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Now I hope the magistrates will take care not to per. secute the just, but to turn the edge of their swords against the evil doers; and then, doubtless, they will not bear their swords in vain: and let the edge of it be as sharp and as keen as it will, we fear not: for against true men there is no law (which is upon a just basis, or foundation) that will harm them.
I tenderly and lovingly, as a minister of Jesus Christ, and true lover of good government, exhort and warn all magistrates to be careful to keep within their own prov. ince : for conscience is none of theirs. It is the peculiar province of Jesus Christ. The great territory of the King of kings, and Judge of the quick and dead. And he will render unto every man a recompense.
Now if conscience were only a cloak for covetousness, it ought to be stript off, but it is plain that cannot be our case; for we lose much more by our denial (and somietimes a great deal more, than as much more) by our not paying freely, as is above said. But we may (I hope) presume that the magistrates know their duty without being taught it from the pulpit : I would have no free spirited magistrate to let priests ride them: for if they do, it is to be doubted they will ride them to death : for persecuting men of their cloth, seem to have but little mercy. I once heard a priest say to a couple of justices (a church of England preacher for money, but as himself said to some of his neighbours, a presbyterian in his heart) do your office, which was upon my pour self, who had been preaching against sin and evil, according to the best of my understanding. Why what is the matter? “He has been preaching (says the priest) in a place not licensed, and has broken the law.” “Well (says another justice, beside the aforesaid two) then you have broken the law first, for you preached there before him;" and though it was our meeting by appointment, yet we quietly heard him read his sermon, and I dare say, he never had quieter hearers in all his days than we were.
And indeed reading is the general practice of some modern teachers, far from the practice of Christ, the apostles, and primitive christians, when christianity shone in
its primitive beauty and glory, and when christians de. pended more upon the gift of the Holy Ghost (or Spir. it) and less upon natural parts and human inventions, which is worthy of the solid consideration of all true christians.
I have also observed that those magistrates who have joined with persecuting priests, in persecuting men of
sober lives and conversations, for their religious dissent ; and persuasion, that they have not prospered; and many
sober people, not of our society, have taken notice of the same.
This is offered to the serious consideration of men of high degree (in reverence and great humility.)
And though Joseph Metcalfe flatters the magistrates, telling them, they bear the visible image and character of gods, in order to flatter them into a persecuting spir. it, yet I hope, and believe, that he will not find many magistrates nor ministers of his mind : for if all the magistrates and ministers in New-England were as much for persecuting as he seems to be by his writing, what might all those expect, who differed from the presbyterian way in New England if they had power? But blessed be God, I certainly know that there are divers noderate people, who are against persecution, even amongst the presbyterians in New England. In his seventh page, he says,
“ In case of people's defect in this matter (of paying for preaching) legal compulsion is the only remedy, (What, no other remedy ?) and must be used, otherwise religion, which is a people's life, will soon fall to the ground.”
Answer. Where will his doctrine land? What, cannot Christ uphold his church without the magistrates ? The religion of Christ, the apostles, and primitive christians, stood, and stands yet, without being supported by the civil magistrates. What, has he got some new religion, which cannot stand without the outward pow. er? But it seems some of the New England ministers reckon that they must fall, if the magistrates do not up. hold them. They (i. e. the magistrates) are, (says Joseph Metcalfe) the keepers of both tables.”
Answer. But I thought that God had been the keeper of his people, and Christ the shepherd of his sheep, and the Holy Ghost the comforter of them; I thought this Infinite Being had been the great preserver of men in religion.
In his eighth page, he brings divers texts of scripture to prove the power of the magistrates, which we never denied, especially when they exercise their power and authority to the terror of evil doers, and the praise of them that do well. And at the latter end of the said page he says, “ From the whole, I conclude, with submission to better judgments, that it is warrantable from scripture, and agreeable to the doctrine and practice of Christ and his apostles, for the laws aforesaid to be put in execu. tion."
Answer. But, alas ! this is all beside his assertion. His business was to prove a legal forced maintenance for gospel ministers, or else he doth nothing. What! hath he been travelling through all his pages, and brought forth nothing but this windy doctrine at last ? He speaks of submission to better judgments, and I would have him, if he dare to do it, submit to the judgment of Christ and his apostles, who I think have fairly decided the question in favour of the poor abused quakers, that it is not according, but contrary to the language of the Holy Ghost, in the holy scripture, that gospel ministers maintenance should be forced by a coercive power. From what has been said, let all ingenuous christian readers judge.
In the ninth page, “ Nevertheless (says he) if any arguments can be produced from scripture, or right reason, of greater strength and weight to prove the nega, tive, than there may be to maintain the affirmative; I hope I shall readily subscribe thereto.”
Answer. A person would from those expressions almost hope for a recantation from him, especially if he seriously considers the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, as here noted at large.
“ But (saith he) till I receive further light, conscience commands me to conform to that measure I have."
Answer. He had best to have a care of the commanding power of an evil conscience.
He goes on, “ And while I do conscientiously conform to that measure of light within me, walking in obedience to all its commands and directions."
Answer. But suppose that light in him should be darkDess: then, as Christ said, “ How great is that dark. ness ?” as for certain it is, when he goes about to prove that for truth, which is contrary to Christ's doctrine.
As to his saying “ Then the quakers must let fall the grand article of their religion.”
Answer. Let him seriously read over the first chapter of John, as also many other places of the holy scripture on that subject of the light, and if he is not one of those who are blinded, perhaps he may be undeceived, and his gross mistake rectified. I hope he is careful of preaching such doctrine in his pulpit.
A certain church member of the presbyterian way, in New-Engand, told me, that their minister told them in
“ That we denied the Bible, or Holy Scrip
And made the poor woman really believe it to be true, than which, nothing could be more false. But the honest woman thought she would try me. you (says she) brought up among quakers ? were your father and mother quakers ? Yes, said I, they were so called. “ And (says she) would they suffer you to read in the Bible when you were a little boy ?” Yes, and correct me too, because I was not so willing to do it as they would have me to be.
Thus have the poor quakers been abused in divers pulpits in New-England and other places, for which reason, I would advise all professed christian ministers in New-England, and elsewhere, wherever this may meet with them who have so abused us that for the time to come they do not tell the people in their pulpits, that the quakers deny Christ, the Scriptures, the power of the magistrates, and many other things, which would make a volume of themselves, if they were all penned. For them to cry out in their pulpits, “ Have a care of the
delusions of the quakers," and at the same time to delude the people to believe lies of them is really horrid.
“Oh! but (say they) the quakers are more orthodox now than they were ;" when, in truth, it is the calum. nies that have been cast on us are now made more man. ifest to be falsehoods. And then ought not they to be glad at the news of our reformation ?