; im- 
pose nothing on their consciences or practice under that 
name, which indeed belongs not thereunto ; and althouo-h 
upon the reasons and causes afterward to be mentioned, 
there may for a season remain some divisions among them, 
yet there will be a way of healing continually ready for 
them, and agreed upon by them as such. Where, indeed, 
men propose unto themselves diiferent ends, though under 
the same name, the use of the same means for the compass- 
ing of them will but increase their variance : as where 


some aim at evangelical union, and others at an external 
uniformity, both under the name of unity and peace, in the 
use of the same means for these ends, they will be more 
divided among themselves. But where the same end is 
aimed at, even the debate of the means for the attaining of 
it, will insensibly bring the parties into a coalition, and work 
out in the issue a complete reconciliation. In the mean time, 
were Christians duly instructed how many lesser differences 
in mind, and judgment, and practice, are really consistent 
with the nature, ends, and genuine fruit of the unity that 
Christ requires among them, it would undoubtedly prevail 
with them so to manage themselves in their differences by 
mutual forbearance and condescension in love, as not to con- 
tract the guilt of being disturbers or breakers of it. For 
suppose the minds of any of them to be invincibly prepos- 
sessed with the principles wherein they differ from others ; 
yet all who are sincere in their profession, cannot but re- 
joice to be directed unto such a managery of them, as to 
be preserved from the guiltof dissolving the unity appointed 
by Christ to be observed. And to speak plainly, among all 
the churches in the world which are free from idolatry and 
persecution, it is not different opinions, or a difference in 
judgment about revealed truths, nor a different practice in sa- 
cred administrations ; but pride, self-interest, love of honour, 
reputation, and dominion, with the influence of civil or poli- 
tical intrigues and considerations, that are the true cause of 
that defect of evangelical unity that is at this day amongst 
them. Forget them aside, and the real differences which 
would remain, may be so managed in love, gentleness, and 
meekness, as not to interfere with that unity which Christ 
requireth them to preserve. Nothing will from thence fol- 
low which shall impeach their common interest in one Lord, 
one faith, one love, one Spirit, and the administration of the 
same ordinances according to their light and ability. But 
if we shall cast away this evangelical union among the dis- 
ciples and churches of Christ, if we shall break up the 
bounds and limits fixed unto it, and set up in its place a com- 
pliance with or an agreement in the commands and appoint- 
ments of men, making their observations the rule and mea- 
sure of our ecclesiastical concord, it cannot be but that in- 
numerable and endless divisions will ensue thereon. If we 


will not be contented with the union that Christ hath ap- 
pointed, it is certain that we shall have none in this world. 
For concerning that which is of men's finding out, there have 
been and will be contentions and divisions, whilst there are 
any on the one side who will endeavour its imposition ; and 
on the other, who desire to preserve their consciences entire 
unto the authority of Christ in his lav/s and appointments. 

There is none who can be such a stranger in our Israel 
as not to know that these things have been the great occa- 
sion and cause of the divisions and contentions that have 
been among us near a hundred years, and which at this day 
make our breaches wide like the sea, that they cannot be 
healed. Let, therefore, those who have power and ability, be 
instrumental to restore to the minds of men the true notion 
and knowledge of the unity which the Lord Christ requireth 
among his churches and disciples ; and let them be left unto 
that liberty which he hath purchased for them, in the pur- 
suit of that unity which he hath prescribed unto them ; and 
let us all labour to stir up those gracious principles of love 
and peace, which ought to guide us in the use of our liberty, 
and will enable us to preserve gospel unity, and there will 
be a greater progress made towards peace, reconciliation, 
and concord, amongst all sorts of Christians, than the spoil- 
ing of the goods or imprisoning the persons of dissenters 
will ever effect. But it may be such things are required 
hereunto, as the world is yet scarce able to comply withal. 
For whilst men do hardly believe that there is an efficacy 
and power accompanying the institutions of Christ, for the 
compassing of that whole end which he aimeth at and in- 
tendeth ; whilst they are unwilling to be brought unto the 
constant exercise of that spiritual diligence, patience, meek- 
ness, condescension, self-denial, renunciation of the world, 
and conformity thereunto, which are indispensably necessary 
in church-guides and church-members, according to their 
measure, unto the attaining and preservation of gospel unity; 
but do satisfy themselves in the disposal of an ecclesiastical 
union, into a subordination unto their own secular interests 
by external force and power ; we have very small expecta- 
tion of success in the way proposed. In the mean time we 
are herewith satisfied. Take the churches of Christ in 


the world that are not infected with idolatry or persecu- 
tion, and restore their unity unto the terms and con- 
ditions left unto them by Christ and his apostles ; and if 
in any thing we are found uncompliant therewithal, we shall 
without repining bear the reproach of it, and hasten an 

Another cause of the evil effects and consequences men- 
tioned, is the great neglect that hath been in churches, 
and church-rulers, in the pursuance of the open direct ends 
of the gospel, both as to the doctrine and discipline of it. 
This hath been such, and so evident in the world, that it is 
altogether in vain for any to deny it, or to attempt an ex- 
cuse of it. And men have no reason to flatter themselves, 
that whilst they live in an open neglect of their own duty, 
others will always, according to their wills or desires, attend 
with diligence unto what they prescribe unto them. If 
churches or their rulers could excuse or justify their mem- 
bers, in all the evils that may befall them through their mis- 
carriages and maleadministrations, it might justly be ex- 
pected that they should go along with them, under their 
conduct, whither ever they should lead them. But if it can 
never be obliterated out of the minds and consciences of 
men, that they must every one live by his own faith, and 
every one give an account of himself unto God, and that 
every one, notwithstanding the interposition of the help of 
churches and their rulers, is obliged immediately in his 
own person, to take care of his whole duty towards God ; it 
cannot be, but that in such cases, they will judge for them- 
selves, and what is meet for them to do. In case therefore 
that they find the churches whereunto they do relate under 
the guilt of the neglect mentioned, it is probable that they 
will provide for themselves and their own fafety. In this 
state of things it is morally impossible, but that differences 
and divisions will fall out, which might all of them have 
been prevented, had there been a due attention unto the 
work, doctrine, order, and discipline of the gospel, in the 
churches that were in possession of the care and administra- 
tion of them. For it is hard for men to believe, that by 
the will and command of Christ they are inevitably shut up 
under spiritual disadvantages ; seeing it is certain that he 


hath ordered all things in the church for their edification. 
But the consideration of some particular instances, will 
render this cause of our divisions more evident and manifest. 
The first end of preaching the gospel is the conversion 
of the souls of men unto God, Acts xxvi. 17, 18. This 
we suppose will not be questioned, or denied. That the 
work hereof in all churches ought to be attended and pur- 
sued with zeal, diligence, labour, and care, all accompanied 
with constant and fervant prayers for success in and by the 
ministers and rulers of them, 1 Tim. v. 17. 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. 
is a truth also that will not admit of any controversy among 
them that believe the gospel. Herein principally do men 
in office in the church, exercise and manifest their zeal 
for the glory of God, their compassion towards the souls of 
men, and acquit themselves faithfully in the trust committed 
unto them by the * great Shepherd of the sheep,' Christ Jesus. 
If now in any assembly, or other societies professing them- 
selves to be churches of Christ, and claiming the right and 
power of churches towards all persons living within the 
bounds or limits which they have prescribed unto them- 
selves, this work be either totally neglected, or carelessly 
and perfunctorily attended unto 5 if those on whom it is im- 
mediately incumbent, do either suppose themselves free 
from any obligation thereunto, upon the pretence of other 
engagements ; or do so dispose of themselves in their rela- 
tion unto many charges or employments, as that it is im- 
possible they should duly attend unto it, or are unable and 
insufficient for it; so that indeed there is not in such 
churches a due representation of the love, care, and kind- 
ness of the Lord Jesus Christ towards the souls of men, 
which he hath ordained the administrations of his gospel to 
testify ; it cannot be, but that great thoughts of heart, and 
no small disorder of mind, will be occasioned in them who 
understand aright how much the principal end of constitut- 
ing churches in this world is neglected among them. And 
although it is their duty for a season patiently to bear 
with, and quietly seek the reformation of, this evil in the 
churches whereunto they do belong ; yet when they find 
themselves excluded, it may be by the very constitution of 
the church itself, it may be by the iniquity of them that 
prevail therein, from the performance of any thing that tends 


thereunto, it will increase their disquietment. And whereas 
men do not join themselves, nor are by any other ways 
joined unto churches, for any civil or secular ends or pur- 
poses, but merely for the promotion of God's glory, and the 
edification of their own souls in faith and gospel obedience ; 
it is altogether vain for any to endeavour a satisfaction of 
their consciences, that it is sin to withdraw from such 
churches, wherein these ends are not pursued nor attainable. 
And yet a confidence hereof is that which hath countenanced 
sundry church-guides into that neglect of duty, which many 
complain of, and groan under at this day. 

The second end of the dispensation of the gospel in the 
assemblies of the churches of Christ by the ministers of 
them, is the edification of them that are converted unto 
God, and do believe. Herein consists that feeding of his 
sheep and lambs that the Lord Christ hath committed unto 
them : and it is mentioned as the principal end for which 
the ministry was ordained ; or for which pastors and 
teachers are granted unto the church, Eph. iv. 8 — 12. And 
the Scripture abounds in the declaration of what skill and 
knowledge in the mystery of the gospel, what attendance 
unto the word and prayer, what care, watchfulness, and 
diligent labour in the word and doctrine, are required unto 
a due discharge of the ministerial duty. Where it is omitted, 
or neglected, where it is carelessly attended unto, where 
those on whom it is incumbent, do act more like hirelings 
than true shepherds, where they want skill to divide the 
word aright, or wisdom and knowledge to declare from it 
' the whole counsel of God,' or diligence to be urgent con- 
tinually in the application of it; there the principal end of 
all church-communion is ruined and utterly lost. And 
where it so falls out, let any man judge what thoughts they 
are like to be exercised withal, who make conscience of the 
performance of their own duty, and understand the neces- 
sity of enjoying the means that Christ hath appointed for 
their edification. And it is certain, that such churches will 
in vain, or at least unjustly, expect that professors of the 
gospel should abide in their particular communion, when 
they cannot or do not provide food for their souls, whereby 
they may live to God. Unless all the members of such 
churches are equally asleep in security, divisions among 


them will in this case ensue. Will any disciple of Christ 
esteem himself obliged to starve his own soul, for the sake 
of communion with them who have sinfully destroyed the 
principal end of all church-communion? Is there any law 
of Christ, or any rule of the gospel, or any duty of love, that 
require them so to do ? The sole immediate end of men's 
joining in churches being their own edification, and useful- 
ness unto others, can they be bound in conscience always 
to abide there, or in the communion of those churches, 
where it is not to be attained, where the means of it are ut- 
terly cast aside? This may become such as know not their 
duty, nor care to be instructed in it, and are willing to perish 
in and for the company of others. But for them which in 
such cases shall provide according to the rules of the gospel 
for themselves, and their own safety, they may be censured, 
judged, and severely treated by them whose interest and 
advantage it is so to do ; they may be despised by riotous 
persons who sport themselves with their own deceivings ; 
but with the Lord Christ, the Judge of all, they will be ac- 
cepted. And they do but increase the dread of their own 
account, who under pretence of church-power and order, 
would forcibly shut up Christians in such a condition, as 
wherein they are kept short of all the true ends of the 
institution of churches. To suppose, therefore, that every 
voluntary departure from the constant communion of such 
churches, made with a design of joining unto those, where 
the word is dispensed with more diligence and efficacy, is a 
schism from the church of Christ, is to suppose that which 
neither the Scripture nor reason will give the least coun- 
tenance unto. And it would better become such churches 
to return industriously unto a faithful discharge of their 
duty, whereby this occasion of divisions may be removed 
out of the way, than to attempt their own justification by 
the severe prosecution of such as depart from them. 

Thirdly, In pursiiit of the doctrine of the gospel so im- 
proved and applied, it is the known and open duty of churches 
in their guides or ministers, by all means to countenance and 
promote the growth of light, knowledge, godliness, strict- 
ness, and fruitfulness of conversation, in those members of 
them, in whom they may be found, or do appear in an espe- 
cial manner. Such are they to own, encourage, and make 


their companions, and endeavour that others may become 
like unto them. For unless men in their ordinary and com- 
mon conversation, in their affections, and the interest which 
they have in the administration of discipline, do uniformly 
answer the doctrine of truth which they preach, it cannot be 
avoided but that it will be matter of offence unto others, and 
of reproach to themselves. Much more will it be so, if instead 
of these things, those who preside in the churches shall beat 
their fellow-servants, and eat and drink with the drunken. 
But by all ways it is their duty to separate the precious from 
the vile, if they intend to be as the mouth of the Lord, even 
in their judgments, affections, and conversations. And 
herein what wisdom, patience, diligence,love, condescension, 
and forbearance are required, they alone know, and they full 
well know, who for any season have in their places consci- 
entiously endeavoured the discharge of their duty. But 
whatever be the labour which is to be undergone therein, 
and the trouble wherewith it is attended, it is that which by 
the appointment of Christ all ministers of the gospel are 
obliged to attend unto. They are not by contrary actings to 
make sad the hearts of them whom God would not have 
made sad, nor to strengthen the hands of them whom God 
would not have encouraged, as they will answer it at their 
peril. The hearts of church-guides, and of those who in an 
especial manner fear God, thriving in knowledge and grace 
under the dispensation of the word, ought to be knit together 
in all holy affections, that they may together grow up into 
him who is the head. For where there is the greatest evi- 
dence and manifestation of the power and presence of Christ 
in any, there ought their affections to be most intense. For 
as such persons are the crown, the joy and rejoicing of their 
guides, and will appear to be so in the day of the Lord ; so 
they do know, or may easily do so, what obligations are on 
them to honour and pay all due respects unto their teachers, 
how much on all accounts they owe unto them, whereby their 
mutual love may be confirmed. And where there is this 
uniformity between the doctrine of the gospel as preached, 
and the duties of it as practised, then are they both beauti- 
ful in the eyes of all believers, and effectual unto their pro- 
per ends. But where things in churches, through their neg- 
ligence or corruption, or that of their guides, are quite 


Otherwise, it is easy to conjecture what will ensue thereon. If 
those who are forwardest in profession, who give the great- 
est evidence that they have received the powers of that reli- 
gion which is taught and owned among them, who have ap- 
parently attained a growth in spiritual light and knowledge 
above others, shall be so far from being peculiarly cherished 
and regarded, from being loved, liked, or associated withal, 
as that on the other side they shall be marked, observed, re- 
proached, and it may be on every slight provocation put even 
to outward trouble; whilst men of worldly and profane con- 
versations, ignorant, perhaps riotous and debauched, shall 
be the delight and companions of church-guides and rulers, 
it cannot be that such churches should long continue in 
peace ; nor is that peace wherein they continue much to be 
valued. An agreement in such ways and practices is rather 
to be esteemed a conspiracy against Christ and holiness, 
than church-order .or concord. And when men once find 
themselves hated, and it may be persecuted, for no other 
cause, as they believe, but because they labour in their lives 
and professions to express the power of that truth wherein 
they have been instructed, they can hardly avoid the enter- 
tainment of severe thoughts concerning them from whom 
they had just reason to expect other usage ; and also to 
provide for their own more peaceable encouragement and 

Fourthly, Hereunto also belongeth the due exercise of 
gospel discipline, according to the mind of Christ. It is in- 
deed by some called into question, whether there be any 
rule or discipline appointed by Christ to be exercised in his 
churches. But this doubt must respect such outward forms 
and modes of the administration of these things, which are 
supposed, but not proved necessary. For whether the Lord 
Christ hath appointed some to rule, and some to be ruled ; 
whether he hath prescribed laws or rules, whereby the one 
should govern and the other obey ; whether he hath deter- 
mined the matter, manner, and end of this rule and govern- 
ment, cannot well be called into controversy by such as pro- 
fess to believe the gospel. Of what nature or kind these 
governors or rulers are to be, what is their office, how they 
are to be invested therewith, and by what authority, how 
they are to behave themselves in the administration of the 


laws of the church, are things determined by him in the 
word. And for the matters about which they are to be con- 
versant, it is evidently declared of what nature they are, 
how they are to be managed, and to what end. The quali- 
fications and duties of those who are to be admitted into the 
church, their deportment in it, their removal from it, are all 
expressed in the laws and directions given unto the same 
end. In particular it is ordained, that those who are unruly 
or disorderly, who walk contrary unto the rules and ways of 
holiness prescribed unto the church, shall be rebuked, ad- 
monished, instructed ; and, if after all means used for their 
amendment, they abide in impenitency, that they be ejected 
out of communion. For the church, as visible, is a society 
gathered and erected to express and declare the holiness of 
Christ, and the power of his grace in his person and doc- 
trine. And where this is not done, no church is of any ad- 
vantage unto the interests of his glory in this world. The 
preservation therefore of holiness in them, whereof the dis- 
cipline mentioned is an effectual means, is as necessary and 
of the same importance with the preservation of their being. 
The Lord Christ hath also expressly ordained, that in case 
offences should arise in and among his churches, that in 
and by them they should be composed, according to the 
rules of the word and his own laws ; and in particular, that 
in sinful miscarriages causing ofll'ence or scandal, there be a 
regular proceeding, according unto an especial law and con- 
stitution of his, for the removal of the offence and recovery 
of the offender ; as also that those who in other cases have 
fallen by the power of temptation, should be restored by a 
spirit of meekness ; and, not to instance in more particulars, 
that the whole flock be continually watched over, exhorted, 
warned, instructed, comforted, as the necessities or occa- 
sions of the whole, or the several members of it, do require. 
Now supposing these and the like laws, rules, and directions, 
to be given and enjoined by the authority of Christ (which 
gives warranty for their execution unto men prudent for the 
ordering of affairs according to their necessary circumstances, 
and believers of the gospel, doing all things in obedience 
unto him), we judge that a complete rule or government is 
erected thereby in the church. However, we know that the 
exercise of discipline in every church, so far as the laws and 


rules of it are expressed in the Scripture, and the ends of it 
directed unto, is as necessary as any duty enjoined unto us 
in the whole course of our gospel obedience. And where 
this is neglected, it is in vain for any churches to expect 
peace and unity in their communion, seeing itself neglecteth 
the principal means of them. It is pleaded, that the mix- 
ture of those that are wicked and ungodly in the sacred 
administrations of the church, doth neither defile the ad- 
ministrations themselves, nor render them unuseful unto 
those who are rightly interested in them, and duly prepared 
for the participation of them. Hence that no church ought 
to be forsaken, nor its communion withdrawn from merely 
on that account, many of old and of late have pleaded. Nor 
do we say, that this solely of itself is sufficient to justify a 
separation from any church. But when a church shall tole- 
rate in its communion, not only evil men, but their evils, 
and absolutely refuse to use the discipline of Christ for the 
reformation of the one, and the taking away of the other, 
there is great danger lest the ' whole lump be leavened, ' 
and the edification of particular persons be obstructed, be- 
yond what the Lord Christ requires of them to submit unto 
and to acquiesce in. 

Neither will things have any better success where the dis- 
cipline degenerates into an outward forcible jurisdiction and 
power. The things of Christ are to be administered with 
the spirit of Christ. Such a frame of heart and mind as was 
in him, is required of all that act under him and in his name. 
Wherefore charity, pity, compassion, condescension, meek- 
ness, and forbearance, with those other graces, which were 
so glorious and conspicuous in him, and in all that he did, 
are to bear sway in the minds of them who exercise this care 
and duty for him in the church. To set up such a form of 
the administration of discipline, or to commit the exercise 
of it unto such persons, as whereby, or by whom, the Lord 
Christ in his rule of the church, would be represented as fu- 
rious, captious, proud, covetous, oppressive, is not the way 
to honour him in the world, nor to preserve the peace of the 
churches. And indeed some, while they boast of the imita- 
tion of Christ and his example, in opposition to his grace, 
do in their lives and practices make unto the world a repre- 
sentation of the devil. But an account of this degeneracy 


is given so distinctly by Peitro Suave, the author of the His- 
tory of the Council of Trent, lib. 4. ad Ann. 1551. that we 
think it not unmeet to express it in his own words. He 
saith, therefore, that, ' Christ having commanded his apo- 
stles to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments, he 
left also unto them, in the person of all the faithful, this 
principal precept, to love one another, charging them to make 
peace between those that dissented, and for the last remedy 
giving the care thereof to the body of the church ; promising- 
it should be bound and loosed in heaven, whatever they did 
bind and loose on earth ; and that whatever they did ask 
with a common consent, should be granted by the Father. In 
this charitable office, to give satisfaction to the offended, 
and pardon to the offender, the primitive church was always 
exercised. And in conformity to this, St. Paul ordained, 
that brethren having civil suits one against another, should 
not go to the tribunals of infidels ; but that wise men should 
be appointed to judge the differences; and this was a kind 
of civil judgment, as the other had the similitude of a crimi- 
nal; but were both so different from the judgments of the 
world, that as these are executed by the power of the judge 
who enforceth submission, so those only by the will of the 
guilty to receive them ; who refusing of them, the ecclesias- 
tical judge remaineth without execution, and hath no power 
but to foreshew the judgment of God, which according to 
his omnipotent good pleasure will follow in this life or the 
next. And indeed the ecclesiastical judgment did deserve 
the name of charity, in regard that it did only induce the 
guilty to submit, and the church to judge with such since- 
rity, that neither in the one any bad effect could have place, 
nor just complaint in the other ; and the excess of charity 
in correcting, did make the corrector to feel greater pain 
than the corrected ; so that in the church no punishment 
was imposed, without lamentation in the multitude, and 
greater of the better sort. And this was the cause why to 
correct was called to lament. So St. Paul, rebuking of the 
Corinthians, for not chastising the incestuous, said, ' You 
have not lamented to separate such a transgressor from you.' 
And in another epistle, * I fear that when I come unto you, 
I shall not find you such as I desire, but in contentions and 
tumults, and that at my coming I shall lament many of those 


who have sinned before.' The judgment of the church (as 
it is necessary in every multitude) was fit that it should be 
conducted by one, who should preside and guide the action, 
propose the matters, and collect the points to be consulted 
on. This care, due to the most principal and worthy person, 
was always committed to the bishop : and when the churches 
were many, the propositions and deliberations were made by 
the bishop, first in the college of the priests and deacons, 
which they called the presbytery, and there were ripened, to 
receive afterward the last resolution in the general congre- 
gation of the church. This form was still on foot in the year 
250, and is plainly seen by the epistles of Cyprian, who in 
the matter concerning those who did eat of meats offered to 
idols, and subscribe to the religion of the Gentiles, writeth 
to the presbytery, that he doth not think to do any thing with- 
out their counsel, and consent of the people, and writeth to 
the people, that at his return he will examine the causes and 
merits thereof in their presence, and under their judgment ; 
and he wrote to those priests, who of their own brain had 
reconciled some, that they should give an account to the 

' The goodness and charity of the bishops made their 
opinion for the most part to be followed, and by little and 
little, was cause that the church, charity waxing cold, not 
regarding the charge laid upon them by Christ, did lean the 
ear to the bishop ; and ambition, a witty passion, which doth 
insinuate itself in the show of virtue, did cause it to be rea- 
dily embraced. But the principal cause of the change was 
the ceasing of the persecutions : for then the bishops did 
erect, as it were a tribunal, which was much frequented ; 
because as temporal commodities, so suits did increase. 
This judgment, though it were not as the former in regard 
of the form, to determine all by the opinion of the church, 
yet it was of the same sincerity. Whereupon Constantine, 
seeing how profitable it was to determine causes, and that 
by the authority of religion, captious actions were disco- 
vered which the judges could not penetrate, made a law that 
there should be, no appeal from the sentences of bishops, 
which should be executed by the secular judge. And if, in 
a cause depending before a secular tribunal, in any state 
thereof, either of the parties, though the other contradict, 



shall demand the episcopal judgment, the cause shall be 
immediately remitted to him. Here the tribunal of the 
bishop began to be a common pleading-place, having exe- 
cution by the ministry of the magistrate, and to gain the 
name of episcopal jurisdiction, episcopal audience, and such- 
like. The emperor Valence did enlarge it ; who, in the year 
365, gave the bishop the care over all the prizes of vendi- 
ble things : this judicial negociation pleased not the good 
bishops. Possidonius doth recount, that Austin being 
employed herein, sometimes until dinner-time, sometimes 
longer, was wont to say, that it was a trouble, and did divert 
him from doing things proper unto him : and himself writeth, 
that it was to leave things profitable and to attend things 
tumultuous and perplexed. And St. Paul did not take it 
unto himself, as being not fit for a preacher ; but would have, 
it given to others. Afterward some bishops beginning to 
abuse the authority given them by the law of Constantine, 
that was seventy years after revoked by Ascadius and Ho- 
norius,and an ordinance made, that they should judge causes 
of relioion, and not civil, except both parties did consent, 
and declared that they should not be thought to have a 
court : which law being not much observed in Rome, in re- 
gard of the great power of the bishops, Valentinian being in 
the city in the year 452 did renew it, and made it to be put 
in execution. But a little after, some part of the power 
taken away was restored by the princes that followed; so 
that Justinian did establish unto them a court and audience, 
and assigned unto them the causes of religion, the eccle- 
siastical faults of the clergy, and divers voluntary jurisdic- 
tions also over the laity. By these degrees the charitable 
correction of Christ did degenerate into domination, and 
made Christians lose their ancient reverence and obedience. 
It is denied in words, that ecclesiastical jurisdiction is do- 
minion, as is the secular ; yet one knoweth not how to put 
a difference between them. But St. Paul did put it when 
he wrote to Timothy, and repeated it to Titus, that a bishop 
should not be greedy of gain, nor a striker. Now on the 
contrary, they made men pay for processes, and imprison the 
parties, as is done in the secular court,' &c. 

This degeneracy of discipline was long since esteemed 
burdensome, and looked on as the cause of innumerable 


troubles and grievances unto all sorts of people : yea, it hath 
had no better esteem among them who had little or no ac- 
quaintance with what is taught concerning these things in 
the Scripture : only they found an inconsistency in it with 
those laws and privileges of their several countries whereby 
their civil liberties and advantages were confirmed unto them. 
And if at any time it take place or prevail amongst persons 
of more light and knowledge, who are able to compare it, or 
the practice of it, with the institutions of Christ in the gos- 
pel, and the manner of the administration therein also di- 
rected, it greatly alienates the minds of men from the com- 
munion of such churches. Especially it doth so, if set up 
unto an exclusion of that benign, kind, spiritual, and every 
way useful discipline, that Christ hath appointed to be ex- 
ercised in his church. When corruptions and abuses were 
come to the height in the papacy in this matter, we know 
what ensued thereon. Divines, indeed, and sundry other 
persons learned and godly, did principally insist on the 
errors and heresies which prevailed in the church of Rome, 
with the defilements and abominations of their worship. But 
that which alienated the minds of princes, magistrates, and 
whole nations from them, was the ecclesiastical domination 
which they had craftily erected and cunningly managed unto 
the ends of their own ambition, power, and avarice, under 
the name of church-rule and discipline. And wherever any 
thing of the same kind is continued, that a rule under the 
same pretence is erected and exercised in any church after 
the nature of secular courts, by force and power, put forth 
in legal citations, penalties, pecuniary mulcts, without an 
open evidence of men being acted in what they do herein, 
by love, charity, compassion towards the souls of men, zeal 
for the glory of God and honour of Christ, with a design for 
the purity, holiness, and reformation of the members of it, 
that church may not expect unity and peace any longer than 
the terror of its proceedings doth overbalance other thoughts 
and desires proceeding from a sense of duty in all that be- 
long unto it. Yea, whatever is, or is to be the manner of 
the administration of discipline in the church, about which 
there may be doubtful disputations, which men of an ordi- 
nary capacity may not be able clearly to determine ; yet, if 
the avowed end of it be not the purity and holiness of the 

G 2 


church, and if the effects of it in a tendency unto that end 
be not manifest, it is hard to find out whence our obhgation 
to a compliance with it should arise. And where an out- 
ward conformity unto some church-order is aimed at alone, 
in the room of all other things, it will quickly prove itself 
to be nothing, or of no value in the sight of Christ. And 
these things do alienate the minds of many from an acqui- 
escence in their stations or relations to such churches. For 
the principal enforcements of men's obedience and reverence 
unto the rulers of the church, is because they 'watch di- 
ligently for the good of their souls, as those that must give 
an account.'^ And if they see such set over them as give no 
evidence of any such watchful care acting itself according 
to those Scripture directions which are continually read 
unto them, but rather rule them with force and rigour, seek- 
ing theirs, not them, they grow weary of the yoke, and 
sometimes regularly, sometimes irregularly, contrive their 
own freedom and deliverance. 

It may not here be amiss to inquire into the reasons and 
occasions that have seduced churches and their rulers into 
the miscarriages insisted on. Now these are chiefly some 
principles with their application that they have trusted unto ; 
but which indeed have really deceived them, and will yet 
continue so to do. And the first of these is, that whereas 
they are true churches, and thereon intrusted with all church- 
power and privileges, they need not farther concern them- 
selves to seek for grounds or warranty to keep up all their 
members unto their communion. For be they otherwise 
what they will, so long as they are true churches, it is their 
duty to abide in their peace and order. If any call their 
church-state into question, they take no consideration of 
them, but how they may be punished ; it may be destroyed, 
as perverse schismatics. And they are ready to suppose 
that upon an acknowledgment that they are true churches, 
every dissent from them in any thing must needs be crimi- 
nal : as if it were all one to be a true church, and to be in 
the truth and right in all things ; a supposition whereof in- 
cludes a nullity in the state of those churches which in the 
least differ from them ; than which there is no more uncha- 
ritable nor schismatical principle in the world : but in the 

1 Heb. xiii. 27. 


common definition of schism, that it is a causeless separa- 
tion from a true church, that terra of causeless is very little 
considered or weighed by them whose interest it is to lay 
the charge of it on others. And hence it is come to pass, 
that wherever there have been complaints of faults, miscar- 
riages, errors, defections of churches in late ages, their 
counsels have only been how to destroy the complainers, 
not in the least how they should reform themselves ; as 
though in church affairs, truth, right, and equity were 
entailed on power and possession. How the complaints 
concerning the church of Rome, quickened by the out- 
cries of so many provinces of Europe, and evidence in 
matter of fact were eluded and frustrated in the council of 
Trent, leaving all things to be tried out by interest and 
force, is full well known. For they know that no reforma- 
tion can be attempted and accomplished, but it will be a 
business of great labour, care, and trouble, things not de- 
lightful unto the minds of men at ease. Besides, as it may 
possibly ruffle or discompose some of the chiefs in their pre- 
sent ways or enjoyments; so it will, as they fear, tend to 
their disreputation, as though they had formerly been out of 
the way, or neglective of their duty : and this, as they sup- 
pose, would draw after it another inconvenience, by reflect- 
ing on them and their practices, as the occasions of former 
disorders and divisions. They choose, therefore, generally 
to flatter themselves under the name and authority of the 
church, and lay up their defence and security against an 
humble painful reformation, in a plea that they need it not. 
So was it with the church of Laodicea of old, who in the 
height of her decaying condition, flattered herself, ' that she 
w^as rich, and increased in goods, and had need of nothing ; 
and knew not,' or would not acknowledge, ' that she was 
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. '"^ 
Now it cannot but seem exceeding strange unto men who 
wisely consider these things, that whereas the churches 
which were planted and watered by the apostles themselves, 
and enjoyed for some good season the presence and advan- 
tage of their infallible guidance to preserve them in their 
original purity and order, did within a few years, many of 
them, so degenerate, and stand in need of reformation, that 

"^ Rev. iii. 17. 


our Lord Jesus Christ threatened from heaven to cast them 
off and destroy them, unless they did speedily reform them- 
selves according to his mind ; that those now in the world, 
ordered at first by persons fallible, and who in many things 
were actually deceived, should so continue in their purity 
and holiness from age to ag;e, as to stand in need of no re- 
formation or amendment. Well will it be, if it prove so at 
the great day of visitation. In the mean time it becomes the 
guides of all the churches in the world, to take care that 
there do not such decays of truth, holiness, and purity in 
worship, fall out under their hand in the churches wherein 
they preside, as that for them they should be rejected by our 
Lord Jesus Christ, as he threatens to deal with those who 
are guilty of such defections. For the state of the generality 
of churches is such at this day in the world, as he who 
thinks them not to stand in need of any reformation, may 
justly be looked on as a part of their sinful degeneracy. 
We are not ignorant what is usually pleaded in bar unto all 
endeavours after church-reformation : for, they say, if upon 
the clamours of a few humorous, discontented persons, whom 
nothing will please, and who, perhaps, are not agreed among 
themselves, a reformation must instantly be made or at- 
tempted, there will be nothing stable, firm, or sacred left in 
the church. Things once well established are not to be 
called into question upon every one's exceptions. And these 
things are vehemently pleaded, and urged to the exclusion 
of all thoughts of changing any thing, though evidently for 
the better. But long-continued complaints, and petitions 
of multitudes, whose sincerity hath received as great an at- 
testation as human nature, or Christian religion can give, 
it maybe deserve not to be so despised : however the jea- 
lousy which churches and their rulers ought to have over 
themselves, their state and condition, and the presence of 
the glory of Christ among them, or its departure from them, 
especially considering the fearful example of the defection 
and apostacy of many churches, which is continually before 
their eyes, seems to require a readiness in them on every 
intimation or remembrance, to search into their state and 
condition, and to redress what they find amiss : for suppose 
they should be in the right, and blameless as to those orders 
and constitutions wherein others dissent from them, yet 


there may be such defects and declensions in doctrine, ho- 
liness, and the fruits of them in the world, as the most strict 
observation of outward order, will neither countenance, nor 
compensate : for to think to preserve a church by outward 
order, when its internal principles of faith and holiness are 
decayed, is but to do like him, who, endeavouring to set a 
dead body upright, but failing in his attempt, concluded, 
that there was somewhat wanting within. 

Another principle of the same importance, and applied 
unto the same purpose, is. That the people are neither able 
nor fit to judge for themselves; but ought, in all things, to 
give themselves up unto the conduct of their guides, and to 
rest satisfied in what they purpose and prescribe unto them. 
The imbibing of this apprehension, which is exceedingly 
well suited to be made a covering to the pride and igno- 
rance of those unto whose interests it is accommodated, 
makes them impatient of hearing any thing concerning the 
liberty of Christians in common, to judge of what is their 
duty, what they are to do, and what they are not to do, in 
things sacred and religious. Only it is acknowledgerd there 
is so much ingenuity in the management of this principle, 
and its application, that it is seldom extended by any be- 
yond their own concernments : for whereas the church of 
Home hath no way to maintain itself in its doctrine and es- 
sential parts of its constitution, but by an implicit faith and 
obedience in its subjects: seeing the animating principles of 
its profession, will endure no kind of impartial test or trial, 
they extend it unto all things, as well in matters of faith, as 
of worship and discipline. But those who are secure that 
the faith which they profess will endure an examination by 
the Scripture, as being founded therein, and thence educed, 
they will allow unto the people, at least a judgment of dis- 
cerning truth from falsehood, to be exercised about the doc- 
trines which they teach : but as for the things which con- 
cern the worship of God, and rule of the church, wherein 
they have an especial interest and concern, there they betake 
themselves for relief unto this principle. Now as there is 
more honesty and safety in this latter way than in the 
former ; so it cannot be denied but that there is less of inge- 
nuity and self-consistency: for if you will allow the people 
to make a judgment in and about any thing that is sacred 


or religious, you will never know how to hit a joint aright 
to make a separation among such things ; so as to say with 
any pretence of reason, about these things they may judge 
for themselves, but not about those. And it is a little too 
open to say, that they may exercise a judgment about 
what God hath appointed, but none about what we appoint 
ourselves. But without offence be it spoken, this appre- 
hension, in its whole latitude, and under its restrictions, is 
so weak and ridiculous, that it must be thought to proceed 
from an excess of prejudice, if any man of learning should 
undertake to patronize it. Those who speak in these things 
out of custom and interest, without a due examination of 
the grounds and reasons of what they affirm or deny, as 
many do, are of no consideration: and it is not amiss for 
them to keep their distance, and stand upon their guard, 
lest many of those whom they exclude from judging for 
themselves, should be found more competent judges in 
those matters than themselves. And let churches and 
church-rulers do what they please, every man at last will be 
■ determined in what is meet for him to do, by his own reason 
and judgment. Churches may inform the minds of men, 
they cannot enforce them. And if those that adhere unto 
any church do not do so, because they judge that it is their 
duty, and best for them so to do, they therein differ not 
much from a herd of creatures, that are called by another 
name. And yet a secret apprehension in some, that the 
disposal of the concernments of the worship of God, is so 
left and confined unto themselves, as that nothing is left 
unto the people but the glory of obedience, without any 
sedulous inquiry after what is their own duty, with respect 
unto that account which every one must give of himself 
unto God, doth greatly influence them into the neglects 
insisted on. And when any of the people come to know 
their own liberty and duty in these things, as they cannot 
but know it, if at all they apply their minds unto the con- 
sideration of them, they are ready to be alienated from 
those who will neither permit them to judge for themselves, 
nor are able to answer for them, if they should be misled. 
' For if the blind lead the blind,' as well he that is led, as he 
that leads, ' will fall into the ditch.' 

Add hereunto the thoughts of some, that secular gran- 


deur, and outward pomp, with a distance and reservedness 
from the conversation of ordinary men, are necessary in ec- 
clesiastics, to raise and preserve that popular veneration, 
which they suppose to be their due. Without this it is 
thought government will not be carried on, nor the minds of 
men awed unto obedience. Certain it is that this was not 
the judgment of the apostles of old, nor of the bishops or 
pastors of the primitive churches. It is certain also, that no 
direction is given for it, in any of the sacred or ancient ec- 
clesiastical writings. And yet they all of them abound with 
instructions how the guides of the church should preserve 
that respect which is their due. The sum of what they 
teach us to this purpose is, that in humility, patience, self- 
denial, readiness to take up the cross, in labours, kindness, 
compassion, and zeal in the exercise of all the gifts and 
graces of the Holy Spirit, they should excel and go before 
the flock as their example."^ This way of procuring venera- 
tion unto church-guides by worldly state, greatness, seem- 
ing domination or power, was, as far as we can find, an utter 
stranger unto the primitive times : yea, not only so, but it 
seems to be expressly prohibited in that direction of our 
Saviour unto them,* for avoiding conformity in these things 
unto the rulers of the world. But those times they say are 
past and gone : there remains not that piety and devotion in 
Christians, as to reverence their pastors for their humility, 
graces, labours, and gifts. The good things of this world 
are now given them to be used ; and it is but a popular level- 
ling spirit that envies the dignities and exaltation of the 
clergy. Be it so, therefore, that in any place they are justly 
and usefully, at least as unto themselves, possessed of dig- 
nities and revenues ; and far be it from us, or any of us, to 
envy them their enjoyments, or to endeavour their depriva- 
tion of them: but we must crave leave to say, that the use 
of them to the end mentioned is vain, and wholly frustrate. 
And if it be so, indeed, that Christians, or professors of the 
gospel, will not pay the respect and duty which they owe 
unto their pastors and guides upon the account of their of- 
fice, with their work and labour therein, it is an open evi- 
dence how great a necessity there is for all men to endeavour 

■• 1 Pet. V. 1—3. Acts \x. 18—21. 31. « Luke xxii. 24—26. 


the reduction of primitive light, truth, holiness, and obe- 
dience into churches : for this is that which hath endangered 
their ruin, and will effect it, if continued ; namely, an ac- 
commodation of church-order and discipline, with the state 
and deportment of rulers, unto the decays and irreligion of 
the people, which should have been corrected and removed 
by their reformation. But we hope better things of many 
Christians, whose faith and obedience are rather to be imi- 
tated, than the corrupt degeneracy of others to be complied 
with, or provided for. However, it is evident that this cor- 
rupt persuasion hath in most ages, since the days of Paulus 
Samosatenus, let out and given countenance unto the pride, 
covetousness, ambition, and vain-glory of several ecclesias- 
tics. For how can it be otherwise with them, who being 
possessed of the secular advantages which some churches 
have obtained in the world, are otherwise utterly destitute 
of those qualifications, which the names of the places they 
possess do require. And yet all this while it will be im- 
possible to give one single instance where that respect and 
estimation which the Scripture requires in the people to- 
wards their spiritual guides, were ingenerated or improved 
by that worldly grandeur, pomp, and domination, which 
some pretend to be so useful unto that end and purpose. For 
that awe which is put thereby on the spirits of the common 
sort of men ; that terror which these things strike into the 
minds of any who may be obnoxious unto trouble and dis- 
advantage from them ; that outward observance which is by 
some done unto persons vested with them, with the admis- 
sion which they have thereby into an equality of society with 
great men in the world, are things quite of another nature. 
And those who satisfy and please themselves herewith, in- 
stead of that regard which is due unto the officers or guides 
of the churches of Christ, from the people that belong unto 
them, do but help on their defection from their duty incum- 
bent on them. Neither were it difficult to manifest what in- 
numerable scandalous offences, proceeding from the pride 
and elation of mind that is found among many, who being 
perhaps young and ignorant, it may be corrupt in their con- 
versations, having nothing to bear up themselves withal, but 
an interest in dignities and worldly riches, have been occa- 
sioned by this corrupt persuasion. And it is not hard to 


judge how much is lost hereby from the true glory and 
beauty of the church. The people are quietly suffered to 
decay in that love and respect towards their pastors, which 
is their grace and duty, whilst they will pay that outward 
veneration which worldly grandeur doth acquire, and pastors 
satisfying themselves therewith, grow neglective of that ex- 
emplary humility and holiness, of that laborious diligence in 
the dispensation of the word, and care for the souls of the 
flock, which should procure them that holy respect which 
is due unto their office by the appointment of Jesus Christ. 
But these things are here mentioned only on the occasion 
of what was before discoursed of. 

Another great occasion of schisms and divisions among 
Christians, ariseth from the remainders of that confusion 
which was brought upon the churches of Europe, by that 
general apostacy from gospel truth, purity, and order, 
wherein they were for sundry ages involved : few churches 
in the world have yet totally freed themselves from being 
influenced by the relics of its disorders. That such an apos- 
tacy did befall these churches we shall not need to prove. 
A supposition of it is the foundation of the church-state of 
England. That things should so fall out among them, was 
of old foretold by the Holy Ghost.' That many churches 
have received a signal deliverance from the principal evils 
of that apostacy in the reformation, we all acknowledge : for 
therein by several ways, and in several degrees of success, a 
return unto their pristine faith and order was sincerely en- 
deavoured. And so far was there a blessing accompanying 
of their endeavours, as that they were«all of them delivered 
from things in themselves pernicious and destructive to the 
souls of men. Nevertheless it cannot be denied, but that 
there do yet continue among them sundry remainders of 
those disorders, which under their fatal declension they 
were cast into. Nor doth there need any farther proof 
hereof, than the incurable differences and divisions that are 
found among them : for had they attained their primitive 
condition, such divisions with all their causes had been pre- 
vented. And the Papists, upbraiding Protestants with their 
intestine differences and schisms, do but reproach them that 
they have not been able in a hundred years to rectify all 

* 2 Thess. ii. 


those abuses, and remove all those disorders which they 
were inventing, and did introduce in a thousand. There is 
one thing only of this nature, or that owes itself unto this 
original, which we shall instance in, as an occasion of much 
disorder in the present churches, and of great divisions that 
ensue thereon. It is known none were admitted unto the 
fellowship of the church in the days of the apostles, but 
upon their repentance, faith, and turning unto God. The 
plain story of their preaching, the success which they had 
therein, and their proceedings to gather and plant churches 
thereon, puts this out of the reach of all sober contradiction. 
None will say that they gathered churches of Jews and 
Gentiles, that is, while they continued such ; nor of open 
sinners continuing to live in their sins. An evidence, there- 
fore, and confession of conversion to God, was unavoidably 
necessary to the admission of members in the first churches. 
Neither will we ever contend with such importune pre- 
judices, as, under any pretences capable of a wrangling 
countenance shall set up against this evidence. Hence, in 
the judgment of charity, all the members of those churches 
were looked on as persons really justified and sanctified, as 
effectually converted unto God ; and as such were they 
saluted and treated by the apostles : as such, we say, they 
were looked on and owned ; and as such, upon their confes- 
sion, it was the duty of all men, even the apostles them- 
selves, to look on them and own them ; though absolutely 
in the sight of God, who alone is ' searcher of the hearts of 
men,' some among them were hypocrites, and some proved 
apostates. But this profession of conversion unto God by 
the ministry of the word, and the mutual acknowledgment 
of each other as so converted unto God in a way of duty, 
was the foundation of holy spiritual love and unity among 
them. And although this did not, nor could preserve all 
the first churches absolutely free from schisms and divi- 
sions, yet was it the most sovereign antidote against that 
infection, and the most effectual means for the reduction of 
unity, after that by the violent interposition of men's cor- 
ruptions and temptations, it had been lost for a season. 
Afterward, in the primitive times, when many more took on 
them the profession of Christian religion, who had not such 
eminent and visible conversions unto God, as most of those 


had who were changed by the ministry of the apostles, that 
persons unfit and unqualified for that state and condition of 
being members of churches, might not be admitted into them, 
unto the disturbance of their order, and disreputation of their 
holy conversation ; they were for some good season kept in 
the condition of expectants, and called catechumens, or per- 
sons that attended the church for instruction. In this state 
they were taught the mysteries of religion, and trial was 
made of their faith, holiness, and constancy, before their 
admission : and by this means was the preservation of the 
churches in purity, peace, and order, provided for. Espe- 
cially were they so in conjunction with that severe disci- 
pline which was then exercised towards all the members of 
them. But after that the multitudes of the Gentile world, 
in the times of the first Christian emperors, pressed into the 
church, and were admitted on much easier terms than those 
before mentioned, whole nations came to claim successively 
the privilege of church-membership, without any personal 
duty performed or profession made unto the purpose on their 
part. And so do they continue to do in many places to 
this day. Men generally trouble themselves no farther 
about a title to church-membership and privileges, but rest 
in the prepossession of their ancestors, and their own nati- 
vity in such or such places. For whatever may be owned 
or acknowledged concerning the necessity of a visible pro- 
fession of faith and repentance, and that credible as to the 
sincerity of it in the judgment of charity, it is certain for 
the most part no such thing is required of any, nor per- 
formed by them. And they do but ill consult for the edifi- 
cation of the church, or the good of the souls of men, who 
would teach them to rest in an outward formal representa- 
tion of things, instead of the reality of duties and the power 
of internal grace. And no small part of the present ruin of 
Christian religion owes itself unto this corrupt principle. 
For whereas the things of it which consist in powers inter- 
nal, and effectual operations of grace, have outward repre- 
sentations of them, which from their relation unto what they 
represent, are called by the same names with them, many 
take up with and rest in these external things, as though 
Christianity consisted in them ; although they are but a 
dead carcase, where the quickening life and soul of internal 


grace is wanting. Thus it is in this matter v;here there is 
a shadow and appearance of church -order, when the truth 
and substance of it is far away. Men come together unto 
all the ends of the church-assemblies whereunto they are 
admitted, but on no other grounds, with no other hearts nor 
designs, but on and with what they partake in any civil 
society, or jointly engage in any other worldly concern. 
And this fundamental error in the constitution of many 
churches, is the occasion as of other evils, so in particular 
of divisions among professed Christians. Hence originally 
was the discipline of the church accommodated by various 
degrees to the rule and government of such persons as un- 
derstood little, or were little sensible of the nature, power, 
and efficacy of that spiritual discipline which is instituted 
in the gospel, which thereby at last degenerated into the 
outward way of force and power before described : for the 
churches began to be composed of such as could no other- 
wise be ruled. And instead of reducing them to their pri- 
mitive temper and condition, whereunto the evangelical rule 
was suited, there was invented a way of government 
accommodate unto that state whereinto they were lapsed, 
which those concerned found to be the far easier work of the 
two. Hence did sincere mutual love with all the fruits of it 
begin to decay among church-members ; seeing they could 
not have that tolerable persuasion of that truth of profession 
in each other which is necessary to preserve it without dis- 
simulation, and to provoke it unto a due exercise. Hence 
did private spiritual communion fail amongst them, the 
most being strangers unto all the ways and means of it; yea, 
despising and contemning it in all the instances of its exer- 
cise ; which will yet be found to be as the life and soul of all 
useful church-communion. And where the public commu- 
nion is only attended unto with neglect hereof, it will quickly 
wither and come to nothing : for on this occasion do all 
duties of watchfulness, exhortations, and admonitions, pro- 
ceeding from mutual love and care of each other's condition, 
so frequently recommended unto us in the Scripture, utterly 
cease and become disused. Hence members of the same 
church began to converse together as men only, or as the 
best civil neighbours ; and if at all as Christians, yet not 
with respect unto that especial relation unto a particular 


church," wherein their usefulness as members of the same 
organical body is required. Hence some persons looking 
on these things as intolerable, and not only obstructive of 
their edification, but destructive unto all really useful church- 
communion, we ought not to wonder if they have thought 
meet to provide otherwise for themselves. Not that we 
approve of every departure or withdrawing from the com- 
munion of churches, where things continue under such dis- 
orders, but only shew what it is that occasioneth many so 
to do. For as there may sometimes be just cause hereof, 
and persons in so doing may manage what they do accord- 
ing unto Scripture rule ; so we doubt not but that some may 
rashly and precipitately, without due attendance unto all 
the duties which in such undertakings are required of them, 
without that charity and forbearance which no circum- 
stances can absolve them from, make themselves guilty of 
a blameable separation. And these are some of those 
things which we look upon as the general causes or occa- 
sions of all the schisms and divisions that are at this day 
found among professors of the gospel. Whether the guilt 
of them will not much cleave unto them by whom they are 
kept on foot and maintained, is worth their inquiry ; for 
so doth it befall our human nature, apt to be deceived 
and imposed on by various pretences and prejudices, that 
those are oftentimes highly guilty themselves of those mis- 
carriages, whose chiefest satisfaction and glory consist in 
charging them on others. However, if these things do not 
absolutely justify any in a secession from the churches 
whereunto they did relate ; yet they render the matter so 
highly questionable, and the things themselves are so bur- 
densome upon the minds of many, as that divisions will 
thereon undoubtedly ensue. And when it is so fallen out, to 
design and contrive the reduction of all unto outward unity 
and concord, by forcing them, who on such occasions have 
dissented and withdrawn themselves from the communion 
of any church, without endeavouring the removal of these 
occasions of their so doing, and the reformation of those 
abuses which have given cause thereunto, is severe, if not 
unjust. But when the Lord Jesus Christ in his care to- 
wards his churches, and a watchfulness over them, shall be 

" 1 Cor. xii. 14—20. 


pleased to remove these and the like stumbling-blocks out of 
the way, there will, we hope, be a full return unto gospel 
unity and peace among them that serve and worship him on 
the earth. 

In this state of things, wherever it be found, it is no 
wonder if the wickedness, ignorance, prejudices, and temp- 
tations of men do interpose themselves unto the increase 
and heightening of those divisions, whose springs and occa- 
sions lie elsewhere. When none of these provocations were 
given them, yet we know there was enough in professors 
themselves to bring forth the bitter fruit of differences and 
schisms,'' even in the days of the apostles. How much more 
may we fear the like fruits and effects from the like prin- 
ciples and corrupt affections ? Now the occasions of draw- 
ing them forth are more, temptations unto them greater, 
directions against them less evident and powerful, and all 
sense of ecclesiastical authority, through its abuse and male- 
administration, is, if not lost and ruined, yet much weakened 
and impaired. But from the darkness of the minds of men, 
and their unmortified affections (as the best know but in 
part, nor are they perfectly sanctified) it is, that they are 
apt to take offence one at another, and thereon to judge 
and censure each other temerariously ; and which is worst 
of all, every one to make his own understanding and per- 
suasion thereon, the rule of truth and worship unto others. 
All such ways and courses are against us in the matter of 
love and union, all tending to make and increase divisions 
among us. And the evil that is in them, we might here 
declare, but that it falls frequently under the chastisement 
of other hands : neither indeed can it well meet with too 
much severity of reproof. Only it were desirable that those 
by whom such reproofs are managed, would take care not 
to give advantages of retortion or self-justification unto 
them that are reproved by them : but this they do unavoid- 
ably, whilst they seem to make their own judgments and 
practices the sole rule and measure of what they approve or 
disallow. In what complies with them there is nothing 
perverse, and in what differs from them there is nothing- 
sincere. And on this foundation, whilst they reprove cen- 
suring, rash-judging, and reproaching of others, with pride, 

X 1 Cor. i. ll.iii. 3. 


self-conceiteclness, false opinions, irregular practices in 
church worship, or any other concerns of religion, back- 
biting, easiness in taking up false reports, with the like 
evils, as they deserve severely to be rebuked, those reproved 
by them are apt to think, that they see the guilt of many of 
the crimes charged on themselves, in them by whom they 
are reproved. So on all hands things gender unto farther 
strife ; whilst every party being conscious unto their own 
sincerity, according unto the rule of their present light, 
which is the only measure they can take of it, are ready to 
impeach the sincerity of them by whom they suppose them- 
selves causelessly traduced and condemned. This evil 
therefore is to be diligently watched against by all that love 
unity, truth, holiness, or peace. And seeing there are rules 
and precepts given us in the Scriptures to this purpose, it 
may not be unmeet to call over some of them. One rule of 
this nature and import is, that we should all of us ' study to 
be quiet, and to do our own business, '^ in things civil and 
sacred. Who will harm men, who will be offended with 
them, whilst they are no otherwise busied in the world ? 
And if any attempt to do them evil, what need have they to 
be troubled thereat ? Duty and innocency will give peace 
to a worthy soul in the midst of all storms, and whatever 
may befall it. Now will any one deny, or can they, but that 
it is the duty, and ought to be the business, of every man to 
seek his own edification, and the saving of his soul ? Deny 
this unto any man, and you put yourself in the place of 
God to him, and make him more miserable than a beast. 
And this, which no man can forbid, no man can otherwise 
do, than according to that light and knowledge of the will 
of God which he hath received : if this therefore be so at- 
tended to, as that we do not thereby break in upon the con- 
cerns of others, nor disturb them in what is theirs, but be 
carried on quietly and peaceably with an evidence in what 
we do, that it is merely our own personal duty, that we are 
in the pursuance of; all cause of offence will be taken away. 
For if any will yet be offended with men, because they 
peaceably seek the salvation of their own souls, or do that 
in order thereunto, which they cannot but do, unless they 
will cast off all sense of God's authority over them, it is to 

y 1 Thess. iv. 11. 


seek occasions of offence against them, where none are 
given. But when any persons are acted by a pragmatical 
curiosity to interpose themselves in the ways, affairs, and 
concerns of other men, beyond what the laws of love, use- 
fulness, and mutual Christian aid do require, tumults, dis- 
orders, vexations, strife, emulations, with a world of evils, 
will ensue thereon 5 especially will they do so, when men 
are prone to dwell on the real or supposed faults of otherS;. 
which on various pretences of pity for their persons, or a 
detestation of their evils, or public reproof of them, they 
will aggravate, and so on all occasions expose them to 
public censure, perhaps, as they think, out of zeal to God'& 
glory, and a desire for the church's good : for the passions 
and interests of such persons, are ready to swell over the 
bounds of modesty, sobriety, and peace, though through the 
blindness which all self-love is accompanied withal, they 
seldom see clearly what they do. Would we therefore 
labour to see a beauty, desirableness, and honour in the 
greatest confinement of our thoughts, words, and actions, 
unto ourselves and our own occasions, that express duty 
will admit of, it might tend very much to the preservation 
of love and peace among professors, for unto this end it is 
prescribed unto us. 

Secondly, It is strictly commanded us that we should 
*not judge, that we be not judged.'^ There is no rule for 
mutual conversation and communion, in the Scripture, that 
is oftener repeated, or more earnestly inculcated :* nor is there 
any of more use, nor whose grounds and reasons are more 
evident or more cogent.^ Judging and determining in our- 
selves, or divulging censures concerning others, their per- 
sons, states, and conditions towards God, their principles 
as to truth and sincerity, their ways as to righteousness and 
holiness, whether past or present, any otherwise than by the 
' perfect law of liberty,''^ and that only when we are called 
thereunto in a way of duty, is the poison of common love 
and peace, and the ruin of all communion and society, be it 
of what nature it will. For us to judge and determine 
whether these or those churches are true churches or no, 
whether such persons are godly or no, whether such of their 
principles and actions are regular or no, and so condemn them 

* Matt, vii, 1, 2. » Luke vi, 37. b Rom. xiv. 3, 4. 10. •^ James iv. 12. 


in our minds (unless where open wickedness will justify 
the severest reflections), is to speak evil of the law, and to 
make ourselves judges of it, as well as of them who together 
with ourselves are to be judged by it. Nor is a judgment 
of that nature necessary unto our advantage in the discharge 
of any duty required at our hands. We may order all our 
concernments towards churches and persons without making 
any such judgment concerning them. But so strong is the 
inclination of some persons unto an excess in this kind, 
that no consideration can prevail with them to cast it out 
according to its desert. Whether they do it as approving 
and justifying themselves in what they condemn in others, 
or as a thing conducing unto their interests, or out of fac- 
tion and an especial love to some one party of men, or some 
secret animosities and hatred against others, it is a matter 
they seldom will quit themselves of, whilst they are in this 
world. Yea, so far do some suffer themselves to be trans- 
ported, as that they cannot restrain from charging of others 
with the guilt of such things as they know to be charged 
on themselves, by them who pretend to be the only com- 
petent judges in such cases. And so will they also reflect 
upon, and complain of other men for miscarriages by seve- 
rities, in instances exceedingly inferior, as by themselves re- 
presented, unto what it is known they were engaged in. But 
men are apt to think well of all they do themselves, or those 
whom they peculiarly regard, and to aggravate whatever 
they conceive amiss in such as they dislike. Were it not 
better by love to cover a multitude of faults, and to leave 
the judgment of persons and things, wherein we are not 
concerned, unto him 'who judgeth righteously, and will 
render unto every man according to his works V However, 
certain it is, that until this evil fountain of bitter waters be 
stopped, until we cease to bless God even the Father, and 
at the same time to curse men made after the similitude of 
God, the wounds tliat have been given to the love and peace 
of professors will not be healed. 

Thirdly, Unto the same end are all men forbidden to 
think that they have a dominion over the faith of others, or 
that the ordering and disposal of it is committed unto them. 
It is Christ alone who is the Lord of the consciences of his 
disciples. And therefore the best and greatest of the sons of 



men, who have been appointed by him to deal with others 
in his name, have constantly disclaimed all thoughts of 
power or rule over the consciences or faith of the meanest 
of his subjects.'' How many ways this may be done we are 
filled with experiences; for no way whereby it may be so 
hath been left unattempted. And the evil of it hath in- 
vaded both churches and particular persons : some whereof 
who have been active in casting off the dominion of others, 
seemed to have designed a possession of it in themselves. 
And it is well if where one pope is rejected, many do not rise 
in his place who want nothing but his power and interest to 
do his work. The indignation of some, that. others do not 
in all things comply with their sentiments, and subject 
themselves unto their apprehensions and dictates, ariseth 
from this presumption : and the persecutions wherein others 
engage, do all grow out of the same bitter root. For men 
can no otherwise satisfy their consciences herein, but by a 
supposition that they are warranted to give measures unto 
the minds and practices of others, that is, their faith and 
consciences in sacred things. And whilst this presump- 
tuous supposition under any pretence or colour possesseth 
the minds of men, it will variously act itself unto the de- 
struction of that gospel unity which it is our duty to pre- 
serve. For when they are persuaded that others ought to 
give up themselves absolutely to their guidance in thethings 
of religion, either because of their office and dignity, or 
because they are wiser than they, or it may be are only able 
to dispute more than they,'if they do not immediately so do, 
especially seeing they cannot but judge themselves in the 
right in all things, they are ready to charge their refusal on 
all the corrupt affections, principles, and practices, which 
they can surmise, or their supposed just indignation suggest 
unto them. That they are proud, ignorant, self-conceited, 
wilful, factions, is immediately concluded ; and a semblance 
unto such charges shall be diligently sought outand improved. 
Nothing but a deceiving apprehension that they are some 
way or other meet to have a dominion over the faith of their 
brethren and fellow-servants, would prevail with men other- 
wise sober and learned, so to deal with all that dissent from 
them, as they are pleased to do. 

d 2 Cor. i. 24. 1 Pet. v. 3. 


Fourthly, All these evils mentioned are much increased 
in the minds of men, when they are puffed up with a con- 
ceit of their own knowledge and wisdom.'^ This therefore 
we are warned to avoid, that the edification of the church 
may be promoted, and love preserved. For hence are very 
many apt to take false measures o^ things, especially of 
themselves, and thereon to cast themselves into many mis- 
chievous mistakes.*^ And this is apt to befall them, who for 
ends best known unto themselves, have with any ordinary 
diligence attended to the study of learning. For on a sup- 
posal of some competent furniture with natural abilities, 
they cannot but attain some skill and knowledge that the 
common sort of unstudied persons are unacquainted withal. 
Ofttimes, indeed, their pre-eminence in this kind consists in 
matters of very small consequence or importance. But 
whatever it be, it is ready to make them think strange of 
the apostle's advice, * If any man seemeth to be wise in this 
world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise :'s apt it is 
to puff them up, to influence their minds with a good conceit 
of themselves, and a contempt of others. Hence may we 
see some when they have got a little skill in languages, and 
through custom advantaged by the reading of some books, 
are able readily to express some thoughts, perhaps not 
originally their own, presently conceit themselves to be so 
much wiser than the multitude of unlettered persons, that 
they are altogether impatient that in any thing they should 
dissent from them ; and this is a common frame with them 
whose learning and wit being their all, do yet but reach half 
way towards the useful ends of such things. Others also 
there are, and of them not a few, who having been in the 
ways wherein the skill and knowledge mentioned are usually 
attained, yet through their incapacity or negligence, or some 
depraved habit of mind or course of life, have not really at all 
improved in them. And yet these also, having once attained 
the countenance of elccesiastical offices or preferments, are 
as forward as any to declaim against, and pretend a contempt 
of, that ignorance in others, which they are not so stupid as 
not to know that the guilt of it may be reflected on them- 
selves. However, these things at best, and in their highest 
improvement, are far enough from solid wisdom ; especially 

e Rom. xii. 3. 1 Cor. viii. 1. f 2 Cor. x. 12. « 1 Cor. iii. IS. 


that which is from above, and which alone will promote the 
peace and edification of the church. Some have no advan- 
tage by them, but that they can declare and speak out their 
own weakness ; others that they can rail, and lie, and falsely 
accuse, in words and language wherewith they hope to 
please the vilest of men. And certain it is, that science, 
which whatever it be without the grace of God, is but 
falsely so called, and oftentimes falsely pretended unto, for 
this evil end of it alone is apt to lift up the minds above 
others, who perhaps come not behind them in any useful 
understanding. Yea, suppose men to have really attained 
a singular degree in useful knowledge and wisdom, and that 
either in things spiritual and divine, or in learning and 
sciences, or in political prudence ; yet experience shews us, 
that a hurtful elation of mind is apt to arise from them, if 
the souls of men be not well balanced with humility, and 
this evil particularly watched against. Hence ariseth that 
impatience of contradiction, that jealousy and tenderness 
of men's own names and reputations, those sharp revenges 
they are ready to take of any supposed inroads upon them, 
or disrespects towards them, that contempt and undervalua- 
tion of other men's judgments, those magisterial impositions 
and censures which proceed from men under a reputation 
of these endowments. The cautions given ns in the Scrip- 
ture against this frame of spirit, the examples that are pro- 
posed unto us to the contrary, even that of Christ himself, 
the commands that are multiplied for lowliness of mind, 
jealousy overourselves, the sovereignty of God in choosing 
whom he pleaseth to reveal his mind and truth unto and by, 
may in the consideration of them be useful to prevent such 
reprisals with pride, self-conceit, and contempt of others, as 
supposed or abused knowledge are apt to cast men into, 
whereby divisions are greatly fomented and increased among 
us. But it may be these things will not much prevail with 
them, who pretending a zeal and principle above others in 
preaching and urging the examples of Christ, do in most of 
their ways and actings, and in some of their writings, give 
us an unparalleled representation of the devil. 

Lastly, It is confessed by all, that false teachers, seducers, 
broachers of novel, corrupt, and heretical doctrines, have 
caused many breaches and divisions among such as once 


agreed in the profession of the same truths and points of 
faith : by means of such persons, whether within the pre- 
sent church-state or without, there is scarce any sacred 
truth, which had formerly secured its station and possession 
in the minds of the generality of Christians in this nation, 
but what hath been solicited or opposed. Some make their 
errors the principal foundation, rule, and measure, in com- 
munion ; whoever complies with them therein, is of them ; 
and whoso doth not, they avoid ; so at once they shut up 
themselves from having any thing to do with them that love 
truth and peace. And where these consequents do not 
€nsue, men's zeal for their errors being overbalanced by 
their love of, and concern in, their secular interest, and 
their minds influenced by the novel prevailing opinion of 
a great indifFerency in all things appertaining unto outward 
worship ; yet the advancing and fomenting of opinions con- 
trary unto that sound doctrine which hath been generally 
owned and taught by the learned and godly pastors, and 
received by the people themselves, cannot but occasion 
strife, contentions, and divisions among professors. And 
it may be, there are very few of those articles or heads of 
religion, which in the beginning of the reformation, and a 
long time after, were looked on as the most useful, import- 
ant, and necessary parts of our profession, that have not 
been among us variously opposed and corrupted. And in 
these differences about doctrine, lie the hidden causes of 
the animosities whereby those about worship and discipline 
are managed. For those who have the advantage of law and 
power on their side in these lesser things, are not so un- 
wise as to deal openly with their adversaries about those 
things wherein the reputation of established and commonly 
received doctrines lie against them. But under the pre- 
tence and shelter of contending for legal appointments, not 
a few do exercise an enmity against those who profess the 
truth, which they think it not meet as yet openly to 

Such are the causes, and such are the occasions of the 
differences and divisions in and about religious concerns, 
that are among us; by which means they have been fo- 
mented and increased : heightened they have been by the 


personal faults and miscarriages of many of all sorts and 
parties. And as the reproof of their sinful failings is in 
its proper season a necessary duty; so no reformation or 
amendment of persons will give a full relief, nor free us 
from the evil of our divisions, until the principles and ways 
which occasion them be taken out of the way. 


Grounds and reasons of noncortformilij . 

Having briefly declared our sense concerning the general 
causes and occasions of our differences, and that present 
want of Christian love which is complained of by many ; we 
shall now return to give some more particular account con- 
cerning our inconformity unto, and non-compliance with, the 
observances and constitutions of the church of England. It 
is acknowledged, that we do in sundry things dissent from 
them; that we do not, that we cannot, come up unto a joint 
practice with others in them. It is also confessed, that 
hereon there doth ensue an appearance of schism between 
them and us, according as the common notion of it is re- 
ceived in the world. And because in this distance and dif- 
ference, the dissent unto compliance is on our parts ; there 
is a semblance of a voluntary relinquishment of their com- 
munion. And this we know exposeth us, in vulgar judg- 
ments and apprehensions, unto the charge of schism, and 
necessitateth us unto self-defence ; as though the only matter 
in question were, whether we are guilty of this evil or no. 
For that advantage have all churches which have had an op- 
portunity to fix terms of communion, right or wrong, just or 
unequal ; the differences which ensue thereon, they will try 
out on no other terms, but only whether those that dissent 
from them, are schismatics or not. Thus they make them- 
selves actors ofttimes in this cause, who ought in the first 
place to be charged with injury ; and a trial is made merely 
at the hazard of the reputation of those, who are causelessly 
put upon their purgation and defence. Yea, with many, a 
kind of possession and multitude, do render dissenters un- 


questionably schisraatical ; so that it is esteemed an unrea- 
sonable confidence in them, to deny themselves so to be. So 
deals the church of Rome with those that are reformed. An 
open schism there is between them ; and if they cannot suffi- 
ciently fix the guilt of it on the reformed, by confidence and 
clamours, with the advantage of prepossession ; yet, as if 
they were perfectly innocent themselves, they will allow of 
no other inquiry in this matter, but what consists in calling 
the truth and reputation of the other party into question. It 
being our present condition to lie under this charge from 
many, whose interest it is to have us thought guilty thereof, 
we do deny that there is any culpable secession made by us, 
from the communion of any that profess the gospel in these 
nations, or that the blame of the appearing schism that is 
among us, can duly or justly be reflected on us ; which in 
the remainder of our discourse, we shall make to appear. 

What are our thoughts and judgments concerning the 
church-state and interest of the professors of the gospel in 
this nation, we have before declared. And we hope they are 
such, that in the judgment of persons sober and impartial, 
we shall be relieved from those clamorous accusations, which 
are without number or measure, by some cast upon us. Our 
prayers are also continually unto the God of love and peace 
for the taking away of all divisions and their causes from 
among us. Nor is the satisfaction which ariseth from our 
sincerity herein, in the least taken off, or rent from us, by 
the uncharitable endeavours of some, to rake up pretences 
to the contrary. And should those, in whose power it is, 
think meet to imitate the pastors and guides of the churches 
of old, and to follow them in any of the ways which they 
used for the restoration of unity and agreement unto Chris- 
tians, when lost or endangered, we should not decline the 
contribution of any assistance, by counsel or fraternal com- 
pliance, which God should be pleased to supply us withal. 
But whilst some whose advantages render them considerable 
in these matters, seem to entertain no other thoughts con- 
cerning us, but what issue in violence and oppression, the 
principal duty incumbent on us is, quietly to approve our 
consciences unto God, that in sincerity of heart we de- 
sire in all things to please him, and to conform our lives, 
principles, and practices to his will, so far as he is graciously 


pleased to make it known unto us. And as for men, we 
hope so to discharge the duty required of us, as that none 
may justly charge us with any disorders, unpeaceableness, 
or other evils : for we do not apprehend that we are either 
the cause or culpable occasion of those inconveniencies and 
troubles which some have put themselves unto by their en- 
deavours for our disturbance, impoverishing, and ruin. Let 
none imagine, but that we have considered the evils, and evil 
consequents of the schisms and divisions that are among 
us ; and those who do so, do it upon the forfeiture of their 
charity. We know how much the great work of preaching 
the gospel unto the conversion of the souls of men is impeded 
thereby ; as also what prejudice ariseth thence against the 
truth, wherein we are all agreed ; with what temptations and 
mutual exasperations, to the loss of love, and the occasion- 
ing of many sinful miscarriages in persons of all sorts, do 
hereon ensue : but we deny that it is in our power to remove 
them, or take them out of the way ; nor are we conscious 
unto ourselves of any sin or evil, in what we do, or in what 
we do not do, by our not doing of it in the worship of God. 
It is duty alone unto Jesus Christ, whereunto in these 
things we attend, and wherein we ought so to do. And 
where matters of this nature are so circumstanced, as that 
duty will contribute nothing towards unity, we are at a loss 
for any progress towards it. The sum of what is objected 
unto us (as hath been observed) is our nonconformity, 
or our forbearance of actual personal communion with 
the present church-constitutions, in the modes, rites, and 
ceremonies of its worship : hence the schism complained of 
doth ensue. tFnless the communion be total, constant, 
without endeavour of any alteration or reformation, we can- 
not in the judgment of some, be freed from the guilt hereof. 
This we deny, and are persuaded that it is to be charged 
elsewhere. For, 

First, All the conditions of absolute and complete com- 
munion with the church of England which are proposed 
unto us, and indispensably required of us, especially as we 
are ministers, are unscriptural ; such as the word of God 
doth neither warrant, mention, nor intimate, especially not 
under any such consideration, as necessary conditions of 
communion in or among the churches of Christ. We dispute 


not now about the lawfulness or unlawfulness of things in 
themselves ; nor whether they may be observed or no, by 
such as have no conviction of any sin or evil in them. 
Neither do we judge or censure them, by whom they are ob- 
served : our inquiry is solely about our own liberty and duty. 
And what concerneth them, is resolved into this one ques- 
tion, as to the argument in hand : Whether such things or 
observances in the worship of God, as are wholly unscrip- 
tural, may be so made the indispensable condition of com- 
munion with any particular church, as that they by whom 
they are so made and imposed on others, should be justified 
in their so doing ; and that if any differences, divisions, or 
schisms do ensue thereon, the guilt and blame of them must 
necessarily fall on those who refuse submission to them, or 
to admit of them as such ? That the conditions proposed 
unto us, and imposed on us indispensably, if we intend to 
enjoy the communion of this church, are of this nature, we 
shall afterward prove by an induction of instances. Nor is 
it of any concernment in this matter, what place the things 
inquired after do hold, or are supposed to hold in the wor- 
ship of God ; our present inquiry is about their warranty 
to be made conditions of church-communion. Now we are 
persuaded that the Lord Christ hath set his disciples at 
liberty from accepting of such terras of communion from 
any churches in the world. And on the same grounds we 
deny, that he hath given or granted unto them authority, to 
constitute such terms and conditions of their communion, 
and indispensably to impose them upon all that enjoy it, 
according to their several capacities and concerns there- 
in. For, 

1. The rule of communion among the disciples of Christ 
in all his churches, is invariably established and fixed by 
himself. His commission, direction, and command, given 
out unto the first planters and founders of them, containing 
an obliging rule unto all that should succeed them through- 
out all generations, hath so established the bounds, limits, 
and conditions of church-communion, as that it is not law- 
ful for any to attempt their removal or alteration. ' Go ye,' 
saith he to them, * and teach all nations, baptizing them in 
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost ; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever 


I have commanded you : and, lo, I am with you always, even 
unto the end of the world.'* All the benefits and blessings, 
all the comfort and use of church-assembles and communion, 
depends alone on the promise of the presence of Christ with 
them. Thence doth all the authority that may be exercised 
in them proceed ; and thence doth the efficacy of what they 
do unto the edification of the souls of men, arise and flow. 
Now that any one may thus enjoy the presence of Christ in 
any church, with the fruits and benefits of it, no more can 
be required of him, but that through the preaching of the 
gospel, and baptism, being made a professed disciple, he do 
or be ready to do and observe all whatsoever Christ hath 
commanded. This hath he established as the rule of com- 
munion among his disciples and churches in all generations. 
In all other things which do relate unto the worship of God, 
he hath set them and left them at liberty,'' which so far as it 
is a grant and privilege purchased for them, they are obliged 
to make good and maintain. We know it will be here re- 
plied, that among the commands of Christ, it is, that we 
should hear the church, and obey the guides and rulers 
thereof: whatever therefore is appointed by them, we are to 
submit unto and observe, even by virtue of the command of 
Christ. And indeed it is certainly true, that it is the will 
and command of the Lord Jesus, that we should both hear 
the church and obey the guides of it: but by virtue of this 
rule, neither the church nor its guides can make any thing 
necessary to the disciples of Christ, as a condition of com- 
munion v/ith them, but only what he hath commanded. For 
the rule here laid down is given unto those guides or rulers, 
who are thereby bound up, in the appointments of what the 
disciples are to observe, unto the commands of Christ. And 
were a command included herein, of obeying the commands 
or appointments of church-guides, and the promise of the 
presence of Christ annexed thereunto ; as he had given them 
all his own power, and placed them in his throne, so we had 
been all obliged to follow them whither ever they had carried 
or led us, although it were to hell itself, as some of the ca- 
nonists, on this principle, have spoken concerning the pope. 
Here therefore is a rule of communion fixed, both unto them 
that are to rule in the church, and them that are to obey. 

» Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. b Ga). vi 1. 


And whereas, perhaps it may be said, that if the rulers of 
the churcli may appoint notiiingin and unto the communion 
of the church, but what Christ hath himself commanded, 
then indeed is their authority little worth, yea, upon the 
matter none at all : for the commands of Christ are suffi- 
ciently confirmed and fixed by his own authority ; and to 
what end then serves that of the rulers of the church ? We 
must say, that their whole authority is limited in the text, 
unto teaching of men to observe what Christ hath com- 
manded. And this they are to do with authority; but un- 
der him and in his name, and according to the rules that he 
hath given them. And those who think not this power suf- 
ficient for them, must seek it elsewhere ; for the Lord Christ 
will allow no more in his churches. 

To make this yet more evident, we may consider that par- 
ticular instance, wherein the primitive Christians had a trial 
in the case as now stated before us : and this was in the 
matter of Mosaical ceremonies and institutions, which some 
would have imposed on them, as a condition of their com- 
munion in the profession of the gospel: in the determination 
hereof, was their liberty asserted by the apostles, and their 
duty declared to abide therein. And this was the most spe 
cious pretence of imposing on the liberty of Christians^- 
that ever they were exercised withal. For the observation 
of these things had countenance given unto it, from their 
divine original, and the condescending practice of the apo- 
stles for a good season. That other instances of the like na- 
ture should be condemned in the Scripture is impossible, 
seeing none had then endeavoured the introduction of any 
of that nature. But a general rule may be established in 
the determination of one case, as well as in that of many ; 
provided it be not extended beyond what is eminently in- 
cluded in that case. Herein, therefore, was there a direction 
given for the duty and practice of churches in following 
ages; and that in pursuit of the law and constitution of the 
Lord Christ before mentioned. Neither is there any force in 
the exception, that these things were imposed under a pre- 
tence of being commanded by God himself: for tliey say, to 
require any thing under that notion, which indeed he hath 
not commanded, is an adding to his command, which ought 
not to be admitted : but to require things indifferent, with- 


out that pretence, may be allowed. But as in the former 
way, men add unto the commands of God formally, so in this 
latter, they do it materially, which also is prohibited : for 
in his worship, we are forbidden to add to the things that he 
hath appointed, no less than to pretend commands from him 
which he hath not given. He, therefore, who professeth and 
pleadeth his willingness to observe and do in church-com- 
munion, whatever Christ hath instituted and commanded, 
cannot regularly be refused the communion of any church, 
under any pretence of his refusal to do other things, which 
confessedly are not so required. 

It is pleaded, indeed, that no other things, as to the sub- 
stance of the worship of God, can or ought to be appointed, 
besides what is instituted by Jesus Christ : but as to the 
manner or modes of the performance of what he doth com- 
mand, with other rites and ceremonies to be observed for 
order and decency, they may lawfully be instituted by the 
rulers of the church. Let it therefore at present be granted, 
that so they may be by them who are persuaded of the lawful- 
ness of those modes, and of the things wherein they consist; 
seeing that is not the question at present under agitation. 
Neither will this concession help us in our present inquiry, 
unless it be also granted, that whatever may be lawfully 
practised in the worship of God, may be lawfully made a 
necessary condition of communion in that worship : but this 
will not be granted, nor can it ever be proved. Besides, in 
our present difference, this is only the judgment of one party, 
that the things mentioned may be lawfully observed in and 
among sacred administrations : and thereon the conclusion 
must be, that whatever some think may be lawfully prac- 
tised in divine worship, may lawfully be made an indispensable 
condition of communion unto the whole. Nor will it give 
force unto this inference, , that those who judge them lawful 
are the rulers and guides of the church, unto whose deter- 
mination the judgment of private persons is not to be op- 
posed : for we have shewed before, that a judgment concern- 
ing what any one is to do or practise in the worship of God, 
belongs unto every man who is to do or practise aught there- 
in; and he who makes it not, is brutish. And the judgment 
which the rulers of the church are to make for the whole, or 
to go before it, is in what is commanded, or not so, by Jesus 


Christ, not in what is fit to be added thereunto by them- 
selves. Besides, if it must be allowed that such things may 
be made the conditions of church-communion, then any who 
are in place of authority, may multiply such conditions ac- 
cording- unto the utmost extent of their judgments, until 
they become burdensome and intolerable unto all, or really 
ridiculous in themselves, as it is fallen out in the church of 
Rome. But this would prove expressly destructive unto that 
certain and unvariable rule of church-communion, which 
the Lord Christ hath fixed and established, whereof we shall 
speak again afterward. 

Neither will that plea, which is by some insisted on in 
this case, yield any solid or universal relief. It is said, that 
some may warrantably and duly observe in the worship of 
God, what is unduly and unwarrantably imposed on them by 
others. And indeed all controversies about church-consti- 
tution, discipline, and external worship, are by some reduced 
unto these two heads ; that the magistrate may appoint ^hat 
he pleaseth, and the people may observe whatever he ap- 
points : for as there is no government of the church deter- 
mined in the Scripture, it is meet it should be erected and 
disposed by the supreme magistrate, who, no doubt, upon 
that supposition, is only fit and qualified so to do : and for 
outward worship, and the rites thereof, both it and they are 
so far indifferent, as that we may comply with whatever is 
imposed on us ; whether they be good, or useful, or evil, lies 
at the doors of others to answer about. But this seems to 
rise up in express contradiction unto those commands which 
are given us, to ' stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ 
hath made us free ;' and in these things, not to be ' the ser- 
vants of men.' For what do we do less than renounce the 
privilege of our liberty purchased for us at a high rate and 
price, or what are we less than ' servants of men,' whilst we 
bring ourselves in bondage unto the observation of such 
things in the worship of God, as we judge neither com- 
manded by him, nor tending unto our own edification, but 
merely because by them ordained ? Moreover, suppose it 
be the judgment of some, as it is of many, that the things 
mentioned, though in their own nature indifferent, do become 
unlawful unto them to observe when imposed as necessary 
conditions of all church-communion, contrary to the command 


and appointment of Christ? We know this is exceedingly 
declaimed against as that which is perverse and froward. 
For what, say many, can be more unreasonable, than that 
things in their own nature indifferent should become unlaw- 
ful because they are commanded? But it is at least no less 
unreasonable, that things confessedly indifferent should not 
be left so, but be rendered necessary unto practice, though 
useless in it, by arbitrary commands. But the opinion tra- 
duced, is also much mistaken. For although it be granted 
that the things themselves are indifferent in their own na- 
ture, not capable, but as determined by circumstances, of 
either moral good or evil; yet it is not granted that the ob- 
servation of them, even as uncommanded, is indifferent in 
the worship of God. And although the command doth not 
alter the nature, and make that which was indifferent be- 
come evil, yet that command of itself being contrary to 
many divine commands and instructions given us in the 
Scripture, a compliance with the things commanded therein 
may become unlawful to us. And what shall they do whose 
judgment this is? shall they admit of them as lawful, upon 
the consideration of that change about them which renders 
them unlawful ? This they will not easily be induced to give 
their assent unto. 

Let therefore the rule of church-communion be observed, 
which our Lord Jesus Christ hath fixed ; and no small occa- 
sion of our strifes and divisions will be removed out of the 
way. But whilst there is this contest amongst us, if one 
pleads his readiness ' to do and observe whatever the Lord 
Christ hath commanded,' and cannot be convinced of insin- 
cerity in his profession, or of want of understanding in any 
known institution of his, and thereon requires the commu- 
nion of any church ; but others say, Nay, you shall observe 
and do sundry other things that we ourselves have appointed, 
or you shall have no communion with us ; as it cannot be but 
that divisions and schisms will ensue thereon, so it will not 
be difficult for an indifferent by-stander to judge on whether 
side the occasion and guilt of them doth remain. 

2. We have the practice of the apostles in the pur- 
suance of the direction and command of their Lord and 
ours, for our guide in this cause. And it may be well and 
safely thought, that this should give a certain rule unto the 


proceedings and actings of all church-guides in future ages. 
Now they did never inalcp any thing unscriptural, or what 
they had not received by divine revelation, to be a condition 
of communion in religious worship and church-order among 
Christians. For as they testified themselves 'that they 
would continually give themselves unto prayer and the mi- 
nistry of the word/'^ so it was of old observed concerning 
them, * that their constant labour was for the good of the 
souls of men in their conversion unto God, and edification 
in faith and holiness j'"^ but as for the institution of festivals 
or fasts, of rites or ceremonies to be observed in the worship 
of the churches, they intermeddled with no such things. 
And thence it came to pass, that in the first entrance and 
admission of observances about such things, there was a 
great and endless variety in them, both as to the things 
themselves observed, and as to the manner of their obser- 
vation. And this was gradually increased unto such a 
height and excess as that the burden of them became into- 
lerable unto Christendom. Nor indeed could any better 
success be expected in a relinquishment and departure from 
the pattern of church-order, given us in their example and 
practice. Neither is the plea from hence built merely on 
this consideration, that no man alive, cither from their writ- 
ings, or the approved records of those times, can manifest 
that they ever prescribed unto the churches, or imposed on 
them the observance of any uninstituted rite, to be observed 
as a measure and rule of their communion ; but also it so fell 
out in the good providence of God, that the case under de- 
bate was proposed unto them, and jointly determined by 
them. For being called unto advice and counsel in the 
difference that was between the Jewish and Gentile con- 
verts and professors, wherein the former laboured to impose 
on the latter the observation of Moses's institutions as the 
condition of their joint communion, as was mentioned even 
now, they not only determine against any such imposition, 
but also expressly declare, that nothing but necessary things 
(that is, such as are so from other reasons antecedently unto 
their prescriptions and appointments) ought to be required 
of any Christians in the communion or worship of the 
church.* And as they neither did nor would on that oreat 

«Acts vi. 4. «> Socrat. Hist. lib. 5. e Acts xv. 



occasion, in that solemn assembly, appoint any one thing to 
be observed by the disciples and churches which the Lord 
Christ had not commanded ; so in their direction given unto 
the Gentile believers for a temporary abstinence from the 
use of their liberty in one or two instances whereunto it did 
extend, they plainly intimate, that it was the avoidance of 
a present scandal which might have greatly retarded the pro- 
gress of the gospel, that was the reason of that direction. 
And in such cases it is granted, that we may in many things 
for a season forego the use of our liberty. This was their 
way and practice, this the example which they left unto all 
that should follow them in the rule and guidance of the 
church. Whence it is come to pass in after ages, that men 
should think themselves wiser than they, or more careful to 
provide for the peace and unity of the church, we know not. 
But let the bounds and measures of church-communion fixed 
in and by their example, stand unmoved, and many causes 
of our present divisions will be taken away. But it may be 
it will be offered, that the present state of things in the world 
requires some alteration in, or variation from, the precise 
example of the apostles in this matter. The due observation 
of the institutions of Christ in such manner as the nature of 
them required, was thpn sufl&cient unto the peace and unity 
of the churches. But primitive simplicity is now decayed 
among the most ; so that a multiplication of rules and ob- 
servances is needful for the same ends. But we have shewed 
before, that the accommodation of church-rule and commu- 
nion to the degeneracy of Christians or churches, or their 
secular engagements, is no way advantageous unto religion. 
Let them whose duty it is endeavour to reduce professors 
and profession to the primitive standard of light, humility, 
and holiness, and they may be ordered in all church con- 
cerns according to the apostolical pattern. Wherefore, when 
Christians unto the former plea of their readiness to observe 
and do whatsoever Christ hath commanded them, do also 
add their willingness to comply with whatever the apostles 
of Christ have either by precept, or example in their own 
practice, commended unto them, or did do or require in the 
first churches, and cannot be convinced of failing to make 
good their profession ; we do not know whence any can de- 
rive a warranty enabling them to impose any other condi- 


tions of communion on them. The institution therefore of 
the Lord Christ, and the practice of the apostles, lie directly 
against the imposing of the conditions inquired about. And 
first to invent them, then to impose them, making them ne- 
cessary to be observed, and then to judge and censure them 
as schismatics, as enemies to love and peace, who do not 
submit unto them, looks not unlike the exercise of an un- 
warrantable dominion over the faith and consciences of 
the disciples of Christ. 

