Page images

better for your lordship to write against absolute authority than against the point I proposed to you from the Representation; but that you should find yourself at all obliged in con

; science to believe the Representation or those who drew it, to be maintainers of absolute authority, must be ascribed, I presume, to the value you put on those great things which depend on the vigor of your defence. But your lordship, however, promises “ to regard my explications as far as is consistent with the declared design and honor of the Committee itself.”

My design in those explications was very plainly declared ; and yet I see your lordship has mistaken it, and raised in yourself and readers a strange idea of the Representation; and have by my help (as you imagine) found out what otherwise neither yoų nor the world could possibly have discovered. The honor of the discovery is your lordship's own; I had no hand in it, as I will show your lordship when I come to page 90 of your postscript, where your lordship insults the Committee and me together, and makes us pay too dear in conscience for your mistake. In the meantime I am prepared to bear patiently all the resentment which shall arise from the honor your lordship has for the Committee; and when you argue against my explications from this topic, if I can find how to distinguish that part, I shall be very ready in my turn to show a particular re

spect to it.

We come now to the merits of the cause. And the first thing I meet with is a very great mistake charged on my Representation of your lordship's sense. Your lordship has been sparing in your quotation, and the very great mistake is laid on very few words.

“ You lay it on me," says your lordship, “ that I write down the magistrate's power in all cases.” How does your lordship prove this to be a mistake? Why you affirm, “ that one natural consequence from the whole tenor of your sermon itself is, that it is the true and proper business of the magistrate to concern himself with the outward practice of virtue, and of every thing which directly affects the happiness of society.” And in p. 85. the mistake is charged again on my representing you as saying, “ that the magistrate has no obligation to reward the outward practice of what is good for human society, or to punish the contrary.”




As to the first passage, my lord, of writing down the magistrate's power in all cases; if your lordship had pleased to look but five lines farther you would have found those uneasy words (“in all cases') fully explained and limited by these, “in all possible cases of religion whatever.” To what purpose then doth your lordship say that you maintain the magistrate's power in civil cases, when cases of religion only are under debate ? To say that your lordship writes down the magistrate's power in all possible cases of religion, is so far from being my very great mistake of your lordship's sense, that you are going to assert this sense of your doctrine yourself in the fullest extent. Your lordship teaches in this postscript that the laws of Christ are of that nature, that the magistrate not only ought not, but in truth cannot encourage them by temporal sanctions : nay, though he should attempt to add temporal sanctions to the laws of the gospel, yet your lordship's meaning seems to be, “ that it is no more adding sanctions to Christ's laws than to Mahomet’s.” Is not this, my lord, writing down the magistrate's power in all cases of religion? And why, my lord, must the same explication of your doctrine be a just and proper

defence of it in your hands, and a very great mistake and reproach to you in mine? I beg, my lord, that we may endeavor to understand one another in this debate, and not make it necess

essary to trouble the world at every turn with an explication of the most obvious and plain things. As to the other passage of my answer,

whether the consequences charged in it on your lordship's doctrine were in your thoughts or in your heart, (as you intimate they were not,) I have no where presumed to say; and I will add for

lordship’s satisfaction, that I verily believe, had they been in your thoughts, you would have guarded better against them. But is it, my lord, unfair in debates of this nature to show the consequences of a doctrine which the writer had not in his thoughts? Is there a better or any other way to show him, to his own conviction, the tendency of his principles, than to set before him the consequences which are apt to follow from them; whether he was aware of them or not when he taught the doctrine, and which had he been aware of, perhaps he would not have advanced such principles ? Pray then, my lord, do not think so hardly. of me as to suppose that I mean to charge your lord"ship with directly maintaining all the consequences which I think flow from your principles. The argument itself supposes that I often think otherwise ; for when, to show your lordship why you ought to dislike your principle, I show you such or such a consequence naturally proceeding from it, I suppose you not to like the consequence, otherwise it would be a poor reason why you should dislike the principle.


This cause of complaint being then removed, it remains only to be considered whether the consequences charged on your lordship's doctrine do really belong to it or no.

Your lordship’s having affirmed that to add temporal sanctions to religion, considered as virtue and charity, under the belief of a supreme governor and judge, is to act contrary to the interests of true religion, as it is plainly opposite to the maxims on which Christ founded his kingdom; gave me occasion to say, “does not the practice of virtue and charity take in every thing that affects the happiness and well-being of mankind in this world ? And is this no concern of the magistrate’s ? Because virtue and charity, and the contrary vices shall be rewarded and punished hereafter, must the world be torn in pieces in the meanwhile without remedy? And will it be sufficient for the magistrate to say, when he is called on to punish the offences against virtue and charity; this is religion ; these are laws of Christ; he has annexed rewards and punishments to them hereafter, and I will have nothing to do with them ?

