Jonah Bennett

Palladium Magazine editor/entrepreneur/graduate student

The Argument Of The Letter Concerning Toleration, Briefly Consider’d And Answer’d.

[Editor’s note: The original a) from the Oxford Text Archive was modified to create a readable and OCR error-free copy of this 1690 work by Jonas Proast. I substituted Proast’s use of the asterisk for footnotes to make references clearer. Everything else is left untouched. Please contact me if you notice any errors.]

Original source:



Oxford, Printed at the THEATRE, for George West, and Henry Clements, Booksellers in Oxford. A. D. 1690.



April, 9, 1690.

To my very Worthy Friend Mr.—


Seeing you would not be deny’d; I have in compliance with your Request, consi­der’d the Letter concerning Toleration: but so, as to confine my self to what respects the proper Subject and Design of it: not meddling with any incidental matters, though some of that kind are liable enough to Animadversion. You know I love no long work. And as short as this is, it had been shorter, if I could well have made it so. I should beg your pardon for the backwardness I shew’d to comply with your Request, but that I fear the mean­ness of the performance will too much justifie it.


I am Your much obliged, and most faithful Servant.

March 27. 1690.


The Edition of the Letter concerning Toleration, here cited, is that in Quarto.


In the beginning of this Letter,[1] the Author speaks of the Mutu­al Toleration of Christians in their different Professions of Re­ligion. But toward the end of it he saith,[2] If we may openly speak the Truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither Pagan, nor Mahumetan, nor Jew ought to be excluded from the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth, because of his Religion. And all that he requires of any, to qualify them for the benefit of the Toleration he endeavours to promote,[3] is onely, That they be not Atheists; That they hold no Opinions contrary to Civil[4]Society; and, That they own and teach the Duty of tolerating all men in matters of meer Religion.[5]

So that the Design of the Author is evi­dently, to shew, That all the Religions and Sects in the World, that are but consistent with Civil Society, and ready to tolerate each other, ought every where to be equally tolerated and protected, or to enjoy an Equal and Impartial Liberty, as the Preface calls it.

I do not believe this Author intends any prejudice, either to Religion in general, or to the Christian Religion. But yet it seems hard to conceive how he should think to do any Ser­vice to either, by recommending and perswa­ding such a Toleration as he here proposeth. For how much soever it may tend to the Ad­vancement of Trade and Commerce (which some seem to place above all other Considerations;) I see no reason, from any Experi­ment that has been made, to expect that True Religion would be any way a gainer by it; that it would be either the better preserved, or the more widely propagated, or rendered any whit the more fruitful in the Lives of its Professours by it. I am sure the Fruits of a Toleration not quite so large as our Author’s, (some of which still remain with us,) give no encouragement to hope for any such Advantage from it.

But I do not design to argue against this Toleration, but only to enquire, What our Authour offers for the Proof of his Assertion, and to examine, Whether there be Strength enough in it, to bear the Weight he laies upon it. And this I hope may be done in a very little compass. For, if I understand this Letter, the whole Strength of what it urgeth for the Purpose of it, lies in this Argument:

There is but one Way of Salvation,[6] or but one True Religion.

No man can be saved by this Religion,[7] who does not believe it to be the True Religion.

This Belief is to be wrought in men by Reason and Argument,[8] not by outward Force and Compulsion.

Therefore all such Force is utterly of no use for the promoting True Religion,[9] and the Salvation of Souls.

And therefore no body can have any Right to use any Force or Compulsion,[10][11] for the bringing men to the True Religion:[12] neither any Private Person;[13] nor any Ecclesiastical Officer (Bishop, Priest, or other;) nor any Church,[14] or Religious Society; nor the Civil Magistrate.

This, upon a careful perusal of this Letter, I take to be the single Argument by which the Author endeavours in it to establish his Position. And if every Point of this were sufficiently proved, I must confess I think he would need no more for the accomplishing his Design. But whether he has sufficiently made out this Argument in all the Parts of it, is that which I am now to examine.

As to the two first Propositions, I have no Difference with our Authour, but do fully agree with him in them.

And for the Third, I readily grant that Reason and Arguments are the only proper Means, whereby to induce the Mind to assent to any Truth, which is not evident by its own Light: and that Force is very improper to be used to that end instead of Reason and Arguments. For who knows not, That the nature of the Understanding is such, Letter that it cannot be Com­pelled to the Belief of any thing by outward Force?

But notwithstanding this, if Force be used, not in stead of Reason and Arguments, i. e. not to convince by its own proper Efficacy (which it cannot do,) but onely to bring men to consider those Reasons and Arguments which are proper and sufficient to convince them, but which, without being forced, they would not consider: who can deny, but that indirectly and at a distance, it does some service toward the bringing men to embrace that Truth, which otherwise, either through Carelesness and Negligence they would never ac­quaint themselves with, or through Prejudice they would reject and condemn unheard, under the notion of Errour?

And by this we see how little of Truth there is in the Fourth Proposition, which is this, That all outward Force is utterly useless for the promoting True Religion and the Salvation of Souls. For if Force so applied as is above mentioned, may, in such sort as has been said, be serviceable to the bringing men to receive and embrace Truth; there can be no reason assigned, why this should not hold with respect to the Truths of Religion, as well as with respect to any other Truths whatso­ver. For as the True Religion, embrac’d upon such Consideration as Force drives a man to, is not the less True, for being so embraced; so neither does it upon that account lose its Acceptableness with God, any more then that Obedience does, which God himself drives men to by chastening and afflicting them.

All therefore that is here requisite to be considered for the clearing this matter, is, Whether there be any need of outward Force, for the bringing men to the True Religion, and so to Salvation. For as I acknowledge such Force to be no fit means to be used for this end, (nor indeed for any other) where it is not needful or necessary; so if it shall appear to be ordinarily needful for this end, I suppose what has been already said, may be thought sufficient to shew the usefulness of it in order to the same.

Now here I grant, that if all men were but so faithful to their own Souls, as to seek the way of Saving them, with such Care and Di­ligence as the Importance of the matter de­serves, and with Minds free from Prejudice and Passion; there could be no need of Force to compell any man to do, what in that case every man would be sure to do voluntarily, and of his own accord.

But then it must be granted withal, That if this were the case; as there is indeed but one true Religion, so there could be no other Religion but that in the world.[15] Because (if we believe the Scriptures) no Man can fail of finding the way of Salvation,[16] who seeks it as he ought;[17] and in this case all Men are supposed so to seek it. And yet there is nothing more notorious, than that Men have sought out many Inventions, and contrived a great variety of of Religions to themselves: so that there is nothing about which the World is more divided, then it is about the way that leads to Eternal Blessedness. Which is an evident de­monstration, that all Men have not sought the Truth in this matter, with that application of mind, and that freedom of Judgment, which was requisite to assure their finding it.

And as all the false Religions now on foot in the World, may reasonably be thought to have taken their rise from the slight and par­tial Consideration, which the Inventers of them contented themselves with in searching after the True; whilest they suffer’d their Lusts and Passions to sit in Judgement, and to manage the Enquiry: So it is obvious to observe, that notwithstanding that there are so many Religions in the World, and that only one of them can be true; yet there is nothing in which Men are more generally wanting to themselves, than they are in the Consideration which they ought to use in making their choice among them. ‘Tis strange indeed: but yet whoever looks abroad into the world must see, that in this affair, the Impressions of Edu­cation, the Reverence and Admiration of Persons, Worldly respects, and the like incompetent Motives determine far greater numbers, than Reason, or such Considerations as are apt and proper to manifest the Truth of things.

Nor is it less easie to observe, that whatever Religion men take up without Reason, they usually adhere to it likewise without Reason. That which hinders a due Consideration of things at first, and prevails with men to choose without Reason, has commonly the same pow­er afterwards to keep them from considering, and to hold them to what they so choose, without Reason. Besides, men have generally an overweening conceit of their own Judgements, and are prone to value what themselves have chosen, even because they thought fit to choose it: And this prejudices their minds against all that can be said to the disparagement of their Choice, and possesses them with an opinion that nothing of that nature can deserve their consideration. To which I may add, that when once Men have espoused a Religion, it is then become their own: and that alone (such is the power of Self-love) is enough to endear it to them, and to make them grow fond of it: as Men are apt to dote upon their Children, because they are theirs, even when they have little or nothing besides to recommend them. And this also renders them averse to the consideration of any thing that may be offered against their Religion, or in behalf of any o­ther.

But though it be so ordinary a thing for Men both to choose and to persist in their Religion without Reason; yet it must be confess’d that those who do so, are not willing to think they do so, nor that others should think so of them. But then this onely puts them upon enquiring how their Leaders and the Champions of their Cause are wont to defend it, and to attack their Adversaries: And so, studying onely their own side of the Controversy, they come to be the more confirm’d in the way they have chosen, and to think they can shew that they have Reason on their side. And when it is come to this; when such an ap­pearance of Reason strikes in with their Af­fections and Prejudices, they are so much the further from thinking it possible that they may be in the wrong: And then they have no patience any longer to hear of descending to a severe and impartial examination of both sides of the Questions in debate, but reject the motion with scorn, and grow angry with him that troubles them with it.

Now if this be the case, (as I think it cannot be denied to be; being matter of common observation;) If Men are generally so averse to a due consideration of things, where they are most concern’d to use it: If they usually take up their Religion without examining it as they ought, and then grow so opinionative, and so stiff in their Prejudices, that neither the gentlest Admonitions, nor the most earnest Intreaties shall ever prevail with them afterwards to do it: What means is there left (besides the Grace of God) to reduce those of them that are got into a wrong Way, but to lay Thorns and Briars in it? that since they are deaf to all Perswasions, the uneasiness they meet with may at least put them to a stand, and encline them to lend an ear to those who tell them they have mistaken their way, and offer to shew them the right. When Men fly from the means of a right Information, and will not so much as consider how reasonable it is, throughly and impartially to examine a Re­ligion, which they embraced upon such In­ducements as ought to have no sway at all in the matter, and therefore with little or no ex­amination of the proper Grounds of it: what humane method can be used, to bring them to act like Men, in an affair of such consequence, and to make a wiser and more rational Choice, but that of laying such Penalties upon them, as may balance the weight of those Prejudices which enclined them to prefer a false Way before the True, and recover them to so much Sobriety and Reflexion, as seriously to put the question to themselves, Whether it be really worth the while to undergo such Inconveni­ences, for adhering to a Religion, which, for any thing they know, may be false, or for re­jecting another (if that be the case) which, for any thing they know, may be true, till they have brought it to the Bar of Reason, and given it a fair Tryal there. Where Instruction is stifly refused, and all Admonitions and Perswasions prove vain and ineffectual, there is no room for any other Method but this: And then I am sure there is need enough of it: and it is well if that will produce the desired effect. But there is no reason to question the success of this Method (if it be rightly used) upon such as are not altogether incurable: and those that are so, must be left to God.

I say, if it be rightly used; i. e. if the Force applied, be duly proportioned to the Design of it. For, though upon the Considerations here offer’d, I take it to be clear in the general, that outward Force is neither useless nor needless for the bringing Men to do, what the saving of their Souls may require of them: yet I do not say, that all manner of Force, or all Degrees of it are fit to be used for this purpose. But then to determine precisely the just Measures of it, and to say upon good grounds, Thus much may fitly and reasonably be applied for the purpose we speak of, and no more; This may perhaps require some consideration. And to me, I con­fess, this seems to be the onely Point concerning which there is any ground for Controversy, in this whole matter.

Now here I must profess my self perfectly agreed with this Author,[18] That to prosecute men with Fire and Sword, or to deprive them of their Estates, to maim them with corporal Punishments, to sterve and torment them in noisom Prisons, and in the end even to take away their lives, to make them Christians, is but an ill way of expressing men’s Desire of the Salvation of those whom they treat in this manner:[19] And that it will be very difficult to to perswade men of Sense, that he, who with dry Eyes, and satisfaction of mind, can deliver his Brother to the Executioner, to be burnt a­live, does sincerely and heartily concern himself to save that Brother from the Flames of Hell in the World to come.

And (besides the manifest Absurdity of take­ing away men’s lives to make them Christians, &c.) I cannot but remark, that these Methods are so very improper in respect to the Design of them, that they usually produce the quite contrary effect. For whereas all the use which Force can have for the advancing true Religion, and the Salvation of Souls, is (as has already been shewed) by disposing men to submit to Instruction, and to give a fair Hearing to the Reasons which are offer’d, for the enlightning their minds and discovering the Truth to them: These Cruelties have the misfortune to be commonly look’t upon as so just a Prejudice against any Religion that uses them, as makes it needless to look any further into it; and to tempt Men to reject it, as both false and detestable, without ever vouchsafing to consider the Rational Grounds and Motives of it. This effect they seldom fail to work upon the Sufferers of them. And as to the Spectatours, if they be not before­hand well instructed in those Grounds and Mo­tives; they will be much tempted likewise, not onely to entertain the same opinion of such a Religion, but withall to judge much more fa­vourably of that of the Sufferers; who, they will be apt to think, would not expose them­selves to such Extremities, which they might avoid by compliance, if they were not throughly satisfied of the Justice of their Cause.

These Severities therefore I take to be utterly unapt and improper for the bringing men to embrace that Truth which must save them. But how far, within these bounds, that Force ex­tends it self, which is really serviceable to this end, I shall not take upon me to determine. It may suffice to say, That so much Force, or such Penalties as are ordinarily sufficient to prevail with men of common discretion, and not desperately perverse and obstinate, to weigh matters of Religion carefully and impartially; and without which ordinarily they will not do this; so much Force, or such Penalties may fitly and reasonably be used for the promoting true Religion in the World, and the Salvation of Souls.

If then this Fourth Proposition be not true, (as perhaps by this time it appears it is not;) then the Last Proposition, which is built upon it, must fall with it. Which Last Proposition is this, That no body can have any Right to use any outward Force or Compulsion, to bring men to the true Religion, and so to Salvation: neither any private Person; nor any Ecclesiastical Officer; nor any Church, or Religious Society; nor the civil Magistrate.

And certainly, if there be so great Use and Necessity of outward Force (duly temper’d and applied) for the promoting True Religion and the Salvation of Souls, as I have endeavoured to shew there is; this is as good an Argument, to prove that there is somewhere a Right to use such Force for that purpose, as the utter Use­lessness of Force (if that could be made out) would be, to prove that no body has any such Right. For this is indeed the Point upon which this Controversy turnes: If all Force and Compulsion be utterly useless and unserviceble to the promoting these Ends; then to use it for that purpose, will be only to abuse it; which no man can have a Right to do: But if, on the contrary, such a degree of outward Force as has been mentioned, be really of great and even ne­cessary Use for the advancing these Ends, (as, ta­king the World as we find it, I think it appears to be;) then it must be acknowledged, that there is a Right somewhere to use it for the advancing those Ends; unless we will say (what without Impiety cannot be said) that the Wise and Benign Disposer and Governour of all things has not furnish’d Mankind with competent Means for the promoting his own Honour in the World, and the Good of Souls.

And if there be such a Right somewhere; Where should it be, but where the Power of Compelling resides? That is, principally, and in reference to the publick, in the Civil Sovereign (whom this Author calls the Civil Magistrate,) and in those who derive Authority from him: But also, in a lower degree, in Parents, Masters of Families, Tutors, &c. For I agree with this Authour,[20] 1. That no private Person (if by private Persons he means such as have no Coactive Power over others) has any Right, in any manner, to prejudice another Person in his Ci­vil Employments, because he is of another Church or Religion. For how should he that has no Coactive Power, have any Right to use such Power, either upon that, or upon any other account whatsoever? 2. That no Ecclesiastical Officer, as such, nor yet, 3. Any Church or Re­ligious Society, as such, has any externally Co­active Power: and that therefore neither the one, nor the other, can, as such, have any Right to use or exercise any such Power, upon any pretence whatsoever. (Though I confess I do not yet understand why Ecclesiasticks, or Clergy-men, are not as capable of such Power, as other men.)

But in reference to the Civil Magistrate, our Author tells us,[21] That the Commonwealth seems to him be a Society of men constituted onely for the procuring, preserving, and advancing of their own Civil Interests. By which Interests he tells us he means Life,[22] Liberty, Health and Indo­lency of Body; aud the Possession of outward things, such as Money, Lands, Houses, Furniture, and the like. And agreeably to this Hypo­thesis, he would perswade us, That the whole Iurisdiction of the Magistrate reaches onely to these Civil Concernments:[23] and that all Civil Power, Right, and Dominion, is bounded and confined to the onely care of promoting these things: and that it neither can nor ought in any manner to be extended to the Salvation of Souls.

But in answer to this, 1. I acknowledge (as this Authour here seems to do) that the extent of the Magistrat’s Jurisdiction is to be measured by the End for which the Commonwealth is in­stituted. For in vain are men conbined in such Societies as we call Commonwealths, if the Go­vernours of them are not invested with sufficient Power to procure the End for which such Societies are intended. But then, 2. I must say, that our Authour does but beg the Question, when he affirms that the Commonwealth is constituted onely for the procuring, preserving, and advancing of the Civil Interests of the Members of it. That Commonwealths are in­stituted for these Ends, no man will deny. But if there be any other Ends besides these, attainable by Civil Society and Government; there is no reason to affirm that these are the onely Ends for which they are designed. Doubtless Com­monwealths are instituted for the attaining of all the Benefits which Political Government can yield. And therefore if the Spiritual and Eternal Interests of men may any way be procured or advanced by Political Government; the pro­curing and advancing those Interests must in all reason be reckon’d among the Ends of Civil So­cieties, and so, consequently, fall within the compass of the Magistrate’s Jurisdiction.

But our Author offers three Considerations,[24] which seem to him abundantly to demonstrate that the Civil Power neither can nor ought in any manner to be extended to the Salvation of Souls.[25] And the First of them is, Because the Care of Souls is not committed to the Civil Magistrate any more then to other men. But this seems to be no Consideration at all; but onely the proving the thing by it self, in other words. For to extend the Civil Power to the Salvation of Souls, is nothing else but to say, That the Care of Souls is committed to the Magistrate, more than to other men. And therefore to say, That the Civil Power neither can nor ought to be extended to the Salvation of Souls, because the Care of Souls is not committed to the Magi­strate, any more then to other men; is in effect no more than to say, That the Civil Power nei­ther can nor ought to be extended to the Salvation of Souls, because it neither can nor ought to be extended to the Salvation of Souls.

But (to let this pass) if what I said but now, be true; it appears from thence, That besides that Care which Charity obliges all men, especially Christians, to take of each others souls; and be­sides that Care of Souls also which is committed to the proper Ministers of Religion, who by special designation are appointed, not onely to exhort, admonish, reprove, and correct by Spiritual Censures those, who having embraced the Truth, do find themselves obliged by it to submit to their Spiritual Authority; but like­wise to seek that which was lost, and to endea­vour by wholsom Instruction and due Information, to bring to the right Way those who never knew it, and to reduce such as have gone astray from it: I say, besides that Fraternal Care of Souls, which is common to all, and this Pastoral Care, which is purely Spiritual, and ope­rates immediately upon the Consciences of men; there is an External and more remote Care of Souls, which is exercised, not only by obliging under temporal Sanctions both the Spiritual Pa­stours to perform their Duties, and those who own their Authority, to pay them Reverence and due Submission; but also by laying such Penalties upon those who refuse to embrace their Doctrine, and to submit to their Spiritual Go­vernment, as may make them bethink them­selves, and put it out of the power of any foolish Humour, or unreasonable Prejudice, to alienate them from the Truth and their own Happiness. Which Care of Souls, as it can only belong to the Civil Magistrate, so I think it appears from what has been said, that it is indeed committed to him.

But our Author attempts to prove the contrary. It is not,[26] saith he, committed to him by God; because it appears not that God has ever given any such Authority to one man over another, as to compel any one to his Religion. But this is quite beside the business. For the Authority of the Magistrate is not an Authority to compel any one to his Religion, but onely an Authority to pro­cure all his Subjects the means of Discovering the Way of Salvation; and to procure withal, as much as in him lies, that none remain ignorant of it, or refuse to embrace it, either for want of using those means, or by reason of any such Prejudices as may render them ineffectual. And certainly this Authority may be committed to the Magistrate by God, though he has given no man Authority to compel another to his Religion.

Our Authour adds,[27] Nor can any such Power be vested in the Magistrate by the consent of the People; because no man can so far abandon his own Salvation, as     blindly to leave it to the choice of any other, whether Prince or Subject, to prescribe to him what Faith or Worship he shall embrace. To which I answer: As the Power of the Magistrate in reference to Religion, is ordained for the bringing men to take such care as they ought of their Salvation, that they may not blindly leave it to the choice, neither of any other Person, nor yet of their own Lusts and Passions, to prescribe to them what Faith or Worship they shall embrace: so if we suppose this power to be vested in the Magistrate by the consent of the People; this will not im­port their abandoning the care of their Salvati­on, but rather the contrary. For if men, in choosing their Religion; are so generally subject, as has been shewed, when left wholly to themselves, to be so much swayed by Prejudice and Passion, as either not at all, or not sufficiently to regard the Reasons and Motives which ought alone to determine their Choice: then it is every man’s true Interest, not to be left wholly to himself in this matter, but that care should be taken, that in an affair of so vast Concern­ment to him, he may be brought even against his own inclination, if it cannot be done other­wise (which is ordinarily the case) to act accor­ding to Reason and sound Judgment. And then what better course can men take to provide for this, then by vesting the Power I have describ­ed, in him who bears the Sword? Not that I think the Sword is to be used in this business, (as I have sufficiently declared already;) but be­cause all coactive Power resolves at last into the Sword; since all (I do not say, that will not be reformed in this matter by lesser Penalties, but) that refuse to submit to lesser Penalties, must at last fall under the stroke of it.

In the Second place,[28] saith our Authour, The Care of souls cannot belong to the Civil Magi­strate, because his Power consists onely in out­ward force; but true and saving Religion con­sists in the inward Perswasion of the Mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the Understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the Belief of any thing by outward Force. But that Care of Souls which I affirm to belong to the Magi­strate, does therefore belong to him, because his Power consists in outward Force. For it consists altogether in applying outward Force, in such manner as has been said, for the procu­ring the Salvation of Souls. And that outward Force may be so applyed as to procure the Sal­vation of Souls, notwithstanding that true and saving Religion consists in the inward Perswasion of the Mind, and that the Understanding cannot be compelled to the Belief of any thing by outward Force, appears, I hope, sufficiently from the foregoing discourse.

[29]The Third Consideration is this: the care of the Salvation of Souls cannot belong to the Magistrate; because, though the rigour of Laws and the force of Penalties, were capable to con­vince and change Men’s minds, yet would not that help at all to the Salvation of their Souls. I believe no more then this Author does, that the rigour of Laws, and the force of Penalties, are capable to convince and change Men’s minds. (Though I hope I have shewed that moderate Penalties may do good service toward the procuring the Conviction and change of Men’s minds.) But if they were capable to work these effects; I confess I do not see why it should be be said, that that would not help at all to the Salvation of their Souls. But our Author’s meaning appears by what followes: For there being but one Truth, one way to Heaven; what hope is there that more men would be led into it,[30] if they had no Rule but the Religion of the Court, and were put under a necessity to quit the Light of their own Reason, and oppose the Dictates of their own Consciences, and blindly to resign up themselves to the Will of their Governours, and to the Religion, which either Ignorance, Ambition, or Superstition has chan­ced to establish in the Countries where they were born? In the variety and contradiction of opinions in Religion, wherein the Princes of the World are as much divided as in their Secular Interests, the narrow way would be much straitned; one Countrey alone would be in the right, and all the rest of the World put under an obligation of following their Princes in the ways that lead to Destruction, and that which heightens the absurdity, and very ill suits the Notion of a Deity, Men would owe their Eter­nal Happiness or Misery the places of their Nativity.

Now all this I acknowledge to be very true. But to what purpose it is here alledged, I do not understand. For who requires that Men should have no Rule but the Religion of the Court? or that they should be put under a necessity to quit the Light of their own Reason, and oppose the Dictates of their own Consciences, and blindly resign up themselves to the Will of their Governers, &c.? No man certainly, who thinks Religion worthy of his serious Thoughts. The Power I asscribe to the Magistrate, is given him, to bring men, not to his own, but to the true Religion: And though (as our Author puts us in mind) the Religion of every Prince is Orthodox to himself;[31] yet if this Power keep within its bounds, it can serve the Interest of no other Religion but the true, among such as have any concern for their Eternal Salvation; (and those that have none, deserve not to be consi­der’d:) Because the Penalties it enables him that has it to inflict, are not such as may tempt such Persons either to renounce a Religion which they believe to be true, or to profess one which they do not believe to be so; but only such as are apt to put them upon a serious and impartial examination of the Controversy between the Magistrate and them: which is the way for them to come to the knowledge of the Truth. And if, upon such examination of the matter, they chance to find that the Truth does not lie on the Magistrate’s side; they have gained thus much however, even by the Magistrate’s misap­plying his Power, that they know better than they did before, where the Truth does lie: And all the hurt that comes to them by it, is onely the suffering some tolerable Inconveniences for their following, the Light of their own Reason, and the Dictates of their own Consciences: which certainly is no such Mischief to Mankind, as to make it more eligible that there should be no such Power vested in the Magistrate, but the Care of every man’s Soul should be left to himself alone,[32] (as this Authour demands it should be:) That is, that every man should be suffered, quietly, and without the least molestation, either to take no care at all of his Soul, if he be so pleased; or in doing it, to follow his own groundless Prejudices, or unaccountable Humour, or any crafty Seducer whom he may think fit to take for his Guid.

By what has been said to these Considerations, I hope it sufficiently appears, that as they af­ford us no new Argument, so they are far enough from demonstrating what they are brought to prove.

Thus I have, as briefly as I could, examined the Argument which this Author makes use of, to prove what he so much desires to make the World believe: not omitting any thing of his Letter, wherein he seems to place any part of his Strength. And I hope by this time an ordinary Reader may discern, that whereas his Design obliged him to shew, That all manner of outward Force is utterly useless to the purpose of bring­ing men to seek the Truth with that Care and Diligence, and that freedom of Judgement which they ought to use, that so they may find and embrace it, and attain Salvation by it: which would have been a good Foundation for his Conclusion: instead of attempting that, he has contented him­self with making a good Declamation upon the Impossibility of doing that by outward Force, which can onely be done by Reason and Argument, of using Fire and Sword and Capi­tal Punishments, to convince mens minds of Errour, and inform them of the Truth.[33] Which was much more easie to be done, and might serve as well among weak and unwary people, though it was not really to his purpose.


[1] Pag. 1.

[2] Pag. 54.

[3] Pag. 48.

[4] Pag. 45.

[5] Pag. 47.

[6] Pag. 9, 23, 24.

[7] Pag. 7, 8, 13, 26, 27.

[8] Pag. 7, 8, 16, 17.

[9] Pag. 8, 27.

[10] Pag. 18.

[11] Pag. 14, 18.

[12] Pag. 18.

[13] Pag. 13, 18.

[14] Pag. 8, 18, 28.

[15] Iohn 7.17.

[16] Psal. 25.9, 12, 14.

[17] Prov. 2.1,—5.

[18] Let. p. 2.3.

[19] Pag. 21.

[20] Pag. 14.

[21] Pag. 6.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Pag. 7.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Pag. 8.

[30] Pag. 9.

[31] Pag. 34.

[32] Pag. 21, 41.

[33] Pag. 16.