.**. Not only by their example and practice, but they 
havfe also doctrinally declared what is the duty of churches, 
and what is the liberty of Christians in this matter. The 
apostle Paul discourseth at large hereon, Rom. xiv. xv. 
The attentive reading of those two chapters is sufl&cient 
to determine this cause among all uninterested and unpre- 
judiced persons. He supposeth in them, and it is the 
case which he exemplifies in sundry instances, that there 
were among Christians and churches at that time different 
apprehensions and observances about some things apper- 
taining unto the worship of God : and these things were 
such as had some seeming countenance of a sacred and 
divine authority, for such was their original institution. 
Some in the consideration hereof, judged that they were still 
to be observed, and their consciences had been long exer- 
cised in a holy subjection unto the authority of God in the 
observance of them. Nor was there yet any express and 
positive law enacted for their abrogation ; but the ceasing of 
any obligation under their observance from their primitive 
institution, was to be gathered from the nature of God's 
economy towards his church. Many therefore continued 
to observe them, esteelming it their duty so to do. Others 
were persuaded and satisfied that they were freed from any 
obligation unto the owning and observance of them. And 
whereas this liberty was given them by Jesus Christ in the 
gospel, they were resolved to make use of it, and not to 
comply with the other sort, who pressed conformity upon 
them in their ceremonies and modes of divine worship. So 
it may fall out in other instances. Some may be persuaded 
that such or such things may be lawful for them to observe 
in the worship of God ; they may be so unto them, and, as 
is supposed, in their own nature. On the consideration of 



some circumstances they may judge that it is convenient or 
expedient to attend unto their observance ; lastly, all coin- 
cidences weighed, that it is necessary that so they should 
do ; and that others also that walk with them in the profes- 
sion of the gospel should conform themselves unto their 
order and practice. On the other hand some there are, who, 
because the things of the joint practice required, are not 
appointed by Jesus Christ, nor doth it appear unto them 
that he hath given power unto any others to appoint them, 
do not judge it expedient, nor yet, all circumstances consi- 
dered, lawful to observe them. Now whereas this case 
answers unto that before proposed, the determination thereof 
given by the apostle may safely be applied unto this also. 
What rule therefore doth he give therein, which he would 
have attended unto, as the means for the preservation of 
love, peace, and unity among them ? Is it that the former 
sort of persons, provided they be the most, or have the most 
power, ought to impose the practice of those things which 
they esteem lawful and convenient, on those who judge them 
not so ; when it is out of question that they are not ap- 
pointed by Christ ; only it is pretended that they are not 
forbidden by him ? Where indeed the question was about 
the institutions nf Christ, he binds up the churches precisely 
unto what he had received from him.^ But in cases of this 
nature, wherein a direct command of Christ cannot be 
pleaded, nor is pretended, he absolutely rejects, and con- 
demns all thoughts of such a procedure. But supposing 
that differences in judgment and practice were and would be 
among Christians, the sum of his advice is, that all offences 
and scandals ought to be diligently avoided; that censuring, 
judging, and despisings, on the account of such differences, 
be cast out ; that tenderness be used towards them that are 
weak, and nothing severely pressed on them that doubt; 
and for their different apprehensions and ways, they should 
all walk in peace, condescending unto, and bearing with, one 
another. Nothing can more evidently determine the un- 
lawfulness of imposing on Christians unscriptural conditions 
of communion, than do the discourses of that great apostle 
to this purpose. Yea, better it is, and more agreeable unto 
the mind of Christ, that persons and particular churches 

' 1 Cor, xi. 23. 


should be left unto different observations in sundry things 
relating unto sacred worship, wherein they cannot join with 
each other, nor communicate together, endeavouring in the 
mean time to ' keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of 
peace,' than that they should be enforced unto a uniformity 
in the practice of things that have not the immediate autho- 
rity of Christ enstamped on them. Accordingly it so fell 
out among them unto whom the apostle gave these directions, 
and that suitably unto his intention in them. For the dis- 
senting parties agreeing in the common faith and profession 
of the gospel, did yet constantly meet in distinct assemblies 
or churches for the celebration of holy worship, because of 
the different rites wherein they did not agree. And in this 
posture were peace and love continued among them, until 
in process of time their differences through mutual forbear- 
ance being extinguished, they coalesced into one church- 
state and ordelr: and the former peace which they had in 
their distances was deemed sufficient, whilst things were 
not measured nor regulated by secular interest or advan- 
tages. But it is a part of our present unhappiness, that such 
a peace among Christians and particular churches is mistaken 
to have an ill aspect upon the concerns of some belonging 
unto the church in power, honour, and revenue. But as we 
apprehend there is, as things are now stated among us, a 
plain mistake in this surmise ; so, if the glory of God and 
the honour of the gospel were chief in our consultations 
about church affairs, it would be with us of no such consi- 
deration, as to hinder us from committing quietly the suc- 
cess and events of duty unto the providence of God. 

4. There was also a signal vindication of the truth 
pleaded for, in an instance of fact among the primitive 
churclies. There was an opinion which prevailed very early 
among them, about the necessary observation of Easter, in 
the room of the Jewish passover ; for the solemn comme- 
moration of the death and resurrection of our Saviour: and 
it was taken for granted by most of them, that the observ- 
ance hereof was countenanced, if not rendered necessary 
unto them, by the example of the apostles. For they 
generally believed that by them it was observed, and that it 
was their duty to accommodate themselves unto their prac- 
tice ; only there was a difference about the precise time or 


day, which they were to solemnize as the head and rule of 
their festival ; as every undue presumption hath one lame- 
ness or other accompanying it : it is truth alone which is 
square and steady. Some therefore pleaded the example 
of John the apostle and evangelist, who as it is strongly 
asserted and testified by multitudes, kept his Easter at such 
a time, and by such a rule, whom they thought meet to fol- 
low and imitate. Others, not inferior unto them in number 
or authority, opposed unto their time the example of Peter, 
whom they affirmed (on what grounds and reasons they 
know best, for they are now lost) to have observed his 
Easter at another time, and according unto a different rule. 
And it is scarcely imaginable how the contests hereabouts 
troubled the churches both of Europe and Asia ; who cer- 
tainly had things more material to have exercised themselves 
about. The church of Rome embraced that opinion, which 
at length prevailed over the other, and obtained a kind of 
Catholicism against that which was countenanced only by 
the authority of St. John ; as that church was always 
wondrous happy in reducing other churches unto an acquies- 
cency in its sentiments, as seldom wanting desire or skill 
dexterously to improve its manifold advantages. Now this 
was that Easter was to be celebrated on the Lord's day only, 
and not by the rule of the Jewish passover, on the four- 
teenth day of the first month, what day of the week soever 
it fell out upon. Hereon Victor, the bishop of that church, 
being confident that the truth was on his side, namely, that 
Easter was to be observed on the Lord's day, resolved to 
make it a condition of communion, unto all the churches ; for 
otherwise he saw not how there could be either union, peace, 
or uniformity among them. He did not question but that 
he had a good foundation to build upon : for that Easter 
was to be observed by virtue of apostolical tradition, was 
generally granted by all. And he took it as unquestionable 
upon a current and prevalent rumour, that the observation of 
it was confined to the Lord's day by the example of St. 
Peter. Hereupon he refused the communion of all that 
would not conform unto his resolution for the observation of 
Easter on the Lord's day; and cast out of communion all 
those persons and churches who would observe any other 
day; which proved to be the condition of the principal 


churches of Asia, amongst whom the apostle John did 
longest converse. Here was our present case directly ex- 
emplified, or represented so long beforehand; the success 
only of this fact of his, remaineth to be inquired into. Now 
it is known unto all what entertainment this his new rule of 
communion found among the churches of Christ. The re- 
proof of his precipitancy, and irregular fixing new bounds 
unto church-communion, was famous in those days : espe- 
cially the rebuke given unto him and his practice, by one of 
the most holy and learned persons then living, is eminently^ 
celebrated, as consonant to truth and peace, by those who 
have transmitted unto us the reports of those times. He 
who himself first condemned others rashly, was for his so 
doing generally condemned by all. Suppose now that any 
persons living at Rome, and there called into communion 
with the church, should have had the condition thereof pro- 
posed unto them; namely, that they should assent and 
declare, that 'the observation of Easter by apostolical tra- 
dition was to be on the Lord's day only ; and upon their 
refusal so to do, should be excluded from communion, or 
on their own accords should refrain from it ; where should 
the guilt of this disorder and schism be charged ? And 
thus it fell out, no<- only with those who came out of Asia to 
Rome, who were not received by thp.ir Diotrcphcs ; but also 
with sundry in that church itself, as Blastus and others ; as 
what great divisions were occasioned hereby between the 
Saxons and Britains, hath been by many declared. But in 
the judgment of the primitive churches, the guilt of these 
schisms was to be charged on them that coined and imposed 
these new rules and conditions of communion. And had 
they not been judged by any, the pernicious consequences 
of this temerarious attempt are sufficient to reflect no incon- 
siderable guilt upon it. Neither could the whole observ- 
ance itself, from first to last, ever compensate that loss of 
love and peace among Christians and churches, which was 
occasioned thereby; nor hath the introduction of such 
things ever obtained any better success in the church of 
God. How free the churches were until that time, after 
they were once delivered from the attempt of the circum- 
cised professors to impose upon them the ceremonies of 
Moses, from any appearance of unwritten conditions of 


communion, is manifest unto all, who have looked into the 
monuments which remain of those times. It it very true, 
that sundry Christians took upon them very early, the ob- 
servation of sundry rites and usages in religion, whereunto 
they had no guidance or direction by the word of God. For 
as the corrupted nature of man, is prone to the invention 
and use of sensible present things in religion, especially 
where persons are not able to find satisfaction in those that 
are purely spiritual, requiring great intention of mind and 
aifections in their exercise; so were they many of them 
easily infected by that tincture which remained in them from 
the Judaism or Gentilism from which they were converted. 
But these observances were free, and taken up by men of 
their own accord ; not only every church, but every person 
in the most of them, as far as it appears, being left unto 
their own liberty. Some ages it was before such things 
were turned into laws and canons ; and that perhaps first by 
heretics, or at least under such a degeneracy, as our minds 
and consciences cannot be regulated by. The judgment, 
therefore, and practice of the first churches are manifest 
against such impositions. 

5. Upon a supposition that it should be lawful for 
any persons or churches to assifrn nnsrriptnral conditions 
of their cnrmmiTiion, it will follow, that there is no certain 
rule of communion amongst Christians fixed and determined 
by Christ. That this is otherwise we have before declared, 
and shall now only manifest the evil consequences of such 
a supposition. For if it be so, no man can claim an admis- 
sion into the society or communion of any church, or a par- 
ticipation in the ordinances of the gospel with them, by 
virtue of the authority of Jesus Christ. For notwithstand- 
ing all his pleas of submission to his institutions, and the 
observation of his commands, every church may propose 
something, yea, many things unto him, that he hath not 
appointed, without an admission whereof, and subjection 
thereunto, he may be justly excluded from all church privi- 
leges among them. Now this seems not consonant unto the 
authority that Christ hath over the church, nor that honour 
which ought to be given unto him therein. Nor on the 
same supposition are his laws sufficient to rule and quiet the 
consciences, or to provide for the edification of his disciples. 


Now if Diotrephes is blamed, for not receiving the bre- 
thren, who were recommended unto the church by the 
apostle,t probably because they would not submit to that 
pre-eminence which he had obtained among them, they will 
scarcely escape without reproof, who refuse those whom the 
Lord Christ commends unto them by the rules of the gospel, 
because they will not submit unto such new impositions as 
by virtue of their pre-eminence they would put upon them. 
And what endless perplexities they must be cast into, who 
have learned in these things to call him only Lord and 
Master, is apparent unto all. Baptism, with a voluntary 
credible profession of faith, repentance, and obedience unto 
the Lord Christ in his commands and institutions, is all the 
warranty which he hath given unto any of his disciples, to 
claim their admission into his churches, which are instituted 
and appointed to receive them, and to build them up in 
their faith. And if any person who produceth this war- 
ranty, and thereon desir<^th, according to order, the commu- 
nion of any church; if he may be excluded from it, or for- 
bidden an entrance into it, unless it be on grounds sufficient 
in the judgment of charity to evince the falseness and hypo- 
crisy of his profession, little regard is had to the authority 
of Christ, and too much unto men's own. Churches indeed 
may more or less insist upon the explicitness of this profes- 
sion, and the evidences of its sincerity, as they find it tend 
to their peace and edification, with a due attendance unto 
the rule and example left unto them in this matter in the 
gospel. And that the exercise of this power in any churches 
may not turn to the prejudice of any, every professor is 
allowed, with reference unto particular assemblies, to make 
his choice of the measure he will comply withal j at least if 
he will make the choice of his habitation subservient unto 
his edification. Hereby the peace and duty, both of churches 
and private persons are secured. And this rule of church 
admission and communion, furnished Christians with peace, 
love, and unity for many ages, setting aside the ruffle given 
them in the rashness of Victor before mentioned. It was 
also rendered practicable and easy, by virtue of their com- 
munion as churches among themselves : for from thence, 
commendatory letters supplied the room of actual profes- 

s 3 John 9, 10. 


fession in them who having been admitted into one church, 
did desire the same privilege in any other. And on this 
rule w^ere persons to be received, though w^eak in the faith, 
though it may be in some things otherwise minded than the 
generality of the church, though babes and unskilful, as to 
degrees, in the word of truth.'* But this rule was always 
attended with a proviso, that men did not contradict or 
destroy their own profession by any unholy conversation : 
for such persons never were, nor never are to be admitted 
unto the especial ordinances of the church ; and a neglect 
of due attendance hereunto, is that which principally hath 
cast us into all our confusions, and rendered the institutions 
of Christ ineffectual. And if this warranty which the Lord 
Christ hath given unto his disciples, of claiming a partici- 
pation in all the privileges of his churches, an admission 
unto a joint performance of all the duties required in them, 
may, upon the supposition of a power left to impose other 
conditions of communion on them, be rejected and rendered 
useless, all church-communion is absolutely resolved into 
the variable wills of men. The church no doubt may judge 
and determine upon the laws of Christ, and their due ap- 
plication unto particular occasions ; as whether such per- 
sons may according to them be admitted in their fellowship. 
To deprive churches of this liberty, is to take away their 
principal use and service. But to make laws of their own, the 
subject matter whereof shall be things not commanded by 
Christ, and to make them the rule of admitting professed 
Christians unto their communion, is an assumption that 
cannot be justified. And it is certain, that the assuming 
of an authority by some churches for such-like impositions, 
is that which hath principally occasioned many to deny 
them so to be ; so at once to overthrow the foundation of 
all that authority, which in so many instances they find to 
be abused. And although the church of Rome may prevail 
on weak and credulous persons, by proposing unto them an 
absolute acquiescency in their dictates and determinations, 
as the best, readiest, and most facile means of satisfaction; 
yet there is nothing that doth more alienate wise and con- 
scientious persons from them, than doth that unreasonable 
proposal. Moreover, it is highly probable that endless dis- 

"' Rom. xiv. 1, Phil. iii. 15. Heb. v. 12—11. 


putes will arise on this supposition, about what is meet and 
convenient, and wliat not, to be added unto the Scripture 
rules of communion. They have done so in the ages past, 
and continue yet to do. Nor can any man on this principle 
know, or probably conjecture, when he hath a firm station 
in the church, or an indefeasible interest in the privileges 
thereof. For supposing that he hath concocted the imposi- 
tions of one church, on the first removal of his habitation, 
he may have new conditions of communion prescribed unto 
him. And from this perplexity nothing can relieve him, 
but a resolution to do in every place whereunto he may 
come, according to the manner of the place, be it good or 
bad, right'or wrong. But neither hath the Lord Christ left 
his disciples in this uncertainty which the case supposeth, 
nor will accept of that indifFerency which is in the remedy 
suggested. They therefore who regulate their communion 
with any churches, by the firm stated law of their right and 
privilege, if they are not received thereon, do not by their 
abstinence from it, contract the guilt of schism or any 
blameable divisions. 

Moreover, upon a supposition of such a liberty and 
power to prescribe and impose unwritten conditions of 
church-communion on Christians, who or what law doth, or 
shall prescribe bounds unto men, that they do not proceed 
in their prescriptions beyond what is useful unto edifica- 
tion, or unto what will be really burdensome and intolerable 
unto churches. To say that those who claim this power 
may be securely trusted with it, for they will be sure not to 
fall into any such excesses, will scarcely give satisfaction : 
for besides that such a kind of power is exceedingly apt to 
swell and extend itself unmeasurably, the common experi- 
ence of Christendom lies against this suggestion. Was not 
an excess of this kind complained of by Austin of old, when 
yet the observation of ecclesiastical customs was much 
more voluntary than in after ages ; neither were they made 
absolutely conditions of communion, unless among a very 
few? Do not all Protestants grant and plead that the papal 
church hath exceeded all bounds of moderation and sobriety 
herein ; so that from thence they take the principal war- 
ranty of their secession from it ? Do not other churches 
mutually charge one another on the same account ? Hath 
not a charge of this excess been the ball of contention in 


this nation ever since the reformation ? If then there be 
such a power in any, either the exercise of it is confined 
unto certain instances by some power superior unto them, 
or it is left absolutely, as unto all particulars whereunto it 
may be extended, unto their own prudence and discretion. 
The first will not be asserted, nor can be so, unless the in- 
stances intended can be recounted, and the confirming 
power be declared. If the latter be affirmed, then let them 
run into what excesses they please, unless they judge them- 
selves that so they do, which is morally impossible that 
they should, none ought ever to complain of what they do : 
for there is no failure in them who attend unto their rule ; 
•which in this case is supposed to be men's own prudence 
and discretion. And this was directly the state of things in 
the church of Rome ; whence they thought it always ex- 
ceedingly unequal that any of their ecclesiastical laws 
should be called in question ; since they made them accord- 
ino- to their own judgment, the sole rule of exercising their 
authority in such things. Where is the certainty and stabi- 
lity of this rule? Is it probable that the communion and 
peace of all churches, and all Christians, are left to be re- 
gulated by it? And who will give assurance that no one 
condition directly unlawful in itself shall be prescribed and 
imposed by persons enjoying this pretended power? Or 
who can undertake that the number of such conditions as 
may be countenanced by a plea of being things in their own 
nature indifferent, shall not be increased until they come to 
be sach a burden and yoke as are too heavy for the disciples 
of Christ to bear, and unlawful for them to submit themselves 
unto? May any make a judgment but themselves who im- 
pose them, when the number of such things grows to a 
blameable excess ? If others may judge, at least for them- 
selves, and their own practice, and so of what is lawful or 
not, it is all that is desired. If themselves are the only 
judges, the case seems very hard, and our secession from 
the church of Rome scarcely warrantable. And who sees 
not what endless contests and differences will ensue on 
these suppositions, if the whole liberty of men's judgments, 
and all apprehensions of duty in professors, be not swallowed 
up in the gulf of atheistical indifferency, as to all the con- 
cerns of outward worship ? 

The whole of what hath been pleaded on this head, might 


be confirmed with the testimony of many of the learned 
writers of the church of England, in the defence of our 
secession from that of Rome. But we shall not here pro- 
duce them in particular. The sum of what is pleaded by 
them, is. That the being of the catholic church lies in essen- 
tials ; that for a particular church to disagree from all other 
particular churches "in some extrinsical and accidental 
things, is not to separate from the catholic church, so as 
to cease to be a church ; but still whatever church makes 
such extrinsical things the necessary conditions of com- 
munion, so as to cast men out of the church, who yield not 
to them, is schismatical in its so doing, and the separation 
from it is so far from being schism, that being cast out of 
that church on those terms only, returns them unto the 
communion of the catholic church. And nothing can be 
more unreasonable, than that the society imposing such 
conditions of communion, should be judge whether those 
conditions be just and equitable or no. To this purpose do 
they generally plead our common cause. Wherefore, from 
what hath been discoursed, we doubt not but to affirm, 
that where unscriptural conditions of communion, indis- 
pensably to be submitted unto and observed, are by any 
church imposed on those whom they expect or require to 
join in their fellowship, communion, and order ; if they on 
whom they are so imposed, do thereon withhold or with- 
draw themselves from the communion of that church, espe- 
cially in the acts, duties, and parts of worship, wherein a 
submission unto these conditions is expressed either ver- 
bally or virtually, they are not thereon to be esteemed guilty 
of schism ; but the whole fault of the divisions which ensue 
thereon, is to be charged on them who insist on the neces- 
sity of their imposition. 

That this is the condition of things with us at present, 
especially such as are ministers of the gospel, with reference 
unto the church of England, as it is known in itself, so it 
may be evidenced unto all, by an enumeration of the parti- 
culars that are required of us, if we will be comprehended 
in the communion and fellowship thereof. 

For,l. It is indispensably enjoined, that we give a solemn 
attestation unto the liturgy, and all contained in it, by the 
subscription or declaration of our assent and consent there- 


unto ; which must be accompanied with the constant use of 
it in the whole worship of God. As was before observed, we 
dispute not now about the lawfulness of the use of liturgies, 
in the public service of the church ; nor of that in particular 
which is established among us by the laws of the land. 
Were it only proposed or recommended unto ministers for 
the use of it in whole or in part, accoi*ding as it should be 
found needful unto the edification of their people, there 
would be a great alteration in the case under consideration. 
And if it be pretended, that such a liberty would produce 
greater diversity, yea, and confusion in the worship of God, 
we can only say, that it did not so of old, when the pastors 
of churches were left wholly to the exercise of their own 
gifts and abilities in all sacred administrations. But it is 
the making of an assent and consent unto it, with the con- 
stant use of it, or attendance unto it, a necessary condition 
of all communion with the church, which at present is called 
into question. It will not, we suppose, be denied, but that 
it is so made unto us all, both ministers and people ; and 
that by such laws, both civil and ecclesiastical, as are suf- 
ficiently severe in their penalties : for we have rules and 
measures of church-communion assigned unto us, by laws 
merely civil. Were there auy colour or pretence of denying 
this to be so, we should proceed no farther in this instance ; 
but things are evidently and openly with us as here laid 
down. Now this condition of communion is unscriptural ; 
and the making of it to be such a condition, is without war- 
ranty or countenance from the word of God, or the practice 
of the apostolical and primitive churches. That there are 
no footsteps of any liturgy, or prescribed forms for the ad- 
ministration of all church ordinances to be imposed on the 
disciples of Christ in their assemblies, to be found in the 
Scripture, no intimation of any such thing, no direction 
about it, no command for it, will, we suppose, be acknow- 
ledged. Commanded indeed we are to make prayers and 
supplications for all sorts of men in our assemblies, to in- 
struct, lead, guide, and feed the flock of Christ,"" to administer 
the holy ordinances instituted by him, and to do all these 
things decently and in order. The apostles also describing 
the work of the ministry in their own attendance unto it, affirm 

»" 1 Tim. ii. 1.. Acts xx. 28, 1 Pet. v. 2. ■■ 


that they would * give themselves continually unto prayer 
and the ministry of the word.'' But that all these things 
should be done (the preaching of the word only excepted) 
in and by the use or reading of a liturgy, and the prescribed 
forms of it, without variation or receding from the words 
and syllables of it in any thing, that the Scripture is utterly 
silent of. If any one be otherwise minded, it is incumbent 
on him to produce instances unto his purpose. But withal 
he must remember, that in this case it is required not only 
to produce a warranty from the Scripture for the use of 
such forms or liturgies, but also, that rules are given therein, 
enabling churches to make the constant attendance unto 
them, to be a necessary condition of their communion. If 
this be not done, nothing is offered unto the case as at pre- 
sent stated. And whatever confidence may be made use of 
herein, we know that nothing unto this pui'pose can be 
thence produced. It is pleaded, indeed, that our Saviour 
himself composed a form of prayer, and prescribed it unto 
his disciples : but it is not proved that he enjoined them 
the constant use of it in their assemblies, nor that they did 
so use it, nor that the repetition of it should be a condition 
of communion in them, though the owning of it as by him 
proposed, and for the ends by him designed, may justly be 
made so ; least of all is it, or can it be proved, that any rule 
or just encouragement can hence be taken for other men, 
who are neither Jesus Christ nor his apostles, but weak and 
fallible as ourselves, to compose entire liturgies, and im-, 
pose the necessary use of them in all the worship of the 

Neither is there the least countenance to be obtained 
unto such impositions, from the practice or example of the 
first churches. Liturgies themselves were an invention of 
after ages, and the use of them now inquired after of a much 
later date. For those which pretend unto apostolical anti- 
quity, have long since been convicted to be spurious and 
feigned : nor is there scarce any learned man who hath the 
confidence to assert them to be genuine, and on a supposi- 
tion that so they are, no tolerable reason can be given why 
the use of them should be neglected, and such others taken 
up as are of a most uncertain ori-ginal. The first condition 

* Acts vi. 4. 


therefore of communion proposed unto us is not only un- 
scriptural, which is sufficient unto our present argument, but 
also destitute of any ancient example or usage among the 
churches of Christ, to give countenance unto it. This if we 
admit not of, if we attend not unto, we are not only refused 
communion in other things, but also excommunicated, or 
cast out of the whole communion of the church, as many are 
at this day ; yet some are so, not only for refusing compli- 
ance with the whole of it in general, but for not observing 
every particular direction belonging unto it (as might be 
manifested in instances) of no great importance. If there- 
fore any divisions or schisms do ensue among us on this 
account, that some indispensably require an assent and con- 
sent unto the liturgy, and all things contained in it, as the 
condition of complete church-communion, or a necessary 
attendance on the whole religious worship thereby performed, 
and therein prescribed, which others refuse to admit of as 
such, and thereon forbear the communion proposed unto 
them, it is evident from the rules laid down, where the guilt 
of them is to be charged. And we do not discourse of what 
any may do among themselves, judging it meet for their edi- 
fication, nor of what a civil law may constitute with respect 
unto public places, employments, and preferments ; but only 
where lies the sin and evil that attends divisions arising 
on these impositions, and which, by their removal, would 
be taken away. And there seems to be an aggravation of 
this disorder, in that' not only all men are refused commu- 
nion who will not submit unto these terms of it, but also, 
they are sought out and exposed unto severe penalties if 
they will not admit of them, though expressly contrary to 
their consciences and persuasions. 

2. Canonical submission unto the present ecclesiastical 
government of the church, and the administration of the 
discipline thereof, in their hands by whom the power of it is 
possessed, with an acquiescency therein, are to the same 
purpose required of us, and expected from us. Who these 
are, and what are the ways and means of their administra- 
tions, we shall not repeat, as unwilling to give offence unto 
any. We cannot but know how, and in what sense these 
things are proposed unto us, and what is expected from us 
thereon. Neither dare we give another sense of them in our 


minds, than what we judge to be the sense and intention of 
them who require our submission and obedience unto them. 
It is not certainly their design nor mind, that we should look 
on the offices of the church as unwarrantable, and on their 
rule as inconvenient, so as to endeavour a reformation in the 
one and of the other. It is such a conformity they intend, 
as whereby we do, virtually at least, declare our approbation 
of all these things in the church, and our acquiescency in 
them. Neither can we be admitted to put in any exception, 
nor discharge our consciences by a plain declaration of what 
we dislike or dissent from, or in what sense we can submit 
unto any of these things. We take it therefore for granted, 
that in the conformity required of us, we must cordially and 
sincerely approve the present ecclesiastical government, and 
the administration of church-discipline thereby. For it is 
the profession of our acceptance of it as proposed unto us; 
and if we acquiesce not therein, but express an uneasiness 
under it, we do it at the hazard of the reputation of our sin- 
cerity and honesty in conforming. Now this condition of 
communion with the church of England is also unscriptura], 
and consequently unlawful to be made so. This is by many 
now plainly acknowledged : for they say there is no govern- 
ment determined in the Scripture. But this now in force 
amongst us is erected by the authority of the magistrate, 
who hath supreme power in things ecclesiastical : and on 
that ground a lawful government they plead it to be, and 
lawful to be exercised, and so also by others to be submitted 
to. But we have now sundry times declared that this is not 
our present question. We inquire not whether it be lawful 
or no, or on what account it may be so esteemed, or how far 
it may be submitted unto, or wherein ; but we say, the pro- 
fessed acknowledging of it with submission unto it, as the 
government of the church, is required of us as a necessaiy 
condition of oiu* communion. If they are not so, give us 
liberty to declare our sense concerning it without prejudice: 
and if it be so, then may we refuse this condition as un- 
scriptural. For in the case of conformity, there is not only 
a submission to the government required, but expressly (as 
was said) an approbation of it, that it is such as it ought to 
be. For in religious things our practice declares a cordial 
approbation, as being a part of our profession wherein we 



ought to be sincere. Some again make some pleas, that 
bishops, and some government by them, are appointed by 
the apostles; and therefore a submission unto them may be 
justly required as a condition of communion. For we will 
not now dispute, but that whatever is so appointed may be 
so required ; although we believe that every particular in- 
stance of this nature is not rigidly to be insisted on, if it 
belong not unto the essentials of the church, and it be du- 
bious to some whether it be so appointed or no. But yet nei- 
ther doth an admittance of this plea, give us any relief in 
this matter. For suppose it should or might be proved that 
there ought to be, according to the mind of Christ in all 
churches, bishops, with a pre-eminence above presbyters in 
order or degree, and that the rule of the church doth prin- 
cipally belong unto them that are so ; yet will not this con- 
cession bear an application to the present question, so as to 
afford us any relief. For the granting of things so dubious 
and questionable, can never give them such an evidence of 
truth and firmitude in the church, as to warrant the making 
of them necessary conditions of communion unto all Chris- 
tians. Neither doth it follow from any thing that pretendeth 
to fall under Scripture proof, that such bishops should be 
diocesan ; that they should depend on archbishops over 
them ; that they should assume the whole power of church- 
rule and discipline into their hands ; that they should admi- 
nister it by chancellors, archdeacons, commissaries, and the 
like ; that this should be done by presentments, or indict- 
ments, citations, processes, litigious pleadings, after the 
manner of secular or civil courts, to the exclusion of that 
rule and discipline which the gospel directs unto, with the 
management of it in love and brotherly compassion in the 
name and by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. But these 
things we shall not in particular insist upon, for the reason 
before given. This we must say, that take the whole of the 
government and the administration thereof together, which 
by the conformity required of us we must testify our appro- 
bation of, and acquiescence in, or we deal hypocritically 
with them that require it of us ; and we know it to be so far 
unscriptural, as that an acknowledgment of it, and submis- 
sion unto it, cannot duly and justly be made a necessary 
condition of communiou unto us. It may be it will be said. 


that submission unto the government of the church is not 
so much a condition of communion with it as it is that 
wherein our communion itself with it doth consist; and it is 
but a fancy to think of communion with a church without it. 
But this is otherwise; as appears in those churches where 
all rule and government being left in the hand of the civil 
magistrate, there communion is merely spiritual in the admi- 
nistration of evangelical ordinances. And might but that 
be admitted which nature, reason, the law of the Christian 
faith, and gospel obedience, do require, namely, that church- 
fellowship and communion be built upon men's own judg- 
ment and choice; and this would go a great way towards the 
pacification of our differences. But if this be so, and that 
all church-communion consists in submission to the govern- 
ment of it, or at least that it doth so principally, it becomes 
them by whom it is owned and avowed so to do, to take 
care that that government be derived from the authority of 
Christ, and administered according to his mind ; or all 
church-communion, properly so called, will be overthrown. 
3. We are required to use and observe the ceremo- 
nies in worship which the present church hath appointed, 
or doth use and observe. This also is made a necessary 
condition of communion unto us. For many are at this day 
actually cast out of all communion for not observing of 
them. Some are so proceeded against for not observing of 
holy days ; some for not kneeling at the sacrament of the 
Lord's supper; some for not using the sign of the cross in 
baptism : and what would become of ministers that should 
neglect or omit to wear the surplice in sacred administra- 
tions, is easy to conjecture. But these things are all of 
them unwritten and unscriptural. Great and many indeed 
have been the disputes of learned men, to prove that al- 
though they have no divine institution, nor yet example of 
apostolical or primitive practice, yet that they may be law- 
fully used for decency and order in the worship of God. 
Whether they have evinced what they aimed at is as yet 
undetermined. But supposing in this case all to be as they 
would pretend, and plead that it should be, yet because 
they are all granted to be arbitrary inventions of men, and 
very few of those who make use of them are agreed what is 
their proper use and signification, or whether they have any 

K 2 


or no, they are altogether unmeet to be made a necessary 
condition of communion. For inquiry may be made, on 
what warranty, or by what rule they may be appointed so to 
be ? Those who preside in and over the churches of Christ, 
do so in his name, and by his authority : and therefore they 
can impose nothing on them as a condition of their commu- 
nion together but what his name is upon, or what they have 
his authority for : and it will be dangerous to set his seal 
unto our own appointments. For what men think meet to 
do themselves in the matters of the house of God and his 
worship, it maybe measured and accepted with him accord- 
ing to their light and design : but for what they impose on 
others, and that under no less penalty than the deprivation 
of the outward administration of all the privileges procured 
for them by Jesus Christ, they ought to have his warrant 
and authority for. And their zeal is to be bewailed, who 
not only cast men out of all church-communion, so far as in 
them lieth, for a refusal to observe those voluntarily imposed 
ceremonies in sacred worship, but also prosecute them with 
outward force to the ruin of them and their families ; and we 
cannot but wonder that any should as yet think meet to 
make use of prisons and the destruction of men thereby, as 
an appendix of their ecclesiastical discipline, exercised in 
the highest severity, on no greater occasions than the omis- 
sion of the observance of these ceremonies. Whether such 
proceedings are measured by present interest, or the due 
consideration of what will be pleasing to the Lord Jesus 
Christ at the last day, is not difficult to determine. 

4. As we are ministers, there is in some cases re- 
quired of us under the same penalty, an oath of canonical 
obedience. We need not labour to prove this to be unscrip- 
tural ; nor, to avoid provocations, shall at present declare 
the rise, nature, and use of it, with the fierce digladiations 
that have formerly been about it. We can look upon it no 
otherwise, but as that which is contrary to the liberty, and 
unworthy of the office of a minister of the gospel. 

We know not any thing else which is required of us unto 
the end mentioned, unless it be of some a subscription unto 
the articles of religion. And this, because the Scripture en- 
joins unto all a consent unto sound doctrine and a form of 
wholesome words, may be admitted so far as those articles 


concern only points of faith ; but whereas there is annexed 
unto them, and enjoined with other things, an approbation 
of all those instances of conditions of communion before 
insisted on, a subscription unto the whole becomes of the 
same nature with things themselves therein approved of. 

These are the conditions of communion with the church 
of England, which are proposed unto us, and which we are 
indispensably to submit unto if we intend to be partakers 
thereof; and these are all that we know of that nature. That 
any of these are in particular prescribed in the word of God, 
much less that they can derive any warranty from thence to 
be made necessary conditions of church-communion, will 
not we suppose be pretended by any. If therefore any di- 
visions do ensue on the refusal of some to admit of these 
conditions, the guilt of them cannot by any rule of Scrip- 
ture, or from any example of the first churches, be charged 
on them who make that refusal. Other groundless accusa- 
tions and charges we value not ; for this is but man's day, 
the judgment whereof we neither stand nor fall unto. Yea, 
we esteem oui'selves obliged, in all peaceableness and so- 
briety, to bear witness against such impositions, and unto 
that liberty wherewith the Lord Christ hath made his 
churches and disciples free. And if once things were come 
unto that state, that men would assign no other terms of 
church-communion than what Christ hath appointed, it 
would quickly appear where the guilt of our divisions would 
remain, if any such divisions would yet remain. But so long 
as there is a desire to make the wills and wisdoms of some 
men, fallible even as others, the rule and measure of obedi- 
ence in spiritual things, an end of strife and contention 
among Christians will be expected in vain. And this we 
say with hearts in some measure sensible and pained, to 
see the body of Christ torn in pieces, by the lusts, passions, 
and carnal interests of men. Could we contribute any thing 
to the healing of the wounds and ruptures that are amongst 
Christians, provided it may have a consistency with the 
mind of Christ, and the duty we owe unto him (as indeed 
nothing else will really contribute any thing thereunto), we 
should with all readiness and faithfulness give up our best 
endeavours therein. And where we can do nothing else, we 
hope we shall bear with patience those disdainful reproaches 

134 A nnscouRSE concerning 

which the pride of men, blown up by a confluence of secular 
perishing advantages, prompts them to pour out upon us, 
for our non-compliance with their impositions. 

Secondly, By the conformity required of us, we must con- 
sent unto the omission of sundry duties, which are made so 
unto us by the command and appointment of Jesus Christ. 
If we are at any time hindered in the discharge of any neces- 
sary duty by others, w^e have somewhat to plead in our own 
excuse: but if we ourselves voluntarily consent to the neg- 
lect or omission of them, we cannot avoid the guilt of sin. 
And the worst way whereby such a consent may be ex- 
pressed, is by compact and agreement with others ; as 
though it were in our power to bargain with other men, what 
duties we will observe, and what we will omit in the worship 
of God. Now in the conformity required of us, we are to 
give this consent, and that as it were by compact and agree- 
ment, which deprives us of all pretence of excuse in our 
omissions. It is no time afterward to plead that w^e would 
discharge such duties, were we not hindered or forbidden : we 
have ourselves antecedently and voluntarily renounced a 
concern in such forbidden duties. For no man can honestly 
conform, but it is with a declared resolution to accept of all 
the terms and consequents of it, with an approbation of 
them. Under this notion it is, that we look on conformity ; 
and what others apprehend thereby, or understand therein, 
who seem to press men to conform unto what they do not 
approve, we know not. If then there be any omission of 
known duties inseparably accompanying our conformity, that 
thereby we solemnly consent unto. 

This therefore we are obliged to refuse, because without 
sin, in the voluntary neglect and omission of duty, we can- 
not comply with it ; which therefore can be no schism in us, 
nor what might in any way render us blameable. The Lord 
Christ hath prescribed no such law of unity and peace unto 
his churches, as that his disciples should be bound con- 
stantly to neglect any known duty, which they owe to him- 
self, for their sakes. Nor do his institutions interfere, that 
the observance of any one should exclude a due attendance 
unto another. Neither doth he by his commands, bring any 
one into a necessity of doing that which is evil, or of omit- 
ting any thing that is required of him in the way of duty. 


However, therefore, we value church-peace and union, we 
dare not purchase it by an abrenunciation of any duty we 
owe to Jesus Christ ; nor would an agreement procured on 
such terms be of any use unto us, or of advantage to the 
church itself. Wherefore that compliance in church-com- 
munion which would be obstructive of any necessary duties, 
is not by the Lord Christ enjoined us, and therefore its omis- 
sion cannot be culpable in us, but it would itself be our sin : 
especially would it be thus, where the duties so to be omit- 
ted, are such as are incumbent on us, by virtue of especial 
ofl5ce, wherein we are peculiarly required to be faithful. It 
remaineth therefore only, that we declare wherein we should 
by conformity engage unto the omission of such duties as 
are indispensably required of us. And this we shall do in 
some few instances. 

1. Every minister of the gospel hath, by the appoint- 
ment of Jesus Christ, the whole immediate care of the 
flock, whereof he is overseer, committed unto him. That no 
part hereof which belongs unto their edification is exempted 
from him, the charge that is given unto him, and the ac- 
count which will be expected from him, do sufficiently evi- 
dence. For as ministers are called overseers, rulers, guides, 
pastors, and the like ; so are they commanded to feed the 
flock, to take the oversight of it, and to rule the house of 
God,** a discharge of all which must come into their account. 
Nor is there any word spoken in the whole Scripture, relat- 
ing to the rule and government of the church, which is not 
spoken principally with respect unto them. Nor is there the 
least intimation of an exemption of any part of the discipline 
of the gospel, from their office or care. If it be pretended 
that there is, let the places be produced wherein such an ex- 
emption is made, or any instances of it among the first 
churches, and they shall be considered ; for hitherto no such 
thing has been attempted that we know of. Nor is it at 
all concluded from the plea, that some are appointed unto a 
superior degree above others in the rule of the church. For 
a man may have the whole-rule of his flock committed unto 
him, although he should be obliged to give an account unto 
others of his discharge thereof. It is therefore the duty of 
all ministers of the gospel, not only to teach, instruct, and 

" Acts XX. 17.28. iTim. iii. h. 1 Pet. v. 1—5. Heb. v. 17, 


preach to their flocks, but to go before them also in rule and 
government, and in the exercise of the spiritual discipline 
appointed in the gospel, in the order wherein it is appointed 
for their edification. The keys of the kingdom of heaven 
are committed unto them, or they are not: if they are not, by 
what authority do they take upon them to open and shut in 
the house of God, in ministerial teaching, and authoritative 
administrations of sacred ordinances? For these things be- 
long unto the authority which is given by Christ under 
that metaphorical expression of * the keys of the king- 
dom of heaven ;' the reason of the allusion and its ap- 
plication being obvious. And if these are not received by 
any, they are usurpers, if they undertake to administer unto 
the church authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ. IT 
they are given or granted unto them, how may it be made to 
appear that they are so, for the ends mentioned only, but 
not for the rule and government of the church, which also 
belongs unto them? where is the exemption in the grant 
made to them? where are the limits assigned unto their 
power, that they shall exercise it in some concerns of the 
kingdom of heaven, but not in others ? And whereas the 
greatest and most necessary parts of this power, such as are 
ministerial teaching, and the administrations of the sacra- 
ments, are confessedly committed unto them, how comes it 
to pass that the less should be reserved from them ? For 
whereas the former are necessary to the very being of the 
church, the latter are esteemed by some scarcely to belong 
unto it. To say that bishops only receive these keys, and 
commit or lend the use of them to others, for such ends and 
purposes as they are pleased to limit, is both foreign to the 
Scripture, and destructive of all ministerial power. And if 
ministers are not the ministers of Christ, but of men ; if they 
have not their authority from him, but from others ; if that 
may be parcelled out unto them which they have from him, 
at the pleasure of any over them, there needs not much con- 
tending about them or their ofiice. 

Besides, the relation of these things one to another is 
such, as that if they were absolutely separated, their efficacy 
unto edification will be exceedingly impaired, if not de- 
stroyed. If those who have the dispensation of the word 
committed unto them, have not liberty and authority ; if it be 


not part of their office-duty to watch over them unto whom 
it is dispensed, and that accompanied with spiritual wea- 
pons, ' mighty through God,' towards the fulfilling of the 
obedience of some, and the 'revenging of disobedience,' in 
others; if they have no power to judge, admonish, or cen- 
sure them that walk unanswerably to the doctrine of the 
gospel preached unto them, and whose profession they have 
taken upon them ; they will be discouraged in the pursuit of 
their work, and the word itself be deprived of a helpful 
means appointed by Christ himself to further its efficacy. 
And those who shall content themselves with the preaching 
of the word only, without an inquiry after its success in the 
minds and lives of them that are committed to their charge, 
by virtue of that care and authoritative inspection which 
indeed belongs to their office, will find that as they do dis- 
charge but one part of their duty, so they will grow cold and 
languid therein also. And when there hath been better 
success, as there hath, where some against their wills have 
been hindered by power from the exercise of the charge laid 
on them by Christ in this matter, making up as they were 
able by private solicitude and persuasion, what they were 
excluded from attending unto in public ministerial acts, it 
hath been an effect of especial favour from God, not to be 
ordinarily expected on the account of any rule. And thence 
it is, that for the most part things openly and visibly do fall 
out otherwise ; the people being little reformed in their 
lives, and preachers waxing cold and formal in their work. 
And if the censures of the church are administered by them 
who preach not the word unto the people, they will be weak 
and enervous as unto any influence on the consciences of men. 
Their minds indeed may be affected by them, so far as they 
are attended with outward penalties ; but how little this 
tends unto the promotion of holiness, or the reformation of 
men's lives, experience doth abundantly testify. Church- 
discipline and censures are appointed merely and solely to 
second, confirm, and establish the word, and to vindicate it 
from abuse and contempt ; as expressing the sense that 
Jesus Christ hath of them by whom it is received, and of 
them by whom it is despised. And it is the word alone 
which gives authority unto discipline and censures. Where 
therefore they are so separated, as that those by whom the 


word is administered, are excluded from an interest in the 
exercise of discipline ; and those unto whom the adminis- 
tration of discipline is committed, are such as neither do, 
nor for the most part ought, to preach the word, it cannot 
be, but that the efficacy and success of them both will be 

It is so also as to tlie administration of the Sacraments, 
especially that of the supper of the Lord. These are the 
principal mysteries of our religion, as to its external form 
and administration ; the sacred rites whereby all the grace, 
mercy, and privileges of the gospel, are sealed and confirmed 
unto them who are in a due manner made partakers of them. 
About them, therefore, and their orderly administration, did 
the primitive church always use their utmost care and dili- 
gence ; and these in an especial manner did they make use 
of, with respect unto them, to whom they were to be com- 
municated. For they feared, partly, lest men should be 
made partakers of them to their disadvantage, being not so 
qualified as to receive them to their benefit; as knowing 
that where persons through their own defaults obtain not 
spiritual profit by them, they are in no small danger of hav- 
ing them turned into a snare ; and partly, that these holy 
and sacred institutions themselves might neither be pro- 
faned, contaminated, nor exposed unto contempt. Hence, 
of those who gave up their names unto the church, and took 
upon them the profession of the gospel, the greatest part were 
continued for a long season under their care and inspection, 
but were not admitted into the society of the church in 
those ordinances, until upon good trial they were approved. 
And if any one after his admittance was found to walk un- 
answerably unto his profession, or to fall into any known 
sin, whence offence did ensue among the faithful, he was 
immediately dealt withal in the discipline of the church ; 
and in case of impenitency, separated from the congrega- 
tion. Nor did the guides or pastors of the churches think 
they had any greater trust committed unto them than in 
this, that they should use their utmost care and diligence, 
that persons unmeet and unworthy might not be admitted 
into that church relation, wherein they should have a right 
to approach unto the table of the Lord ; and to remove from 
thence such as had demeaned themselves unworthy of that 


communion. This they looked on as belonging unto their 
ministerial office, and as a duty required of them in the dis- 
charge thereof, by Jesus Christ. And herein they had suf- 
ficient direction, both in the rule of the word, as also in the 
nature of the office committed unto them, and of the work 
wherewith they were intrusted. For all ministers are stew- 
ards of the mysteries of Christ, of whom it is required that 
they should be faithful. Now as it belongs unto a faithful 
steward to distribute unto the household of his lord the 
provision which he hath made for them, and allows unto 
them, in due senson ; so also to keep off those from partak- 
ing in them, who, without his master's order and warrant, 
would intrude themselves into his family, and unjustly pos- 
sess themselves of the privileges of it. In these things doth 
the faithfulness of a steward consist. And the same is re- 
quired in ministers of the gospel with respect unto the 
household of their Lord and Master, and the provision that 
he hath made for it. These therefore being undeniably parts 
of the duty of faithful pastors or ministers, it is evident how 
many of them we must solemnly renounce a concernment in, 
upon a compliance with the conformity, in matter and man- 
ner, required of us. Neither are these duties such as are of 
light importance ; or such as may be omitted without any 
detriment unto the souls of men. The glory of Christ, the 
honour of the gospel, the purity of the church, and its edifi- 
cation, are greatly concerned in them. And they in whose 
minds a neglect of these things is countenanced by their 
attendance unto some outward forms and appearances of 
order, have scarcely considered him aright, with whom they 
have to do. Some therefore of these duties we shall instance 
in. First, It is the duty of all faithful ministers of the gos- 
pel, to consider aright who are so admitted into the church, 
as to obtain a right thereby unto a participation of all its 
holy ordinances. Take care they must, that none who have 
that right granted them by the law of Christ, be discouraged 
or excluded ; nor any altogether unworthy admitted. And 
hereunto, as it is generally acknowledged, a credible pro- 
fession of repentance, faith, and obedience, that is of those 
which are sincere and saving, is required. To neglect an 
inquiry after these things, in those that are to be admitted 
unto the table of the Lord, is to prostitute the holy ordi- 


nances of the gospel unto contempt and abuse ; and to run 
cross to the constant practice of the church in all ages, 
even under its greatest degeneracy. And the right dis- 
charge of this duty, if we may be allowed to be in earnest 
in spiritual things ; if it be believed, that it is internal 
grace and holiness, for the sake whereof all outward admi- 
nistrations are instituted and celebrated, is of great weight 
and importance to the souls of men. For on the part of 
persons to be admitted, if they are openly and visibly un- 
worthy, what do we thereby, but what lies in us to destroy 
their souls ? It cannot be, but that their hardening and im- 
penitency in sin will be hazarded thereby. For whereas 
they have granted unto them the most solemn pledge of the 
Lord Christ's acceptance of them, and of his approbation 
of their state towards God, that the church is authorized to 
give ; what reason have they to think that their condition is 
not secure, or to attend unto the doctrine of the church, 
pressing them to look after a change and relinquishment of 
it? For although the administration of the sealing ordi- 
nances doth not absolutely set the approbation of Christ 
unto every individual person made partaker of them, yet it 
doth absolutely do so to the profession which they make. 
They witness in the name of Christ, his approbation of it, 
and therewithal of all persons according to their real inte- 
rest in it, and answering of it. But those who in no consi- 
derable instances do answer this profession, can obtain 
nothing unto themselves but an occasion of hardening, and 
rendering them secure in a state of impenitency. For tell 
men whilst you please of the necessity of conversion to God, 
of reformation, and a holy life, yet if in the course of their 
unholiness, you confirm unto them the love of Christ, and give 
them pledges of their salvation by him, they will not much re- 
gard your other exhortations. And thence it is come to pass 
in the world, that the conformity (worth that we contend 
about ten thousand times over) which ought to be between the 
preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments, 
and the lives of them who are partakers of them, is for the 
most part lost. The word still declares, that without rege- 
neration, without saving faith, repentance, and obedience, 
none can enter into the kingdom of God. In the adminis- 
tration of the other ordinances there is an abatement made 


of this rigorous determination, and men have their salvation 
assured unto them without a credible profession, yea, or a 
pretence of these qualifications : and the lives of the most 
who live in the enjoyment of these things, seem to declare, 
that they neither believe the one, nor much regard the 

In the mean time the church itself, as to its purity, and 
the holiness of its communion, is damaged by the neglect 
of a careful inspection into this duty. For it cannot be, 
but that ignorance, worldliness, and profaneness, will spread 
themselves as a leprosy over such a chxirch ; whence their 
communion will be of very little use and advantage unto 
believers. And hereby do churches, which should be the 
glory of Christ, by their expression of the purity, the holi- 
ness, and excellency of his person and doctrine, become the 
principal means and occasions of his dishonour in the world; 
and he that shall read that ' Christ loved his church, and 
gave himself for it ; that he might sanctify and cleanse it 
withthe washing of water by the word, that he might pre- 
sent it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot or 
wrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it should be holy and 
without blemish ;'' will be much to seek after the effects of 
this design of Christ in his love and death, if he measure 
them by what appears in churches under the power and in- 
fluence of this neglect. Nor do those who plead for the 
continuance of things in such a state without reformation, 
sufficiently consider the representation that the Lord Christ 
made of himself, when he was about to deal with his churches, 
some of which were overtaken with carelessness and negli- 
gence in this matter. And yet hath he therein laid down a 
rule, as to what kind of proceedings particular churches 
are to expect from him in all generations. And it is a mat- 
ter of no small amazement, that any churches dare approve 
and applaud themselves in such a state of impurity and de- 
fection, as is evidently condemned by him in those primi- 
tive patterns. Do men think he is changed, or that he will 
approve in them what he judged and condemned in others? 
or do they suppose he minds these things no more ; and 
because he is unseen, that he seeth not? But we shall 
all find at length that he is ' the same yesterday, to-day, 

1 Eph. V. 25—27. 


and for ever;' and that as the judge of all, he stands at the 

Now this duty, by conformity, we renounce a concern- 
ment in, so as to attend unto it, by virtue of ministerial 
authority; whence the guilt of all the evil consequents 
thereof before mentioned, must fall on us. For it is known, 
that a mere shadow of the work of this duty, and not so 
much as a shadow of authority for it, would be left unto us; 
for what is allowed in case of a sudden emergency, upon 
an offence taken by the whole congregation at the wicked- 
ness of any (which is instructed beforehand that this ought 
to be no matter of offence unto them), as it may be it can- 
not be proved ever to have been observed in any one instance, 
so the allowed exercise of it would yield no relief in this 
case. And if any should extend the rule beyond the inter- 
pretation that is put upon it by the present current adminis- 
tration of church-discipline, there is no great question to be 
made what entertainment he would meet withal for his so 
doing. And it is to no purpose to come into the church, as it 
were on purpose to go out again. And if instead of deal- 
ing with the souls and consciences of men, in the name and 
authority of Christ, as stewards of his mysteries, and can 
content themselves to be informers of crimes unto others, 
we desire their pardon if we cannot comply with them 
therein. And this is the sum of what at present we are 
pleading about. It is the duty of ministers of particular 
churches, to judge and take care concerning the fitness of 
them, according unto the rule of the gospel and the nature 
of the duty required of them, who are to be admitted into 
the fellowship of the church, and thereby unto a participa- 
tion of all the holy ordinances thereof. This charge the 
Lord Christ hath committed unto them, and hereof will 
require an account from them. Upon the neglect, or right 
discharge of this duty, consequents of great moment do 
depend ; yea, the due attendance unto it hath a great in- 
fluence into the preservation of the being of the church, and 
is the hinge whereon the well-being of it doth turn. But 
the power of exercising ministerial authority in a just attend'- 
ance unto this duty, we must renounce in our conformity, 
if we should submit thereunto. For we have shewed before, 
that after we have conformed, we can pretend no excuse 


from what is enjoined of us, or forbidden unto us by virtue 
thereof, all being founded in our own voluntary act and con- 
sent. Hence the guilt of this omission must wholly fall on 
us, which we are not willing to undergo. 

There are we know many objections raised against the 
committing of this power and trust unto the ministers of 
particular congregations. Great inconveniences are pre- 
tended as the consequences of it. The ignorance and unfit- 
ness of most ministers for the discharge of such a trust, if it 
should be committed unto them, the arbitrariness and par- 
tiality which probably others will exercise therein, the yoke 
that will be brought on the people thereby, and disorder 
in the whole, are usually pleaded to this purpose, and in- 
sisted on. 

But, 1. This trust is committed unto some or other by 
Christ himself, and it is necessary that so it should be. 
Never did he appoint, nor is it meet, nor was it ever prac- 
tised in the primitive church, that every one should at his 
pleasure, on his own presumption, intrude himself into a 
participation of the holy things of the house of God. The 
consideration of men's habitations, with their age, and the 
like, are of no consideration with respect unto any rule of 
the gospel. Either therefore it must be left unto the plea- 
sure and will of every man, be he never so ignorant, wicked, 
or profligate, to impose himself on the communion of any 
church of Christ, or there must be a judgment in the 
church concerning them who are to be admitted unto their 

2. From the first planting of the Christian religion, those 
who preached the gospel unto the conversion of the souls of 
men were principally intrusted with this power, and it was 
their duty to gather them who were so converted, into that 
church-order and fellowship, wherein they might partake of 
the sacred mysteries or solemn ordinances of the Christian 
worship. And this course of proceeding continued uninter- 
rupted, with some little variation in the manner of the exer- 
cise of this power and duty, until corruption had spread 
itself over the face of the whole professing church in the 
world. But still a shadow and resemblance of it was re- 
tained, and in the papal church itself to this day, particular 
confessors are esteemed competent judges of the meetness 


of their penitents for an admission unto the sacraments of 
their church. And who shall now be esteemed more meet 
for the discharge of this duty, than those who succeed in 
the office and work of preaching the word, whereby men 
are prepared for church-society ? And as it is a thing utterly 
unheard of in antiquity, that those who dispensed the word 
unto the illumination and conversion of nien, should not 
have the power of their disposal as to their being added to 
the church, or suspended for a time, as there was occasion; 
so it is as uncouth, that those who now sustain the same 
place and office unto several congregations attending on their 
ministry, should be deprived of it. 

3. If there be that ignorance and disability in ministers 
as is pretended, the blame of it reflects on them by whom 
they are made. And we are not obliged to accommodate 
any of the ways or truths of Christ unto the sins and igno- 
rance of men. And if they are insufficient for this work, 
how come they to be so sufficient for that which is greater; 
namely, to divide the word aright unto all their hearers ? 
But we speak of such ministers as are competently quali- 
fied according to the rule of the gospel, for the discharge 
of their office; and no other ought there to be. And 
siich there are, blessed be God, through the watchful care 
of our Lord Jesus Christ over his church, and his supplies 
of the gifts of his Spirit unto them. And such as these 
know it is their duty to study, meditate, pray, ask counsel 
and advice of others, perhaps of more wisdom and experi- 
ence than themselves, that they may know how in all things 
to behave themselves in the house of God. Nor will God be 
wanting unto them who in sincerity seek direction from him, 
for the discharge of any duty which he calls them unto. 
Other security of regular, orderly, and useful proceedings in 
this matter, Christ hath not given us ; nor do we need: for 
the due observance of his appointments will not fail the at- 
taining of his ends ; which ought to be ours also. 

4. The judgment and acting of the church-officers in the 
admission of persons into the complete society of the faith- 
ful, is not arbitrary, as is pretended. They have the rule of the 
Scripture, which they are diligently to attend unto. This is the 
entire rule which the Lord Christ hath left unto his church, 
both for their doctrine and discipline : whatever is beyond 


this, or beside it, is not his, nor owned by him. What is 
not done according to this rule, is of no force in the con- 
sciences of men, though it may stand, until lawfully recalled, 
for the preservation of outward order. And whatever arbitra- 
riness may be supposed, in maki ng a j udgment upon the rule of 
the word, or in the application of its rule untothe present case, 
it must abide in some or other. And who shall be thought 
more meet or able to make a right determination thereon, 
than those whose duty it is, and who have the advantage to 
be acquainted with all circumstances belonging to the case 
proposed ? Besides, there is the judgment of the church, or 
the congregation itself, which is greatly to be regarded. 
Even in the church of England a suspension of any from the 
Lord's supper is allowed unto the curate, upon the offence 
of the congregation ; which is a sufficient evidence that a 
judgment in this case is owned to be their due : for none can 
take offence, but upon a judgment of the matter at which he 
is offended ; nor in this case, without a right to determine 
that some offences ought to debar persons from a participa- 
tion of the holy ordinances ; as also what those offences are. 
This therefore is to be considered as an aid and assistance 
unto ministers in the discharge of their duty. It is the 
church into whose communion persons are to be admitted. 
And although it be no way necessary, that determinations 
in this case should be always made by suffrage, or a plu- 
rality of votes in the body of the church ; yet if the sense or 
mind of the congregation may be known, or is so (upon the 
inquiry that ought to be made unto that purpose), that any 
persons are unmeet for their communion, it is not convenient 
they should be received ; nor will their admission in this 
case be of any advantage to themselves or the church. The 
light of reason, and the fundamental constitutive principles 
of all free societies, such as the church is, ascribe this li- 
berty unto it; and the primitive church practised accord- 
ingly :■" so also is the judgment and desire of the congrega- 
tion to be considered in the admission of any, if they are 
made known to the guides of it. For it is expected from 
them they should confirm their love unto them without dis- 
simulation, as members of the same body; and therefore in 
m Actsix. 26 — 28. Rom. xtv. 1. 
VOL. XXI. h 


their approbation of what is done, their rulers have light 
and encouragement in their own duty. Besides, there is ap- 
pointed, and ought to be preserved, a communion among 
churches themselves : by virtue hereof, they are not only to 
make use of mutual aid, advice, and counsel, antecedently 
unto actings of importance ; but each particular church is 
upon just demand to give an account unto other churches 
of what they do in the administration of the ordinances of 
the gospel among them ; and if in any thing it hath mis- 
taken or miscarried, to rectify them upon their advice and 
judgment. And it were easy to manifest how, through these 
means and advantages, the edification of the church and the 
liberty of Christians is sufficiently secured, in that discharge 
of duty which is required in the pastors of the churches, 
about the admission of persons unto a participation of holy 
ordinances in them. 

5. This duty therefore, must either be wholly neglected, 
which will unavoidably tend to the corrupting and debauch- 
ing of all churches, and in the end unto their ruin ; or it 
must be attended unto by each particular church under the 
conduct of their guides and rulers ; or some others must 
take it upon themselves. What hath been the issue of a 
supposal, that it may be discharged in the latter way, is too 
well known to be insisted on : for whilst those who under- 
take the exercise of church power are such as do not dis- 
pense the word, or preach it unto them towards whom it is 
to be exercised, but are strangers unto their spiritual state, 
and all the circumstances of it; whilst they have no way to 
act or exercise their presumed authority, but by citations, 
processes, informations, and penalties, according to the man- 
ner of secular courts of judicature in causes civil and crimi- 
nal ; and whilst the administration of it is committed unto 
men utterly unacquainted with, and unconcerned in, the dis- 
cipline of the gospel, or the preservation of the church of 
Christ in purity and order ; and whilst herein many, the 
most, or all of them are so employed, have thereby outward 
emoluments and advantages, which they do principally re- 
gard; the due and proper care of the right order of the 
churches, unto the glory of Christ, and their own edification, 
is utterly omitted and lost. It is true, many think this the 


only decent, useful, and expedient way for the government 
of the church, and think it wondrous unreasonable that 
others will not submit thereunto, and acquiesce therein. But 
what would they have us do ? or what is it that they would 
persuade us unto ? Is it that this kind of rule in and over 
the church, hath institution given it in the Scripture, or 
countenance from apostolical practice ? Both they and we 
know that no pretence of any such plea can be made. Is it 
that the first churches after the apostles, or the primitive 
church, did find such a kind of rule to be necessary, and 
therefore erected it among themselves ? There is nothing 
more remote from truth. Would they persuade us, that as 
ministers of the gospel, and such as have, or may have, the 
care of particular churches committed unto us, that we have 
no such concernment in these things, but what we may 
solemnly renounce and leave them wholly to the manage- 
ment of others ? We are not able to believe them. The 
charge that is given unto us, the account that will be re- 
quired of us, the nature of the office we are called unto, con- 
tinually testify other things unto us. Wherefore we dare 
not voluntarily engage into the neglect or omission of 
this duty, which Christ requireth at our hands, and of whose 
neglect we see so many sad consequents and effects. The 
Lord Christ we know hath the same thoughts, and makes 
the same judgment of his churches, as he did of old, when 
he made a solemn revelation and declaration of them : and 
then we find that he charged the failings, neglects, and mis- 
carriages of the churches principally upon the angels or mi- 
nisters of them. And we would not willingly, by our neg- 
lect, render ourselves obnoxious unto his displeasure, nor 
betray the churches whereunto we do relate, unto his just 
indignation, for their declension from the purity of his insti- 
tutions, and the vigour of that faith and love, which they 
had professed. We should moreover by the conformity re- 
quired of us, and according to the terms on which it is pro- 
posed, engage ourselves against the exercise of our ministe- 
rial office and power, with respect unto them who are al- 
ready members of particular churches. For this we carry 
along with us, that by conforming we voluntarily consent 
unto the whole state of conformity, and unto all that we are 
to do, or not to do, by the law thereof. Now it is not to be 

L 2 


expected that all who are duly initiated or joined unto any 
church, shall always walk blameless according unto the 
evangelical rule of obedience, without giving ofifence unto 
others. The state of the church is not like to be so blessed 
in this world, that all who belong unto it should be con- 
stantly and perpetually inoffensive. This indeed is the duty 
of all, but it will fall out otherwise. It did so amongst the 
primitive churches of old, and is not therefore otherwise to 
be expected amongst us, on whom the ends of the world are 
come, and who are even pressed with the decays and ruins 
of it. Many hypocrites may obtain an admission into 
church societies, by the strictest rules that any can proceed 
upon therein : and these, after they have known and professed 
the ways of righteousness, may, and often do, turn aside 
from the holy commandment delivered unto them, and fall 
again into the pollutions of the world. Many good men, 
and really sincere believers, may, through the power of temp- 
tations, be surprised into faults and sins, scandalous to the 
gospel, and offensive to the whole congregation whereof they 
are members. Hath the Lord Christ appointed no relief in 
and for his churches in such cases ? no way whereby they 
may clear themselves from a participation in such impieties, 
or deliver themselves from being looked on as those who give 
countenance unto them, as they who continue in this com- 
munion may and ought to be ? no power whereby they may 
put forth from among them the old leaven which would 
otherwise infect the whole ? no way to discharge themselves 
and their societies of such persons as are impenitent in their 
sins ? no means for the awakening, conviction, humilia- 
tion, and recovery of them that have offended? no way to 
declare his mind and judgment in such cases, with the sen- 
tence that he denounceth in heaven against them that are 
impenitent ?° If he hath done none of these things, it is evi- 
dent, that no churches in this world can possibly be pre- 
served from disorder and confusion. Nor can they by love 
and the fruits of a holy communion be kept in such a condi- 
tion, as wherein he can be pleased with them, or continue to 
walk amongst them. For let men please themselves whilst 
they will with the name of the church, it is no otherwise 

» 1 Cor. V. 1. 6, 7. 2 Cor. ii. 6. 2 Cor. vu. 11. Matt. xvi. 18. xviii. 15-20. 
Rev. ii. 2. 


with them, where persons obstinately and impenitently 
wicked, and whose lives are wholly discrepant from the rule 
of the gospel, are suffered to abide without control. But if he 
hath made the provision inquired after in this case, as it is 
evident that he hath, both the authority he hath granted un- 
to his church for these ends, his commands to exercise it 
with care and watchfulness, with the rules given them to pro- 
ceed by, with the known end of all instituted churches for the 
promotion of holiness, being all open and plain in the Scrip- 
ture; it must then be inquired, unto whom this trust is firstly 
committed, and of whom these duties are principally required. 
For private members of the church, what is their duty, 
and the way how they may regularly attend unto the dis- 
charge of it according to the mind of Christ, in case of 
scandalous sins and offences among them, they are so 
plainly and particularly laid down and directed, as that 
setting aside the difficulties that are cast on the rule herein, 
by the extremely forced and unprovable exceptions of some 
interested persons ; that none can be ignorant of what is 
required of them, Matt, xviii. 15 — 20. And a liberty to 
discharge their duty herein, they are bound by the law of 
Christ in due order to provide for. If they are abridged 
hereof, and deprived thereby of so great a means of their 
own edification, as also of the usefulness required in them 
towards the church whereof they are members, it is a 
spiritual oppression that they suffer under. And where it is 
voluntarily neglected by them, not only the guilt of their 
own, but of other men's sins also lies upon them. Neither 
is their own guilt small herein ; for suffering sin to abide on 
a brother without reproof, is a fruit of hatred in the inter- 
pretation of the law; and this hatred is a sin of a heinous 
nature, in the sense of the gospel." The duty also of the 
whole church in such cases is no less evidently declared. 
For from such persons as walk disorderly, and refuse to 
reform, on due admonition, they are to withdraw, and to 
put from amongst them such obstinate offenders ; as also 
previously thereunto, to * watch diligently lest any root of 
bitterness spring up among them, whereby they might be 
defiled.' And hereunto also are subservient all the com- 
mands that are given them to exhort and admonish one an- 

" Lev. xix. 17. 1 John ii. 9, 10. iit. 15. 


other, that the whole church may be preserved in purity, 
order, holiness, and faithfulness. But the chief inquiry is. 
With whom rests the principal care and power, according to 
the mind of Christ, to see the discipline of the church in 
particular congregations exercised, and to exercise it accord- 
ingly ? If this should be found to be in the ministers, and 
through their neglect in the administration of it, offenders 
be left in their sins and impenitency, without a due applica- 
tion of the means for their healing and recovery; if the 
church itself come to be corrupted thereby, and to fall 
under the displeasure of Jesus Christ ; as these things, in 
one degree or other, more or less, will ensue on that neglect, 
it will not turn unto their comfortable account at the great 
day. That this is their duty, that this authority and in- 
spection is committed unto them, the reasons before insisted 
on, in the case of admission, do undeniably evince. And if 
those ministers who do conscientiously attend unto the dis- 
charge of their ministerial ofBce towards particular flocks, 
■would but examine their own hearts by the light of open 
and plain Scripture testimonies, with the nature of their 
office, and of the work they are engaged in, there would 
need little arguing to convince them of what trust is com- 
mitted unto them, or what is required from them. If the 
consciences of others are not concerned in these things, if 
they have no light into the duty which seems to be in- 
cumbent on them ; their principles and practices, or as we 
think mistakes and neglects, can be no rule unto us. What 
we may be forbidden, what we may be hindered in, is of an- 
other consideration. But for us voluntarily to engage unto 
the omission of that duty, which we cannot but believe that 
it will be required of us, is an evil which we are every way 
obliged to avoid. 

There are also sundry particular duties, relating unto 
these that are more general, which in like manner, on the 
terms of communion proposed unto us, must be foregone 
and omitted. And where by these means or neglects some 
of the principal ways of exercising church-communion are 
cast out of the church, some of the means of the edification 
of its members are wholly lost, and sundry duties incumbent 
on them are virtually prohibited unto them, until they are 
utterly grown into disuse, it is no wonder if in such churches 


where these evils are inveterate and remediless, particular 
persons do peaceably provide for their own edification by 
joining themselves unto such societies as wherein the rule 
of the gospel is more practically attended unto. It is taken 
for granted that the church is not corrupted by the wicked 
persons that are of its communion ; nor its administrations 
defiled by their presence and communication in them ; nor 
the edification of others prejudiced thereby, because it hath 
been so said by some of the ancients ; though whether 
suitably unto the doctrine of the apostlesi" or no, is very 
questionable. But suppose this should be so ; yet where 
wicked persons are admitted, without distinction or discri- 
mination, unto the communion of the church where they 
are tolerated therein, without any procedure with them or 
against them, contrary to express rules of the Scripture given 
to that purpose; so that those who are really pious among 
them can by no means prevail for the reformation of the 
whole, they may, not only without breach of charity, im- 
pairing of faith or love, or without the least suspicion of the 
guilt of schism, forsake the communion of such a congre- 
gation, to join unto another, where there is more care of 
piety, purity, and holiness ; but if they have any care of 
their own edification, and a due care of their salvation, they 
will understand it to be their duty so to do. 

And we may a little touch hereon once for all. The 
general end of the institution of churches, as such, is the 
visible management of the enmity on the part of the seed 
of the woman, Christ the head, and the members of his 
body mystical, against the serpent and his seed. In the 
pursuit of this end, God ever had a church in the world, 
separate from persons openly profane, doing the work of 
the devil their father. And there is nothing in any church- 
constitution which tends unto, or is compliant with, the 
mixing and reconciling these distinct seeds, whilst they are 
such, and visibly appear so to be. And therefore as the types, 
prophecies, and promises of the Old Testament, did declare 
that when all things were actually brought unto a head in 
Christ Jesus, the churches and all things that belong unto 
it should be holy ; that is, visibly so ; so the description 
generally, and uniformly given us of the churches of the 

r 1 Cor. V, 6. 9, 10. 3 Thess. iii. 6. 


New Testament, when actually called and erected, is, that 
they consisted of persons called, sanctified, justified, in- 
grafted into Christ;'' or saints, believers, faithful ones, 
purified and separate unto God/ Such they professed 
themselves to be, such they were judged to be by them 
that were concerned in their communion ; and as such they 
engage themselves to walk in their conversation. By what 
authority so great a change should be now wrought in the 
nature and constitution of churches, that it should be alto- 
gether indiflTerent of what sort of persons they do consist, 
we know not. Yea, to speak plainly, we greatly fear that 
both the worship and worshippers are defiled,^ where open 
impenitent sinners are freely admitted unto all sacred ad- 
ministrations, without control. And we are sure, that as 
God complaineth that his sanctuary is polluted, when there 
are brought into it, ' strangers uncircumcised in heart, and 
uncircumcised in flesh ;'* so the true members of the church 
are warned of the evil and dangers of such defiling mixtures, 
and charged to watch against them." 

We might yet farther insist on the great evil it would 
be in us, if we should give a seeming outward approbation 
unto those things, and their use, which we cannot but con- 
demn, and desire to have removed out of the worship of 
God. And moreover, there is, as we believe, an obligation 
upon us, to give a testimony unto the truth about the worship 
of God in his church, and not absolutely to hide the light 
we have received therein under a bushel. Nor would we 
render the reformation of the church absolutely hopeless, 
by our professed compliance with the things that ought 
to be reformed. But what hath been pleaded already is 
sufiicient to manifest that there neither is, nor can be, 
a guilt of schism charged either on ministers or people 
who withhold themselves from the communion of that 
church, or those churches, whereof the things mentioned 
are made conditions necessary and indispensable ; and that 
wherein they must be denied the liberty of performing many 
duties made necessary unto them by the command of Jesus 
Christ. And as the rigid imposition of unscriptural condi- 
tions of communion is the principal cause of all the schisms 

1 1sa. xxvi. 2. Ezek. xliii. 12. xliv. 9. 

» Levit. xi. 44. Rom. i. 6, 1 Cor. i. 1, 2. xii. 13. Phil. i. 4. Col. ii. 11. 

» 2 Tim. ii. 22. ' Esek. xliv. 7. " l Cor. v. 6. Heb. xii. 15, 16. 


and divisions that are among us ; so let them be removed 
and taken out of the way, and we doubt not, but that 
among all that sincerely profess the gospel, there may be 
that peace, and such an agreement obtained, as in observ- 
ance whereof, they may all exercise those duties of love, 
which the strictest union doth require. These we profess 
ourselves ready for, so far as God shall be pleased to help 
us in the discharge of our duty; as also to renounce every 
principle or opinion whereof we may be convinced that they 
are in the least opposite unto, or inconsistent with, the 
royal law of love, and the due exercise thereof. If men will 
continue to charge, accuse, or revile us, either out of a 
causeless distaste against our persons, or misunderstanding 
of our principles and ways, or upon uncertain reports, or 
merely prompted thereunto through a vain elation of mind 
arising from the distance wherein, through their secular 
advantages, they look upon us to stand from them ; as we 
cannot help it, so we shall endeavour not to be greatly 
moved at it : for it is known, that this hath been the lot and 
portion of those who have gone before us, in the profession 
of the gospel, and sincere endeavours to vindicate the wor- 
ship of God from the disorders and abuses that have been 
introduced into it; and probably will be theirs who shall 
come after us. But the whole of our care is, that ' in godly 
simplicity and sincerity we may have our conversation in 
the world, not corrupting the word of God, nor using our 
liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as becomes the ser- 
vants of God.' 

But perhaps it will yet be pleaded, that this is not the 
whole which we are charged withal : for it is said that we 
do not only withdraw ourselves from the communion of the 
church of England, but also that we assemble in separate 
congregations for the celebration of the whole worship of 
God, whereby we evidently make a division in the church, 
and contract unto ourselves the guilt of schism ; for what 
can there be more required thereunto. But what would 
those who make use of this objection have us to do ? would 
they have us starve our souls, by a wilful neglect of the 
means appointed for their nourishment? or would they 
have us live in a constant omission of all the commands of 
Christ ? By them, or those whose cause they plead, we are 


cast out and excluded from church-communion with them, 
by the unscriptural conditions of it which they would force 
upon us. The distance between us that ensues hereon, 
they are the causes of, not we ; for we are ready to join with 
them, or any others, upon the terms of Christ and the 
gospel. And do they think it meet that we should revenge 
their fault upon ourselves, by a voluntary abstinence from 
all the ways and means of our edification? Doth any 
man think that Jesus Christ leaves any of his disciples 
unto such a condition, as wherein it is impossible they 
should observe his commands and institutions without sin? 
That we should join in some societies, that in them we should 
assemble together for the worship of God in him, and that 
we should in him do and observe whatever he hath ap- 
pointed, we look upon as our indispensable duty, made so 
unto us by his commands. These things, say some, you 
shall not do with us, if you will do no more ; and if you do 
them among yourselves, you are schismatics. But this is a 
severity, which we know we shall not meet with at the last 
day. We stand at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. 

It will, it may be, be demanded, by what warrant or au- 
thority we do assemble ourselves in church societies for the 
administration of gospel ordinances ; and who gave us this 
authority ? We answer. That it is acknowledged there is a 
difference between them and us, so that with them we can- 
not enjoy the worship of God. But of this difference we are 
not the cause, nor do give occasion to any blameable divi- 
sions by our principles or practices. Where the cause is 
found, there the guilt remains. This being the state of 
things with us, it is fond to imagine that any professors of 
the gospel do absolutely want a warranty or authority to 
obey Jesus Christ, to observe his commands, and to serve 
him according to his revealed will. His command in his 
word, his promise of the acceptance of them, and of his 
presence among them in all the acts of their holy obedience, 
the assistance and guidance of his Holy Spirit, which he 
affords graciously unto them, are a sufficient warranty and 
authority for what they do in express compliance with his 
commands, and more they will not plead a power for. Where 
the Spirit and word of Christ are, there is his authority. 
And this is no otherwise committed unto men, but to enable 


them to act obediently towards him, and ministerially to- 
wards others. And were church actings considered more 
with respect unto the obedience that in them is performed 
unto Christ, which is their first and principal consideration, 
it would quickly be evident whence men might have autho- 
rity for their performance. And by the same means are we 
directed in their order and manner. Besides, the ministers 
who go before the people in their assemblies, are all of them 
(so far as we know) solemnly set apart unto their office and 
work, according unto what Christ hath appointed ; and 
their duty it is to teach unto all men the good ways of 
Christ, and to go before them who are convinced and per- 
suaded by them in their practice. These things hath their 
Lord and Master required of them, and an account concern- 
ing them will he call them unto at the last day. A dispen- 
sation is committed unto them, and a necessity is thence 
incumbent on them to preach the gospel ; and who shall 
excuse them if they neglect so to do ? For that all those 
who are ministers of the gospel are called to preach the gos- 
pel, and that diligently, every one, according as he hath 
received the gift of the grace of God, is out of question with 
them that do believe the gospel : and of the stewardship 
which is committed unto them herein, are they to give an 
account. And we do know that * it is a fearful thing' for 
sinners, that is, wilful neglectors of his commands, * to fall 
into the hands of the living God. Our Lord Jesus Christ 
also hath testified beforehand, that 'he who setteth his 
hand to this plough, and look backs again, is not fit for the 
kingdom of God.' He alone who calls them to this work 
can discharge them of it, and that either by the rule of his 
word, or his providence. And when men are invincibly hin- 
dered, as many are at this day, it is their suffering, but not 
their sin. Otherwise none can absolve them from the duty 
they owe to Jesus Christ in this matter, and that debt which 
they owe to the souls of men, in undertaking the work of 
the ministry. Some indeed suppose, or pretend to sup- 
pose, that a prohibition given them by superiors, forbidding 
them to preach, though not by nor according unto any rule 
of the gospel, doth discharge them from any obligation so to 
do, that it shall be no more their duty. It would do so no 
doubt, had they received no other command to preach the 


gospel, nor from any other authority, than that of and from 
those superiors by whom they are forbidden ; but being 
persuaded that they have so from him who is higher than 
the highest, they cannot acquiesce in this discharge, nor 
being ' bought with a price' can they now be servants of 
men/ But by whom are they thus forbidden to preach? 
It will be supposed, that the church which differs from them, 
and which originally makes itself a part in these differences, 
by the conditions of communion which it would impose 
upon them, is no competent judge in this case: nor will 
their prohibitions, who apparently thereby revenge their own 
quarrel, influence the consciences of them that dissent 
from them. For we speak not of what will or may take 
place, but what the consciences of men will or may be con- 
cerned in. By the civil magistrate they are not forbidden 
to preach, that we know of: it is true, they are prohibited to 
preach in the legal public meeting-places or churches ; and 
these places being in the power and care of the magistrate, 
it is meet his terms and conditions of their use should be 
accepted of, or his prohibition observed, or his penalty 
quietly undergone, where a peaceable occasion is made use 
of contrary unto it. As to other places, ministers are not 
absolutely forbid to preach in them, no such power is as yet 
assumed or exercised ; only the manner of assemblies for 
sacred worship, and the number of them that may assemble, 
are regulated by laws for secular ends, or civil security; and 
that under express penalties incurred on a contrary practice. 
But the consciences of ministers cannot be concerned in 
such laws, so far as to be exempted by them from the obli- 
gation that lies upon them from the command of Christ to 
preach the gospel. This they are commanded by him to 
do, and others know the penalties from men, under the 
danger whereof they must attend unto them. Besides, the 
reason of these legal prohibitions, so far as they do extend, 
are taken from civil considerations alone, namely, of the 
peace and quiet of the nation; and not from any Scripture 
or religious rules. And were these prohibitions only tem- 
porary or occasional, suited unto such emergencies as may 
give countenance unto their necessity, there might be a pro- 
portionable compliance with them. But whereas they re- 
spect all times alike, it is no doubt incumbent on them who 


act any thing contrary unto such prohibitions, to secure 
their own consciences, that they no way interfere with the 
intention and end of the law, by giving the least countenance 
or occasion unto civil disturbances ; and others also, by 
their peaceable deportment in all they do. But whereas 
they have received a talent from the Lord Christ to trade 
withal, have accepted of his terms, and engaged into his 
service without any condition of exception in case of such 
prohibitions, it is not possible they should satisfy their con- 
sciences in desisting from their work on such occurrences, 
any farther than in what they must yield unto outward force 
and necessity. It is pretended by some, that if such a legal 
prohibition were given unto all the ministers of the gospel, 
it would not be obligatory unto them : for if it should be so 
esteemed, it were in the power of any supreme magistrate 
lawfully to forbid the whole work of preaching the gospel 
unto his subjects; which is contrary to the grant made by 
God the Father unto Jesus Christ, that ' all nations shall 
be his inheritance,' and the commission he gave thereon unto 
his apostles, to ' teach all nations,' and to * preach the 
gospel to every creature' under heaven. But it being some 
only that are concerned in this prohibition, it is their duty 
for peace sake, to acquiesce in the will of their superiors 
therein, whilst there are others sufficient to carry on the 
same work. That peace is or may be secured on other 
terms, hath been already declared. But that one man's 
liberty to attend unto his duty, and his doing it accordingly, 
should excuse another from that which is personally incum- 
bent on himself, is a matter not easily apprehended, nor can 
be readily digested. Besides, what is pretended of the suffi- 
cient number of preachers without any contribution of aid 
from the nonconformists, is indeed but pretended : for if all 
that are found in the faith, gifted and called to the work of 
the ministry in these nations, were equally encouraged unto 
and in their work, yet would they not be able to answer the 
necessities of the souls of men requiring an attendance unto 
it in a due measure and manner ; and those who have exer- 
cised themselves unto compassionate thoughts towards the 
multitudes of poor sinners in these nations, will not be 
otherwise minded. Wherefore these things being premised, 
we shall shut up these discourses with a brief answer unto 


the foregoing objection which was the occasion of them. 
And we say, 

1. That schism being the name of a sin, or somewhat that 
is evil ; it can in no circumstances be any man's duty. But 
we have manifested as satisfactorily unto our own con- 
sciences, so we hope unto the minds of unprejudiced per- 
sons, that in our present condition, our assemblies for the 
worship of God are our express duty, and so can have no 
affinity with any sin or evil. And those who intend to charge 
us with schism in or for our assemblies, must first prove 
them not to be our duty. 

2. Notwithstanding them, or any thing by us performed 
in them, we do preserve our communion entire with the 
church of England (that is, all the visible professors of the 
gospel in this nation), as it is a part of the catholic church, 
in the unity of the faith owned therein, provided it be not 
measured by the present opinions of some who have evi- 
dently departed from it. Our non-admittance of the pre- 
sent government and discipline of the church, as appre- 
hended national, and as it is in the hands of merely eccle- 
siastical persons, or such as are pretended so to be, we have 
accounted for before. But we are one with the whole body 
of the professors of the Protestant religion, in a public 
avowment of the same faith. 

3. Into particular churches we neither are, nor can be 
admitted, but on those terms and conditions, which not 
only we may justly, but which we are bound in a way of 
duty, to refuse. And this also hath been pleaded before. 
Besides, no man is so obliged unto communion with any 
particular or parochial church in this nation, but that it is 
in his own power at any time to relinquish it, and to secure 
himself also from all laws which may respect that commu- 
nion, by the removal of his habitation. It is therefore evi- 
dent, that we never had any relation unto any parochial 
church but what is civil and arbitrary, a relinquishment 
whereof is practised at pleasure every day by all sorts of 
men. Continuing therefore in the constant profession of 
the same faith with all other Protestants in the nation, and 
the whole body thereof, as united in the profession of it 
under one civil or political head ; and having antecedently 
no evangelical obligation upon us unto local communion in 


the same ordinances of worship numerically with any parti- 
cular or parochial church ; and being prohibited from any 
such communion by the terms, conditions, and customs 
indispensably annexed unto it by the laws of the land and 
the church, which are not lawful for us to observe, being 
Christ's freemen ; it being moreover our duty to assemble 
ourselves in societies for the celebration of the worship of 
God in Christ, as that which is expressly commanded ; we 
are abundantly satisfied, that however we may be censured, 
judged, or condemned by men, in and for what we do, yet 
that he doth both accept us here, and will acquit us hereaf- 
ter, whom we serve and seek in all things to obey. Where- 
fore we are not convinced that any principle or practice 
which we own or allow, is in any thing contrary to that love, 
peace, and unity which the Lord Christ requireth to be kept 
and preserved among his disciples, or those that profess 
faith in him, and obedience unto him according to the gos- 
pel. We know not any thing in them but what is consistent 
and compliant with that evangelical imion which ought to 
be in and among the churches of Christ, the terms whereof 
we are ready to hold and observe even with them that in 
sundry things differ from us ; as we shall endeavour also to 
exercise all duties of the same love, peaceableness, and gen- 
tleness towards them by whom we are hated and reviled. 








Non partum studiis agimur; sed sumsimus anna, 
Consiliis inniniica tuis, discordia vaecors. 

OvHv otTEf ygcKfSf. — Clemens Alexand. 






Review of the preface. 

Among the many disadvantages, which those who plead in 
any sense for liberty of conscience are exposed unto, it is 
not the least, that in their arguings and pleas they are en- 
forced to admit a supposition, that those whom they plead 
for, are indeed really mistaken in their apprehensions about 
the matters concerning which they yet desire to be indulged 
in their practice. For unless they will give place to such a 
supposition, or if they will rigidly contend that what they 
plead in the behalf of is absolutely the truth, and that obe- 
dience thereunto is the direct will and command of God, 
there remains no proper field for the debate about indul- 
gence to be managed in. For things acknowledged to be 
such are not capable of an indulgence, properly so called • 
because the utmost liberty that is necessary unto them, is 
their right and due in strict justice and law. Men therefore 
in such discourses, speak not to the nature of the thino-s 
themselves, but to the apprehensions of them with whom 
they have to do. But yet against this disadvantage, every 
party which plead for themselves are relieved by that secret 
reserve that they have in the persuasion of the truth and > 
goodness of what they profess, and desire to be indulp-ed in 
the practice of. And this also, as occasion doth offer itself, 
and in defence of themselves from the charge of their ad- 
versaries, they openly contend and avow. Neither was it 
judged formerly, that there was any way to deprive them of 
this reserve and relief, but by a direct and particular de- 
bate of the matters specially in difference, carried on unto 
their conviction by evidence of truth, managed from the com- 
mon principles of it. But after trial made, this way to con- 
vince men of their errors and mistakes, who stand in need 

M 2 


of indulgence with respect unto the outward administration 
of the powers that they are under, is found, as it should 
seem, tedious, unreasonable, and ineffectual. A new way 
therefore to this purpose is fixed on, and it is earnestly 
pleaded, that there needs no other argument or medium to 
prove men to be mistaken in their apprehensions, and to 
miscarry in their practice of religious duties, than that at 
any time, or in any place, they stand in need of indulgence. 
To dissent, at all adventures, is a crime ; and he whom 
others persecute, tacitly at least, confesseth himself guilty. 
For it is said, that the law of the magistrate being the sole 
rule of obedience in religious worship ; their non-compliance 
with any law by him established, evidencing itself in their 
desire of exemption, is a sufficient conviction, yea, a self- 
acknowledgment not only of their errors and mistakes in 
what they apprehend of their duty in these things, and of 
their miscarriages in what they practise, but also that them- 
selves are persons turbulent and seditious in withdrawing 
obedience from the laws which are justly imposed on them. 
With what restrictions and limitations, or whether with any 
or no, these assertions are maintained, we shall afterward 

The management of this plea (if I greatly mistake him 
not), is one of the principal designs of the author of that 
discourse, a brief survey whereof is here proposed. The 
principle which he proceeds herein upon, himself it seems 
knew to be novel and uncouth, and therefore thought it in- 
cumbent on him, that both the manner of its handling, and 
the other principles that he judged meet to associate with 
it, or annex unto it, should be of the same kind and com- 
plexion. This design hath at length produced us this dis- 
course; which, of what use it may prove to the church of 
God, what tendency it may have to retrieve or promote love 
and peace among Christians, I know not. This I know, 
that it hath filled many persons of all sorts with manifold 
surprisals, and some with amazement. I have therefore on 
sundry considerations, prevailed with myself much against 
my inclinations, for the sake of truth and peace, to spead a 
few hours in the examination of the principal parts and 
seeming pillars of the whole fabric. And this I was in my 
own mind the more easily induced unto, because there is no 


concernment either of the church or state in the things here 
under debate, unless it be, that they should be vindicated 
from having any concern in the things and opinions here 
pleaded and argued. For as to the present church, if the 
principles and reasonings here maintained and managed, are 
agreeable unto her sentiments, and allowed by her ; yet 
there can be no offence given in their examination, because 
she hath nowhere yet declared them so to be. And the 
truth is, if they are once owned and espoused by her, to 
the ends for which they are asserted, as the Christians of 
old triumphed in the thoughts of him who first engaged in 
ways of violence against them among the nations in the 
world, so the nonconformists will have no small relief to 
their minds in their sufferings, when they understand these 
to be the avowed principles and grounds on which they are 
to be persecuted and destroyed. And for the power of 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction belonging to the kings of this 
nation, as it hath been claimed and exercised by them in all 
ages since the establishment of Christian religion among 
us, as it is declared in the laws, statutes, and customs of the 
kingdom, and prescribed unto an acknowledgment in the 
oaths of allegiance and supremacy, it hath not the least 
concern in the matter here in question ; yea, it is allowed, 
acknowledged, and pleaded for, by those whom this author 
designs to oppose. Whatever then shall be spoken of this 
subject, it is but a bare ventilation of private opinions ; and 
those such, as which if one doctor's judgment may advance 
into the reputation of probability, so that some may venture 
to act upon them, yet are they not so far thereby secured as to 
have sanctuary given them, even from private men's examina- 
tions. Herein then I suppose, a liberty may be exercised 
without just offence to any; and our disquisition after the 
truth of the principles and theorems that will come under 
consideration, may be harmlessly accompanied with a mode- 
rate plea in the behalf of their innocency who are invidiously 
traduced, contemptuously reproached, unduly charged and 
calumniated, beyond, I am sure, any ordinary examples or 
presidents among men of any sort, rank, degree, difference, 
or profession in the world. Yea, this seems to be called 
for, by the light and law of nature, and to be useful, yea, 
needful to public tranquillity, beyond what in this present 
hasty review shall be attempted. 


For the author of this discourse, he is to me utterly 
unknown ; neither do I intend either to make any inquiry 
after him, or hastily to fix a credit unto any reports con- 
cerning either who he is, or of what consideration in the 
world. I am not concerned to know, what it seems he was 
concerned to conceal. Nor do I use to consider reasons, 
arguments, or writings under a relation to any persons, 
which contributes nothing to their worth or signification. 
Besides, I know how deceitful reports are in such matters 
and no way doubt, but that they will betray persons of an 
over-easy credulity into those mistakes about the writer of 
this survey, which he is resolved to avoid with reference to 
the author of the discourse itself. Only the character that 
in the entrance of it he gives of himself, and such other 
intimations of his principles as he is pleased to communi- 
cate, I suppose he will be willing we should take notice of, 
and that we may do so without offence. 

Thus in the entrance of his preface he tells us, that he 
is ' a person of such a tame and softly humour, and so cold 
a complexion, that he thinks himself scarce capable of hot 
and passionate impressions,' though I suppose he avow him- 
self, p. 4. to be chafed into some heat and briskness, with 
that evenness and steadiness of expression, which we shall 
be farther accustomed unto. But in what here he avers of 
himself, he seems to have the advantage of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who, upon less provocations than he hath undertaken 
the consideration of (for the Pharisees with whom he had 
to deal, were gentlemen he tells us, unto those with whom 
himself hath to do), as he saith, ' fell into a hot fit of zeal, 
yea, into a height of impatience, which made him act 
with a seeming fury and transport of passion;' p. 7. And 
if that be indeed his temper which he commends in himself, 
he seems td me to be obliged for it unto his constitution 
and complexion, as he speaks, and not to his age; seeing 
his juvenile expressions and confidence will not allow us to 
think that he suffers under any defervescency of spirit by 
his years. The philosopher tells us, that old men in matters 
dubious and weighty, are not over-forward to be positive, 
but ready to cry, tcrwc koi Taxa, perhaps, and it may be so, 
and this St ifivHpiav, because they have experience of the 
uncertainty of things in this world. As indeed those who 
know what entanglements all human affairs are attended 


withal, what appearing causes and probable reasons are to 
be considered and examined about them, and how all 
rational determinations are guided and influenced by un- 
foreseen emergencies and occasions, will not be over-forward 
to pronounce absolutely and peremptorily about the dis- 
posal of important affairs. But as the same author informs 
us, ot vioi eldivai iravra oiovrai koL dua^vpit^ovTat; ' young men 
suppose that they know all things, and are vehement in 
their asseverations ;' from which frame proceeded all those 
dogmatical assertions of what is politic and impolitic in 
princes, of what will establish or ruin governments, with 
the contempt of the conceptions of others about things con- 
ducing to public peace and tranquillity, which so frequently 
occur in our author. This makes him smile at as serious 
consultations for the furtherance of the welfare and prospe- 
rity of this nation, as it may be in any age or juncture of 
time have been upon the wheel; preface, p. 48. These con- 
siderations made it seem to me, that in an ordinary course, 
he hath time enough before him to improve the notions he 
hath here blessed the world with a discovery of; if upon 
second thoughts he be equally enamoured of them unto 
what now he seems to be. 

I could indeed have desired, that he had given us a more 
clear account of that religion which in his judgment he doth 
most approve. His commendation of the church of Eng- 
land, sufliciently manifesteth his interest to lie therein ; and 
that in pursuit of his own principles he doth outwardly ob- 
serve the institutions and prescriptions of it. But the 
scheme he hath given us of religion, or religious duties, 
wherein there is mention neither of sin, nor a Redeemer, 
without which no man can entertain any one true notion of 
Christian religion, would rather bespeak him a philosopher, 
than a Christian. It it not unlikely, but that he will pre- 
tend he was treating of religion, as religion in general, with- 
out an application of it to this or that in particular; but to 
speak of religion as it is among men in this world, or ever 
was since the fall of Adam, without a supposition of sin, 
and the way of a relief from the event of it mentioned, is to 
talk of chimeras, things that neither are, ever were, or 
will be. On the other hand, the profit and advantage of his 
design falls clearly on the papal interest. For whereas it is 
framed and contrived for the advantage, security, and urif* 


questionableness of absolute compliers with the present pos" 
sessors of power, it is evident, that in the state of Europe, 
the advantage lies incomparably on that hand. But these 
things are not our concernment. The designs which he 
manageth in his discourse, the subject matter of it, the 
manner how he treats those with whom he hath to do, and 
deports himself therein, are by himself exposed to the judg- 
ment of all, and are here to be taken into some examination. 
Now because we have in his preface a perfect representation 
of the things last mentioned throughout the whole, I shall 
in the first place take a general view and prospect of it. 

And here I must have regard to the judgment of others. 
I confess, for my own part, 1 do not find myself at all con- 
cerned in those invectives, tart and upbraiding expressions, 
those sharp and twinging satires against his adversaries, 
which he avoweth or rather boasteth himself to have used. 
If this unparalleled heap of revilings, scoffings, despiteful 
reproaches, sarcasms, scornful contemptuous expressions, 
false criminations, with frequent intimations of sanguinary 
affections towards them do please his fancy, and express 
his morality to his own satisfaction, I shall never complain 
that he hath used his liberty ; and do presume that he judgeth 
it not meet that it should be restrained. It is far from my 
purpose to return him any answer in the like manner to these 
things ; to do it 

opus est mangone perito 

Qui Smithfieldensi polleat eloquio : 

Yet some instances of prodigious excesses in this kind, 
will in our process be reflected on. And it may be the re- 
petition of them may make an appearance unto some less 
considerate readers, of a little harshness in some passages 
of this return. But as nothing of that nature in the least is 
intended, nothing that might provoke the author in his own 
spirit, were he capable of any hot impressions, nothing to 
disadvantage him in his reputation or esteem, so what is 
spoken being duly weighed, will be found to have nothing 
sharp or unpleasant in it, but what is unavoidably infused 
into it from the discourse itself, in its approach unto it to 
make a representation of it. 

It is of more concernment to consider with what frame 
and temper of spirit he manageth his whole cause and 
rfebate ; and this is such as that a man who knows nothing 


of him, but what he learns from this discourse, would sup- 
pose that he hath been some great commander. 

In carapis Gurgustidoniis 
Ubi Bombamachides Cluninstarydisarchides 
Erat iraperator summus; Neptuni nepos. 

Associate unto him who with his breath blew away and 
scattered all the legions of his enemies, as the wind doth 
leaves in autumn. 

Such confidence in himself and his own strength ; such 
contempt of all his adversaries, as persons silly, ignorant, 
illiterate; such boastings of his achievements, with such 
a face and appearance of scorning all that shall rise up 
against him 5 such expressions * animi gladiatorii ' doth he 
march withal as no man sure will be willing to stand in his 
way, unless he think himself to have lived, at least quietly, 
long enough. Only some things there are, which I cannot 
but admire in his undertaking and management of it ; as 
first, that such a man of arms and art as he is, should 
harness himself with so much preparation, and enter the lists 
with so much pomp and glory, to combat such pitiful, poor, 
baffled ignoramuses as he hath chosen to contend withal ; 
especially considering that he knew he had them bound 
hand and foot, and cast under his strokes at his pleasure. 
Methinks it had more become him to have sought out some 
giant in reason and learning, that might have given him at 
least ' par animo periculum,' as Alexander said in his conflict 
with Porus, a danger big enough to exercise his courage, 
though through mistake it should in the issue have proved 
but a windmill. Again; I know not whence it is, nor by 
what rules of errantry it maybe warranted, that being to con- 
flict with such pitiful trifles, he should before he come near 
to touch them, thunder out such terrible words, and load 
them with so many reproaches and contemptuous revilinos, 
as if he designed to scare them out of the lists, that there 
might be no trial of his strength, nor exercise of his skill. 

But leaving him to his own choice and liberty in these 
matters, I am yet persuaded that if he knew how little 
his adversaries esteem themselves concerned in, or worsted 
by his revilings, how small advantage he hath brought 
unto the cause managed by him, with what severity of cen- 
sures, that I say not indignation, his proceedings herein 


are reflected on by persons sober and learned, who have any 
respect to modesty or sobriety, or any reverence for the 
things of God, as debated among men, he w^ould abate some- 
what of that self-delight and satisfaction which he seems to 
take in his achievement. 

Neither is it in the matter of dissent alone from the esta- 
blished forms of worship that this author, and some others, 
endeavour by their revilings and scoflfings to expose non- 
conformists to scorn and violence ; but a semblance at least 
is made of the like reflections on their whole profession ot 
the gospel, and their worship of God ; yea, these are the 
special subjects of those swelling words of contempt, those 
sarcastical invidious representations of what they oppose, 
which they seem to place their confidence of success in ; 
but what do they think to eflTect by this course of pro- 
cedure ? do they suppose that by crying out canting, 
phrases, silly, nonsense, metaphors, they shall shame the 
nonconformists out of the profession of the gospel, or make 
them forgo the course of their ministry, or alienate one soul 
from the truth taught and professed amongst them ? They 
know how their predecessors in the faith thereof, have been 
formerly entertained in the world : St. Paul himself, falhng 
among the gentlemen philosophers of those days was termed 
by them <jinpno\6yoQ, a ' babbler,' or one that canted ; his doc- 
trine despised as silly and foolish, and his phrases pretended 
to be unintelligible. These things move not the noncon- 
formists, unless it be to a compassion for them whom they 
see to press their wits and parts to so wretched an employ- 
ment. If they have any thing to charge on them with respect 
to gospel truths, as that they own, teach, preach, or publish 
any doctrines or opinions that are not agreeable thereunto, 
and doctrine of the ancient and late (reformed) churches, 
let them come forth, if they are men of learning, reading, and 
ingenuity, and in ways used and approved from the begin- 
ning of Christianity for such ends and purposes, endeavour 
their confutation and conviction ; let them, I say, with the 
skill and confidence of men, and according to all rules of 
method and art, state the matters in difference between them- 
selves and their adversaries, confirm their own judgments 
with such reasons and arguments as they think pleadable in 
their behalf, and oppose the opinions they condemn with 


lestimoHies and reasons suited to their aversion. The course 
at present steered and engaged in, to carp at phrases, ex- 
pressions, manners of the declaration of men's conceptions, 
collected from, or falsely fathered upon particular persons, 
thence intimated to be common to the whole party of non- 
conformists (the greatest guilt of some whereof, it may be, 
is only their too near approach to the expressions used in 
the Scripture to the same purpose, and the evidence of their 
being educed from thence), is unmanly, unbecoming persons 
of any philosophic generosity, much more Christians and 
ministers ; nay, some of the things or sayings reflected on 
and carped at by a late author, are such, as those who have 
used or asserted them, dare modestly challenge him in their 
defence to make good his charge in a personal conference, 
provided it may be scholastical or logical, not dramatic or 
romantic. And surely were it not for their confidence in 
that tame and patient humour, which this author so tramples 
upon, p. 15. they could not but fear that some or other by 
these disingenuous proceedings might be provoked to a recri- 
mination, and to give in a charge against the cursed oaths, 
debaucheries, profaneness, various immoralities, and sottish 
ignorance, that are openly and notoriously known to have 
taken up their residence among some of those persons, whom 
the railleries of this and some other authors are designed to 
countenance and secure. 

Because we may not concern ourselves again in things 
of this nature, let us take an instance or two of the manner 
of the dealing of our author with nonconformists, and those 
as to their preaching and praying, which of all things they 
are principally maligned about; for their preaching he thus 
sets it out, p. 75. * Whoever among them can invent any new 
language presently sets up for a man of new discoveries, 
and he that lights upon the prettiest nonsense, is thought by 
the ignorant rabble to unfold new gospel mysteries, and thus 
is the nation shattered into infinite factions with senseless 
and fantastic phrases ; and the most fatal miscarriage of 
them all lies in abusing Scripture expressions, not only with- 
out, but in contradiction to their sense ; so that had we but 
an act of parliament to abridge preachers the use of fulsome 
and luscious metaphors, it might perhaps be an effectual 
cure of all our present distempers. Let not the reader smile 


at the oddness of the proposal ; for were men obliged to 
speak sense as well as truth, all the swelling mysteries of 
fanaticism would then sink into flat and empty nonsense : 
and they would be ashamed of such jejune and ridiculous 
stuff as their admired and most profound notions would ap- 
pear to be.' Certainly there are few who read these expres- 
sions that can retain themselves from smiling at the pitiful 
fantastic souls that are here characterized ; or from loath- 
ing their way of preaching here represented. But yet if any 
should by a surprisal indulge themselves herein, and one 
should seriously inquire what it is that stirred those humours 
in them, it may be they could scarce return a rational ac- 
count of their commotions : for when they have done their 
utmost to countenance themselves in their scorn and derision, 
they have nothing but the bare assertions of this author for 
the proof of what is here charged on those whom they de- 
ride ; and how if these things are most of them, if not all of 
them, absolutely false ? how if he be not able to prove any 
of them by any considerable avowed instance ? how if all the 
things intended, whether they be so or no as here represented, 
depend merely on the judgment and fancy of this author, 
and it should prove in the issue that they are no such rules, 
measures, or standards of men's rational expressions of their 
conceptions, but that they may be justly appealed from? 
and how if sundry things so odiously here expressed, be 
proved to have been sober truths declared in words of wis- 
dom and sobriety ? what if the things condemned as fulsome 
metaphors prove to be Scriptural expressions of gospel 
mysteries? what if the principal doctrines of the gospel about 
the grace of God, the mediation of Christ, of faith, justifi- 
cation, gospel obedience, communion with God, and union 
with Christ, are esteemed and stigmatized by some as swell- 
ing mysteries of fanaticism ; and the whole work of our re- 
demption by the blood of Christ, as expressed in the Scrip- 
ture, be deemed metaphorical? In brief, what if all this 
discourse concerning the preachings of nonconformists be, 
as unto the sense of the words here used, false, and the 
crimes in them injuriously charged upon them ? what if 
the metaphors they are charged with, are no other but their 
expression of gospel mysteries ' not in the words which man's 
wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, com- 


paring spiritual things with spiritual?' as these things may 
and will be made evident when particulars shall be instanced 
in. When, I say, these things are discovered and laid open, 
there will be a composure possibly of those affections and 
disdainful thoughts, which these swelling words may have 
moved in weak and inexperienced minds. It may be also 
it will appear, that upon a due consideration there will be 
little subject matter remaining to be enacted in that law or 
act of parliament which he moves for; unless it be from that 
uncouth motion that men may be ' obliged to speak sense as 
well as truth ;' seeing hitherto it hath been supposed that 
every proposition that is either true or false, hath a proper 
and determined sense ; and if sense it have not, it can be 
neither. I shall only crave leave to say, that as to the doc- 
trine which they preach, and the manner of their preaching, 
or the way of expressing those doctrines or truths which they 
believe and teach, the nonconformists appeal from the rash, 
false, and invidious charge of this author, to the judgment of 
all learned, judicious, and pious men in the world ; and are 
ready to defend them against himself, and whosoever he shall 
take to be his patrons or his associates, before any equal, 
competent, and impartial tribunal under heaven. It is far 
from me to undertake the absolute defence of any party of 
men, or of any man because he is of any party whatever; 
much less shall I do so of all the individual persons of any 
party, and least of all, as to all their expressions, private 
opinions, and peculiar ways of declaring them, which too 
much abound among persons of all sorts. I know there is 
no party but have weak men belonging to it; nor any men 
amongst them but have their weaknesses, failings, and mis- 
takes. And if there are none such in the church of England, 
I mean those that universally comply with all the obser- 
vances at present used therein, I am sure enough that there 
are so amongst all other parties that dissent from it. But 
such as these are not principally intended in these asper- 
sions : nor would their adversaries much rejoice to have them 
known to be, and esteemed of all what they are. But it is 
others whom they aim to expose into contempt; and in the 
behalf of them, not the mistakes, misapprehensions, or un- 
due expressions of any private persons, these things are 


But let US see if their prayers meet with any better enter- 
ainment ; an account of his thoughts about them he gives 
us, p. 19. * It is the most solemn strain of their devotion to 
vilify themselves with large confessions of the heinousest 
and most aggravated sins : they will freely acknowledge 
their offences against all the commands, and that with the 
foulest and most enhancing circumstances ; they can rake 
together, and confess their injustice, uncleanness, and ex- 
tortion, and all the publican and harlot sins in the world; 
in brief, in all their confessions, they stick not to charge 
themselves with such large catalogues of sin, and to amass 
together such a heap of impieties, as would make up the 
completest character of lewdness and villany ; and if their 
consciences do really arraign them of all those crimes 
whereof they so familiarly indict themselves, there are no 
such guilty and unpardonable wretches as they. So that 
their confessions are either true or false ; if false, then they 
fool and trifle with the Almighty ; if true, then I could easily 
tell them the fittest place to say their prayers in.' 

I confess this passage at its first perusal surprised me 
with some amazement. It was unexpected to me, that he 
who designed all along to charge his adversaries with phari- 
saism, and to render them like unto them, should instance in 
their confession of sin in their prayers, when it is even a 
characteristical note of the Pharisees, that in their prayers 
they made no confession of sin at all. But it was far more 
strange to me, that any man durst undertake the'reproach- 
ing of poor sinners with the deepest acknowledgment of 
their sins before the holy God, that they are capable to con- 
ceive or utter. Is this, thought I, the spirit of the men 
with whom the nonconformists do contend, and upon whose 
instance alone they suffer ? Are these their apprehensions 
concerning God, sin, themselves, and others ? Is this the 
spirit wherewith the children of the church are acted? Are 
these things suited to the principles, doctrines, practices of 
the church of England ? Such reproaches and reflections, 
indeed, might have been justly expected from those poor 
deluded souls, who dream themselves perfect and free from 
sin ; but to meet with such a treaty from them who say or 
sing, ' O God, the Father of heaven, have mercy upon us mi- 
serable sinners,' at least three times a week, was some sur- 


prisal. However, I am sure, the nonconformists need re- 
turn no other answer to them who reproach them for vilify- 
ing themselves in their confessions to God, but that of 
David to Michal, ' It is before the Lord, and we will yet 
be more vile than thus, and will be base in our own sight.' 
Our author makes no small stir with the pretended censures 
of some whom he opposes ; namely, that they sliould 
' esteem themselves and their party to be the elect of God, 
all others to be reprobates, themselves and theirs to be godly, . 
and all Others ungodly;' wherein I am satisfied, that he 
unduly chargeth those whom he intends to reflect upon. 
However I am none of them ; I do not judge any party to 
be all the elect of God, or all the elect of God to be confined 
unto any party; I judge no man living to be a reprobate, 
though I doubt not but that there are living men in that 
condition ; I confine not holiness or godliness to any party ; 
not to the church of England, nor to any of those who 
dissent from it ; but am persuaded that in all societies of 
Christians that are under heaven that hold the head, there 
are some really fearing God, working righteousness, and 
accepted with him. But yet neither my own judgment, nor 
the reflections of this author, can restrain me from profess- 
ing that I fear that he who can thus trample upon men, scoff 
at and deride them for the deepest confessions of their sins 
before God which they are capable of making, is scarce 
either well acquainted with the holiness of God, the evil of 
sin, or the deceitfulness of his own heart, or did not in his 
so doing, take them into sufficient consideration. The 
church of England itself requires its children to ' acknow- 
ledge their manifold sins and wickednesses, which from 
time to time they have grievously committed by thought, 
word, and deed, against the divine Majesty;' and what in 
general others can confess more, I know not. If men that are, 
through the light of God's Spirit and grace, brought to an 
acquaintance with the deceitful workings of sin in their own 
hearts, and the hearts of others, considering aright the terror 
of the Lord, and the manifold aggravations wherewith 
all their sins are attended, do more particularly express 
these things before and to the Lord, when indeed nor they, 
nor any gther can declare the thousandth part of the vile- 
ness and unworthiness of sin and sinners on the account 


thereof, shall they be naw despised for it, and judged to be 
men meet to be hanged ? If this author had but seriously- 
perused the confessions of Austin, and considered how he 
traces his sin from his nature in the womb, through the 
cradle, into the whole course of his life, with his marvel- 
lous and truly ingenuous acknowledgments and aggravations 
of it, perhaps the reverence of so great a name might have 
caused him to suspend this rash, and I fear, impious dis- 

For the particular instances wherewith he would coun- 
tenance his sentiments and censures in this matter, there is 
no difficulty in their removal. Our Lord Jesus Christ hath 
taught us to call the most secret workings of sin in the 
heart, though resisted, though controlled, and never suffered 
to bring forth, by the names of those sins which they lie in 
a tendency unto ; and men in their confessions respect more 
the pravity of their natures, and the inward working and 
actings of sin, than the outward perpetrations of it, wherein 
perhaps they may have little concernment in the world ; as 
Job, who pleaded his uprightness, integrity, and righteous- 
ness against the charge of all his friends, yet when he came 
to deal with God, he could take that prospect of his nature 
and heart, as to vilify himself before him, yea, to abhor him- 
self in dust and ashes. 

Again, ministers who are the mouths of the congrega- 
tion to God may, and ought to acknowledge, not only the 
sins whereof themselves are personally guilty, but those 
also which they judge may be upon any of the congrega- 
tion. This assuming of the persons of them to whom they 
speak, or in whose name they speak, is usual even to the 
sacred writers themselves. So speaks the apostle Peter, 
1 Epist. iv. 3. ' For the time past of our lives may suffice us 
to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked 
in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquet- 
ings, and abominable idolatries.' He puts himself amongst 
them, although the time past of his life in particular was 
remote enough for being spent in the manner there de- 
scribed : and so it may be with ministers when they confess 
the sins of the whole congregation. And the dilemma of 
this author about the truth or falsehood of these confessions, 
will fall as heavy on St. Paul as on any nonconformist in 

ViyDJCATKl). 177 

the world. For besides the acknowledgment that he makes 
of the former sins of his life when he was injurious, a blas- 
phemer, and persecutor (which sins I pray God deliver 
others from), and the secret working of indwelling sin, which 
he cries out in his present condition to be freed from ; he 
also when an apostle professeth himself the ' chiefest of sin- 
ners ;' now this was either true, or it was not ; if it was not 
true, God was mocked; if it were, our author could have 
directed him to the fittest place to have made his acknow- 
ledgements in. What thinks he of the confessions of Ezra, 
of Daniel, and others in the name of the whole people of 
God? Of David concerning himself, whose self-abase- 
ments before the Lord, acknowledgments of the guilt of 
sin in all its aggravations and effects, far exceed any thing 
that nonconformists are able to express. 

As to his instances of the confession of injustice, un- 
cleanness, and extortion, it may be as to the first and last, 
he would be put to it to make it good by express particu- 
lars; and I wish it be not found that some have need lo 
confess them, who cry at present, they are not of these pub- 
licans. Uncleanness seems to bear the worst sound, and to 
lead the mind to the worst apprehensions of all the rest ; 
but it is God with whom men have to do in their confes- 
sions ; and before him, ' What is man that he should be 
clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be 
righteous ? Behold he putteth no trust in his saints; yen, 
the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abo- 
minable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water,' 
Job XV. 14 — 16. and the whole church of God in their confes- 
sion cry out, * We are all as an unclean thing, and all our 
righteousnesses are as filthy rags ;' Isa. Ixiv. 6. There is a pol- 
lution of flesh and spirit, which we are still to be cleansing 
ourselves from whilst we are in this world. 

But to what purpose is it to contend about these things .' 
I look upon this discourse of our author as a signal instance 
of the power of prejudice and passions over the minds of 
men. For, setting aside the consideration of a present in- 
fluence from them, 1 cannot believe that any one that pro- 
fesseth the religion taught by Jesus Christ, and contained 
in the Scripture, can be so ignorant of the terror of the 
Lord, so unaccustomed to thoughts of his infinite purity, 


severity, and holiness; such a stranger to the accuracy, spi- 
rituality, and universality of the law; so unacquainted with 
the sin of nature, and the hidden deceitful workings of it in 
the hearts, minds^, and affections of men ; so senseless of the 
great guilt of the least sin, and the manifold inexpressible 
aggravations wherewith it is attended; so unexercised to 
that self-abasement and abhorrency which becomes poor 
sinners in their approaches to the holy God, when they con- 
sider what they are in themselves ; so disrespective of the 
price of redemption that was paid for our sins, and the mys- 
terious way of cleansing our souls from them by the blood 
of the Son of God, as to revile, despise, and scoff at men 
for the deepest humblings of their souls before God, in the 
most * searching and expressive acknowledgments of their 
sins, that they do or can make at any time. 

The like account may be given of all the charges that 
this author manageth against the men of his indignation ; 
but I shall return at present to the preface under consi- 

In the entrance of his discourse, being, as it seems, con- 
scious to himself of a strange and wild intemperance of 
speech in reviling his adversaries, which he had either used, 
or intended so to do, he pleads sundry things in his excuse 
or for his justification. Hereof the first is, his zeal for the re- 
formation of the church of England, and the settlement 
thereof with its forms and institutions ; these, he saith, are 

* countenanced by the best and purest times of Christianity, 
and established by the fundamental laws of this land' (which 
yet, as to the things in contest between him and noncon- 
formists, I greatly doubt of, as not believing any fundamen- 
tal law of this land to be of so late a date) ; to see this 

* opposed by a wild and fanatic rabble, rifled by folly and 
ignorance, on slender and frivolous pretences so often and 
so shamefully baffled, yet again revived by the pride and 
ignorance of a few peevish, ignorant, and malapert preach- 
ers, brainsick people' (all which gentle and peaceable ex- 
pressions are crowded together in the compass of a few 
lines), is that which hath ' chafed him into this heat and 
briskness ;' if this be not to deal with gainsayers in a spirit 
of meekness, if herein there be not an observation of the 
Vules of speaking evil of no man, despising no man, of not 


saying * Raca,' to our brother, or calling of him ' fool ;' if here 
be not a discovery how remote he is from self-conceit, ela- 
tion of mind, and the like immoralities, we must make 
inquiry after such things elsewhere ; for in this whole in- 
suing treatise we shall scarce meet with any thing more 
tending to our satisfaction. For the plea itself made use of, 
those whom he so tramples on do highly honour the refor- 
mation of the church of England, and bless God for it con- 
tinually, as that which hath had a signal tendency unto his 
glory, and usefulness to the souls of men. That as to the 
outward rites of worship and discipline contested about, it 
was in all things conformed unto the great rule of them, our 
author doth not pretend ; nor can he procure it in those 
things, whatever he says, any countenance from the best 
and purest times of Christianity : that it was every way per- 
fect in its first edition, I suppose, will not be affirmed ; nor, 
considering the posture of affairs at the time of its framing 
both in other nations and in our own, was it like it should 
so be. We may rather admire that so much was then done 
according to the will of God, than that there was no more. 
Whatever is wanting in it, the fault is not to be cast on the 
first reformers, who went as far as well in those days could 
be expected from them. Whether others whohave succeeded 
in their place and room, have since discharged their duty in 
perfecting what was so happily begun, is 'subjudice,' and 
there will abide after this author and I have done writing. 
That as to the things mentioned, it never had an absolute 
quiet possession or admittance in this nation, that a con- 
stant and no inconsiderable suffrage hath from first to last 
been given in against it, cannot be denied ; and for any 'sa- 
vage worrying' or 'rifling of it' at present, no man is so bar- 
barous as to give the least countenance to any such thing. 
That which is intended in these exclamations is only a de- 
sire that those who cannot comply with it as now established 
in the matters of discipline and worship before mentioned, 
may not merely for that cause be worried and destroyed, as 
many as have already been. 

Again, the chief glory of the English reformation con- 
sisted in the purity of its doctrine, then first restored to the 
nation. This, as it is expressed in the articles of religion, 
and in the publicly authorized writings of the bishops and 

N 2 


chief divines of the church of England, is, as was said, the 
glory of the English reformation. And it is somewhat 
strange to me, that whilst one writes against original sin, 
another preaches up justification by works, and scoffs at 
the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to them that 
believe ^ yea, whilst some can openly dispute against the 
doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, and the Holy 
Ghost ; whilst instances may be collected of some men's 
impeaching all the articles almost throughout, there should 
be no reflection in the least on these things ; only those 
who dissent from some outward methods of worship must 
be made the object of all this wrath and indignation. 

Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes? 

Some men's guilt in this nature, might rather mind them of 
pulling out the beam out of their own eyes, than to act with 
such fury to pull out the eyes of others, for the motes which 
they think they espy in them. But hence is occasion given 
to pour out such a storm of fury, conveyed by words of as 
great reproach and scorn as the invention of any man I 
think could suggest, as is not lightly to be met withal : 
might our author be prevailed with to mind the old rule, 
* mitte male loqui, die rem ipsam,' these things might cer- 
tainly be debated with less scandal, less mutual offences and 

Another account of the reasons of his intemperance in 
these reproaches, supplying him with an opportunity to in- 
crease them in number and weight, he gives us, pp. 6, 7. 
of his preface, which because it may well be esteemed a 
summary representation of his way and manner of arguing 
in his whole discourse, I shall transcribe. 

* I know,' says he, * but one single instance in which zeal 
or a high indignation is just and warrantable : and that is 
when it vents itself against the arrogance of haughty, 
peevish, and sullen religionists, that under higher pretences 
of godliness supplant all principles of civility and good- 
nature ; that strip religion of its outside to make it a cover- 
ing for spite and malice ; that adorn their peevishness with 
a mark of piety, and shrowd their ill-nature under the demure 
pretences of godly zeal, and stroke and applaud themselves 
as the only darlings and favourites of heaven ; and with a 


scornful pride disdained all the residue of mankind as a rout 
of worthless and unregenerate reprobates. Thus the only 
hot fit of zeal we find our Saviour in, was kindled by an in- 
dignation against the pride and insolence of the Jews, when 
he whipped the buyers and sellers out of the outward court 
of the temple ; for though they bore a blind and superstitious 
reverence towards that part of it that was peculiar to their 
own worship, yet as for the outward court, the place where 
the Gentiles and proselytes worshipped, that was so unclean 
and unhallowed, that they thought it could not be profaned 
by being turned into an exchange of usury : now this inso- 
lent contempt of the Gentiles, and impudent conceit of their 
own holiness, provoked the mild spirit of our blessed Saviour 
to such an height of impatience and indignation, as made 
him with a seeming fury and transport of passion whip the 
tradesmen thence, and overthrew their tables.' 

What truth, candour, or conscience hath been attended 
unto in the insolent reproaches here heaped up against his 
adversaries, is left to the judgment of God and all impartial 
men ; yea, let judgment be made, and sentence be past ac- 
cording to the ways, course of life, conversation, usefulness 
amongst men, readiness to serve the common concerns of 
mankind, in exercising loving-kindness in the earth, of those 
who are thus injuriously traduced, compared with any in 
the approbation and commendation of whom they are covered 
with these reproaches, and there lives not that person who 
may not be admitted to pronounce concerning the equity 
and righteousness or iniquity of these intemperances. How- 
ever, it is nothing with them with whom he hath to do to be 
judged by man's day; they stand at the judgment-seat of 
Christ, and have not so learned him as to relieve themselves 
by false or fierce recriminations. The measure of the cover- 
ing provided for all these excesses of unbridled passion is 
that alone which is now to be taken. The case expressed, 
it seems, is the only single instance in which zeal is just and 
warrantable. How our author came to be assured thereof I 
know not ; sure I am that it doth neither comprise in it, nor 
hath any aspect on, the ground, occasion, or nature of the 
zeal of Phinehas, or of Nehemiah, or of David, or of Joshua, 
and least of all of our Saviour, as we shall see. He must 
needs be thought to be over-intent upon his present occa- 


sion, when he forgot not one, or two, but indeed all instances 
of just and warrantable zeal that are given us in the only 
sacred repository of them. 

For what concerns the example of our blessed Saviour 
particularly insisted on, I wish he had offended one way 
only in the report he makes of it. For let any sober man 
judge, in the first place, whether those expressions he useth 
of the * hot fit of zeal' that he was in, of the ' height of im- 
patience' that he was provoked unto, the ' seeming fury and 
transport of passion' that he acted withal, do become that 
reverence and adoration of the Son of God which ought to 
possess the hearts, and guide the tongues and writings of 
men that profess his name. But whatever other men's ap- 
prehensions may be, as it is not improbable but that some 
will exercise severity in their reflections on these expressions, 
for my part, I shall entertain no other thoughts but that our 
author being engaged in the composition of an invective 
declamation, and aiming at a grandeur of words, yea to fill it 
up with tragical expressions, could not restrain his pen 
from some extravagant excess when the Lord Christ him- 
self came in his way to be spoken of. 

However, it will be said the instance is pertinently al- 
leged, and the occasion of the exercise of the zeal of our 
blessed Saviour is duly represented. It may be some will 
think so, but the truth is, there are scarce more lines than 
mistakes in the whole discourse to this purpose. What 
court it was of the temple wherein the action remembered 
was performed, is not here particularly determined ; only 
it is said to be the ' outward court wherein the Gentiles and 
proselytes worshipped, in opposition to that which was pecu- 
liar to the worship of the Jews.' Now of old from the first 
erection of the temple there were two courts belonging unto 
it, and no more ; the inward court, wherein were the brazen 
altar, with all those utensils of worship which the priests 
made use of in their sacred offices ; and the outward court, 
whither the people assembled, as for other devotions, so to 
behold the priests exercising their function, and to be in a 
readiness to bring in their own especial sacrifices, upon 
which account they were admitted to the altar itself. Into 
this outward court, which was a dedicated part of the tem- 
ple, all Gentiles who were proselytes of righteousness, that 


is, who being circumcised had taken upon them the observa- 
tion of the law of Moses, and thereby joined themselves to 
the people of God, were admitted, as all the Jewish writers 
agree. And these were all the courts that were at first 
sanctified, and were in use when the words were spoken by 
tlie prophet, which are applied to the action of our Saviour; 
namely, ' my house shall be called a house of prayer, but 
ye have made it a den of thieves ;' afterward, in the days of 
the Herodians, another court was added by the immuring 
of the remainder of the hill, whereunto a promiscuous en- 
trance was granted unto all people. It was therefore the 
ancient outward court whereinto the Jews thought that 
Paul had brought Trophimus the Ephesian, whom they 
knew to be uncircumcised. I confess some expositors 
think that it was this latter area from whence the Lord 
Christ cast out the buyers and sellers ; but their conjecture 
seems to be altogether groundless ; for neither was that 
court ever absolutely called the temple, nor was it esteemed 
sacred, but common or profane ; nor was it in being when 
the prophet used the words mentioned concerning the tem- 
ple. It was therefore the other ancient outward court com- 
mon to the Jews and proselytes of the Gentiles that is in- 
tended ; for as there the salt and wood were stored, that 
were daily used in their sacrifices, so the covetous priests, 
knowing that many who came up to offer were wont to buy 
the beasts they sacrificed at Jerusalem to prevent the charge 
and labour of bringing them from far; to further, as they pre- 
tended, their accommodation, they appropriated a market to 
themselves in this court, and added a trade in money, relating 
it may be thereunto, and other things for their advantage. 
Hence the Lord Christ twice drove them ; once at the begin- 
ning, and once at the end of his ministry in the flesh; not with 
a seeming transport of fury, but with that evidence of the 
presence of God with him, and majesty of God upon him, 
that it is usually reckoned amongst one of the miracles that 
he wrought, considering the state of all things at that time 
amongst the Jews. And the reason why he did this, and 
the occasion of the exercise of his zeal, is so express in 
the Scripture, as I cannot but admire at the invention of 
our author, who could find out another reason and occasion 
of it. For it is said directly, that he did it because of their 


wicked profanation of the house of God, contrary to his ex- 
press institution and command; of a regard to' the Jews' 
contempt of the Gentiles there is not one word, not the 
least intimation ; nor was there in this matter the least oc- 
casion of any such thing. 

These things are not pleaded in the least to give coun- 
tenance to any in their proud supercilious censures and 
contempt of others, wherein if any person living have out- 
done our author, or shall endeavour so to do, he will not fail 
I think to carry away the prize in this unworthy contest. 
Nor is it to apologize for them whom he charges with extra- 
vagancies and excesses in this kind. I have no more to say 
in their behalf, but that, as far as I know, they are falsely 
accused and calumniated, though I will not be accountable 
for the expressions of every weak and impertinent person. 
Where men indeed sin openly in all manner of transgres- 
sions against the law and gospel, where a spirit of enmity to 
holiness and obedience unto God discovers and acts itself 
constantly on all occasions ; in a word, where men wear 
sin's livery, some are not afraid to think them sin's servants. 
But as to that elation of mind in self-conceit wherewith 
they are charged, their contempt of other men upon the 
account of party, which he imputes unto them, I must ex- 
pect other proofs than the bare assertion of this author 
before I join with him in the management of his accusa- 
tions. And no other answer shall I return to the ensuing 
leaves, fraught with bitter reproaches, invectives, sarcasms, 
far enough distant from truth and all sobriety. Nor shall I, 
though in their just and necessary vindication, make men- 
tion of any of those things which might represent them per- 
sons of another complexion. If this author will give those 
whom he probably most aims to load with these aspersions, 
leave to confess themselves poor and miserable sinners in 
the sight of God, willing to bear his indignation against 
whom they have sinned, and to undergo quietly the severest 
rebukes and revilings of men, in that they know not but 
that they have a providential permissive commission from 
God so to deal with them, and add thereunto, that they yet 
hope to be saved by Jesus Christ, and jn that hope endea- 
vour to give up themselves in obedience to all his commands, 
it contains that description of them which they shall al- 


ways and in all conditions endeavour to answer. But I have 
only given these remarks upon the preceding discourse, to 
discover upon what feeble grounds our author builds for his 
own justification in his present engagement. 

Page 13. of his preface, he declares his original design 
in writing this discourse, which was to ' represent to the 
world the lamentable folly and silliness of those men's reli- 
gion with whom he had to do,' which he farther expresses 
and pursues with such a lurry of virulent reproaches, as I 
think is not to be paralleled in any leaves but some others 
of the same hand ; and in the close thereof he supposeth he 
hath evinced that in comparison of them ' the most inso- 
lent of the Pharisees were gentlemen, and the most savage 
of the Americans philosophers.' I must confess myself an 
utter stranger unto that generous disposition and philosophic 
nobleness of mind which vent themselves in such revenge- 
ful scornful wrath, expressed in such rude and barbarous 
railings against any sort of men whatever, as that here ma- 
nifested in, and those here used by this author. If this be a 
just delineation and character of the spirit of a gentleman, a 
due portraiture of the mind and affections of a philosopher, 
I know not who will be ambitious to be esteemed either the 
one or the other. But what measures men now make of 
gentility I know not ; truly noble generosity of spirit was 
heretofore esteemed to consist in nothing more than remote- 
ness from such pedantic severities against, and contemptu- 
ous reproaches of persons under all manner of disadvantages, 
yea, impossibilities to manage their own just vindication, as 
are here exercised and expressed in this discourse. And the 
principal pretended attainment of the old philosophy was a 
sedateness of mind, and a freedom from turbulent passions 
and aifections under the greatest provocations, which if 
they are here manifested by our author, they will give the 
greater countenance unto the character which he gives of 
others ; the judgment and determination whereof is left unto 
all impartial readers. 

But in this main design he professeth himself prevented 
by the late learned and ingenious discourse. The Friendly 
Debate ; which to manifest, it may be, that his rhetorical 
faculty is not confined to invectives, he spendeth some pages 
in the splendid encomiums of. There is no doubt, I sup- 


pose, but that the author of that discourse will on the next 
occasion requite his panegyric, and return him his commen- 
dations for his own achievements with advantage ; they are 
like enough to agree like those of the poet, 

Discedo Alcffius puncto illius, ille mcoquis ? 
Quis nisi Callituachus ? 

For the present, his account of the excellencies and suc- 
cesses of that discourse minds me of the dialogue between 
Pyrgopolynices and Artotrogus : 

^ Pyrg. Ecquid meministi ? Art. Meniini; centum in Cilicia, 
Etquinquagirjta centum SycolatronidEe, 
Triginta Sardi, sexaginla Macedones, 
Sunt homines tu quos occidisti uno die. 
Py^S' Quanta istlijec hominura sumnia est? 

Art. Scpteni niillia, 
Py^g- Tantum esse oportet ; recte rationem tenes. 
Art. At nuUos habeo scriptos, sic memini tamen. 

Although the particular instances he gives of the man's 
successes, are prodigiously ridiculous, yet the casting up of 
the sum total to the completing of his victory, sinks them 
all out of consideration : and such is the account we have 
here of the Friendly Debate. This and that it hath effected, 
which though unduly asserted as to the particular instances, 
yet altogether comes short of that absolute victory and 
triumph which are ascribed unto it. But I suppose that upon 
due consideration, men's glorying in those discourses will 
be but as the crackling of thorns in the fire, noise and smoke, 
without any real and solid use or satisfaction. The great 
design of the author, as is apparent unto all, was to render the 
sentiments and the expressions of his adversaries ridiculous, 
and thereby to expose their persons to contempt and scorn, 

Egregiam vero laudem et spolia ampla ! 

And to this end his way of writing by dialogues is ex- 
ceedingly suited and accommodated : for although ingeni- 
ous and learned men, such as Plato and Cicero, have handled 
matters of the greatest importance in that way of writing, 
candidly proposing the opinions and arguments of adverse 
parties in the persons of the dialogists, and sometimes used 
that method to make their design of instruction more easy 
and perspicuous, yet it cannot be denied that advantages 
may be taken from this way of writing to represent both per- 
sons, opinions, and practices, invidiously and contemptu- 
ously, above any other way ; and therefore it hath been prin- 


cipally used by men who have had that design. And I know 
nothing in the skilful contrivance of dialogues, which is 
boasted of here with respect unto the Friendly Debate, as al- 
so by the author of it in his preface to one of his worthy 
volumes, that should free the way of writing itself from 
being supposed to be peculiarly accommodated to the ends 
mentioned. Nor will these authors charge them with want 
of skill and art in composing of their dialogues, who have 
designed nothing in them but to render things uncouth, and 
persons ridiculous, with whom themselves were in worth and 
honesty no way to be compared. 

An instance hereof we have in the case of Socrates. Sun- 
dry in the city being weary of him for his uprightness, in- 
tegrity, and continual pressing of them to courses of the like 
nature ; some also being in an especial manner incensed at 
him, and provoked by him ; amongst them they contrived 
his ruin. That they might effect this design, they procured 
Aristophanes to write a dialogue, his comedy which he en- 
titled Ne(piXai, ' The Clouds ;' wherein Socrates is introduced 
and personated, talking at as contemptible and ridiculous 
a rate, as any one can represent the nonconformists to do ; 
and yet withal to commend himself as the only man consi- 
derable amongst them. Without some such preparation of the 
people's minds, his enemies thought it impossible to obtain 
his persecution and destruction; and they failed not in their 
projection. Aristophanes being poor, witty, and as is sup- 
posed, hired to this work, lays out the utmost of his endea- 
vours so to frame and order his dialogues, with such ele- 
gancy of words and composure of his verses, with such a 
semblance of relating the words and expressing the manner 
of Socrates, as might leave an impression on the minds of 
the people. And the success of it was no way inferior to 
that of the Friendly Debate; for though at first the people 
were somewhat surprised with seeing such a person so tra^ 
duced, yet they were after a while so pleased and tickled 
with the ridiculous representation of him and his philosophy, 
wherein there was much of appearance and nothing of truth, 
that they could make no end of applauding the author of the 
Dialogues. And though this was the known design of that 
poet, yet that his Dialogues were absurd and inartificial, I 
suppose will not bo affirmed ; seeing few were ever more 



skilfully contrived. Having got this advantage of exposing 
him to public contempt, his provoked malicious adversaries 
began openly to manage their accusation against him. The 
principal crime laid to his charge was nonconformity, or 
that he did not comply with the religion which the supreme 
magistrate had enacted ; or as they then phrased it, he 
esteemed not them to be gods whom the city so esteemed. 
By these means, and through these advantages, they ceased 
not until they had destroyed the best and wisest person that 
ever that city bred in its heathen condition, and whereof 
they quickly repented themselves. The reader may see the 
whole story exactly related in iEIian. lib. 2. Var. Histor. 
cap. 13. Much of it also may be collected from the Apolo- 
logies of Xenophon and Plato in behalf of Socrates, as also 
Plutarch's Discourse concerning his Genius. To this pur- 
pose have dialogues very artificially written been used, and 
are absolutely the most accommodate of all sorts of writing 
unto such a design. Hence Lucian, who aimed particularly 
to render the things which he disliked ridiculous and con- 
temptible, used no other kind of writing ; and I think his 
Dialogues will be allowed to be artificial, though sundry of 
them have no other design but to cast contempt on persons 
and opinions better than himself and his own. And this 
way of dealing with adversaries in points of faith, opinion, 
and judgment, hath hitherto been esteemed fitter for the 
stage, than a serious disquisition after truth, or confutation 
of error. Did those who admire their own achievements in 
this way of process, but consider how easy a thing it is for 
any one, deposing that respect to truth, modesty, sobriety, 
and Christianity which ought to accompany us in all that we 
do, to expose the persons and opinions of men by false, par- 
tial, undue representations, to scorn and contempt, they 
would perhaps cease to glory in their fancied success. It is 
a facile thing to take the wisest man living, and after he is 
lime-twigged with ink and paper, and gagged with a quill, 
so that he can neither move nor speak, to clap a fool's coat 
on his back, and turn him out to be laughed at in the streets. 
The stoics were not the most contemptible sort of philoso- 
phers of old, nor will be thought so by those, who profess 
their religion to consist in morality only : and yet the Ro- 
man orator, in his pleading for Muraena, finding it his present 


interest to cast some disreputation upon Cato his adversary 
in that cause, who was addicted to that sect, so represented 
their dogmas, that he put the whole assembly into a fit of 
laughter ; whereunto Cato only replied, that he made others 
laugh, but was himself ridiculous ; and it may be some will 
find it to fall out not much otherwise with themselves by 
that time the whole account of their undertaking is well 
cast up. 

Besides, do these men not know, that if others would 
employ themselves in a work of the like kind by way of re- 
tortion and recrimination, that they would find real matter 
amongst some whom they would have esteemed sacred, for 
an ordinary ingenuity to exercise itself upon unto their dis- 
advantage ? But what would be the issue of such proceed- 
ings? Who would be gainers by it? Every thing that is 
professed among them that own religion, all ways and 
means of their profession, being by their mutual reflections 
of this kind rendered ridiculous, what remains but that men 
fly to the sanctuary of atheism to preserve themselves from 
being scoffed at and despised as fools. On this account 
alone I would advise the author of our late debates to sur- 
cease proceeding in the same kind, lest a provocation unto 
a retaliation should befall any of those who are so foully 

But, as I said, what will be the end of these things, 
namely, of mutual virulent reflections upon one another? 
Shall this ' sword devour for ever? And will it not be bitter- 
ness in the latter end V For, as he said of old of persons 
contending with revilings, 

^TpETTT)) Si yhSio'ir' larl ^^orZv ttoXUui; S' evi fxvQoi 
TJavroXa-t, iTreaiv Ss itToXvg vo/t*oj 'hda Kal hda ; 
OTTorov »' enraTBa 'iiroq, toUqv x,' iTraxova-aig. 

Great store there are of such words and expressions on 
every hand, and every provoked person if he will not bind 
his passion to a rule of sobriety and temperance, may at his 
pleasure take out and use what he supposeth for his turn. 
And let not men please themselves with imagining that it is 
not as easy, though perhaps not so safe, for others to use 
towards themselves haughty and contemptuous expressions, 
as it is for them to use them towards others. But shall this 


wrath never be allayed? Is this the way to restore peace, 
quietness, and satisfaction to the minds of men ? Is it meet 
to use her language in this nation concerning the present 
diflferences about religion, 

Nullus amorpopulis, nee foedera sunto; 
Imprecor arma armis, pugnentipsique ; nepotesi 

Is agreement in all other things, all love and forbearance, 
unless there be a centring in the same opinions absolutely, 
become criminal, yea detestable ? Will this way of proceed- 
ing compose and satisfy the minds of men ? If there be no 
other way for a coalescence in love and unity in the bond of 
peace, but either that the nonconformists do depose and 
change in a moment, as it were, their thoughts, apprehen- 
sions, and judgments about the things in difference amongst 
us, which they cannot, which is not in their power to do ; or 
that in the presence, and with a peculiar respect unto the 
eye and regard of God, they will act contrary unto them, 
which they ought not, which they dare not, no not upon the 
present instruction, the state of these things is somewhat 

That alone which in the discourses mentioned seemeth 
to me of any consideration, if it have any thing of truth to 
give it countenance, is that the nonconformists under pre- 
tence of preaching mysteries and grace, do neglect the 
pressing of moral duties, which are of near and indispensa- 
ble concernment unto men in all their relations and actions, 
and without which religion is but a pretence and covering 
for vice and sin. A crime this is unquestionably of the 
highest nature if true, and such as might justly render the 
whole profession of those who are guilty of it suspected. 
And this is again renewed by our author, who, to charge 
home upon the nonconformists, reports the saying of Flacius 
Illyricus, a Lutheran, who died a hundred years ago ; 
namely, that * bona opera sunt perniciosa ad salutem,* 
though I do not remember that any such thing was main- 
tained by Illyricus, though it was so by Amsdorfius against 
Georgius Major. But is it not strange how any man can 
assume to himself, and swallow so much confidence as is 
needful to the management of this charge ? The books 
and treatises published by men of the persuasion traduced, 
their daily preaching witnessed unto by multitudes of all 

VINDICA'I i:i). 191 

sorts of people, the open avowing of their duty in this mat- 
ter, their principles concerning sin, duty, holiness, virtue, 
righteousness, and honesty, do all of them proclaim the 
blackness of this calumny, and sink it with those who have 
taken, or are able to take, any sober cognizance of these 
things, utterly beneath all consideration ; moral duties they 
do esteem, commend, count as necessary in religion as any 
men that live under heaven : it is true they say that on a 
supposition of that performance whereof they are capable 
without the assistance of the grace and Spirit of God, 
though they may be good in their own nature and useful to 
mankind, yet they are not available unto the salvation of 
the souls of men ; and herein they can prove that they have 
the concurrent suffrage of all known churches in the world, 
both those of old, and these at present : they say, moreover, 
that for men to rest upon their performances of these moral 
duties for their justification before God, is but to set up 
their own righteousness through an ignorance of the righ- 
teousness of God, for we are freely justified by his grace ; 
neither yet are they sensible of any opposition to this 

For their own discharge of the work of the ministry they 
endeavour to take their rule, pattern, and instruction from 
the precepts, directions, and examples of them who were first 
commissionated unto that work, even the apostles of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, recorded in the Scripture, that they might 
be used and improved unto that end. By them are they 
taught to endeavour the declaring unto men all the counsel 
of God concerning his grace, their obedience, and salvation ; 
and having the word of reconciliation committed unto them, 
they do pray their hearers in 'Christ's stead to be reconciled 
unto God ;' to this end do they declare the ' unsearchable 
riches of Christ,' and comparatively determine' to know no- 
thing in this world but ' Christ, and him crucified,' whereby 
their preaching becometh principally the word or doctrine 
of the cross, which by experience they find to be a * stum- 
bling block' unto some, and ' foolishness' unto others ; by 
all means endeavouring to make known what * is the riches 
of the glory of the mystery of God in Christ, reconciling 
the world unto himself;' praying withal for their hearers that 


* the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, 
would give unto them the spirit of wisdom and revelation 
in the knowledge of him, that the eyes of their understand- 
ing being enlightened, they may learn to know what is the 
hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his 
inheritance in the saints ;' and in these things are they ' not 
ashamed of the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God 
unto salvation.' 

By this dispensation of the gospel do they endeavour to 
ingenerate in the hearts and souls of men, ' repentance to- 
wards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.' To pre- 
pare them also hereunto, they cease not by the preaching 
of the law, to make known to men the terror of the Lord, to 
convince them of the nature of sin, of their own lost and 
ruined condition by reason of it, through its guilt as both 
original in their natures, and actual in their lives, that they 
may be stirred up to ' fly from the wrath to come,' and to 
Jay hold on eternal life; and thus as God is pleased to suc- 
ceed them, do they endeavour to lay the great foundation 
Jesus Christ, in the hearts of their hearers, and to bring 
them to an interest in him by believing. In the farther 
pursuit of the work committed unto them, they endeavour 
more and more to declare unto, and instruct their hearers 
in all the mysteries and saving truths of the gospel, to the 
end that by the knowledge of them, they may be wrought 
unto obedience, and brought to conformity to Christ, which 
is the end of their declaration ; and in the pursuit of their 
duty, there is nothing more that they insist upon, as far as 
ever I could observe, than an endeavour to convince men, 
that that faith or profession that doth not manifest itself, 
which is not justified by works, which doth not purify the 
heart within, that is not fruitful in universal obedience to 
all the commands of God, is vain and unprofitable ; letting 
them know that though we are saved by grace, yet we are 
the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus to good 
works, which he hath ordained for us to walk in them ; a 
neglect whereof doth uncontrollably evict men of hypocrisy 
and falseness in their profession ; that therefore these things 
in those that are adult, are indispensably necessary to salva- 
tion. Hence do they esteem it their duty continually to 
press upon their hearers the constant observance and doing 


of * whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, 
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are comely, 
whatsoever things are of good report ;' letting them know 
that those who are called to a participation of the grace of 
the gospel, have more, higher, stronger obligations upon 
them to righteousness, integrity, honesty, usefulness amongst 
men, in all moral duties, throughout all relations, conditions, 
and capacities, than any others whatever. 

For any man to pretend, to write, plead that this they 
do not, but indeed do discountenance morality and the 
duties of it, is to take a liberty of saying what he pleases 
for his own purpose, when thousands are ready from the 
highest experience to contradict him. And if this false 
supposition should prove the soul that animates any dis- 
courses, let men never so passionately admire them, and ex- 
patiate in the commendation of them, I know some that will 
not be their rivals in their extasies. For the other things 
•which those books are mostly filled withal, setting aside 
frivolous trifling exceptions about modes of carriage, and 
common phrases of speech, altogether unworthy the review 
or perusal of a serious person, they consist of such excep- 
tions against expressions, sayings, occasional reflections on 
texts of Scripture, invectives, and impertinent calling over 
of things past and by-gone, as the merit of the cause under 
contest is no way concerned in. And if any one would 
engage in so unhandsome an employment, as to collect 
such fond speeches, futilous expressions, ridiculous exposi- 
tions of Scripture, smutty passages, weak, and impertinent 
discourses, yea, profane scurrilities, which some others, 
whom for their honour's sake and other reasons I shall not 
name, have in their sermons and discourses about sacred 
things been guilty of, he might provide matter enough for a 
score of such dialogues as the Friendly Debates are com- 
posed of. 

But to return ; that the advantages mentioned are some- 
what peculiar unto dialogues, we have a sufficient evidence in 
this, that our author having another special design, he chose 
another way of writing suited thereunto. He professeth, 
that he hath neither hope nor expectation to convince his 
adversaries of their crimes or mistakes, nor doth endeavour 
any such thing. Nor did he merely project to render them 



contemptible and ridiculous ; which to have effected, the 
writing of dialogues in his management would have been 
most accommodate. But his purpose was to expose them to 
persecution, or to the severity of penal laws from the magi- 
strate, and if possible, it may be, to popular rage and fury. 
The voice of his whole discourse is the same with that of 
the Jews concerning St. Paul, * Away with such fellows from 
the earth, for it is not meet they should live.' Such an ac- 
count of his thoughts he gives us, p. 253. saith he, * the 
only cause of all our troubles and disturbances' (which what 
they are he knows not, nor can declare) * is the inflexible 
perverseness of about a hundred proud, ignorant, and sedi- 
tious preachers, against whom if the severity of the laws 
were particularly levelled how easy would it be,' &c. 

Macte nova virtute puer, sic itur ad astra. 

But I hope it will appear before the close of this discourse, 
that our author is far from deserving the reputation of in- 
fallible in his politics, whatever he may be thought to do 
in his divinity. It is suflSciently known how he is mistaken 
in his calculation of the numbers of those whom he designs 
to brand with the blackest marks of infamy, and whom he 
exposeth in his desires to the severities of law for their 
ruin. I am sure, it is probable, that there are more than a 
hundred of those whom he intends, who may say unto him, 
as Gregory of Nazianzen introduceth his father speaking to 

Nondum tot sunt anni tui, quot jam in sacris nobis sunt peracti victimis, 

who have been longer in the ministry than he in the 
world. But suppose there were but a hundred of them ; 
he knows, or may know, when there was such a disparity 
in the numbers of them that contested about religion, that 
it was said of them, ' All the world against Athanasius, and 
Athanasius against the world;' who yet was in the right 
against them all, as they must acknowledge who frequently 
say or sing, his * Quicunque vult.' 

But how came he so well acquainted with them all and 
every one, as to pronounce of them that they are proud, 
ignorant, and seditious. Allow him the liberty, which I see 
he will take whether we allow it him or no, to call whom he 
pleaseth seditious upon the account of real or supposed 


principles not compliant with his thoughts and apprehen- 
sions ; yet that men are proud and ignorant, how he can 
prove but by particular instances from his own acquaintance 
with them, I know not. And if he should be allowed to be a 
competent judge of knowledge and ignorance in the whole 
compass of wisdom and science, which it may be some will 
except against, yet unless he had personally conversed with 
them all, or were able to give sufficient instances of their 
ignorance from actings, writings, or expressions of their 
own, he would scarce be able^to give a tolerable account of 
the honesty of this his peremptory censure. And surely this 
must needs be looked on as a lovely, gentle, and philo- 
sophic humour, to judge all men proud and ignorant, who 
are not of our minds in all things, and on that ground 

But yet let them be as ignorant as can be fancied, this 
will not determine the difference between them and their 
adversaries. One unlearned Paphnutius in the council of 
Nice stopped all the learned fathers, when they were preci- 
pitately casting the church into a snare ; and others, as un- 
learned as he, may honestly attempt the same at any time. 
And for our author's projection for the obtaining of quiet by 
severe dealings with these men in an especial manner, one 
of the same nature failed in the instance mentioned. For 
when Athanasius stood almost by himself in the eastern 
empire for a profession in religion, which the supreme 
magistrate and the generality of the clergy condemned, it 
was thought the levelling of severity in particular against 
him would bring all to a composure. To this purpose after 
they had again and again charged him to be proud and 
seditious, they vigorously engaged in his prosecution, ac- 
cording to the projection here proposed, and sought him 
near all the world over, but to no purpose at all, as the 
event discovered. For the truth which he professed having 
left its root in the hearts of multitudes of the people, on the 
first opportunity they returned again to the open avowing 
of it. 

But to return from this digression : this being the design 
of our author, not so much to expose his adversaries to 
common contempt and laughter, as to ruin and destruc- 
tion, he diverted from the beaten path of dialogues, and 

o 2 


betook himself unto that of rhetorical invective declama- 
tions, which is peculiarly suited to carry on and promote 
such a design, I shall therefore here leave him for the pre- 
sent, following the triumphant chariot of his friend, sing- 
ing ' lo triumphe !' and casting reflections upon the captives 
that he drags after him at his chariot wheels ; which will 
doubtless supply his imagination with a pleasing entertain- 
ment, until he shall awake out of his dream, and find all the 
pageantry that his fancy hath erected round about him to 
vanish and disappear. 

His next attempt is upon athiests, wherein I have no con- 
cern, nor his principal adversaries the nonconformists. For 
my part I have had this advantage by my own obscurity and 
small consideration in the world, as never to converse with 
any persons that did or durst question the being or provi- 
dence of God, either really or in pretence. By common 
reports, and published discourses, I find that there are not 
a few in these days, who either out of pride and ostenta- 
tion, or in a real compliance with their own darkness and 
ignorance, do boldly venture to dispute the things which we 
adore; and if I am not greatly misinformed, a charge of 
this prodigious licentiousness and impiety may, from preg- 
nant instances, be brought near the doors of some who on 
other occasions declaim against it. For practical atheism, 
the matter seems to be unquestionable : many live as though 
they believed neither God nor devil in the world but them- 
selv'es. With neither sort am I concerned to treat at present, 
nor shall I examine the invectives of our author against 
them ; though I greatly doubt, whether ever such a kind of 
defence of the being of God was written by any man before 
him. If a man would make a judgment upon "the genius 
and the way of his discourse, he might possibly be tempted 
to fear, that it is persons, rather than things, that are the 
object of his indignation ; and it may be the fate of some to 
suffer under the infamy of atheism, as it is thought Diagoras 
did of old, not for denying the Deity, nor for any absurd 
conceptions of mind concerning it, but forderiding and con- 
temning them, who without any interest in, or sense of reli- 
gion, did foolishly, in idolatrous instances, make a pre- 
tence of it in the world. But whatever wickedness or mis- 
carriages of this nature our author hath observed, his zeal 


against them were greatly to be commended, but that it is 
not in that only instance wherein he allows of the exercise 
of that virtue. Let it then be his anger or indignation, or 
what he pleases, that he may not miss of his due praises and 
commendation. Only I must say, that I question whether 
to charge persons inclined to atheism with profaning John- 
son and Fletcher, as well as the Holy Scriptures, be a way 
of proceeding probably suited to their conviction or re- 

It seems also that those who are here chastised do vent 
their atheism in scoffing and drollery, jesting, and such 
like contemptible efforts of wit, that may take for a while 
amongst little and unlearned people, and immediately eva- 
porate. I am afraid more of those who, under pretences of 
sober reason, do vent and maintain opinions and principles 
that have a direct tendency to give an open admission unto 
atheism in the minds of men, than of such fooleries. When 
others' fury and raving cruelties succeeded not, he alone pre- 
vailed, ' qui solus accessitsobriusad perdendam remp.' One 
principle contended for as rational and true, which if ad- 
mitted will insensibly seduce the mind unto, and justify a 
practice ending in atheism, is more to be feared, than ten 
thousand jests and scoffs against religion, which methinks, 
amongst men of any tolerable sobriety, should easily be 
buried under contempt and scorn. And our author may do 
well to consider whether he hath not, unwittingly I pre- 
sume, in some instances, so expressed and demeaned him- 
self, as to give no small advantage to those corrupt inclina- 
tions unto atheism, which abound in the hearts of men. Are 
not men taught here to keep the liberty of their minds and 
judgments to themselves, whilst they practise that which they 
approve not, nor can do so; which is directly to act against 
the light and conviction of conscience ? And yet an associate 
of his in his present design, in a modest and free conference, 
tells us, that there is* not a wider step to atheism than to do 
any thing against conscience;' and informs his friend, that 
' dissent out of grounds that appear to any founded on the will 
of God, is conscience;' but against such a conscience, the 
light, judgment, and conviction of it, are men here taught to 
practise; and thereby, in the judgment of that author, are 
instructed unto atheism. And indeed if once men find 


themselves at liberty to practise contrary to what is pre- 
scribed unto them in the name and authority of God, as all 
things are which conscience requires, it is not long that they 
will retain any regard of him, or reverence unto him. It hath 
hitherto been the judgment of all who have inquired into 
these things, that the great concern of the glory of God in 
the world, the interest of kings and rulers, of all govern- 
ments whatever, the good and welfare of private persons, 
lies in nothing more, than in preserving conscience from 
being debauched in the conducting principles of it ; and in 
keeping up its due respect to the immediate sovereignty of 
God over it in all things. Neither ever was there a more 
horrid attempt upon the truth of the gospel, all common 
morality, and the good of mankind, than that which some of 
late years or ages have been engaged in, by suggesting in 
their casuistical writings such principles for the guidance of 
the consciences of men, as in sundry particular instances 
might set them free, as to practice, from the direct and im- 
mediately influencing authority of God in his word. And 
yet I doubt not but it may be made evident, that all their 
principles in conjunction are scarce of so pernicious a ten- 
dency as this one general theorem, that men may lawfully 
act in the worship of God, or otherwise, against the light, 
dictates, or convictions of their own consciences. Exempt 
conscience from an absolute, immediate, entire, univer- 
sal dependence on the authority, will, and judgment of 
God, according to what conceptions it hath of them, and 
you disturb the whole harmony of divine Providence in the 
government of the world, and break the first link of that 
great chain whereon all religion and government in the 
world do depend. Teach men to belike Naaman the Syrian, 
to believe only in the God of Israel, and to worship him 
according to his appointment by his own choice, and from a 
sense of duty, yet also to bow in the house of Rimmon, con- 
trary to his light and conviction, out of compliance with his 
master •, or with the men of Samaria to fear the Lord, but 
to worship their idols, and they will not fail at one time or 
other, rather to seek after rest in restless atheism, than to 
live in a perpetual conflict with themselves, or to cherish an 
everlasting sedition in their own bosoms. 

I shall not much reflect upon those expressions which 


our author is pleased to vent his indignation by ; such as 
* religious rage and fury, religious villany, religious luna- 
cies, serious and conscientious villanies, wildness of godly 
madness ; men lead by the Spirit of God to disturb the 
public peace ; the world filled with a buzz and noise of the 
Divine Spirit, sanctified fury, sanctified barbarism, pious 
villanies, godly disobedience, sullen and cross-grained god- 
liness,' with innumerable others t)f the like kind ; which 
although perhaps he may countenance himself in the use of, 
from the tacit respect that he hath to the persons whom he 
intends to vilify and reproach ; yet in themselves, and to 
others, who have not the same apprehensions of their occa- 
sion, they tend to nothing but to beget a scorn and derision 
of all religion, and the profession of it; a humour which 
will not find where to rest or fix itself, until it comes to be 
swallowed up in the abyss of atheism. 

We are at length arrived at the last act of this tragical 
preface ; and as in our progress we have rather heard a great 
noise and bluster, than really encountered either true diffi- 
culty or danger, so now I confess that weariness of con- 
versing with so many various sounds of the same significa- 
tion, the sum of all being knaves, villains, fools, will carry 
me through the remainder of it with some more than ordi- 
nary precipitation, as grudging an addition in this kind of 
employment to those few minutes wherein the preceding 
remarks were written or dictated. 

There are two or three heads which the remainder of this 
prefetory discourse may be reduced unto. First, a magnifi- 
cent proclamation of his own achievements, what he hath 
proved, what he hath done, especially in representing the 
' inconsistence of liberty of conscience with the first and 
fundamental laws of government;' and I am content that he 
please himself with his own apprehensions, like him who 
admired at the marvellous feats performed in an empty 
theatre. For it may be, that upon examination it will be 
found, that there is scarce in his whole discourse any one 
argument offered at that hath the least seeming cogency 
towards such an end. Whether you take liberty of conscience 
for liberty of judgment, which himself confesseth uncon- 
trollable, or liberty of practice upon indulgence, which he 
seems to oppose, an impartial reader will, I doubt, be so fiir 


from finding the conclusion mentioned to be evinced, as he 
will scarcely be able to satisfy himself that there are any 
premises that have a tendency thereunto. But I suppose he 
must extremely want an employment, who will design him- 
self a business in endeavouring to dispossess him of his self- 
pleasing imagination. Yea, he seems not to have pleaded 
his own cause absurdly at Athens, who giving the city the 
news of a victory when they had received a fatal defeat, 
affirmed that public thanks were due to him for affording 
them two days of mirth and jollity, before the tidings came 
of their ill success, which was more than they were ever 
like to see again in their lives. And there being as much 
satisfaction in a fancied as a real success, though useless and 
failing, we shall leave our author in the highest contentment 
that thoughts of this nature can afford him. However, it 
may not be amiss to mind him of that good old counsel, 
' Let not him that girdeth on his armour boast like him that 
putteth it off.' 

Another part of his oration is to decry the folly of that 
brutish apprehension that men can possibly live peaceably 
and quietly if they enjoy the liberty of their consciences; 
where he fears not to affirm, that it is more eligible to tole- 
rate the highest debaucheries than liberty for men to wor- 
ship God according to what they apprehend he requires : 
whence some severe persons would be too apt, it may be, to 
make a conjecture of his own inclinations ; for it is evident 
that he is not absolutely insensible of self-interest in what 
he doth or writes. But the contrary to what he asserts 
being a truth at this day written with the beams of the sun 
in many nations of Europe, let envy, malice, fear, and re- 
venge suggest what they please otherwise ; and the nature of 
the thing itself denied being built upon the best, greatest, 
and surest foundations and warranty that mankind hath to 
build on, or trust unto, for their peace and security, I know 
not why its denial was here ventured at, unless it were to 
embrace an opportunity once more to give vent to the re- 
mainders of his indignation, by revilings and reproaches 
which I had hoped had been now exhausted. 

But these things are but collateral to his principal de- 
sign in this close of his declamation ; and this is, the removal 
of an objection, that 'liberty of conscience would conduce 


much to the improvement of trade in the nation.' It is 
known that many persons of great wisdom and experience, 
and who, as it is probable, have had more time to consider 
the state and proper interest of this nation, and have spent 
more pains in the weighing of all things conducing there- 
unto than our author hath done, are of this mind and judg- 
ment. But he at once strikes them and their reasons dumb, 
by drawing out his Gorgon's head ; that he hath proved it 
inconsistent with government, and so it must needs be a 
foolish and silly thing to talk of its usefulness to trade. 

* Verum, ad populum phalera ;' if great blustering words, dog- 
matical assertions, uncouth, unproved principles, accom- 
panied with a pretence of contempt and scorn of all excep- 
tions and oppositions to what is said, with the persons of 
them that make them, may be esteemed proofs, our author 
can prove what he pleaseth, and he is to be thought to have 
proved whatever he affirms himself so to have done. If 
sober reason, experience, arguments derived from common 
acknowledged principles of truth, if a confirmation of de- 
ductions from such principles by confessed and commonly 
approved instances, are necessary to make up convincing 
proofs in matters of this nature and importance, we are yet 
to seek for them, notwithstanding any thing that hath been 
offered by this author, or as far as I can conjecture is likely 
so to be. In the mean time I acknowledge many parts of 
his discourse to be singularly remarkable. His insinuation, 

* that the affairs of the kingdom are not in a fixed and esta- 
blished condition, that we are distracted amongst ourselves 
with a strange variety of jealousies and animosities,' and 
such like expressions, as if divulged in a book printed with- 
out licence, would, and that justly, be looked on as seditious, 
are the foundations that he pi'oceedeth upon. Now as I am 
confident that there is very little ground, or none at all, for 
these insinuations, so the public disposing of the minds of 
men to fears, suspicions, and apprehensions of unseen dan- 
gers by such means, becomes them only who care not what 
disadvantage they cast others, nay, their rulers under, so 
they may compass and secure their own private ends and 

But yet not content to have expressed his own real or 
pretended apprehensions, he proceeds to manifest his scorn 


of those, or his smiling at them, who ' with mighty proj ects 
labour for the improvement of trade ;' which the council ap- 
pointed, as I take it, by his majesty thence denominated, is 
more concerned in than the nonconformists, and may do 
well upon this information, finding themselves liable to scorn, 
to desist from such a useless and contemptible employment. 
They may now know, that to erect and encourage trading 
combinations is only to build so many nests of faction and 
sedition; for he says, ' there is not any sort of people so 
inclinable to seditious practices as the trading part of a 
nation, and that their pride and arrogance naturally increase 
with the improvement of their stock.' Besides * the fanatic 
party,' as he says, ' live in these greater societies, and it is 
a very odd and preposterous folly to design the enriching of 
that sort of people ; for wealth doth but only pamper and 
encourage their presumption ; and he is a very silly man, 
and understands nothing of the follies, passions, and incli- 
nations of human nature, who sees not that there is no crea- 
ture so ungovernable as a wealthy fanatic' 

It cannot be denied, but that this modern policy runs con- 
trary to the principles and experience of former ages. To 
preserve industrious men in a peaceable way of improving 
their own interests, whereby they might partake in their own 
and family concerns, of the good and advantages of govern- 
ment, hath been, by the weak and silly men of former gene- 
rations, esteemed the most rational way of inducing their 
minds unto peaceable thoughts and resolutions. For as the 
wealth of men increaseth, so do their desires and endea- 
vours after all things and ways whereby it may be secured ; 
that so they may not have spent their labour and the vigour 
of their spirits, with reference unto their own good and that 
of their posterity, in vain. Yea, most men are found to be of 
Issachar's temper, who when he saw, 'that rest was good, and 
the land pleasant,' wherein his own advantages lay,'bowed his 
shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute ;' ' fortes,' 
and ' miseri,' have heretofore been only feared, and not such 
as found satisfaction to their desires in the increases and suc- 
cesses of their endeavours. And as Caesar said, he feared 
not those fat and corpulent persons, Antony and Dolabella, 
but those pale and lean discontented ones, Brutus and Cas- 
sius ; so men have been thought to be far less dangerous, or 


to be suspected in government, who are well clothed with 
their own wealth and concerns, than such as have nothing 
but themselves to lose, and by reason of their straits and 
distresses, do scarce judge them worth the keeping. 

And hath this gentleman really considered what the 
meaning of that word trade is, and what is the concernment 
of this nation in it ? or is he so fond of his own notions and 
apprehensions, as to judge it meet that the vital spirits and 
blood of the kingdom should be offered in sacrifice unto 
them ? Solomon tells us, that the ' profit of the earth is for 
all, and the king himself is served by the field ;' and we 
may truly in England say the same of trade : all men know 
what respect unto it there is in the I'evenues of the crown, 
and how much they are concerned in its growth and promo- 
tion ; the rents of all, from the highest to the lowest, that have 
an interest in the soil are regulated by it, and rise and fall 
with it; nor is there any possibility to keep them up to their 
present proportion and standard, much less to advance them, 
without the continuance of trade in its present condition at 
least, nay, without a steady endeavour for its increase, fur- 
therance, and promotion. Noblemen and gentlemen must be 
•contented to eat their own beef and mutton at home, if trade 
decay ; to keep up their ancient and present splendour, they 
will find no way or means. Corporations are known to be 
the niost considerable and significant bodies of the common 
people, and herein lies their being and bread; to diminish 
or discountenance their trade, is to starve them, and dis- 
courage all honest industry in the world. It was a sad de- 
solation that not long since befell the great city by fire : yet 
through the good providence of God, under the peaceable 
government of his majesty, it is rising out of its ashes, with 
a new signal beauty and lustre. But that consumption and 
devastation of it, which the pursuit of this counsel will in- 
evitably produce, would prove fatal and irreparable. And 
as the interest of all the several parts of the commonwealth 
do depend on the trade of the people amongst ourselves, so 
the honour, power, and security of the whole in reference 
unto foreign nations, are resolved also into the same princi- 
ples ; for as our soil is but small in comparison of some of 
our neighbours, and the numbers of our people no ways to 


be compared with theirs, so if we should forego the advan- 
tages of trade for which we have opportunities, and unto 
which the people of this nation have inclinations, above any 
country or nation in the world, we should quickly find how 
unequal the competition between them and us would be : for 
even our naval force, which is the honour of the king, the se- 
curity of his kingdoms, the terror of his enemies, oweth its 
rise and continuance unto that preparation of persons em- 
ployed therein, which is made by the trade of the nation. 
And if the counsel of this author should be followed, to sus- 
pend all thoughts of the supportment, encouragement, and 
furtherance of trade, until all men by the severities of penal- 
ties should be induced to a uniformity in religion ; I doubt 
not but our envious neighbours would as readily discern the 
concernment of their malice and ill-will therein, as Hannibal 
did his, in the action of the Roman general, who at the bat- 
tle of Cannae, according to their usual discipline (but fatally 
at that time misapplied), caused in the great distress of the 
army, his horsemen to alight and fight on foot, not consider- 
ing the advantage of his great and politic enemy, as things 
then stood, who immediately said, ' I had rather he had de- 
livered them all bound unto me,' though he knew there was 
enough done to secure his victory. 



The author of this discourse seems in this first chapter to 
design the stating of the controversy, which he intendethto 
pursue and handle, (as he expresseth himself, p. 11.) as also 
to lay down the main foundations of his ensuing superstruc- 
ture. Nothing could be more regularly projected, nor more 
suited to the satisfaction of ingenious inquirers into the mat- 
ters under debate ; for those who have any design in read- 
ing, beyond a present divertisement of their minds, or enter- 
tainment of their fancies, desire nothing more than to have 
the subject matter which they exercise their thoughts about 
clearly and distinctly proposed, that a true judgment may 
be made concerning what men say, and whereof they do 
afiirm. But 1 fear our author hath fallen under the misad- 
venture of a failure in these projections; at least as unto 
that certainty, clearness, and perspicuity in the declaration 
of his conceptions, and expression of his assertions and 
principles ; without which all other ornaments of speech in 
matters of moment, are of no use or consideration. His 
language is good and proper, his periods of speech laboured, 
full, and even ; his expressions poignant towards his adver- 
saries, and singly taken, appearing to be very significative 
and expressive of his mind. But I know not how it is come 
to pass, that what either through his own defect, as to a due 
comprehension of the notions whose management he hath 
undertaken, or out of a design to cloud and obscure his sen- 
timents, and to take the advantage of loose declamatory ex- 
pressions, it is very hard, if possible, to gather from what he 
hath written, either what is the true state of the controversy 
proposed to discussion, or what is the precise determinate 
sense of those words wherein he proposeth the principles 
that he proceeds upon. Thus in the title of the book he 


asserts the power of the magistrate over the consciences 
of men ; elsewhere confines the whole work and duty of 
conscience to the inward thoughts and persuasions of the 
mind, over which the magistrate hath no power at all. ' Con- 
science itself/ he sometimes says, ' is every man's opinion ;' 
sometimes he calls it an ' imperious faculty,' which surely 
are not the same ; sometimes he pleads for the uncontrol- 
lable power of magistrates over religion and the consciences 
of men ; sometimes asserts their ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
as the same thing, and seemingly all that he intends ; whereas, 
I suppose, no man ever yet defined ecclesiastical jurisdic- 
tion to be, ' an uncontrollable power over religion and the 
consciences of men.' The magistrate's power over religion 
he asserts frequently, and denieth outward worship to be any 
part of religion, and at last pleads upon the matter only for 
his power over outward worship. Every particular virtue he 
affirms to be such, because it is a resemblance and imitation 
of some of the divine attributes; yet also teacheth that there 
may be more virtues, or new ones that were not so, and that 
to be virtue in one place which is not so in another : some- 
times he pleads that the magistrate hath power to impose 
any religion on the consciences of his subjects, that doth 
not countenance vice, or disgrace the Deity ; and then anon 
pleads for it in indifferent things, and circumstances of out- 
ward worship only. Also that the magistrate may oblige his 
subjects' consciences to the performance of moral duties, 
and other duties in religious worship under penalties, and 
yet punisheth none for their crime and guilt but for the ex- 
ample of others. And many other instances of the like na- 
ture may be given. Now, whatever dress of words these 
things may be set off withal, they savour rankly of crude 
and undigested notions, not reduced unto such a consistency 
in his mind, as to suffer him to speak evenly, steadily, and 
constantly to them. Upon the whole matter, it may not be 
unmeetly said of his discourses, what Tully said of Rullus's 
oration about the Agrarian law ; ' Concionem advocari 
jubet ; summa cum expectatione concurritur ; explicat ora- 
tionem sane longam et verbis valde bonis ; unum erat quod 
mihi vitiosum videbatur ; quod tanta ex frequentianemo in- 
veniri potuit qui intelligere posset quid diceret. Hoc ille 
iutrum insidiarum causa fecerit, an hoc genere efoquentias 


delectetur, nescio ; tamen siqui acutiores in concione stete- 
rant, de lege Agraria nescio quidvoluisse eum dicere suspi- 
cabantur.' Many good words it is composed of, many- 
sharp reflections are made on others, a great appearance 
there is of reason ; but besides that it is plain that he treats 
of the nonconformists and the magistrate's power, and would 
have this latter exercised about the punishment or destruc- 
tion of the former (which almost every page expresseth), it is 
very hard to gather what is the case he speaks unto, or what 
are the principles he proceeds upon. 

The entrance of his discourse is designed to give an 
account of the great difficulty which he intends to assail, of 
the controversy that he will handle and debate, and of the 
difference which he will compose. Here, if any where, ac- 
curacy, perspicuity, and a clear distinct direction of the 
minds of the readers unto a certain just apprehension of the 
matter in question and difference, ought to be expected. 
For if the foundation of discourses of this nature be laid in 
terras general, ambiguous, loose, rhetorical, and flourishing, 
giving no particular determinate sense of the controversy 
(for so this is called by our author), all that ensues in the 
pursuit of what is so laid down, must needs be of the same 
complexion. And such appears to be the declamatory en- 
trance of this chapter. For instead of laying a solid founda- 
tion to erect his superstructure upon, the author seems in it 
only to have built a castle in the air, that makes a goodly 
appearance and show, but is of no validity or use. Can he 
suppose that any man is the wiser, or the more intelligent in 
the difference about liberty of conscience, the power and 
duty of magistrates in granting or denying an indulgence 
unto the exercise of it, by reading an elegant parabolical 
discourse of two supreme powers, the magistrate and con- 
science, contesting for sovereignty, in and about no man 
knows what What conscience is ; what liberty of con- 
science ; what it is pleaded for to extend unto ; who are con- 
cerned in it ; whether its plea be resolved absolutely into its 
own nature and constitution, or into that respect which it 
hath to another common rule of the minds and conceptions 
of men in and about the worship of God, is not declared : 
nor is it easily discernible, what he allows and approves of 
in his own discourse, and what he introduceth to reflect 


upon, and so reject. Page 5. he tells us, that ' conscience is 
subject and accountable to God alone, that it owns no su- 
perior but the Lord of consciences.' And, p. 7. * That those 
who make it accountable to none but God alone, do in effect 
usurp their prince's crown, defy his authority, and acknow- 
ledge no governor but themselves.' If it be pleaded that in 
the first place, not what is, but what is unduly pretended is 
declared, his words may be as well so expounded in all his 
ascriptions unto magistrates also ; namely, that it is not with 
them as he asserts, but only it is unduly pretended so to be, 
as to any thing that appears in the discourse. The distinct 
consideration of the principles of conscience, and the out- 
ward exercise of it, can alone here give any shew of relief. 
But as no distinction of that nature doth as yet appear, and 
if rested on, ought to have been produced by any one who 
understood himself, and intended not to deceive or entangle 
others, so when it is brought on the stage, its inconsistency 
to serve the end designed shall be evinced. But that a plea 
for the consciences of private men (submitting themselves 
freely and willingly to the supreme power and government of 
magistrates in all things belonging to public peace and tran- 
quillity), to have liberty to express their obedience unto God 
in the exercise of his outward worship, should receive such 
a tragical description of a ' rival supreme power set up 
against the magistrate to the usurpation of his crown and 
dignity,' is a new way of stating controversies whether in 
divinity or policy, which this author judgeth conducing to 
his design and purpose. And I shall say no more but that 
those who delight in such a way of writing, and do receive 
light and satisfaction thereby, do seem to be exercised in a 
logic that I was never acquainted withal, and which I shall 
not now inquire after. 

What seems to be of real difficulty in this matter which 
is so rhetorically exaggerated, our blessed Saviour hath stated 
and determined in one word ; * Give,' saith he, ' unto Caesar 
the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are 
God's ;' and this he did, when he gave his disciples com- 
mand not only to think, judge, and believe according to 
what he should propose and reveal unto them, but also to 
observe and do in outward practices whatever he should 
command them. As he requires all subjection unto the ma- 


gistrate in things of his proper cognizance, that is, all things 
necessary to public peace and tranquillity in this world, the 
great end of his authority ; so he asserts also that there are 
things of God which are to be observed and practised, 
even all and every one of his own commands ; in a neg- 
l-ect whereof, on any pretence or account, we give not unto 
God that which is his. And he doubted not, but that these 
things, these distinct respects to God and man, were exceed- 
ingly well consistent, and together directive to the same 
end of public good. Wherefore passing through the 
flourishes of this frontispiece with the highest unconcern- 
ment, we may enter the fabric itself, where possibly we may 
find him declaring directly what it is that he asserts in this 
matter, and contendeth for; and this he doth, p. 10. 'And 
therefore it is the design of this discourse, by a fair and im- 
partial debate, to compose all these differences, and adj ust all 
these quarrels and contentions, and settle things upon their 
true and proper foundations ; first, by proving it to be abso- 
lutely necessary to the peace and government of the world, 
that the supreme magistrate of every commonwealth should 
be vested with a power to govern and conduct the consciences 
of subjects in affairs of religion.' 

I am sure our author will not be surprised, if after he 
hath reported the whole party whom he opposeth, as a com- 
pany of silly, foolish, illiterate persons, one of them should 
60 far acknowledge his own stupidity, as to profess that, 
after the consideration of this declaration of his intention 
and mind, he is yet to seek for the direct and determinate 
sense of his words, and for the principle that he designs the 
confirmation of. I doubt not but that the magistrate hath 
all that power which is absolutely necessary for the preser- 
vation of public peace and tranquillity in the world ; but if 
men may be allowed to fancy what they please to be neces- 
sary unto that end, and thence to make their own measures 
of that power which is to be ascribed unto him, no man 
knows what bounds will be fixed unto that ocean wherein 
the leviathians they have framed in their imaginations may 
sport themselves. Some will perhaps think it necessary to 
this purpose, that the magistrate should have power to de- 
clare and determine whether there be a God or no; whe- 
ther if there be, it be necessary he should be worshipped or 

VOL. XXI. p 


no ; whether any religion be needful in, or useful to, the 
world; and if there be, then to determine what all subjects 
shall believe and practise from first to last in the whole of 
it. And our author hopes that some are of his mind. 
Others may confine it to lesser things, according as their 
own interest doth call upon them so to do ; though they are 
not able to assign a clear distinction between what is sub- 
jected unto him, and what may plead an exemption from 
his authority. He indeed who is the fountain and original 
of all power, hath both assigned its proper end, and fully 
suited it to the attainment thereof. And if the noise of 
men's lusts, passions, and interests, were but a little si- 
lenced, we should quickly hear the harmonious consenting 
voice of human nature itself, declaring the just proportion 
that is betvi^een the grant of power and its end ; and unde- 
niably express it in all the instances of it. For as the prin- 
ciple of rule and subjection is natural to us, concreated 
with us, and indispensably necessary to human society 
in all the distinctions it is capable of, and the relations 
whence those distinctions arise ; so nature itself, duly at- 
tended unto, will not fail by the reason of things, to direct 
us unto all that is essential unto it, and necessary unto its 
end. Arbitrary fictions of ends of government, and what is 
necessary thereunto, influenced by present interest, and 
arising from circumstances confined to one place, time, or 
nation, are not to be imposed on the nature of government 
itself; which hath nothing belonging unto it but what inse- 
parably accompanieth mankind as sociable. 

But to let this pass ; the authority here particularly 
asserted is a ' power in the supreme magistrate to govern 
and guide the consciences of his subjects in affairs of reli- 
gion.' Let any man duly consider these expressions, and if 
he be satisfied by them as to the sense of the controversy 
under debate, I shall acknowledge that he is wiser than I, 
which is very easy for any one to be. What are the 'affairs of 
religion' here intended, all or some ? Whether in religion, 
or about it; what are the consciences of men, and how ex- 
ercised about these things ; what it is to govern and con- 
duct them ; with what power, by what means this may be 
done ; I am at a loss for aught that yet is here declared. 
There is a guidance, conduct, yea, government of the con- 


sciences of men, by instructions and directions in a due pro- 
posal of rational and spiritual motives for those ends ; such 
as is that which is vested in, and exercised by, the guides of 
the church ; and that in subjection to, and dependance on, 
Christ alone, as hath been hitherto apprehended; though 
some now seem to have a mind to change their master, and to 
take up * prassente Numine' who may be of more advantage 
to them. That the magistrate hath also power so to govern 
and conduct the consciences of his subjects in his way of 
administration, that is by ordering them to be taught, in- 
structed, and guided in their duty, I know none that doth 
deny. So did Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xvii. 7 — 9. But it 
seems to be a government and guidance of another nature 
that is here intended. To deliver ourselves therefore from 
the deceit and entanglement of these general expressions, 
and that we may know what to speak unto, we must seek 
for a declaration of their sense and importance from what 
is elsewhere in their pursuit affirmed and explained by their 

His general assertion is, as was observed, that * the ma- 
gistrate hath power over the consciences of his subjects in 
religion,' as appears in the title of his book ; here, p. 10. that 
power is said to be ' to govern and conduct their con- 
sciences in religious affairs:' p. 13. 'that religion is sub- 
ject to his dominion as well as all other affairs of state :' p. 27. 
* it is a sovereignty over nien's consciences in matters of 
religion, and this universal, absolute, and uncontrollable.' 
Matters of religion are as uncontrollably subject to the su- 
preme power, as all other civil concerns ; ' he may if he 
please reserve the exercise of the priesthood to himself;' 
p. 32. that is, what now in religion corresponds unto the an- 
cient priesthood, as the ordering bishops and priests, admi- 
nistering sacraments and the like ; as the Papists in Queen 
Elizabeth's time did commonly report, in their usual man- 
ner, that it was done by a woman amongst us, by a fiction 
of such principles as begin it seems now to be owned. That 
if this ' power of the government of religion be not univer- 
sal and unlimited it is useless;' p. 35. that this ' power is not 
derived from Christ, nor any grant of his, but is antecedent 
to his coming, or any power given unto him or granted by 
him;' p. 40. ' Magistrates have a power to make that a 



particular of the divine law, which God had not made so ;' 
p. 80. * and to introduce new duties in the most important 
parts of religion. So that there is a public conscience which 
men are in things of a public concern (relating to the wor- 
ship of God) to attend unto and not to their own. And if 
there be any sin in the command, he that imposed it shall 
answer for it, and not I whose whole duty it is to obey ;' 
p. 308. Hence the command of ' authority will warrant obe- 
dience, and obedience will hallow my actions, and excuse 
me from sin ;' ibid. Hence it follows, that whatever the 
magistrate commands in religion, his authority doth so im- 
mediately affect the consciences of men, that they are bound 
to observe it on the pain of the greatest sin and punishment ; 
and he may appoint and command whatever he pleaseth 
in religion, * that doth not either countenance vice, or dis- 
grace the Deity;' p. 85. And many other expressions are 
there of the general assertion before laid down. 

This, therefore, seems to me, and to the most impartial 
considerations of this discourse that I could bring unto it, 
to be the doctrine or opinion proposed and advanced for 
the quieting and composing of the great tumults described 
in its entrance ; namely, that the supreme magistrate in 
every nation hath power to order and appoint what religion 
his subjects shall profess and observe, or what he pleaseth 
in religion as to the worship of God required in it, provided 
that he 'enjoineth nothing that countenance vice, or dis- 
grace the Deity ;' and thereby binds their consciences to 
profess and observe that which is by him so appointed (and 
nothing else are they to observe), making it their duty in 
conscience so to do, and the highest crime or sin to do any 
thing to the contrary ; and that whatever the precise truth in 
these matters be, or whatever be the apprehensions of their 
own consciences concerning them. Now if our author can 
produce any law, usage, or custom of this kingdom, any 
statute or act of parliament, any authentic record, any acts 
or declarations of our kings, any publicly authorized writ- 
ing before or since the reformation, declaring, asserting, or 
otherwise approving the power and authority described to 
belong unto, to be claimed or exercised by, the kings of this 
nation, I will faithfully promise him never to write one word 
against it, although I am sure I shall never be of that mind. 


And if I mistake not in a transient reflection on these prin- 
ciples, compared with those which the church of England 
hath formerly pleaded against them who opposed her con- 
stitutions, they are utterly by them cast out of all conside- 
ration; and this one notion is advanced in the room of all 
the foundations which for so many years her defenders (as 
wise and as learned as this author), have been building upon. 
But this is not my concernment to examine ; I shall leave it 
unto them whose it is, and whose it will be made appear to 
be, if we are again necessitated to engage in this dispute. 

For the present be it granted, that it is the duty, and in 
the power of every supreme magistrate, to order and deter- 
mine what religion, what way, what modes in religion shall 
be allowed, publicly owned and countenanced, and by pub- 
lic revenue maintained in his dominions. That is, this is 
allowed with respect to all pretensions of other sovereigns, 
or of his own subjects ; with respect unto God, it is his truth 
alone, the religion by him revealed, and the worship by him 
appointed, that he can so allow or establish. The rule that 
holds in private persons with respect to the public magis- 
trate, holds in him with respect unto God. 'Illud possumus 
quod jure possumus.' It is also agreed, that no men, no 
individual person, no order or society of men, are either in 
their persons or any of their outward concerns, exempted, or 
may be so on the account of religion, from his power and 
jurisdiction ; nor any causes that are liable unto a legal, poli- 
tical disposal and determination ; it is also freely acknow- 
ledged that whatever such a magistrate doth determine about 
the observances of religion, and under what penalties soever, 
his subjects are bound to observe what he doth so command 
and appoint, unless by general or especial rules their-con- 
sciences are obliged to a dissent or contrary observation by 
the authority of God and his word : in this case they are to 
keep their souls entire in theirspiritual subjection unto God, 
and quietly and peaceably to bear the troubles and incon- 
veniences which on the account thereof may befall them, 
without the least withdrawing of their obedience from the 
magistrate. And in this state of things as there is no neces- 
sity or appearance of it, that any man should be brought 
into such a condition, as wherein sin on the one hand or 
the other cannot be avoided ; so that state of things will 


probably occur in the world, as it hath done in all ages hi- 
therto, that men may be necessitated to sin or suffer. 

To wind up the state of this controversy, we say, that 
antecedent to the consideration of the power of the magis- 
trate, and all the influence that it hath upon men or their 
consciences, there is a superior determination of what is 
true, what false in religion, what right and what wrong in 
the worship of God, wherein the guidance of the consciences 
of men doth principally depend, and whereinto it was ulti- 
mately resolved. This gives an obligation or liberty unto 
thera, antecedent unto the imposition of the magistrate, of 
whose command, and our actual obedience unto them in these 
things, it is the rule and measure. And I think there is no 
principle, no common presumption of nature, nor dictate of 
reason more evident, known, or confessed than this, that 
whatever God commands us in his worship or otherwise, 
that we are to do ; and whatever he forbids us, that we are 
not to do, be the things themselves in our eye great or small. 
Neither is there any difference in these things with re- 
spect unto the way or manner of the declaration of the will 
of God; whether it be by innate common light, or by revela- 
tion, all is one ; the authority and will of God in all is to be 
observed. Yea, a command of God made known by revela- 
tion (the way which is most contended about), may suspend, 
as to any particular instance, the greatest command that we 
are obliged unto by the law of nature in reference unto one 
another, as it did in the precept given to Abraham for the 
sacrificing of his son. And we shall find our author himself 
setting up the supremacy of conscience in opposition unto, 
and competition with, that of the magistrate (though with 
no great self-consistency) ascribing the pre-eminence and 
prevalency in obligation unto that of conscience, and that 
in the principal and most important duties of religion and 
human life. Such are all those moral virtues which have in 
their nature a resemblance of the divine perfections, wherein 
he placeth the substance of religion; with respect unto 
these, he so setteth up the throne of conscience as to affirm, 
that if any thing be commanded by the magistrate against 
them, to disobey him is no sin,but a duty ; and we shall find 
the case to be the same in matters of mere revelation. For 
what God commands that he commands, by what way soever 


that command be made known to us. And there is no con- 
sideration that can add any thing to the obligatory power 
and efficacy of infinite authority. So that where the will of 
God is the formal reason of our obedience, it is all one how 
or by what means it is discovered unto us. Whatever we 
are instructed in by innate reason or by revelation, the rea- 
son why we are bound by it is neither the one nor the other, 
but the authority of God in both. 

But we must return unto the consideration of the senti- 
ments of our author in this matter as before laid down. The 
authority ascribed to the civil magistrate being as hath been 
expressed ; it will be very hard for any one to distinguish 
between it and the sovereignty that the Lord Christ himself 
hath in and over his church ; yea, if there be any advantage 
on either side, or a comparative pre-eminence, it will be 
found to be cast upon that of the magistrate. Is the Lord 
Christ the Lord of the souls and consciences of men? Hath 
he dominion over them to rule them in the things of the 
worship of God ? It is so with the magistrates also ; he 
hath a universal power over the consciences of his sub- 
jects. Doth the Lord Christ require his disciples to do and 
observe in the worship of God whatever he commanded 
them ? So also may the magistrate, the rule and conduct 
of conscience in these matters belonging unto him ; pro- 
vided that he command nothing that may countenance vice, 
or disgrace the Deity ; which, with reverence be it spoken, 
our Lord Jesus Christ himself, not only on the account of 
the perfection and rectitude of his own nature, but also of 
his commission from the Father, could not do. Is the autho- 
rity of Christ the formal reason making obedience necessary 
to his commands and precepts ? So is the authority of the 
magistrate in reference unto what he requires. Do men 
therefore sin if they neglect the observance of the commands 
of Christ in the worship of God, because of his immediate 
authority so to command them binding their consciences ? 
So do men sin if they omit or neglect to do what the magis- 
trate requires in the worship of God because of his authority, 
without any farther respect. Hath the Lord Christ insti- 
tuted two sacraments in the worship of God, that is outward 
visible signs, or symbols, of inward invisible or spiritual 
grace ? The magistrate if he please may institute and appoint 


twenty under the names of significant ceremonies ; that is 
' outward visible signs of inward spiritual grace/ which 
alone is the significancy contended about. Hath the ma- 
gistrate this his authority in and over religion and the con- 
sciences of men from Jesus Christ? No more than Christ 
hath his authority from the magistrate; for he holds it by 
the law of nature antecedent to the promise and coming of 
Christ. Might Christ in his own person administer the 
holy things of the church of God ? Not in the church of the 
Jews, for he ' sprang of the tribe of Judah, concerning which 
nothing was spoken as to the priesthood ;' only he might in 
that of the gospel, but hath judged meet to commit the 
actual administration of them to others. So it is with the 
magistrate also. Thus far then Christ and the magistrate 
seem to stand on even or equal terms; but there are two 
things remaining that absolutely turn the scale and cast the 
advantage on the magistrate's side. For, first. Men may do 
and practise many things in the worship of God which the 
Lord Christ hath nowhere, nor by any means required ; yea, 
to think that his word, or the revelation of his mind and will 
therein, is the sole and adequate rule of religious worship, 
is reported as an opinion foolish, absurd, and impious, 
and destructive of all government. If this be not supposed, 
not only the whole design of our author in this book 
is defeated, but our whole controversy also is composed 
and at an end. But on the other hand, no man must do 
or practise any thing in that way, but what is prescribed, 
appointed, and commanded by the magistrate, upon pain of 
sin, schism, rebellion, and all that follows thereon. To 
leave this unasserted is all that the nonconformists would 
desire in order unto peace. Comprehension and indulgence 
would ensue thereon. Here I think the magistrate hath the 
advantage. But that which follows will make it yet more 
evident ; for secondly, Suppose the magistrate require any 
thing to be done and observed in the worship of God, and 
the Lord Christ require the quite contrary in a man's own ap- 
prehension, so that he is as well satisfied in his apprehension 
of his mind as he can be of any thing that is proposed to 
his faith and conscience in the word of God ; in this case 
he is to obey magistrate, and not Christ, as far as I can 
learn ; unless all confusion and disorder be admitted an 


entrance into the world. Yea, but this seems directly con- 
trary to that rule of the apostles, which hath such an evi- 
dence and power of rational conviction attending it, that 
they refer it to the judgment of their adversaries, and those 
persons of as perverse corrupt minds and prejudicate en 
gageraents against them and their cause, as ever lived in 
the world ; namely, * Whether it be meet to obey God or 
man, judge ye.' But we are told, that 'this holds only in 
greater matters ;' the logic (by the way) of which distinction, 
is as strange as its divinity. For if the formal reason of the 
difference intimated, arise from the comparison between the 
authority of God and man, it holds equally as to all things 
small or great that they may be oppositely concerned in. 
Besides, who shall judge what is small, or what is great, in 
things of this nature ? * Cave ne titubes.' Grant but the 
least judgment to private men themselves in this matter, and 
the whole fabric tumbles ; if the magistrate be judge of what 
is great and of what is little, we are still where we were 
without hopes of delivery. And this to me is a notable in- 
stance of the pre-eminence of the magistrate above Christ in 
this matter. Some of the old Irish have a proverbial speech 
amongst them, * That if Christ had not been Christ when he 
was Christ, Patrick had been Christ ;' but it seems now that 
taking it for granted that he was Christ, yet we have another 
that is so also ; that is lord over the souls and consciences of 
men ; and what can be said more of him, ' who sits in the 
temple of God, and shews himself to be God V 

As we formerly said, nonconformists who are unac- 
quainted with the mysteries of things of this nature, must 
needs desire to know whether these be the avowed principles 
of the church of England, or whether they are only inventions 
to serve a present turn of the pursuit of some men's designs. 
Are all the old pleas of the * jus divinum' of episcopacy, of 
example and direction apostolical, of a parity of reason 
between the condition of the church whilst under extraordi- 
nary officers, and whilst under ordinary ; of the power of the 
church to appoint ceremonies for decency and order, of the 
consistency of Christian liberty with the necessary practice 
of indifferent things, of the pattern of the churches of old, 
which (whether duly or otherwise we do not now determine) 
have been insisted on in this cause, swallowed all up in this 


abyss of magistratical omnipotency, which plainly renders 
them useless and unprofitable ? How unhappy hath it been 
that the Christian world was not sooner blessed with this 
great discovery of the only way and means of putting a 
final end unto all religious contests ? That he should not 
until now appear, 

Qui genus humaiium ingenio superavit, et otnnes 
Preestrinxit stellas, exortus ut aetherius sol. 

But every age produceth not a Columbus. Many indeed 
have been the disputes of learned men about the power of 
magistrates in and concerning religion. With us it is stated 
in the recorded actings of our sovereign princes, in the 
oath of supremacy, and the acts of parliament concerning 
it, with other authentic writings explanatory thereof. Some 
have denied him any concern herein ; our author is none of 
them ; but rather like the phrenetic gentleman who, when he 
was accused in former days for denying the corporeal pre- 
sence of Christ in the sacrament, replied in his own de- 
fence, that he ' believed him to be present booted and 
spurred as he rode to Capernaum.' He hath brought him 
in booted and spurred, yea, armed cap-a-pie into the church 
of God, and given all power into his hands to dispose of the 
worship of God according to his own will and pleasure. And 
that not with respect unto outward order only, but with 
direct obligation upon the consciences of men. 

But doubtless it is the wisdom of sovereign princes to 
beware of this sort of enemies ; persons who to promote 
their own interest make ascriptions of such things unto 
them, as they cannot accept of without the utmost hazard 
of the displeasure of God. Is it meet that to satisfy the 
desires of any, they should invade the prerogative of God, 
or set themselves down at his right hand in the throne of 
his only-begotten son ? I confess they are no way concerned 
in what others for their advantage' sake, as they suppose, 
will ascribe unto them, which they may sufficiently disown 
by scorn and silence. Nor can their sin involve them in 
any guilt. It was not the vain acclamation of the multitude 
unto Herod, * the voice of God and not of man,' but his own 
arrogant satisfaction in that blasphemous assignation of 
divine glory to him, that exposed him to the judgments 
and vengeance of God. When the princes of Israel found 


by the answer of the Reubenites that they had not trans- 
gressed against the law of God's worship, in adding unto it 
or altering of it, which they knew would have been a provo- 
cation not to have been passed over without a recompense 
of revenge ; they replied unto them, 'Now have you delivered 
the children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord ;' and it is 
to be desired that all the princes of the Israel of God in the 
world, all Christian potentates, would diligently watch 
against giving admission unto any such insinuations as 
would deliver them into the hand of the Lord. 

For my own part, such is my ignorance, that I know 
not that any magistrate from the foundation of the world, 
unless it were Nebuchadnezzar, Caius Caligula, Domitian, 
and persons like to them, ever claimed or pretended to ex- 
ercise the power here assigned unto them. The instances 
of the laws and edicts of Constantino in the matters of reli- 
gion and the worship of God, of Theodosius and Gratian, 
Arcadius, Martian, and other emperors of the east remain- 
ing in the Code and Novels ; the capitular of the western 
emperors, and laws of Gothish kings, the right of ecclesi- 
astical jurisdiction inherent in the imperial crown of this 
nation, and occasionally exercised in all ages, are of no con- 
cernment in this matter. For no man denies but that it is 
the duty of the supreme magistrate to protect and farther 
the true religion and right worship of God, by all ways and 
means suited and appointed of God thereunto. To encou- 
rage the professors thereof, to protect them from wrong and 
violence, to secure them in the performance of their duties, 
is doubtless incumbent on them. Whatever under pretence 
of religion brings actual disturbance unto the peace of man- 
kind, they may coerce and restrain. When religion, as es- 
tablished in any nation by law, doth or may interest the 
professors of it, or guides in it, in any privileges, advantages, 
or secular emoluments, which are subject and liable, as 
all human concerns, to doubts, controversies, and litigious 
contests in their security and disposal, all these things de- 
pend merely and solely on the power of the magistrate, by 
whose authority they are originally granted, and by whose 
jvirisdictive power both the persons vested Avith them, and 
themselves are disposable. But for an absolute power over 
the consciences of men to bind or oblige them formally 


thereby, to do whatever they shall require in the worship of 
God, so as to make it their sin deserving eternal damnation 
not so to do, without any consideration whether the things 
are true or false, according to the mind of God, or otherwise, 
yea, though they are apprehended by them who are so obliged 
to practise them to be contrary to the will of God, that 
this hath hitherto been claimed by any magistrate, unless 
such as those before mentioned, I am yet to seek. And the 
case is the same with respect unto them who are not satis- 
fied that what is so prescribed unto them will be accepted 
with God. For whereas in all that men do in the worship 
of God, they ought to be fully persuaded of its acceptable- 
ness to God in their own minds, seeing 'whatever is not of 
faith is sin ;' he that doubteth is in a very little better capa- 
city to serve God on such injunctions, than he who appre- 
hendeth them to be directly contrary to his mind. 

If an edict were drawn up for the settlement of religion 
and religious worship in any Christian nation, according to 
the principles and directions before laid down, it may be 
there would be no great strife in the world by whom it 
should be first owned and espoused. For it must be of this 

' Whereas we have a universal and absolute power over 
the consciences of all our subjects in things appertaining 
to the worship of God ; so that if we please we can intro- 
duce new duties, never yet heard of, in the most important 
parts of religion, (p. 80.) and may impose on them in the 
practice of religion and divine worship what we please; so 
that in our judgment it doth not countenance vice, nor dis- 
grace the Deity, (p. 85.) and whereas this power is natu- 
rally inherent in us, not given or granted unto us by Jesus 
Christ, but belonged to us, or our predecessors before ever 
he was born, nor is expressed in the Scripture, but rather 
supposed ; and this being such as that we ourselves 
if we would, whether we be man or woman' (here France 
must be excepted by virtue of the Salique law, though 
the whole project be principally calculated for that me- 
ridian), * might exercise the special offices and duties of 
religion in our own person, especially that of the priesthood, 
though we are pleased to transfer the exercise of it unto 
others ; and whereas all our prescriptions, impositions, and 


injunctions, in these things, do immediately affect and bind 
the consciences of our subjects because they are ours, whe- 
ther they be right or wrong, true or false, so long as in our 
judgment they neither, as was said, countenance vice nor 
disgrace the Deity, we do enact and ordain as foUoweth.' 

(Here, if you please, you may intersert the scheme of 
religion given us by our author in his second chapter, and 
add unto it, * that because sacrifices were a way found out 
by honest men of old, to express their gratitude unto God 
thereby, so great and necessary a part of our religious duty ; 
it be enjoined that the use of them be again revived; seeing 
there is nothing in them that offends against the bounds pre- 
scribed to the power to be expressed ; and that men in all 
places do offer up bulls and goats, sheep and fowls, to God;' 
with as many other institutions of the like nature, as shall 
be thought meet.) Hereunto add, 

' Now our express will and pleasure is, that every man 
may, and do think and judge what he pleaseth concerning 
the things enjoined and enacted by us ; for what have we to 
do with their thoughts and judgments? they are under the 
€mpire and dominion of conscience, which we cannot invade 
if we would ; they may if they please judge them inconve- 
nient, foolish, absurd, yea, contrary to the mind, will, and 
law of God : our only intention, will, and pleasure is, to bind 
them to the constant observation and practice of them, and 
that under the penalties of hanging and damnation.' 

I know not any expression in such an impious and fu- 
tilous edict, that may not be warranted out of the principles 
of this discourse ; the main parts of it being composed 
out of the words and phrases of it, and those used, to the 
best of my understanding, in the sense fixed to them by our 

Now, as was said before, I suppose Christian princes 
will not be earnest in their contests, who shall first own the 
authority intimated, and express it in a suitable exercise. 
And if any one of them should put forth his hand unto it, he 
will find that 

Furiarum maxima juxta 

Accubat, et manibus prohibet contingere mensas. 

There is one who lays an antecedent claim to a sole interest 
in this power, and that bottomed on other manner of preten- 


sions than any as yet have been pleaded in their behalf. For 
the power and authority here ascribed unto princes, is none 
other but that which is claimed by the pope of Rome with 
some few enlargements, and appropriated unto him by his 
canonists and courtiers. Only here the old gentleman (as he 
is called by our author) hath the advantage ; that beside the 
precedency of his claim, it being entered on record at least 
six or seven hundred years before any proctor or advocate 
appeared in the behalf of princes, he hath forestalled them 
all in the pretence of infallibility ; which doubtless is a mat- 
ter of singular use in the exercise of the power contended 
about. For some men are so peevish as to think that thus 
to deal with religion and the consciences of men, belongs to 
none but him, who is absolutely, yea, essentially so, that is 
infallible. For as we have now often said (as contrary to 
their design men in haste oftentimes speak the same things 
over and over) as to all ecclesiastical jurisdiction over per- 
sons and causes ecclesiastical, and the sovereign disposal of 
all the civil and political concernments of religion which is 
vested in the imperial crown of this nation, and by sundry 
acts of parliament is declared so to be, I shall be always 
ready to plead the right of our kings, and all Christian kings 
whatever, against the absurd pleas and pretences of the pope ; 
so as to this controversy between him and such princes as 
shall think meet to contend with him about it, concerning 
the power over the consciences of men before described, I 
shall not interpose myself in the scuffle ; as being fully sa- 
tisfied they are contending about that which belongs to 
neither of them. 

But what reason is there, why this power should not be 
extended unto the inward thoughts and apprehensions of men 
about the worship of God, as well as the expression of them 
in pure spiritual acts of that worship ? The power asserted 
I presume will be acknowledged to be from God; though I 
can scarce meet with the communication and derivation of it 
from him in this discourse. But whereas, it is granted on 
all hands, that ' the powers that be are of God,' and that none 
can have authority over another, unless it be originally 
given him from above ; I desire to be informed why the other 
part of the power mentioned, namely, over the thoughts, 
judgments, and apprehensions of men in the things of the 


worship of God, should not be invested in the magistrate 
also ; that so he having declared what is to be believed, 
thought, and judged in such things, all men shouldbe obliged 
so to believe, think, and judge ; for this power God can give, 
and hath given it unto Jesus Christ. I presume it will be 
said, that this was no way needful for the preservation of 
peace in human society, which is the end for which all this 
power is vested in the magistrate. For let men believe, 
think, and judge what they please, so long as their outward 
actings are, or may be overruled, there is no danger of any 
public disturbance. But this seems to be a mighty uneasy 
condition for mankind ; namely, to live continually in a con- 
tradiction between their judgments and their practices, 
which in this case is allowed to be incident unto them. 
Constantly to judge one way best and most according to the 
mind of God in his worship, and constantly to practise 
another, will, it is to be feared, prove like the conflicting 
of vehement vapours with their contrary qualities, that 
at one time or other will produce an earthquake. How 
then if men, weary of this perplexing distorting condition of 
things in their minds, should be provoked to run to excesses 
and inordinate courses for their freedom and rest, such as our 
author excellently displays in all their hideous colours and 
appearances, and which are really pernicious to human 
policy and society? Were it not much better that all these 
inconveniences had been prevented in the first instance, by 
taking care that the faith, thoughts, persuasions, and judg- 
ments of all subjects about the things of God, should be 
absolutely bound up unto the declared conceptions of their 
rulers in these matters ? Let it not be pretended that this 
is impossible, and contrary to the natural liberty of the minds 
of men, as rational creatures guiding and determining them- 
selves according to their own reason of things and under- 
standings. For do but fix the declared will of the ruler, in 
the room and place of divine revelation (which is no hard 
matter to do, which some actually do universally, and our au- 
thor as to a great share and proportion), and the obligation 
sought after to prevent all inconveniences in government, falls 
as full and directly upon the minds, thoughts, and judgments 
of men, as upon any of their outward actions. And this, 
for the substance of it, is now pleaded for ; seeing it is pre- 


tended that in all things dubious, where men cannot satisfy 
themselves that it is the will of God that they should do a 
thing or no, the declaration of the magistrate determines not 
only their practice, but their judgment also, and gives them 
that full persusion of their minds which is indispensably 
required unto their acting in such things ; and that faith 
which frees them from sin j * for he that doubteth,is damned 
if he eat.' 

But it will be said, that there will be no need hereof; 
for let men think and judge what they please, whilst they are 
convinced and satisfied that it is their duty not to practise 
any thing outwardly in religion but what is prescribed by 
their rulers, it is not possible that any public evil should 
ensue upon their mental conceptions only. We observed be- 
fore, that the condition described is exceedingly uneasy ; 
which I suppose will not be denied by men who have seri- 
ously considered, what it is either to judge or practise any 
thing that lies before them with reference unto the judgment 
of God. And that which should tie men up to rest perpetu- 
ally in such a restless state, is as it seems a mere conviction 
of their duty. They ought to be, and are supposed to be, 
convinced that it is their duty to maintain the liberty of 
their minds and judgments, but to submit in their outward 
practice universally to the laws of men that are over them. 
And this sense and conviction of duty, is a sufficient secu- 
rity unto public tranquillity, in all that contrariety and oppo- 
sion of sentiments unto established religion and forms of 
worship that may be imagined. But if this be so, why will 
not the same conviction and sense of duty restrain them, 
who do peaceably exercise the worship of God according to 
the light and dictates of their consciences, from any actings 
whatever that may tend to the disturbance of the public 
peace ? Duty, nakedly considered, is even as such, the 
greatest obligation on the minds of men; and the great se- 
curity of others in their actings ariseth from thence. But 
the more it is influenced and advantaged by outward con- 
siderations, the less it is assaulted and opposed by things 
grievous and perplexing in the way of the discharge of it, 
the more efficacious will be its operations on the minds of 
men, and the firmer will be the security unto others that 
thence ariseth. Now these advantages lie absolutely on the 


part of them who practise, or are allowed so to do, accord- 
ing to their own light and persuasion in the worship of God, 
wherein they are at rest and full satisfaction of mind ; and 
not on theirs who all their days are bound up to a perverse 
distorted posture of mind and soul, in judging one thing to be 
best and most pleasing unto God, and practising of the con- 
trary. Such a one is the man that of all others rulers have 
need, I think, to be most jealous of. For what security can 
be had of him, who hath inured himself unto a continual 
contradiction between his faith and his practice? For my 
part, I should either expect no other measure from him in 
any other thing, nor ever judge that his profession and ways 
of actings are any sufficient indications of his mind (which 
takes away all security from mankind), or fear that his con- 
victions of light and knowledge, as he apprehends, would 
r.t one time or other precipitate him into attempts of irregu- 
larity and violence for his own relief. 

Hie niger est, hunc tu Romanecaveto. 

It will be said, perhaps, that we need not look farther 
for the disturbance of public peace, from them who practise 
outwardly any thing in the worship of God, but what is pre- 
scribed, established, and enjoined ; seeing that every such 
practice is such a dist^irbance itself. I say this pretence is 
miserably ridiculous and contemptible, and contrary to the 
common experience of mankind. If this were so, the whole 
world for three hundred years lived in one continual dis- 
turbance and tumult upon the account of Christian religion, 
whose professors constantly practised and performed that in 
the worship of God, which was so far from being established 
or approved by public authority, that it was proscribed and 
condemned under penalties of all sorts, pecuniary, corporeal, 
and sanguinary or capital. But we see no such matter 
ensued, nor the least disquietment unto the world, but 
what was given unto it by the rage of bloody persecutors, 
that introduced the first convulsions into the Roman em- 
pire, which were never well quieted, but ended in its 
dissolution. The experience also of the present and next 
preceding ages, casts this frivolous exception out of con- 
sideration. And as such a practice, even against legal 
prohibitions, though it be by the transgression of a penal 
law, is yet in itself and just consequence remote enough 



from any disturbance of government (unless we should 
suppose that every non-observance of a penal statute inva- 
lidates the government of a nation, which were to fix it upon 
such a foundation, as will not afford it the steadiness of a 
weathercock) ; so being allowed by way of exemption, it 
contains no invasion upon, or intrusion into, the rights of 
others ; but being accompaniedwith the abridgment of the 
privileges of none, or the neglect of any duty required to 
the good of the commonwealth, it is as consistent with, and 
may be as conducing to, public good and tranquillity, as any 
order of religious things in the world, as shall be elsewhere 

It remains, therefore, that the only answer to this consi- 
deration is, that men who plead for indulgence and liberty 
of conscience in the worship of God according to his word, 
and the light which he hath given them therein, have indeed 
no conscience at all, and so are not to be believed as to what 
they profess against sinister and evil practices. This flail 
I know no fence against, but this only, that they have as 
good and better grounds to suspect him to have no con- 
science at all, who upon unjust surmises shall so injuriously 
charge them, as finding him in a direct transgression of the 
principal rules that conscience is to be guided and directed 
by, than he hath to pronounce such a judgment concerning 
them and their sincerty in what they profess. And whether 
such mutual censures tend not to the utter overthrow of 
all peace, love, and security amongst mankind, is easy to de- 
termine. Certainly it is the worst game in the world for the 
public, to have men bandying suspicions one against an- 
other; and thereon managing mutual charges of all that 
they do surmise, or what else they please to give the coun- 
tenance of surmise unto. 

I acknowledge the notion insisted on, namely, * that 
whilst men reserve to themselves the freedom and liberty 
of judging what they please, or what seems good unto them 
in matters of religion and the worship of God, they ought to 
esteem it their duty to practise in all things according to 
the prescription of their rulers, though every way contrary 
unto, and inconsistent with, their own judgments and per- 
suasions, unless it be in things that countenance vice or 
disgrace the Deity' (whereof yet it may be, it will not be 


thought meet that they themselves should judge for them- 
selves and their own practice, seeing they may extend their 
conceptions about what doth so unto such minute instances 
as would frustrate the whole design), is exceedingly accom- 
modated to the corrupt lusts and affections of men, and 
suited to make provision for their security in this world, by 
an exemption from the indispensable command of professing 
the truth communicated and known unto them ; a sense of 
the obligation whereof, hath hitherto exposed innumerable 
persons in all ages to great difficulties, dangers, and suffer- 
ings, yea, to death, the height and sum of all. For whereas 
men have been persuaded that * with the heart man believeth 
unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made 
unto salvation ;' the latter clause is in many cases he^reby 
sufficiently superseded ; and the troublesome duty seeming 
to be required in it, is removed out of the way. It will not, 
it may be, be so easy to prove that in the religion of the 
Mahometans there is any thing enjoined in practice, that 
will directly fall under the limitations assigned unto the 
compliance with the commands of superiors contended 
for. And therefore let a man but retain his own apprehen- 
sions concerning Jesus Christ and the gospel, it may be 
lawful for him, yea, be his duty, to observe the worship en- 
joined by the law of Mahomet, if his lot fall to live under 
the power of the Grand Seignior, or any sovereign prince 
of the same persuasion. But the case is clear in the religion 
of the Papists, which is under the protection of the greatest 
number of supreme magistrates in Europe. It will not be 
pretended, I suppose, by our author, that there is any thing 
in the confession of the church of Rome, or imposed by it 
on the practices of men, that directly gives countenance 
unto any immorality, especially as the sense of that term is 
by him stated ; and it is no easy matter for ordinary men to 
prove and satisfy themselves, that there is aught in their 
modes of worship of such a tendency, as to cast disgrace 
upon the Deity ; especially considering with how much 
learning and diligence the charge of any such miscarriage is 
endeavoured to be answered and removed ; all which pleas 
ought to be satisfied, before a man can make sedately a de- 
terminate judgment of the contrary. Let then men's judg- 
ments be what they will in the matters of difference between 



Protestants and Papists, it is on this hypothesis, the duty of 
all that live under the dominion of sovereign popish princes, 
outwardly to comply with and practise that religious wor- 
ship that is commanded by them and enjoined. The case is 
the same also as to the religion of the Jews. Now as this 
casts a reflection of incredible folly and unexpiable guilt 
upon all Protestant martyrs, in casting away their own lives, 
and disobeying the commands of their lawful sovereigns, 
so it exposeth all the Protestants in the world, who are still 
in the same condition of subjection, to the severe censures 
of impiety and rebellion ; and must needs exasperate their 
rulers to pursue them to destruction, under pretence of un- 
warrantable obstinacy in them. For if we wholly take off 
the protection of conscience in this matter, and its subjec- 
tion to the authority of God alone, there is no plea left to 
excuse dissenting Protestants from the guilt of such crimes, 
as may make men justly cry out against them as the Jews 
did against St Paul, ' Away with them, away with them, it 
is not meet that such fellows should live ;' or, ' Protestantes 
ad leones,' according to the old cry of the pagans against 
the primitive Christians. But if this should prove to be a 
way of teaching and justifying the grossest hypocrisy and 
dissimulation that the nature of man is capable of, a means 
to cast off all regard unto the authority of God over the 
ways and lives of men, all the rhetoric in the world shall 
never persuade me that God hath so moulded and framed 
the order and state of human affairs, that it should be any 
way needful to the preservation of public peace and tran- 
quillity. Openness, plainness of heart, sincerity in our ac- 
tions and professions, generous honesty, and a universal 
respect in all things to the supreme rector of all, the great 
possessor of heaven and earth, with an endeavour to comply 
with his present revealed mind and future judgment, are far 
better foundations for, and ligaments of, public peace and 
quietness. To make this the foundation of our political 
superstructure, that * divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar 
habet,' God hath immediate and sole power over the minds 
and inward thoughts of men ; but the magistrate over the 
exercise of those thoughts in things especially belonging to 
the worship of God, and in the same instances, seems not 
to prognosticate a stable or durable building. The prophet 


was not of that mind of old, who in the name of God blamed 
the people for willingly walking after the commandment of 
their ruler, in concerns of worship not warranted by divine 
appointment ; nor was Daniel so, who, notwithstanding the 
severe prohibition made against his praying in his house, 
continued to do so three times a day. ■ 

But, besides all this, I do not see how this hypothesis is 
necessarily subservient to the principal design of the author, 
but it may be as well improved to quite distant, yea, con- 
trary ends and purposes. His design plainly is to have one 
fabric of religion erected, one form of external worship en- 
acted and prescribed, which all men should be compelled by 
penalties to the outward profession and observance of ; these 
penalties he would have to be such as should not fail of 
their end, namely, of taking away all professed dissent from 
his religious establishment; which if it cannot be effected 
without the destruction and death of multitudes, they also 
are not to be forborne. Now how this ensues from the fore- 
mentioned principle I know not. For a supreme magistrate, 
finding that the minds of very many of his subjects are in 
their judgments and persuasions engaged in a dissent unto 
the religion established by him, or somewhat in it, or some 
part of it, especially in things of practical worship, though 
he should be persuaded that he hath so far a power over 
their consciences as to command them to practise contrary 
to their judgment, yet knowing their minds and persuasions 
to be out of his reach and exempted from his jurisdiction, 
why may he not think it meet and conducing to public tran- 
quillity and all the ends of his government, even the good of 
the whole community committed to his charge, rather to 
indulge them in the quiet and peaceable exercise of the 
worship of God according to their own light, than always to 
bind them up unto that unavoidable disquietment which will 
ensue upon the conflict in their minds between their judg- 
ments and their practices, if he should oblige them as is 
desired. Certainly, as in truth and reality, so according to 
this principle he hath power so to do. For to fancy him 
such a power over the religion and consciences of his sub- 
jects, as that he should be inevitably bound on all occur- 
rences and in all conditions of affairs, to impose upon them 
the necessary observation of one form of worship, is that 


which would quickly expose him to inextricable troubles. 
And instances of all sorts might be multiplied to shew the 
ridiculous folly of such a conception. Nay, it implies a per- 
fect contradiction to what is disputed before. For if he be 
obliged to settle and impose such a form on all, it must be 
because there was a necessity of somewhat antecedent to 
his imposition, whence his obligation to impose it did arise. 
And on such a supposition it is in vain to inquire after his 
liberty or his power in these things, seeing by his duty he 
is absolutely determined, and whatever that be which doth 
so determine him and put an obligation upon him, it doth 
indispensably do the same on his subjects also ; which as it 
is known utterly excludes the authority pleaded for. 

This principle, therefore, indeed asserts his liberty to do 
what he judgeth meet in these matters, but contains nothing 
in it to oblige him to judge, that it may not be meet and 
most conducing unto all the ends of his government to in- 
dulge unto the consciences of men peaceable (especially if 
complying with him in all the fundamentals of the religion 
which himself professeth), the liberty of worshipping God 
according to what they apprehend of his own mind and will. 
And let an application of this principle be made to the pre- 
sent state of this nation, wherein there are so great multi- 
tudes of persons peaceable and not unuseful unto public 
good, who dissent from the present establishment of out- 
ward worship,andhaveitnot in their power either to change 
their judgments or to practise contrary unto them ; and as 
it is in the power of the supreme magistrate to indulge them 
in their own way, so it will prove to be his interest as he is 
the spring and centre of public peace and prosperity. 

Neither doth it appear that in this discourse our author 
hath had any regard either to the real principles of the 
power of the magistrate as stated in this nation, or to his 
own, which are fictitious ; but yet such as ought to be obliga- 
tory to himself; his principal assertion is, that ' the supreme 
magistrate hath power to bind the consciences of men in 
matters of religion,' that is, bylaws and edicts to that pur- 
pose. Now the highest and most obligatory way of the su- 
preme magistrate's speaking in England, is by acts of parlia- 
ment ; it is therefore supposed that what is so declared in 
or about matters of religion, should be obligatory to the 


conscience of this author ; but yet quite otherwise, p. 59. 
He sets himself to oppose and condemn a pubhc law of the 
land, on no other ground than because it stood in his way, 
and seemed incompliant with his principles. For whereas 
the law of 2 and 3 Edw.VI. which appointed two weekly days 
for abstinence from flesh, had been amongst other reasons 
prefaced with this, 'That the king's subjects having now a 
more clear light of the gospel through the infinite mercy of 
God' (such canting language was then therein used), ' and 
thereby the king's majesty perceiving that one meat of itself 
was not more holy than another, &c. yet considering that 
due abstinence was a means to virtue, and to subdue men's 
bodies to their souls and spirits,' 8tc. And it being after 
found (it should seem by a farther degree of light) that 
those expressions, meeting with the inveterate opinions of 
some, newly brought out of popery, had given countenance 
to them to teach or declare that something of religion was 
placed therein ; thereon, by the law made 5 Eliz. adding 
another weekly day to be kept with the former for the same 
purpose, the former clause was omitted, and mention only 
made therein of the civil and politic reasons inducing the 
legislators thereunto ; and withal a penalty of inflicting pu- 
nishment on those who should afSrm and maintain that there 
was any concernment of conscience and religion in that 
matter. This provision hath so distasted our author, that 
forgetting it seems his own design, he reproaches it with the 
title of 'jejunium cecilianum ;' and thinks it so far from oblig- 
ing his conscience to acquiesce in the determination therein 
made, that he will not allow it to give law to his tongue or 
pen ; but (' vexet censura columbas') it seems they are the 
fanatics only that are thus to be restrained. 

Moreover, on occasion hereof, we might manifest how 
some other laws of this land do seem carefully to avoid that 
imposition on conscience, which against law and reason he 
pleadeth for ; for instance, in that of 21 Jac. touching 
usury, and the restraint of it unto the sum therein esta- 
blished, it was provided, ' that no words in this act contained 
shall be construed or expounded to allow the practice of 
usury in point of religion and conscience.' And why did 
not the supreme magistrate in that law determine and bind 
the consciences of men, by a declaration of their duty in a 


point of religion ; seeing whether way soever the determi- 
nation had been made, neither would immorality have been 
countenanced, nor the Deity disgraced ? But plainly it is 
rather declared, that he hath not cognizance of such things 
with reference to the consciences of men to oblige them, or 
set them at liberty, but only power to determine what may 
be practised in order to public profit and peace. And there- 
fore the law would neither bind, nor set at liberty the con- 
sciences of men in such cases, which is a work for the su- 
preme lawgiver only. 

Neither, as it hath been before observed, do the princi- 
ples here asserted and contended for, either express or re- 
present the supremacy of the kings of this nation in matters 
ecclesiastical, as it is stated and determined by themselves 
in parliament ; but rather so, as to give great offence and 
scandal to the religion here professed and advantage to the 
adversaries thereof; for after there appeared some ambiguity 
in those words of the oath enacted 1 Eliz. of 'testifying the 
queen to be supreme governor as well in all spiritual or 
ecclesiastical things or causes, as in temporal ;' and many 
doubts and scruples ensued thereon, as though there were 
assigned to her a power over the consciences of her subjects 
in spiritual things, or that she had a power herself to 
order and administer spiritual things ; in 5 Eliz. it is en- 
acted by way of explanation, that the oaths aforesaid shall 
be expounded in such form as is set forth in the admonition 
annexed to the queen's injunctions, published in the first 
year of her reign, where disclaiming the power of the mi- 
nistry of divine offices in the church, or the power of the 
priesthood here by our author afiixed to the supreme ma- 
gistrate, her power and authority is declared to be a sove- 
reignty over all manner of persons born within this realm, 
whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal, so that no foreign 
power hath, or ought to have, any superiority over them; and 
so is this supremacy stated in the articles, anno 1562, namely, 
an authority to rule all estates and degrees committed to the 
charge of the supreme magistrate by God, whether they be 
ecclesiastical or temporal, and to restrain the stubborn or 
evil-doers. Of the things contended for by our author, the 
authority of the priesthood, and power over the consciences 
of men in matters of religion, there is not one word in our 


laws, but rather they are both of them rejected and con- 

I have yet laid the least part of that load upon this prin- 
ciple, which if it be farther pressed it must expect to be 
burdened withal, and that from the common suffrage of 
Christians in all ages. But yet that I may not transgress 
against the design of this short and hasty discourse, I shall 
proceed no farther in the pursuit of it; but take a little sur- 
vey of what is here pleaded in its defence. Now this is un- 
dertaken and pursued in the first chapter, with the two next 
ensuing, where an end is put to this plea. For if I under- 
stand any thing of his words and expressions, our author in 
the beginning of his fourth chapter, cuts down all those 
gourds and wild vines that he had been planting in the 
three preceding; for he not only grants but disputes also 
for an obligation on the consciences of men antecedent and 
superior unto all human laws and their obligation ; his 
words are as followeth, p. 115, * It is not because sub- 
jects are in any thing free from the authority of the supreme 
power on earth, but because they are subject to a superior 
in heaven ; and they are only then excused from the duty 
of obedience to their sovereign when they cannot give it 
without rebellion against God ; so that it is not originally 
any right of their own that exempts them from a subjection 
to the sovereign power in all things : but it is purely God's 
right of governing his own creatures that magistrates then 
invade when they make edicts to violate or control his laws, 
and those who will take off from the consciences of men, 
all obligations antecedent to those of human laws, instead 
of making the power of princes supreme, absob e, and un- 
controllable, they utterly enervate all their authority, and set 
their subjects at perfect liberty from all their commands.' 

I know no men that pretend to exemption from the ob- 
ligation of human laws, but only on this plea, that God by 
his law requires them to do otherwise ; and if this be so, the 
authority of such laws as to the consciences of men, is su- 
perseded by the confession of this author. Allow therefore 
but the principles here expressed, namely, that men have a 
superior power over them in heaven, whose laws, and the 
revelation of whose will concerning them, is the supreme 
rule of their duty, whence an obligation is laid upon their 


consciences of doing whatever is commanded, or not doing 
what is forbidden by him, which is superior unto, and 
actually supersedes all human commands and laws that 
interfere therev/ith, and I see neither use of, nor place for, 
that power of magistrates over the consciences of men, 
which is so earnestly contended for. And our author also 
in his ensuing discourse in that chapter, placeth all the 
security of government in the respect that the consciences 
of men have to the will and command of God; and which 
they profess to have ; which in all these chapters he pleads 
to be a principle of all confusion. But it is the first chapter 
which alone we are now taking a view of. • 

The only argument therein insisted on to make good the 
ascription unto the magistrate of the power over religion 
and the consciences of men before described, is * the abso- 
lute and indispensable necessity of it, unto public tran- 
quillity, which is the principal, and most important end of 
government.' In the pursuit of this argument, sometimes, 
yea often, such expressions are used concerning the magis- 
trate's power, as in a tolerable construction declare it to be 
what no man denies nor will contend about. But it is ne- 
cessary that they be interpreted according to the genius 
and tenor of the opinion contended for, and accordingly we 
will consider them. This alone, I say, is that which is here 
pleaded, or is given in as the subject of the ensuing dis- 
course. But after all, I think that he who shall set himself 
seriously to find out how any thing here spoken, hath a 
direct and rational cogency towards the establishment of 
the conclusion before laid down, will find himself engaged 
in no easy an undertaking. We were told I confess at the 
entrance (so as that we may not complain of a surprisal) that 
we must expect to have invectives twisted with arguments, 
and some such thing seems here to be aimed at ; but if a 
logical chemist come, and make a separation of the elements 
of this composition, he will find, if I mistake not, a heap 
of the drossy invective, and scarce the least appearance of 
any argument ore. Instead of sober rational arguing. 

criraina rasis 

Librat in antithetis ;- 

great aggravations of mere's miscarriages in the pursuit of 
the dictates of their consciences, either real or feigned, edged 


against, and fiercely reflected upon, those whom he makes 
his adversaries, and these the same for substance, repeated 
over and over in a great variety of well-placed words, take 
up the greatest part of his plea in this chapter, especially 
the beginning of it, wherein alone the controversy as by 
himself stated is concerned. 

But if the power and authority over religion, and the 
consciences of men here ascribed unto supreme magistrates, 
be so indispensably necessary to the preservation of public 
tranquillity as is pretended, a man cannot but wonder how 
the world hath been in any age past kept in any tolerable 
peace and quietness ; and how it is any where blessed with 
those ends of government at this day. For it will not be an 
easy task for our author or any one else to demonstrate that 
the power mentioned hath ever been either claimed or exer- 
cised by any supreme magistrate in Christendom, or that it 
is so at this day. The experience of past and present ages 
is therefore abundantly sufficient to defeat this pretence, 
which is sufficiently asserted without the least appearance 
of proof or argument to give it countenance or confirmation ; 
or they must be very charitable to him, or ignorant in them- 
selves, who will mistake invectives for arguments. The re- 
membrance indeed of these severities I would willingly lay 
aside, especially because the very mention of them seems to 
express a higher sense of and regret concerning them than I 
am in the least subject unto, or something that looks like a 
design of retaliation ; but as these things are far from ray 
mind, so the continual returns that almost in every page I 
meet with, of high and contemptuous reproaches, will not 
allow that they be always passed by without any notice, or 

It is indeed indispensably necessary that public peace 
and tranquillity be preserved ; but that there is any thing in 
point of government necessary hereunto, but that God have 
all spiritual power over the consciences of men, and rulers 
political power over their actings wherein public peace and 
tranquillity are concerned, the world hath not hitherto es- 
teemed, nor do I expect to find it proved by this author. If 
these things will not preserve the public peace, it will not 
be kept if one should rise from the dead to persuade men 
unto their duty. The power of God over the consciences 


of men I suppose is acknowledged by all who own any such 
thing as conscience, or believe there is a God over all. That 
also in the exercise of this authority he requires of men all 
that obedience unto rulers that is any way needful or expe- 
dient unto the preservation of the ends of their rule, is a 
truth standing firm on the same foundation of imiversal 
consent, dtrived from the law of creation ; and his positive 
commands to that purpose have an evidence of his will in this 
matter not liable to exception or control. This conscience 
unto God our author confesseth (as we have observed in his 
fourth chapter, to be the great preservation and security of 
government and governoib, with respect unto the ends men- 
tioned. And if so, what becomes of all the pretences of dis- 
order and confusion that will ensue, unless this power 
over men's consciences be given to the magistrate and taken 
as it were out of the hands of God? Nor is it to be supposed 
that men will be more true to their consciences, supposing 
the reiglement of them in the hand of men, than when they 
are granted to be in the hand and power of God ; for both at 
present are supposed to require the same things. Certainly 
where conscience respects authority, as it always doth, the 
more absolute and sovereign it apprehends the authority by 
which it is obliged, the greater and more firm will be the 
impressions of the obligation upon it. And in that capa- 
city of pre-eminence it must look upon the authority of 
God compared with the authority of man. Here then lies 
the security of public peace and tranquillity, as it is backed 
by the authority of the magistrate, to see that all outward 
actions are suitable unto what conscience toward God doth 
in this matter openly and unquestionably require. 

The pretence indeed is, that the placing of this authority 
over the consciences of men in the supreme ruler, doth ob- 
viate and take away all grounds and occasions of any such 
actings on the account of religion as may tend unto public 
disturbance. For suppose conscience, in things concerning 
religion and the worship of God, subject to God alone, and 
the magistrate require such things to be observed in the one 
or the other as God hath not required, at least in the judg- 
ments and consciences of them of whom the things pre- 
scribed are required, and to forbid the things that God re- 
quires to be observed and done ; in this case it is said they 


cannot or will not comply in active obedience with the com- 
mands of the magistrate. But what if it so fall out ? Doth it 
thence follow that such persons must needs rebel and be sedi- 
tious and disturb the public peace, of the society whereof 
they are members? Wherefore is it that they do not do or 
observe what is required of them by the magistrate in reli- 
gion or the worship of God, or that they do what he forbids ? 
Is it not because of the authority of God over their minds 
and consciences in these things ? And why should it be sup- 
posed that men will answer the obligations laid by God on 
their consciences in one thing and not in another ; in the 
things of his worship and not of obedience unto civil power, 
concerning which his commands are as express and evident 
as they can be pretended to be in the things which they 
avow their obligation unto ? 

Experience is pretended to the contrary. It is said 
again and again, that * men under pretence of their con- 
sciences unto God in religion have raised wars and tumults, 
and brought all things into confusion in this kingdom and 
nation especially;' and what will words avail against the 
evidence of so open an experience to the contrary ? But 
what if this also should prove a false and futilous pretence ? 
Fierce and long wars have been in this nation of old, upon 
the various titles of persons pleading their right unto su- 
preme government in the kingdom against one another; so 
also have there been about the civil rights and the privileges 
of the subjects in the confusions commonly called the Ba- 
rons' Wars. The late troubles, disorders, and wars amongst 
us, must bear the weight of this whole charge. But if any 
one will take the pains to review the public writings, decla- 
rations, treatises whereby those tumults and wars were 
begun and carried on, he will easily discern that liberty of 
conscience in practice, or the exemption of it from the 
power of the magistrate as to the rule and conduct of it now 
ascribed unto bim, in the latitude by sober persons de- 
fended or pleaded for, had neither place in, nor influence 
into the beginnings of those troubles.- And when such con- 
fusions are begun, no man can give assurance or conjecture 
where they shall end. 

Authority, laws, privileges, and I know not what things 
wherein private men of whom alone we treat, have no pre- 


tence of interest, were pleaded in those affairs. He that 
would judge aright of these things, must set aside all other 
considerations, and give his instance of the tumults and 
seditions that have ensued on the account of men's keeping 
their consciences entire for God alone, without any just plea, 
or false pretence of authority, and the interest of men in the 
civil concerns of nations. 

However, it cannot be pretended that liberty of con- 
science gave the least occasion unto any disorders in those 
days. For indeed there was none, but only that of opinion 
and judgment, which our author placeth out of the magis- 
trate's cognizance and dispose ; and supposeth it is a thing 
wherein the public peace neither is nor can be concerned. 
It is well if it prove so ; but this liberty of judgment, con- 
stantly pressed with a practice contrary to its own determina- 
tions, will, I fear, prove the most dangerous posture of the 
minds of men, in reference to public tranquillity, that they 
can be well disposed into. However, we may take a little 
nearer view of the certain remedy provided for all these evils 
by our author, and satisfy ourselves in some inquiries about 
it. Shall then, according to this expedient, the supreme ma- 
gistrate govern, rule, and oblige unto obedience the con- 
sciences of his subjects universally in all things in religion 
and the worship of God, so that appoint what he please, 
forbid what he please, subjects are bound in conscience to 
observe them and yield obedience accordingly ? His an- 
swer, as far as I can gather his meaning, is, that he may and 
must do so in all things, taking care that what he commands 
shall neither countenance vice, nor disgrace the Deity, and 
then the subjects are obliged according to the inquiry. But 
there seems another limitation to be given to this power, p. 37. 
where he affirms, that the ' Lord Christ hath given severe 
injunctions to secure the obedience of men to all lawful su- 
periors, except where they run directly cross to the interest 
of the gospel ;' and elsewhere he seems to give the same 
privilege of exemption, where a religion is introduced that 
is idolatrous or superstitious. I would then a little farther 
inquire, who shall judge whether the things commanded in 
religion and the worship of God be idolatrous and supersti- 
tious ? Whether they cross directly the interest of the gos- 
pel? Whether they countenance vice, and disgrace the 


Deity or no ? To say that the magistrate is to judge and de- 
termine hereof, is the highest foppery imaginable. For no 
magistrate, unless he be distracted, will enjoin such a reli- 
gion to observance, as he judgeth himself to fall under the 
qualifications mentioned ; and when he hath done, declare 
that so they do, and yet require obedience unto them. Be- 
sides, if this judgment be solely committed unto him, indeed 
in the issue there neither is, nor can be any question for a 
judgment to be passed upon in this matter. For his injunc^ 
tion doth quite render useless all disquisitions to that pur- 
pose. The judgment and determination hereof therefore is 
necessary to be left unto the subjects, from whom obedience 
is required. So it lies in the letter of the proposal, they 
must obey in all things but such; and therefore surely must 
judge what is such and what is not. Now who shall fix 
bounds to what they will judge to fall under one or other of 
these limitations ? if they determine according to the best 
light they have, that the religious observances enjoined by 
the magistrate do directly cross the interest of the gospel, 
they are absolved by our author from any obligation in con- 
science to their observation. And so we are just as before ; 
and this great engine for public tranquillity vanisheth into 
air and smoke. 

Thus this author himself, in way of objection, supposeth 
a case of a magistrate enjoining, as was said, a religion su- 
perstitious and idolatrous ; this he acknowledgeth to be an 
inconvenience ; yet such as is far beneath the mischiefs 
that ensue upon the exemption of the consciences of men in 
religion from the power of the magistrate, which I confess I 
cannot but admire at, and can give reasons why I do so ad- 
mire it ; which also may be given in due season. But what 
then is to be done in uiis case ? He answers, ' It is to be 
borne.' True ; but how ? Is it to be so borne as to practise 
and observe the things so enjoined though superstitious and 
idolatrous? Though his words are dubious, yet I suppose he 
he will not plainly say so ; nor can he unless he will teach 
men to cast off' all respect unto the authority of God, and 
open such a door to atheism, as his rhetorical prefatory in- 
vective will not be able to shut. The bearing then intended 
must be by patient suffering in a refusal to practise what is 
so commanded, and observing the contrary commands of 


God. But why in this case ought they to suffer quietly for 
refusing a compliance with what is commanded, and for their 
observance of the contrary precepts of the gospel? Why, 
they must do so because of the command of God, obliging 
their consciences unto obedience to. the magistrate in all 
things wherein the public peace is concerned, and so that is 
absolutely secured. Is it not evident to him that hath but 
half an eye that we are come about again where we were be- 
fore ? Let this be applied to all the concernments of religion 
and religious worship, and there will arise with respect unto 
them, the same security which in this case is deemed suffi- 
cient, and all that human affairs are capable of. For if in 
greater matters men may refuse to act according to the ma- 
gistrate's command out of a sense of the authority of God 
obliging them to the contrary, and yet their civil peaceable- 
ness and obedience be absolutely secured from the respect 
of their consciences to the command of God requiring it; 
why should it not be admitted that they may and will have 
the same respect to that command, when they dissent from 
the magistrate's constitution in lesser things, on the same 
account of the authority of God requiring the contrary of 
them ? Shall we suppose that they will cast off the authority 
of God requiting their obedience, on the account of their 
dissatisfaction in lesser things of the magistrate's appoint- 
ment, when they will not do so for all the violences that may 
be offered unto them in things of greater and higher import- 
ance ? The principle therefore asserted is as useless as it 
is false, and partakes sufficiently. of both these properties to 
render it inconsiderable and contemptible. And he that can 
reconcile these things among themselves, or make them use- 
ful to the author's design, will achieve what I dare not 
aspire unto. 

I know not any thing that remains in the first chapter 
deserving our farther consideration ; what seems to be of 
real importance, or to have any aspect towards the cause in 
hand, may undergo some brief remarks, and so leave us at 
liberty to a farther progress. In general a supposition is 
laid down, and it is so vehemently asserted as is evident 
that it is accompanied with a desire that it should be taken 
for granted ; namely, that if the consciences of men be not 
regulated in the choice and practice of religion by the au- 



thority of the magistrate over them, they will undoubtedly 
run into principles and practices inconsistent with the 
safety of human society, and such as will lead them to 
seditions and tumults ; and hence (if I understand him, a 
matter lam continually jealous about from the looseness 
of his expressions, though I am satisfied I constantly 
take his words in the sense which is received of them by 
the most intelligent persons) he educeth all his reasonings, 
and not from a mere dissent from the magistrate's injunc- 
tions, without the entertainment of such principles, or an 
engagement into such practices. I cannot, I say, find the 
arguments that arise from a mere supposition that men in 
some things relating to the worship of God, will or do 
practise otherwise than the magistrate commands, which 
are used to prove the inconsistency of such a posture of 
things with public tranquillity, which yet alone was the 
province our author ought to have managed. But there is 
another supposition added, that where conscience is in any 
thing left unto its own liberty to choose or refuse in the 
worship of God, there it will embrace, sure enough, such 
wicked, debauched, and seditious principles, as shall dispose 
men unto commotions, rebellions, and all such evils as will 
actually evert all rule, order, and policy amongst men. But 
now this supposition will not be granted him, in reference 
unto them who profess to take up all their profession of re- 
ligion from the command of God, or the revelation of his 
will in the Scripture, wherein all such principles and prac- 
tices as those mentioned are utterly condemned ; and the 
whole professionof Christianity being left for three hundred 
years without the rule, guidance, and conduct of conscience 
now contended for, did not once give the least disturbance 
unto the civil governments of the world. Disturbances indeed 
there were, and dreadful revolutions of government in those 
days and places when and where the professors of it lived ; 
but no concerns of religion being then involved in or with 
the civil rights and interests of men, as the professors of it 
had no engagements in them, so from those alterations and 
troubles no reflection could be made on their profession. 
And the like peace, the like innocency of religion, the like 
freedom from all possibility of such imputations as are now 
cast upon it, occasioned merely by its intertexture with the 



affairs, rights, and laws of the nations, and the interests of 
its professors as such therein, will ensue, when it shall be 
separated from that relation wherein it stands to this world, 
and left at the pure naked tendency of the souls of men to 
another, and not before. 

But what says our author? ' If for the present the minds 
of men happen to be tainted with such furious and boister- 
ous conceptions of religion as incline them to stubtjornness 
and sedition, and make them unmanageable to the laws of 
government, shall not a prince be allowed to give check to 
such unruly and dangerous persuasions V I answer ; That 
such principles which being professed and avowed, are in 
their own nature and just consequence destructive to public 
peace and human society, are all of them directly opposite 
to the light of human nature, that common reason and con- 
sent of mankind wherein and whereon all government is 
founded, with the prime fundamental laws and dictates of 
the Scripture, and so may and ought to be restrained in the 
practices of the persons that profess them; and with re- 
ference unto them the magistrate ' beareth not the sword 
in vain.' For human society being inseparably consequent 
unto, and an effect of, the law of our nature, or concreated 
principles of it, which hath subdued the whole race of man- 
kind in all times and places unto its observance ; opinions, 
persuasions, principles opposite unto it, or destructive of it, 
manifesting thevuselves by any sufficient evidence, or in 
overt acts, ought to be no more allowed than such as pro- 
fess an enmity to the being and providence of God himself. 
For men's inclinations indeed, as in themselves considered, 
there is no competent judge of them amongst the sons of 
men ; but as to all outward actions that are of the tendency 
described, they are under public inspection to be dealt withal 
according to their demerit. 

I shall only add that the mormo here made use of, is not 
now first composed or erected ; it hath for the substance of 
it been flourished by the Papists ever since the beginning 
of the reformation. Neither did they use to please them- 
selves more in, or to dance more merrily about, any thing 
than this calf; let private men have their consciences ex- 
empted from a necessary obedience to the prescriptions of 
the church, and they will quickly run into all pernicious 


fancies and persuasions. It is known how this scare-crow 
hath been cast to the ground, and this calf stamped to 
powder by divines of the church of England. It is no 
pleasant thing, I confess, to see this plea revived now with 
respect to the magistrate's authority, and not the pope's ; for 
I fear that when it shall be manifested, and that by the con- 
sent of all parties, that there is no pleadable argument to 
bottom this pretension for the power of the magistrate upon, 
some rather than forego it, will not be unwilling to recur to 
the fountain from whence it first sprang, and admit the pope's 
plea as meet to be revived in this case. And indeed if we 
must come at length for the security of public peace, to de- 
prive all private persons of the liberty of judging what is 
right and wrong in religion in reference to their own prac- 
tice, or what is their duty towards God about his worship 
and what is not, there are innumerable advantages attend- 
ing the design of devolving the absolute determination of 
these things upon the pope, above that of committing it to 
each supreme magistrate in his own dominions. For besides 
the plea of at least better security in his determinations 
than in that of any magistrates, if not his infallibility which 
he hath so long talked of, and so sturdily defended as to 
get it a greater reputation in the world, the delivering up of 
the faith and consciences of all men unto him, will produce 
a seeming agreement, at least of incomparably a larger ex- 
tent, than the remitting of all things of this nature to the 
pleasure of every supreme magistrate, which may probably 
establish as many different religions in the v^^orld, as there 
are different nations, kingdoms, or commonwealths. 

That which alone remains seeming to give countenance 
to the assertions before laid down, is our author's assigna- 
tion of the priesthood by natural right unto the supreme 
magistrate, which in no alteration of religion he can be di- 
vested of, but by virtue of some positive law of God, as it 
was for a season in the Mosaical institution and govern- 
ment. But these things seem to be of no force. For it 
never belonged to the priesthood, to govern or to rule the 
consciences of men with an absolute uncontrollable power ; 
but only in their name, and for them, to administer the holy 
things, which by common consent were admitted, and re- 
ceived amongst tliera. Besides, our author by his discourse 

R 2 


seems not to be much acquainted with the rise of the office 
of the priesthood amongst men, as shall be demonstrated, if 
farther occasion be given thereunto. However by the way 
we may observe what is his judgment in this matter. The 
magistrate we are told hath not his ecclesiastical authority 
from Christ; and yet this is such as that the power of the 
priesthood is included therein; the exercise whereof 'as he 
is pleased to transfer to others, so he may, if he please, re- 
serve it to himself,' p. 32. whence it follows, not only that it 
cannot be given by Christ unto any other, for it is part of 
the magistrate's power, which he hath not limited, nor con- 
fined by any subsequent law, nor can there be a co-ordinate 
subject of the same power of several kinds ; so that all the 
interest or right, any man or men have in or unto the ex- 
ercise of it, is but transferred to them by the magistrate ; 
and therefore they act therein in his name, and by his au- 
thority only ; and hence the bishops, as such, are said to be 
* ministers of state,' p. 49. Neither can it be pretended that 
this was indeed in the power of the magistrate before the 
coming of Christ, but not since. For he hath as we are 
told, all that he ever had, unless there be a restraint put 
upon him by some express prohibition of our Saviour, p. 41. 
which will hardly be found in this matter. I cannot there- 
fore see how in the exercise of the Christian priesthood 
there is (on these principles) any the least respect unto 
Jesus Christ, or his authority ; for men have only the ex- 
ercise of it transferred to them by the magistrate, by virtue 
of a power inherent in him antecedent unto any concessions 
of Christ; and therefore in his name and authority they 
must act in all the sacred offices of their functions. It is 
well if men be so far awake as to consider the tendency of 
these things. 

At length Scripture proofs for the confirmation of these 
opinions are produced, pp. 35, 36. And the first pleaded is 
that promise, that * kings shall be nursing fathers unto the 
church.' It is true this is promised, and God accomplish it 
more and more ; but yet we do not desire such nurses, as 
beget the children they nurse ; the proposing, prescribing, 
commanding, binding religion on the consciences of men, 
is rather the begetting of it than its nursing. To take care 
of the church and religion, that it receive no detriment, by 


all the ways and means appointed by God, and useful there- 
unto, is the duty of the magistrates ; but it is so also antece- 
dently to their actings unto this purpose, to discern aright 
which is the church whereunto this promise is made, without 
which they cannot duly discharge their trust, nor fulfil the 
promise itself; the very words, by the rules of the meta- 
phor, do imply, that the church, and its religion, and the 
worship of God observed therein, is constituted, fixed, and 
regulated by God himself, antecedently unto the magistrate's 
duty and power about it. They are to nurse that which is 
committed to them, and not what themselves have framed or 
begotten. And we contend for no more but a rule concern- 
ing religion, and the worship of God antecedent unto the 
magistrate's interposing about it, whereby both his actings 
in his place, and those of subjects in theirs, are to be regu- 
lated. Mistakes herein have engaged many sovereign princes 
in pursuit of their trust as nursing fathers to the church, to 
lay out their strength and power for the utter ruin of it; as 
may be evidenced in instances too many of those, who in a 
subserviency to, and by the direction of, the papal interest, 
have endeavoured to extirpate true religion out of the world. 
Such a nursing mother we had sometimes in England, who 
in pursuit of her care burned so many bishops and other 
holy men to ashes. 

He asks farther, ' What doth the Scripture mean when it 
styles our Saviour the King of kings, and maketh princes 
his vicegerents here on earth?' I confess, according to this 
gentleman's principles, I know not what it means in so 
doing : kings, he tells us, have not their authority in and 
over religion and the consciences of men from him, and 
therefore in the exercise of it cannot be his vicegerents ; for 
none is the vicegerent of another in the exercise of any 
power and authority, if he have not received that power 
and authority from him. Otherwise the words have a pro- 
per sense, but nothing to our author's purpose. It is his 
power over them, and not theirs over the consciences of their 
subjects, that is intended in the words. Of no more use in 
this controversy is the direction of the apostle, that we 
• should pray for kings, that under them we may lead a quiet 
and peaceable life;' for no more is intended therein, but 
that, under their peaceable and righteous administration of 


human affairs, we may live in that godliness and honesty 
which is required of us. Wherefore then are these weak 
attempts made to confirm and prove what is not? Those, or 
the most of them, whom our author in this discourse treats 
with so much severity, do plead that it is the duty of all 
supreme magistrates to find out, receive, embrace, promote 
the truths of the gospel, w'itli the worship of God appointed 
therein, confirming, protecting, and defending them, and 
those that embrace them, by their power and authority. And 
in the discharge of this duty, they are to use the liberty of 
their own judgments, informed by the ways that God hath 
appointed, independently on the dictates and determinations 
of any other persons whatever. They affirm also, that to this 
end they are intrusted v/ith supreme power over all persons 
in their respective dominions, who on no pretence can be 
exempted from the exercise of that power, as occasion in 
their judgments shall require it to be exercised ; as also that 
all causes, wherein the profession of religion in their domi- 
nions is concerned, which are determinable in 'foro civili' by 
coercive umpirage or authority, are subject unto their cog- 
nizance and power. The sovereign power over the con- 
sciences of men to institute, appoint, and prescribe religion 
and the worship of God, they affirm to belong unto him 
alone, who is the ' author and finisher of our faith, who is 
the head over all things to the church.' The administration 
of things merely spiritual in the worship of God is, they 
judge, derived immediately from him to the ministers and 
administrators of the gospel, possessed of their offices by 
his command, and according to his institution ; as to the 
external practice of religion, and religious worship as such, 
it is, they say, in the power of the magistrate to regulate all 
the outward civil concernments of it, with reference unto the 
preservation of public peace and tranquillity, and the pros- 
perity of his subjects ; and herein also they judge that such 
respect is to be had to the consciences of men, as the Scrip- 
ture, the nature of the thing itself, and the right of the 
Lord Christ to introduce his spiritual kingdom into all 
nations do require. 

That which seems to have imposed on the mind of this 
author is, that if the magistrate may make laws for the 
regulating of the outward profession of religion, so as public 


peace and tranquillity may be kept, added to what is his 
duty to do in the behalf of the truth ; then he must have the 
power over religion, and the consciences of men by him 
ascribed unto him; but there is no privity of interest 
between these things ; the laws which he makes to this 
purpose, are to be regulated by the word of God and the 
good of the community, over which in the name of God he 
doth preside ; and whence he will take his warranty to for- 
bid men the exercise of their consciences in the duties of 
spiritual worship, whilst the principles they profess are 
suited to the light of nature, and the fundamental doctrines 
of the gospel, with the peace of mankind, and their prac- 
tices absolutely consistent with public welfare, I am yet to 
seek ; and so, as far as I can yet perceive, is the author of 
the discourse under consideration. It will not arise from a 
parity of reason from the power that he hath to restrain 
cursed swearing and blasphemies, by penal coercions. For 
these things are no less against the light of nature, and no 
less condemned by the common suffrage of mankind (and 
the persons that contract the guilt of them may be no less 
effectually brought to judge and condemn themselves) than 
are the greatest outrages that may be committed in and 
against human society. That the gospel Avill give no counte- 
nance hereunto, he seems to acknowledge, in his assigna- 
tion of several reasons why the use of the power, and exer- 
cise of it in the way of compulsion by penalties, pleaded for 
by him, is not mentioned therein ; that ' Christ and his apo- 
stles behaved themselves as subjects; that he neither took 
nor exercised any sovereign power ; that he gave his laws to 
private men as such, and not to the magistrate, that the 
power that then was, was in bad hands,' are pleaded as ex- 
cuses for the silence of the gospel in this matter. But lest 
this should prove farther prejudicial to his present occasion, 
he adds, p. 42. ' the only reason why the Lord Christ bound 
not the precepts of the gospel upon men's consciences by 
any secular compulsories, was not because compulsion was 
an improper way to put his laws in execution ; for then he 
had never established them with more enforcing sanctions, 
but only because himself was not vested with any secular 
power, and so could not use those methods of government 
which are proper to its jurisdiction.' This in plain English 


is, that if Christ had had power, he would have ordered the 
gospel to have been propagated as Mahomet hath done his 
Alcoran ; an assertion untrue and impious, contrary to the 
whole spirit and genius of the gospel, and of the author of 
it, and the commands and precepts of it. And it is fondly 
supposed, that the Lord Christ suited all the management 
of the affairs of the gospel unto that state and condition in 
this world, wherein he * emptied himself, and took upon 
him the form of a servant, making himself of no reputation, 
that he might be obedient unto death, the death of the 
cross.' He lays the foundation of the promulgation and pro- 
pagation of it in the world, in the grant of all power unto 
him in heaven and earth. * All power,' saith he to his 
apostles, ' is given unto me in heaven and earth. Go ye, 
therefore, and baptize all nations, teaching them to observe 
all things whatsoever I have commanded you ;' Matt, xxviii. 
18 — 20. He is considered in the dispensation of the gospel, 
as he who 'is head over all things to the church, the Lord of 
lords, and King of kings,' whom our author acknowledgeth 
to be his vicegerents. On this account the gospel, with 
all the worship instituted therein and required thereby, is 
accompanied with a right to enter into any of the kingdoms 
of the earth, and spiritually to make the inhabitants of them 
subject to Jesus Christ ; and so to translate them ' out of the 
power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God.' And 
this right is antecedent and paramount to the right of all 
earthly kings and princes whatever, who have no power or 
authority to exclude the gospel out of their dominions; and 
what they exercise of that kind is done at their peril. 

The penalties that he hath annexed to the. final rejection 
of the gospel, and disobedience thereunto, are pleaded by 
our author, to justify the magistrate's power of binding men 
to the observation of his commands in religion on tempo- 
ral penalties to be by him inflicted on them ; unto that is 
the discourse of this chapter arrived which was designed 
unto another end. I see neither the order, method, nor 
projection of this procedure; nor know. 

Amphora cum cepit institui, cur urceus exit. 

However, the pretence itself is weak and impertinent. Man 
was originally made under a law and constitution of eternal 
bliss or woe. This state, with regard to his necessary de- 


pendence on God, and respect to his utmost end, was ab- 
solutely unavoidable unto him. All possibility of attaining 
eternal happiness by himself he lost by sin, and became in- 
evitably obnoxious to eternal misery, and the wrath to come. 
In this condition the Lord Jesus Christ, the supreme Lord of 
the souls and consciences of men, interposeth his law of re- 
lief, redemption, and salvation, the great means of man's re- 
covery, together with the profession of the way and law 
hereof. He lets them know, that those by whom it is re- 
fused shall perish under that wrath of God, which before 
they were obnoxious unto, with a new aggravation of their 
sin and condemnation, from the contempt of the relief pro- 
vided for them, and tendered to them. This he applies to 
the souls and consciences of men, and to all the inward 
secret actings of them, in the first place, such as are ex- 
empted not only from the judicature of men, but from the 
cognizance of angels. This he doth by spiritual means in a 
spiritual manner, with regard to the subjection of the souls of 
men unto God, and with reference unto their bringing to him, 
and enjoyment of him, or their being eternally rejected by 
him. Hence to collect and conclude that earthly princes, 
who (whatever is pretended) are not the sovereign lords of 
the souls and consciences of men, nor do any of them, that 
I know of, plead themselves so to be; who cannot interpose 
any thing by their absolute authority, that should have a 
necessary respect unto men's eternal condition ; who have 
no knowledge of, no acquaintance with, nor can judge of the 
principal things whereon it doth depend, from whose tem- 
poral jurisdiction and punishment, the things of the gospel, 
and the worship of God as purely such, are (by the nature 
of them, being spiritual and not of this world, thouo-h exer- 
cised in it, having their respect only unto eternity, and by 
their being taken into the sole disposal of the sovereio-n Lord 
of consciences, who hath accompanied his commands con- 
cerning them with his own promises and threateninos), 
plainly exempted ; should have power over the consciences 
of men, so to lay their commands upon them in these 
spiritual things, as to back them with temporal, corporeal re- 
straints and punishments, is a way of arguing that will not 
be confined unto any of those rules of reasoning, which 
hitherto we have been instructed in. When the magistrate 
hath ' an arm like God,' and ' can thunder with a voice like 


him ;' when he judgeth * not after the sight of his eyes, nor 
reproveth after the hearing of his ears ; when he can smite 
the earth with the rod of his mouth, and slay the wicked 
with the breath of his lips;' when he is constituted a judge 
of the faith, repentance, and obedience of men, and of 
their efficacy in their tendency unto the pleasing of God 
here, and the enjoyment of him hereafter; when spiritual 
things in order to their eternal issues and effects are made 
subject unto him ; in brief, when he is Christ, let him act as 
Christ, or rather most unlike him, and guide the consciences 
of men by rods, axes, and halters (whereunto alone his power 
can reach), who in the mean time have an express command 
from the Lord Christ himself, not to have their con- 
sciences influenced in the least by the consideration of 
these things. 

Of the like complexion is the ensuing discourse, wherein 
our author, p. 43. having spoken contemptuously of the 
spiritual institutions of the gospel, as altogether ' insufficient 
for the accomplishment of the ends whereunto they are de- 
signed,' forgetting that they respect only the consciences of 
men, and are his institutions who is the Lord of their con- 
sciences, and who will give them power and efficacy to attain 
their ends, when administered in his name, and according to 
his mind, and that because they are his ; would prove the ne- 
cessity of temporal coercions, and penalties in things spiri- 
tual, from the extraordinary effects of excommunication in 
the primitive times, in the 'vexation and punishment of per- 
sons excommunicate by the devil.' This work the devil 
now ceasing to attend unto, he would have the magistrate to 
take upon him to supply his place and office, by punish- 
ments of his own appointment and infliction; and so at 
last, to be sure of giving him full measure, he hath ascribed 
two extremes unto him about religion, namely, to act the 
part of God and the devil. But as this inference is built 
upon a very uncertain conjecture, namely, that upon the giv- 
ing up of persons to Satan in excommunication, there did 
any visible, or corporeal vexation of them by his power en- 
sue, or any other effects but what may yet be justly expected 
from an influence of his terror on the minds of men, who are 
duly and regularly cast out of the visible kingdom of Christ 
by that censure ; and whereas, if there be any truth in it, it 
was confined unto the days of the apostles, and is to be 


reckoned amongst the miraculous operations granted to them 
for the first confirmation of the gospel ; and the continuance 
of it, all the time the church wanted the assistance of the 
civil magistrate, is most unduly pretended without any- 
colour of proof or instance, beyond such as may be evi- 
denced to continue at this day ; supposing it to be true, the 
inference made from it, as to its consequence on this con- 
cession, is exceeding weak and feeble. For the argument 
here amounteth to no more but this; God was pleased, in 
the days of the apostles, to confirm their spiritual censures 
against stubborn sinners, apostates, blasphemers, and such 
like heinous offenders, with extraordinary spiritual punish- 
ments (so in their own nature, or in the manner or way of 
their infliction), therefore the civil magistrate hath power to 
appoint things to be observed in the worship of God, and 
forbid other things, which the light and consciences of men, 
directed by the word of God, require the observation of, 
upon ordinary, standing, corporeal penalties, to be inflicted 
on the outward man ; ' quod erat demonstrandum.' 