How now does your lordship show the great mistake of this ? Why, by giving up, I think, all that you have been contending for; by showing the world that part of your sermon was spent in condemning a practice which now, it seems, no man can practise ; which it is absolutely impossible any one should. Your lordship now teaches that since the laws of Christ require an outward practice, conducted by the inward sincerity of belief, and the motives of religion; and the magistrate cannot judge of the inward sincerity and motives; all he can do is to add sanctions to the outward practice, considered as affecting so. ciety, let it be founded on what motive it will: and you add, “ it is no more adding sanctions to Christ's laws than to Mahomet’s. The same outward practice, when it is on a princi

[ocr errors]

ple of vain-glory or any worldly motive, is so far from being Christ's law, that it is disowned by him in the gospel ; and yet it is the law of man, as it is the same material action useful to society. But it is religion and Christ's law solely, as it is practised on a principle of religion and a sense of duty; and the magistrate, in adding sanctions to it, does not add sanctions to a law of Christ, but to a law of men.”

If this be the case, that it is impossible in the nature of the thing that temporal sanctions should be added to the laws of Christ, what occasion was there for your lordship to tell the world how contrary it is to the interests of true religion to add them? It is altogether as reasonable to exhort men not to fly as not to add rewards and punishments to the laws of Christ, if it be as impossible to add rewards and punishments to the laws of Christ as it is to fly. This is the position your lordship is now advancing ; you distinguish between virtue and charity as required by Christ, and as it can be required by the magistrate. Though both should require them in the same words; and though the magistrate should declare it to be his intention to promote obedience to the same law, yet the same law would not be one, but two: it is Christ's law in the gospel ; but if it gets into the statute-book, it is as much Mahomet's law as Christ's law. And thus your lordship, having proved that temporal sanctions cannot be added to the laws of Christ, has proved at the same time that the sermon which was preached to show that they ought not to be added, has no meaning at all. To what purpose does your lordship argue from the nature of Christ's kingdom, of his rewards and punishments, from his being sole king and sole judge, against the use of temporal rewards and punishments? Was all this to show how unlawful it is to do a thing which it seems nobody can do? Whoever compares the principles laid down in the postscript in order to the defence of your sermon, with the doctrines taught in the sermon itself, will be apt to conclude that the principles are of later date than the doctrines; for nobody can think that

your lordship speaks in the sermon as one who taught that temporal sanctions could not be added to the laws of the gospel.

If this principle holds, the magistrate may put all the laws of Christ into his code, and yet be no encourager of religion ;


for they cease to be laws of religion as soon as they come there. By the same reason the magistrate can no more discourage religion than he can encourage it; for if the nature of religion be such as not to be within reach of temporal sanctions, the consequence is, that it is no more in the magistrate's power to hurt it than it is to cherish it ; he can no more oppress it than he can advance it : and if so, I hope your lordship will never more complain of civil sanctions as contrary to the interest of true religion, or as opposite to the maxims of Christ, but will give us leave to enjoy the security we think we have from the laws; and then perhaps the world may soon see that agreement in this matter which your lordship foretels.

I observe that your lordship throughout this argument calls an action a law_" because the same action is a law of Christ,” p. 82. “ This same good action is not a law of Christ, or edict of his kingdom," p. 84. and elsewhere. I always understood a law to be a rule of action, and not the action itself; but it is not for nothing that your lordship has chosen to speak in this


you found it necessary to make the same law, as enacted by Christ, and as encouraged by the magistrate, two different laws, it was time to leave the old way of calling a law the rule of action; for that one law should make two different rules of action, that is, that it should be the same rule, and not the same rule, was too knotty a point to be explained. But your lordship found that the law being the same, yet there was a difference often in the obedience paid to it with regard to the magistrate, and the obedience required by God. On this difference your lordship distinguishes the law into two; and then indeed it was necessary to call the action the law, for it could be no longer a rule. You could not, my lord, be accurate in your language, if you would humor your principle. There is a reason and philosophy even in language, which some doctrines cannot bear; as your lordship will find when you endeavor to justify your expression, or to support your doctrine without it.

This principle being intended for the groundwork of your lordship's answer to one main article of the Representation, I beg that I may have leave to examine it without incurring the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »