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SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE III.

LUKE, CHAP. IX.-VERSES 54. 55.

The provocation which the disciples had to call fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans, may be learned from Luke ix. 51–55. The hatred between the Jews and Samaritans, founded in religious controversy, was so great as to prevent all interchange of the common offices of humanity between them : see John iv. 9 and 20. This account is confirmed by Josephus, who also says that the animosity was occasioned by a contest concerning the holiness of their respective temples. St. Luke (ix. 51.) tells us that this journey of our Lord to Jerusalem was taken about the time of the Passover; which may account for the conduct of the Samaritans, who, perceiving that the disciples were going to celebrate the feast at Jerusalem, as the true place of worship, sent them away unassisted. The disciples, calling to mind the story of Elias, address our Lord in the expectation of witnessing his vengeance, and are answered in the words of the text : these circumstances enlarged on, as being applicable to the case in question. It was hatred arising from a religious controversy that bred the treason of this day: and to all concerned in it the words of our Lord in the text are applicable. The controversies between us and the Romish church are too numerous to be considered; but even supposing that church to have all the advantage which the parallel in the text can afford it, and ourselves to be obstinately mistaken in our religion, their cruel thirst after blood would still intitle them to the reproof of our Lord. Neither their zeal and love for Christ, nor their faith, had they enough to work miracles, could justify their practice of cruelty towards their fellow-creatures. The same faith had the disciples in the text; and yet we learn that their spirit was not right within them. A consideration of Christ's judgment in this case will better enable us to judge of that kind of spirit to which the treason of this day may be ascribed. It is to be considered how far this reason of our Lord's excludes all use of temporal punishment in matters of religion; and, I. it will be shown that it holds in all cases with respect to church power : II. that the argument does not affect the civil magistrate's power, nor prevent his interposing in matters proper for his jurisdiction, however they may be pretended to be allied to religion : III. what is said will be applied to the present occasion.—I. The wrath of the disciples arose from two accounts. The objects of it were Samaritans and apostates, who had inhumanly treated them and their master. As Scripture forbids us to plead personal injuries to justify persecution, the weight of the argument lies on the honor of God and the difference of religion: this is answered by our Saviour, Luke ix. 56. It is shown that as the honor of God is best consulted by a compliance with his designs, and as our Lord has said that his design in coming into the world was not to destroy, but to save men's lives, we cannot offer a greater indignity to God than by making religion an instrument of destruction. This argument, which is that of Christ himself, reaches to all methods of

propagating religion which are hurtful or injurious to men. As some punishments are calculated for the good of the offender, and consequently all will not come within this argument, it may still be pretended that there is room for the exercise of temporal punishments in the case of religion ; since they might be made to forward the salvation of men. This reason can signify nothing in the present case, unless the church be vested with the power of dispensing temporal punishments: it cannot create a power; it can only direct the exercise of it where it is : those

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therefore who urge the conveniency of temporal punishments in matters of religion are answered by our Lord in the text. The kingdom of Christ is not of this world, nor is it to be erected or supported by any worldly power : see Matt. xxvi. 52. and John xviii. 36. The meaning and extent of Christ's argument, and how contrary it is to the spirit of Christianity to found its faith in temporal punishments, thus shown. Since Christ's kingdom is not of this world, the powers belonging to his kingdom cannot be of this world. If we take all spiritual power from the church, and derive its authority from the magistrate or the people, we exempt the consciences of men from a spiritual jurisdiction, to submit them to a temporal one ; and thereby we become advocates of popery. The power of the magistrate in matters of religion has been by some too much exalted, and by others too much depressed.--II. It is shown that the reason of the text does not prevent the civil magis-, trate from interposing with the sword in matters proper for its jurisdiction, however they may be pretended to be allied to religion. The principle on which the magistrate's power has been both unreasonably exalted and depressed is liberty of conscience; or rather on the one side a liberty from conscience, for wbich reason all spiritual matters are disregarded, and the magistrate’s will set up as the supreme law of conscience; on the other side, the magistrate's power in all cases where conscience is concerned is taken away, and men are set at liberty to act as their consciences (however erroneously) direct them. The arguments drawn from the nature of Christ's kingdom against the use of temporal punishments are conclusive only as to the ministers of that kingdom, and cannot extend to the civil magistrate, whose business it is to consider men's actions with regard to public peace and order, and to punish such as disturb it, without respecting from what internal principle they flow. When men's religion or conscience come to show themselves in practice, they then fall under the cognizance of the r; and if their principles are destructive of the civil government, they may be rooted out by the civil sword. On this principle many penal laws have been enacted in this kingdom against popery; not on the weak supposition that no man's conscience ever led him to be a papist, but on the known truth, that a papist must always be an enemy to the constitution of this government; which has therefore a right to secure itself against his practices by the terror of temporal punishment, notwithstanding the pleas of conscience and religion: and this argument may be applied to all sects professing principles destructive of the legal constitution. It is only when difference of opinion produces such acts as concern the public peace, that it comes under the jurisdiction of the magistrate. Penal laws are not laws of the church, but of the state, and are enacted to prevent the growth either of principles or practices conceived to be dangerous. The subject's conscience cannot bind the magistrate's power from acting in its proper sphere : a thief might pretend that his conscience persuaded him that the goods of Christians were in common; but this would not be a sufficient plea in a court of justice; and if so, it can be no general rule that conscience ought to be exempt from penal laws. The church has no right to impose penal laws on any account; nor has the state in matters purely of a religious nature : but if the controversy should breed convulsions that affect the civil government, it becomes the magistrate to drive conscience out of the state into its proper seat, the heart of man, whither his power neither can nor ought to pursue it. As on the one side the magistrate has no right to punish men for the errors of their conciences, so neither is it his duty, when he calls a man to account for his actions, to inquire whether those actions were suggested by his conscience ; nor indeed could he arrive at the truth of these matters: but if the action tend to breed mischief in the state, the magistrate has a right to punish it without considering whether it be a religious action or no. Disputes on this head would cease, if men would attend to the just consequences of their own principles; but they assert that, as the magistrate has nothing to do with conscience, he cannot punish men for acting according to their conscience; that is, his authority is suspended by the plea of conscience, in which case he must of necessity in the administration of justice enter into the examination of conscience. If the just consequences of the principle be attended to, the truth will be clear. As the magistrate has nothing to do with conscience, and has no right to punish the errors of it unless they affect the public good, so neither can the pleas of conscience supersede his authority in any case proper for his cognizance: this topic enlarged on and examples given. The limits of spiritual and civil power may be thus defined : the ministers of Christ not being of this world have no right to exercise power in it: the civil magistrate, as he is of this world, is not to be excluded from the affairs of it by any pretence of religion : pure religion cannot be injured by this, as it never interferes with the magistrate's right: those whose doctrines or practices are destructive of civil government, must answer to God for perverting religion, and to the magistrate for disturbing the public.—III. What has been said applied to the present occasion. The only two things which the church of Rome can insist on are determined against them by the text. For, firstly, whatever religious differences there are between us, their means of conversion are unjustifiable : and, secondly, notwithstanding their pleas of religion, the civil power has a right to punish their practices, and did justly exercise that right in the case of this day. The great cruelty of the Catholics in their attempt of this day enlarged on: the mercy

civil power

of God in turning their malice from us on their own heads : the memory of the event deservedly distinguished in the British calendar, &c.

Nothing is to be more feared by an Englishman than the

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