To wind up this debate, I shall commit the umpirage of 
it to the church of England, and receive her determination in 
the words of one who may be supposed to know her sense and 
judgment, as well as any one who lived in his days or since. 
And this is Doctor Bilson bishop of Winchester, a learned 
man, skilled in the laws of the land, and a great adversary 
unto all that dissented from church constitutions. This man 
therefore treating, by way of dialogue, in answer to the Je- 
suits' Apology and Defence, in the third part, p. 293. thus 
introduceth Theophilus a Protestant divine, arguing with 
Philandera Jesuit about these matters. * Theoph. As for the 
supreme head of the church ; it is certain that title was first 
transferred from the pope to King Henry the Eighth, by the 
bishops of your side, not of ours. And though the pastors 
in King Edward's time might not well dislike, much less dis- 
suade the style of the crown, by reason the king was under 
years, and so remained until he died ; yet as soon as it 
pleased God to place her majesty in her father's throne, the 
nobles and preachers perceiving the words, * head of the 
church' (which is Christ's proper and peculiar honour), to 
be offensive unto many that had vehemently repelled the 
same in the pope, besought her highness the meaning of 


that word which her father had used, might be expressed in 
some plainer apter terms ; and so was the prince called su- 
preme governor of the realm ; that is, ruler and bearer of the 
sword, with lawful authority to command and punish, answer- 
able to the word of God, in all spiritual or ecclesiastical 
things or causes, as well as in temporal. And no foreign 
prince or prelate, to have any jurisdiction, superiority, pre- 
eminence, or authority to establish, prohibit, correct, and 
chastise with public laws, or temporal pains, any crimes or 
causes ecclesiastical or spiritual within her realm. Philand. 
Calvin saith this is sacrilege and blasphemy. Look you 
therefore with what consciences you take that oath, which 
your own master so mightily detesteth. Theoph. Nay, look 
you with what faces you alledge Calvin, who maketh that 
style to be sacrilegious and blasphemous, as well in the pope 
as in the prince ; reason therefore you receive or refuse his 
judgment in both. If it derogate from Christ in the prince, 
so it doth in the pope. Yet we grant the sense of the word 
supreme, as Calvin perceived it by Stephen Gardiner's an- 
swer and behaviour, is very blasphemous and injurious to 
Christ and his word, whether it be prince or pope that so 
shall use it.' What this sense is, he declares in the words 
of Calvin, which are as followeth, in his translation of them: 
* That juggler, which after was chancellor, I mean the bishop 
of Winchester, when he was at Rentzburge, neither would 
stand to reason the matter, nor greatly cared for any. testi- 
monies of the Scripture, but said it was at the king's discre- 
tion to abrogate that which was in use, and appoint new. He 
said the king might forbid priests' marriage, the king might 
bar the people from the cup in the Lord's supper ; the king 
might determine this or that in his kingdom : and why? for- 
sooth, the king had supreme power. This sacrilege hath 
taken hold on us, whilst princes think they cannot reign ex- 
cept they abolish all the authority of the church, and be 
themselves supreme judges as well in doctrine as in all 
spiritual regiment.' To which he subjoins ; * This was 
the sense which Calvin aflSrmed to be sacrilegious and 
blasphemous ; for princes to profess themselves to be su- 
preme judges of doctrine and discipline ; and indeed it is 
the blasphemy which all godly hearts reject and abomine, in 
the bishop of Rome. Neither did King Henry take any such 


thing on him for aught that we can learn; but this was Gar- 
diner's stratagem, to convey the reproach and shame of the 
six articles from himself and his fellows that were the au- 
thors of them, and to cast it on the king's supreme power. 
Had Calvin been told, that supreme was first received to de- 
clare the prince to be superior to the prelates (which ex- 
empted themselves from the king's authority by their church 
liberties and immunities), as well as to the laymen of this 
realm, and not to be subject to the pope, the word would 
never have offended him.' Thus far he; and if these con- 
troversies be any farther disputed, it is probable the next 
defence of what is here pleaded, will be in the express words 
of the principal prelates of this realm since the reformation, 
until their authority be peremptorily rejected. 

Upon my first design to take a brief survey of this dis- 
course, I had not the least intention to undertake the exa- 
mination of any particular assertions or reasonings that 
might fall under controversy, but merely to examine the 
general principles whereon it doth proceed. But passing 
through these things ' currente calamo,' I find myself engaged 
beyond my thoughts and resolutions ; I shall therefore here 
put an end to the consideration of this chapter, although I 
see sundry things as yet remaining in it that might imme- 
diately be discussed with ease and advantage, as shall be 
manifest, if we are called again to a review of them. I have 
neither desire nor design ' serram reciprocare,' or to engage in 
any controversial discourses with this author. And I pre- 
sume himself will not take it amiss, that I do at present 
examine those principles whose novelty justifies a disquisi- 
tion into them ; and whose tendency, as applied by him, is 
pernicious and destructive to so many quiet and peaceable 
persons who dissent from him. And yet I will not deny 
but that I have that valuation and esteem for that sparkling 
of wit, eloquence, and sundry other abilities of mind, which 
appear in his writing, that if he would lay aside the manner 
of his treating those from whom he dissents with revilings, 
contemptuous reproaches, personal reflections, sarcasms, 
and satirical expressions, and would candidly and perspi- 
cuously state any matter in difference; I should think that 
what he hath to offer may deserve the consideration of them 
who have leisure for such a purpose. If he be otherwise 


minded, and resolved to proceed in the way, and after the 
manner here engaged in, as I shall in the close of this dis- 
course absolutely give him my ' salve seternumque vale,' so 1 
hope he will never meet with any one who shall be willing to 
deal with him at his own weapons. 


The summary of this chapter must needs give the reader 
a great expectation, and the chapter itself no less of satis- 
faction, if what is in the one briefly proposed, be in the 
other as firmly established. For amongst other things, a 
scheme of religion is promised, reducing all its branches 
either to moral virtues or instruments of morality, which 
being spoken of Christian religion, is, as far as I know, an 
undertaking new and peculiar unto this author, in whose 
management all that reads him must needs weigh and con- 
sider, how dexterously he hath acquitted himself. For as 
all men grant that morality hath a great place in religion, so 
that all religion is nothing but morality, many are now to 
learn. The villany of those men's religion that are wont to 
distinguish between grace and virtue (that is moral virtue), 
is nextly traduced and inveighed against. I had rather I 
confess that he had affixed the term of villany to the men 
themselves, whom he intended to reflect on, than to their 
religion ; because as yet it seems to me that it will fall on 
Christianity, and no other real or pretended religion that is, 
or ever was in the world. For if the professors of it have in 
all ages according to its avowed principles, never before 
contradicted, made a distinction between moral virtues 
(since these terras were known in the church) and evangeli- 
cal graces, if they do so at this day, what religion else can 
be here branded with this infamous and horrible reproach, I 
know not. A farther inquiry into the chapter itself may 
possibly give us farther satisfaction, wherein we shall deal 
as impartially as we are able, with a diligent watchfulness 
against all prejudicate affections, that we may discover 
what there is of sense and truth in the discourse, being 
ready to receive whatever shall be manifested to have an 
interest in them. The civil magistrate we are also here in- 



formed, amongst many other things that he may do, * may 
command any thing in the worship of God that doth not 
tend to debauch men's practices, or to disgrace the Deity.' 
And that ' all subordinate duties both of morality and reli- 
gious worship' (such as elsewhere we are told the sacraments 
are) 'are equally subject to the determination of human au- 
thority.' These things, and sundry others represented in this 
summary, being new, yea some of them, as far as I know, 
unheard of amongst Christians until within a few years last 
past, any reader may justify himself in the expectation of 
full and demonstrative arguments to be produced in their 
proof and confirmation. What the issue will be, some dis- 
covery may be made by the ensuing inquiry, as was said, 
into the body of the chapter itself. 

The design of this chapter in general is, to confirm the 
power of the magistrate over religion, and the consciences 
of men ascribed unto him in the former, and to add unto it 
some enlargements not therein insisted on. The argument 
used to this purpose, is taken from the power of the magis- 
trate over the consciences of men in matters of morality, or 
with respect unto moral virtue ; whence it is supposed the 
conclusion is so evident unto his power over their con- 
sciences in matters of religious worship, that it strikes our 
author with wonder and amazement that it should not be 
received and acknowledged. Wherefore, to further the con- 
viction of all men in this matter, he proceeds to discourse 
of moral virtue, of grace, and of religious worship, with his 
wonted reflections upon, and reproaches of the noncon- 
formists, for their ignorance about, and villanous misrepre- 
sentation of these things, which seem more to be aimed at 
than the argument itself. 

I must here wish again that our author had more per- 
spicuously stated the things which he proposeth to debate 
for the subject of his disputation. But I find an excess of 
art is as troublesome sometimes as the greatest defect 
therein. From thence I presume it is, that things are so 
handled in this discourse, that an ordinary man can seldom 
discern satisfactorily what it is that directly and determi- 
nately he doth intend, beyond reviling of nonconformists. 
For in this proposition, which is the best and most intelli- 
gible that I can reduce the present discourse unto, ' the su- 


preme civil magistrate hath power over the consciences of 
men in morality, or with respect unto moral virtue ;' except- 
ing only the subject of it, there is not one term in it that 
may not have various significations; and those such as have 
countenance given unto them in the ensuing disputation 
itself-i" But, ' contenti sumus hoc Catone/ and make the best 
we can of what lies before us. 

I do suppose that in the medium made use of in this 
argument there is, or I am sure there may be, a controversy 
of much more importance than that principally under consi- 
deration. It therefore shall be stated and cleared in the 
first place, and then the concernment of the argument itself 
in what is discoursed thereupon shall be manifested. It is 
about moral virtue and grace, their coincidence, or distinc- 
tion, that we are in the first place to inquire. For without a 
due stating of the conception of these things, nothing of 
this argument, nor what belongs unto it, can be rightly 
understood. We shall therefore be necessitated to premise 
a brief explanation of these terms themselves, to remove as 
far as may be all ambiguity from our discourse. 

First, then. The very name of virtue, in the sense wherein 
it is commonly used and received, comes from the schools of 
philosophy, and not from the Scripture. In the Old Testa- 
ment we have * uprightness, integrity, righteousness, doing 
good and eschewing evil, fearing, trusting, obeying, believ- 
ing in God, holiness,' and the like ; but the name of virtue 
doth not occur therein. It is true we have translated 
^>n Dti'K 'a virtuous woman;' and once or twice the same 
word ' virtuously,' Ruth iii. 11. Prov. xii. 4. xxxi, 10. 39. 
but that word signifies as so used, ' strenuous, indus- 
trious, diligent,' and hath no such signification as that we 
now express by ' virtue.' Nor is i tany where rendered apsr^ 
by the LXX. although it may have some respect unto it, 
as aperri may be derived from a'jorjc, and peculiarly denote 
the exercise of industrious strength, such as men use in 
battle. For b>n is ' vis, robur, potentia,' or ' exercitus' also. 
But in the common acceptation of it, and as it is used by phi- 
losophers, there is no word in the Hebrew or Syriac properly 
to express it. The rabbins do it by mo which signifies 
properly 'a measure.' For studying the philosophy of Aris- 
totle, and translating his Ethics into Hebrew, which was 


done by Rabbi Meir, and finding his virtue placed in medio- 
crity, they applied rno to express it. So they call Aristotle's 
Ethics nnonnDD 'the Book of Measures,' that is of virtues. 
And nntO nno are 'boni mores.' Such a stranger is this very 
word unto the Old Testament. In the New Testament aper^ 
occurs four times; but it should not seem any where to be 
taken in the sense now generally admitted, in some of the 
places it rather denotes the excellency and praises that do 
attend virtue, than virtue itself. So we render aperaQ 
' praises,' 1 Pet. ii. 8. as the Syriac doth also nnnniiTi, 
' praises ;' and the same translation, Phil. iv. 9. renders 
ti Tig aperrj, * if there be any virtue,' by xn:i1!i>T Ntliy, ' works 
glorious,' or 'praiseworthy ;' 2 Pet. i. 9. It is a peculiar gra- 
cious disposition, operation of mind, distinguished from 
faith, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, 
charity, &c. and so cannot have the common sense of the 
word there put upon it. 

The word ' moral' is yet far more exotic to the church and 
Scripture. We are beholden for it, if there be any advan- 
tage in its use, merely to the schools of the philosophers, 
especially of Aristotle. His doctrine irtpX ?j2rwv, commonly 
called his 'H^tka or ' Moralia,' his Morals, hath begotten this 
name for our use. The whole is expressed in Isocrates to 
Demonicus by ri tCjv tt/jottwv apirr], ' the virtue of manners.' If 
then the signification of the words be respected as usually 
taken, it is virtue in men's manners that is intended. The 
schoolmen brought this expression with all its concerns, as 
they did the rest of Aristotle's philosophy, into the church 
and divinity. And I cannot but think it had been well if 
they had never done it; as all will grant they might have 
omitted some other things without the least disadvantage 
to learning or religion. However, this expression of' moral 
virtue' having absolutely possessed itself of the fancies and 
discoursesof all, and it maybe of the understanding of some, 
though with very little satisfaction when all things are con- 
sidered, I shall not endeavour to dispossess it, or eliminate 
it from the confines of Christian theology. Only I am sure 
had we been left unto the Scripture expressions, of * repent- 
ance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, 
of the fear of God, of holiness, righteousness, living unto 
God, walking with God, and before him,' we might have 



been free from many vain wordy perplexities; and the whole 
wrangle of this chapter in particular, had been utterly pre- 
vented. For let but the Scripture express what it is to be 
religious, and there will be no contesting about the differ- 
ence or no difference between grace and moral virtue. It is 
said, that 'some judge those who have moral virtue to want 
grace, not to be gracious.' But say, that men ' are born of 
God, and do not commit sin,' that they ' walk before God 
and are upright,' that they 'cleave unto God with full purpose 
of heart,' that they ' are sanctified in Christ Jesus' and the 
like, and no man will say that they have not grace, or are not 
gracious, if they receive your testimony. But having, as 
was said, made its entrance amongst us, we must deal with 
it as well as we can, and satisfy ourselves about its common 
acceptation and use. 

Generally, moral virtues are esteemed to be the duties of 
the second table. For although those who handle these 
matters more accurately, do not so straiten or confine them, 
yet it is certain that in vulgar and common acceptation 
(which strikes no small stroke, in the regulating of the 
conceptions of the wis-est men, about the signification of 
words), nothing else is intended by moral virtues or duties 
of morality, but the observation of the precepts of the second 
table. Nor is anything else designed by those divines, who 
in their writings so frequently declare, that it is not morality 
alone that will render men acceptable to God. Others do 
extend these things farther, and fix the denomination of 
moral, firstly upon the law or rule of all those habits of the 
mind and its operations, which afterward thence they call 
moral. Now this moral law is nothing but the law of na- 
ture, or the law of our creation ; which the apostle aflSrms 
to lie equally obligatory on all men, even all the Gentiles 
themselves, Rom. ii. 14, 15. and whereof the Decalogue is 
summarily expressive. This moral law is therefore the law 
written in the hearts of all men by nature, which is resolved 
partly into the nature of God himself, which cannot but re- 
quire most of the things of it from rational creatures; partly 
into that state and condition of the nature of things and their 
mutual relations, wherein God was pleased to create arid set 
them. These things might be easily instanced and exem- 
plified, but that we must not too much divert from our pre- 


sent occasion. And herein lies the largest sense and accep- 
tation of the law moral, and consequently of moral virtues, 
which have their form and being from their relation and 
conformity thereunto. Let it be then, that moral virtues 
consist in the universal observance of the requisites and 
precepts of the law of our creation and dependence on God 
thereby. And this description, as we shall see for the sub- 
stance of it, is allowed by our author. 

Now these virtues, or this conformity of our minds and 
actions unto the law of our creation, may be, in the light and 
reason of Christian religion, considered two ways. First, 
as with respect unto the substance or essence of the duties 
themselves, they may be performed by men in their own 
strength, under the conduct of their own reason, without 
any special assistance from the Spirit, or sanctifying grace 
of Christ. In this sense, they still bear the name of virtues, 
and for the substance of them deserve so to do. Good they 
are in themselves, useful to mankind, and seMom in the 
providence of God go without their reward in tills world. I 
grant, I say, that they may be obtained and acted without 
special assistance of grace evangelical ; though the wiser 
heathens acknowledged something divine in the communica- 
tion of them to men. Papinius speaks to that purpose, 

Diva Jovis solio juxta comes ; unde per orbem 
Rara dari, terrisque solet contingere virtus. 
Seu Pater Oninipotens tribuit, sive ipsa capaces 
Elegit penetrare viros. 

But old Homer put it absolutely in the will of his God. 

Zeu; J' apiTr.v avJpso"a"iV o^eXXoi te fA,iv60ei te 

Thus we grant moral virtue to have been in the heathen 
of old. For this is that alone whereby they were distin- 
guished amongst themselves. And he that would exclude 
them all from any interest in moral virtue, takes away all 
difference between Cato and Nero, Aristides and Tiberius, 
Titus and Domitian ; and overthrows all natural difference 
between good and evil ; which besides other abominations 
that it would plentifully spawn in the world, would inevita- 
bly destroy all human society. But now these moral vir- 
tues thus performed, whatever our author thinks, are distinct 
from grace, may be without it, and in their present descrip- 
tion, which is not imaginary, but real, are supposed so to be. 



And if he pleases he may exercise himself in the longsome 
disputes of Bellarmine, Gregory de Valentia, and others to 
this purpose innumerable ; not to mention reformed divines, 
lest they should be scornfully rejected as systematical. 
And this is enous:h I am sure to free their religion from vil- 
lany, who make a distinction between moral virtue and 
grace. And if our author is otherwise minded, and doth 
believe that there is grace evangelical wherever there is 
moral virtue, or that moral virtues may be so obtained and 
exercised without the special assistance of grace, as to be- 
come a part of our religion, and accepted with God, and will 
maintain his opinion in writing, I will promise him if I live 
to return him an answer, on one only condition, which is, 
that he will first answer what Augustine hath written against 
the Pelagians on this subject. 

Again, these moral virtues, this observance of the pre- 
cepts of the law of our creation, in a consonancy whereunto 
originally the image of God in us did consist, may now 
under the gospel be considered, as men are principled, 
assisted, and enabled to and in their performance by the 
grace of God, and as they are directed unto the especial 
€nd of living unto him in and by Jesus Christ. What is 
particularly required hereunto, shall be afterward declared. 
Now in this sense no man living ever distinguished between 
grace and virtue, any otherwise than the cause and the 
effect are to be, or may be distinguished : much less was 
any person ever so brutish as to fancy an inconsistency be- 
tween them. For take grace in one sense, and it is the 
efficient cause of this virtue, or of these virtues which are 
the effects of it ; and in another they are all graces them- 
selves. For that which is wrought in us by grace is grace ; 
as that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 

To this purpose something may be spoken concerning 
grace also, the other term, whose ambiguity renders the 
discourse under consideration somewhat intricate and per- 
plexed. Now as the former term of moral virtue owes its 
original to the schools of philosophy, and its use was bor- 
rowed from them ; so this of grace is purely scriptural and 
evangelical. The world knows nothing of it but what is de- 
clared in the word of God, especially in the gospel, ' for the 
Jaw was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus 


Christ.' All the books of the ancient philosophers, will not 
give us the least light into that notion of grace, which the 
Scripture declares unto us. As then we allowed the sense 
of the former term given unto it by its first coiners and 
users, so we cannot but think it equal, that men be precisely 
tied up in their conceptions about grace, unto what is de- 
livered in the Scripture concerning it ; as having no other 
rule either to frame them, or judge of them. And this we 
shall attend unto. Not that I here design to treat of the 
nature of gospel grace in general ; but whereas all the 
divines that ever I have read on these things, whether 
ancient or modern (and I have not troubled myself to con- 
sider whether they were systematical ones only or otherwise 
qualified) allow some distinctions of this term to be neces- 
sary, for the right understanding of those passages of Scrip- 
ture wherein it is made use of, I shall mention that or those 
only, which are so unto the right apprehension of what is at 
present under debate. 

First, therefore, Grace in the Scripture is taken for the 
free grace or favour of God towards sinners by Jesus Christ. 
By this he freely pardoneth them their sins, justifieth and 
accepteth them, or makes them ' accepted in the beloved.* 
This certainly is distinct from moral virtue. Secondly, It is 
taken for the effectual working of the Spirit of God in and 
upon the minds and souls of believers, thereby quickening 
them when they were ' dead in trespasses and sins,' regene- 
rating of them, creating a new heart in them, implanting his 
image upon them : neither I presume will this be called 
moral virtue. Thirdly, For the actual supplies of assistance 
and ability given to believers, so to enable them unto every 
duty in particular, which in the gospel is required of them; 
• for he works in them both to will and to do of his own good 
pleasure.' As yet the former distinction will appear neces- 
sary. Fourthly, For the effects wrought and produced by 
this operation of God and his grace in the hearts and minds 
of them that believe ; which are either habitual in the spiri- 
tual disposition of their minds, or actual in their operation ; 
all which are called grace. It may be our author will be apt 
to think that I ' cant,' * use phrases,' or' fulsome metaphors.' 
But besides that I can confirm these distinctions, and the 
necessity of them, and the words wherein they are expressed. 


from the Scriptures and ancient fathers,! can give them him 
for the substance of them out of very learned divines, whe- 
ther systematical or no I know not ; but this I know, they 
were not long since bishops of the church of England. 

We are now in the next place to inquire into the mind of 
our author in these things ; for, from his apprehensions about 
them, he frames a mighty difference between himself and 
those whom he opposeth, and from thence takes occasion 
and advantage afresh to revile and reproach them. 

First, therefore. He declares his judgment that the moral 
virtues which he treats of do consist of men's observance of 
the law of nature, of the dictates of reason and precepts 

Secondly, That the substance, yea, the whole of religion 
consists in these virtues or duties ; so that by the observa- 
tion of them men may attain everlasting happiness. 

Thirdly, That there is no actual concurrence of present 
grace enabling men to perform these duties, or to exercise 
these virtues, but they are called grace on another account. 

Fourthly, That his adversaries are so far from making 
virtue and grace to be the same, that they make them incon- 
sistent. And these things shall we take into a brief exami- 
nation according as indeed they do deserve. 

The first of them he plainly and more than once affirms ; 
nor shall I contend with him about it. So he speaks, p. 68. 
* The practice of virtue consists in living suitably to the dic- 
tates of reason and nature, and this is the substance and 
main design of all the laws of religion, to oblige mankind to 
behave themselves in all their actions as becomes creatures 
endowed with reason and understanding, and in ways suit- 
able to rational beings, to prepare and qualify themselves for 
the state of glory and immortality.' This is a plain descrip- 
tion both of the rule of moral virtues and of the nature of 
them. The law of reason and nature is the rule; and their 
own nature, as acting or acted, consists in a suitableness 
unto rational beings acting to prepare themselves for the 
state of immortality and glory. The first end of all virtue 
no doubt. We need not therefore make any farther inquiry 
into this matter, wherein we are agreed. 

Secondly, That the substance, yea, the whole of religion 
consists in these moral virtues, he fully also declares p. 69. 


* Moral virtue having the strongest and most necessary in- 
fluence upon the end of all religion, viz. man's happiness, it 
is not only its most material and useful part, but the ulti- 
mate end of all its other duties (though I know not how 
the practice of virtue in this life can be the ultimate end of 
other duties), ' and all true religion can consist in nothing else 
but either the practice of virtue itself or the use of those 
means and instruments that contribute unto it.' So also, 
p. 70. ' All duties of devotion, excepting only our returns of 
gratitude, are not essential parts of religion, but are only in 
order to it, as they tend to the practice of virtue and moral 
goodness ; and their goodness is derived upon them from the 
moral virtues to which they contribute ; and in the same 
proportion they are conducive to the ends of virtue, they are 
to be valued among the ministers of religion.' So then the 
whole duty of man consists in being virtuous, and all that is 
enjoined beside, is in order thereunto. Hence we are told 
elsewhere, that ' outward worship is no part of religion.' 
Again, p. 76. ' All religion must of necessity be resolved 
into enthusiasm or morality; the former is mere imposture, 
and therefore all that is true must be reduced to the latter.' 
But we need not insist on particulars, seeing he promoteth 
this to confirmation by the best of demonstrations, i. e. an 
induction of all particulars, which he calls ' a scheme of reli- 
gion ;' wherein yet if any thing necessary be left out or omit- 
ted, this best of demonstrations is quickly turned into one of 
the worst of sophisms. Therefore we have here, no doubt, 
a just and full representation of all that belongs to Christian 
religion ; and it is as follows, p. 69. 'The whole duty of man 
refers either to his Creator, or his neighbour, or himself. 
All that concerns the two last is confessedly of a moral 
nature ; and all that concerns the first consists either in 
praising of God or praying to him ; the former is a branch 
of the virtue of gratitude, and is nothing but a thankful and 
humble temper of mind arising from a sense of God's great- 
ness in himself, and his goodness to us. So that this part' 
of devotion issues from the same virtuous quality, that is, 
the principle of all other resentments and expressions of 
gratitude, only those acts of it that are terminated on God 
as their object are styled religious ; and therefore gratitude 
and devotion are not divers things, but only differing names 


of the same thing ; devotion being nothing else but the vir- 
tue of gratitude towards God. The latter, viz. prayer, is 
either put up in our own or other men's behalf; if for others, 
it is an act of that virtue we call kindness or charity ; if for 
ourselves, the things we pray for, unless they be the com- 
forts and enjoyments of this life, are some or other virtuous 
qualities; and therefore the proper and direct use of prayer 
is to be instrumental to the virtues of morality.' It is of 
Christian religion that this author treats, as is manifest from 
his ensuing discourse, and the reason he gives why moral 
virtues are styled graces. Now I must needs say, that I look 
on this of our author as the rudest, most imperfect, and 
weakest scheme of Christian religion that ever yet I saw ; 
60 far from comprising an induction of all particulars belong- 
ing to it, that there is nothing in it that is constitutive of 
Christian religion, as such, at all. I wish he had given us a 
summary of the * credenda' ofit as hehath done of its 'agenda,' 
that we might have had a prospect of the body of his divi- 
nity. The ten commandments would in my mind have done 
twice as well on this present occasion, with the addition of 
the explication of them given us in the church catechism. 
But I am afraid that very catechism may ere long be es- 
teemed fanatical also. One I confess I have read of before, 
who was of this opinion, that all religion consisted in mo- 
rality alone. But withal he was so ingenuous as to follow 
the conduct of his judgment in this matter', unto a full re- 
nunciation of the gospel, which is certainly inconsistent 
Wch it. This was one Martin Sidelius, a Silesian, who gave 
Ihe Ci'isuing account of his faith unto Faustus Socinus and 
his soci'ety at Cracovia. 

' CeetOTum ut sciatis cujus sim religionis, quamvis id 
ficripto mec^ quod habetis, ostenderim, tamen hie breviter 
repetam. E<t primum quidem doctrina de Messia, seu rege 
illo promis&o, ad meam religionera nihil pertinet: nam rex 
ille tantum JucJseis promissus erat, sicut et bona ilia Canaan. 
Sic'etiam circumcisio sacrificia, et reliquse ceremonise Mosis 
ad me non pertinent, sed tantum populo Judaico promissa 
data et mandata sunt. Neque ista fuerunt cultus Dei apud 
Jud^os, sed inserviebant cultui divino, et ad cultum dedu- 
«ebajat Judseos. Verus autem cultus Dei quern meam re- 
ligioaemappello^estDecalogus: qui est ceterna Dei voluntas. 


qui Decalogus ideo ad me pertinet, quia etiam mihi a Deo 
datus est, non quidem per vocem sonantem de coela, sicut 
populo Judaico, at per creationem insita est menti mese; 
quia autem insitus Decalogus, per corruptionem naturae 
humanse, et pravis consuetudinibus, aliqua ex parte obscu- 
ratus est, ideo ad illustrandum eum, adhibeo vocalem De- 
calogum, qui vocatis Decalogus, ideo etiam ad me, ad omnes 
populos pertinet, quia cum insito nobis Decalogo consentit, 
imo idem ille Decalogus est. Hsec est mea sententia de 
Messia seu rege illo promisso, et hsec est mea religio, quana 
coram vobis ingenue profiteor. Martin Seidelius Olavensis 

That is, ' But that you may know of what religion I am, 
although it is expressed in that writing which you have 
already, yet I will here briefly repeat it. And first of all, 
the doctrine of the Messiah, or King that was promised, doth 
not belong to my religion ; for that King was promised to 
the Jews only ; as was the good land of Canaan. So in like 
manner circumcision, sacrifices, and the rest of the cere- 
monies of Moses belong not to me, but were promised, 
given, and granted unto the people of the Jews alone. 
Neither were they the worship of God among the Jews, but 
were only subservient unto divine worship, and led the 
Jews unto it' (the same opinion is maintained by our author 
concerning all exterior worship) : * but the true worship which 
I call my religion, is the Decalogue, which is the eternal and 
immutable will of God' (and here also he hath the consent and 
concurrence of our author); ' which Decalogue doth there- 
fore belong unto me, because it is given by God to me also ; 
not indeed by a voice sounding from heaven as he gave it 
to the people of the Jews, but it is implanted in my mind by 
nature. But because this implanted Decalogue by reason 
of the corruption of human nature, and through depraved 
customs, is in some measure obscured, for the illustration 
of it I make use of the vocal Decalogue, which therefore also 
belongs unto me and all people ; because it consenteth with 
the Decalogue written in our hearts ; yea, is the same law 
with it. This is my opinion concerning the Messiah, or the 
promised King ; and this is my religion, which I freely ac- 
knowledge before ye.' So he : this is plain dealing. He 
saw clearly, that if all religion and the worship of God con- 
sisted in morality only, there was neither need nor use of 


Christ, nor the gospel. And accordingly, having no out- 
ward advantage by them, discarded them. But setting aside 
his bold renunciation of Christ as promised, I see not any - 
material difference betvsreen the religion of this man and that 
now contended for. The poor deluded souls among our- 
selves, who leaving the Scripture, pretend that they are 
guided by the light within them, are upon the matter of 
the same religion. For that light being nothing but the 
dictates of reason and a natural conscience, it extends not 
itself beyond morality ; which some of them understanding, 
we know what thoughts and apprehensions they have had 
of Christ and his gospel, and the worship of God instituted 
therein. For hence it is (and not as our author pretends, 
with a strange incogitancy concerning them and the Gnos- 
tics, that they assert the Scripture to be the only rule of 
religious worship) that they are fallen into these fond ima- 
ginations. And these are the effects which this principle 
doth naturally lead unto. I confess, then, that I do not 
agree with our author in and about this scheme of Christian 
religion ; which I shall therefore first briefly put in my ex- 
ceptions unto, and then offer him another in lieu of it. 

First, then, This scheme seems to represent religion unto 
us as suited to the state of innocency, and that very imper- 
fectly also. For it is composed to answer the former asser- 
tions of confining religion to moral virtues, which are granted 
to consist in our conformity unto and expression of the dic- 
tates of reason and the law of nature. Again, the whole duty 
of man is said to I'efer either to his Creator, or his neighbour, 
or himself. Had it been said to God absolutely, another 
interpretation might have been put upon the words. But 
being restrained unto him as our Creator, all duties referring 
to our Redeemer are excluded, or not included, which cer- 
tainly have some place in Christian religion. Our obedience 
therein is the obedience of faith, and must answer the spe- 
cial objects of it. And we are taught in the church cate- 
chism to believe in God the Father, who made us and all the 
world ; and in God the Son, who redeemed us and all man- 
kind ; and in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies us and 
all the elect people of God. Now these distinct acts of 
faith, have distinct acts of obedience attending them ; 
whereas none here are admitted, or at least required, but 
those which fall under the first head. It is also very im- 


perfect as a description of natural religion, or the duties of 
the law of nature. For the principal duties of it, such as 
fear, love, trust, affiance of and in God, are wholly omitted ; 
nor will they be reduced unto either of the heads which all 
religion is here distributed unto. For gratitude unto God 
hath respect formally and directly to the benefits we our- 
selves are made partakers of. But these duties are eternally 
necessary on the consideration of the nature of God him- 
self, antecedent unto the consideration of his communicating 
of himself unto us by his benefits. Prayer proceeds from 
them ; and it is an odd method to reduce the cause under 
the head of its effect. And prayer itself is made at length 
not to be so much a moral virtue, as somewhat instrumental 
to the vitues of morality. 

Secondly, I cannot think we have here a complete re- 
presentation of Christian religion, nor an induction of all its 
particulars, because we have neither supposition nor asser- 
tion of sin, or a Redeemer, or any duty with respect unto 
them. Gratitude and prayer I confess are two heads, where- 
unto sundry duties of natural i^eligion without respect unto 
these things may be reduced. But since the fall of Adam, 
there was never any religion in the world accepted with 
God, that was not built and founded on the supposition of 
them, and whose principal duties towards God did not re- 
spect them. To prescribe now unto us a religion as it re- 
spects God, without those duties which arise from the con- 
sideration of sin, and a Redeemer, is to persuade us to throw 
away our bibles. Sin, and the condition of all men on the 
account thereof, what God requires of them with reference 
thereunto, the way that God hath found out, proposed, and 
requires of us to make use of, that we may be delivered 
from that condition, with the duties necessary to that end, 
do even constitute and make up that religion which the 
Scripture teacheth us, and which as it summarily expresseth 
itself, consists in repentance towards God, and faith in our 
Lord Jesus Christ; neither of which, nor scarce any thing 
that belongs unto tliem, appears in this scheme. So that. 

Thirdly, The most important duties of Christian religion 
are here not only omitted but excluded. Where shall we 
find any place here to introduce repentance ; and as belong- 
ing thereunto conviction of sin, humiliation, godly sorrow. 


conversion itself to God ? For my part I will never be of 
that religion where these duties towards God have no 
place. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, with all that is 
necessary to it, preparatory for it, included in it, and 
consequential on it, are in like manner cast out of the 
verge of religious duties here schematized. An endea- 
vour to fly from the wrath to come, to receive Jesus Christ, 
to accept of the atonement, to seek after the forgiveness of 
sins by him (that we may cant a little), and to give up our 
souls in universal obedience to all his commands, belong 
also to the duties of that religion towards God which the 
Scripture prescribeth unto us ; but here they appear not in 
the least intimation of them. No more do the duties which 
though generally included in the law of loving God above 
all, yet are prescribed and determined in the gospel alone. 
Such are self-denial, readiness to take up the cross, and the 
like. Besides, all the duties wherein our Christian conflict 
against our spiritual adversaries doth consist, and in espe- 
cial the whole of our duty towards God in the mortifica- 
tion of sin, can be of no consideration there, where no 
supposition of sin is made or allowed. But there would be 
no end if all exceptions of this nature, that readily offer 
themselves, might here have admittance. If this be the 
religion of our adversaries in these things, if this be a per- 
fect scheme of its duties towards God, and induction of all 
its particulars ; let our author insult over, and reproach them 
whilst he pleaseth, who blame it as insufficient without 
grace and godliness : I would not be in the condition af 
them who trusttheir eternal concernment to mere observance 
of it; as knowing that' there is no name under heaven given 
unto men whereby they may be saved, but only the name o-f 
Jesus Christ.' It will be in vain pretended, that it is not a 
description of Christian religion, but of religion as religion 
in general, that is here attempted. For besides that, it is 
Christian religion, and that as used and practised by Chris- 
tians, which is alone under consideration ; and an introduc- 
tion of religion here under any other notion would be griev- 
ously inconsistent and incoherent with the whole discourse. 
It is acknowledged by our author in the progress of his dis- 
putation, as was before observed, when he gives a reason why 
moral virtue is styled grace, which is peculiar and appro- 


priate to Christian religion alone. Besides, to talk now of 
a religion in the world, which either hath been, or may be, 
since the fall of Adam without respect unto sin, is to build 
castles in the air. All the religion that God now requires, 
prescribes, accepts, that is or can be, is the religion of sin- 
ners, or of those who are such, and of them as such, though 
also under other qualifications. On many accounts, there- 
fore, this scheme of religion or religious duties towards 
God, is exceedingly insufficient and imperfect. To lay it 
therefore as a foundation whereon to stand, and revile them 
who plead for a superaddition unto it of grace and god- 
liness, is an undertaking from whence no great success is 
to be expected. 

I can easily supply another scheme of religion in the 
room of this, which though it have not any such contexture 
of method, nor is set out with such gaudy words as those 
which our author hath at his disposal, yet I am confident in 
the confession of all Christians shall give a better account 
than what is here offered unto us both of the religion we 
profess, and of the duties that God requires therein ; and 
this taken out of one epistle of St. Paul ; namely, that to the 
Romans. And I shall do it as things come to mind in the 
haste wherein I am writing. He then gives us his scheme 
to this purpose : as first. That all men sinned in Adam, 
came short of the glory of God, and rendered themselves 
liable to death and the whole curse of the law. Then, that 
they do all, as left to themselves, accumulate their original 
sin and transgression, with a world of actual sins, and pro- 
vocations of God. That against men in this condition, 
God testifies his wrath and displeasure, both in his works 
and by his word. Hence itnecessarily follows, that the first 
duty of man towards God is to be sensible of this condition, 
of the guilt of sin, with a fear of the wrath and judgment 
due to them. Then he informs us, that neither the Jews by 
the law, nor the Gentiles by the light of nature, could dis- 
entangle themselves from this state, or do that which is 
pleasing unto God, so as they might obtain forgiveness of 
sin and acceptation with him. This bespeaks unto all the 
great duty towards God, of their acknowledgment unto 
him of their miserable and helpless condition, with all 
those affections and subordinate duties, wherewith it is 
attended. In this state he declares, that God himself in his 


infinite wisdom, goodness, and grace, provided a remedy, 
a way of relief; on which he hath put such an impression 
of his glorious excellencies, as may stir up the hearts of his 
creatures to endeavour a return unto him from their apos- 
tacy ; and that this remedy consists in his ' setting forth 
Jesus Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, 
to declare his righteousness for the forgiveness of sin;' which 
he proposeth unto men for their receiving and acceptance. 
This renders it the greatest duty of mankind towards God, 
to believe in the Son of God so set forth, to seek after an 
interest in him, or being made partaker of him ; for this is 
the great work that God requires, namely, that we believe 
on him whom he hath sent. Again, he declares that God 
justifieth them who so believe, pardoning their sins, and 
imputing righteousness unto them; whereon innumerable 
duties do depend, even all the obedience that Christ re- 
quires of us; seeing in our believing in him, we accept him 
to be our king to rule, govern, and conduct our souls to 
God. And all these are religious duties towards God. He 
declares, moreover, that whereas men are by nature ' dead 
in trespasses and sins,' and stand in need of a new spiritual 
life, to be born again, that they may live unto God ; that 
God in Jesus Christ doth by his Spirit quicken them, and 
regenerate them, and work in them a new principle of spiri- 
tual life ; whence it is their great duty towards God (in this 
religion of St. Paul) to comply with, and to yield obedience 
unto, all the ways and methods that God is pleased to use in 
the accomplishment of this work upon them, the especial 
duties whereof are too many to be instanced in. But he 
farther manifests, that notwithstanding the regeneration of 
men by the Spirit, and their conversion to God, there yet 
continues in them a remainder of the principle of corrupted 
nature, which he calls ' the flesh,' and ' indwelling sin,' that 
is of itself wholly ' enmity against God,' and as far it abides 
in any, inclines the heart and mind unto sin, which is to be 
watched against and opposed. And on this head, he intro- 
duceth the great religious duty towards God of our spiritual 
conflict against sin, and of the mortification of it, wherein 
those that believe are to be exercised all the days of their 
lives, and wherein their principal duty towards God doth con- 
sist, and without which they can perform no other in a due 
manner. Moreover, he farther adds the great gospel privi- 


lege of the communication of the Spirit of Christ unto be- 
lievers, for their sanctification, consolation, and edification ; 
with the duties of thankfulness towards God, joy and re- 
joicing in him, cheerfulness under trials, afflictions, and per- 
secutions, and sundry others that on that account are re- 
quired of us, all religious duties towards God, in the religion 
by him proposed unto us. Having laid these foundations, 
and manifested how they all proceed from the eternal coun- 
sel and free grace of God, in which it is our duty to admire, 
adore, and praise him, he declareth how hereby, and on the 
account of these things, we are bound unto all holiness, 
righteousness, godliness, honesty, and usefulness in this 
world, in all relations and conditions whatsoever; declaring 
our duties in churches, according to our especial interest in 
them towards believers, and towards all men in the world 
in our several relations ; in obedience to magistrates, and 
all superiors ; in a word, in universal observance of the whole 
will and all the commands of God. Now v^hether any one 
will call this a scheme or no, or allow it to have any thing of 
method in it or no, I neither know nor care ; but am per- 
suaded that it makes a better, more plain, and intelligible 
representation of the religious duties towards God which 
Christian religion requires of us, unto all that suppose this 
whole religion to depend on divine revelation, than that of 
our author. But I find myself in a digression ; the end of 
this discourse was only to manifest the sentiments of our 
author, on the second head before laid down, which I think 
are sufficiently evinced. 

The third is. That there is no actual work of present 
grace, either to fit the persons, of whom these duties of 
moral virtues are required unto the performance of them, or to 
work and effect them in them. For although they are called 
graces, and the graces of the Spirit, in the Scripture, yet that 
is upon another account; as he declares himself, p. 72. 
' All that the Scripture intends by the graces of the Spirit, 
are only virtuous qualities of the soul that are therefore 
styled graces, because they are derived purely from God's 
free grace and goodness, in that in the first ages of Christi- 
anity, he was pleased, out of his infinite concern for its pro- 
pagation, in a miraculous manner to inspire its converts with 
all sorts of virtue.' 'Virtuous qualities of the soul' is a very 


ambiguous expression. Take these virtuous qualities for a 
new principle of spiritual life, consisting in the habitual dis- 
position, inclination, and ability of mind unto the things re- 
quired of us in the will of God, or unto the acts of religious 
obedience, and it may express the graces of the Spirit; 
which are yet far enough from being so called upon the ac- 
count here mentioned. But these virtuous qualities, are to 
be interpreted according to the tenour of the preceding dis- 
courses, that have already passed under examination. Let 
now our author produce any one writer of the church of God, 
from first to last, of any repute or acceptation, from the day 
that the name of Christian was known in the world, unto this 
wherein we live, giving us this account why the fruits of the 
Spirit, the virtuous or gracious qualities of the minds of be- 
lievers, are called graces that here he gives, and I will give 
him my thanks publicly for his discovery. For if this be the 
only reason why any thing in believers is called grace, why 
virtues are graces, namely, because God was pleased in the 
first ages of Christianity miraculously to inspire its converts 
with all sorts of virtue, then there is no communication of 
grace unto any, no work of grace in and upon any, in an 
ordinary way, through the ministry of the gospel, in these 
latter ages. The whole being and efficacy of grace, accord- 
ing to this notion, is to be confined unto the miraculous 
operations of God in gospel concernments, in the first ages, 
whence a denomination in the Scripture is cast upon our 
virtues, when obtained and exercised by and in our own 
strength. Now this plainly overthrows the whole gospel, 
and contains a Pelagianism that Pelagius himself never did 
nor durst avow. 

Are these things then so indeed ? that God did from his 
free grace and goodness, miraculously inspire the first con- 
verts of Christianity with all sorts of virtues, but that he 
doth not still continue to put forth in any, actually, the effi- 
cacy of his grace, or make them gracious, holy, believing, 
obedient to himself, and to work in them all suitable actings 
towards himself and others? Then farewell Scripture, the 
covenant of grace, the intercession of Christ, yea, all the 
ancient fathers, councils, schoolmen, and most of the Jesuits 
themselves. Many have been the disputes amongst Chris- 
tians about the nature of grace, the rule of its dispensation. 


the manner and way of its operation, its efficacy, concur- 
rence, and co-operation in the wills of men ; but that there 
is no dispensation of it, no operation but what was miracu- 
lous in the first converts of the gospel, was, I think, until 
now undiscovered. Nor can it be here pretended, that al- 
though the virtuous qualities of our minds and their exercise, 
by which it is intended all the obedience that God requireth 
of us, in principle and practice, that we may please him, 
and come to the enjoyment of him, are not said to be called 
graces, only on the account mentioned : for as in respect of 
us they are not so termed at all, so if the term ' only' be not 
understood, the whole discourse is impertinent and ridicu- 
lous. For those other reasons and accounts that may be 
taken in, will render that given utterly useless unto our au- 
thor's intention, and indeed are altogether inconsistent with 
it. And he hath given us no reason to suppose that he talks 
after such a weak and preposterous a rate. This then is that 
which is here asserted, the qualities of our minds and their 
exercise wherein the virtues pleaded about, and affirmed to 
contain the whole substance of religion, do consist, are not 
wrought in us by the grace or Spirit of God through the 
preaching of the gospel, but are only called graces as before. 
Now, though here be a phiin contradiction to whatis delivered 
but two pages before, namely, ' that we pray for some or other 
virtuous qualities,' that is doubtless to be wrought in us by 
the grace of God ; yet this present discourse is capable of 
no other interpretation but that given unto it. And indeed 
it- seems to be the design of some men, to confine all real 
gifts and graces of the Spirit of God to the first ages of the 
gospel, and the miraculous operations in it ; which is to over- 
throw the whole gospel, the church, and the ministry of it, 
as to their use and efficacy, leaving men only the book of the 
Bible to philosophize upon, as shall be elsewhere demon- 
strated. Our author indeed tells us, that on the occasion 
of some men's writings in theology, 'there hath been a buzz 
and a noise of the Spirit of God in the world.' His expres- 
sions are exceedingly suited to pour contempt on what he 
doth not approve ; not so to express what he doth himself 
intend. But I desire that he and others would speak plain 
and openly in this matter, that neitlier others may be de- 
ceived nor themselves have occasion to complain that they 



are misrepresented; a pretence whereof would probably 
give them a dispensation to deal very roughly, if not de- 
spitefully with them with whom they shall have to do. 
Doth he therefore think or believe, that there are not now 
any real gracious operations of the Spirit of God upon the 
hearts and minds of men in the world ? that the dispensation 
of the Spirit is ceased, as well unto ordinary ministerial gifts, 
with its sanctifying, renewing, assisting grace, as unto gifts 
miraculous and extraordinary? that there is no work at all of 
God upon the hearts of sinners, but that which is purely 
moral and persuasive by the word? that what is asserted by 
some concerning the efficacy of the grace of the Spirit, and 
concerning his gifts, is no more but * a buzz and a noise?' I 
wish he would explain himself directly and positively in 
these things ; for they are of great importance. And the 
loose expressions which we meet with, do give great offence 
unto some who are apt to think, that as pernicious a heresy 
as ever infested the church of God, may be covered and 
cloaked by them. 

But to return ; in the sense that moral virtue is here 
taken, I dare boldly pronounce, that there is no villany in 
the religion of those men, who distinguish between virtue 
and grace ; that is, there not in their so doing ; this being the 
known and avowed religion of Christianity. It is granted, 
that wherever grace is, there is virtue. For grace will produce 
and effect all virtues in the soul whatever. But virtue on 
th(^ other side maybe where there is no grace, which is suffi- 
cient to confirm a distinction between them. It was so in 
sundry of the heathen of old ; though now it be pretended 
that grace is nothing but an occasional denomination of vir- 
tue, not that it is the cause or principle of it. But the proofs 
produced by our author are exceedingly incompetent unto 
the end whereunto they are applied. For that place of the 
apostle, Gal. v. 22, 23. * The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, 
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, 
temperance.' Though our author should be allowed to turn 
joy into cheerfulness, peace into peaceableness, faith into 
faithfulness, as he hath done, corruptly enough, to accom- 
modate it to his purpose, yet it will no way reach his end, 
nor satisfy his intention. For doth it follow, that because 
the Spirit effects all these moral virtues in a new and gra- 


cious manner, and with a direction to a new and special end 
in believers, either that these things are nothing but mere 
moral virtues, not wrought in us by the grace of God (the 
contrary whereof is plainly asserted in calling them fruits of 
the Spirit), or that wherever there is moral virtue, though 
not so wrought by the Spirit, that there is grace also, be- 
cause virtue and grace are the same ? If these are the ex- 
positions of Scripture, which we may expect from them who 
make such outcries against other men's perverting and cor- 
rupting of it, the matter is not like to be much mended with 
us, for aught I can see, upon their taking of that work into 
their own hands. And indeed his quotation of this place is 
pretty odd. He doth not in the print express the words as 
he useth, and as he doth those of another Scripture imme- 
diately, in a different character, as the direct words of the 
apostle, that no man may charge him with a false allegation 
of the text. Yet he repeats all the words of it which he in- 
tends to use to his purpose, somewhat altering the expres- 
sions. But he hath had, I fear, some unhappiness in his 
explanations. By joy he would have cheerfulness intended. 
But what is meant by cheerfulness is much more uncertain 
than what is intended by joy. Mirth it may be in conver- 
sation is aimed at, or somewhat of that nature. But how 
remote this is from that spiritual joy, which is recommended 
unto us in the Scripture, and is affirmed to be unspeakable 
and full of glory, he that knows not is scarce meet to para- 
phrase upon St. Paul's epistles. Neither is that peace with 
God through Jesus Christ, which is wrought in the hearts of 
believers by the Holy Ghost, who ' creates the fruit of the 
lips, peace, peace, unto them,' a matter of any more affinity 
with a moral peaceableness of mind and affections. Our 
faith also in God, and our faithfulness in our duties, trusts, 
offices, and employments, are sufficiently distinct. So pal- 
pably must the Scripture be corrupted and wrested to be 
made serviceable to this presumption. He yet adds another 
proof to the same purpose, if any man know distinctly what 
that purpose is ; namely, Titus ii. 11. where he tells us that 
the same apostle makes the grace of God to consist in gra- 
titude towards God, temperance towards ourselves, and jus- 
tice towards our neighbours. But these things are not so. 
For the apostle doth not say, that the grace of God doth con- 



sist in these things, but that the ' grace of God teacheth us 
these things.' Neither is the grace here intended any sub- 
jective or inherent grace, or, to speak with our author, any 
virtuous quality or virtue, but the love and grace of God 
himself, in sending Jesus Christ as declared in the gospel, 
vi?as, is manifest in the words and context beyond contradic- 
tion. And I cannot but wonder how our author, desirous to 
prove that the whole of our religion consists in moral virtues, 
and these only called graces because of the miraculous oper- 
ations of God from his own grace in the first gospel converts, 
should endeavour to do it by these two testimonies : the first 
whereof expressly assigns the duties of morality as in be- 
lievers, to the operations of the Spirit, and the latter in his 
judgment makes them to proceed from grace. 

Our last inquiry is into what he ascribes unto his ad- 
versaries in this matter, and how he deals with them there- 
upon. This therefore he informs us, p. 71. ' Itis not enough, 
say they, to be completely virtuous, unless ye have grace too.' 
I can scarce believe that ever he heard any one of them say so, 
or ever read it in any of their writings. For there is nothing 
that they are more positive in, than that men cannot in any 
sense be completely virtuous unless they have grace ; and 
so cannot suppose them to be so, who have it not. They 
say, indeed, that moral virtues, as before described, so far as 
they are attainable by, or may be exercised in, the strength 
of men's own wills and natural faculties, are not enough to 
please God and to make men accepted with him. So that 
virtue as it may be without grace, and some virtues may be 
so for the substance of them, is not available unto salvation. 
And I had almost said, that he is no Christian that is of 
another mind. In a word, virtue is, or may be without 
grace, in all or any of the acceptations of it before laid down. 
Where it is without the favour of God and the pardon of 
sin, where it is without the renewing of our natures, and the 
endowment of our persons with a principle of spiritual life, 
where it is not wrought in us by present efficacious grace, it 
is not enough ; nor will serve any man's turn with respect 
unto the everlasting concernments of his soul. 

But he gives in his exceptions, p. 71. ' But when,' saith 
he, ' we have set aside all manner of virtue, let them tell 
me what remains to bo called grace, and give me any notion 


of it distinct from all morality, that consists in the right 
order and government of our actions in all our relations, and 
so comprehends all our duty ; and therefore if grace be not 
included in it, it is but a phantasm and an imaginary thing.' 
I say, first, where grace is, we cannot set aside virtue, because 
it will and doth produce and effect it in the minds of men. 
But virtue may be where grace is not, in the sense so often 
declared. Secondly, Take moral virtue in the notion of it 
here received and explained by our author, and I have given 
sundry instances before of gracious duties that come not 
within the verge or compass of the scheme given us of it. 
Thirdly, The whole aimed at lies in this, that virtue that go- 
verns our actions in all our duties may be considered either 
as the duty we owe to the law of nature for the ends of it, to 
be performed in the strength of nature and by the direction 
of it, or it may be considered as it is an especial effect of the 
grace of God in us, which gives it a new principle and a new 
end, and a new respect unto the covenant of grace wherein 
we walk with God, the consideration whereof frustrates the 
intention of our author in this discourse. 

But he renews his charge, p. 73. ' So destructive of all 
true and real goodness is the very religion of those men that 
are wont to set grace at odds with virtue, and are so far from 
making them the same, that they make them inconsistent; 
and though a man be exact in all the duties of moral good- 
ness, yet if he be a graceless person (i. e. void of I know not 
what imaginary godliness) he is but in a cleaner way to 
hell, and his conversion is more hopeless than the vilest and 
most notorious sinners ; and the morally righteous man is at 
a greater distance from grace than the profane; and better 
be lewd and debauched than live an honest and virtuous life, 
if you are not of the godly party;' with much more to this 
purpose. For the men that are wont to set grace at odds 
with virtue, and are so far from making them the same that 
they make them inconsistent, I wish our author would dis- 
cover them, that he might take us along with him in his 
detestation of them. It is not unlikely, if all be true that is 
told of them, but that the Gnostics might have some princi- 
ples not unlike this ; but beside them I never heard of any 
that were of this mind in the world. And in truth, the li- 
berty that is taken in these discourses is a great instance of 


the morality under consideration. But the following words 
will direct us where these things are charged. For some 
say, that if ' a man be exact in all the duties of moral good- 
ness, yet if he be a graceless person, void of I know not what 
imaginary godliness, he is but in a cleaner way to hell.' I 
think I know both what, and who are intended, and that 
both are dealt withal with that candour we have been now 
accustomed unto. But, first, you will scarce find those you 
intend over-forward in granting that men may be * exact in 
all the duties of moral goodness,' and yet be graceless per- 
sons. For taking moral virtues to comprehend, as you do, 
their duties towards God, they will tell you such persons 
cannot perform one of them aright, much less all of them ex- 
actly. For they can neither trust in God, nor believe him, 
nor fear him, nor glorify him, in a due manner. Take the 
duties of moral goodness for the duties of the law between 
man and man, and the observation of the outward duties of 
God*s worship, and they say, indeed, that they may be so 
performed as that in respect of them men may be blameless, 
and yet be graceless. For that account, if they mistake not, 
the apostle Paul gives of himself, Phil. iii. 6 — 8. They do 
say, therefore, that many of these duties, so as to be use- 
ful in the world and blameless before men, they may perform 
who are yet graceless. Thirdly, This gracelessness is said 
to consist in being * void of I know not what imaginary god- 
liness.' No, no ; it is to be void of the Spirit of God, of the 
grace of Christ, not to be born again, not to have a new spi- 
ritual life in Christ, not to be united to him, or ingrafted in 
him, not to be accepted and made an heir of God, and en- 
abled to a due spiritual evangelical performance of all duties 
of obedience, according to thetenour of the covenant; these 
are the things intended. And as many with their moral 
duties may come short of them and be graceless ; so those 
to whom they are imaginary must reject the whole gospel of 
Christ as an imagination. And I must say, to give matter 
of a new charge, that to the best observation that I have 
been able to make in the world, none have been, nor are 
more negligent in the principal duties of morality, than those 
who are aptest to exalt them above the gospel and the whole 
mystery of it, unless morality do consist in such a course of 
life and conversation as I will not at present characterize. 


It is farther added, that the ' conversion of such a one is 
more hopeless than the vilest and most notorious sinners ; 
and the morally righteous man/ &c. Setting aside the invi- 
dious expression of what is here reflected upon, and there is 
nothing more openly taught inthe gospel . The Pharisees were 
a people morally righteous, whereon they trusted to them- 
selves that they were righteous ; and yet our Lord Jesus Christ 
told them, that 'publicans and harlots,' the vilest and most 
notorious of sinners, entered before them into the kingdom 
of God. And where men trust to their own righteousness, 
their own duties, be they moral or what they will, there are 
no men farther from the way of the gospel than they. Nay, 
our Saviour lets us know, that as such the gospel is not con- 
cerned in them, nor they in it. ' He came not,' he says, 'to 
call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;' not men jus- 
tifying, or lifting up themselves in a conceit of their moral 
duties, but those who are burdened and laden with a sense of 
their sins. And so in like ma^nner, that ' the whole have no 
need of the physician, but the sick ;' and St. Paul declares 
what enemies they were to the righteousness of God ' who 
went about to set up their own righteousness ;' Rom. x. 
Now because moral duties are incumbent on all persons, at 
all times, they are continually pressed upon all, from a sense 
of the authority and command of God, indispensably re- 
quiring all men's attendance unto them. Yet such is the 
dcceitfulness of the heart of man, and the power of unbelief, 
that oftentimes persons, who through their education, or fol- 
lowing convictions, have been brought to some observance 
of them ; and being not enlightened in their minds to dis- 
cern their insufficiency unto the great end of salvation, in 
and of themselves, are apt to take up with them, and to rest 
in them, without ever coming to sincere repentance to- 
wards God, or faith in our Lord Jesus Christ ; whereas 
others, the guilt of whose sins doth unavoidably press 
upon them, as it did on the publicans and sinners of old, 
are ofttimes more ready lo look out after relief. And those 
who question these things do nothing but manifest their ig- 
norance in the Scripture, and want of experience in the work 
of the ministry. But yet, upon the account of the charge 
mentioned, so unduly framed, and impotently managed, our 
author makes an excursion into such an extravagancy of 


reproaches as is scarce exceeded in his whole book : part of 
it I have considered before in our view of his preface ; and 
I am now so used to the noise and bluster wherewith he 
pours out the storm of his indignation, that I am altogether 
unconcerned in it, and cannot prevail with myself to give it 
any farther consideration. 

These things, though not direct to the argument in hand, 
and which on that account might have been neglected, yet 
supposing that the author placed as much of his design in 
them, as in any part of his discourse, I could not wholly 
omit the consideration of; not so much out of a desire for 
their vindication who are unduly traduced in them, as to 
plead for the gospel itself, and to lay a foundation of a far- 
ther defence of the truths of it, if occasion shall so require. 
And we have also here an insight into the judgment of our 
author, or his mistake in this matter. He tells us, that it 
is better to tolerate debaucheries and immoralities, than 
liberty of conscience, for men to worship God according to 
their light and persuasion. Now all religion according to 
him consisting in morality, to tolerate immoralities and 
debaucheries in conversation, is plainly to tolerate atheism ; 
which, it seems, is more eligible than to grant liberty of con- 
science, unto them who differ from the present establish- 
ment, only as to some things belonging to the outward wor- 
ship of God. 

These things being premised, the argument itself, pleaded 
in this chapter, is capable of a speedy dispatch. It is to this 
purpose : * The magistrate hath power over the consciences 
of men in reference to morals, or moral virtues, which are 
the principal things in religion, and therefore much more 
hath so in reference to the worship of God, which is of less 
importance.' We have complained before of the ambiguity 
of these general terms, but it is to no purpose to do so any 
more, seeing that we are not like to be relieved in this dis- 
course. Let us then take things as we find them, and 
satisfy ourselves in the intention of the author, by that decla- 
ration which he makes of it up and down the chapter; but yet 
here we are at a loss also. When he speaks, or seems to 
speak to this purpose, whether in the confirmation of the 
proposition, or the inference, whereof his arguments consists, 
what he says is cast into such an inteitexture v^ith invec- 


tives and reproaches, and expressed in such a loose decla- 
matory manner, as it is hard to discover or find out what it 
is that he intends. Suppose therefore, in the first place, 
that a man should call his consequent into question ; namely, 
that because the magistrate hath power over the consciences 
of his subjects in morals, that therefore he hath so also in 
matters of instituted worship ; how would he confirm and 
vindicate it'.' Two things are all I can observe that are 
offered in the confirmation of it. First, That ' these things of 
morality, moral virtues, are of more importance in religion 
than the outward worship of God,' which the amplitude of 
power before asserted is now reducing to a respect unto. 
Secondly, That 'there is much more danger of his erring and 
mistaking in things of morality, than in things of outward 
worship, because of their great weight and importance.' 
These things are pleaded, p. 28. and elsewhere up and 
down. That any thing else is offered in the confirmation 
of this consequent I find not. And it may be some will 
think these proofs to be very weak and feeble, unable to sus- 
tain the weight that is laid upon them. For it is certain that 
the first rule, that he that hath power over the greater hath 
so over the lesser, doth not hold unless it be in things of the 
same nature and kind; and it is no less certain and evident, 
that there is an especial and formal difference between these 
things, namely, moral virtues, and instituted worship ; the 
one depending as to thei'-t being and discovery on the light 
of nature, and the dictates of that reason which is common 
to all, and speaks the same language in the consciences of 
all mankind ; the other on pure revelation, which may be, 
and is variously apprehended. Hence it is, that whereas 
there is no difference in the world about what is virtue and 
what is not, there is no agreement about what belono's to 
divine worship and what doth not. 

Again, lesser things may be exem])ted from that power 
and authority by especial privilege or law, which hath the 
disposal of greater committed unto it, and intrusted with 
it. As the magistrate amongst us may take away the life 
of a man, which is the greatest of his concernments, the name 
of his all, for felony ; but cannot take away his estate or in- 
heritance of land, wliich is a far less coacernment unto him. 


if it be antecedently settled by law to other uses than his 
own. And if it cannot be proved that the disposal of the 
worship of God, as to what doth really and truly belong unto 
it, and all the parts of it, is exempted from all human power 
by special law and privilege, let it be disposed of as whoso 
will shall judge meet. 

Nor is the latter consideration suggested to enforce this 
consequent of any more validity ; namely, ' that there is 
more danger of the magistrate's erring or mistakes about 
moral virtue, than about rites of worship ;' because that is 
of most concernment in religion. For it is true, that sup- 
pose a man to walk on the top of a high house or tower, on 
a plain floor with battlements or walls round about him, 
there will be more danger of breaking his neck, if he should 
fall from thence, than if he should fall from the top of a 
narrow wall that had not the fourth part of the height of 
the house. But there would not be so much danger of fall- 
ing. For from the top of the house as circumstantiated he 
cannot fall, unless he will wilfully and violently cast him- 
self down headlong ; and on the top of the wall, it may be, 
he cannot stand, with the utmost of his heed and endea- 
vours. The magistrate cannot mistake about moral virtues 
unless he will do it wilfully. They have their station fixed 
in the world, on the same ground and evidence with the ma- 
gistracy itself. The same evidence, the same common con- 
sent and suffrage of mankind is ^ven unto moral virtues, 
as is to any government in the world. And to suppose a 
supreme magistrate, a lawgiver, to mistake in these things, 
in judging whether justice, and temperance, or fortitude, be 
virtues or no, and that in their legislative capacity, is ridi- 
culous. Neither Nero nor Caligula were ever in danger of 
any such misadventure. All the magist.rates in the world at 
this day, are agreed about these things. But as to what 
concerns the worship of God, they are all at variance. There 
is no such evidence in these things, no such common suf- 
frage about them, as to free any absolutely from failings and 
mistakes; so that in respect of them, and not of the other, 
lies the principal danger of miscarrying, as to their determi- 
nation and administration. Supposing therefore the pre- 
mises our author lays down to be true, his inference from 


them is feeble, and obnoxious to various impeachments, 
whereof I have given some few instances only, which shall 
be increased if occasion require. 

But the assertion itself, which is iiie foundation of these 
consequences, is utterly remote from accuracy and truth. 
It is said, that ' the magistrate hath power over the con- 
sciences of men in reference unto moral duties, which are the 
principal parts of religion.' Our first and most difficult in- 
quiry, is after the meaning of this proposition, the latter 
after its truth. I ask then, first. Whether he hath power over 
the consciences of men with respect unto moral virtue, and 
over moral virtue itself, as virtue, and as a part of religion, 
or on some other account ? If his power respect virtue as a 
part of religion, then it equally extends itself to all that is 
so, by virtue of a rule which will not be easily everted. But 
it doth not appear that it so extends itself as to plead an 
obliging authority in reference unto all duties. For let but 
the scheme of moral duties, especially those whose object is 
God, given us by our author, be considered, and it will 
quickly be discerned how many of them are exempted from 
all human cognizance and authority; and that from and by 
their nature as well as their use in the world. And it is in 
vain to ascribe an authority to magistrates which they have 
no power to exert, or take cognizance whether it be obeyed 
or no. And what can they do therein with respect unto 
gratitude to God, which holds the first place in the scheme 
of moral virtues here given in unto us. We are told also, 
p. 83. ' That in matters both of moral virtue, and divine wor- 
ship, there are some rules of good and evil that are of an 
eternal and unchangeable obligation, and these can never 
be prejudiced or altered by any human power, because the 
reason of their obligation arises from a necessity and consti- 
tution of nature, and therefore must be as perpetual as that ; 
but then there are other rules of duty that are alterable ac- 
cording to the various accidents, changes, and conditions of 
human hfe, and depend chiefly upon contracts and positive 
laws of kingdoms.' It would not be unworthy our inquiry 
to consider what rules of moral duty they are, which are al- 
terable and depend on accidents and contracts. But we 
might easily find work enough, should we call all such fond 
assertions to a just examination. Neither doth the distinc- 


tion here given us between various rules of moral virtue, 
very well answer what we are told, p. 69. namely, ' that every 
particular virtue is therefore such, because it is a resem- 
blance and imitation of some of the divine attributes,' which 
I suppose they are not, whose rules and forms are alterable 
upon accidents and occasions. And we are taught also, 
p. 68. that the * practice of virtue consists in living suitable to 
the dictates of reason and nature ;' which are rules not vari- 
able and changeable. There must be some new distinction 
to reconcile these things, which I cannot at present think of. 
That which I would inquire from hence is. Whether the ma- 
gistrate have power over the consciences of men in reference 
unto those things in morality, whose rules of good and evil 
are of an eternal obligation? That he hath not is evidently 
implied in this place. And I shall not enter into the con- 
fusion of the ensuing discourse, where the latter sort of rules 
for virtue, the other member of the distinction, are turned 
into various methods of executing laws about outward acts 
of virtue or vice ^ and the virtues themselves into out- 
ward expressions and significations of duty; for I have at 
present no contest with this author about his manner of 
writing, nor do intend to have. It is enough that here at 
once all the principal and most important virtues are vin- 
dicated to their own unalterable rules as such, and the 
consciences of men in reference unto them put under 
another jurisdiction. And what then becomes of this 
argument. That the magistrate must have power over the 
consciences of men in matters of divine worship, because 
he hath so in things moral which are of greater import- 
ance, when what is so of importance, is exempted from his 

Hence it sufficiently appears, that the authority of the 
magistrate over men, with reference unto moral virtue and 
duty, doth not respect virtue as virtue, but hath some other 
consideration. Now what this is, is evident unto all. How 
moral virtues do belong unto religion and are parts of it, 
hath been before declared. But God, who hath ordered all 
things in weight and measure, hath fore-designed them also 
to another end and purpose. For preparing mankind for 
political society in the world among themselves for a time, 
as well as for rehgious obedience unto himself, he inlaid his 


nature and composition with principles suited to both those 
ends, and appointed them to be acted with different respects 
unto them. Hence moral virtues, notv/ithstanding their pe- 
culiar tendency unto him, are appointed to be the instrument 
and ligament of human society also. As the law of Moses 
had in it a typical end, use, and signification, with respect 
to Christ and the gospel, and a political use as the instrument 
of the government of the nation of the Jews. Now the 
power of the magistrate in respect of moral virtues, is in 
their latter use ; namely, as they relate to human policy, 
which is concerned in the outward actings of them. This 
therefore is granted; and we shall inquire farther. Whether 
any more be proved, namely, that the magistrate hath power 
over the outward actings of virtue and vice, so far as human 
society or public tranquillity is concerned in them, and on 
that account ? 

Secondly, It may be inquired, what is the power and au- 
thority over moral virtues, which is here ascribed unto the 
civil magistrate, and over the consciences of men with re- 
spect unto them ? Is it such as to make that to be virtue 
which was not virtue before, or which was vice, and oblige 
men in conscience to practirse it as virtue ? This would go 
a great way indeed, and answer somewhat of what is, or as 
it is said, may be done in the worship of God, when that is 
made a part of it which was not so before. But what name 
shall these new virtues be called by? A new virtue, both 
as to its acts and objects, will as much fly the imaginations 
of men, as a sixth sense doth. It maybe our author will 
satisfy us as to this inquiry; for he tells us, p. 80. that he 
hath power ' to make that a particular of the divine law, that 
God hath not made so.' I wish he had declared himself how, 
and wherein ; for I am afraid this expression as here it lies 
is offensive. The divine law is divine, and so is every par- 
ticular of it; and how a man can make a thing divine, that 
is not so of itself, nor by divine institution, is hard to find 
out. It may be that only the subject matter of the law, and not 
the law itself formally is intended ; and to make a thing a par- 
ticular of the divine law, is no more but to make the divine law 
require that in particular of a man which it did not require 
of him before. But this particular, refers to the nature, es- 
sence, and being of the thing, or to the acting and occasion 


of it in particular. And if it be taken in the latter sense, 
here is no more ascribed unto the magistrate, than is com- 
mon with him to every man in the world. For every one 
that puts himself into new circumstances, or new relations, 
doth so make that unto him to be a particular of the divine 
law, which was not so before ; for he is bound and obliged 
unto the actual performance of many duties, which as so 
circumstantiated, he was not bound unto before. 

But somewhat else seems to be intended from the en- 
suing discourse : ' they are fully empowered to declare new 
instances of virtue and vice, and to introduce new duties in 
the most important parts of religion.' And yet I am still at 
the same loss. For by his ' declaring new instances of virtue 
and vice,' I suppose he intends an authoritative declaration, 
such as that they have no other foundation, nor need none 
to make them what they are. They are new instances of 
virtue and vice, because so declared. And this suits unto 
the 'introducing of new duties in the most important parts 
of religion,' made duties by that introduction. I wish I 
could yet learn what these * new instances of virtue and vice* 
are, or mean ; whether they are new as virtues and vices, 
or as instances. For the first, would I could see a new 
practice of old virtues ; but to tell you the truth, I care not 
for any of the new virtues, that I have lately observed in the 
world ; nor do I hope ever to see any better new ones. 

If it be the instances that are new, I wish again I knew 
what were more in them, than the actual and occasional 
exercise of old duties. Pages 79, 80. conduce most to extricate 
us out of these ambiguities. There we are informed, * that 
the laws of every nation do distinguish and settle men's 
rights and properties,' and that distinctly with respect 
whereunto justice, that prime natural virtue, is in particular 
instances to be exercised. And, p. 84. it is farther de- 
clared, ' that in the administration of justice, there may be 
great difference in the constitution of penalties and execu- 
tion of men.' This it seems is that which is aimed at; the 
magistrate by his laws determines, whether Titius have set 
his hedge upon Caius's ground ; and whether Sempronius 
hath rightly conveyed his land or house, to his son, or 
neighbour; whereby what is just and lawful in itself, is ac- 
commodated to the use of political society. He determines 


also how persons guilty of death shall be executed, and by 
whom, and in what manner; whence it must needs follow 
that he hath power to assign new particulars of the divine 
law, to declare new bounds, or hedges, of right and wrong, 
vv liich the law of God neither doth, nor can limit, or hath 
power over the consciences of men with respect to moral 
virtues; which was to be demonstrated. Let us lay aside 
these swelling expressions, and we shall find that all that 
can be ascribed unto the civil magistrate in this matter, 
is no more than to preserve property and peace by that 
rule and power over the outward actions of men which is 
necessary thereunto. 

Having made some inquiry into the terms of moral virtue 
and the magistrate's power, it remains only that we consider 
what respect this case hath unto the consciences of men, 
with reference unto them. And I desire to know, whether 
all mankind be not obliged in conscience to the observa- 
tion of all moral virtue, antecedently to the command or 
authority of the magistrate, who doth only inspect their 
observation of them as to the concerns of public peace and 
tranquillity? Certainly, if all moral virtue consists in living 
suitable to the dictates of reason, as we are told, and in a 
sense rightly, if the rule of them all and every one, which 
gives them their formal nature, be the law of our creation, 
which all mankind enter the world under an indispensable 
obligation unto, it cannot be denied but that there is such 
an antecedent obligation to the consciences of men, as that 
inquired after. But the things mentioned are granted by 
our author; nor can by any be denied, without offering the 
highest outrage to Scripture, reason, and the common con- 
sent of mankind. Now if this obligation be thus on all men, 
unto all virtue as virtue, and this absolutely from the au- 
thority of God over them and their consciences, how comes 
an inferior authority to interpose itself between that of 
God and their consciences, so immediately to oblige them ? 
It is granted, that when the magistrate commandeth and re- 
quireth the exercise of any moral duty, in a way suited unto 
public good and tranquillity, he is to be obeyed for con- 
science' sake ; because he who is the Lord of conscience 
doth require men to be obedient unto him, whereon they are 
obliged in conscience so to be. Bur. if the things required 


of them be in themselves moral duties, as they are such, 
their consciences are obliged to observe and exercise them 
from the command of God, and other obligation unto them 
as such, they neither have nor can have. But the direction 
and command for the exercise of them, in these and those 
circumstances, for the ends of public good vv'hereunto they 
are directed, belongs unto the magistrate, who is to be 
obeyed. For as in things merely civil, and which have 
nothing originally of morality in them, but secondarily only, 
as they tend to the preservation and welfare of human so- 
ciety, which is a thing morally good, the magistrate is to 
be obeyed for conscience' sake, and the things themselves, 
as far as they partake of morality, come directly under the 
command of God which affects the conscience ; so in things 
that have an inherent and inseparable morality, and so re- 
spect God in the first place, when they come to have a civil 
sanction iu reference to their exercise unto public political 
good, that sanction is to be obeyed out of conscience ; but 
the antecedent obligation that was upon the conscience 
unto a due exercise of those duties, when made necessary 
by circumstances, is not superseded, nor any new one added 

I know what is said, but I find not as yet what is proved 
from these things concerning the uncontrollable and ab- 
solute power of the supreme magistrate over religion and 
the consciences of men. Some things are added indeed 
here up and down, about circumstances of divine worship, 
and ftie power of ordering them by the magistrate, which 
though there may be some different conceptions about, yet 
they no way reach the cause under debate. But as they are 
expressed by our author, I know not of any one writer in 
and of the church of England, that hitherto hath so stated 
them, as they are by him. For he tells us, p. 85. that 'all 
rituals, ceremonies, postures, and manners of performing the 
outward expressions of devotion, that are not chargeable 
with countenancing vice or disgracing the Deity, are capa- 
ble of being adopted into the ministries of divine service, 
and are not exempted from being subject to the determina- 
tions of human power.' Whether they are so or no, the 
magistrate, I presume, is to judge; or all this flourish of 
words and concessions of power, vanish into smoke. His 

VI xDiCATF.i:). 289 

command of them binds the consciences of men to observe 
them, according to the principle under consideration. Hence 
it must be absolutely in the power of every supreme magis- 
trate to impose on the Christian subjects, a greater number 
of ceremonious observances in the worship of God, and those 
of greater weight than ever were laid upon the Jews. For 
who knows not that under the names of ' rituals, ceremonies, 
postures, manners of performing all divine service,' what a 
burdensome heap of things are imposed in the Roman 
church ; whereunto as far as I know a thousand more may 
be added, not chargeable in themselves with either of the 
crimes, which alone are allowed to be put in, in bar or plea 
against them? And whether this be the liberty whereunto 
Jesus Christ hath vindicated his disciples and church, is left 
unto the judgment of sober men. Outward religious wor- 
ship we know is to be performed by natural actions ; these 
have their circumstances, and those ofttimes because of the 
public concernments of the exercise of religion of great im- 
portance. These may be ordered by the power, and ac- 
cording to the wisdom of those in authority. But that they 
should make so many things, as this assertion allows them 
to make, to belong unto and to be parts of the worship of 
God, whereof not. one is enjoined or required by him, and 
the consciences of men be thereby obliged unto their obser- 
vance ; I do not believe, nor is it here at all proved. 

To close this discourse about the power of obliging the 
consciences of men, I think our author grants that conscience 
is immediately obliged to the observation of all things that 
are good in themselves from the law of our creation. Such 
things as either the nature of God or our own require from 
from us, our consciences surely are obliged immediately by 
the authority of God to observe. Nor can we have any dis- 
pensation for the non-performance of our duty, from the in- 
terposition of the commands and authority of any of the 
sons of men. For this would be openly and directly to set 
up men against God, and to advance them or their authority 
above him or his. Things evidently deduced, and necessa- 
rily following the first principles and dictates of nature, are 
of the same kind witli themselves, and have the authority of 
God no less enstamped on them than the other; and in re- 
spect unto them, conscience cannot by virtue of inferior 

VOL. XXI. u 


commands plead an exemption. Things of mere revelation 
do remain ; and concerning them I desire to know, whether 
we are not bound to observe and do whatever God in his 
revealed will commands us to observe and do, and to ab- 
stain from whatever he forbids, and this indispensably ? If 
this be denied, 1 will prove it with the same arguments 
whereby I can prove that there is a God, and that we are his 
creatures made to serve him ; for the reason of these things 
is inseparable from the very being of God. Let this be 
granted, and ascribe what ye will, or please, or can, to the 
supreme magistrate, and you shall not from me have the 
least contradiction. 


The third chapter entertains us with a magnificent grant 
of liberty of conscience. The very first paragraph asserts, 
a ' liberty of conscience in mankind over all their actions, 
whether moral or strictly religious.' But lest this should 
prove a bedlam concession that might mischief the whole 
design in hand, it is delivered to the power of a keeper, who 
yet upon examination is no less wild and extravagant, than 
itself is esteemed absolutely to be. This is, that they 
have it as far as concerns their judgments, but not their 
practice ; that is, they have liberty of conscience over their 
actions but not their practices, or over their practices but not 
over their actions. For upon trial their actions and prac- 
tices will prove to be the same. And I do not as yet well 
understand what is this liberty of conscience over men's 
actions. Is it to do, or not to do, as their consciences dictate 
to them? This is absolutely denied and opposed in the 
chapter itself. Is it to judge of their actions as done, whe- 
ther they be good or evil ? This conscience is at no liberty 
in. For it is determined to a judgment in that kind natu- 
rally and necessarily, and must be so whilst it hath the light 
of nature and word of God to regard, so far as a rule is ca- 
pable of giving a measure and determination to things to be 
regulated by it ; that is, its moral actings are morally deter- 
mined. What then this liberty of conscience over men's 


actions should be, where they can neither act freely accord- 
ing to their consciences what they are to do, nor abstain 
from what they are not to do, nor are at liberty to judge 
what they have done to be good or bstd, I cannot divine. 

Let us search after an explication of these things in the 
paragraph itself, whose contents are represented in the 
words mentioned. Here we are told, that this liberty con- 
sists in ' men's thinking of things according to their own per- 
suasion, and therein asserting the freedom of their judg- 
ments.' I would be loath to think that this liberty of men's 
consciences over all their moral actions, should at first dash 
dwindle into a liberty in speculations ; that men may think 
what they will, opine as they please, in or about things that 
are not to be brought into practice ; but yet as far as I can per- 
ceive, I must think so, or matters will come to a worse issue. 
But these things must be a little farther examined, and 
that very briefly. Here is mention of liberty of conscience ; 
but what conscience is, or what that liberty is, is not de- 
clared. For conscience, it is called sometimes the mind, 
sometimes the understanding, sometimes opinion, sometimes 
described by the liberty of thinking, sometimes termed an 
imperious faculty, which things without much discourse, and , 
more words than I can now afford to use, are not reconcile- 
able among themselves. Besides, liberty is no proper affec- 
tion of the mind or understanding. Though I acknowledge 
the mind and its actings to be naturally free from outward 
compulsion or coaction, yet it is capable of such a deter- 
mination from the things proposed unto it, and the manner 
of their proposal, as to make necessary the elicitation of its 
acts. It cannot but judge that two and three make five. 
It is the will that is the proper seat of liberty, and what some 
suppose to be the ultimate determination of the practical 
understanding, is indeed an act of the will. It is so if you 
speak of liberty naturally and morally, and not of state and 
condition, which are here confounded. But suppose what 
you will to be conscience, it is moral actions or duties that 
are here supposed to be the objects of its actings. Now 
what are, or can be, the thoughts or actings of the mind of 
man about moral actions, but about their virtue or their 
vice, their moral good or evil? Nor is a conclusion of what 
is a man's own duty in reference to the practice of them pos- 

u 2 


sibly to be separated from them. That then which is here 
asserted is. That a man may think, judge, or conceive such or 
such a thing to be his duty, and yet have thereby no obliga- 
tion put upon him to perform it ; for conscience, we are in- 
formed, hath nothing to do beyond the inward thoughts of 
men's minds. 

To state this matter a little more clearly, let us take 
conscience in the most usual acceptation of it, and that 
which answers the experience of every man that ever looks 
into the affairs and concerns within; and so it is the prac- 
tical judgment that men make oY themselves and of their 
actions, or what they are to do and what they are not to do, 
what they have done or what they have omitted, with refer- 
ence unto the judgment of God, at present declared in their 
own hearts, and in his word, and to be fully executed at the 
last day. For we speak of conscience as it is amongst Chris- 
tians who acknowledge the word of God, and that for a 
double end : first, as the rule of conscience itself; secondly, as 
the declaration of the will of God, as to his approbation or 
rejecting of what we do or omit. Suppose then that a man 
make a judgment in his conscience, regulated by the word 
of God, and with respect unto the judgment of God concern- 
ing him, that such and such a thing is a duty, and whose 
performance is required of him; I desire to know whether 
any obligation be upon him from thence to act accordingly ? 
It is answered, that * the territory of conscience is confined 
unto men's thoughts, judgments, and persuasions, and these 
are free : yea, no doubt; 'but for outward actions there is no 
remedy, but they must be subject to the cognizance of 
human laws ;' p. 9. Whoever doubted of it? He that would 
have men so have liberty from outward actions, as not to 
have those actions cognoscible by the civil power as to the 
end of public tranquillity, but to have their whole station 
firmed absolutely in the world upon the plea of conscience, 
would no doubt lay a foundation for confusion in all govern- 
ment. But what is this to the present inquiry, whether con- 
science lay an obligation on men, as regulated by the word 
of God, and respecting him, to practise according to its 
dictates? It is true enough, that if any of its practices do 
not please or satisfy the magistrate, their authors must, for 
aught I know, stand to what will follow, or ensue on them 


to their prejudice; but this frees them not from the obliga- 
tion that is upon them in conscience unto what is their duty. 
This is that which must be here proved, if any thing be in- 
tended unto the purpose of this author, namely, that not- 
withstanding the judgment of conscience concerning any 
duty, by the interposition of the authority of the magistrate 
to the contrary, there is no obligation ensues for the per- 
formance of that duty. This is the answer that ought plainly 
to be returned, and not a suggestion that outward actions 
must fall under the cognizance of the magistrate ; which 
none ever doubted of, and which is nothing to the present 
purpose; unless he would have them to fall under the ma- 
gistrate's cognizance, as that his will should be the supreme 
rule of them ; which I think he cannot prove. But what 
sense the magistrate will have of the outward actions, 
wherein the discharge of man's duty doth consist, is of an- 
other consideration. 

This therefore is the state of the present case applied 
unto religious worship. Suppose the magistrate command 
such things in religion, as a man in his conscience guided 
by the word, and respecting God, doth look upon as un- 
lawful, and such as are evil and sin unto him if he should 
perform them ; and forbid such things in the worship of 
God, as he esteems himself obliged in conscience to observe 
as commands of Christ; if he may practise the thino-s so 
commanded, and omit the things so forbidden, I fear he will 
find himself within doors continually at confession, saying 
with trouble enough ; ' I have done those things, which I 
ought not to have done, and I have left undone those things 
which I ought to have done, and there is no health in 
me;' unless this author can prove that the commands of 
God respect only the minds of men, but not their outward 
actions, which are left unto the authority of the magistrate 
alone. If no more be here intended, but that whatever con- 
science may require of any, it will not secure them, but that 
when they come to act outwardly according to it, the civil 
magistrate may and will consider their actions, and allow 
them or forbid them according to his own judgment, it were 
surely a madness to deny it, as great as to say the sun 
shineth not at noonday. If conscience to God be confined 
to thoughts, and opinions, and speculations about the Q;e- 


neral notions, and notices of things, about true and false, 
and unto a liberty of judging, and determining upon them 
what they are, whether they are so or no, the whole nature 
and being of conscience, and that to the reason, sense, and 
experience of every man, is utterly overthrown. If con- 
science be allowed to make its judgment of what is good or 
evil, what is duty or sin, and no obligation be allowed to 
ensue from thence unto a suitable practice, a wide door is 
opened unto atheism, and thereby the subversion of all reli- 
gion and government in the world. 

This therefore is the sum of what is asserted in this mat- 
ter; Conscience, according to that apprehension which it 
hath of the will of God about his worship (whereunto we 
confine our discourse), obligeth men to act or forbear ac- 
cordingly : if their apprehensions are right and true, just 
and equal, what the Scripture, the great rule of conscience 
doth declare and require, I hope none upon second thoughts 
will deny, but that such things are attended with a right 
unto a liberty to be practised, while the Lord Jesus Christ 
is esteemed the Lord of lords, and King of kings, and is 
thought to have power to command the observance of his 
own institutions. Suppose these apprehensions to be such 
as may in those things, be they more or less, be judged not 
to correspond exactly with the great rule of conscience, 
yet supposing them also to contain nothing inconsistent 
with, or of a disturbing nature to, civil society and public 
tranquillity, nothing that gives countenance to any vice or 
evil, or is opposite to the principal truths and main duties 
of religion, wherein the minds of men in a nation do coalesce 
nor carry any politic entanglements along with them ; and 
add thereunto the peaceableness of the persons' possessed 
with those apprehensions, and the impossibility they are 
under to divest themselves of them, and I say natural right, 
justice, equity, religion, conscience, God himself in all, and 
his voice in the hearts of all unprejudiced persons, do re- 
quire that neither the persons themselves, on the account of 
their consciences, have violence offered unto them, nor 
their practices in pursuit of their apprehensions, be re- 
strained by severe prohibitions and penalties. But whereas 
the magistrate is allowed to judge, and dispose of all out- 
ward actions in reference to public tranquillity, if any shall 


assert principles, as of conscience, tending or obliging unto 
the practice of vice, immorality, or sin, or to the disturb- 
ance of public society ; such principles beingall notoriously 
judged by Scripture, nature, the common consent of man- 
kind, and inconsistent with the fundamental principles of 
human polity, may be in all instances of their discovery and 
practice, coerced and restrained. But plainly, as to the 
commands of conscience, they are of the same extent with 
the commands of God: if these respect only the inward 
man, or the mind, conscience doth no more ; if they respect 
outward actions, conscience doth so also. 

From the liberty of conscience, a proceed is made to 
Christian liberty, which is said to be a duty or privilege 
founded upon the (chimerical) liberty of conscience before 
granted. But these things stand not in the relation imagined ; 
liberty of conscience is of natural right. Christian liberty 
is a gospel privilege, though both may be pleaded in unwar- 
rantable impositions on conscience. But these things are 
so described by our author, as to be confounded. For the 
Christian liberty described in this paragraph, is either re- 
strained to matters of pure speculation, wherein the mind of 
man is left entirely free to judge of the truth and falsehood 
of things; or as it regards things that fall under laws and 
impositions, wherein men are left entirely free to judge of 
them, as they are objects of mere opinion. Now how this 
differs from the liberty of conscience granted before, I know 
not. And that there is some mistake in this description of 
Christian liberty, need no other consideration to evince but 
this; namely, that Christian liberty, as. our author tells us, 
is a privilege, but this is not so, being that which is equally 
common unto all mankind. This liberty is necessary unto 
human nature, nor can it be divested of it, and so it is not a 
privilege that includes a specialty in it. Every man cannot 
but think what he thinks, and judge what he judgeth, and 
that when he doth so, whether he will or no ; for every thing 
when it is, and as it is, is necessary. In the use of what 
means they please, to guide, direct, and determine their 
thoughts, their liberty doth consist. This is equal in all, 
and natural unto all. Now this inward freedom of our judg- 
ment is, it seems, our Christian liberty, consistent with any 
impositions upon men in the exercise of the worship of God, 


with an obligation on conscience, unto their use and prac- 
tice ; a liberty, indeed, of no value, but a mere aggravation 
of bondage. And these things are farther discoursed, sect. 3. 
|). 95. wherein we are told, ' That this prerogative of our 
Christian liberty, is not so much any new favour granted in 
the gospel, as the restoration of the mind of man to its na- 
tural privilege, by exempting' us from the yoke of the cere- 
monial law, whereby things in themselves indifferent were 
tied upon the conscience with as indispensable an obligation, 
as the rule of essential goodness and equity during the 
whole period of Mosaic dispensation ; which being corrected 
by the gospel, those indifferent things, that have been made 
necessary by a divine positive command, returned to their 
own nature to be used, or omitted, only as occasion shall 

It is true, that a good part of our Christian liberty con- 
sists in our deliverance from the yoke of Mosaical institu- 
tions ; but that this * is not so much a new favour granted 
in the gospel, as the restoration of the mind of man to 
its natural privilege,' is an insertion that runs parallel 
with many others in this discourse. This privilege, as all 
others of the gospel are, is spiritual, and its outward con- 
cerns and exercise are of no value, where the mind is not 
spiritually made free by Christ. And it is uncertain what is 
meant by the ' restoration of the mind to its natural privi- 
lege.' If the privilege of the mind in its natural purity is 
intended, as it was before the entrance of sin, it is false ; if 
any privilege, the mind of man in its corrupt depraved con- 
dition is capable of, be designed, it is no less untrue. In 
things of this nature, the mind in that condition is in bon- 
dage, and not capable of any liberty ; for it is a thing ridicu- 
lous, to confound the mere natural liberty of our wills, which 
is an affection inseparable from that faculty, with a moral or 
spiritual liberty of mind, relating unto God and his worship. 
But this whole paragraph runs upon no small mistake ; 
namely, that the yoke of Mosaical institutions consisted in 
their impositions on the minds and judgments of men, with 
an opinion of the antecedent necessity of them. For al- 
though the words recited, ' things in themselves indifferent, 
Avere tied upon the conscience with as indispensable an obli- 
gation as the rules of essential goodness and equity,' may 


be restrained to their use, exercise, and observation; yet 
the conclusion of it, that 'whatever our superiors impose 
upon us, whether in matters of religious worship, or any other 
duties of morality, there neither is nor can be any intrench- 
ment upon our Christian liberty, provided it be not imposed 
with an opinion of antecedent necessity of the thing itself,' 
with the whole scope of the argument insisted on, makes it 
evident to be the sense intended. But this is wide enough 
from the mark ; the Jews were never obliged to judge the 
whole system of their legal institutions to be any way 
necessary, antecedent unto their institution and appoint- 
ment ; nor were they obliged to judge their intrinsic nature 
changed by their institution; only they knew they were 
obliged to their constant and indispensable practice, as parts 
of the worship of God, instituted and commanded by him, 
who hath the supreme authority over their souls and con- 
sciences. There was indeed a bondage frame of spirit upon 
them in all things, especially in their whole worship of God, 
as the apostle Paul several times declares. But this is a 
thing of another nature, though our delivery from it be also 
a part of Christian liberty. This was no part of their in- 
ward, no more than their outward bondage, that they should 
think, believe, judge, or esteem the things themselves en- 
joined them, to be absolutely of any other nature than they 
were. Had they been obliged unto any such judgments of 
things, they had been obliged to deceive themselves, or to 
be deceived. But by the absolute authority of God, they 
were indispensably bound in conscience to the actual obser- 
vance, and continual use of such a number of ceremonies, 
carnal ordinances, and outward observances, as being things 
in themselves low and mean, called by the apostle ' beggarly 
elements,' and enjoined with so great strictness, and under 
so severe penalties, many of them, of excision, or extermina- 
tion from among the people, as became an intolerable, and 
insupportable yoke unto them. Neither doth the apostle 
Peter dispute about a judgment of their nature, but the ne- 
cessity of their observation, when he calls them ' a yoke, 
which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear ;' Acts 
XV. 10. And when St. Paul gives a charge to believers, 'to 
stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them 


free,' it is with respect to the outward observation of Mo- 
saical rites, as by him instituted, and not as to any inward 
judgment of their minds concerning their nature, antecedent 
unto that institution. His whole disputation on that sub- 
ject, respects only men's practice with regard unto an autho- 
ritative obligation thereunto, which he pleaded to be now 
expired and removed. And if this Christian liberty, which 
he built and proceeded upon, be of force to free, not our 
minds from the judgment that they had before of things in 
themselves, but our persons from the necessary practice 
and observance of things instituted of God, however antece- 
dently indifferent in themselves ; I think it is, at least, of 
equal efficacy, to exempt us from the necessary practice of 
things imposed on us in the worship of God, by men. For, 
setting aside the inequality of the imposing authority, which 
casts the advantage on the other side (for these legal insti- 
tutions were imposed on the church by God himself; those 
now intended are such matters, as our superiors of them- 
selves impose on us in religious worship), the case is abso- 
lutely the same ; for as God did not give the ' law of com- 
mandments contained in ordinances' unto the Jews, from the 
goodness of things required therein, antecedent to his com- 
mand, which should make them necessary to be practised by 
them for their good ; but did it of his own sovereign arbitrary 
will and pleasure ; so he obliged not the people themselves 
unto any other judgment of them, but that they were neces- 
sarily to be observed ; and setting aside the consideration of 
his command, they were things in their own nature alto- 
gether indifferent ; so is it in the present case. It is pleaded 
that there is no imposition on the minds, consciences, or 
judgments of men, to think or judge otherwise of what is 
imposed on them, than as their nature is, and doth require ; 
only they are obliged unto their usage, observance, and prac- 
tice ; which is to put us into a thousand times worse condi- 
tion than the Jews, if instances of them should be multi- 
plied, as they may lawfully be every year; seeing it much 
more quiets the mind, to be able to resolve its thoughts im- 
mediately into the authority of God under its yoke, than into 
that of man. If therefore we are freed from the one by our 
Christian liberty, we are so much more from the other; so 


as that ' being made free by Christ,' we should not be the 
* servants of men,' in things belonging to his service and 

From this discovery here made of the nature of Christian 
liberty, our author makes some deductions, pp. 98, 99. con- 
cerning the nature of religious worship, wherein he tells us, 
that * the whole substance of religious worship is transacted 
within the mind of man, and dwells in the heart and 
thoughts, the soul being its proper seat and temple, where 
men may worship their God as they please without offend- 
ing their prince; and that external worship is no part of 
religion itself.' I wish he had more clearly and distinctly 
expressed his mind in this matter : for his assertions, in the 
sense the words seem to bear, are prodigiously false, and 
such as will open a door to atheism, with all villany and 
confusion in the world. For who would not think this to 
be his intention ; Let inen keep their minds and inward 
thoughts and apprehensions right for God, and then they 
may practise outw^ardly in religion what they please ; one 
thing one day, another another ; be Papists and Protestants, 
Arians and Homousians; yea, Mahometans and Christians; 
any thing, every thing, after the manner of the country and 
laws of the prince where they are and live ; the rule that 
Ecebolius walked by of old? I think there is no man, that 
owns the Scripture, but will confess that this is, at least, if 
not a direct, yet an interpretative rejection of the whole au- 
thority of God. And may not this rule be quickly extended 
unto oaths themselves, the bonds and ligaments of human 
society ? For whereas in their own formal nature they be- 
long to the worship of God, why may not men pretend to 
keep up their reverence unto God, in the internal part of 
them, or their esteem of him in their invocation of his 
name, but as to the outward part, accommodate it unto 
what by their interest is required of them; so swearing with 
their tongues, but keeping their mind at liberty? If the 
principles laid down be capable of any other more tolerable 
sense, and such as may be exclusive of these inferences, I 
shall gladly admit it ; at present what is here deduced from 
them, seems to be evidently included in them. 

It is true, indeed, that natural, moral, or internal worship, 
consisting in faith, love, fear, thankfulness, submission. 


dependence, and the like, hath its constant seat and re- 
sidence in the souls and minds of men ; but that the ways 
whereby these principles of it are to be outwardly exercised 
and expressed, by God's command and appointment, are not 
also indispensably necessary unto us, and parts of his wor- 
ship, is utterly false. That which principally in the Scrip- 
ture, comes under the notion of the worship of God, is the 
due observance of his outward institutions ; which divines 
have, upon unquestionable grounds, contended to be com- 
manded and appointed in general in the second command- 
ment of the Decalogue, whence all particular institutions in 
the several seasons of the church are educed, and resolved 
into the authority of God therein expressed. And that ac- 
count which we have here given us of outward worship, 
namely, that it is ' no part of religion itself, but only an in- 
strument to express the inward veneration of the mind, by 
some outward action or posture of the body,' as it is very 
difficultly to be accommodated unto the sacrifices of old, or 
the present sacraments of the church, which were, and are 
parts of outward worship, and, as I take it, of religion; 
so the being an instrument unto the purpose mentioned, 
doth not exclude any thing from being also a part of reli- 
gion and worship itself, if it be commanded by God to be 
performed in his service, unto his glory. It is pretended 
that all outward worship is only ' an exterior signification 
of honour;' but yet all the parts of it in their performance, 
are acts of obedience unto God, and are the proper actings 
of faith, love, and submission of soul unto God, which if 
they are not his worship, and parts of religion, I know not 
what maybe so esteemed. Let then outward worship stand 
in what relation it will to inward spiritual honour, where 
God requires it, and commands it, it is no less necessary 
and indispensably to be performed, than any part of inward 
worship itself, and is a no less important duty of religion. 
For any thing comes to be a part of religious worship out- 
wardly to be performed, not from its own nature, but from 
its respect unto the commands of God ; and the end where- 
unto it is by him designed. So the apostle tells us, * that 
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with 
the mouth confession is made unto salvation;' Rom. x. 10. 
Confession is but the exterior signification of the faith 


that is in our hearts ; but yet it is no less necessary to sal- 
vation, than faith itself is to righteousness. And those 
who regulate their obedience and religious worship by the 
commands of God, knowing that which way ever they are 
signified, by inbred light, or superadded revelation, it is 
they which give their obedience its formal nature, making 
it religious, will not allow that place and use of the outward 
worship required by God himself, which should exclude it 
from being religious, or a part of their religion. 

But upon the whole matter our author affirms, * that in 
all ages of the world, God hath left the management of his 
outward worship unto the discretion of men, unless when to 
determine some particulars hath been useful to some other 
purpose ;' p. 100. * The management of outward worship,' 
may signify no more but the due performance of it; and so 
I acknowledge that though it be not left unto men's discre- 
tion to observe, or not observe it, yet it is too their duty 
and obedience, which are their discretion and their wisdom. 
But the management here understood, is opposed to God's 
own determination of particular forms, that is, his especial 
institutions ; and hereof I shall make bold to say, that it was 
never in any age so left to the discretion of men. To prove 
this assertion, sacrifices are singled out as an instance ; it is 
known and granted, that these were the most solemn part of 
the outward worship of God for many ages ; and that there 
was a general consent of mankind unto the use of them; so 
that however the greatest part of the world apostatized from 
the ti;ue, only, and proper object of all religious worship, 
yet they retained this mode and medium of it. These 
sacrifices we are told, p. 101. ' did not owe their original 
unto any divine institution, but were made choice of by 
good men as a fit way of imitating the grateful resentments 
of their minds.' The argument alone, as far as I can find, 
fixed on to firm this assertion is, that those who teach the 
contrary, and say that this mode of worship was commanded, 
do say so without proof or evidence. Our author, for the 
most part, sets off his assertions at no less rate than as 
such, without whose admittance, all order and government, 
and almost every thing that is good amongst mankind, 
would be ruined and destroyed. But he hath the unhappi- 
ness to found them ordinarily, not only on principles and 


opinions dubious and uncertain; but on such paradoxes, as 
have been by sober and learned men generally decried. 
Such is this of the original of sacrifices here insisted on. 
The divines of the church of Rome, do generally contend 
that religion and sacrifices are so related, that the one can- 
not be without the other. Hence they teach God would 
have required sacrifices in the state of innocency, had man- 
kind continued therein. And though the instance be ill 
laid, and not proved, yet the general rule applied unto the 
religion of sinners, is not easily to be evicted. For as in 
Christian religion we have a sacrifice that is Trp6(y(f>aTog koI 
Zuxra, as to its efficacy, always ' newly offered and living;' so 
before the personal offering of it in the body of Christ, there 
was no season or age, without a due representation of it in 
sacrifices typical, and of mystical signification. And although 
there be no express mention in the Scripture of their insti- 
tution (for these are ancient things), yet there is as good 
warrant for it, as for offering and burning incense only with 
sacred fire taken from the altar, which was of a heavenly 
traduction; for a neglect whereof the priests were consumed 
with fire before the Lord ; that is, though an express com- 
mand be not recorded for their institution and observation, 
yet enough may be collected from the Scripture that they 
were of a divine extract and original. And if they were 
arbitrary inventions of some men, I desire to have a rational 
account given me of their Catholicism in the world; and one 
instance more of any thing not natural or divine, that ever 
prevailed to such an absolute universal acceptance amongst 
mankind. It is notso safe,, I suppose, to assign an arbitrary 
original unto any thing that hath obtained a universal con- 
sent and suffrage ; lest men be thought to set their own 
houses on fire, on purpose to consume their neighbours'. 

Besides, no tolerable colour can be given to the assertion, 
that they were the invention of good men. The first notice 
we have of them is in those of Cain and Abel, whereof one 
was a bad man, and of the evil one, and yet must be looked 
on as the principal inventor of sacrifices, if this fiction be 
allowed. Some of the ancients indeed thought, that Adam 
sacrificed the beasts to God, whose skins his first garments 
were made of: and if so, he was very pregnant and sudden 
in his invention, if he had no direction from God. But 


more than all this, bloody sacrifices were types of Christ 
from the foundation of the world ; and Socinus himself, who, 
and his followers, are the principal assertors of this paradox, 
grants that Christ is called the ' Lamb of God,' with respect 
unto the sacrifices of old, even before the law; as he is 
termed ' a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' not 
only with respect unto the efficacy of his sacrifice, but to the 
typical representation of it. And he that shall deny, that 
the patriarchs in their sacrifices had respect unto the pro- 
mised seed, will endeavour the shaking of a pillar of the 
church's creed. Now I desire to know how men, by their 
own invention or authority, could assign such an end unto 
their sacrifices, if they were not of divine prescription, if 
not designed of God thereunto. 

Again ; the apostle tells us, ' Abel offered his sacrifice 
by faith ;' Heb. xi. 4. And faith hath respect unto the tes- 
timony of God, revealing, commanding, and promising to 
accept our duty. Wherever any thing is done in faith, there 
an assent is included to this, ' that God is true ;' John iii. 33. 
And what it doth, is thereby distinguished from will-wor- 
ship, that is resolved into the commandments and doctrines 
of men, which whoso rest on, ' make void the commandment 
of God;' Matt. XV. 3. 6. And the faith of Abel as to its 
general nature was ' the evidence of things not seen, and 
the substance of things hoped for,' Heb. xi. 1. which in this 
matter it could not be, if it had neither divine command, nor 
promise to rest upon. It is evident, therefore, that sacrifices 
were of a divine original ; and the instance in them to 
prove, that the outward worship of God hath in all ages been 
left unto the prudence and management of men, is feeble, 
and such as will give no countenance unto what it is pro- 
duced in the justification of; and herewith the whole dis- 
course of our author on this subject falls to the ground, 
where I shall at present let it lie, though it might in sundry 
particulars be easily crumbled into useless asseverations, 
and some express contradictions. 

Li the close of this chapter an application is made of 
what hath been before argued, or rather dictated, upon a par- 
ticular controversy about significant ceremonies. I am not 
willing to engage in any contests of that nature ; seeing, to 
the due handling of them, a greater length of discourse would 


be necessary than I think meet at present to draw forth this 
survey unto. Only seeing a very few words may serve to 
manifest the looseness of what is here discoursed, to that 
purpose I shall venture on the patience of the reader v;ith an 
addition of them. We have, therefore, in the first place, a 
reflection on * the prodigious impertinency of the clamour 
against the institution of significant ceremonies, when it is 
the only use of ceremonies, as all other outward expressions 
of religion, to be significant.' I do somewhat admire at the 
temper of this author, who cannot express his dissent from 
others in controversial points of the meanest and lowest con- 
cernment, but with crying out 'prodigies, clamours, imper- 
tinencies,' and the like expressions of astonishment in him- 
self, and contempt of others. He might reserve some of 
these great words for more important occasions. But yet I 
join with him thus far in what he pleads, that ceremonies 
instituted in the worship of God that are not significant, are 
very insignificant, and such as deserve not the least conten- 
tion about them. He truly also in the next words tells us, 
that all * outward worship is a sign of inward honour.' It is 
so, both in civil things and sacred. All our question is. How 
these instituted ceremonies come to be significant, and what 
it is they signify, and whether it be lawful to assign a signi- 
ficancy to them in the worship of God, when indeed they 
have none of the kind intended ? To free us from any dan- 
ger herein he informs us, p. 108. 'That all the magistrate's 
power of instituting significant ceremonies, amounts to no 
more than a power of determining what shall, or what shall 
not, be visible signs of honour, and this can be no usurpa- 
tion upon the consciences of men.' This is new language, 
and such as we have not formerly been used unto in the 
church of England, namely, that of the ' magistrate's institut- 
ing significant ceremonies ;' it was of old, the church's ap- 
pointing ceremonies for decency and order. But all the 
terms of that assertion are now metamorphosed ; the church 
into the magistrate's ; appointing, which respects exercise, 
into institution, which respects the nature of the thing, and 
hath a singular use and sense in this matter (or let them pass 
for the same); and order and decency, into ceremonies signi- 
ficant. These things were indeed implied before, but not 
so fully and plainly expressed or avowed. But the honour 


here intended in this matter is the honour which is given to 
God in his worship. This is the honour of faith, love, fear, 
obedience, spiritual and holy in Jesus Christ, To say that 
the magistrate hath power to institute visible signs of this 
honour to be observed in the outward worship of God, is 
upon the matter to say that he hath power to institute new 
sacraments; for so such things would be ; and to say what 
neither is nor can be proved, nor is here either logically, or 
any way regularly, attempted so to be. 

The comparing of the ceremonies and their signification, 
with words and their signification, will not relieve our author 
in this matter. Some things are naturally significant of one 
another; so effects are of causes ; so is smoke of fire; and 
such were the signs of the weather mentioned by our Sa- 
viour, Matt. xvi. 2, 3. Thus I suppose ceremonies are not 
significant ; they do not naturally signify the things where- 
unto they are applied ; for if they did there would be no need 
of their institution. And they are here said to be instituted 
by the magistrate. Again, there are customary signs, some 
it may be catholic, many topical, that have prevailed by 
custom and usage to signify such things, as they have no 
absolute natural coherence with, or relation unto ; such are 
putting off the hat in sign of reverence, with others innume- 
rable. And both these sorts of signs may have some use 
about the service and worship of God as might be manifested 
in instances. But the signs we inquire after are voluntary, 
arbitrary, and instituted as our author confesseth ; for we do 
not treat of appointing some ceremonies for order and de- 
cency which our canons take notice of, but of instituting 
ceremonies for signification, such as neither naturally nor 
merely by custom and usage, come to be significant, but 
only by virtue of their institution. Now concerning these 
one rule may be observed; namely, that they cannot be of 
one kind, and signify things of another, by virtue of any 
command and consent of men, unless they have an absolute 
authority both over the sign and thing signified, and can 
change their natures, or create a new relation between them. 
To take therefore things natural, that are outward and visi- 
ble, and appoint them to be signs not natural, nor civil, nor 
customary, but mystical of things spiritual, supernatural, 
^nward, and invisible, and as such to have them observed in 



the church or worship of God, is a thing which is not as yet 
proved to be lawful; signify thus naturally they never can, 
seeing there is no natural relation between them ; civilly, or 
by consent they do not so, for they are things sacred which 
they are supposed to signify, and are so far from signifying 
by consent, that those who plead for their signification do 
not agree wherein it doth consist. They must therefore sig- 
nify so mystically and spiritually, and * signa, cum ad res di- 
vinas pertinent, sunt sacramenta,' says Austin ; these things 
are sacraments. And when men can give mystical and spiri- 
tual efficacy to any of their own institutions, when they can 
make a relation between such signs and the things signified 
by them, when they can make that teaching and instructing 
in spiritual things and the worship of God, which he hath 
not made so, nor appointed, blessed, or consecrated to that 
end ; when they can bind God's promises of assistance and 
acceptance to their own inventions ; when they can advance 
what they will into the same rank and series of things in the 
worship of God with the sacrifices of old, or other parts of 
instituted worship into the church by God's command, and 
attended with his promise of gracious acceptance ; then, and 
not before, may they institute the significant ceremonies here 
contended for. Words, it is true, are signs of things, and 
those of a mixed nature ; partly natural, partly by consent. 
But they are not of one kind, and signify things of another ; 
for, say the schoolmen, ' where words are signs of sacred 
things, they are signs of them as things, but not as sacred.* 


In the fourth chapter we have no concern ; the hypothesis 
whose confutation he hath undertaken, as it is in itself false, 
so it is rather suited to promote what he aims at, than what 
he opposeth ; and the principles which himself proceedeth 
on, do seem to some to border on, if not to be borrowed 
from his, and those which are here confuted. And thence 
:it is that the foundations which he lays down in the en- 
trance of this discourse, are as destructive of his own pre- 


tensions, as of those, against which they are by himself im- 
proved. For it is granted, and asserted by him, that there 
are actions and duties, in and about which the consciences 
of men are not to be obliged by human authority, but have 
an antecedent obligation on them from the authority of God 
himself; ' so that disobedience unto the contrary commands 
of human authority is no sin, but an indispensable duty.' 
And although he seems at first to restrain things of this 
nature unto things natural, and of an essential rectitude ; 
that is, the prime dictates of the law of nature ; yet he ex- 
pressly extends it in instances, unto the belief of the truth 
of the gospel, which is a matter of mere and pure revela- 
tion. And hereon he adds, the formal and adequate reason 
of this exemption of conscience from human authority, and 
its obligation unto duty, before its consideration without it 
and against it, 'which is, not because subjects are in any 
thing free from the authority of the supreme power on earth, 
but becaftse they are subject to a superior in heaven, and 
they are then only excused from' the duty of obedience to 
their sovereign, when they cannot give it without rebellion 
against God ; so that it is not originally any right of their 
own, that exempts them from a subjection to the sovereign 
power in all things, but it is purely God's right of governing 
his own creatures, that magistrates then invade, when they 
make edicts to violate or control his laws.' 

It is about religion and the worship of God that we are 
discoursing. Now in these things no man ever thought that 
it was originally a right of subjects, as subjects, abstracting 
from the consideration of the authority of God, that should 
exempt them from a subjection to the sovereign power. For 
though some of the ancients discourse at large, that it is of 
natural right and equity, that every one should worship 
God as he would himself, yet they founded this equity in 
the nature of God, and the authority of his commands. 
This exemption then ariseth merely, as our author observes, 
because they are subject to a superior power in heaven, 
which excuseth them from the duty of obedience to their 
superiors on earth, when they cannot give it without rebel- 
lion against God ; whence it undenialily follows, that that 
supreme power in heaven exempted these things from all 
inferior powers on earth. Extend this now unto nil things 

X 2 


wherein men have, and ought to have, a regard unto that 
superior power in heaven, as it must be extended, or the 
vv'hole is ridiculous (for that heavenly supremacy is made 
the formal reason of the exemption here granted), and all 
that our author hath been so earnestly contending for in 
the preceding chapters, falls to the ground. For no man 
pleads exemption from subjection unto, yea, from givino- 
active obedience unto, the authority and commands of the 
magistrate, even in things religious, but merely on the ac- 
count of his subjection to the authority of God in heaven; 
and, where this is so, he is set at liberty by our author from 
all contrary commands of men. This is Bellarmine's ' Tu- 
tissimum est,' which, as King James observed, overthrows 
all that he had contended for in his five books, de Justifi- 


The fifth chapter is at such variance with itself, and what 
is elsewhere dictated in the treatise, that it would require 
no small labour, to make any tolerable composition of 
things between them. This I shall not engage in, as not 
being of my present concernment. What seems to tend 
unto the carrying on of the design of the whole, may be 
called unto some account. In the beginning of it he tells 
us, that *a belief of the indifferency or rather imposture of 
all religions, is made the most effectual, not to say the most 
fashionable argument for liberty of conscience.' For my 
part, I never read, I never heard of this pretence or argu- 
ment, to be used to that purpose. It wants no such de- 
fence. Nay, the principle itself, seems to me to be suited 
directly to oppose and overthrow it. For if there be no such 
thing in reality as religion in the world, it is certainly a very 
foolish thing to have differences perpetuated amongst men 
upon the account of conscience, which without a supposition 
of religion, is nothing but a vain and empty name. But hence 
our author takes occasion to discourse of the use of religion 
and conscience in the government of affairs in the world j 


and proves in many words, that 'conscience unto God, with 
a regard to future eternal rewards or punishments, is the 
great ligament of human society, the security of govern- 
ment.. th3 strongest bond of laws, and only support of rule, 
without which every man would first and last be guided by 
mere self-interest, which would reduce all power and autho- 
rity to mere force and violence.' To this purpose doth he 
discourse at large in one section of this chapter ; and in an- 
other, with no less earnestness and elegancy of words,- and 
repetition of various expressions of the same signification, 
that the * use and exercise of conscience, will certainly 
overthrow all government, and fill the world with confu- 
sion.' In like manner, whereas we have been hitherto 
throughly instructed, as I thought, that men may think 
what they will in the matters of religion, and be of what 
persuasion they please, no man can or ought to control 
them therein ; here we are told, that * no power nor policy 
can keep men peaceable, until some persuasions are rooted 
out of their minds by severity of laws and penalties;' p. 145. 
And whereas heretofore, we were informed, that men 'mi^ht 
believe what they would,' princes were concerned only in 
their outward practice ; now are we assured, that 'above all 
things, it concerns princes to look to the doctrines and ar- 
ticles of men's belief;' p. 147. But these things, as was 
before intimated, are not of our concern. 

Nor can I find much of that importance, in the third 
and fourth paragraphs of this declamatory invective. It is 
evident whom he regards and reflects upon, and with what 
false, unmanly, unchristian revilings, he endeavours to tra- 
duce them. He would have the world believe, that there is 
a generation of men, whose principles of religion teach them 
to be proud, peevish, malicious, spiteful, envious, turbu- 
lent, boisterous, seditious, and whatever is evil in the world; 
when others are all for candour, moderation, and ingenuity; 
amongst whom, no doubt, he reckons himself for one, and 
gives in this discourse in evidence thereof. But what are 
these doctrines and articles of men's belief, which dispose 
them inevitably to all the villanies that our author could find 
names for? A catalogue of them he gives us, pp. 147, 148. 
Saith he, ' What if they believe that princes are but the exe- 
cutioners of the decrees of the presbytery; and that in case 


of disobedience to their spiritual governors, tliey may be 
excommunicated, and by consequence deposed ? What if 
they believe that dominion is founded in grace, and there- 
fore all wicked kings forfeit their crowns, and that it is in 
the power of the people of God to bestow them where they 
please? And what if others believe that to pursue their 
successes in villany and rebellion is to follow providence?' 
All the world knows what it is that hath given him the ad- 
vantage of providing a covering for these monstrous fictions; 
and an account thereof hath been given elsewhere. And what 
now if those intended do not believe these things, nor any 
one of them? What if they do openly disavow every one 
of them, as for aught I ever heard or know they do, and as 
I do myself? What if some of them are ridiculously framed 
into articles of faith, from the supposed practices of some 
individual persons ? And what if men be of never so vile 
opinions about the pursuit of their successes, so they have 
none to countenance them in any unlawful enterprises, 
which I think must go before successes ? What if only the 
Papists be concerned in these articles of faith ; and they 
only in one of them about the excommunication and depo- 
sition of princes, and that only some of them ; and not one 
of those have any concern in them, whom he intends to re- 
proach ? I say, if these things are so, we need look no far- 
ther for the principles of that religion, which hath furnished 
him with all this candour, moderation, and ingenuity, and hath 
wrought him to such a quiet and peaceable temper, by teach- 
ing him that humility, charity, and meekness, which here 
bewray themselves. 

Let it be granted, as it must and ought to be, that all 
principles of the minds of men, pretended to be from appre- 
hensions of religion, that are. in themselves inconsistent 
with any lawful government, in any place whatever, ought 
to be coerced and restrained. For our Lord Jesus Christ, 
sending his gospel to be preached and published in all na- 
tions and kingdoms of the world, then, and at all times, 
under various sorts of governments, all for the same end of 
public tranquillity and prosperity, did propose nothing in it, 
but what a submission and obedience unto, might be con- 
sistent with the government itself, of what sort soever it 
were. He came, as they used to sing of old, * to give men 


a heavenly kingdom, and not to deprive tliem, or take iVom 
them their earthly temporal dominions.' There is therefore 
nothing more certain, than that there is no principle of the 
religion taught by Jesus Christ, which either in itself, or in 
the practice of it, is inconsistent with any righteous govern- 
ment on the earth. And if any opinions can truly and really 
be manifested so to be, I will be no advocate for them, nor 
their abettors. But such as these, our author shall never 
be able justly to affix on them whom he opposeth ; nor the 
least umbrage of them ; if he do but allow the gospel, and 
the power of Christ to institute those spiritual ordinances, 
and requiring their administration, which do not, which 
cannot extend unto any thing wherein a magistrate, as such, 
hath the least concernment in point of prejudice. For if on 
a false or undue practice of Uiem, any thing should be done 
that is not purely spiritual, or that being done, should be 
esteemed to operate upon any of the outward concerns, 
relations, interests, or occasions of men, they may be re- 
strained by the power of him who presides over public good. 
But besides these pretences, our author, I know not how, 
chargeth also the humours, inclinations, and passions of 
some men, as inconsistent with government, and always 
disposing men to fanaticism and sedition ; and on occasion 
thereof falls out into an excess of intemperance in reproach- 
ing them whom he opposeth ; such as we have not above 
once or twice before met with the like. And in particular 
he raves about that zeal, as he calls it, for the glory of 
God, which hath * turned whole nations into shambles, filled 
the world with butcheries and massacres, and fleshed itself 
with slaughters of miriads of mankind.' Now omitting all 
other controversies, I shall undertake to maintain this 
against any man in the world, that the effects here so 
tragically expressed, have been produced by the zeal our 
author pleads for, in compelling all unto the same sentiments 
and practices in religion, incomparably above what hath 
ensued upon any other pretence in or about religion what- 
ever. This, if need require, I shall evince with such in- 
stances, from the entering of Christianity into the world to 
this very day, as will admit of no competition with all those 
together, which on any account or pretence have produced 
the like effects. This it was, and is, that hath soaked the 
earth with blood, depopulated nations, ruined families, coun- 


tries, kingdoms, and at length made innumerable Christians 
rejoice in the yoke of Turkish tyranny, to free themselves 
from their perpetual persecutions, on the account of their 
dissent from the worship publicly established in the places 
of their nativity. And as for the humours, inclinations, and 
passions of men, when our author will give such rules and 
directions, as whereby the magistrate may know how to 
make a true and legal judgment of who are fit on their 
account, to live in his territories, and who are not, I sup- 
pose there will not be any contest about them; until then, 
we may leave them as here displayed and set up by our 
author, for every one to cast a^ cudgel at them that hath a 
mind thereunto. 

For to what purpose is it to consider the frequent occa- 
sions he takes, to discourse about the ill tempers and hu- 
mours of men, or of inveighing against them for being 
'morose, and ungentle, unsociable, peevish, censorious,' with 
many other terms of reproach, that do not at present occur 
to my memory, nor are doubtless worth the searching after? 
Suppose he hath the advantage of a better natural temper, 
have more sedate affections, a more compliant humour, be 
more remote from giving or receiving provocations, and have 
learned the ways of courtly deportment, only was pleased 
to veil them all and every one, in the writing of this dis- 
course; is it meet that they should be persecuted and de- 
stroyed, be esteemed seditious and I know not what, because 
they are of a natural temper not so disposed to affability and 
sweetness of conversation as some others are? For my 
part, I dislike the humour and temper of mmd characterized 
by our author, it may be as much as he ; I am sure, I think, 
as much as I ought. But to make it a matter of such huge 
importance, as solemnly to introduce it into a discourse 
about religion and public tranquillity, will not it may be, 
on second thoughts, be esteemed over-considerately done. 
And it is not unlikely, but that our author seems of as un- 
toward a composition, and peevish a humour to them whom 
he reflects upon, as they do to him ; and that they satisfy 
themselves as much in their disposition and deportment, as 
he doth himself in his. 

Niniirum idem omnes fallimur ; neque est quisquam 

Quem non in aliqua re, vidcre Suffenum 



Sect. 5. pp. 155, 156. he inveighs against the events that 
attend the permission of different sects of religion in a com- 
monwealth. And it is not denied, but that some inconve- 
niences may ensue thereon. But as himself hath well ob- 
served in another place, we do not in these things inquire 
what is absolutely best, and what hath no inconvenience at- 
tending it; but what is the best which in our present con- 
dition we can attain unto ; and what in that state answers 
the duty that God requireth of us. Questionless, it were 
best that we should be all of one mind in these things of 
God ; and it is no doubt also our duty on all hands to en- 
deavour so to be. But seeing, ' de facto,' this is not so, nor 
is it in the power of men, when and how they will to depose 
those persuasions of their minds, and dictates of their con- 
sciences, from whence it is not so, on the one part or the 
other (although in some parts of our differences, some may 
do so and will not, namely, in things acknowledged to be of 
no necessity antecedent to their imposition ; and some would 
do so and cannot) ; it is now inquired. What is the best way 
to be steered in, for the accomplishment of the desired end 
of peace and tranquillity for the future ; and maintaining 
love, quietness, and mutual usefulness at present amongst 
men? Two ways are proposed to this purpose; the one is 
to exercise mutual forbearance to each other, whilst we are 
inevitably under the power of different persuasions in these 
things, producing no practices that are either injurious unto 
private men in their rights, or hurtful unto the state, as to 
public peace ; endeavouring in the mean time, by the evidence 
of truth, and a conversation suited unto it, to win upon each 
other to a consent and agreement in the things wherein we 
differ. The other is, by severe laws, penalties, outward force, 
as imprisonments, mulcts, fines, banishments, or capital 
punishments, to compel all men out of hand, to a uniformity 
of practice, whatever their judgments be to the contrary. 
Now as the state of things is amongst us, which of these 
ways is most suitable to the law of our being and creation, 
the best principles of the nature of man, and those which 
have the most evident resemblance of divine perfections, the 
gospel, the spirit and letter of it, with the mind of its Author 
our Lord Jesus Christ, which is most conducing to attain 
the end aimed at, in ways of a natural and genuine compli- 


ance with the things themselves of religion, conscience, and 
divine worship, is left unto the judgment of God, and all 
good men. 

In the mean time, if men will make declamations upon 
their own surmises, jealousies, and suspicions of things 
which are either so indeed, that is really surmised, or pre- 
tended to be so for some private interests or advantages of 
their own, which no man can answer or remove ; if they may 
fancy at their pleasure ghosts, goblins, fiends, walking 
sprights, seditions, drums, trumpets, armies, bears, and ti- 
gers ; every difference in religion, be it never so small, be 
the agreement amongst them that differ never so great, be 
it the visible, known, open interest of them that dissent from 
what is established to live quietly and peaceably, and to pro- 
mote the good of the commonwealth wherein they live ; do 
they profess that it is their duty, their principle, their faith 
and doctrine, to obey constantly their rulers and governors 
in all things, not contrary to the mind of God, and pretend 
no such commands of his as should interfere in the least 
with their power in order to public tranquillity; do they offer 
all the security of their adherence to such declared princi- 
ples as mankind is necessitated to be contented and satis- 
fied with, in things of their highest concernment ; do they 
avow an especial sense of the obligation that is put upon 
them by their rulers, when they are protected in peace ; have 
they no concernment in any such political societies, com- 
binations, interests, as might alone give countenance unto 
any such disturbance ; all is one, every different opinion is 
press-money, and every sect is an army, although they be all 
and every one of them Protestants, of whom alone we do 
discourse. Other answer therefore I shall not return unto 
this part of our author's arguing, than what he gave of old. 

Ne adinittain culpara, ego meo sum pro promus pectoti. 

Suspicio est in pectore alieno sita. 

Nam nunc ego te si surripuisse suspicer, 

Jovi coronam de capite e capitolio, 

Quod in culmine astat summo, si non id feceris ; 

Atque id tanien milii lubeat suspicarier ; 

Qui tu id prohibere me potes, ne suspicer. 

Only, I may add, that sundry of the instances our author 
makes use of are false, and unduly alleged. For what is 
here charged on differences in and about religion, in refer- 
ence unto public tranquillity, might have been, yea, and was 


charged on Christian religion for three hundred years, and is 
so by many still on protestancy, as such ; and that it were a 
very easy and facile task, to set out the pernicious evils of a 
compelled agreement in the practice of religion, and those 
not fancied only or feigned, but such as do follow it, have 
followed it, and will follow it in the world. 

An inquiry in this invective, tending to evince its reason- 
ableness is offered in p. 158. namely, ' Where there are di- 
vided interests in religion in the same kingdom, it is asked. 
How shall the prince behave himself towards them?' The 
answer thereunto is not I confess easy, because it is not easy 
to be understood what is intended by 'divided interests in 
religion.' We will therefore lay that aside, and consider 
what really is amongst us, or may be according to what we 
understand by these expressions. Suppose, then, that in the 
same profession of Protestant religion, some different ways 
and observances in the outward worship of God should be 
allowed, and the persons concerned herein have no other, 
cannot be proved to have any other interest, with respect 
unto religion, but to ' fear God and honour the king ;' it is 
a very easy thing to return an answer to this inquiry. For 
not entering into the profound political speculation of our 
author, about' balancing of parties, or siding with this or that 
party,' where the differences themselves constitute no dis- 
tinct parties, in reference to civil government and public 
tranquillity ; let the prince openly avow by the declaration 
of his judgment, his constant practice, his establishing of 
legal rights, disposing of public favours in places and pre- 
ferments, that way of religion which himself owns and ap- 
proves ; and let him indulge and protect others of the same 
religion, for the substance of it with what himself pro- 
fesseth, in the quiet and peaceable exercise of their con- 
sciences in the worship of God, keeping all dissenters within 
the bounds allotted to them, that none transgress them to 
the invasion of the rights of others ; and he may have both 
the reality and glory of religion, righteousness, justice, and 
all other royal virtues which will render hira like to him 
whose vicegerent he is; and will undoubtedly reap the 
blessed fruits of them, in the industry, peaceableness, and 
loyalty of all his subjects whatever. 

There ar^ sundry things in the close of this chapter ob- 


jected against such a course of procedure ; but those such 
as are all of them resolved into a supposition, that they who 
in any place or part of the world desire liberty of conscience 
for the worship of God, have indeed no conscience at all. 
For it is thereon supposed, without farther evidence, that 
they will thence fall into all wicked and unconscientious 
practices. I shall make, as I said, no reply to such sur- 
mises. Christianity suffered under them for many ages. 
Protestancy hath done so in sundry places for many years. 
And those who now may do so, must as they did, bear the 
effects of them as well as they are able. Only I shall say, 
first. Whatever is of real inconvenience in this pretension on 
the supposition of liberty of conscience, is no way removed 
by taking away all different practices, unless ye could also 
obliterate all different persuasions out of the minds of men ; 
which although in one place he tells us ought to be done by 
severe penalties, yet in another he acknowledgeth that the 
magistrate hath no cognizance of any such things, who yet 
alone is the inflicter of all penalties. Nay, where different 
apprehensions are, the absolute prohibition of different an- 
swerable practices doth a thousand times more dispose the 
minds of men to unquietness, than where they are allowed 
both together, as hath been before declared. And he that 
can obliterate out of, and take away all different apprehen- 
sions and persuasions about the worship of God from the 
minds and consciences of men, bringing them to centre in 
the same thoughts and judgments absolutely, in all particu- 
lars about them, 

Discendum est Deus ille fuit, Deus inclyte Memnii 

Qui princeps vita; rationem invenit earn ; 

he is God and not man. 

Secondly, It is granted that the magistrate may, and 
ought to restrain all principles and outward practices that 
have any natural tendency unto the disturbance of the peace ; 
which being granted, and all obligations upon dissenting 
parties being alone put upon them by the supreme legisla- 
tive and executive power of the kingdoms and nations of the 
world, public tranquillity is and will be as well secured on 
that respect, as such things are capable of security in this 
world. All the longsome discourse therefore which here en- 
sues, wherein all the evils that have been in this nation are 


charged on liberty of conscience, from whence not one of 
them did proceed, seeing there was no such thing granted, 
until upon other civil and political accounts, the floodgates 
were set open unto the following calamities and confusions, 
is of no use, nor unto any purpose at all. For until it can 
be demonstratively proved that those who do actually suf- 
fer, and are freely willing so to do (as far as the foregoing 
otherwise lawful advantages open unto them as well as 
others may be so called), and resolved to undergo what may 
farther to their detriment, yea, to their ruin, be inflicted on 
them, to preserve their consciences entire unto some com- 
mands of God, have no respect unto others of as great evi- 
dence and light to be his (as are those which concern their 
obedience unto magistrates, compared with those which they 
avow about the worship of God) ; and that private men, un- 
interested in, and incapable of, any pretence unto public 
authority of any sort, do always think themselves warranted 
to do such things as others have done, pleading right and 
authority for their warranty ; and until it be made manifest 
also, that they have any other or greater interest than to en- 
joy their particular conditions and estates in peace, and to 
exercise themselves in the worship of God according as they 
apprehend his mind to be, these declamations are altogether 
vain, and as to any solid worth, lighter than a feather. 

And I could desire that if these controversies must be far- 
ther debated, that our author would omit the pursuit of those 
things which are really e^w tov TrpajfiaTog ; and according to 
the ancient custom attended avtv Trpooijuiwv koX iraOuJv, without 
rhetorical prefaces, or unreasonable passions, unto the merit 
of the cause. To this purpose I suppose it might not be 
amiss for him to consider a few sheets of paper lately pub- 
lished under the title of A Case stated, &c. wherein he will 
find the main controversy reduced to its proper heads, and 
a modest provocation unto an answer to what is proposed 
about it. 

ilium aspice contra 

Qui vocat. 



The sixth chapter in this discourse, which is the last that at 
the present I shall call to any account (as being now utterly 
wearied with the frequent occurrence of the same things in 
various dresses), is designed to the confutation of a princi- 
ple which is termed the ' foundation of all puritanism,' and 
that wherein * the mystery of it' consisteth. Now this is, 
that * nothing ought to be established in the worship of God 
but what is authorized by some precept or example in the 
word of God, which is the complete and adequate rule of 
worship.' Be it so, that this principle is by some allowed, 
yea, contended for. It will not be easy to affix a guilt upon 
them on the account of its being so ; for, lay aside preju- 
dices, corrupt interests, and passions, and I am persuaded 
that at the first view it will not seem to be foreign unto what 
is in a hundred places declared and taught in the Scripture. 
And certainly a man must be master of extraordinary projec- 
tions who can foresee all the evil, confusion, and desolation 
in the world which our author hath found out, as inevitable 
consequences of its admittance. It hath, I confess, been 
formerly disputed with colourable arguments, pretences, and 
instances, on the one side and the other, and variously stated 
amongst learned men, by and on various distinctions, and 
with divers limitations. But the manner of our author is, 
that whatever is contrary to his apprehensions must pre- 
sently overthrow all government, and bring in all confusion 
into the world. Such huge weight hath he wonted himself 
to lay on the smallest different conceptions of the minds of 
men, where his own are not enthroned. Particularly it is 
contended, that there can be no peace in any churches or 
states whilst this principle is admitted: when it is easily 
demonstrable, that without the admittance of it, as to its 
substance and principal end, all peace and agreement among 
churches are utterly impossible. The like also maybe said 
of states, which indeed are not at all concerned in it, any 
farther than as it is a principal means of their peace and 
security where it is embraced ; and that which would reduce 
rulers to a stability of mind in these things, after they have 
been tossed up and down with the various suggestions of 


men, striving every one to exalt their own imaginations. 
But seeing it is pretended and granted to be of so much 
importance, I shall, without much regard to the exclama- 
tions of this author, and the reproachful contemptuous ex- 
pressions which, without stint or measure, he pours out upon 
the assertors of it, consider both what is the concern of his 
present adversaries in it, and what is to be thought of the 
principle itself; so submitting the whole to the judgment of 
the candid reader. Only I must add one thing to the posi- 
tion, without which it is not maintained by any of those 
with whom he hath to do, which may deliver him from com- 
bating the air in his next assault of it ; and this is. That no- 
thing ought to be established in the worship of God as a 
part of that worship, or made constantly necessary in its 
observance, without the warranty before mentioned ; for this 
is expressly contended for by them who maintain it, and 
who reject nothing upon the authority of it, but what they 
can prove to be a pretended part of religious worship as 
such. And, as thus laid down, I shall give some farther ac- 
count both of the principle itself, and of the interest of the 
nonconformists in it; because both it and they are toge- 
ther here reproached. 

What then, I say, is the true sense and importance of that 
which our author designs to oppose, according to the mind 
of them who assert it ; how impotent his attempts against 
it are for its removal, shall briefly be declared. In the mean 
time I cannot but, in the first place, tell him, that if by any 
means this principle truly stated, as to the expression wherein 
it is before laid down, and the formal terms whereof it con- 
sisteth, should be shaken, or rendered dubious, yet that the 
way will not be much the plainer, or clearer, for the intro- 
duction of his pretensions. There are yet other general 
maxims, which nonconformists adhere unto, and suppose 
not justly questionable, which they can firmly stand and 
build upon in the management of their plea, as to all difler- 
ences between him and them. And because, it may be, he 
is unacquainted with them, I shall reckon over some of them 
for his information. And they are these that follow : 

1. That whatever the Scripture hath indeed prescribed, 
and appointed to be done and observed in the worship of 
God and the government of the church, that is indeed to be 


done and observed. This, they suppose, will not be opposed : 
at least they do not yet know, notwithstanding any thing 
spoken or disputed in this discourse, any pretences, on 
which it may honestly so be. It is also, as 1 think, secured. 
Matt, xxviii. 20. 

2. That nothing in conjunction with, nothing as an addi- 
tion or supplement unto what is so appointed, ought to be 
admitted, if it be contrary either to the general rules, or par- 
ticular preceptive instructions of the Scripture. And this 
also, I suppose, will be granted : and if it be not freely, 
some are ready by arguments to extort the confession of it 
from them that shall deny it. 

3. That nothing ought to be joined with, or added unto, 
what in the Scripture is prescribed and appointed in these 
things, without some cogent reason, making such conjunc- 
tion or addition necessary. Of what necessity may accrue 
unto the observation of such things, by their prescription, 
we do not now dispute : but at present only desire to see the 
necessity of their prescription. And this can be nothing, 
but some defect in substance or circumstance, matter or 
manner, kind or form, in the institutions mentioned in the 
Scripture, as to their proper ends. Now when this is dis- 
covered, I will not, for my part, much dispute by whom the 
supplement is to be made. In the mean time I do judge it 
reasonable, that there be some previous reasons assigned 
unto any additional prescriptions in the worship of God unto 
what is revealed in the Scripture, rendering the matter of 
those prescriptions antecedently necessary and reasonable. 

4. That if any thing or things in this kind shall be found 
necessary to be added and prescribed, then that and those 
alone be so, which are most consonant unto the general rules 
of the Scripture, given us for our guidance in the worship 
of God, and the nature of those institutions themselves, 
wherewith they are conjoined, or whereunto they are added. 
And this also I suppose to be a reasonable request, and such 
as will be granted by all men who dare not advance their 
own wills and wisdom above or against the will and wisdom 
of God. 

Now if, as was said, the general principle before men- 
tioned, should by any means be duly removed, or could he 
so ; if entangled or rendered dubious ; yet as far as I can 


learn, the nonconformists will be very far from supposing 
the matters in contest between them and their adversaries 
to be concluded. But as they look upon their concern- 
ments to be absolutely secured in the principles now men- 
tioned, all which they know to be true, and hope to be un- 
questionable; so the truth is, there is by this author very 
small occasion administered unto any thoughts of quitting 
the former more general thesis as rightly stated ; but rather, 
if his ability be a competent measure of the merit of his 
cause, there is a strong confirmation given unto it in the 
minds of considering men, from the impotency and success- 
lessness of the attempt made upon it. And that this may 
appear to the indifferent reader's satisfaction, I shall so far 
divert in this place from the pursuit of my first design, as to 
state the principle aright, and briefly to call the present op- 
yjosition of it unto a new account. 

The sum, in general, of what this author opposeth with 
so much clamour is. That divine revelation is the sole rule 
of divine religious worship ; an assertion, that in its lati- 
tude of expression, hath been acknowledged in and by all 
nations and people. The very heathen admitted it of old, 
as shall be manifested, if need require, by instances sufficient. 
For though they framed many gods in their foolish darkened 
imaginations, yet they thought that every one of them would 
be worshipped according to his own mind, direction, and 
prescription. So did, and I think do. Christians generally 
believe : only some have a mind to pare this generally avowed 
principle,tocurbit, and order it so by distinctions and restric- 
tions, that it may serve their turn, and consist with their in- 
terest. For an opposition unto it nakedly, directly, and ex- 
pressly, few have had the confidence yet to make. And the 
nonconformists need not go one step farther, in the expres- 
sion of their judgments and principles in this matter. For 
who shall compel them to take their adversaries' distinc- 
tions (which have been invented and used by the most 
learned of them) of ' substantial and accidental ; proper and 
reductive ; primitive and accessary ; direct and consequen- 
tial; intrinsic and circumstantial worship,' and the like ; for 
the most part unintelligible terms in their application into 
the state of the question ? If men have a mind, let them op- 
pose this thesis as laid down; if not, let them let it alone : 


and they who shall undertake the confirmation of it, will 
no doubt carry it through the briers of those unscriptural 
distinctions. And that this author may be the better in- 
structed in his future work, I shall give him a farther account 
of the terms of the assertion laid down. 

Revelation is either Ivdui^erog, or irpocpopiKog, and con- 
taineth every discovery or declaration that God hath made 
of himself, or of his mind and will, unto men. Thus it is 
comprehensive efthat concreated light, which is in all men, 
concerning him and his will. For although we say, that 
this is natural, and is commonly contradistinguished to reve- 
lation properly so called, which for perspicuity sake we call 
revelation supernatural ; yet whereas it doth not so neces- 
sarily accompany human nature, but that it may be sepa- 
rated from it ; nor is it educed out of our natural faculties 
by their own native or primogenial virtue, but is or was 
distinctly implanted in them by God himself, I place it 
under the general head of revelation. Hence, whatever is 
certainly from God, by the light of nature and instinct 
thereof declared so to be, is no less a certain rule of worship 
and obedience, so far forth as it is from him, and concerneth 
those things, than anything that comes from him by express 
vocal revelation. And this casts out of consideration a vain 
exception wherewith some men please themselves ; as though 
the men of this opinion denied the admittance of what is 
from God, and by the light of nature discovered to be his 
mind and will. Let them once prove any thing in contest 
between them and their adversaries to be required, pre- 
scribed, exacted, or made necessary by the light of nature, 
as the will of God revealed therein, and I will assure them, 
that as to ray concern, there shall be an end to all difference 
about it. But yet, that I may add a little farther light into 
the sense of the nonconformists in this matter, I say, 

1. That this inbred light of reason guides unto nothing at 
all in or about the worship of God, but what is more fully, 
clearly, and directly taught and declared in the Scripture. 
And this may easily be evinced, as from the untoward mixture 
of darkness and corruption that is befallen our primogenial in- 
bred principles of light and wisdom, by the entrance of sin ; 
so also from the end of the Scripture itself; which was to 
restore that knowledge of God and his mind, which was 


lost by sin; and which might be as useful to man in his 
lapsed condition, as the other was in his pure and uncor- 
rupted estate. At present, therefore, I shall leave this asser- 
tion, in expectation of some instance, in matters great or 
small, to the contrary, before I suppose it be obnoxious to 
question or dispute. 

2. As there can be no opposition nor contradiction 
between the light of nature and inspired vocal or Scrip- 
tural revelation, because they are both from God ; so if in 
any instance there should appear any such thing unto us, 
neither faith nor reason can rest in that which is pretended 
to be natural light, but must betake themselves for their 
resolution unto express revelation. And the reason hereof 
is evident; because nothing is natural light, but what is 
common to all men; and where it is denied, it is frustrated as 
to its ruling efficacy. Again, it is mixed, as we said before; 
and it is not every man's work to separate the chaff from the 
wheat, or what God hath implanted in the mind of man 
when he made him upright, and what is since soaked into 
the principles of his nature, from his own inventions. But 
this case may possibly very rarely fall out, and so shall not 
much be insisted on. 

3. Our inquiry in our present contest is solely about 
instituted worship, which we believe to depend on superna- 
tural revelation : the light of nature can no way relieve or 
guide us in it or about it,because it refers universally to things 
above and beyond that light; but only with reference unto 
those moral, natural circumstances, which appertain unto 
those actings or actions of men whereby it is performed, 
which we willingly submit unto its guidance and direction. 

Again, vocal revelation hath come under two conside- 
rations: First, As it was occasional. Secondly, As it be- 
came stated. 

First, As it was occasional. For a long time God was 
pleased to guide his church in many concerns of his wor- 
ship, by fresh occasional revelations ; even from the giving 
of the first promise unto Adam, unto the solemn giving of 
the law by Moses. For although men had in process of 
time many stated revelations, that were preserved by tradi- 
tion among them, as the first promise, the institution of 
sacrifices, and the like; yet as to sundry emergencies of 

Y 2 


his worship, and parts of it, God guided them by new occa- 
sional revelations. Now those revelations being not re- 
corded in the Scripture, as being only for present or emergent 
use, we have no way to know them, but by what those, to 
whom God was pleased so to reveal himself, did practise ; 
and which, on good testimony, found acceptance with him. 
Whatever they so did, they had especial warranty from God 
for ; which is the case of the great institution of sacrifices 
itself. It is a sufficient argument that they were divinely 
instituted, because they were graciously accepted. 

Secondly, Vocal revelation, as the rule of worship, be- 
came stated and invariable, in and by the giving and writing 
of the law. From thence, with the allowances before men- 
tioned, we confine it to the Scripture, and so unto all suc- 
ceeding generations. I confess many of our company, who 
kept to us hitherto in granting divine revelation to be the 
sole principle and rule of religious worship, now leave us, 
and betake themselves to paths of their own. The postmis- 
nical Jews, after many attempts made that way by their 
predecessors, both before and after the conversation of our 
Lord Christ in the flesh, at length took up a resolution, that 
all obligatory divine revelation was not contained in the 
Scripture, but was partly preserved by oral tradition. For, 
although they added a multitude of observances unto what 
were prescribed unto their fathers by Moses, yet they would 
never plainly forego that principle, nor do to this day, 
that divine revelation is the rule of divine worship. Where- 
fore, to secure their principle and practice, and to reconcile 
them together (which are indeed at an unspeakable va- 
riance), they have fancied their oral law; which they assert 
to be of no less certain and divine original than the law that 
is written. On this pretence they plead, that they keep 
themselves unto the forementioned principle, under the 
superstition of a multitude of self-invented observances. 
The Papists also here leave us; but still with a semblance 
of adhering to that principle, which carries so great and 
uncontrollable an evidence with it, as that there are a very 
few, as was said, who have hitherto risen up in a direct and 
open opposition unto it. For whereas they have advanced 
a double principle for the rule of religious worship besides 
the Scripture ; namely, tradition, and the present determi- 


nations of their church, from thence educed ; they assert 
the first to be divine or apostolical, which is all one ; and 
the latter to be accompanied with infallibility, which is the 
formal reason of our adherence and submission unto divine 
revelations. So that they still adhere in general unto the 
forementioned principle, however they have debauched it 
by their advancement of those other guides. But herein 
also, we must do them right, that they do not absolutely 
turn loose those two rude creatures of their own, traditions 
and present church determinations, upon the whole face of 
religion, to act therein at their pleasure ; but they secure 
them from whatever is determined in the written word, 
affirming them to take place only in those things that are 
not contrary to the word, or not condemned in it; for in such, 
they confess, they ought not, nor can take place. Which I 
doubt whether our author will allow of or no, in reference to 
the power by him asserted. 

By religious worship, in the thesis above, we understand, 
as was said before, instituted worship only, and not that 
which is purely moral and natural ; which, in many instances 
of it, hath a great coincidence with the light of nature, as 
was before discoursed. 

We understand also the solemn or stated worship of the 
church of God. That worship, I say, which is solemn and 
stated for the church, the whole church, at all times and 
seasons, according to the rules of his appointment, is that 
which we inquire after. Hence in this matter we have no 
concernment in the fact of this or that particular person, 
which might be occasionally influenced by necessity, as 
David's eating of the shewbread was ; and which, how far it 
may excuse or justify the persons that act thereon, or regu- 
late their actions directly, I know not, nor am any way en- 
gaged to inquire. 

This is the state of our question in hand, the mind of the 
assertion, which is here so hideously disguised, and repre- 
sented in its pretended consequences. Neither do I think 
there is any thing needful farther to be added unto it ; but 
yet for the clearing of it from mistakes, something may be 
discoursed which relates unto it. We say then ; 

First, That there are sundry things to be used in, about, 
and with those actions, whereby the worship of God is per- 


formed, which yet are not sacred, nor do belong unto the 
worship of God as such ; though that worship cannot be 
performed without them. The very breath that men breathe, 
and the light whereby they see, are necessary to them in the 
worship of God, and yet are not mad^ sacred or religious 
thereby. Constantine said of old, that he was ' a bishop, but 
without the church :' not a sacred officer, but one that took 
care, and had a supervisorship of things necessarily belong- 
ing to the performance of God's worship, yet no parts or ad- 
juncts of it as such. For it was all still without. Now all 
those things in or about the worship of God, that belonged 
unto Constantine's episcopacy, that is the ordering and dis- 
posal of things without the church, but about it ; without 
worship, but about it ; we acknowledge to be left unto com- 
mon prudence, guided by the general rules of Scripture, by 
which the church is to walk and compose its actings. And 
this wholly supersedes the discourse of our author concerning 
the great variety of circumstances wherewith all human ac- 
tions are attended. For in one word, all such circumstances 
as necessarily attend human actions as such, neither are sa- 
cred, nor can be made so without an express institution of 
God, and are disposable by human authority. So that the 
long contest of our author on that head is altogether vain. 
So, then. 

Secondly, By all the concernments of religious worship, 
which any affirm, that they must be directed by divine reve- 
lation, or regulated by the Scripture ; they intend all that is 
relfgious, or whatever belongs to the worship of God, as it is 
divine worship : and not what belongs unto the actions 
wherein and whereby it is performed, as they are actions. 

Thirdly, That when any part of worship is instituted in 
special, and general rules are given for the practice of it, 
' hie et nunc :' there the warranty is sufficient for its practice 
at its due seasons ; and for those seasons, the nature of the 
thing itself, with what it hath respect unto, and the light of 
the general Scripture rules, will give them an acceptable 

And these few observations will abundantly manifest, 
the impertinency of those who think it incumbent on any, 
by virtue of the principle before laid down, to produce ex- 
press warranty in vv'ords of Scripture, for every circumstance 


that doth attend and belong unto the actions whereby the 
worship of God is performed, which as they require not, so 
no such thing is included in the principle as duly stated. For 
particular circumstances that have respect to good order, 
decency, and external regulation of divine worship, they are 
all of them either circumstances of the actions themselves, 
whereby divine worship is performed and exercised, and so in 
general they are natural and necessary ; which in particular, 
or *actu exercito,' depend on moral prudence; or religious 
rites themselves, added in and to the whole, or any parts of 
divine service, which alone in this question come under 

I know there are usually sundry exceptions put into this 
thesis, as before stated and asserted ; and instances to the 
contrary are pretended, some whereof are touched upon by 
our author, p. 181. which are not now particularly and at 
large to be considered. But yet because I am, beyond ex- 
pectation, engaged in the explication of this principle, I shall 
set it so far forth right and straight unto further examination, 
as to give in such general observations as, being consistent 
with it, and explanatory of it, will serve to obviate the most 
of the exceptions that are laid against it. As, 

1. Wherever in the Scripture we meet with any reli- 
gious duty that had a preceding institution, although we 
find not expressly a consequent approbation, we take it for 
granted that it was approved ; and so on the contrary, where 
an approbation appears, an institution is concealed. 

2. The question being only about religious duties, or 
things pertaining to, or required in or about the worship of 
God, no exception against the general thesis can take place, 
but such as consists in things directly of that nature. In- 
stances in and about things civil and belonging merely to 
human conversation, or things natural, as signs and me- 
morials one of another, are in this matter of no consideration. 

3. Things extraordinary in their performance, and which, 
for aught we know, may have been so in their warranty or 
rule, have no place in our debate. For we are inquiring only 
after such things as may warrant a suitable practice in us 
without any farther authority, which is the end for which 
instances against this principle are produced ; this actions 
extraordinary will not do. 


4. Singular and occasional actions, which may be va- 
riously influenced and regulated by present circumstances, 
are no rule to guide the ordinary stated worship of the 
church. David's eating of the shew-bread, wherein he was 
justified because of his hunger and necessity, was not to be 
drawn into example of giving the shew-bread promiscuously 
to the people. And sundry instances to the same purpose 
are given by our Saviour himself. 

5. There is nothing of any dangerous or bad consequence 
in this whole controversy, but what lies in the imposition on 
men's practices of the observation of uncommanded rites, 
making them necessary unto them in their observation. 
The things themselves are said, in their own nature, antece- 
dent to their injunction for practice, to be indifferent, and 
indifferent as unto practice. What hurt would it be to leave 
them so ? They cannot, say some, be omitted for such and 
such reasons. Are there then reasons for their observation 
besides their injunction, and such as on the account whereof 
they are enjoined? Then are they indeed necessary in some 
degree before their injunction. For all reason for them must 
be taken from themselves. And things wholly indifferent 
have nothing in themselves, one more than another, why one 
should be taken, and another left. For if one have the ad- 
vantage of another in the reasons for its practice, it is no 
more indifferent; at least it is not comparatively so. Grant- 
ing, therefore, things enjoined to be antecedently to their in- 
junction, equally indifferent in their own nature, with all 
other things of the same or the like kind, which yet are re- 
jected or not enjoined; and then to give reasons taken from 
themselves, their decency, their conducingness to edification, 
their tendency to the increase of devotion, their significancy 
of this or that, is to speak daggers and contradictions; and 
to say a thing is indifferent before the injunction of its 
practice; but yet if we had thought so, we would never have 
enjoined it; seeing we do so upon reasons. And without 
doubt this making necessary the practice of things in the 
worship of God, proclaimed to be indifferent in themselves, 
and no way called for by any antecedent reason, is an act of 

6. Where things are instituted of God, and he himself 
makes an alteration in or of his own institutions, those in 


stitutions may be lawfully practised and observed, until the 
mind of God for their alteration and abolition be sufficiently 
revealed, proposed, and confirmed unto them that are con- 
cerned in them. For as the making of a law doth not oblige, 
until and without the promulgation of it, so as that any 
should offend in not yielding obedience unto it; so upon the 
abrogation of a law, obedience may be conscientiously and 
without sin yielded unto that law, until the abrogation, by 
what act soever it was made, be notified and confirmed. An 
instance hereof we have in the observation of Mosaical rites, 
in the forbearance of God, after the law of their institution 
was enervated, and the obligation of it unto obedience 
really dissolved, at least the foundation of it laid; for the 
actual dissolution of it depended on the declaration of the 
fact, wherein it was founded. 

7. There may be a coincidence of things performed by 
sundry persons, at the same time and in the same place ; 
whereof some may have respect unto religious worship di- 
rectly, and so belong unto it ; and others only occasionally, 
and so not at all belong therevjnto. As if when the Athe- 
nians had been worshipping of their altars, St. Paul had 
come, and reading the inscription of one of them, and thence 
taking occasion and advantage to preach * the unknown God' 
unto them ; their act was a part of religious veneration, his 
presence and observation of them, and laying hold of that 
occasion for his own purpose, was not so. 

8. Many things, which are mere natural circumstances, 
requisite unto the performance of all actions in communities 
whatever, and so to be ordered by prudence according unto 
general rules of the word of God, may seem to be adjuncts 
of worship, unless they are followed to their original, which 
will discover them to be of another nature. 

9. Civil usages and customs observed in a religious man- 
ner, as they are all to be by them that believe, and directed 
by them unto moral ends, may have a show and appearance 
of religious worship ; and so, according to the principle be- 
fore stated, require express institution. But although they 
belong unto our living unto God in general; as do all things 
that we do, seeing ' whether we eat or drink, we are to do all 
to the glory of God ;' and therefore are to be done in faith ; 
yet they are or may be no part of instituted worship, but 


such actions of life as in our whole course, we are to regu- 
late by the rules of the Scripture, so far as they afford us 
guidance therein. 

10. Many observances in and about the worship of God 
are recorded in the Scripture, without especial reflecting 
any blame or crime on them by whom they were performed 
(as many great sins are historically only related, and left to 
be judged by the rule of the word in other places, without 
the least remark of displeasure on the persons guilty of 
them), and that by such whose persons were accepted of 
God ; yea, it may be in that very service, wherein less or 
more they failed in their observation ; God being merciful 
to them, though not in all things prepared according to the 
preparation of the sanctuary, and yet the things themselves 
not to be approved nor justified, but condemned of God. 
Such was the fact of Judas Maccabeus in his offering sacri- 
fices for the sin of them that were dead ; and that of insti- 
tuting an anniversary feast in commemoration of the dedica- 
vtion of the altar. 

This little search have I made into this great mystery, as 
it is called, of puritanism, after which so mighty an outcry is 
raised by this author ; and if it might be here farther pur- 
sued, it would, as stated by us in these general rules and 
explications, be fully manifested to be a principle in general 
admitted, until of late, by all sorts of men : some few only 
having been forced sometimes to corrupt it, for the security 
of some especial interest of their own. And it were an easy 
thing to confirm this assertion by the testimonies of the most 
learned Protestant writers, that have served the church in 
the last ages. But I know how with many amongst us they 
are regarded; and that the citation of some of the most 
reverend names among them, is not unlikely to prejudice 
and disadvantage the cause wherein their witness is pro- 
duced. I shall not therefore expose them to the con- 
tempt of those, now they are dead, whb would have been 
unwilling to have entered the lists with them in any kind 
of learning, when they were alive. There is, in ray ap- 
prehension, the substance of this assertion still retained 
among the Papists. Bellarmine himself lays it down as the 
foundation of all his controversies ; and endeavours to prove, 
* Propheticos et apostolicos libros verum esse verbum Dei, 


et certam et stabilem regulam fidei ;' de Verbo Dei. lib. 1. 
cap. 1. 'That the prophetical and apostolical books are the 
true word of God, a certain and stable rule of faith/ will go 
a great way in this matter. For all our obedience in the 
worship of God, is the obedience of faith ; and if the Scrip- 
ture be the rule of faith, our faith is not in any of its con- 
cerns to be extended beyond it, no moi'e than the thing re- 
gulated is to be beyond the rule. 

Neither is this opinion of so late a date as our author 
and others would persuade their credulous followers. The 
full sense of it was spoken out roundly of old. So speaks 
the great Constantine (that an emperor may lead the way) 
in his oration to the renowned fathers assembled at Nice. 
EvayyeXtKoi /3/^Xot koL aTTOffroXiicai, koX tCjv iraXaiCjv irpo^t)- 
T(jjv ^eaTTicTfjiaTa crcKpwg rifiag a ^pi) irepl tov ^dov (ppnvHv eicttoi- 
Stvovai; Tj/v TroXsfioiroibv ovv airEXdaavTig tpiv, he tCjv S'eo- 
TrvEwoTwi; Xo-ywy XajSwjitfv tmv Z,r\TOvp.ivwv Tr\v\vaiv. i. e. 'The 
evangelical and apostolical books, and the oracles of the 
ancient prophets, do plainly instruct us, what we are to think 
of divine things. Laying aside therefore all hostile discord, 
let us resolve the things brought into question, by the testi- 
monies of the writings given by divine inspiration.' We 
have here the full substance of what is pleaded for ; and might 
the advice of this noble emperor be admitted, we should 
have a readier way to expedite all our present differences, 
than as yet seems to be provided for us. The great Basil 
speaks yet more expressly than Constantine the Great, lib. 
de Confes. Fid. ^av^pa. tKTCTwaiq, koL vireprjijiaviaQ Karrjywp/a, 
7) a^£THV TL tCjv yeypafxivdjv, v iTTuaayeiv twv /u?) yey pajufxiviov. 
i.e. 'It hath the manifest guilt of infidelity and pride, to 
reject any thing that is written, or to add or introduce any 
thing that is not written;' which is the sum of all that in 
this matter is contended for. To the same purpose he dis- 
courseth, epist. 80. ad Eustath : where moreover he rejects 
all pretences of customs and usages of any sorts of men, 
and will have all differences to be brought for their deter- 
mination to the Scripture. Chrysostom, in his Homily 
on Psalm xcv. speaks the same sense : saith he ; kuX 
Tig 6 TavTci iyyvwfxzvog\ Ylavkog. ov^lv yap Sd Xtyetv a/xap- 
Tvpov, ovSe otto \oyi(Tp(I)v juovov. iav tl yap v.ypa(pov Xiyr}- 
Tttt, Yi duwoia tCjv aKpouTMV aKatiu, vy plv Eirivevovaa, Try St 


wapaypa^OfxivT], koX ttote /uv tov \6yov wg ?wXov airoaTpE(f>ofx(vrj, 
TTOTE ce b)g TTi^avov TTapaSt^OjUEVT/. orav Ss eyypa(f)og tj fxaprvpia 
Trig ^tiag (jxjjvrig irpoiX^t}, koi tov Xiyovrog tov \6yov, KaX tov 
QKOvovTog Triv Biavotav £j3£|3atw(T8. * Who is it that promiseth 
these things ? Paul. For we are not to say any thing 
without testimony, nor upon our mere reasonings. For if 
any thing be spoken without Scripture (testimony), the mind 
of the hearers fluctuates, now assenting, anon hesitating, 
sometimes rejecting what is spoken as frivolous, sometimes 
receiving it as probable. But where the testimonies of the 
divine voice comes forth from the Scripture, it confirmeth 
the word of the speaker, and the mind of the hearer.' It is 
even so ; whilst things relating to religion and the worship 
of God are debated and disputed by the reasonings of men, 
or on any other principles besides the express authority of the 
Scriptures, no certainty or full persuasion of mind can be 
attained about them. Men under such actings are as Lucian, 
in his Menippus, says he was between the disputations of 
the philosophers; sometimes he nodded one way, sometimes 
another, and seemed to give his assent backwards and for- 
wards to express contradictions. It is in the testimony of 
the Scripture alone, about the things of God, that the con- 
sciences of those that fear him can acquiesce and find satis- 
faction. The same author, as in many other places, so in his 
13th Homily on the 2Epist. to the Corinth, expressly sends 
us to the Scripture to inquire after all things, as that which is 
the exact canon, balance, and rule of religion. Uapa twv ypa- 
^biv TovTa iravTa -nvvQavia^e. Among the Latins Tertullian 
is express to the same purpose. In his book against Hermo- 
genes,'Adoro,'said he * plenitudinem Scripturarum quze mihi 
factorem manifestat et facta.' Again, ' Scriptum esse hoc 
doceat Hermogenis officina, aut timeat, ira& illud, adjicienti- 
bus, aut detrahentibus destinatum.' ' I adore the fulness of 
the Scripture ; — and let Hermogenes prove what he saith, to 
be written, or fear the woe denounced against them, who add 
to, or take from, the word.' And again, in his book, de Came 
Christi ; *Non recipio quod extra Scripturum de tuo infers.' 
* I do not receive what you bring of your own without 
Scripture.' So also in his book, de Praescriptionibus: 'No- 
bis nihil ex nostro arbitrio indulgere licet; sed nee eligere 
quod aliquis de arbitrio suo induxerit. Apostolos domini 


habemus authores, qui nee ipsi quicquam ex suo arbitrio 
quod inducerent elegerunt, sed acceptam a Christo disci- 
plinam, fideliter nationibus assignaverunt.' * It is not lawful 
for us' (in these things) * to indulge unto our own choice ; nor 
to choose what any one brings in of his choosing. We have 
the apostles of our Lord for our example, who brought in 
nothing of their own minds or choice; but having received 
the discipline' (of Christian religion) ' from Christ, they faith- 
fully communicated it to the nations.' Jerome is plain to 
the same purpose in sundry places. So Comment, in 23 
Matth. 'Quod de Scripturis authoritatem non habet, eadem 
facilitate contemnitur, qua probatur.' * That which hath not 
authority from the Scripture, is as easily despised as as- 
serted.' Comm. in Hagg. cap. 1 . * Sed et alia quse absque au- 
thoritate et testimoniis Scripturarum, quasi traditione apo- 
stolica sponte reperiunt atque confingunt, percutit gladius 
Dei.' * But those other things which without authority or 
testimony of the Scriptures, they find out or feign of their 
own accord, as of apostolical tradition ; the sword of God 
smites through.' It were easy to produce twenty other tes- 
timonies out of the ancient writers of the church, giving 
sufficient countenance to the assertion contended about. 
What account our author gives of this principle is now, very 
briefly, to be considered. 

First, therefore, pp. 174, 175. he reviles it as * a pretence 
wild and humoursome, which men must be absurd if they 
believe, or impudent if they do not; seeing it hath not the 
least shadow or foundation either from Scripture or reason :' 
though it be expressly asserted either in its own terms, or 
confirmed by direct deductions, in and from above forty 
places of Scripture. And so much for that part of the 

The next chargeth it with infinite follies and mischiefs in 
those which allow it. And it is said that ' there can never 
be an end of alterations and disturbances in the church 
whilst it is maintained.' The contrary whereof is true, con- 
firmed by experience and evidence of the thing itself. The 
admittance of it would put an end to all disturbances. For 
let any man judge whether, if there be matters in difference, 
as in all these things there are and ever were, the bringing 
them to an issue and settled stability, be not likelier to be 


effected by all men's consenting unto one common rule, 
whereby they may be tried and examined, than that every 
party should be left at liberty to indulge to their own affec- 
tions and imaginations about them. And yet we are told, 
p. 178. ' that all the pious villanies that ever have disturbed 
the Christian world, have sheltered themselves in this grand 
maxim, that Jesus Christ is the only law-maker to his 
church.' I confess, I could heartily desire that such ex- 
pressions might be forborne. For, let what pretence men 
please to be given to them, and colour put upon them, they 
are full of scandal to the Christian religion. The maxim 
itself here traduced, is as true as any part of the gospel. And 
it cannot be pretended that it is not the maxim itself, but 
the abuse of it (as all the principles of the gospel, through 
the blindness and lusts of men, have been abused), that is 
reflected on : seeing the design of the whole discourse is ta 
evert the maxim itself. Now whatever apprehensions our 
author may have of his own abilities, I am satisfied that 
they are no way competent to disprove this principle of the 
gospel; as will be evident on the first attempt he shall make 
to that purpose ; let him begin the trial as soon as he 

In the third section we have a heap of instances raked 
together to confront the principle in its proper sense before 
declared and vindicated, in no one whereof it is at all con- 
cerned. For the reasons of things in matters civil and reli- 
gious, are not the same. All political government in the 
world consists in the exercise of principles of natural right, 
and their just application to times, ages, people, occasions, 
and occurrences. Whilst this is done government is acted 
regularly to its proper end: where this is missed, it fails. 
These things God hath left unto the prudence of men and 
their consent; wherein they cannot for the most part fail, 
unless they are absolutely given up unto unbridled lusts; 
and the things wherein they may fail are always convenient 
or inconvenient, good and useful, or hurtful and destructive ; 
not always, yea, very seldom, directly and in themselves 
morally good or evil. In such things men's ease and profit, 
not their consciences, are concerned. In the worship of God 
things are quite otherwise. It is not convenience or incon- 
venience, advantage or disadvantage, as to the things of this 


life, but merely good or evil, in reference to the pleasing of 
God, and to eternity, that is in question. Particular aj)pli- 
cations to the manners, customs, usages of places, times, 
countries, which is the proper field of human authority, 
liberty, and prudence in civil things (because their due, 
useful, and regular administration depends upon them) ; 
have here no place. For the things of the worship of God 
being spiritual, are capable of no variations from temporal 
earthly varieties among men ; have no respect to climates, 
customs, forms of civil government, or any thing of that na- 
ture. But considering men quite under other notions, 
namely, of sinners and believers ; with respect utterly unto 
other ends, namely, their living spiritually unto God here, 
and the eternal enjoyment of him hereafter, are not subject 
to such prudential accommodations or applications. The 
worship of God is, or ought to be, the same at all times, in 
all places, and amongst all people, in all nations ; and the 
order of it is fixed and determined in all particulars that 
belong unto it. And let not men pretend the contrary, until 
they can give an instance of any such defect in the institu- 
tions of Christ, as that the worship of God cannot be carried 
on, nor his church ruled and edified, without an addition of 
something of their own for the supply thereof; which there- 
fore should and would be necessary to that end antecedent 
unto its addition; and when they have so done, I will sub- 
scribe mito whatsoever they shall be pleased to add of that, 
or indeed any other kind. ' Customs of churches,' and ' rules 
of decency,' which our author here casts under the magis- 
trate's power, are ambiguous terms, and in no sense express 
the hypothesis he hath undertaken the defence of. In the 
proper signification of the words, the things intended may 
fall under those natural circumstances, wherein religious 
actions in the worship of the church may have their concern, 
as they are actions, and are disposable by human authority. 
But he will not, I presume, so soon desert his fundamental 
principle, of the magistrate's appointing things in, and parts 
of, religious worship, nowhere described or determined in 
the word of God ; which alone we have undertaken to op- 
pose. The instances he also gives us about actions, in their 
own nature and use indifferent; as going to law, or taking- 
physic ; are not, in the least, to his purpose. And yet if I 


should say, that none of these actionfs are indeed indifferent 
in *actu exercito/ as they speak, and in their individual per- 
formance, but have a moral good or evil, as an inseparable 
adjunct, attending them, arising out of respect to some rule, 
general or particular, of divine revelation, I know he cannot 
disprove it; and much more is not pleaded concerning re- 
ligious worship. 

But this principle is farther charged with mischief equal 
to its folly, which is proved by instances in sundry unin- 
stituted observances, both in the Jewish and primitive 
Christian churches ; as also in Protestant churches abroad. 
I answer, that if this author will consent to umpire these dif- 
ferences by either the Old or New Testament, or by any 
Protestant church in the world, we shall be nearer an end 
of them, than, as far as I can see, yet otherwise we are. If 
he will not be bound, neither to the example of the church 
of the Jews, nor of the churches of the New Testament, 
nor of the present Protestant churches, it must be confessed 
that their names are here made use of only for a pretence 
and an advantage. Under the Old Testament we find, that 
all that God required of his church, was, that they should 
observe 'the law of Moses his servant, which he commanded 
to him in Horeb, for all Israel, with his statutes and judg- 
ments ;' Mai. iv. 4. And when God had given out his insti- 
tutions,and the whole order of his worship, itbeingfixed in the 
church accordingly; it is added eight or ten times in one chap- 
ter, that this was done, ' as the Lord commanded Moses, even 
so did he ;' Exod. xl. After this God gives them many strict 
prohibitions, from adding any thing to what he had so com- 
manded ; as Deut. iv. 2. xii. 32. Prov. xxx. 6. And as he had 
in the Decalogue rejected any worship not of his own appoint- 
ment, as such, Exod. xx. 4, 5. so he made it afterward the rule 
of his acceptation ofthat people and what they did, or his re- , 
fusal of them and it, whether it was by him commanded or no. 
So in particular, he expressly rejects that which was so added, 
as to days, and times, and places, though of the nearest afr 
finity and cognation to what was appointed by himself, 
because it was invented by man ; yea, by a king ; 1 Kings 
xii. 33. And when in process of time, many things of an 
uncertain original were crept into the observance of the 
church, and had firmed themselves with the notion oftra- 


ditions; they were all at once rejected in that word of the 
blessed Holy One ; ' in vain do ye worship me, teaching for 
doctrines' (that is, what is in my worship to be observed) 
* the traditions of men.' For the churches of the JYew Testa- 
ment, the foundation of them is laid in that command of our 
Saviour, Matt, xxviii. 20. * Go and teach all nations ; teach- 
ing them to observe and do all whatsoever I command you : 
and lo, I am with you to the end of the world.' That they 
should be taught to do or observe any thing but what he 
commanded; that his presence should accompany them in 
the teaching or observation of any superadditions of their 
own ; we nowhere find written, intimated, or exemplified by 
any practice of theirs. Nor, however, in that juncture of 
time, the like whereunto did never occur before, nor ever 
shall do again, during the expiration and taking down of 
Mosaical institutions, before they became absolutely un- 
lawful to be observed, the apostles, according to the liberty 
given them by our Lord Jesus Christ, and direction of the 
Holy Ghost, did practise some things compliant with both 
church -states, did they, in any one instance, impose any 
thing on the practice of the churches in the worship of God, 
to be necessarily and for a continuance observed among 
them, but what they had express warrant and authority, and 
command of our Lord Christ for. Counsel they gave in par- 
ticular cases, that depended upon present emergencies; di- 
rections for the regular and due observation of institutions, 
and the application of general rules in particular practice : 
they also taught a due and sanctified use of civil customs, 
and the proper use of moral or natural symbols. But to 
impose any religious rites on the constant practice of the 
church in the worship of God, making them necessary to be 
always observed by that imposition, they did not once attempt 
to do, or assume power for it to themselves. Yea, when 
upon an important difficulty, and to prevent a ruining scandal, 
they were enforced to declare their judgment to the churches 
in some points, wherein they were to abridge the practice of 
their Christian liberty for a season ; they would do it only 
in things made necessary by the state of things then among 
the churches (in reference to the great end of edification, 
whereby all practices are to be regulated), before the de- 
claration of their judgment, for the restriction mentioned, 




Acts XV. So remote were they from assuming unto them- 
selves a dominion over the religion, consciences, or faith of 
the disciples of Christ ; or requiring any thing in the 
constant worship of the church, but what was according to 
the will, appointment, and command of their Lord and Master. 
Little countenance therefore is our author like to obtain 
unto his sentiments, from the Scriptures of the Old and New 
Testament ; or the example either of the Jews or Christians 
mentioned in them. 

The instances he gives from the church of the Jews, or 
that may be given, are either civil observances, as the feast 
of Purim ; or moral conveniencies directed by general rules, 
as the building of synagogues ; or customary signs suited to 
the nature of things, as wearing of sackcloth ; or such as 
have no proof of their being approved, as the feast of dedica- 
tion, and some monthly fasts taken up in the captivity ; from 
none of which any objection can be taken against the position 
before laid down. Those from the church of the New Tes- 
tament had either a perpetual binding institution from the 
authority of Christ, as the Lord's day sabbath ; or contain 
only a direction to use civil customs and observances in a 
holy and sanctified manner, as the love feasts and kiss of 
charity ; or such as were never heard of in the New Testa- 
ment at all, as the observation of Lent and Easter. He that 
out of these instances can draw a warranty for the power of 
the civil magistrate over religion and the consciences of 
men, to institute new duties in religion when he pleaseth, so 
these do ' not countenance vice, nor disgrace the Deity ;' which 
all his Christian subjects shall be bound in conscience to 
observe ; or otherwise make good any of those particular 
conclusions, that therefore Christ is not the only lawgiver to 
his church ; or that divine revelation is not the adequate rul e 
of divine worship ; or that men may add any thing to the 
worship of God, to be observed in it, constantly and indis- 
pensably, by the whole church ; will manifest himself to 
have an excellency in argumentation, beyond what I have 
ever yet met withal. 

A removal of the argument taken from the perfection of 
the Scripture, and its sufficiency to instruct us in the whole 
counsel and will of God, concerning his worship and our 
obedience unto him, is nextly attempted: but with no 


engines, but what have been discovered to be insufficient to 
that purpose a hundred times. It is alleged, *That what 
the Scripture commands in the worship of God, is to be ob- 
served; that what it forbids, is to be avoided.' Which if 
really acknowledged, and a concernment of the consciences 
of men be granted therein, is sufficiently destructive of the 
principal design of our author. But moreover, I say, that it 
commands and forbids things by general rules, as well as 
by particular precepts and inhibitions ; and that, if what is 
so commanded be observed, and what is so forbidden be 
avoided, there is a direct rule remaining in it for the whole 
worship of God. 

But this is said here to be of ' substantial duties, but not 
of external circumstances ;' and if it be so even of substantial 
duties, it perfectly overthrows all that our author hath been 
pleading in the three first chapters of his discourse. For 
external circumstances ; of what nature those are which are 
disposable by human authority and prudence, hath been 
now often declared, and needs not here to be repeated. 

The sum of his apprehensions in this matter, about the 
perfection and sufficiency of the Scripture in reference to 
the worship of God, our author gives us, p. 189. 'Any thing,' 
saith he, 'is lawful' (that is, in the worship of God) ' that is not 
made unlawful by some prohibition : for things become evil, 
not upon the score of their being not commanded ; but upon 
that of their being forbidden. And what the Scripture 
forbids not, it allows ; and what it allows, is not unlawful ; 
and what is not unlawful, may lawfully be done.' This tale, 
I confess, we have been told many and many a time; but it 
hath been as often answered, that the whole of it, as to any 
thing of reasoning, is captious and sophistical. 

Once more, therefore; what is commanded in the wor- 
ship of God is lawful, yea, is our duty to observe. All par- 
ticular instances of this sort, that are to have actual place 
in the worship of God, were easily enumerated, and so ex- 
pressly commanded. And why among sundry things that 
might equally belong thereunto one should be commanded, 
and another left at liberty without any institution, no man 
can divine. Of particular things not to be observed there is 
not the same reason. It is morally impossible, that all in- 
stances of men's inventions, all that they can find out to 



introduce into the worship of God, at any time, in any age, 
and please themselves therein, should be beforehand enu- 
merated, and prohibited in their particular instances. And 
if because they are not so forbidden, they may lawfully be 
introduced into divine worship, and imposed upon the prac- 
tices of men ; ten thousand things may be made lawful, and 
be so imposed. But the truth is, although a particular pro- 
hibition be needful to render a thing evil in itself, a general 
prohibition is enough to render any thing unlawful in the 
worship of God. So we grant, that what is not forbidden is 
lawful; but withal say, that every thing is forbidden, that 
should be esteemed as any part of divine worship, that is not 
commanded ; and if it were not, yet for want of such a com- 
mand, or divine institution, it can have neither use nor 
efl&cacy, with respect to the end of all religious worship. 

Our author speaks with his wonted confidence in this 
matter; yea, it seems to rise to its highest pitch: as also 
doth his contempt of his adversaries, or whatever is or may 
be offered by them in the justification of this principle. 
' Infinite certainty' on his own part, p. 193. 'baffled and into- 
lerable impertinencies ; weak and puny arguments ; cavils 
of a few hot-headed and brainsick people/ with other oppro- 
brious expressions of the like nature, filling up a great part 
of his leaves, are what he can afford unto those whom he 
opposeth. But yet I am not, for all this bluster, well satis- 
fied, much less ' infinitely certain,' that he doth in any com- 
petent measure understand aright the controversy, about 
which he treats with all this wrath and confidence. For the 
sum of all that here he pleads, is no more but this; that 
*the circumstances of actions in particular are various, and 
as they are not, so they cannot be determined by the word 
of God; and therefore must be ordered by human prudence 
and authority:' which if he suppose that any man deny, I 
shall the less wonder at his severe reflections upon them ; 
though I shall never judge them necessary or excusable in 
any case whatever. Page 198. he imposeth it on others that 
lie under the power of this persuasion, ' That they are obliged 
in conscience to act contrary to whatever their superiors 
command them in the worship of God :' which farther suf- 
ficiently evidenceth, that either he understands not the con- 
troversy under debate, or that he believes not himself in 


what he saith : which, because the harsher imputation, I 
shall avoid the owning of in the least surmise. 

Section 6. From the concession, that the magistrate ' may 
take care, that the laws of Christ be executed;' that is, com- 
mand and require his subjects to observe the commands of 
Christ, in that way, and by such means, as those commands, 
from the nature of the things themselves, and according to 
the rule of the gospel, may be commanded and required; 
he infers, that he hath himself power of making laws in 
religion. But why so? and how doth this follow? Why, 
saith he, * It is apparently implied, because whoever hath a 
power to see that laws be executed, cannot be without a 
power to command their execution.' Very good : but the 
conclusion should have been, He cannot be without a power 
to make laws in the matter, about which he looks to the 
execution : which would be good doctrine for justices of the 
peace to follow. But what is here laid down is nothing but 
repeating of the same thing in words a little varied ; as if it 
had been said. He that hath power to see the laws executed, 
or a power to command their execution, he hath power to 
see the laws executed, or a power to command their exe- 
cution : which is very true. And this we acknowledge the 
magistrate hath, in the way before declared. But that 
because he may do this, he may also make laws of his own 
in religion, it doth not at all follow from hence, whether it 
be true or no. But this is farther confirmedTrom ' the nature 
of the laws of Christ, which have only declared the substance 
and morality of religious worship: and therefore must needs 
have left the ordering of its circumstances to the power and 
wisdom of lawful authority.' * The laws of Christ,' which are 
intended, are those which he hath given concerning the 
worship of God. That these have determined the 'morality 
of religious worship,' I know not how he can well allow, who 
makes the law of nature to be the measure of morality, and 
all moral religious worship. And for 'the substance of re- 
ligious worship,' I wish it were well declared what is intended 
by it. For my part I think that whatever is commanded by 
Christ, the observation of it is of the substance of religious 
worship ; else I am sure the sacraments are not so. Now 
do but give men leave, as rational creatures, to observe those 
commands of Christ in such a way and manner as the nature 


of them requires them to be observed ; as he hath himself in 
general rules prescribed ; as the concurrent actions of many 
in society make necessary; and all this controversy will be 
at an end. When a duty, as to the kind of it, is commanded 
in particular, or instituted by Christ in the w^orship of God, 
he hath given general rules to guide us in the individual 
performance of it, as to the circumstances that the actions 
whereby it is performed will be attended withal. For the 
disposal of those circumstances according to those rules, 
prudence is to take place and to be used. For men who 
are obliged to act as men in all other things, are not to be 
looked on as brutes in what is required of them in the wor- 
ship of God. 

But to institute mystical rites, and fixed forms of sacred 
administrations, whereof nothing in the like kind doth neces- 
sarily attend the acting of instituted worship, is not to de- 
termine circumstances, but to ordain new parts of divine 
worship : and such injunctions are here confessed by our 
author, p. 191. to be 'new and distinct commands by them- 
selves,' and to enjoin something that the Scripture nowhere 
commands : which when he produceth a warranty for, he 
will have made a great progress towards the determining of 
the present controversy. 

Page 192. he answers an objection, consisting of two 
branches, as by him proposed ; whereof the first is, ' That it 
cannot stand with the love and wisdom of God, not to take 
order himself for all things that immediately concern his 
own worship and kingdom.' Now though I doubt not at all, 
but that God hath so done ; yet I do not remember at 
present, that I have read any imposing the necessity hereof 
upon him, in answer to his love and wisdom. I confess 
Valerianus Magnus, a famous writer of the church of Rome, 
tells us, that never any one did so foolishly institute or order 
a commonwealth, as Jesus Christ must be thought to have 
done, if he have not left one supreme judge to determine 
the faith and consciences of men in matters of religion and 
divine worship. And our author seems not to be remote 
from that kind of reasoning, who, without an assignment of 
a power to that purpose, contendeth that all things among 
men will run into confusion ; of so little concernment do 
the Scriptures, and the authority of God in them, to some 


seem to be. We do indeed thankfully acknowledge that 
God, out of his love and wisdom, hath ordered all things 
belonging to his worship and spiritual kingdom in the world. 
And we do suppose we need no other argument to evince 
this assertion, but to challenge all men who are otherwise 
minded, to give an instance of any defect in his institutions 
to that purpose. And this we are the more confirmed in, 
because those things which men think good to add unto 
them, they dare not contend that they are parts of his wor- 
ship ; or that they are added to supply any defect therein. 
Neither did ever any man yet say, that there is a defect in 
the divine institutions of worship, which must be supplied 
by a minister's wearing a surplice. All then that is intended 
in this consideration, though not urged, as is here pretended, 
is, that God in his goodness, love, and care towards his 
church, hath determined all things that are needful in or to 
his worship : and about what is not needful, men, if they 
please, may contend ; but it will be to no great purpose. 

The other part of the objection, which he proposeth to 
himself, is laid down by him in these words : ' If Jesus Christ 
hath not determined all particular rites and circumstances 
of religion, he hath discharged his office with less wisdom 
and fidelity than Moses; who ordered every thing apper- 
taining to the worship of God, even as far as the pins or 
nails of the tabernacle.' And hereunto in particular he 
returns in answer not one word ; but only ranks it amongst 
idle and impertinent reasonings. And I dare say he wants 
not reasons for his silence : whether they be pertinent or 
no, I know not. For setting aside the advantage that, it is 
possible, he aimed to make in the manner and terms of the 
pi'oposal of this objection to his sentiments; and it will 
appear, that he hath not much to offer for its removal. We 
dispute not about the rites and circumstances of religion, 
which are terms ambiguous, and, as hath been declared, 
may be variously interpreted, no more than we do about the 
nails of the tabernacle, wherein there were none at all. But 
it is about the worship of God and what is necessary there- 
unto. The ordering hereof, that is, of the house of God and 
all things belonging thereunto, was committed to Jesus 
Christ, as a Son over his own house ; Heb. iii. 3 — 5. In the 
discharge of his trust therein, he was faithful as was Moses; 


who received that testimony from God, that he ' was faithful 
in all his house,' upon his ordering all things in the worship 
of God as he commanded him, without adding any thing of 
his own thereunto, or leaving any thing uninstituted or un- 
determined, which was to be of use therein. From the faith- 
fulness of Christ, therefore, in and over the house of God, 
as it is compared with the faithfulness of Moses, it may be 
concluded, I think, that he ordered all things for the wor- 
ship of God in the churches of the New Testament, as far as 
Moses did in and for the church of the Old; and more is not 
contended for. And it will be made appear, that his com- 
mission in this matter was as extensive as that of Moses at 
the least ; or he could not, in that trust and the discharge of 
it, have that pre-eminence above him, which in this place is 
ascribed unto him. 

Section 7. an account is given of the great variety of 
circumstances, which do attend all human actions; whence 
it is impossible that they should be all determined by divine 
prescription. The same we say also ; but add withal, that 
if men would leave these circumstances free under the 
conduct of common prudence in the instituted worship of 
God, as they are compelled so to do in the performance of 
moral duties, and as he himself hath left them free, it would 
be as convenient for the reasons and consciences of men, 
as an attempt to the contrary. Thus we have an instance 
given us by our author in the moral duty of charity, which 
is commanded us of God himself; but the times, seasons, 
manner, objects, measures of it are left free, to be determined 
by human prudence, upon emergencies and occasions. It 
may be now inquired, whether the magistrate, or any other, 
can determine those circumstances by a law? and whether 
they are not, as by God, so by all wise men, left free, under 
the conduct of their reason and conscience, who are obliged 
to the duty itself by the command of God? And why may 
not the same rule and order be observed with respect to the 
circumstances that attend the performance of the duties of 
instituted worship? Besides, there are general circum- 
stances that are capable of a determination: such are time 
and place as naturally considered, without such adjuncts as 
might give them a moral consideration, or render them good 
or evil ; these the magistrate may determine. But for par- 


ticular circumstances attending individual actions, they will 
hardly be regulated by a standing law. But none of these 
things have the least interest in our debate. To add things 
necessarily to be observed in the worship of God, no way 
naturally related unto the actions wherewith prescribed 
worship is to be performed, and then to call them circum- 
stances thereof, erects a notion of things which nothing but 
interest can digest and concoct. 

His eighth section is unanswerable. It contains such a 
strenuous reviling of the Puritans, and contemptuous re- 
proaches of their writings, with such encomiums of their 
adversaries, as there is no deahng with it. And so I leave 
it. And so likewise I do his ninth, wherein, as hesaith, ' He 
upbraids the men of his contest with their shameful over- 
throws ; and dares them to look those enemies in the face, 
that have so lamentably cowed them, by so many absolute 
triumphs and victories.' Which kind of juvenile exulta- 
tions on feigned suppositions will, I suppose, in due time, 
receive an allay from his own more advised thoughts and 
considerations. The instance wherewith he countenanceth 
himself in his triumphant acclamations unto the victory of 
his party, is the book of Mr. Hooker, and its being un- 
answered. Concerning which I shall only say; that, as I 
wish the same moderation, ingenuity, and learning, unto all 
that engage in the same cause with him in these days ; so 
if this author will mind us of any one argument in his long- 
some discourse, not already frequently answered, and that 
in print long ago, that it shall have its due consideration. 
But this kind of discourses, it may be, on second thoughts, 
will be esteemed not so comely. And I can mind him of 
those, who boast as highly of some champions of their^own 
against all Protestants, as he can do of any patron of those 
opinions which he contendeth for. But it doth not always 
fall out, that those who have the most outward advantao-es 
and greatest leisure, have the best cause and abilities to 
manage it. 

The next sections treat concerning superstition, will- 
worship, and popery ; which, as he saith, having been 
charged by some on the church unduly, he retorts the crime 
of them upon the authors of that charge. I love not to 
strive, nor will I contend about words that may have vari- 


ous significations fixed on them. It is about things that 
we differ. That which is evil, is so, however you call it, 
and whether you can give it any special name or no. That 
which is good, will still be so, call it what and how men 
please. The giving of a bad or odious name to any thing, 
doth not make itself to be bad or odious. The managing 
therefore of those appellations, either as to their charge or 
recharge, I am no way concerned in. When it is proved 
that men believe, teach, or practise otherwise, than in duty 
to God they ought to do, then they do evil : and when 
they obey his mind and will in all things, then they do 
well; and in the end will have the praise thereof. In par- 
ticular, I confess superstition, as the word is commonly 
used, denotes a vicious habit of mind with respect unto 
God and his worship ; and so is not a proper denomination 
for the worship itself, or of any evil or crime in it : but 
yet, if it were worth contending about, I could easily mani- 
fest, that according to the use of the word by good authors 
in all ages, men have been charged with that crime, from 
the kind and nature of the worship itself observed by them. 
And when St. Paul charged the Athenians with an excess 
in superstition, it was from the multiplication of their gods, 
and thronging them together, right or wrong, in the dedica- 
tion of their altars. But these things belong not at all to 
our present design. Let them who enjoin things unto an 
indispensable necessary observation in the worship of God, 
which are not by him prescribed therein, take care of their 
own minds, that they be free from the vice of superstition ; 
and they shall never be judged, or charged by me therewith. 
Though I must say, that a multiplication of instances in this 
kind, as to their own observation, is the principal, if not the 
only way whereby men who own the true and proper object 
of religious worship, do or may manifest themselves to be 
influenced by that corrupt habit of mind ; so that they may 
relate unto superstition, as the effect to its cause. But the 
recrimination here insisted on, with respect unto them who 
refuse admittance unto, or observance of things so enjoined, 
is such as ought to be expected from provocations, and a 
desire of retortion. Such things usually taste of the cask, 
and are sufficiently weak and impertinent For it is a mis- 
take that those charged do make, as it is here expressed. 


' any thing necessary not to be done ;' or put ' any religion 
in the not doing of any thing,' or the non-observance of any 
rites, orders, or ceremonies ; any other, than every one puts 
in his abstinence from what God forbids ; which is a part 
of our moral obedience. 

And the whole question in this matter is not, whether, 
as it is here phrased, ' God hath tied up his creatures to 
nice and pettish laws ; laying a greater stress upon a doubt- 
ful or indifferent ceremony, than upon the great duty of 
obedience ;' but merely, whether men are to observe in the 
worship of God, what they apprehend he hath enjoined 
them ; and to abstain from what he doth forbid ; according 
to all the light that they have into his mind and will : which 
inquiry, as I suppose, may be satisfied ; that they are so to 
practise, and so to abstain, without being liable to the 
charge of superstition. No man can answer for the minds 
of other men ; nor know what depraved vicious habits and 
inclinations they are subject unto. Outward actions are 
all that we are in any case allowed to pass judgment upon ; 
and of men's minds, as those actions are indications of them. 
Let men, therefore, observe and do in the worship of God 
whatever the Lord Christ hath commanded them ; and ab- 
stain from what he hath forbidden, whether in particular 
instances, or by general directive precepts and rules ; by 
which means alone many things are capable of falling under 
a prohibition, without the least thought of placing any wor- 
ship of God in their abstinence from this or that thing in 
particular; and I think, they need not much concern them- 
selves in the charge of superstition, given in or out by any 
against them. 

For what is discoursed section 11. about will-worship, 
I cannot so far agree with our author, as I could in what 
passed before about superstition ; and that partly because I 
cannot discern him to be herein at any good agreement with 
himself. For * superstition/ he tells us, * consists in the ap- 
prehensions of men, when their minds are possessed with 
weak and uncomely conceits of God ;' p. 201. here, that * will- 
worship consists in nothing else than in men's making their 
own fancies and inventions necessary parts of religion;' 
which outward actings are not coincident with the inward 
frame and habit of mind before described. And I do heartily 


wish that some men could well free themselves from the 
charge of will-worship, as it is here described by our author; 
though cautelously expressed, to secure the concernments 
of his own interest from it. For although I will not call the 
things they contend to impose on others in the worship of 
God, their fancies ; yet themselves acknowledge them to 
be their inventions : and when they make them necessary 
to be observed in the whole worship of God, as public and 
stated, and forbid the celebration of that worship without 
them; when they declare their usefulness, and spiritual or 
mystical significancy in that worship or service, designed 
to honour God in or by their use ; setting up some of them 
to an exclusion of what Christ hath commanded ; if I can- 
not understand, but that they make them necessary parts of 
God's worship, as to the actual observance of it, I hope 
they will not be angry with me ; since I know the worst 
they can possibly with truth charge upon me in this matter, 
is, that I am not so wise, nor of so quick an understanding 
as themselves. Neither doth our author well remove his 
charge from those whose defence he hath undertaken : for 
he doth it only by this consideration ; * that they do not 
make the things, by them introduced in the worship of God, 
to be parts of religion. They are not so,' he saith, ' nor are 
made so by them.' For this hinders not but that they may 
be looked on as parts of divine worship ; seeing we are 
taught by the same hand, * that external worship is no part 
of religion at all.' And let him abide by what he closeth 
this section withal ; namely, that they make not any addi- 
tions to the worship of God, but only provide, that what God 
hath required, be performed in an orderly and decent man- 
ner, and as to my concern, there shall be an end of this part 
of our controversy. 

The ensuing paragraphs about ' Christian liberty ; 
adding to the commands of God ; and popery ;' are of the 
same nature with those preceding about superstition and 
will-worship. There is nothing new in them but words, 
and they may be briefly passed through. For the charge 
of popery, on the one side or other, I know nothing in it ; 
but that, when any thing is enjoined or imposed on men's 
practice in the worship of God, which is known to have 
been invented in and by the papal church during the time 


of its confessed apostacy, it must needs beget prejudices 
against it in the minds of them who consider the ways, 
means, and ends of the fatal defection of that church ; and 
are jealous of a sinful compliance with it in any of those 
things. The recharge on those who are said * to set up a 
pope in every man's conscience, whilst they vest it with a 
power of countermanding the decrees of princes ;' if no 
more be intended by ' countermanding,' but a refusal to 
observe their decrees, and yield obedience to them in things 
against their consciences, which is all can be pretended ; if 
it fall not on this author himself, as in some cases it doth ; 
and which by the certain conduct of right reason, must be 
extended to all, wherein the consciences of men are affected 
with the authority of God ; yet it doth on all Christians in 
the world, that I know of, besides himself. For ' adding to 
the law of God,' it is not charged on any, that they add to 
his commands ; as though they made their own divine, or 
part of his word and law : but only that they add in his 
worship to the things commanded by him, which being for- 
bidden in the Scripture, when they can free themselves from 
it, I shall rejoice ; but as yet see not how they can so do. 
Nor are there any, that I know of, who ' set up any prohibi- 
tions of their own,' in or about the worship of God, or any 
thing thereunto pertaining, as is unduly, and unrighteously 
pretended. There may be indeed some things enjoined by 
men, which they do and must abstain from, as they would 
do from any other sin whatever. But their consciences are 
regulated by no prohibitions, but those of God himself. 
And things are prohibited and made sinful unto them, not 
only when in particular, and by a specification of their in- 
stances, they are forbidden; but also when there lie general 
prohibitions against them on any account whatever. Some 
men indeed think, that if a particular prohibition of any 
thing might be produced, they would acquiesce in it; whilst 
they plead an exemption of sundry things from being in- 
cluded in general prohibitions ; although they have the 
direct formal reason attending them, on which those pro- 
hibitions are founded. But it is to be feared, that this 
also is but a pretence. For let any thing be particularly 
forbidden, yet if men's interest and superstition induce them 
to observe or retain it, they Vv-ill find out distinctions to 


evade the prohibition, and retain the practice. What can 
be more directly forbidden, than the making or using of 
graven images in or about religious worship ? And yet we 
know how little some men do acquiesce in that prohibition. 
And it was the observation of a learned prelate of this na- 
tion, in his rejection of the distinctions whereby they en- 
deavoured to countenance themselves in their idolatry; that 
the particular instances of things forbidden in the second 
commandment, are not principally intended ; but the general 
rule, of not adding any thing in the worship of God without 
his institution. ' Non imago,' saith he, * non simulachrum 
prohibetur ; sed non facies tibi.' What way, therefore, any 
thing becomes a sin unto any, be it by a particular or ge- 
neral prohibition ; be it from the scandal that may attend 
its practice ; unto him it is a sin. And it is a wild notion, 
that when any persons abstain from the practice of that in 
the worship of God, which to them is sinful as so practised* 
they add prohibitions of their own to the commands of God. 
The same is to be said concerning Christian liberty. 
No man, that I know of, makes ' things indifferent to be sin- 
ful/ as is pretended ; nor can any man in his right wits do 
so. For none can entertain contradictory notions of the 
same thing, at the same time ; as those are, that the same 
things are indifferent, that is, not sinful, and sinful. But 
this some say : that things in their own nature indifferent, 
that is, absolutely so, may be yet relatively unlawful ; be- 
cause, with respect unto that relation, forbidden of God. 
To set up an altar of old for a civil memorial in any place, 
was a thing indifferent : but to set up an altar to offer sa- 
crifices on, where the tabernacle was not, was a sin. It is 
indifferent for a man that understands that language, to read 
the Scripture in Latin, or in English : but to read it in 
Latin unto a congregation that understands it not, as a 
part of God's worship, would be sin. Nor doth our Christian 
liberty consist alone in our judgment of the indifferency of 
things in their own nature, made necessary to practise by 
commands, as hath been shewed. And if it doth so, the 
Jews had that privilege as much as Christians. And they 
are easily offended, who complain that their Christian liberty, 
in the practice of what they think meet in the worship of God, 
is intrenched on by such, as leaving them to their pleasure. 


because of their apprehension of the will of God to the con- 
trary, cannot comply with them in their practice. 

The close of this chapter is designed to the removal of 
an objection, pretended to be weighty and difficult; but in- 
deed made so merely by the novel opinions advanced by this 
author. For laying aside all respect unto some uncouth 
principles broached in this discourse, there is scarce a 
Christian child of ten years old, but can resolve the difficulty 
pretended, and that according to the mind of God. For it 
is supposed, that the magistrate may * establish a worship 
that is idolatrous and superstitious :' and an inquiry is 
made thereon, what the subject shall do in that case? 
Why? where lies the difficulty? Why, saith he, * in this 
case they must be either rebels, or idolaters. If they obey, 
they sin against God : if they disobey, they sin against their 
sovereign.' According to the principles hitherto received in 
Christian religion, any one would reply, and say, No : for it 
is certain, that men must obey God, and not contract the 
guilt of such horrible sins, as idolatry and superstition ; but 
in so doing they are neither rebels against their ruler, nor 
do sin against him. It is true, they must quietly and pa- 
tiently submit to what they may suffer from him : but they 
are in so doing guilty of no rebellion nor sin against him. 
Did ever any Christian yet so much as call it into question, 
whether the primitive Christians were rebels, and sinned 
against their rulers, because they would not obey those 
edicts, whereby they established idolatrous worship ? Or 
did any one ever think, that they had a difficult case of 
conscience to resolve in that matter ? They were indeed 
accused by the pagans as rebels against the emperors ; 
but no Christian ever yet thought their case to have been 
doubtful. But all this difficulty ariseth from the making of 
two gods, where there ought to be but one. And this 
renders the case so perplexed, that, for my part, I cannot 
see directly how it is determined by our author. Some- 
times he speaks as though it were the duty of subjects to 
comply with the establishment of idolatry supposed, as pp. 
214, 215. for with respect, as I suppose it is, to the case as 
by him stated, that he says, * Men must not withdraw their 
obedience :' and better ' submit unto the unreasonable im- 
positions of Nero or Caligula, than to hazard the dissolu- 


tion of the state.' Sometimes he seems not to oblige them 
in conscience to practise according to the public prescrip- 
tion ; but only pleads, that the magistrate may punish 
them if they do not ; and fain would have it thought, that 
he may do so justly. But these things are certain unto us 
in this matter, and are so many Kupiat ^o^ai in Christian 
religion ; that if the supreme magistrate command any 
thing in the worship of God that is idolatrous, we are not 
to practise it accordingly ; because we must obey God 
rather than men. Nextly, that in our refusal of compliance 
with the magistrate's commands, we do neither rebel nor sin 
against him. For God hath not, doth not at any time, shut 
us up in any conditions unto a necessity of sinning. Thirdly, 
that incase the magistrate shall think meet, through his own 
mistakes and misapprehensions, to punish, destroy, and burn 
them alive, who shall not comply with his edicts, as did 
Nebuchadnezzar ; or as they did in England in times of po- 
pery ; after all honest and lawful private ways of self-pre- 
servation used, which we are obliged unto, we are quietly 
and patiently to submit to the will of God in our sufferings, 
without opposing or resisting by force, or stirring up sedi- 
tions or tumults, to the disturbance of public peace. But 
our author hath elsewhere provided a full solution of this 
difficulty, chap. viii. p. 308. where he tells us, ' That in cases 
and disputes of a public concern, private men are not pro- 
perly ' sui juris ;' they have no power over their actions ; they 
are not to be directed by their own judgments, or determined 
by their own wills ; but by the commands and determinations 
of the public conscience. And if there be any sin in the 
command, he that imposed it shall answer for it, and not I 
whose duty it is to obey. The commands of authority will 
warrant ray obedience, my obedience will hallow or at least 
excuse my action ; and so secure me from sin, if not from 
error, because I follow the best guide and most probable 
direction I am capable of; and though I may mistake, my 
integrity shall preserve my innocence ; and in all doubtful 
and disputable cases it is better to err with authority, than 
to be in the right against it.' When he shall produce any 
one divine writer, any of the ancient fathers, any sober 
schoolmen, or casuists, any learned modern divines, speak- 
ing at this rate, or giving countenance unto this direction 


given to men, for the regulating of their moral actions, it 
shall be farther attended unto. I know some such thing is 
muttered amongst the pleaders for blind obedience upon 
vows voluntarily engaged into, for that purpose. But as it 
is acknowledged by themselves, that by those vows they 
deprive themselves of that right and liberty which naturally 
belongs unto them, as unto all other men, wherein they 
place much of the merit of them ; so by others those vows 
themselves, with all the pretended brutish obedience that 
proceeds from them, are sufficiently evidenced to be a 
horrible abomination, and such as make a ready way for 
the perpetration of all villanies in the world, to which pur- 
pose that kind of obedience hath been principally made use 
of. But these things are extremely fond ; and not only, as 
applied unto the worship of Go:f, repugnant to the gospel, 
but also in themselves to the law of our creation, and that 
moral dependance on God which is indispensable unto all 
individuals of mankind. We are told in the gospel, that 
every one is to be fully persuaded in his own mind ; that 
whatever is not of faith is sin ; that we are not to be (in 
such things) the servants of men ; that other men's lead- 
ing of us amiss, whoever they are, will not excuse us ; ' for 
if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch ;' 
and -he that followeth, is as sure to perish as he that leadeth. 
The next guides of the souls and consciences of men, are 
doubtless those who speak unto them in the name of God, 
or preachers of the gospel. Yet are all the disciples of 
Christ, frequently warned to * take heed' that they be not 
deceived by any, under that pretence, but diligently ex- 
amining what is proposed unto them, they discern in 
themselves what is good and evil. Nor doth the great 
apostle himself require us to be followers of him, any 
farther than he was a follower of Christ. They will find 
small relief, who at the last day shall charge their sins on 
the commands of others, whatever hope to the contrary 
they are put into by our author. Neither will it be any ex- 
cuse that we have done according to the precepts of men, if 
we have done contrary to those of God. Ephraim, of old, 
* was broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after 
the commandment;' Hos. v. 11. But would not his obedi- 
ence hallow, or at least excuse his action ? And would not 

VOL. XXI. 2 A 


the authority of the king warrant his obedience? Or must 
Ephraim now answer for the sin, and not he only that im- 
posed the command ? But it seems that when Jeroboam sin- 
ned, who at that time had this goodly creature of the public 
conscience in keeping, he made Israel sin also, who obeyed 
him. It is moreover a brave attempt to assert that private 
men with respect to any of their moral actions, are not 
properly 'sui juris,' have no power over their actions, are 
not to be directed by their own judgments, or determined 
by their own wills. This is Circe's rod, one stroke whereof 
turned men into hogs. For to what purpose serve their 
understandings, their judgments, their wills, if not to guide 
and determine them in their actions? I think he would 
find hard work, that should go about to persuade men to put 
out their own eyes, or blind themselves, that they might 
see all by one public eye. And I am sure it is no less un- 
reasonable, to desire them to reject their own wills, under- 
standings, and judgments, to be led and determined by a 
public conscience ; considering especially that that public 
conscience itself is a mere * tragelaphus/ which never had 
existence in * rerum natura.' Besides, suppose men should 
be willing to accept of this condition of renouncing their 
own understandings and judgments, from being their guides 
as to their moral actions ; I fear it will be found that indeed 
they are not able so to do. Men's understandings, and their 
consciences, are placed in them by him who made them, to 
rule in them and over their actions in his name, and with re- 
spect unto their dependence on him. And let men endeavour 
it whilst they please, they shall never be able utterly to cast 
off this yoke of God, and destroy this order of things, which 
is by him inlaid in the principles of all rational beings. Men, 
whilst they are men, in things that have a moral good or evil 
in them or adhering to them, must be guided and determined 
by their own understandings whether they will or no. And 
if by any means, they stifle the actings of them at present, 
they will not avoid that judgment, which, according to them, 
shall pass upon them at the last day. But these things may 
elsewhere be farther pursued. In the mean time the reader 
may take this case as it is determined by the learned prelate 
before mentioned, in his dialogue about subjection and obe- 
dience against the Papists, whose words are as follow. Part 


iii. p. 297. * Philand. If the prince establish any religion, 
whatever it be, you must by your oath obey it. Theoph. 
We must not rebel and take arms against the prince ; but 
with reverence and humility serve God before the prince, 
and that is nothino- aa'ainst our oath. Philand. Then is 
not the prince supreme. Theoph. Why so? Philand. 
Yourselves are superior, when you serve whom you list. 
Theoph. As though to serve God according to his will, 
were to serve whom we list, and not whom princes and all 
others ought to serve. Philand. But you v/ill be judges, 
when God is well served, and when not. Theoph. If you 
can excuse us before God when you mislead us, we will 
serve him as you shall appoint us ; otherwise, if every man 
shall answer for himself, good reason he be master of his 
own conscience, in that which toucheth him so near, and 
no man shall excuse him for. Philand. This is to make 
every man supreme judge of religion. Theoph. The poorest 
wretch that is may be supreme governor of his own heart ; 
princes rule the public and external actions of their coun- 
tries, but not the consciences of men.' This in his days 
was the doctrine of the church of England ; and as was 
observed before, no person who then lived in it, knew better 
what was so. 

The sole inquiry remaining is. Whether the magistrate, 
having establislied such a religion, as is idolatrous or super- 
stitious, may justly and lawfully punish and destroy his sub- 
jects, for their noncompliance therewithal? This is that, 
which, if I understand him, our author would give counte- 
nance unto; contrary to the common sense of all Christians, 
yea, of common sense itself. For whereas he interweaves his 
discourse with suppositions, that men may mistake in re- 
ligion, and abuse it ; all such interpositions are purely so- 
phistical, seeing the case proposed to resolution, which 
ought in the whole to be precisely attended unto, is about 
the refusal to observe and practise a religion idolatrous or 
superstitious. Of the like nature is that argument, which 
alone he makes use of here and elsewhere, to justify his 
principles ; namely, the necessity of government ; and how 
much better the worst government is, and the most depraved 
in its administration, than anarchy or confusion. For as 
this by all mankind is unquestioned; so I do not think there 

2 a2 


is any one among them, who can tell how to use this con- 
cession to our author's purpose. Doth it follow, that be- 
cause magistrates cannot justly nor righteously prescribe 
an idolatrous religion, and compel their subjects to the pro- 
fession and obedience of it ; and because the subjects cannot, 
nor ought to yield obedience therein, because of the ante- 
cedent and superior power of God over them : that there- 
fore anarchy or confusion must be preferred before such an 
administration of government? Let the magistrate com- 
mand what he will in religion, yet whilst he attends unto 
the ends of all civil government, that government must 
needs be every way better than none ; and is by private 
Christians to be borne with, and submitted unto, until God in 
his providence shall provide relief. The primitive Christians 
lived some ages in the condition described ; refusing to ob- 
serve the religion required by law; and exercising them- 
selves in the worship of God, which was strictly forbidden. 
And yet neither anarchy, nor confusion, nor any disturbance 
of public tranquillity did ensue thereon. So did the Protes- 
tants here in England in the days of queen Mary, and some 
time before. The argument, which he endeavours in these 
discourses to give an answer unto, is only of this importance : 
If the supreme magistrate may command what religion he 
pleaseth, and enact the'observation of it under destructive 
penalties ; whereas the greatest part of magistrates in the 
world will and do prescribe such religions and ways of di- 
vine worship, as are idolatrous or superstitious, which their 
subjects are indispensably bound in conscience not to com- 
ply withal; then is the magistrate justified in the punishing 
of men for their serving of God as they ought ; and they may 
suffer as evil doers, in what they suffer as Christians. This, 
all the world over, will justify them that are uppermost, and 
have power in their hands (on no other ground, but because 
they are so, and have so), in their oppressions and destruc- 
tions of them, that being under them in civil respects, do 
dissent from them in things religious. Now whether this 
be according to the mind of God or no, is left unto the 
judgment of all indifferent men. We have, I confess, I know 
not how many expressions interposed in this discourse, as 
was observed, about sedition, troubling of public peace, 
men being turbulent against prescribed rules of worship. 


whereof if he pretend, that every peaceable dissenter and 
dissent from what is publicly established in religious wor- 
ship, are guilty, he is a pleasant man in a disputation ; and, 
if he do any thing, he determines his case proposed on the 
part of compliance with idolatrous and superstitious wor- 
ship. If he do not so, the mention of them in this place is 
very importune and unseasonable. All men acknowledge, 
that such miscarriages and practices may be justly coerced 
and punished. But what is this to a bare refusal to comply 
in any idolatrous worship, and a peaceable practice of what 
God doth require, as that which he will accept and own? 
But our author proceeds to find out many pretences, on 
the account whereof, persons whom he acknowledgeth to 
be innocent and guiltless, may be punished. And though 
their 'apprehensions in religion be not,' as he saith, 'so much 
their crime, as their infelicity, yet there is no remedy, but it 
must expose them to the public rods and axes;' p. 219. I 
have heard of some wise and righteous princes, who have 
affirmed, that they had rather let twenty guilty persons go 
free, than punish or destroy one that is innocent. This 
seems to render them more like him, whose vicegerents 
they are, than to seek out colourable reasons for the pu- 
nishment of them, whom they know to be innocent ; which 
course is here suggested unto them. Such advice might 
be welcome to him, whom men called ttijXov ai/naTt 
Trefjivpa/xivov, ' clay mingled and leavened with blood;' 
others no doubt will abhor it, and detest it. But what 
spirit of meekness and mercy our author is acted by, he 
discovereth in the close of this chapter, p. 223. for, saith he, 
' it is easily imaginable how an honest and well-meaning 
man may, through mere ignorance, fall into such errors, 
which, though God will pardon, yet governors must punish. 
His integrity may expiate the crime, but cannot prevent the 
mischief of his error. Nay, so easy is it for man to deserve 
to be punished for their consciences, that there is no nation 
in the world, in which (were government rightly understood 
and duly managed) mistakes and abuses of religion would 
not supply the galleys with vastly greater numbers, thaii 
villany.' There is no doubt, but that if Phaeton get into 
the chariot of the sun, the world will be sufficiently fired. 
And if every Absalom who thinks he understands govern- 


ment and the due management of it, better than its present 
possessors, were enthroned, there would be havoc enough 
made among mankind. But blessed be God, who in many 
places, hath disposed it into such hands, as under whom;, 
those who desire to fear and serve him according to his will, 
may yet enjoy a more tolerable condition than such adver- 
saries are pleased withal. That honest and well-meaning 
men, falling into errors about the worship of God, through 
their own ignorance, wherein their * integrity may expiate 
their crime ; must be punished, must not be pardoned ;' 
looks, methinks, with an appearance of more severity than 
it is the will of God that the world should be governed by ; 
seeing one snd of his instituting and appointing government 
among men, is, to represent himself in his power, goodnesS;, 
and wisdom unto them. And he that shall conjoin another 
assertion of our author, namely, that it is * better and more 
eligible to tolerate debaucheries and immoralities in conver- 
sation, than liberty of conscience for men to worship God 
according to those apprehensions which they have of his 
will ;' with the close of this chapter, * that it is so easy for 
men to deserve to be punished for their consciences, that 
there is no nation in the world, in which, were government 
rightly understood, and duly managed, mistakes and abuses 
of religion would not supply the galleys with vastly greater 
numbers, than villany ;' will easily judge with what spirit, 
from what principles, and with what design, this whole dis- 
course was composed. 

But I find myself, utterly besides and beyond ray inten- 
tion, engaged in particular controversies : and finding by 
the prospect I have taken of what remains in the treatise 
under consideration ; that it is of the same nature and im- 
portance, with what is past, and a full continuation of those 
opprobrious reproaches of them whom he opposeth ; and 
open discoveries of earnest desires after their trouble and 
ruin, which we have now sufficiently been inured unto ; I 
shall choose rather here to break off this discourse, than 
farther to pursue the ventilation of those differences, wherein 
I shallnotwillingly,orof choice, at any time engage. Besides, 
what is in the whole discourse of especial and particular 
controversy, may be better handled apart by itself: as pro- 
bably ere long it will be; if this new representation of old 


pretences, quickened by invectives, and improved beyond all 
bounds and measures formerly fixed or given unto them, be 
judged to deserve a particular consideration. In the mean 
time this author is more concerned than I, to consider, 
v^rhether those bold incursions, that he hath made upon the 
ancient boundaries and rules of religion, and the consciences 
of men ; those contemptuous revilings of his adversaries, 
which he hath almost filled the pages of his book withal ; 
those discoveries he hath made of the want of a due sense 
of the weaknesses and infirmities of men, which himself 
wants not; and of fierce, implacable, sanguinary thoughts 
against them, v/ho appeal to the judgment-seat of God, that 
they do not in any thing dissent from him or others, but 
out of a reverence of the authority of God, and for fear of 
provoking his holy majesty ; his incompassionate insulting 
over men in distresses and sufferings, will add to the comfort 
of that account, which he must shortly make before his 
Lord and ours. 

To close up this discourse ; the principal design of the 
treatise thus far surveyed, is to persuade or seduce sovereign 
princes or supreme magistrates unto two evils, that are in- 
deed inseparable, and equally pernicious to themselves and 
others. The one of these is, to invade or usurp the throne 
of God ; and the other, to behave themselves therein unlike 
him. And where the one leads the way, the other will 
assuredly follow. The empire over religion, the souls and 
consciences of men in the worship of God, hath hitherto 
been esteemed to belong unto God alone, to be a peculiar 
jewel in his glorious diadem. Neither can it spring from 
any other fountain but absolute and infinite supremacy, 
such as belongs to him, as he hath alone, who is the first 
cause and last end of all. All attempts to educe it from, or 
to resolve itinto, any other principle are vain, and will prove 
abortive. But here the sons of men are enticed to say with 
him of old, 'We will ascend into heaven ; we will exalt our 
throne above the stars of God ; we will sit upon the mount 
of the congregation, in the sides of the north; we will as- 
cend above the heights of the clouds ; we will be like the 
Most High.' For wherein can this be effected ? What lad- 
ders have men to climb personally into heaven ? And who 
shall attend them in their attempt? It is an assuming of a 


dominion over the souls and consciences of men in the Wof" 
ship of God, wherein and whereby this may be pretended, 
and therein alone. And all this description of the inva- 
sion of the throne of God, whence he, who did so, is com- 
pared to Lucifer, who sought supremacy in heaven; is but 
the setting up of his power in and over the church in its 
worship, which was performed in the temple, the mount 
of the congregation, and in Zion, on the north of the city 
of Jerusalem; Isa. xiv. This now princes are persuaded 
unto : and can scarce escape without reproaches, whei'e 
they refuse or omit the attempting of it. Suppose they be 
prevailed with, to run the hazard and adventure of such an 
undertaking ; what is it that they are thereon persuaded 
unto ? How are they directed to behave themselves after 
they have assumed a likeness unto theMostHigh, and exalted 
themselves to his throne? Plainly that which is now ex- 
pected from them, is nothing but wrath, fury, indignation, 
persecution, destructions, banishments, ruin of the persons 
and families of men innocent, peaceable, fearing God, and 
useful in their several stations, to satisfy their own wills, or 
to serve the interests ofother men. Is this to act like God, 
whose power and authority they have assumed, or like to 
his greatest adversary ? Doth God deal thus in this world, 
in his rule over the souls of men? Or is not this that 
which is set out in the fable of Phaeton, that he, who takes 
the chariot of the sun, will cast the whole world into a com- 
bustion? So he, who of old is supposed to have affected 
the throne of God, hath ever since acted that cruelty to his 
power, which manifests what was his design therein, and 
what would have been the end of his coveted sovereignty. 
And whoever at any time shall take to himself that power 
that is peculiar to God, will find himself left in the exercise 
of it, to act utterly unlike him, yea, contrary unto him. 
Power, they say, is a liquor, that let it be put into what 
vessel you will, it is ready to overflow : and as useful as it 
is, as nothing is more to mankind in this world, yet when it 
is not accompanied with a due proportion of wisdom and 
goodness, it is troublesome if not pernicious to them con- 
cerned in it. The power of God is infinite, and his so- 
vereignty absolute : but the whole exercise of those glorious 
dreadful properties of his nature, is regulated by wisdom 


and goodness, no less infinite than themselves. And as he 
hath all power over the souls and consciences of men ; so 
he exercises it with that goodness, grace, clemency, patience, 
and forbearance, which I hope we are all sensible of. If 
there be any like him, equal unto him in these things, I will 
readily submit the whole of my religion and conscience unto 
him, without the least hesitation. And if God, in his do- 
minion and rule over the souls and consciences of men, do 
exercise all patience, benignity, long-suffering, and mercy ; 
' for it is his compassion that we are not consumed ;' doth 
he not declare, that none is meet to be intrusted with that 
power and rule, but they, who have those things like him- 
self: at least, that in what they are or may be concerned in 
it, they express, and endeavour to answer his example? In- 
deed, sovereign princes and supreme magistrates are God's 
vicegerents, and are called gods on the earth ; to represent 
his power and authority unto men in government, within 
the bounds prefixed by himself unto them, which are the 
most extensive that the nature of things is capable of; and 
in so doing, to conform themselves and their actings to hira 
and his, as he is the great monarch, the prototype of all 
rule and the exercise of it, in justice, goodness, clemency, 
and benignity ; that so the whole of what they do may tend 
to the relief, comfort, refreshment, and satisfaction of man- 
kind, walking in the ways of peace and innocency, in answer 
unto the ends of their rule, is their duty, their honour, and 
their safety. And to this end, doth God usually and ordi- 
narily furnish them with a due proportion of wisdom and 
understanding : for they also are of God ; he gives them an 
understanding suited and commensurate to their work ; that 
what they have to do, shall not ordinarily be too hard for 
them : nor shall they be tempted to mistakes and miscar- 
riages from the work they are employed about, which he 
hath made to be their own. But if any of them shall once 
begin to exceed their bounds, to invade his throne, and to 
take to themselves the rule of any province, belongino- pe- 
culiarly and solely to the kingdom of heaven ; therein a 
conformity unto God in their actings is not to be expected. 
For be they never so amply furnished with all abilities of 
mind and soul for the work, and those duties which are their 
own, which are proper unto them; yet they are not capable 


of any such stores of wisdom and goodness, as should fit 
them for the work of God, that which peculiarly belongs to 
his authority and power. His power is infinite ; his autho- 
rity is absolute ; so are his wisdom, goodness, and patience. 
Thus he rules religion, the souls and consciences of men. 
And when princes partake in these things, infinite power, 
infinite wisdom, and infinite goodness, they may assume 
the same rule and act like him. But to pretend an interest 
in the one and not in the other, will set them in the greatest 
opposition to him. Those, therefore, who can prevail with 
magistrates to take the power of God over religion, and the 
souls of men in their observance of it, need never fear that 
when they have so done, they will imitate him in his pa- 
tience, clemency, meekness, forbearance, and benignity ; 
for they are no way capable of these things in a due propor- 
tion to that power, which is not their own ; however they 
may be eminently furnished for that which is so. Thus 
have we known princes (such as Trajan, Adrian, Julian of 
old), whilst they kept themselves to their proper sphere, 
ordering and disposing the affairs of this world, and all 
things belonging to public peace, tranquillity, and welfare, 
to have been renowned for their righteousness, moderation, 
and clemency, and thereby made dear to mankind ; who, 
when they have fallen into the excess of assuming divine 
power over the consciences of men and the worship of God, 
have left behind them such footsteps and remembrances of 
rage, cruelty, and blood in the world, as make them justly 
abhorred to all generations. This alone is the seat and 
posture, wherein the powers of the earth are delighted with 
the sighs and groans of innocent persons, with the fears and 
dread of them that are and would be at peace ; with the 
punishment of their obedient subjects ; and the binding of 
those hands of industry, which would willingly employ 
themselves for the public good and welfare. Take this 
occasion out of the way, and there is nothing that should 
provoke sovereign magistrates to any thing that is grievous, 
irksome, or troublesome to men peaceable and innocent ; 
nothing that should hinder their subjects from seeing the 
presence of God with them in their rule, and his image upon 
them in their authority, causing them to delight in the 
thoughts of them, and to pray continually for their con- 


liiiuance and prosperity. It may be some may be pleased 
for a season with severities against dissenters, such as con- 
cerning whom we discourse ; who falsely suppose their in- 
terest to lie therein. It may be they may think meet, rather 
to have all ' debaucheries of life and conversation tolerated/ 
than liberty for peaceable men to worship God, according to 
their light and persuasion of his mind and will ; as tlie mul- 
titude was pleased of old with the cry of, * release Barrabas, 
and let Jesus be crucified ;' magistrates themselves will at 
length perceive, how little they are beholden to any, who 
importunately suggest unto them fierce and sanguinary 
counsels in these matters. It is a saying of jMaximilian 
the emperor, celebrated in many authors ; ' Nullum,' said 
he, ' enormius peccatum dari potest, quam in conscientias 
imperium exercere velle. Qui enim conscientiis imperare 
volunt, ii arcem coeli invadunt, et plerumque terree posses- 
sionem perdunt.' Magistrates need not fear, but that the 
open wickedness a.nd bloody crimes of men, will supply 
them with objects to be examples and testimonies of their 
justice and severity. And methinks it should not be judged 
an unequal petition by them, who rule in the stead and fear 
of God, that those who are innocent in their lives, useful in 
their callings and occasions, peaceable in the Lord, might 
not be exposed to trouble, only because they design and 
endeavour, according to their light, which they are invinci- 
bly persuaded to be from God himself, to take care, that 
they perish not eternally. However I know, I can mind 
them of advice, which is ten thousand times more their in- 
terest to attend unto, than to any that is tendered in the 
treatise we have had under consideration, and it is that 
given by a king, unto those that should partake of the like 
royal authority \vith himself; Psal. ii. 10 — 12. * Be wise 
now therefore, O ye kings ; be instructed, ye judges of the 
earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, 
when his wrath is kindled but a little ; blessed are all they 
that put their trust in him.' And he who can inform me, 
how they can render themselves more like unto God, more 
acceptable unto him, and more the concern and delight of 
mankind, than by relieving peaceable and innocent persons 
from their fears, cares, and solicitousness about undeserved 


evils, or from the suffering of such things, which no mortal 
man can convince them that they have merited to undergo 
or suffer ; he shall have my thanks for his discovery. 

And what is it that vv'e treat about? What is it, that 
a little truce and peace is desired unto, and pleaded for? 
What are the concerns of public good therein ? Let a little 
sedate consideration be exercised about these things, and the 
causelessness of all the wrath we have been conversing withal 
will quickly appear. That there is a sad degeneracy of 
Christianity in the veorld, amongst the professors of Chris- 
tian religion, from the rule, spirit, worship, and conversation 
of the first Christians, who in all things observed and ex- 
pressed the nature, virtue, and power of the gospel, all must 
acknowledge, and many do complain. Whatever of this 
kind comes to pass, and by what means soever, it is the in- 
terest and design of them, who are present gainers by it in 
the world, to keep all things in the posture, that yields 
them their advantage. Hence upon every appearance of an 
alteration, or apprehension that any will desert the ways of 
worship wherein they have been engaged, they are cast into 
a storm of passion and outrage, like Demetrius and the rest 
of the silversmiths, pretending divisions, present settlement, 
ancient veneration, and the like ; when their gain and ad- 
vantage, whether known or unknown to themselves, is that, 
which both influenceth them with such a frame of spirit, 
and animates them to actings suitable thereunto. Thus in 
the ages past there was so great and universal an apostacy, 
long before foretold, overspreading Christianity, that by in- 
numerable sober persons it was judged intolerable: and 
that, if men had any regard to the gospel of Christ, their 
own freedom in the world, or everlasting blessedness, there 
was a necessity of a reformation, and the reduction of the 
profession of Christian religion unto some nearer conformity 
to the primitive times and pattern. Into this design sundry 
kings, princes, and whole nations engaged themselves, 
namely, what lay in them, and according to the sentiments 
of truth they had received, to reduce religion unto its pris- 
tine glory. What wrath, clamours, fury, indignation, re- 
venge, malice, this occasioned in them whose subsistence, 
wealth, advantages, honour, and reputation, all lay in pre- 
serving things in their state of defection and apostacy, is 


known to all the world. Hence therefore arose bloody per- 
secutions in all, and fierce wars in many nations, where this 
thing was attempted ; stirred up by the craft and cruelty of 
them who had mastered and managed the former declen- 
sions of religion to their own use and advantage. The guilt 
of which mischiefs and miseries unto mankind, is by a late 
writer amongst ourselves, contrary to all the monuments of 
times past, and confessions of the adversaries themselves, 
endeavoured to be cast on the reformers. However, a work 
of reformation was carried on in the world, and succeeded 
in many places : in none more eminently, than in this nation 
wherein we live. That the end aimed at, which was pro- 
fessedly the reduction of religion to its ancient beauty and 
glor}'^ in truth and worship, is attained amongst us, some 
perhaps do judge, and absolutely acquiesce therein : and 
for my part I wish we had more did so. For, be it spoken, 
as I hope, without oflence on the part of others, so without 
fear of giving it, or having it taken, on my own; there are 
among many, such evident declensions from the first esta- 
blished reformation, towards the old or a new, and it may 
be worse apostacy ; such an apparent weariness of the prin- 
cipal doctrines and practices, which enlivened the reforma- 
tion; as I cannot but be troubled at, and wherewith many 
are offended. For although I do own a dissent from some 
present establishments in the church of England, yet I have 
that honour for the first reformers of it, and reformation it- 
self; that love to the truth declared and established in it; 
that respect to the work and grace of God, in the conversion 
of the souls of thousands by the ministry of the word in 
these, nations ; that I cannot but grieve continually to see 
the acknowledged doctrines of it deserted, its ancient prin- 
ciples and practices derided, its pristine zeal despised by 
some who make advantage of its outward constitution ; in- 
heriting the profits, emoluments, and wealth which the 
bounty of our kings have endowed it withal ; but not its 
spirit, its love, its steadfastness in owning the Protestant 
truth and cause. But to return ; for these things may bet- 
ter elsewhere be complained of, seeing they relate only to 
particular persons. That what is done in reformation be 
established ; that any farther public work of the same nature 
attempted; or the retrievement of what is done to its orioinal 


condition and estate, belongs to the determination of the 
supreme magistrate, and to that alone. Private persons 
have no call, no warrant to attempt any thing unto those 
purposes. However many there are, who dislike some ec- 
clesiastical constitutions and modes of outward worship, 
which have been the matter of great contests from the first 
reformation : but much more dislike the degeneracy from 
the spirit, way, and principles of the first reformers before 
mentioned, which in some at present they apprehend. And 
therefore though many seem to be at a great distance from 
the present established forms of the church of England ; 
yet certainly all who are humble and peaceable, when they 
shall see the ministry of the church, as in former days in 
some measure, acted rightly and zealously towards the 
known ends of it, and such as are undeniably by all ac- 
knowledged, namely, the conviction of the world, the con- 
version of souls, and edification of them that do believe ; 
and the discipline of it exercised, in a conformity at least 
to the rule of the discipline of the secular powers of the 
earth, ' not to be a terror to the good, but to them that do 
evil ;' and in these things a demonstration of the meekness, 
humility, patience, forbearance, condescension to the weak- 
ness, mistakes, errings, and wanderings of others, which 
the gospel doth as plainly and evidently require of us, as it 
doth, that we should believe in Jesus Christ; will continu- 
ally pray for its prosperity, though they cannot themselves 
join with it in sundry of its practices and ways. In the 
mean time, I say, such persons as these, in themselves and 
for their own concerns, do think it their duty, not absolutely 
to take up in what hath been attained amongst us ; much 
less in what" many are degenerated into; but to endeavour 
the reduction of their practice in the worship of God, to 
what was first appointed by Jesus Christ ; as being per- 
suaded, that he requires it of them ; and being convinced, 
that in the unspeakable variety that is in human constitu- 
tions, rest unto their souls and consciences is not otherwise 
to be obtained. And if at the same time they endeavour 
not to reduce the manner and course of their conversation 
to the same rule and example, by which they would have 
their worship of God regulated; they are hypocrites. Short 
enough, no doubt, they come in both of perfection ; but 



both they profess to aim equally at. And herein alone can 
their consciences find rest and peace. In the doctrine of 
faith, consented on in the first reformation, and declared in 
the allowed writings of the church of England, they agree 
with others; and wish with all their hearts they had more to 
agree withal. Only they cannot come up to the practice of 
some things in the worship of God ; which being confessedly 
of human prescription, their obedience in them would lie in 
a perfect contradiction to their principal design before 
mentioned. For those things being chosen out from a 
great multitude of things of tlie same nature, invented by 
by those whose authority was rejected in the fivst r.eforma- 
tion, or reduction of religion from its catholic apostacy ; 
they suppose, cannot justly be imposed on them; they are 
sure, cannot be honestly received by them, whilst they de- 
sign to reduce themselves unto the primitive rules and ex- 
amples of obedience. In this design they profess them- 
selves ready to be ruled by, and to yield subjection unto, 
any truth or direction, that can or may be given them from 
the word of God, or any principles lawfully from thence 
educed. How their conviction is at present attempted, let 
the book under consideration, and some late unparalleled 
and illegal acts of violence, conformable to the spirit of it, 
be a testimony. But in the management of their design, 
they proceed on no other principles, than those of the 
liberty of judgment (of discretion or discerning they call 
it), for the determining of themselves and their own prac- 
tices, in what they believe and profess about religion, and 
the liberty of their consciences from all human impositions, 
thiU were owned, pleaded, and contended for by the first 
reformers, and the most learned defenders of the church of 
England, in their disputations against the Papists ; those 
they will stand to, and abide by : yea, than what are war- 
ranted by the principles of our nature and constitution ; for 
no man practiseth any thing, nor can practise it, but ac- 
cording to his own will and choice. 

Now in these things, in their principle, or in their ma- 
nagement of it, it may be they are mistaken ; it may be they 
are in an error ; or under many mistakes and errors. But 
from their integrity they know themselves innocent, even 
in their mistakes. And it is in the nature of men to think 


strange of sedate violences, that befall them without their 
demerit, and of suffering by law without any guilt. Their 
design of reducing themselves in worship and conversation 
to the primitive pattern, they openly avow : nor dare any 
directly condemn that design ; nor can they be convinced 
of insincerity in what they profess. And shall they be de- 
stroyed, if they miss it in some matters of smaller concern- 
ment? which, whatever some may boast of, is not hitherto 
tolerably proved. Shall now their dissent in religious ob- 
servances on this occasion, and those, and that about things 
mostly and chiefly, if not only, that appear neither name 
nor thing in the Scripture, be judged a crime not to be ex- 
piated, but by their ruin ? Are immoralities or vicious de- 
baucheries rather to be tolerated, or exempted from punish- 
ment, than such a dissent ? What place of Scripture in the 
Old or New Testament, which of the ancient fathers of the 
church, do speak at this rate ? Opinions inconsistent with 
public tranquillity, with the general rules of moral duties in 
all relations and conditions ; practices of any tendency in 
themselves to political disturbances, are by none pleaded 
for. Mere dissent itself, with different observances in the 
outward worship of God, is by some pretended indeed to 
be a civil disturbance. It hath always been so by some, 
even by those, whose own established ways have been su- 
perstitious and idolatrous. But wise men begin to smile, 
when they hear private interest pleaded as public good, and 
the affections which it begets, as the common reason of 
things. And these pretences have been by all parties, at 
one time or another, refuted and discarded. Let the merit 
of the cause be stated and considered, which is truly as 
above proposed, and no other: set aside prejudices, animo- 
sities, advantages from things past and by-gone in political 
disorders and tumults, wherein it hath no concern ; and it 
will quickly appear how little it is, how much, if possible, 
less than nothing, that is or can be pleaded for the coun- 
tenancing of external severity in this case. Doth it suit 
the spirit of the gospel, or his commands, to destroy good 
wheat, for standing, as is supposed, a little out of order, 
who would not have men pluck up the tares, but to let 
them stand quietly in the field until harvest ? Doth it answer 
his mind to destroy his disciples, who profess to love and 


obey him, from the earth ; who blamed his disciples of old 
for desiring to destroy the Samaritans, his enemies, with 
fire from heaven ? We are told, that he who ' was born 
after the flesh, persecuted him who was born after the 
promise :' and a work becoming him it was. And if men 
are sincere disciples of Christ, though they may fall into 
some mistakes and errors, the outward persecuting of them 
on that account will be found to be of the works of the 
flesh. It is certain, that for those in particular, who take 
upon them, in ajiy place or degree, to be ministers of the 
gospel, there are commands for meekness, patience, and for- 
bearance, given unto them ; and it is one of the greatest 
duties incumbent on them, to express the Lord Jesus Christ 
in the frame of his mind and spirit unto men ; and that 
eminently in his meekness and lowliness, which he calls us 
all in an especial manner to learn of him. A peculiar con- 
formity also to the gospel, to the holy law of love, self- 
<ienial, and condescension, is required of them ; that they 
may not in their spirits, ways, and actings, make a false 
representation of him, and that which they profess. 

I know not therefore whence it is come to pass, that 
this sort of men do principally, if not only, stir up magis- 
trates and rulers to laws, severities, penalties, coercions, 
imprisonments, and the like outward means of fierce and 
carnal power, against those, who in any thing dissent from 
them in religion. Generally abroad throughout Christendom, 
those in whose hands the civil powers are, and who may be 
supposed to have inclinations unto the severe exercise of 
that power w^hich is their own, such as they think possibly 
may become them as men and governors, would be inclin- 
able to moderation towards dissenters, were they not excited, 
provoked, and wearied by them, who pretend to represent 
-Jesus Christ to the world ; as if any earthly potentate had 
more patience, mercy, and compassion, than he. Look on 
those Lutheran countries where they persecute the Cal- 
vinists ; it is commonly declared and proved, that the ma- 
gistrates, for the most part, would willingly bear with those 
dissenters, were they not stirred up continually to severities 
by them, whose duty it were to persuade them to clemency 
and moderation, if in themselves they were otherwise in- 
clined. And this hath ruined the interest of the Protectant 

VOL. XXI. 2 B 


religion in Germany, in a great measure. Do men who de- 
stroy no more than they can, nor punish more than they 
are able, and cry out for assistance where their own arm 
fails them, render themselves hereby like to their heavenly 
Father? Is this spirit from above? Doth that, which is 
so, teach men to harass the consciences of persons, their 
brethren and fellow-servants, on every little difference in 
judgment and practice about religious things? Whom 
will such men fulfil the commands of patience, forbear- 
ance, waiting, meekness, condescension, that the gospel 
abounds with, towards ? Is it only towards them who are 
of the same mind with themselves ? They stand in no need 
of them: they stand upon the same terms of advantage with 
themselves. And for those that dissent, ' Arise, kill, and eat,* 
seems to be the only command to be observed towards them. 
And why all this fierceness and severity? Let men talk 
what they please, those aimed at, are peaceable in the land ; 
and resolve to be so, whatever may befall them. They de- 
spise all contrary insinuations. That they are, in their sta- 
tions severally, useful to the commonwealth, and collectively, 
in their industry and trading, of great consideration to public 
welfare, is now apparent unto all indifferent men. It is, or 
must be, if it be for any thing (as surely no men delight in 
troubling others for trouble sake), for their errors and mis- 
takes, in and about the worship of God. All other pleas 
are mere pretences of passion and interest. But who judgeth 
them to be guilty of errors ? Why those that stir up others 
to their hurt and disquietment. But is their judgment in- 
fallible? How if they should be mistaken themselves in 
their judgment ? If they are, they do not only err, but per- 
secute others for the truth. And this hath been the general 
issue of this matter in the world: error hath persecuted 
truth ten times, for truth's once persecuting of error. But 
suppose the worst ; suppose them in errors and under mis- 
takes ; let it be proved, that God hath appointed that all 
men who so err should be so punished, as they would have 
nonconformists, and though I should believe them in the 
truth, I would never more plead their cause. And would 
these men be willingly thus dealt withal, by those who 
judge, or may judge them to err ? It may be some would ; 
because they have a good security, that none shall ever 


judge them so to do, who hath power to punish them; for 
they will be of his mind. But sure none can be so abso- 
lutely confined unto themselves, nor so nniversally in all 
their affections and desires unto their own personal con- 
cerns, as not to have a compassion for some or other, who 
in one place or other are judged to err by them, who have 
power over them to affix what guilt they please unto that, 
which is not their crime. And will they justify all their 
oppressors? All men have an equal right in this matter; 
nothing is required, but being uppermost, to make a differ- 
ence. This is that, which hath turned Christendom into a 
shambles, whilst every prevailing party hath judged it 
their duty and interest to destroy them that do dissent 
from them. 

Once more ; what name of sin or wickedness will they 
find to affix to these errors ? ' Nullum criminis nomen, nisi 
nominis crimen.* No man errs willingly, nor ought to be 
thought to tempt or seduce his own will, when his error is 
to his disadvantage ; and he is innocent whose will is wot 
guilty. Moreover, those pretended errors in our case are 
not in matters of faith ; nor, for the most part, in or about 
the worship of God, or that which is acknowledged so to 
be ; but in or about those things, which some think it con- 
venient to add unto it, or conjoin with it. And what quiet- 
ness, what peace is there like to be in the world, whilst the 
sword of vengeance must be continually drawn about these 
things? Counsels of peace, patience, and forbearance, 
would certainly better become professors of the gospel and 
preachers of everlasting peace, than such passionate and 
furious enterprises for severity as we meet withal. 

And I no way doubt, but that all generous, noble, and 
heroic spirits, such as are not concerned in the impaled 
peculiar interest and advantages of some, and do scorn the 
pedantic humours of mean and emulous souls ; when once a 
few more clouds of prejudices are scattered, will be willing 
to give up to God the glory of his sovereignty over the 
consciences of men ; and despise the thoughts of giving 
them disquietments for such things, as they can no way 
remedy ; and which hinder them not from being servants of 
God, good subjects to the king, and useful in their respec- 
tive lots and conditions. 

2 b2 


And now instead of those words of Pilate, * What I have 
written, I have written,' which though uttered by him mali- 
ciously and despitefully, as was also the prophecy of Caia- 
phas, were by the holy, wise providence of God, turned into 
a testimony to the truth ; I shall shut up this discourse 
with those of our Saviour, which are unspeakably more our 
concernment to consider; Matt. xxiv. 45 — 51. ' Who then 
is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made 
ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season ? 
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall 
find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make 
him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant 
shall say in his heart. My lord deferreth his coming ; and 
shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink 
with the drunken ; the lord of that servant shall come in 
a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he 
is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint 
him his portion with the hypocrites : there shall be weeping 
and gnashing of teeth.' 










I HAVE considered the discourses sent me, published lately 
about Indulgence and Toleration. At their first view, I 
confess I was not a little surprised with their number, as 
not understanding the reason of their multiplication at this 
time, nor what it was that had made them swarm so unsea- 
sonably. Upon their perusal, I quickly perceived a defect 
in them all, which could no other ways be supplied : whether 
it be so by this means or no, impartial men will judge. The 
design seems to have been, that what is wanting in them 
singly in reason, may jointly be made up in noise; and their 
respective defects in argument be supplied by their com- 
munion in suffrage. It will doubtless be the wisdom of 
those who are concerned in what they oppose, to stand out 
of their way, at least until the storm is over. 

Omnis campis difFugit arator 

Oranis et agricola, 

Dum pluit in terris, ut possint sole reducto 
Exercere diem. 

Their reason will be better attended to, when this earnestness 
hath a little spent itself; for men who have attained more 
than perhaps they ever aimed at, at least than they had just 
reason to expect, have commonly for a while strong desires 
to secure their possessions, which time and a due considera- 
tion of their title and interest may somewhat calm and allay. 
In the mean time, because you expect it, I shall give you a 
brief account of my thoughts concerning the matter treated 
of by them ; and if that do not too long detain me, of the 
reasonings also which they make use of. Some things I do 
much commend their ingenuity in ; for whereas two things 
were proposed to them, a compliance with some by way of 


condescension, and a forbearance of others by way of mo- 
deration, they equally declare against them both. They 
will neither admit others to them, but upon their own terms 
to the utmost punctilio ; nor bear with any in their dissent 
from them in the least different observances, but all must be 
alike pursued by law and force, to their ruin. Whether this 
seem not to be the frame of men's spirits, whose ' fortune 
and power' (as one of them speaks) * tempts them to an in- 
solency,' sober and disinterested persons will judge. The 
minds, I confess, of fortunate men are for the most part 
equal unto their successes, and what befalls them, they 
count their due. Nothing else could persuade these men 
that they alone were to be esteemed Englishmen, and that 
not only as unto all privileges and advantages attending that 
title ; but so far also, as to desire that all who differ from 
them should be exterminated from their native soil. It 
were well if we could see more of their endeavours to merit 
so high a favour, more of that usefulness and advantage 
which they bring to the kingdom, that might countenance 
them in pleading that they alone ought to be in it. For my 
part, I can see little consistency with Christianity, humanity, 
or prudence in these resolutions. For certainly, if that be 
Christian religion which we are taught in the gospel, it in- 
clines men, especially those who are teachers of it (such as 
the authors of these discourses, at least most of them, seem 
to be), unto a greater condescension than that expressed 
upon the causes, and for the ends of its being desired. The 
request of some for a condescension seem to be no more, but 
that the rulers of the church would forbear the prescription 
and imposition of such things on the consciences and 
practice of men (for it is vain to pretend that conscience is 
not concerned in practice in the worship of God), as there 
is not one word about, nor any thing inclining, leading, or 
directing towards, in the whole Bible, that were never 
thought of, mentioned, or commanded by Jesus Christ, or 
his apostles, or any apostolical men ; that if they had not 
unhappily fallen upon the minds of some men to invent, 
none knows who, nor where, nor when, would have had no 
concernment in Christian religion. 

They indeed who impose them, say they are things m~ 


different. But the differences that have been almost this 
hundred years about these things indifferent, is enough to 
frighten and discourage unbiassed men from having any 
thing to do with them. And what wise man, methinks, 
would not at length be contented that these differences and 
indifferent things may be parted with altogether? Besides, 
they on whom they are imposed, account them not so : they 
look upon them as unlawful for them to use and practis.e 
(all circumstances considered), at least most of them do so. 
And they plead by the important argument of their suffer- 
ings, that it is merely on the account of conscience that 
they do not conform unto them. Others think that it is not 
so ; but I am sure it is possible that it may be so ; and if it 
be so, they cannot use them without endangering the eternal 
ruin of their own souls ; though others may speed otherwise 
in their observances, who have other thoughts and appre- 
hensions of their nature and use. And yet, on the other 
side, if those that impose these things can make it appear 
with any probability (I had almost said if they would but 
pretend) that they were obliged in conscience to impose 
them, by my consent there should be an end of this strife. 
But whilst there is this left-handed contest, real will and 
pretended prudence fighting against conscience and duty, 
it is like to be untoward and troublesome. And for what 
end is it that some desire that there might be at least some 
relaxation as to the present severe impositions of some of 
the things which are thus contended about? They say it 
is merely that they might serve God in the gospel to the 
good of others, without sinning against him, to the ruin of 
themselves. They speak particularly unto men who profess 
it to be their calling, their work, their design, to promote 
the blessed ends of the gospel towards the souls of men : 
they desire of them that they may have leave to come and 
help them in reference unto this end. Nor can it be pre- 
tended, that they themselves are sufficient for the work, 
and that they have no need of the assistance of others: God 
and men know that this cannot be reasonably pleaded. 

And this is a business which, certainly by such men as 
profess themselves to be guides and rulers of the church, 
can hardly be justified unto him who is the great Lord of it. 
When the disciples found some casting out of * devils in his. 


name/ they rebuked them, because they ' followed not with 
them ;' a worse and greater nonconformity than that which 
some are now charged withal; and yet the rebuke of others 
procured only one to themselves. He said well of old, con- 
cerning those who contended to promote common good ; 
ayaOrj 8' epig tJSe ^poroiai. ' This is a good strife for mortal 
men :' so is that which is for promoting of the good of the 
souls of men by the preaching of the gospel; and shall it 
be forbid for such things, 

Qua3 dicere nolo, 

of SO little importance are they in this matter, which hath 
an influence into eternity ? What is answered unto this re- 
quest? Stories are told of things past and gone ; scattered 
interest, dissolved intrigues, buried miscarriages, such' as 
never can have any aspect on the present posture of affairs 
and minds of men in this nation, are gathered together, and 
raked out of their graves, to compose mormoes for the 
afFrightment of men from a regard to the ways of peace and 
moderation : this they enlarge upon, with much rhetoric, 
and some little sophistry ; like him of old, of whom it was 
said, that being charged with other things, 

Crhnina rasis 

Librat in antitbetis ; doctas posuisse figures 

Many inconveniences are pretended, as like to ensue 
upon such a condescension : but in the mean time men die, 
and some, it may be, perish for want of that help and instruc- 
tion in the things of eternity, which there are many ready 
to give them, whilst it is altogether uncertain whether any 
one of the pretended inconveniences will ensue or no : I 
fear whilst men are so engaged in their thoughts about 
what is good and convenient for them at the present, they 
do scarce sufficiently ponder what account of their actions 
they must make hereafter. 

But neither is this all that these authors contend for : 
men are not only denied by them an admission into their 
societies to preach the gospel, unless it be on such terms as 
they cannot in conscience admit of, and which others are no 
way obliged in conscience to impose upon them ; but all 
forbearance of, or indulgence unto them who cannot con- 
form unto the present establishment, is decried and pleaded 


against : What though men are peaceable and useful in the 
commonwealth ? What though they are every way sound 
in the faith, and cordially embrace all the doctrine taught 
formerly in the church of England? What though those 
in this condition are many, and such as in whose peace and 
industry the welfare of the nation is exceedingly concerned? 
What if they offer to be instructed by any who will take that 
work upon them, in the things about which their diflPerences 
are? What if they plead conscience towards God, and that 
alone, in their dissent, it being evidently against their whole 
temporal interest ? What if they have given evidence of 
their readiness in the ways of Christ and the gospel, to op- 
pose every error that is either pernicious to the souls of 
men, or any way of an evil aspect to public peace and tran- 
quillity? All is one, they are neither severally, nor jointly, 
no one of them, nor all of them, in the judgment of these 
gentlemen, to be forborn, or to have any indulgence exer- 
cised toward them ; but laws are to be made and put in exe- 
cution against them to their ruin, extirpation, and destruc- 
tion. It may be it will be said, that these things are unduly 
imposed on them, seeing they press for a prosecution of men 
by laws and rigour, not for dissenting from what is esta- 
blished, or not practising what is prescribed in the public 
worship of God, but for practising what is of their own 
choice therein, in meetings and assemblies of their own ; 
otherwise they may keep their consciences unto themselves 
without molestation. 

But it doth not appear, that this can be justly pleaded 
in their defence : for as the prohibition of men, under severe 
and destructive penalties, from that exercise of the worship 
of God, which is suitable to their light, and which they are 
convinced that he requires of them, so that in nothing it in- 
terfere with the fundamentals of Christian religion or public 
tranquillity, is as destitute of all foundation in Scripture 
and reason at all times, and as things may be circumstan- 
tiated in prudence or policy, as the enforcing of them to a 
practical compliance with any mode or way of worship 
against their light and conscience ; so the practice in this 
latter case hath been more severe amongst us, than in the 
former. For a testimony hereof, we have those great mul- 
titudes, which at this day are excommunicated by the courts 


ecclesiastical, merely for their not attending the public as- 
semblies of the nation in their administrations : and as they 
are by this means, as things now stand, cast, as they say, 
into the condition of men outlawed and deprived of all pri- 
vileges of their birthright as Englishmen (of which sort 
there are forty times more than have been proceeded against 
unto the same issue in all his majesty's courts of justice in 
England for many years), so in the pursuit of that sentence, 
many are cast into prisons, where they lie perishing (sundry 
being dead in that state already), whilst their families are 
starved or reduced to the utmost extremity of poverty, for 
want of those supplies which their industry formerly fur- 
nished them withal : and what influence this will have into 
the state of this nation, time will manifest, if men are not 
as yet at leisure to consider. The hands that by this means 
are taken off from labour, the stocks from employment, the 
minds from contrivances of industry iu their own concerns, 
the poverty that is brought on families, in all which the com- 
mon good hath no small interest, are not, I fear, sufficiently 
considered by persons whose fulness and plenty either 
diverts their thoughts from taking notice of them, or keeps 
off any impressions on their minds and judgments from 
what is represented concerning them. Others begin to feel 
the evil, whose morning they saw not, gathering up towards 
them, in the decay of their revenues, and entanglements of 
their estates, which, without timely remedy, will increase 
upon them, until the breach grow too great for an ordinary 

And I am persuaded that none who have been active in 
these proceedings, will take upon themselves the trouble 
of confirming this kind of church discipline out of the 
Scriptures, or examples of the primitive churches, for some 
hundreds of years. 

This, therefore, is that which by these men is pleaded 
for ; namely, that all the Protestants in England, who so 
dissent from the established forms and modes of worship, 
as either to absent themselves from their observances, or to 
attend unto any other way of worship, which being suitable 
to the principles of that religion which they profess (namely 
protestantism), they are persuaded is according to the mind 
of God, and which he requires of them, be proceeded against, 


not only with ecclesiastical censures, but also with outward, 
pecuniary, and corporal punishments, to the depriving of 
them, in the progress, of their whole liberty, freedom, and 
benefit of the laws of the land, and in some cases unto 
death itself ; and that no dispensation or relaxation of this 
severity be countenanced or granted. And herein, I confess, 
whatever pretences be used, whatever fears and jealousies 
of events upon a contrary course, or the granting of an in- 
dulgence be pleaded, I am not of their minds ; nor do I 
think that any countenance can be given to this severe 
principle and opinion, either from the Scriptures of the Old 
or New Testament, or from the example of any who ever en- 
deavoured a conformity unto the rules of them. This is the 
state of the controversy, as by these authors formed and 
handled ; nor may any thing else be pretended, when such 
multitudes are ready to give evidence unto it, by what they 
have suffered and undergone. Do but open the prisons for 
the relief of those peaceable, honest, industrious, diligent 
men, who some of them have lain several years in durance, 
merely in the pursuit of excommunication, and there will be 
testimony enough given to this state of the controversy. 

This being so, pray give me leave to present you with my 
hasty thoughts, both as to the reasonableness, conscience, 
and principles of pursuing that course of severity towards 
dissenters, which I find so many concerned persons to plead 
for; and also of the way of their arguings and pleas. 

And first as unto reason and conscience, I think men 
had need look well unto the grounds of their actings, in 
things wherein they proceed against the common consent 
of mankind, expressed in all instances of the like occasion, 
that have occurred in the world ; which is as great an evi- 
dence of the light and law of nature as any can be obtained ; 
for what all men generally consent in, is from the common 
nature of all. We are not indeed much concerned to in- 
quire after the practice of the heathen in this matter, be- 
cause, as the apostle testifies, their idolatrous confusion in 
religion was directly and manifestly against the light of 
nature ; and where the foundation was laid in a transgression 
of that law, it is no wonder if the proceeding upon it be so 
also. There was a law amongst the Romans, reported by 
the orator to be one of those of the twelve tables, forbidding 


any to have private gods of their own : but this regarded 
the gods themselves, the object of their worship, and not 
the way of worshipping them, which was peculiar and se- 
parate to many families and tribes amongst them, and so 
observed : scarce any family or tribe of note, that had not 
its special and separate * sacra.' Besides, they seemed to 
have little need of any new authorized gods, seeing, as Varro 
observed, they had of them they owned no less than thirty 
thousand. And I have often thought that law was imposed 
on them by the craft and projection of Satan, to keep them 
off from the knowledge of the true God : for, notwithstand- 
ing this law, they admitted into their superstition all sorts 
of idols, even the folly of Egyptians themselves, as having 
temples in Rome unto Isis and Serapis. Only this law was 
pleaded to keep off the knowledge of the true God ; Acts 
xviii. 13. and of him they had the highest contempt, calling 
the place of his worship the land 

Dei incerti. 

And the custom among the Athenians not to admit any 
strange objects of worship, any unwarranted devotion, was 
never made use of, but to oppose the gospel, unless it were 
when they destroyed the wisest and best man that evei' the 
city bred, for giving some intimation of the true God, and 
not consenting with the city in opinion about their esta- 
blished devotions : other use of these laws there was none. 
it is true, when any * sacra' or superstitious observances were 
actually used to induce men and women to sin and wicked- 
ness, contrary to the light of nature, the very being of civil 
societies, the Romans severely animadverted upon them : 
otherwise this law was not made use of, but only against 
the Jews first, and the Christians afterward ; whereby it 
was consecrated to the use of idolatry, and rendered unmeet 
for the church's service or reception. 

The Jews were those who were first intrasted with the 
truth of religion and the worship of God ; and it is known 
what was their law, their custom, their practice in this 
matter. Whoever would dwell amongst them, if they 
owned their fundamentals, they afforded them the blessing 
and peace of the land. All that they required of such per- 
sons, was but the observation of the seven Noachical pre- 


cepts, containing the principles of the light of nature, as to 
the worship of one God, and moral honesty amongst men; 
whoever would live amongst them of the Gentiles, and took 
upon themselves the observation of these fundamentals, al- 
though they subjected themselves to no instituted ordinances, 
they called ' proselytes of the gate,' and gave them all liberty 
and peace. And in those who submitted unto the law of 
Moses, who knows not what different sects, and opinions, 
and modes of worship there were amongst them, which 
they never once supposed that they had any rule to proceed 
against by external force and coercion. 

The case is yet more evidently expressed in the judg- 
ment and actings of the first Christians. It will be utterly 
superfluous to shew how that for three hundred years, there 
was not any amongst them who entertained thoughts of 
outward force against those who differed from the most, in 
the things of Christian religion. It hath been done, I per- 
ceive, of late by others. And yet in that space of time, 
with that principle, the power of religion subdued the 
world, and brake the force of that law whereby^^the Romans, 
through the instigation of Satan, endeavoured with force 
and cruelty to suppress it. When the empire became 
Christian, the same principle bare sway. For though there 
were mutual violences offered by those who differed in great 
and weighty fundamental truths, as the Homousians and 
Arians ; as to those who, agreeing in the important doctrines 
of the gospel, took upon themselves a peculiar and separate 
way of worship and discipline of their own, whereby they 
were exempt from the common course and discipline of 
the church then in use, never any thoughts entered into 
men to give unto them the least disturbance. The kingdom 
of Egypt alone had at the same time above forty thousand 
persons, m«n and women, living in their private and se- 
parate way of worship, without the least control from the 
governors of church or state; yea, with their approbation 
and encouragement. 

So was it all the world over ; not to mention the many 
different observances that were in and amongst the churches 
themselves, which occasioned not division, much less per- 
secution of one another. And so prevalent is this principle, 
that notwithstanding all their design for a forcing unto au 


uniformity, as their peculiar interest, yet it hath taken 
place in the church of Rome itself, and doth so to this day. 
It is known to all, that there is no nation wherein that re- 
ligion is enthroned, but that there are thousands in it that 
are allowed their particular ways of worship, and are exempt 
from the common ordinary jurisdiction of the church. 

li seems, therefore, that we are some ot the first who 
ever any where in the world, from the foundation of it, 
thought of ruining and destroying persons of the same re- 
ligion with ourselves, merely upon the choice of some pecu- 
liar ways of worship in that religion. And it is but reason- 
able, as was observed, for men to look well to the grounds 
of what they do, when they act contrary to the principles of 
the law of nature, expressed in so many instances by the 
consent of mankind. And I fear all men do not aright con- 
sider, what a secret influence into the enervating of political 
societies such intrenchments on the principles of natural 
light will assuredly have ; for those things which spring 
up in the minds of men without arguing or consideration 
from without, will insensibly prevail in them against all law 
and constitutions to the contrary. It is in vain to turn 
nature out of doors, it will return. And whence shall we 
learn what nature inclines unto, unless from the common 
practice of mankind in all instances, where an evident de- 
monstration may not be given, of the prevalent influence of 
the interest of some men unto the contrary ? Which is, 

■ Pessiiuus diuturnitatis custos. 

It will not always prevail, nor ever at any time without 
great regret and commotion in the minds of men, who 
have no concern in that interest. 

Consider also the thing itself, of forcing the consciences 
of men, in manner before expressed; and you will find it so 
uncouth, as, I am persuaded, you will not know well what to 
make of it. Learned divines tell us, that conscience is 
the judgment that a man maketh of himself and his actions, 
with reference to the future judgment of God ; or to that 
purpose. Now let others do what they will, conscience will 
still made this judgment, nor can it do otherwise. What- 
ever men can alter in the outward actings of men's lives, 
they can alter nothing in the inward constitution of the 


nature given it by God in its creation, which refers to its 
future end. How can this be forced ? 

It is said, therefore, Let men take this liberty unto 
themselves : Who forbids them to judge of themselves and 
of their actions, what they please ? None goes about to take 
this liberty from them. 

But is this all? Conscience doth not judge of men and 
their actions, but with respect unto what in the name of 
God it requires them to be, or to do. It first requires 
several things of them in the name of God, and then judges 
upon their performance, with reference unto the judgment 
of God. And this is the sovereign dictate of it. Worship 
God according to that light and understanding which you 
have, of what is that worship which is acceptable with him, 
in matter and manner, and no otherwise. If this ^command 
be not obeyed, conscience will judge with reference unto 
the judgment to come. Let conscience then have its liberty 
for this work, and this differgnce is at an end. 

But it will be said. If conscience must be free as to its 
first act of directing and commanding, as well as unto its 
self-judging, it may lead men to all abominations, wicked- 
ness, murders, sedition, and filthiness ; and so a liberty 
unto them also must be granted. So I have heard men 
speak, but 1 have wondered also that any man that hath a 
conscience of his own, or knows what conscience is, should 
give entertainment to so fond an imagination. I would ask 
any man whether ever he found any such direction in his 
own conscience, or any inclination that way ? nay, if he 
have not constantly found a severe interdiction given in by 
his conscience against all such things ? And how can he 
then conceive it possible that the conscience of any man 
should be of such a make and constitution, seeing na- 
turally it is absolutely the same in all? Besides, as was 
said, it is a man's judgment of himself in reference to the 
future judgment of God. And this intimation supposeth, 
that a man may judge that God at the last day will approve 
of adultery, murders, seditions and the like evils ! which is 
to suppose all common inbred notions of God to be blotted 
out of the mind. Nay, it is utterly impossible, as implying 
a contradiction, that any man should consider God as a 
judge, as conscience doih always, and suppose his appro- 
VOL. XXI. 2 c 


bation of the evils specified, or of any of the like nature and 
importance. But men will yet say that conscience hath 
been pretended for these things. I answer, never by any 
in their wits. And what any brainsick, or enthusiastic 
person may say or do in his paroxysms, is not to have any 
place in considerations of what becomes a guidance of the 
actions of mankind one towards another. It is true, that 
some things as they have been circumstantiated, have been 
debated, even in conscience, whether they have been lawful 
or no ; that is, whether God would approve of them, or 
condemn them at the last day. But what is evil in itself, 
and against the light of nature, there is no direction unto it, 
no approbation of it from conscience in the least. To take 
away this liberty of conscience in things of its proper cog- 
nizance and duty, seems to me to be as much as to say, 
men shall not judge themselves with reference to the judg- 
ment of God to come ; which is to put God's great vice- 
gerent out of his place and thrpne. 

Let us now apply this notion of conscience unto the 
present occasion. There is prescribed away of divine wor- 
ship, with ceremonies, forms of prayer, and orders for the 
administration of sacraments, all things that concern the 
joint and public worship of God. What is the work or 
duty of conscience in reference hereunto ? Is it not, in the 
first place, to apply the mind and understanding to consider 
of what sort it is, in reference unto the future judgment of 
God? This cannot be denied; the first actings of a man 
who makes any conscience of what he does, must be of this 
sort. If then it apprehend it to be such as God will ap- 
prove of the practice and observation of it at the last day, 
conscience is satisfied, and reflects no self-condemning 
thoughts upon its observance. But suppose a man doth 
not understand it so to be; he cannot conceive it to be ap- 
pointed so by Christ, nor that any men have warrant, au- 
thority, or commission to impose on the practice of others 
what is not so appointed by him. How shall he do to be 
otherwise minded? Can he force himself to assent unto 
that, whereunto in truth he doth not assent? Is it in 
his power so to do ? Ask any man who hath an understand- 
ing, whether he can apply it to what he will ; that is, to as- 
sent or not assent unto what is proposed unto him : all 


men will assuredly say, that Iheir assent necessarily foi- 
loweth the evidence that they have of the truth of any 
thing, and that otherwise it is not to be obtained. The 
mind despiseth all violence and coaction from the will; 
yea, it implies a contradiction that a man should cause 
himself to assent unto that unto which he doth not assent. 
Can then other men compel this assent? It is so far other- 
wise, that God himself will not, yea, be it spoken with re- 
verence of his holiness, cannot, force such an assent, seeing 
it implies a contradiction ; namely, that a man should assent 
and not assent to the same proposition at the same time. 
Neither can a man himself force himself, neither can all the 
men in the world force him, to understand more than he 
doth understand, or can do so. Men do not seem to have 
exercised many reflect acts of consideration on themselves, 
who suppose that they can command their understandings 
to apprehend what they please, or to assent unto things at 
their will. These things follow conviction and evidence; 
and so God himself procures the assent of men unto what 
he revealeth ; and otherwise the understanding is absolutely 
free from all imposition. 

If a man then cannot understand these things to be ap- 
proved of God, and accepted with him ; suppose they are 
so, yet if a man cannot apprehend them so to be, what is 
the next work that conscience will apply itself unto? Is it 
not to declare in the soul, that if it practise these things, 
God will judge it the last day, and pronounce sentence 
against him? For conscience, as was said, is a man's judg- 
ment of himself and his moral actions, with respect unto 
the future judgment of God. And I am persuaded that 
this is the condition of thousands, in reference to the pre- 
sent impositions. Their apprehensions and judgments of 
themselves in this matter, are to them unavoidable and in- 
superable. It is not in their power to think otherwise than 
they do, nor to judge otherwise of themselves in reference 
unto the practice of the things miposed on them, than they 
do. Neither can all the men in the world force them to 
think or judge otherwise. If ever light and evidence unto 
their conviction of the contrary is imparted to them, or do 
befall them, they will think and judge according to it; in 
the mean time, they crave that they may not be forced to act 

2 c2 


against their light and consciences, and so unavoidably 
cast themselves into destruction. All then that some desire 
of others, is, that they would but give them leave to endea- 
vour to please God ; seeing they know it is a fearful thing 
to fall into his hands as an avenger of sin. God deals not 
thus with men ; for although he requires them to believe 
whatever he reveals and proposes as an object of faith, 
and to obey whatever he commands, yet he gives them suf- 
ficient evidence for the one, and warranty of his authority 
in the other ; and himself alone is judge of what evidence is 
so sufficient. But men can do neither of these ; they can 
neither give evidence to their propositions, nor warrant to 
their authority in their impositions in spiritual things, and 
yet they exact more than doth God himself. But so it is, 
when once his throne is invaded, his holiness, wisdom, and 
clemency are not proposed to be imitated, but a fond abuse 
of sovereignty alone, is aimed at. 

To impose penalties then enforcing men to a compliance 
and acting in the worship of God, contrary unto what they 
are convinced in their consciences to be his mind and will, 
is to endeavour the enforcing of them to reject all respects 
unto the future judgments of God ; which as it is the high- 
est wickedness in them to do, so hath not God authorized 
any of the sons of men, by any means to endeavour their 
compulsion unto it. For the former of these, that men 
may act in the things of God, contrary unto what they are 
persuaded he requires of them ; I suppose none will ever 
attempt to persuade themselves or others. Atheism will 
be the end of such an endeavour. 

The sole question is. Whether God hath authorized, and 
doth warrant any man, of what sort soever, to compel others 
to worship and serve him, contrary to the way atid manner 
that they are in their consciences persuaded that he doth 
accept and approve. God, indeed, where men are in errors 
and mistakes about his will and worship, would have them 
taught and instructed, and sendeth out his own light and 
truth to guide them, as seemeth good unto him. 

But to affirm that he hath authorized men to proceed in 
the way before mentioned, is to say, that he hath set up an 
authority against himself, and that which may give con- 
trol to his. 


These tilings being so, seeing men are bound indispen- 
Bably not to worship God so as they are convinced and per- 
suaded that he will not be worshipped ; and to worship 
him as he hath appointed and commanded, upon the penalty 
of answering their neglect and contempt hereof with their 
everlasting condition at the last day; and seeing God 
hath not warranted or authorized any man to enforce them 
to act contrary to their light, and that persuasion of his 
mind and will which he hath given them in their own con- 
sciences ; nor to punish them for yielding obedience in 
spiritual things unto the command of God as his mind is by 
them apprehended ; if the things themselves, though mis- 
taken, are such as no way interfere with the common light 
of nature or reason of mankind, the fundamental articles of 
Christian religion, moral honesty, civil society, and public 
tranquillity ; especially if in the things wherein men acting, 
as is supposed, according to their own light and conscience 
in difference from others, are of small importance, and such 
as they probably plead are unduly and ungroundedly im- 
posed on their practice, or prohibited unto them, it remains 
to be considered whether the grounds and ends proposed 
in exercise of the severity pleaded for, be agreeable to com- 
mon rules of prudence, or the state and condition of things 
in this nation. 

The ground which men proceed upon in their resolu- 
tions for severity, seems to be, that the church and com- 
monwealth may stand upon the same bottom and founda- 
tion ; that their interest may be every way the same, of the 
same breadth and length, and to be mutually narrowed or 
widened by each other. 

The interest of the kingdom they would have to stand 
upon the bottom of uniformity ; so that the government of 
it should, as to the beneficial ends of government, compre- 
hend them only, whom the church compriseth in its uni- 
formity ; and so the kingdom's peace, should be extended 
only unto them, unto whom the church's peace is extended. 
Thus they say, that the kingdom and the church, or its 
present order and establishment, are to be like Hypocrates* 
twins, not only to be born together, and to die together, 
but to cry and laugh together, and to be equally affected 
with their mutual concerns. But these things are evident 


mistakes in policy, and such as multiplied experience have 
evidenced so to be. The comparison of monarchy or the 
fundamental constitution of the policy and government of 
this nation, with the present church-order, and state, esta- 
blished on aright, mutable and changeable laws; and which 
have received many alterations, and may at any time when 
it seems good to the king and parliament, receive more, is 
expressive of a principle of so evil an aspect towards the 
solid foundation of the policy of this nation, as undoubtedly 
those who are principally concerned in it, are obliged not 
to admit an avowance of. For whereas it is not the gospel 
in general, nor Christian religion, or religion considered as 
it best corresponds with the gospel, or the mind of Christ 
therein, but the present church-order, rule, and policy 
that is intended ; all men know that it is founded in, and 
stands solely amongst us, on such laws, as is usual with 
parliaments to enact in one session, and to repeal in an- 
other ; or at least to enact in one age, and to repeal in an- 
other, according as use* and experience manifests them 
to be conducing or obstructing unto public good. And 
whereas the constitution of the civil government of the na- 
tion, is built upon no such alterable and changeable laws, 
but hath quite another foundation, obnoxious to nothing, 
but to the all-overruling providence of the Most High, it is 
a great shaking and weakening unto its fixation and interest 
in the minds of men, to have it compared with things every 
day alterable at pleasure. And the attempt to plant the 
kingdom's peace on the foundation of the church's unifor- 
mity, which may on a thousand occasions wherein the 
peace of the kingdom itself is not in the least concerned, be 
narrowed unto a scantling wholly unproportionate unto 
such a superstruction, is without doubt as great a mistake 
in government as any persons can fall into. All the world 
knows, how full at this day it is of various opinions and 
practices in things concerning religion ; and how unsuc- 
cessful the attempts of all sorts have been for their extin- 
guishment. It is no less known, as hath in part already 
been discoursed, how unavoidable unto men, considering 
the various allotments of their condition in divine pro- 
vidence, their different apprehensions and persuasi.ons about 
these things are. He therefore that will build the interest 


of a nation on a uniformity of sentiment and practices in 
these things, had need well fix this floating Delos, if he 
intend not to have his government continually tossed up 
and down. 

The true civil interest of this nation, in the policy, go- 
vernment, and laws thereof, with the benefits and advan- 
tages of them, and the obedience that is due unto them, 
every Englishman is born unto ; he falls into it from the 
womb; it grows up with him, he is indispensably engaged 
into it, and holds all his temporal concernments by it. He 
is able also by natural reason to understand it, so far as in 
point of duty he is concerned, and is not at liberty to dis- 
sent from the community. But as for religion, it is the 
choice of men, and he that chooseth not his religion, hath 
none. For although it is not of necessity that a man 
formally chooses a religion, or one way in religion in an 
opposition unto, and with the rejection of another, yet it is 
so that he so chooses in opposition to no religion, and with 
judgment about it, and approbation of that which he doth 
embrace, which hath the nature of a voluntary choice. 

This being the liberty, this the duty of every man, which 
is, always hath been, and probably always will be, issued in 
great variety of persuasions, and different apprehensions, 
to confine the peace and interest of civil societies unto any 
one of them, seems scarce suitable unto that prudence 
which is requisite for the steerage of the present state of 
things in the world. For my part, I can see no reason the 
civil state hath to expose its peace unto all those uncertain 
events which this principle will lead unto. And it seems 
very strange, and I am persuaded that on due consideration 
it will seem strange that any should continue in desire of 
confining the bottom of the nation's interest in its rule and 
peace, unto that uniformity in religion, which as to a firm 
foundation in the minds and consciences of men, hath dis- 
covered itself to be no more diffused amongst the body of 
the people, than at present it is, and from which such mul- 
titudes do, upon grounds to themselves unconquerable, dis- 
sent ; resolving to continue so doing, whatever they suffer 
for it ; who yet otherwise unanimously acquiesce in the 
civil government, and are willing to contribute to the utmost 


of their endeavours, in their several places, unto its peace 
and prosperity. 

Whatever therefore be the resolution as to a present 
procedure, I heartily wish that the principle itself might for 
the future be cast out of the minds of men ; that the state 
and rule of the nation, might not by plausible and specious 
pretences, suited to the interest of some few men, be ren- 
dered obnoxious unto impression from the variety of 
opinions about things religious, which as far as I see, is like 
to be continued in the world. 

Especially ought this consideration, if I mistake not, be 
applied unto those differences about which alone this dis- 
course is intended; namely, those which are amongst men 
of the same religion in all the substantial of it, and which 
having been of long continuance deduced from one age to 
another, are greatly diffused, and deeply rooted in the 
minds of men; being such also, as no countenance can be 
given to act severely towards them, from any thing in the 
Scriptures, or practice of the first churches in the world. 

And I hope it will never more amongst sober and dis- 
engaged persons be said or thought, that the interest of 
England, or of its rule and government, is in any thing con- 
fined unto a precise determination of the differences in the 
minds and consciences of men, so that those who are of one 
mind in them, and would impose the apprehension and 
practice of their persuasion upon others, should be alone 
comprehended therein. 

But let the ground of this severity in proceeding against 
dissenters be never so weak or infirm, yet if the end pro- 
posed in it be accomplished, the counsel will appear at last 
to have been advisable. What then is the end of these 
things, of this severity so earnestly pressed after, to be en- 
gaged into? Suppose the best appearing success that in 
this case can be supposed, and all that seems to be desired; 
namely, that by external force and compulsion, men be 
brought unto an outward conformity in and unto the things 
that are imposed on them. This is the utmost of what 
seems to be desired or aimed at. For no man surely is so 
vain as to imagine that compulsion and penalties are a 
means suited to persuade or convince the minds of men. 


Nay, commonly it is known, that they have a contrary 
effect, and do exceedingly confirm men in their own per- 
suasions, and into an alienation from the things they are 
compelled unto. 

Suppose then this end to be obtained ; is there better 
peace or establishment assured to the present church-order 
thereby, than what it may enjoy whilst men have their 
liberty to profess their dissent? Both reason and experience 
do testify the contrary. 

Nor will the church find any more dangerous opponents, 
upon any emergent occasion, than those who have been 
compelled to uniformity against their conviction. For 
bearing their condition always as their burden, they will 
not be wanting unto an opportunity to ease themselves of it. 
And it may be sundry persons now vested with ecclesi- 
astical jDower, if they would recollect their former thoughts 
and expressions, might remember that they both conceived 
and declared their mind to this purpose ; that former seve- 
rities in the like kind, were unduly and disadvantageously 
pursued against that strong inclination in so many unto an 
indulgence and freedom from their impositions, which 
surely they cannot think to be now lessened or weakened. 

But present power is apt to change the minds of men, 
and make them neither remember what were their former 
apprehensions, nor foresee what would be their thoughts 
upon a disappointment in their present undertakings. 

But neither yet can this rationally be supposed; nor is it 
probable in the least, that the outward conformity intended, 
will ever be obtained by rigour; especially where the rea- 
sons of it are so remote from the influencing the consciences 
of men. For whatever arguments may be used for a re- 
straint to be put upon conscience, in things concerning 
faith and the worship of God, which must be taken from 
the nature of the things themselves, are utterly superseded 
and made useless, by the nature of the differences that are 
in contest between the imposers, and those that deprecate 
their impositions. For as very little hath been done, es- 
pecially of late, to prove the lawfulness of the things im- 
posed, nothing at all to assert their necessity; so the nature 
of the things themselves, about which the difference is, 
quite casts them out of the compass and reach of those ar- 


guments which are pleaded in the case of coercion and pe- 
nalties in the things of religion or the worship of God. For 
if men should be able to prove that heresies and idolatries 
are to be punished in the persons of them that do assert 
them ; no conclusion will or can be thence made, as I sup- 
pose, for their punishment and ruin, who by the confession 
of them that would punish them, are neither heretics nor 

Force must stand alone in this case ; and what small 
influence it is like to have on the practices of men, when it 
hath no pretence to reason or judgment, wherein con- 
science is concerned to give its countenance, is not uneasy 
to determine. Nay, experience hath sufficiently in most 
places baffled this attempt ; violence hath been used in 
matters of religion to the shame and stain of Christianity ; 
and yet never succeeded any where, to extinguish that per- 
suasion and opinion which it was designed to extirpate. 

It may be, for awhile indeed, and sometimes it may ob- 
tain such success, as to seem to have elSected the end aimed 
at. But still within a short space, mostly in the compass 
of the same age, it hath been manifest, that it hath but laid 
in provision for future troubles, oppositions, and animosities. 
Let the prelates or rulers, therefore, of the church ad- 
vise, press unto, and exercise this severity whilst they 
please. They may as evidently see the issue of it, as if it 
were already accomplished. Some may be ruined, multi- 
tudes provoked, the trade of the nation obstructed, some 
few be enforced unto an hypocritical compliance with what 
is against the light of their consciences, compassion be 
stirred up in the residue of the people for innocent sufferers, 
and by all indignation against themselves and their ways 
increased, considering what are the things about which 
these differences ar6, how deeply rooted a dissent from the 
present establishment is in the minds of multitudes ; for 
how long a season that persuasion hath been delivered down 
unto them, even ever since the first reformation, gradually 
increasing in its suffrage to this day; the advantages that 
it hath had for its growth and improvement, with successes 
evidently suitable unto them ; and resolution that men's 
spirits are raised unto, to suffer and forego the utmost of 
their earthly concernments, rather than to live and die in an 


Open rebellion to the commanding light of God in their 
consciences : it is the utmost vanity to have other expec- 
tations of the end of such a course of rigour and prosecution. 

In the mean time, I am sure whoever gets by persecu- 
tion, the king loseth by it. 

For what if some officers of ecclesiastical courts have 
been enriched by the booty they got from dissenters? What 
advantage is it all this while to the kingdom, when so 
many families are impoverished, so many ruined, as are by 
excommunications and imprisonments ensuing thereon, so 
many more discouraged from the exercise of their faculties, 
or improvement of their stocks, so many driven beyond the 
seas; and yet all this nothing, unto what in the same kind 
must and will ensue, if the course sometimes begun should 
be pursued ? To me it seems that an attempt for the pre- 
tended conformity (for attained it will never be), is scarce a 
due compensation for his majesty's loss in the diminishing 
of his subjects and their wealth, wherewith it is and will be 
certainly attended. Besides, to ruin men in all their sub- 
stantials of body and life, for ceremonies, and those our 
own countrymen and neighbours, seems to carry with it 
somewhat of that severity which Englishmen, after the sub- 
siding of the impetuous impressions of provocations, do 
naturally abhor, and will not long by any means give coun- 
tenance unto. 

On the consideration of these things, and other doubt- 
less of more deep investigation, his majesty hath often de- 
clared, not only his resolution to grant the indulgence in- 
timated in his gracious declaration to that purpose, but 
also the exceeding suitableness of these intentions unto his 
own inclinations and clemency. The advantages which 
have already ensued unto the nation, in the expectation of 
indulgence have been also remembered, and repeated by 
him with an uncontrollable manifestation of its conducible- 
ness for the future, unto the peace and prosperity of the 
kingdom. And it seems very strange, that so noble and 
royal dispositions, such thoughts and counsels of wisdom 
and authority, such projections of care and solicitude for 
the kingdom's good, should be all sacrificed to the interest 
of any one })arty of men whatsoever. 

1 cannot but hope, that his majesty will reassume those 


blessed counsels of peace ; especially considering that the 
spirits of men are singularly disposed to receive and put a 
due valuation upon the execution of them. For all those 
who desiring an indulgence, though diflPering amongst them- 
selves in some things, do jointly cast their expectations and 
desires into a dependance on his majesty, with advice of his 

And as notwithstanding their mutual differences, they 
are united in this expectation, so may they be made par- 
takers of it. Although in other things their differences 
continue, they cannot but agree in loyalty and gratitude : 
when the denial of it unto them, although they still differ 
in other things, will reconcile their minds in regret against 
the impositions they jointly undergo. 

And, whereas men have by the fears, dangers, and suf- 
ferings which they have passed through, evidenced to all 
the world, that the liberty and freedom of their consciences 
is of more consideration with them, than all other things 
whatever ; and have learned themselves also how to esteem 
and value that liberty, without which they are sensible how 
miserable their condition is, and is like to be, it is impossi- 
ble that any strange obligation unto peaceableness, loyalty, 
and thankfulness, can be put upon the subjects of any na- 
tion, than a grant of the indulgence desired would put upon 
multitudes in this. This would set their minds at liberty 
from fears and contrivances for the avoidance of impendent 
dangers ; encourage them to engage the utmost of tlieir 
endeavours and abilities in the businesses of peace and 
security, leaving them no fears, but only of any disturbance 
of the state of things, which hath secured unto them all 
their principal interests in the world. 

And how foolish, senseless, and unbecoming of men, 
would any other thoughts be ? To think, that men who have 
given this evidence at least, that they are such as exercise a 
good conscience towards God and others, in that they have 
suffered for it, and are ready yet farther so to do, should not 
despise and contemn all suggestions of unpeaceable disposi- 
tions, or should suppose that they have any community of 
interest with such as being not concerned in conscience 
with them ; at least not so far as to evidence it to be their 
chief and principal interest, as theirs it is ; or to have any 


inclination to the disturbance of the public tranquillity, 
wherein all their desires and aims are becured; is to judge 
by such imaginations of folly, madness, and wickedness, 
as those who use these pretences, would be loath to be 
judged by, although they have not given that testimony 
of their respects unto conscience which the others have 

And hereby, whereas the parliament have been necessi- 
tated through the exigence of the public affairs, to engage 
the nation in payments not passed through without difficulty, 
they will, as was said, put a real and effectual obligation 
upon great multitudes of men, without the least semblance 
of disadvantage unto any others. 

Neither is this a matter of any expense, but only of gene- 
rous clemency in themselves, and the deposition of wrath, 
envy, and revenge, in some few others ; things that may be 
parted withal, without the least detriment unto human'so- 
ciety. And, as it is in the matter alone of indulgence and 
conscience, wherein the people are capable of a sensible obli- 
gation, others not concerned therein being apt to think that 
all which is done for them is but their due, and less some- 
times than is so ; those partakers of it, by an avowment of 
the favour received, will be in their own minds indispen- 
sably bound to promote the common interest of public good. 
It is true, indeed, that the parliament have thought meet 
some years past to direct unto another course of procedure : 
but, ' Dies diem docet.' 

And wise men are never wont pertinaciously to adhere 
unto the pursuit of conjectures and projections about future 
events ; such as former laws were suited unto, against expe- 
rience, and those second thoughts which a new considera- 
tion of things may suggest unto them : besides the altera- 
tions of affairs in many concernments, may fully justify the 
alteration in resolutions pleaded for; which is not such nei- 
ther, as to be contradictory unto any thing already esta- 
blished, but what may be brought into compliance with it, 
and subordination to it. They may say of what is past, as 
was by one said of old ; 

Res durae et regni novitas me talia cogunt. 

The present assurance of public peace and tranquillity 


admits of counsels impartially tending to the good of all, 
uninfluenced by a mixture of fears and jealousies. 

But suppose the peace and prosperity of the nation to 
be much secured and advantaged by an indulgence, as 
undoubtedly under the protection and blessing of God it 
will be, yet I have heard some say, and it is commonly 
pleaded, that the church will not be able to keep its sta- 
tion, or to retain its members in compliance ; but they 
will many, if not most of them, make use of the liberty de- 
sired, especially if it be for and unto Protestants, which 
must be prevented. Now this I confess seems strange to 
me, that any such events should be feared or expected. 

Those who make this objection, suppose the church to be 
really possessed of truth and order in the matters that are in 
difference ; they express every day not only the great sense 
they have of the learning, ability, and piety of the clergy, 
but are ready on all occasions to contemn their adversaries, 
as men unlearned, weak, and inconsiderate. It is also 
granted, that all outward privileges, encouragements, advan- 
tages, promotions, preferments, dignities, public conve- 
niencies, legal maintenance, are still, to be confined unto the 
church, and its conformists ; as also that those who desire 
the benefit of indulgence, must, together with an exemption 
from all these, pay all dues required by the law to them ; 
and if they will join themselves unto others, besides a de- 
privation of the great conveniencies of their usual places of 
assemblies, and their legal interest in them, and the incon- 
veniencies of repairing unto other assemblies, it may be far 
remote from their habitations, contribute also to the main- 
tenance of their teachers where it is indispensably needed. 
If I say, all these and the like considerations, with a re- 
putation of public favour and regard with authority, be not 
sufficient to preserve and secure the church in its station, 
and its members in the communion of it, it is evident that 
they are things which have no foundation in the consciences 
or minds of men, but stand merely on the props of law and 
power : which, if true, is yet a secret which ought not to be 

I confess chief-justice Hobart, in his Reports, in the 
case of Colt and the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, says, 
* That though it be 'de jure divino,' that Christian people 


be provided of Christian officers and duties, as of teaching, 
administration of the sacraments, and the like, and of pas- 
tors for that purpose ; and therefore to debar them wholly of 
it, were expressly against the law of God, yet all other 
things,' as he there shews, * are not so : for,' saith he, ' we 
know well that the primitive church in her greatest ]iurity, 
were but voluntary congregations of believers, submitting 
themselves to the apostles, and after to other pastors, to 
whom they did minister of their temporals, as God did move 
them.' A liberty for which state is pleaded for, the thing 
itself being owned to be according to the pattern of the pri- 
mitive church in her greatest purity. 

And if it be so as he speaks, all other orders and observ- 
ances in the church must be built only on law and custom. 
But yet such is their force also on the minds of men, that as 
attended with the advantages and conveniences before men- 
tioned, and fenced by the inconveniences and disadvantages 
which attend dissenters ; the differences also contended 
about being of no more weight than they are, there is no 
doubt but the most of men, at least to the full as many as 
without force to conscience, will do so under the severestpe- 
nalties to the contrary, will continue their adherence to the 
present church-state, although the liberty of the dissent de- 
sired should be indulged. 

It may be this suggestion of peace and moderation may 
not have an equal relish unto all palates, nor find like re- 
ception in the minds of all. The interest of some, and the 
prejudices of others, are so important with them, as that 
they cannot attend unto impartial reason in this matter. 1 
am persuaded that some have scarce any better or more 
forcible argument, to satisfy their own minds that they are 
in the right in religion, than the inclination they find in 
themselves to hate and persecute them whom they suppose 
to be in the wrong ; or at least that they can no longer be- 
lieve that to be truth which they jirofess, than whilst 
they 'are willing and ready to destroy with violence that 
which is contrary unto it. For what is forborn, they sup- 
pose must needs be approved; all which are so palpable 
misapprehensions, as there needs no endeavour to lay them 

It is far enough from being an evidence of truth in any, 


that they are ready to destroy them that are otherwise 
minded. It is error and superstition, which being conscious 
of their own weakness are impatient until their contraries 
are ruined. And never are there such mutual violences in 
matters of religion, as where the several opposite parties 
are all of them most grossly erroneous and superstitious. 

The Egyptians were of old the scorn and sport of the 
world for their devotions in general ; oxen, apes, crocodiles, 
garlick, and onions, being some of the best of their deities : 
and yet about these they had amongst themselves such end- 
less animosities, and mutual persecutions of one another, 
as can scarcely be paralleled. So he tells us: 

Iramortale odium et nunquam sanabile bellum, 
Ardet adhuc ombos et Tent^Ta ; suinraus utrinqae, 
Inde furor vulgo, quod numina vicinorura 
Odit uterque locus. 

And what was the ground and occasion of the quarrel ? 

Crocodilon odorat 
Pars haec, ilia pavet saturam serpentibus Ibin. 

Their controversy was about the worship of a crocodile on 
the one hand, and of a fowl that devoured serpents on the 

Neither is the difference of much more importance, or 
managed with much more moderation, which is at this day 
between the Turks and Persians, about the true successors 
of Mahomet. 

So little reason have men to please themselves with a 
surmise of being possessed of the truth, by the inclination 
that they find in themselves to persecute the contrary ; see- 
ing such an inclination is an inseparable companion of error 
and superstition, and is generally heightened to cruelty and 
revenge, according as men by them are drenched in folly 
and blindness. 

It is yet pretended by some, that such a toleration as 
will satisfy them that desire it, and secure the public tran- 
quillity, however it may please in the notion of it, will yet 
be found impracticable when it comes to be examined and 

But it is evident that these pretences must be counte- 
nanced by some peculiar consideration of this nation and 
government thereof, seeing the utmost of what is here de- 
sired, is both established and practised in other nations. 


The whole of it is plainly exercised in the kingdom of 
France, where the Protestants paying all duties to the 
church, sustaining all burdens and offices in the common- 
wealth equal with others, are freed from ecclesiastical 
courts, censures, and offices, and all penalties for their dis- 
sent, with an allowance for the worship of God in their own 
assemblies provided by themselves, and known to the ma- 
gistrates under whose jurisdiction they are ; which is the 
sum of all that is here desired. The like liberty, if I mis- 
take not, is granted to the French and Dutch churches here 
in England. The United Provinces of the Netherlands have 
continued in the same practice ever since the reformation ; 
so also hath the kingdom of Poland, where the dissenters 
are both numerous and divided among themselves. Lu- 
therans are tolerated in the dominions of the Palsgrave, 
elector of Brandenburg, and landgrave of Hessia : so are 
Calvinists in many free cities of the empire, in some places 
of the kingdom of Denmark ; and both Lutherans and Cal- 
vinists in the sundry principalities in Germany, whose ma- 
gistrates are of the Romish religion. In the hereditary do- 
minions of the emperor, wherever difference in religion 
once made an entrance, either a forbearance and toleration 
is granted and continued, as in Hungary, or the countries 
themselves have been made utterly waste and desolate, as 
Bohemia and Moravia, and yet in a great measure continue 
so to be. The attempts of the duke of Savoy against it 
have been condemned, detested, and abhorred, by all 
princes of the same religion with himself, and yet have 
ended in some tolerable forbearance. It is also known, 
that the kings of England have by virtue of their power in 
things ecclesiastical, in all ages as occasion required, and 
as they saw meet, exempted persons and societies from the 
common and ordinary course and way of church discipline 
and inspection. 

Certainly, therefore, the unpracticableness of such an 
indulgence lies in the desires of them whose interest, as 
they apprehend, is opposite unto it : although it is more 
probable, that their moderation known and declared in this 
matter, would give them a greater interest in public esteem 
and veneration, than by any other ways they are like to ob- 
tain. Neither is this at all by wise men to be despised, who 
VOL. XXI. 2 i> 


are able to foresee the probable events of continued exaspe- 
ration. Why then should men pretend, that that cannot 
be done, which hath been done and is done at this day in 
so many kingdoms and nations, with the wished-for suc^ 
cess by peace and happiness? 

And as it may be very few instances can be given of 
such severity against dissenters, who come up to so full an 
agreement in all material things with them from whom they 
dissent, as that of late practised and still pressed for in 
England ; so it will be found, that whether we respect the 
nature and temper of the people of this land, or the admis- 
sion of the principles of dissent, with the grounds of theni, 
in multitudes, or the resolution to undergo all difficulties 
and sufferings, rather than to transgress against the light of 
their consciences, or their valuation of forbearance above all 
secular things whatever; there is no nation under heaven 
wherein such an indulgence or toleration as is desired would 
be more welcome, useful, acceptable, or more subservient 
to tranquillity, trade, wealth, and peace. 












Ambigua de religione capita qiiee plurimura habere videntur obscuritatis, tantis tam- 
diu aniinis decertata, apud sapientes hoc fere certum reliqueruiit, nusquam minus 
invciiiri veritalera, quam ubi cogitur assensus. — Hugo Grotius. 

Exiguam sedem sacris littusque rogamus 

Innocuum, et cunctis undamque, auramque patenteru. 

2 d2 



&;c. Sfc. 

Xhe infinitely wise and holy God, who disposeth of all 
things according to the counsel of his own will, having de- 
signed our portion in the world unto the latter days thereof; 
wherein, besides those difl&culties which in all ages attend 
them who are called unto the search and profession of the 
truths of the gospel, we are forewarned of sundry evils pe- 
culiar unto them, rendering them perilous : as it is our duty 
to apply ourselves to serve his good pleasure in our genera- 
tion, without repining at that station which in his work he 
hath allotted unto us ; so also diligently to take care that we 
add not unto the evils of the days wherein we live ; and that, 
what we may be called to suffer in them according to his 
will, may not be lost unto his holy ends and purposes in the 
world, but some way or other redound unto his glory. What 
shall befall us in the course of our pilgrimage, how we shall 
be disposed of, as to our outward temporary concernments, 
as it is not in our power to order and determine, so neither 
ought to be in our care, so as that we should be anxiously 
solicitous thereabouts: all things of that nature belong unto 
his sovereign pleasure, who will make them work together 
for good to them that love him. Resting in his will as to 
our outward state and condition in this world, with that of 
the times and seasons wherein our lot is fallen, which he 
hath put in his own power, we shall endeavour, in reference 
thereunto, to possess our souls in patience, waiting for that 
day which ' shall manifest every man's work of what sort it 
is.' And we know that it is but yet a little while, before it 
will be no grief of heart unto us, for to have done or suffered 
any thing for the name of the Lord Jesus, according to his 
mind and will. For whereas we are well assured, that the 


old enemy of mankind who is sometimes awake and sowing 
of tares whilst men sleep, is never so far asleep, whilst any are 
endeavouring to sow the good seed of the gospel, as not to 
stir up an opposition to their work, and to labour the ruin of 
their persons ; so we believe that every sincere endeavour to 
promote the holy truths and ways of God, according to that 
measure of light which he is pleased graciously to impart 
unto any of the sons of men, is accepted and owned by him 
* who is arewarder of them that diligently seek him;' which 
is sufficient to secure their peace and consolation, under all 
the evils that on the account of their work they may conflict 
withal. Neither is it a small alleviation of any trouble that 
we may be exposed unto, that no pretence, colour, reason, 
or arguings for our sufferings, no means, ways, or kinds of 
them, no ends unto them, can possibly be invented, proposed, 
pursued, but what we are fully forwarned of; that so we 
might not at any time think ourselves surprised, as though 
some strange thing had happened unto us. This then is our 
great concernment in the profession of religion, this that 
which we ought principally to attend unto, namely, to com- 
mend our consciences unto God, that in all sincerity and 
godly simplicity, we exercise ourselves in the work that he 
calls us unto, not corrupting his word, or staining our pro- 
fession by a conversation unbecoming the holiness of the 
gospel ; and for what may outwardly befall us, though pro- 
ducing heaviness and sorrow for a season, the last day will 
manifest to have been unspeakably more the concernment 
of other men than our own. It is therefore on this account, 
and that duty which we owe unto all the sons of men, espe- 
cially those who in any place or degree have rule and dis- 
posal of us in this world, and the things thereof committed 
unto them, that notwithstanding the hazard that attends us 
in the discharge of every duty of this kind, we adventure to 
represent our condition and desires unto all that endeavour 
to follow after truth with peace. For as the minds of men 
are capable of no greater perfection than what consists in 
receiving the whole truths of the gospel, nor their souls of 
greater blessedness than attends obedience thereunto; so 
every mistake of it, every prejudice against it, every opposi- 
tion unto it, or any part of it, are not only in themselves a 
corruption and debasement of the mind, but are usually at- 


tended with consequents of greater evils, in and unto them 
by whom they are entertained. And this condition often- 
times are men, otherwise upright and wise, cast into, either 
by their own ingrafted prejudices, or neglect of that severe 
disquisition after truth, which all the sons of it are obliged 
unto, or by suffering themselves to be imposed on, by the 
suggestions of others, who perhaps sacrifice their actings in 
and about the things of God, to some secular (and it may 
be very corrupt) ends of their own. Hence truth and inno- 
cence, which cannot be oppressed but when clothed with 
misrepresentations and calumnies, have in all ages been 
forced to suffer the sad effects of their mistakes, who in the 
mean time professed highly an avowment of them. So in 
particular, the foundation of all the miseries that ever befell 
the professors of the truth of Christ, since the day that the 
name of Christian was known in the world, and conse- 
quently of all that evil and confusion in the earth which the 
lusts of men have produced, and the righteous judgment 
of God inflicted, have lain in general, either in the ignorance 
of men, of the genuine nature and tendency of the truth it- 
self, or in their credulity, in giving credit unto those misre- 
presentations of it, which it hath always been the interest 
of many in the world, to frame and promote. Hence the 
professors of Christianity, and every particular way therein, 
in their respective seasons and generations, have esteemed it 
their duty, not only unto themselves, to wave their imminent 
sufferings, if it were the will of God thereby, but unto others 
also, whom they judged to be engaged against God and his 
truth, in their persecution of them, to declare freely and fully 
what it was that they did believe and practise ; and therein 
plead the equity and reasonableness of that deliverance 
which they aimed at; of themselves from suffering, and of 
others from sinning. And herein had they before their eyes, 
the examples of the great apostle of the Gentiles, who with 
various success did ofttiraes make use of the like dcfensa- 
tives of himself and his doctrine. Nor is it the last pre- 
scription of the law of nature implanted in the heart of man 
by him that made it, that innocency should so far undertake 
its own protection and security, as to endeavour a removal 
of prcjudicate imputations out of the minds of them, in whose 
judgment it is concerned. And this law all men univer- 


sally yield obedience unto, who intend not to abuse such 
imputations unto sinister ends, not suitable unto the inno- 
cency they profess, and so by deserting their own unblam- 
able defence, contract a guilt rendering them incapable of 
it for the future. Whereas therefore it hath pleased him in 
whose hand our life and breath, and all our ways are, to 
place us in that condition, wherein by the apprehensions he 
hath given us of his mind and will, in some things relating 
unto his worship, we are forced to differ from others, we 
conceive it our duty, for the prevention of farther evils, 
openly and candidly to declare both what we profess, and 
what in all humility we desire thereupon : and we cannot but 
hope, that when the matters of our difference are known and 
considered, that they will not be judged of so high a de- 
merit, as to render a modest peaceable desire of indulgence 
in our adherence unto them, a new addition of guilt. For 
their case is miserable indeed, who being prejudged into a 
condition of sufferings, though not convinced of evil, may 
not desire relief from those who alone are able to afford it; 
that also being made an aggravation of their misery, by be- 
ing made an aggravation of their supposed guilt. 

And in particular, this course is made at this season ne- 
cessary unto us, from the exasperation of the minds of 
many, in reference unto what we possess and desire, with 
the prejudices that are taken up and improved unto our dis- 
advantage and trouble ; for although we have with the joint 
consent of all our churches, some years since, publicly de- 
clared what is the faith which we profess, and the way of 
the worship of God wherein we Walk, and did hope that it 
■would not be looked on as an unseasonable expectation that 
our confession might have received a Christian, charitable, 
sedate consideration, before it were condemned, or those that 
adhere unto it judged as evil-doers for their so doing ; yet 
considering the sad exasperations of the minds of men, 
though upon occasions wholly foreign to the matter of 
our faith and profession, we cannot be without some 
apprehensions that far the greatest part of those who are 
loudest in their cries for severity against us, have scarce 
been so faithful to Christian candour and ingenuity, as seri- 
ously to examine whether there be in what we believe and 
pr^tise, a just foundation for that kind of proceeding and 


acting towards us, which they so earnestly desire to engage 
our rulers unto. If for no other reason, then, but to endea- 
vour to call off the thoughts of men from persons, and per- 
sonal provocations, unto those things which are the pre- 
tended foundation of their actings, and with reference where- 
unto their account must be made at the last day, when other 
men's real or apprehended miscarriages will give no counte- 
nance to theirs, we cannot but judge it a duty incumbent on 
us, to remind them what the things are which must give con- 
struction unto all that in this matter they shall undertake or 
perform ; and whereunto, under all imputations whatever of 
things of other natures, our comfort, be it what it will, true 
or false, in all our sufferings that we may be called unto, is 
resolved. And we do know, that they will one day find 
themselves under a woful mistake, who suppose that their 
severity against us will be any farther justified, than there 
is ground for it in the principles which we profess in the 
things of God ; and this cannot but be evident unto them (if 
they will give themselves but the liberty of unprejudiced 
consideration) who know that a relinquishment of those- 
principles would instantly cause all those other pleas and 
pretences to vanish out of their minds, which at present 
they only make use of. And therefore, also, shall we not 
much concern ourselves in any other charge that is laid 
against us, but only as to what we profess and practise in 
the ways and worship of God, as knowing that from thence 
alone, all occasion is taken for them. We shall therefore 
only briefly declare our sense of them, and then proceed to 
that which is our real concernment. For there is not any 
new thing herein under the sun. 

In all ages, wherever any way in religion, hath been 
judged by the most, rightly or otherwise, to be contrary to 
the mind of God, as by them apprehended, it hath been im- 
mediately charged with the guilt of all the evils that fell out 
in the days of its profession, though evidently they had 
other causes and occasions. Such was the condition of 
Christianity in general of old ; as is manifest from the apo- 
logetical writings of Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Arnobius, Cy- 
prian, Lactantius, Minucius Fcelix, Augustine, and others. 
Upon every occasion of trouble, the common cry was 'Chris- 
tianos ad Leones.' Such was the condition of the professors 


of the Protestant religion, upon the first reformation, 
throughout the world ; under which prejudice and imputa- 
tion, they are yet forced to suffer the wrath of men in many 
places. Whatever disadvantages, then, on this account we 
may be exposed unto, we have no reason to complain or 
think stranoe of, it beina; no other than all men in the like 
condition in all ages have had to conflict withal ; and will 
have so, whilst sin and darkness continue in the world. To 
commend our consciences unto God in well doing, is the 
only means of peace in ourselves, and the whole defensative 
in reference unto others, which in this cause is left unto us. 
Moreover if any who either really make profession of 
any way in religion, or are generally esteemed so to do, fall 
into personal crimes and miscarriages, which no way can 
secure itself against, men justly provoked thereby, have 
scarce the patience to attend unto any plea for the way it- 
self, or those who peaceably and innocently walk therein, 
though the charge against it be altogether groundless and 
unreasonable. Thus the abominations of the Gnostics of 
old were charged upon the whole body of Christianity ; and 
the unwarrantable zeal of one man in firing a temple in the 
kingdom of Persia, reflected an imputation of sedition on 
all the professors of the gospel, to their extirpation out of 
that empire. But the unrighteousness of this charge is, we 
hope, evident even to themselves, who would fain make use 
of it unto our disadvantage ; for no society in the world 
can give security for the deportment of all individuals be- 
longing unto it, according unto the rules of the whole ; and 
if they may be charged with such miscarriages, it were easy 
to demonstrate, that no community, no profession of men in 
the world, no order, no way can be acquitted-fiom guilt, or 
thought meet to have moderation exercised towards it. Be- 
sides, we know not in particular, but that all occasions of 
reflecting upon our societies on this account, have by the 
goodness of God been prevented ; for which we are humbly 
thankful unto his holy Majesty. But if to accuse be enough 
to render any men nocent, none can be long innocent. 
Thyestsean banquets, promiscuous lusts, and incests, must 
on that ground be thought to be the ends of the primitive 
assemblies of Christians, If men will take to themselves 
the liberty of entertaining evil and groundless surmises, it is 


impossible for us, or any living, to set bounds to their ima- 
ginations. So that we have nothing in this case to do, but 
to leave the authors of such false and calumnious insinua- 
tions unto that reward, which God and their own consciences 
will not suffer them to lose ; and our vindication unto the 
providence of God, over our present and future deportment. 
It may be thought of nearer concernment unto us, when the 
late troubles in these nations are objected, and the remem- 
brance of them renewed unto our prejudice. But whether 
the frequent and importunate urging of them, since by his 
majesty's clemency and grace they are put into legal obli- 
vion forever, do tend unto the composure and settlement of 
the minds of men, which is certainly the duty of all good sub- 
jects to aim at, we leave it unto the consideration of those 
who are wiser than we, and on whom the care of the peace 
and welfare of the kingdom is in an especial manner incum- 
bent. For our own parts, we shall only say, that whereas 
they were neither begun, nor carried on, upon the account of 
that way in the worship of God which we profess ; may the 
remembrance of them be never so severely revived, we can- 
not fear any just conclusion from thence, unto a suspicion 
of troubles of the like nature for the future ; as well knowing 
the absolute freedom of our principles from any such ten- 
dency, as well as the providential unravelling of all those 
interwoven interests and occasions, which individual per- 
sons countenanced themselves withal, in their engagements 
in them. 

Magistracy we own, as the ordinance of God, and his 
majesty as the person set over us by his providence, in the 
chief and royal administration thereof : in submission unto 
him, we profess it our duty to regulate our obedience by the 
laws and customs over which he presides in the government 
of these nations. So that our practical adherence unto our 
own avowed principles, is all that in this matter can fall 
under the most suspicious and charitable surmise. That 
there is any means of giving such absolute satisfaction con- 
cerning future events, which depend on the minds and wills 
of men, as to leave all suspicion concerning them impossible, 
we know not ; much less to prevent some men's pretending 
suspicions for ends best known unto themselves. But this we 
know, that what ways or means soever are warranted, or es- 


lablished by the laws of this land, or may be so, and they 
are such as mankind must content themselves withal, as in- 
capable of farther or greater assurance ; or whatever else 
may be rationally and justly expected from us; we have 
given, and are ready to give security by, against the evils 
intimated in this charge upon us ; which being the utmost 
that our duty calls upon us for, we hope we shall not always 
suffer for being the unhappy objects of some men's ground- 
less jealousies, which for us to remove is altogether impos- 
sible, God himself having not appointed any way or means 
for us to use to that end or purpose. 

As then neither we nor others can hinder men from 
making use of this pretence, for some ends of their own 
(though we know, as it is used by them, it contributes no- 
thing to public tranquillity, and the composure of the minds 
of men), so we hope that God will so far in his good time 
clear up the innocency and sincerity of our intentions, and 
their suitableness unto our declared principles, that no just 
occasion of reproach be administered unto them who wait 
for advantages against us. 

And what are we, that public disturbance should be 
feared from us? 'Nee pondera rerum, nee momenta sumus.' 
By what way or means, were we never so desirous, could we 
contribute any thing thereunto ? What designs are we ca- 
pable of? What interest have we to pursue ? What assist- 
ance to expect or look after? What title to pretend ? What 
hopes of success? What reward of any hazard to be under- 
gone ? We have no form of government, civil or ecclesias- 
tical, to impose on the nation; lay no pretence unto power 
to be exercised on the persons of any of his majesty's sub- 
jects ; have no expectations from persons or nations, that 
might induce us to further or promote any sinister aims of 
other men : the utmost of our aim is but to pass the residue 
of our pilgrimage in peace, serving God in the way of our de- 
votion: we covet no men's silver or their gold, their places or 
preferments ; our whole desire is that of Israel of old to their 
iDrother Edom ; * Let us pass, we pray, through the country; 
we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, 
neither will we drink of the water of the wells ; we will go 
by the king's highway, we will not turn to the right hand, 
nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.' May we 


thus far prevail, under the protection of God's providence, 
his majesty's favour, and our own innocency, we have no 
principles, we shall have no reason, farther to trouble our- 
selves or others. If it be denied unto us, and we must yet 
be scattered over the face of the earth, we shall yet pray for 
the prosperity of his majesty, and the land of our nativity, 
patiently bearing the indignation of the Lord, against whom 
we have sinned, and waiting for his salvation. 

That which of late is principally urged unto our preju- 
dice, is the prohibition of that way of worship which we de- 
sire to walk in, and the establishment of another by law, to 
whose authority we owe subjection. When this begins once 
to be pleaded, the real merits of the cause in debate is usu- 
ally overseen, and the obedience required by law is only in- 
sisted on ; as though that were grown a civil difference by 
the interposition of a law, which before was purely religious. 
This Paul himself found to be one of the most difficult cases 
he had to contend withal ; it was objected unto him, that 
he tauo-ht * customs which it was not lawful for to do 
among the Romans •,' Acts xvi. 21. All that doctrine which 
he had to declare, was antecedently in general forbidden by 
law ; it being determined by the Romans, that no worship 
of God should be admitted amongst them, not established 
by public authority. And had not the light and truth of 
Christianity broken through that opposition, it must have 
lain shut up in darkness to this day. For our parts, we have 
only this to say, that there is no reason to urge this as a pe- 
culiar objection against us, it being the only foundation of 
all others ; and only occasion of the difference about which 
we treat. Had not a law enjoined the practice of some things 
in the worship of God, which according unto our present 
light we cannot assent unto, without ceasing to worship him 
(for to worship him in our own thoughts, against his mind 
and will, is to profane his name and worship); had it not for- 
bidden the exercise and discharge of some duties which we 
account ourselves obliged unto by the authority of God 
himself, we had had no need to implore the clemency of our 
governors to relieve us against that severity which we fear. 
This then we acknowledge ; but withal, to state this differ- 
ence upon its right foundation, do solemnly in all sincerity 


protest before God, his holy angels, and all the world, that 
it is not out of any unwarrantable obstinacy that we are con- 
scious of unto ourselves, nor from any disaffection unto, or 
dissatisfaction in, the government that God hath set over us ; 
but merely from a sense of that account which we have one 
day to make before Jesus Christ the judge of all, that we 
cannot yield that compliance unto the act for uniformity 
which it requireth of us. The case, then, notwithstanding 
this prejudice, is still the same ; conscience towards God in 
the things of his own worship, is still and alone concerned; 
whatever other pretences and reasonings may in this case 
be made use of (as many are, and ever were in the like cases, 
and will so be). The whole real cause of that severity which 
we humbly deprecate, and only reason lying against the in- 
dulgence we desire, is our profession and practice in the 
things that are not of this world, but purely relating to the 
revelation of the mind and worship of God. Whatever 
therefore men may plead, pretend, or urge, of another na- 
ture, we are so far conscious unto our own integrity, as 
to be fully satisfied in our minds, that whatever dangers we 
may be in this matter exposed unto, or whatever we may be 
called to suffer, it is all merely for believing in God, and 
worshipping of him, according to what he hath been pleased 
to reveal of his mind unto us. And as in this case it is not 
in the power of any of the sons of men to deprive us of that 
consolation which an apprehension of the truth will afford 
unto them that sincerely and conscientiously embrace it ; 
so whether any men c^n commend their consciences to God 
according to the rules of the blessed gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, in our molestation and trouble, we leave it 
nnto all unprejudiced men to judge. And that we may yet 
farther remove all grounds of mistake, and obviate all other 
pretences against us, we shall candidly declare the general 
principles both of our faith and worship, and then leave our 
condition, whatever it may be, to the judgment of him, who 
'hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in 
righteousness,' of his majesty whom he hath set over us in 
supreme power, and of all other persons whatever, who 
have any sense of the terror of the Lord, the account we 
must make of serving him according to what he is pleased 


to reveal of himself unto us, the nature of things known 
only by divine revelation, or of the infirm frail condition of 
mankind in this world. 

For the faith which we profess, and which we desire to 
walk according unto, we need not insist upon the particular 
heads of it, having some years since in our confessions pub- 
licly declared it, with the joint consent of all our churches ; 
neither do we own or avow any doctrine, but what is therein 
asserted and discharged. And we hope it will not be looked 
upon as an unreasonable request, if we humbly desire, that 
it may receive a Christian, charitable, sedate consideration, 
before it be condemned. May we be convinced of any 
thing therein, not agreeable unto the Scriptures, not taught 
and revealed in them, we shall be with the first in its rejec- 
tion. That this hatli been by any as yet attempted, we know 
not ; and yet we are judged, censured, and reproached upon 
the account of it. So far are men degenerated from that 
frame of spirit, which was in the Christians of old ; so far 
have they relinquished the ways wherein they walked to- 
wards those who dissented from them. 

Nor do we decline the judgment of the primitive church; 
being fully satisfied, that what we teach and adhere unto, is 
as consonant unto the doctrine thereof, as that of any church 
at this day in the world. The four first general councils, as 
to what was determined in them in matters of faith, are con- 
firmed by law in this nation ; which is all that from anti- 
quity hath any peculiar stamp of authority put upon it 
amongst us ; this also we willingly admit of, and fully assert 
in our confession. Neither doth the addition of ours disturb 
the harmony that is in the confessions of the reformed 
churches, being in all material points the same with them, 
and no otherwise differing from any of them in things of 
less importance, than as they do one from another; and as 
all confessions have done, since the first introduction of their 
use into the churches of God. That which amongst them 
is of most special regard and consideration unto us, is that 
of the church of England, declared in the Articles of reli- 
gion : and herein in particular, what is purely doctrinal, we 
fully embrace and constantly adhere unto. And though we 
shall not compare ourselves with others, in ability to assert, 
teach, and maintain it ; yet we cjinnot, whilst we are con- 


scious unto ourselves of our integrity in our cordial adher- 
ence unto it, but bear with regret the clamorous accusations 
of some against us, for departing from the church of Eng- 
land, who have not given that testimony of their adherence 
unto its doctrine, which we have done, and by the help of 
God shall continue to do. It is true, indeed, there are some 
enlargements in our confession of the things delivered in the 
thirty-nine Articles ; some additions of things not expressly 
contained in them, which we were necessitated unto, for the 
full declaration of our minds, and to obviate that obloquy 
which otherwise we might have been exposed unto, as re- 
serving our judgment in matters that had received great 
public debate since the composure of those Articles : but 
yet we are fully persuaded, that there is not any proposition 
in our whole confession, which is repugnant unto any thing 
contained in the Articles, or is not by just consequence de- 
ducible from them. Neither were we the authors of the ex- 
planations or enlargements mentioned; there being nothing 
contained in them, but what we have learned and been in- 
structed in from the writings of the most famous divines of 
this nation, bishops and others, ever since the reformation ; 
which being published by legal authority, have been always 
esteemed, both at home and abroad, faithfully to represent 
the doctrine of the church of England. We have no new 
faith to declare, no new doctrine to teach, no private opi- 
nions to divulge; no point or truth do we profess, no not 
one, which hath not been declared, taught, divulged, and 
esteemed as the common doctrine of the church of England 
ever since the reformation. 

If then we evince not the faith we profess to be consonant 
unto the Scriptures, the doctrine of the primitive church, of 
the four first general councils, the confessions of the reformed 
churches beyond the seas, and that in particular of the 
church of England, we shall acknowledge the condition of 
things in reference unto that liberty which we humbly de- 
sire, to be otherwise stated than hitherto we have appre- 
hended. But if this be the condition of our profession, as 
we hope it is manifest unto all unprejudiced and ingenuous 
persons to be, who esteem it their duty not to judge a mat- 
ter of so great importance before they hear it, we can hardly 
think that they give up themselves to the conduct of the 


meek and Holy Spirit of Christ, who are ready to breathe 
out extirpation against us, as to our interest in this world, 
for the profession of those principles in the things of God, 
which they. pretend to build their own interests upon for 

The nonconformity then that we may be charged with, 
being very remote from a dissent unto that doctrine which 
is here publicly avowed, and confirmed by law, it cannot but 
seem strange unto us, that any should endeavour to cast us 
under the same severity with them who utterly renounce it; 
and would entail upon their posterity, on the forfeiture of 
all their public rights, as Englishmen, and benefit of their 
private estates, not only an adherence unto the Protestant 
religion, but a precise and determinate judgment and prac- 
tice in things of very little concernment therein; and of none 
at all, as to public tranquillity. 

Would it not seem strange, that a man might at as easy 
and cheap a rate, renounce the Protestant profession, and the 
fundamental doctrines of the church of England, in things 
indispensably necessary to salvation, as to be mistaken, 
or suspend his assent about things dark and disputable in 
their own nature, and of very small importance, which way 
soever they are determined? So that men in the embracing 
or refusal of them, rebel not against that commanding light 
of God set up in their hearts to rule them in his name, in 
that apprehension which they have of the revelation of his 
will, which is unto them of great and eternal moment. 

They are then only things relating unto outward order 
and worship, wherein our dissent from the present establish- 
ment of religion doth consist; things about which there 
hath been variety of judgment, and difference in practice, 
from the days of the apostles, and probably will be so until 
the end of the world: for we find by experience, that the late 
expedient for the ending of differences about them, by vindi- 
cating of them into the arbitrary disposal of every church, or 
those that preside therein, in whose determinations all per- 
sons are to acquiesce; is so far from accomplishing the work 
whereunto it is designed, that it contributes largely to their 
increase and perpetuation. Our only guilt then is, our not 
agreeing with others in those things wherein there never yet 
was an agreement among Christians : nor, perhaps, bad the y 

VOL. XXI. 2 E 


all that frame of spirit in moderation and mutual forbearance 
which the gospel requireth in them, would it ever be any way 
needful that there should so be. 

For our parts, about these things we judge not other 
men, nor do, or ever did, seek to impose our apprehensions 
on their judgments or practice. What in them is agreeable 
unto truth, God knows, and will one day declare. Unto our 
present light in the revelation of his will must our practice 
be conformed ; unless to please men, and secure our transi- 
tory perishing concernments, we intend to break his bonds 
and cast away his cords from us. 

And that it may the better appear what is both our judg- 
ment and practice in and about these things; unto what we 
have declared in the close of our confession (which we sup- 
pose they cannot reasonably and with satisfaction to their 
own consciences, wholly overlook, who because thereof, are 
ready to reflect with severe thoughts upon us), we shall now 
only add the general principles whereunto all that we pro- 
fess or practise in these things, is resolved. And of them 
we humbly desire that a Christian and candid consideration 
may be had: as supposing that to pass a sentence of con- 
demnation against us for our dissent unto any thing, with- 
out a previous weighing of the reasons of that dissent, is 
scarce suitable unto that law whereby we are men, and en- 
gaged into civil societies. As then religion is publicly re- 
ceived and established in this nation, there are many out- 
ward concernments of it, relating unto persons and things, 
that are disposed and regulated by and according to the laws 
thereof: such is that which is called power ecclesiastical, 
or authority to dispose of those affairs of the church with 
coercive jurisdiction, which relates to the outward public 
concernments of it, and the legal interests of men in them. 
This we acknowledge and own to be vested in the supreme 
magistrate, the king's majesty, who is the fountain and spring 
of all jurisdiction in his own kingdoms whatever. No power 
can be put forth or exercised towards any of his subjects, 
which in the manner or nature of its exertion hath the force 
of a law, sentence, or jurisdiction ; or which, as to the effect 
of it, reacheth their bodies, estates, or liberties, but what is 
derived from him, and binding formally on that sole reason, 
and no otherwise. 


Hence we have no principle in the least seducing us to 
transgress against any of those laws which in former days 
were looked on as safe preservatives of the Protestant reli- 
gion and interest in this nation. Did we assert a foreign 
power over his majesty's subjects, and claim an obedience 
from them in some such cases as might at our pleasure be 
extended to the whole that is due unto him ; did we, or any 
of us, by virtue of any office we hold in the church of God, 
claim and exercise a jurisdiction over the persons of his ma- 
jesty's subjects in form and course of law ; or did we so much 
as pretend unto the exercise of any spiritual power that 
should produce effects on the outward man; we might well 
fear, lest just offence should be taken against us. But 
whereas the way wherein we worship God is utterly uncon- 
cerned in these things, and we willingly profess the spring 
of all outward coercive jurisdiction to be in the person of 
the king's majesty alone, without the least intermixture of 
any other power of the same kind, directly or by conse- 
quence ; we cannot but say with confidence, that it will be 
utterly impossible to convince us, that on this account we 
are offenders. 

For the worship of God and order therein (which is 
purely spiritual and evangelical), we acknowledge indeed 
the Lord Jesus Christ to be the only institutor or author of 
it, and the holy Scripture the only principle revealing, the 
only rule to judge of it, and to square it by. It is not now 
our design to plead the truth of this principle, nor yet to clear 
it from mistakes, or vindicate it from opposition : all which 
are done elsewhere. Let it be supposed to be an error or 
mistake, which is the worst that can be supposed of it, we 
must needs say, that it is an error which hath so much 
seeming countenance given unto it by innumerable places of 
Scripture, and by so many testimonies of the ancient and mo- 
dern doctors of the church, and isevery way so free from the 
production of any consequent of evil importance ; that if 
there be any failure of the minds of men, in and about the 
things of God, which from a common sense of the frailty of 
human nature may rationally expect forbearance and pardon 
from them, who have the happiness to be from all miscar- 
riage, of that kind (if any such there be), this may claim a 
share and interest among them. 



Nor are we able as yet to discern, how any acceptable 
account can be given to the Lord Jesus, at the last day, of 
severity against this principle, or those that, otherwise inof- 
fensive, walk according to the light of it. 

Moreover, whereas principles true in themselves may in 
their application unto practice be pressed to give counte- 
nance unto that which directly they lead not unto ; we have 
the advantage yet farther particularly to declare, that in the 
pursuit of it in the worship of God we have no other ordi- 
nances or administrations, but what are owned by the law 
and church of England. Now whatever other occasion may 
be sought against us (which we pray God not to lay to their 
charge who delight in such practices), we know full well that 
we differ in nothing from the whole form of religion esta- 
blished in England, but only in some few things in outward 
worship, wherein we cannot consent without the renuncia- 
tion of this principle, of whose falsehood we are not con- 
vinced. This being our only crime, if it be a crime, this the 
only mistake that we are charged with, in the things of God ; 
we yet hope that sober men will not judge it of so high a de- 
merit, as to be offended with our humble desire of indul- 
gence, and a share in that princely favour towards persons 
of tender consciences, which his majesty hath often declared 
his inclinations for. 

We confess that oftentimes, when such dissents are made 
a crime, they are quickly esteemed the greatest, yea, almost 
all that is criminal : but whether such a judgment owes not 
itself more to passion, prejudice, and private interest, than 
to right reason, is not hard to determine. 

For our parts, as we said before, they are no great things 
which we desire for ourselves ; the utmost of our aim being 
to pass the remainder of the few days of our pilgrimage in 
the land of our nativity, serving the Lord according to what 
he hath been pleased to reveal of his mind and will unto us. 
And we suppose that those who are forward in suggesting 
counsels to the contrary, know not well how to countervail 
the king's damage. 

That this our desire is neither unreasonable nor unjust; 
that it containeth nothing contrary to the will of God, the 
practice of the church of old, or to the disadvantage of the 
public tranquillity of these nations : but that all outward 


violence and severity on the account of our dissent is des- 
titute of any firm foundation in Scripture, reason, or the 
present juncture of affairs amongst us, we humbly crave li- 
berty in the farther pursuit of our own just defence, briefly 
to declare and evidence. 

The great fundamental law amongst men, from which all 
others spring, and whereby they ought to be regulated, is 
that law of nature, by which they are disposed unto civil 
society, for the good of the whole and every individual 
member thereof. And this good being of the greatest im- 
portance unto all, doth unspeakably out-balance those in- 
conveniences which may befall any of them through a re- 
striction put upon them by the particular laws and bonds of 
the society wherein they are engaged. It is impossible, but 
that sundry pfirson.s might honestly improve many things 
unto their advantage in thp increase of their interest in 
things of this world, were not bounds set unto their en- 
deavours, by the laws of the community whereof they are 
members. But whereas no security may be obtained that 
they shall not have their particular limits and concernments 
broken in upon by a hand of violence and injustice, but in 
a pursuit of that principle of nature which directs them to 
the only remedy of that evil in civil society, they are all in 
general willing to forego their particular advantages, for that 
which gives them assurance and peace in all that they are, 
and enjoy besides. All such conveniences, therefore, as 
consist in the things that are within the power of men, and 
are inferior to that good and advantage which public society 
doth afford, the law of nature directing men, and their 
chiefest good, commands them as occasion requires, to for- 
bear and quit. Nor can any community be established, 
without obedience unto that command. But of the things 
that are not within the power of men, there is another rea- 
son. If the law of society did require that all men engaging 
thereunto should be of one stature and form of visage, or 
should have the same measure of intellectual abilities, or 
the same conception of all objects of a rational understand- 
ing, it were utterly impossible that any community should 
ever be raised among the sons of men. 

As then all inconveniences, yea, and mischiefs relating 
unto things within the power of men, are to be undergone 


and borne with, that are less than the evils which nothing but 
political societies can prevent for the sake thereof; so the 
allowance of those differences which are inseparable from 
the nature of man, as diversified in individuals, and insu- 
perable unto any of their endeavours, is supposed in the 
principles of its being and constitution. Yea, this is one prin- 
ciple of the law of nature, to which we owe the benefits of 
human conversation, and administration of justice, that those 
differences amongst men which unto them are absolutely 
unavoidable, and therefore in themselves not intrenching 
upon, nor disannulling the good of the whole (for nature doth 
not interfere with itself), should be forborn and allowed 
among them, seeing an endeavour for the extinguishment 
must irresistably extinguish the community itself, as taking 
away the main supposal on which it is founded. And in 
that harmony which by an answerableness of one thing unto 
another, rising from such differences, doth the chiefest glory 
and beauty of civil society consist ; the several particulars 
of it also being rendered useful unto the whole thereby. Of 
this nature are the things concerning which we discourse. 
They relate, as is confessed, unto things spiritual and superna- 
tural : that the will of God in these things cannot be known 
but by revelation from himself, all men will acknowledge ; 
and we suppose they will with no less readiness consent, that 
divine revelation cannot be apprehended or assented unto, 
but according to the nature and measure of that light, which 
God is pleased to communicate unto them unto whom such 
revelation is made : that this light doth so equally affect the 
minds of all men, or that it is possible it should do so, con- 
sidering the divers ways and means of its communication, 
with the different dispositions of them that receive it ; that 
they should all have the same apprehensions of the things 
proposed unto them, none will judge, but such as take up 
their profession in these things on custom, prejudice, or in- 
terest. It will then hence evidently follow, that men's ap- 
prehensions of things spiritual and supernatural, such we 
mean as have no alliance unto the ingrafted light of nature, 
a,re not absolutely under their own power, nor depend on the 
liberty of their wills, whereunto all law is given. And there- 
fore is the diversity in and about them to be reckoned among 
these unavoidable differences which are supposed in the law 


of civil society, and without which supposal every attempt 
for any such society, would be destructive of itself. Among 
these apprehensions, and the exercise of our consciences 
towards God upon them, lies all the difference from the pre- 
sent establishment, which we desire an indulgence to be 
shewed towards ; not at all questioning but that it is lawful 
for them who have attained unto an agreement in them, so 
far as they have attained, to confirm and strengthen that 
agreement among themselves, and render it desirable unto 
others, by all such ways and means as by right and the laws 
of the society whereof they are, they make use of. 

And it is, as we humbly conceive, in vain pretended, that 
it is not the apprehensions of men's minds, and their con- 
sciences unto God upon them, but only their outward act- 
ings that fall under the penalties desired by some to be in- 
dispensably imposed on dissenters from the established 
form ; seeing those penalties are not only annexed unto ac- 
tions which such apprehensions require as duties unto God, 
but also unto a not acting contrary unto them, which di- 
rectly and immediately reflect on the mind and conscience 
itself: other ways to reach the consciences of their brethren, 
it is utterly impossible to find out. And to teach men that 
their consciences towards God are not concerned either in 
not acting according to their light in his worship, or in act- 
ing against it, is to teach them to be atheists. 

We cannot therefore but hope, that our distance from the 
present establishment, in some few things relating unto su- 
pernatural revelation (especially whilst in our agreement 
with it there is a salve for all things in the least intrenching 
on the light of nature, and all things whatever, that even of 
revelation itself, are necessary to the grand end of it, with se- 
curity against any thing that may any way incommode public 
tranquillity),being unto us insuperable, and therefore provided 
for by the fundamental law of all civil societies, that it will 
not always receive so severe a construction as to deprive us 
of the good and benefit thereof. For to annex penalties, which 
in the progress will deprive men of all those advantages in 
their outward concernments which public society doth or 
can afford unto these differences, without a supposition 
whereof, and a provision for, there could be no such so- 


ciety at all, is to destroy that whose good and preservation 
is intended. 

And therefore the different conceptions of the minds of 
men in the things under consideration, with actings con- 
sonant unto them, being not only an unavoidable consequent 
of nature's constant production of the race of mankind, in 
that various diversity which in all instances we behold, but 
also rendered farther insuperable, from the nature of the 
things themselves about which they are exercised (being of 
divine revelation), they were ever in the world esteemed 
without the line of civil coercion and punishment, until it 
came to be the interest of some to offer violence to those 
principles of reason in themselves, which any outward al- 
teration in the state of things is capable of rendering their 
own best protection and defence. 

And on these grounds it is, that force never yet attained, 
or long kept that in religion which it aimed at. 

And the great Roman historian tells us, that it is ' inde- 
corum principi attrectare, quod non obtineat ;' no way 
honourable unto a sovereign prince, to attempt that which 
will never be accomplished. 

But because what may seem obscure in this reason of 
things, and principles of community (which usually affect 
them only who, without interest or prejudice, give up them- 
selves to the conduct of rational and sedate consideration, 
with which sort of persons alone, we have not to deal), is ex- 
emplified in the gospel, whose furtherance is on all hands 
pretended ; we shall thence also briefly manifest, that the 
way pretended for the promotion of its interest, by severity 
in external penalties, on the account of such differences as 
we are concerned in, is both opposite unto the spirit of its 
author, and contrary to the rules of it, with the practice of 
those who have walked according to them. 

As among the many blessed ends of the conversation of 
our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, it was not of the least mo- 
ment, that he might set us a pattern, and give us an example 
of that frame of heart and holiness of life, whereby we may 
become like unto our heavenly Father, and be acceptable 
before him ; so in his carrying on of that design, there was 
not any thing that he more emphatically called upon his 


disciples to endeavour a conformity unto him in, than in his 
meekness, lowliness, gentleness, and tenderness towards all. 
These he took all occasions for our good to shew forth in 
himself, and to commend unto others. Whatever provoca- 
tion he met withal, whatever injurious opposition he was ex- 
posed unto, he did not contend, nor cry, nor cause his voice 
to be heard with strife or anger. The sins of men, indeed, 
he reproved with all authority ; their groundless traditions in 
the worship of God, he rejected; their errors he refuted by 
the word; but to the persons of men he was always meek and 
tender, as coming to save, and not to destroy; to keep alive, 
and not to kill. In the things of man, he referred all unto 
the just authority and righteous laws of men; but in the 
things of God, never gave the least intimation of severity but 
only in his holy threats of future evil in the world to come, 
upon men's final impenitency and unbelief. Coerce, fine, im- 
prison, banish, those that apprehend not aright all and every 
thing that I would have them instructed in, are words that 
never proceeded out of his holy mouth, things that never 
entered into his gracious heart. And we are persuaded, 
that it is a thing of marvellous difficulty, for any man 
seriously to think, that he who was and is so full of compas- 
sion towards all the sons of men, even the worst of them, 
should ever give the least consent unto the punishment and 
gradual destruction of those who in sincerity desire to love 
and obey him, and do yet unavoidably mistake in their ap- 
prehensions of some few things, pleaded to be accordino- to 
his mind, their love and obedience unto him thereby being 
no whit impeached. When some of his disciples of old, in 
zeal, as they pretended, unto himself, and the truths preached 
by him, would have called for fire from heaven on those 
who had contumeliously slighted him upon a supposed di- 
versity in religion, for which they thought themselves war- 
ranted, though falsely, by a precedent out of the Old Testa- 
ment ; he lets them know, that it was an unacquaintedness 
with their own spirits, causing them to imagine thatto be zeal 
for the truth, which was indeed but self-revenge and private 
interest, which had caused them to speak so unadvisedly. 
Now that the same mind might be in us that was in Je- 
sus Christ, that his example is to be a rule unto us, that we 
ought all to be baptized into the same Spirit with iiim ; that 


what from his frame of heart and actings, as revealed in his 
word, we can rationally conclude that he would approve or 
disallow, we ought to square our proceedings and judg- 
ments unto, none that own his name can deny. 

And if men would not stifle, but suffer themselves to be 
guided by the power of their convictions, they would quick- 
ly perceive how inconsistent with it, are their thoughts of 
rigour and severity towards those which differ from them in 
some few things relating to the mind of God in and about 
his worship. 

Certainly this readiness of servants, who are themselves 
pardoned talents, to fall with violence on their fellows 
(upon the account of his service, though otherwise it may be 
poor and despicable in the world) for lesser debts, and those 
only supposed, not proved real, will appear at the last day 
not to have been so acceptable unto him, as some men on 
grounds and pretences, utterly foreign unto this whole busi- 
ness, are willing now to persuade themselves that it is. 
Would men in these things, which are principally his, and 
not their own concernments, but as his, labour to be always 
clothed with his spirit, and do nothing but what they can 
rationally satisfy themselves that he himself would do in 
like case; there would be an end not only of this debate, but 
of many other mischiefs also, which the Christian world is 
at this present day pestered withal ; and it must needs seem 
strange, that men can persuade themselves that they do that 
for Christ which they cannot once think or imagine that he 
would do himself. Certainly, setting aside provocations 
and prejudices, any man who hath read the gospel, and 
gives any credit unto it, is acompetent judge, whether exter- 
nal force in these things, do more answer the spirit of 
Christ, or that from which he suffered. 

But we have not only his heart and actings for our ex- 
ample, but his word also, as revealed by himself and his 
apostles, as our rule in his matter. 

With nothing more doth it abound, as to our duty in 
this world, than with precepts for, and exhortation unto, mu- 
tual forbearance of one another in our mistakes and failings. 
And although there be force and light enough, in its general 
rules, to guide us in all particulars, yet, lest any should ima- 
gine that the cause und<^r consideration, about different ap- 


prehensions and practices in something relating to the wor- 
ship of God, might be exempted from them, even that also 
is variously instanced in, and confirmed by examples ap- 
proved by himself. The great apostle, who gives us that 
general rule, that we ' should walk together in one mind,' so 
far as we have attained, and for other things of difference, 
wait for the revelation of the mind of God unto them that 
differ, Phil. iii. 15, 16. everywhere applies his own rule unto 
the great difference that was in those days, and long after, 
between the Jewish and Gentile believers. The one con- 
tinued under a supposal of an obligation to the observation 
of Mosaical rites and ceremonies, from which the other was 
instructed that they were set at liberty. This difference, 
as is the manner among the sons of men, wrought various 
jealousies between them, with disputes and censurings of 
each other ; whereof the apostle gives us a particular ac- 
count, especially in his Epistle to the Romans, chap. xiv. 
XV. Neither did they rest here ; but those of the circumci- 
sion everywhere kept their assemblies and worship distinct 
from the congregations of the Gentile believers : hence in 
most places of note, there were two churches, one of the 
Jews, and another of the Gentiles, walking at peace in the 
faith of the gospel, but differing as to some ceremonial ob- 
servances. The whole society of the apostles, observing their 
difference, to prevent any evil consequent, in their assembly 
at Jerusalem, assigned to the several parties their particular 
bounds, how far they should accommodate themselves unto 
one another by a mutual condescension ; that they might 
walk in love and peace, as to what remained of difference 
among them. The Jews are taught by them not to impose 
their rites and ceremonies on the Gentiles ; and the Gentiles 
to abstain from some things for a season, whereunto their 
liberty did extend, whereby the other were principally pro- 

Their bounds being so fixed, and their general duty 
stated, both parties were left at liberty, as to their practice 
in the thing, wherein they could not yet be reconciled. And 
in that different practice did they continue for many years, 
until the occasion of their division was, by the providence of 
God in the destruction of the Judaical church, utterly taken 


These were the rules they proceeded by, this their course 
and practice, who unquestionably under the Lord Jesus were 
intrusted with supreme authority over the whole church, of 
that kind which is not transmitted unto any of the sons of 
men after the ceasing of their office and work, and were 
guided infallibly in all their determinations. Coercions, re- 
straints, corporal punishments, were far from their thoughts; 
yea, the very exercise of any ecclesiastical power against 
them who dissented from what they knew to be truth, so 
that in general they were sound in the faith, and walked in 
their lives as became the gospel. 

And whereas they sometimes carry the matter to a sup- 
posal of diso-bedience unto those important things which 
they taught and commanded in the name of their Lord and 
Master, and thereupon proceeded to denounce threatenings 
against the disobedient, they expressly disclaim all thoughts 
of proceeding against them, or any power or warrant from 
Christ committed imto them, or any others, or that after- 
wards in his providence should so be, so to do with external 
carnal force and penalties ; avowing their authority over all 
that was ever to be put forth in things of that nature, to be 
spiritual, and in a spiritual manner only to be exercised ; 
2 Cor. X. 4, 5. 

And because the church might not seem to be disad- 
vantaged by this disclaimer of power externally to coerce 
such as received not the truth that it embraced, and to be 
cast into a worse condition than that of the Jews which 
went before, whose ordinances being carnal were esta- 
blished and vindicated by carnal power, St. Paul lets them 
know that this alteration is for the better ; and the coercion 
of miscarriages under the gospel, by threatenings of the 
future judgment which would have a special respect unto 
them, more weighty than the severest penalties that were 
appointed by Moses's law ; Heb. x. 28 — 30. 

Not that lesser differences in apprehensions of the mind 
of God in his word, had any punishment assigned unto 
them under the Old Testament, whose penalties concerned 
them only who turned away to the worship of any other 
god but the God of Israel (and such no man pleads 
for) : but that the whole nature of the ordinances and 
worship of the church being changed from carnal and 


earthly to heavenly and spiritual, so also are the laws of re- 
wards and punishments annexed unto them. These were 
the rules, this the practice in this case, of the apostles of our 
Lord Jesus Christ : these rules, this practice hath he re- 
corded in his word for our instruction and direction. 

Might all those who profess obedience unto his name be 
prevailed on to regulate their judgments by them, and square 
their proceedings unto them, the church of God would 
have peace, and the work of God be effectually carried on 
in the world as in the days of old. And for our parts, we 
will never open our mouths to deprecate any severity that 
may be warranted from the gospel or apostolical direction 
and practice, against any mistake of that importance in the 
things of God, as our principles and ways may rationally be 
supposed to be : for although we are persuaded that what we 
profess and practise is according unto the mind of Christ, yet 
because it is our lot and portion to have our governors and 
rulers otherwise minded, we are contented to be dealt 
withal so, as the blessed gospel will warrant any to deal 
with them who are so far in the wrong as we are supposed 
to be. And if herein we cannot prevail, we shall labour to 
possess our souls in patience, and to commit pur cause to 
him that judgeth righteously. 

This we know, that the judgment and practice of the 
first churches, after the days of the apostles, was conform to 
the rules and examples that by them were given unto them. 
Differences in external rites of worship which were found 
amongst them, where the substance of faith was preserved, 
they looked upon as no breach of union at all. A long ca- 
talogue of such differences as were from time immemorial 
amongst them, is given us by Socrates the historian. And 
he who first disturbed the peace of the churches about 
them, by dividing their communion (Victor of Rome), is 
left branded upon record, with the censures of the principal 
persons for learning and holiness throughout the world in 
those days. Nor is our dissent from the present establish- 
ment of any larger extent, than such as the general consent 
of all the first churches extended the bond of tlieir com- 
munion unto. 

Impositions of things indifferent, with subscriptions to 
precise determinations on points doubtful and ambiguous 


with confinements of men's practices in all outward cere- 
monies and circumstances of worship, were things not born 
in the world for some hundreds of years after the first plant- 
ing of churches. Origen, in his third book against Celsus, 
pleads expressly, that there ever were differences amongst 
professors of Christianity from the beginning ; and that it 
was impossible but that there should so be, which yet he 
shews hindered not their faith, love, and obedience. Justin 
Martyr, in his second Apology, declares his forbearance, 
and the churches of those days, towards those who, though 
believing in Christ, yet thought themselves obliged to the 
observation of Mosaical rites and ceremonies, provided that 
they did not impose the practice of them upon others. Ig- 
natius, before them, in his epistle to the Philadelphians, 
professeth, * that to persecute men on the account of God or 
religion, is to make ourselves conformable to the heathen 
that know not God.' TertulUan, Origen, Arnobius, and Lac- 
tantius, openly pleaded for a liberty in religion, as founded 
in the law of nature, and the inconsistence of faith with 
compulsion, in that extent which we aim not at. The synod 
of Alexandria, in the case of Athanasius, condemns all 
external force in religion, and reproached the Arians as the 
first inventors and promoters of it. 

It is indeed pleaded by some, that the Christians of 
those days had reason to assert this liberty, because there 
was then no Christian magistrate who might make use of 
the civil sword in their behalf, or for the punishment of 
dissenters from them, and that this was the reason of their 
so doing. 

But the dishonesty of this pretence is notorious. They 
affirm directly, that no force, coercion, or restraint, is to be 
used in or about the worship of God, nor outward power in 
a way of penalties to be exercised over the consciences of 
men herein. 

To say they thus pleaded and pretended merely to serve 
their own present condition and occasion, but that upon the 
alteration of things they would be otherwise minded, is ca- 
lumniously to reflect upon those holy witnesses of Christ, 
the guilt of the highest hypocrisy imaginable : and men 
cannot invent a more effectual means to cast contempt on 
all religion, and to root a due sense of it out of the world. 


than by fomenting such imaginations. Let them therefore 
rest in peace under that reputation of holiness and sincerity 
which they justly deserve, whatever be the issue of things 
with us, or those which may suffer with us in the like con- 

But neither were they alone ; the great Constautine him- 
self, the first Christian magistrate with supreme power, by a 
public edict declared, * That the liberty of worship was not 
to be denied unto any.' And, until the latter end of his 
reign, there were no thoughts of exercising severity, with 
reference unto any divisions amongst Christians about the 
worship of God. 

After the rise of the Arian heresy, when the interposi- 
tion of civil censures upon the account of diflPerence about 
things spiritual, had made an entrance by the solicitations 
of some zealous persons for the banishment of Arius, and 
some of his co-partners, it is not easy to relate what mise- 
ries and confusions were brought upon the churches thereby. 
Imprisonments, banishments, and ruin of churches, make 
up much of the ecclesiastical history of those days. 

After awhile, Arius is recalled from banishment, and 
Athanasius driven into it. In a short tract of time, 
Arianism itself got the civil sword in many places, where- 
with it raged against all the orthodox professors of the 
Deity of the Son of God, as the synod of Alexandria com- 

Much they suffered in the days of Constantius, unto 
whom the words of Hilary in this case are worthy consider- 
ation : * Let,' saith he, ' your clemency take care and order, 
that the presidents of the provinces look to public civil 
affairs, which alone are committed to them, but not meddle 
in things of religion.' And again, ' Let your gentleness 
suffer the people to hear them teaching whom they desire, 
whom they think well of, whom they choose. God teacheth, 
rather than by force exacteth, the knowledge of himself; 
and ascertaining the authority of his commands by works 
of power, despiseth all compelled confession of him.- If 
force be used to compel men unto the true faith, the bishops 
that profess it would interpose, and say, God is the God of 
the whole world, he needs no compelled obedience, nor re- 
quires any such confession of him. He is not to be de- 


ceived, but to be well pleased. Whence is it, then, that 
persons are taught how to worship God by bonds and 
perils ?' These are the words of Hilary, 

But the same persons suffered more during the reign of 
Valens, who was dissuaded from cruelty against the Chris- 
tians by Themistius, a pagan philosopher, on the principles 
of common reason and honesty ; plainly telling him, that by 
the way he used, he might force some to venerate his im- 
perial robes, but never any one to worship God aright. 

But the best emperors in the mean time bewailed those 
fierce animosities, whereby every sect and party laboured to 
oppress their adversaries, according as they had obtained an 
interest in imperial favour, and kept themselves from putting 
forth their authority against any dissenters in Christian re- 
ligion, who retained the foundation of the faith in any com- 
petent measure. Valentinianus, by public decree, granted 
liberty of religion unto all Christians, as Sozomen testifies, 
lib. 6. Ammianus Marcellinus, in his History, observes the 
same. Gratian made a law that religion should be free to 
all sorts and sects of Christians, except the Manichees, 
Eunoraians, and Photinians ; and that they should have their 
meetine:s free ; as both Socrates and Sozomen acquaint us. 

Neither have they been without their followers in those 
ages wherein the differences about religion have risen to as 
great a height as they are capable of in this world. 

Nor will posterity be ever able to take off the lasting blot 
from the honour of Sigismund the emperor, who suffered 
himself to be imposed upon by the council of Constance, to 
break his word of safety and liberty, to John Huss and 
Jerome of Prague. 

And what did Charles the Fifth obtain, by filling the 
world with blood and uproars, for the extirpation of pro- 
testantism ? Notwithstanding all his victories and successes, 
which for awhile smiled upon him, his whole design ended 
in loss and disappointment. 

Ferdinand, his brother and successor, made wise by his 
example, kept constant the peace of the empire, by a constant 
peace granted to the consciences of men. 

His son Maximilian continually professed, that the em- 
pire of conscience belonged unto God alone, wherein he 
would never interpose. And upon the return of Henry the 


Third of France out of Poland, he gave him that advice to 
this purpose, which it had been happy for that prince, if he 
had understood and followed, before he came to die. But 
then even he also, having the severe instruction given him 
of his own experience, left that as his last advice to his 
counsellors, that they should no more with force interpose 
in the matters of religion. 

Rodulphus, who succeeded Maximilian, by the same 
means for a long time preserved the peace of the empire. 
And after he had by the persuasions of some, whose interest 
it was so to persuade him, interdicted the Protestants in 
Bohemia the use of their religion, upon the tidings of a defeat 
given to his forces in Hungary by the Turks, he instantly 
replied, ' I looked for no other issue, since I invaded the 
throne of God, imposing on the conscience of men :' and 
therefore granted them their former liberty. 

Doth not all the world behold the contrary issue of the 
wars in France, and those in the United Provinces, begun 
and carried on on the same account? The great Henry of 
France winding up all the differences thereof, by granting 
liberty to the Hugonots, laid a firm foundation of the future 
peace and present greatness of that kingdom. Whereas the 
cruelty of the duke D'Alva and his successors, implacably 
pursuing the Netherlands to ruin on the same account, hath 
ended in the utter loss of sundry provinces, as to the rule 
and authority that he and they endeavoured absolutely to 
enthrone, and rendered the rest of them scarce worth the 

The world is full of instances of the like kind. 

On the other hand, when by the crafty artifices and 
carnal interests of some, the principles of external coercion 
for lesser differences in the matters of Christian religion 
came to be enthroned, and obtained place in the imperial 
constitutions and laws of other kingdoms, the main use 
that was made of it was to drive truth and the purity of the 
gospel out of the world, and to force all men to centre in a 
profession and worship, framed to the interest of some few 
men, who made no small advantage of it. 

According as the power and purity of religion decayed, 
so did this persuasion get ground in the minds of men, until 
it became almost all the religion that was in the world. That 

VOL. XXI. 2 F 


those who submitted not unto the dictates of them who by 
various ways obtained a mixture of power, civil and eccle- 
siastical, into their hands, should be destroyed and rooted 
out of the earth. 

This apostacy from the spirit, principles, rules, and com- 
mands of the gospel, this open contradiction to the practice 
of the apostles, their successors, first churches, best and 
wisest emperors, attended with the woful consequents that 
have ensued thereon, in the ruin of souls, proscriptions of 
the truth, martyrdom of thousands and ten thousands, com- 
motions of nations, and the destruction of many of them, 
we hope will not be revived in these days of knowledge, and 
near approach of the Judge of all. 

We trust that it will not be thought unequal, if we ap- 
peal from the example of the professors of Christianity under 
its woful degeneracy, unto the first institution and public 
instance of its profession : especially being encouraged by 
the judgment, example, and practice of many wise and 
mighty monarchs in these latter days. 

The case is the same as it was of old ; no new pretences 
are made use of, no arguments pleaded, for the introduction 
of severity, but such as have been pretended at all times by 
those who were in possession of power, when they had a 
mind to ruin any that dissented from them. 

That the end of their conventicles wa'fe for sin and un- 
cleanness ; that the permission of them was against the 
rules of policy, and laws of the empire ; that they were se- 
minaries of sedition ; that God was displeased with the con- 
fusion in religions introduced by them ; that errors and 
misapprehensions of God were nourished in them ; that 
they disturbed the union, peace, and love, that ought to be 
maintained among mankind ; that they proceeded upon prin- 
ciples of pride, singularity, faction, and disobedience unto 
superiors ; was from the first entrance of Christianity into 
the world, charged on the professors of it. 

The same arguments and considerations are constantly 
still made use of, and insisted on, by all men that intend 
severity towards them that differ from them. 

And they are such as will evidently serve alike any party 
or persuasion, that in any place, at any time, shall be accom- 
panied with power : and so have been oftener managed in the 


hands of error, superstition, and heresy, than of truth and 

Wherefore the bishop of Rome, observing the unreason- 
ableness of destroying mankind upon such loose principles 
and pretences as are indifferently suited unto the interest 
and cause of all who have power to make use of them, be- 
cause they all suppose the thing in question, namely, that 
they who enjoyed power, did also enjoy the truth ; found out 
a way to appropriate the whole advantageof them to him- 
self, as having attained the ascription of an infallibility unto 
him, in determining what is the truth in all things, where 
men do or may differ about religion or the worship of God. 

This being once admitted and established, there seems 
great force in the foregoing pleas and reasonings ; and no 
great danger in acting suitably unto them, but that the ad- 
mission of it is more pernicious unto religion, than all the 
consequents which it pretends to obviate. But where this 
infallible determination is disclaimed, to proceed unto out- 
ward punishment for such conceptions of men's minds and 
consciences in the things of God, as he is pleased to impart 
unto them, which may be true and according to his will, upon 
reasons and pretences, invented originally for the service of 
error, and made use of for the most part unto that purpose, 
being more fit for that work than for a contribution of any 
assistance unto truth, is that which we know not how 
men can commend their consciences unto God in. Besides, 
what is it that is aimed at by this external coercion and pu- 
nishment ? that all men may be of one mind in the matter of 
the worship of God, a thing that never was, nor ever will be 
by that means effected in this world, for neither is it abso- 
lutely possible in itself, neither is the means suited to the pro- 
curement of it, so far as it is possible. But when neither the 
reason of the thing itself will convince, northe constantexpe- 
rience of so many ages, it is in vain for any to contend withal. 

In the mean time we know, that the most of them who 
agreed together to press for severity against us for dissent- 
ing from them, do differ among themselves in the things of 
far greater importance in the doctrine of the gospel than 
those are wherein we differ from them; whence it must needs 
be evident to all what is the ground of their zeal in reference 
unto us and others. 



But all these considerations are quickly in the thoughts 
of som