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lessly to persecute them. "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of my eye"."
Direct. XXI. Look not so much on men's infirmities, as to overlook or make light of all that is good in them.' But look as much at the good as at the evil; and then you will see reason for lenity, as well as for severity; and for love and tenderness, rather than for hatred and persecution : and you will discern that those may be serviceable to the church, in whom blinded malice can see nothing worthy of honour or respect.
Direct. XXII. Estimate and use all lesser matters, as means to spiritual worship and practical holiness.' If there be any thing of worth in controversies, and ceremonies, and such other matters of inferior rank, it is as they are a means to the power of godliness, which is their end. And if once they be no otherwise esteemed, they will not be made use of against the interest of godliness, to the silencing of the preachers, and persecuting the professors of it.
Direct. XXIII. Remember that the understanding is not free, (save only participative, as it is subject to the will).' It acteth of itself' per modum naturæ,' and is necessitated by its object, (further than as it is under the power of the will). A man cannot hold what opinion he would himself, nor be against what he would not have to be true; much less can he believe as another man commandeth him. My understanding is not at my own command; I cannot be of every man's belief that is uppermost. Evidence, and not force, is the natural means to compel the mind; even as goodness and not force, is the natural means to win men's love. It is as wise a thing to say, "Love me, or I will kill thee;" as to say, "Believe me, or I will kill thee."
Direct. XXIV. Consider that it is essential to religion, to be above the authority of man, (unless as they subserve the authority of God).' He that worshippeth a God that is subject to any man, must subject his authority to that man. (But this is no religion, because it is no God whom he worshippeth.) But if the God whom I serve, be above all men, my religion or service of him, must needs be also above the will of men.
b Zech.ii. 8.
Consider that an obedient disposition towards God's law, and a tender conscience which feareth in the smallest matter to offend him, is a substantial part of holiness, and of great necessity to salvation.' It is part of the excellency of the soul, and therefore to be greatly encouraged by governors. To drive this out of the world, is to drive out godliness, and make men rebels against their Maker. And nothing is more certain, than that the violent imposing of unnecessary, disputable things in the worship of God, doth unavoidably tend either to debauch the conscience, and drive men from their obedience to God, or to destroy them, or undo them in the world: for it is not possible, that all conscionable persons should discern the lawfulness of all such disputable things.
Direct. XXVI. Remember that such violence in doubtful matters, is the way to set up the most debauched atheists, and consequently to undo church and commonwealth.' For whatever oaths or subscriptions you require, he that believeth not that there is a God or a devil, a heaven or a hell, will yield to all, and make no more of perjury or a lie, than to eat a bit of bread! If you cast out all ministers that will not swear or subscribe this or that form about things doubtful, you will cast out never an atheist or debauched infidel by it. All that have no conscience, will be kept in ; and all that are true to God and their conscience, if they think it is sin which you require of them, will be cast out. And whither this tendeth, you may easily foresee.
Direct. XXVII. Remember that if by force you do prevail with a man to go against his conscience, you do but make him dissemble and lie.' And if hypocrites be not hateful to you, why do you cry out so much against hypocrites, (where you cannot prove your accusation?) But if they be so hateful, why do you so eagerly make men hypocrites? Whatever their tongues may say, you can scarce believe yourselves, that prisons or fire will change men's judgments in matters of faith, and duty to God.
Direct. XXVIII. Consider not only whether the thing which you impose be sin in itself, but also what it is to him that thinketh it a sin.' His own doubting conscience may make that a sin to him, which is no sin to another. "And he that doubteth, (whether such or such a meat be lawful,)
is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin c." And is it like to be damnation to him that doth it against his conscience? And will you drive on any man towards damnation?" Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died d."
if it be objected, That then there will be no government, if every man must be left to his own conscience.' I answer, That the Holy Ghost did not fear such objectors, when he laid down this doctrine here expressed. 1. It is easy to distinguish between things necessary, and things unnecessary. 2. And between great penalties and small. And first, It followeth not that a man must be left to his own conscience in every thing, because he must be so in some things. In things necessary, as it is a sin to do them. doubtingly, so it may be a greater sin to leave them undone; (as for a man to maintain his family, or defend his king, or hear the Word of God, &c.) He that can say, "My conscience is against it," must not be excused from a necessary duty and he that can say, "My conscience 'bids me do it," must not be excused in a sin. But yet the apostle knew what he said, when he (that was a greater church-governor than you) determined the case of mutual forbearance, as in Rom. xiv. and xv., and 1 Cor. viii. Secondly, And he is not wholly left to himself, who is punished with a small penalty for a small offence: for if a man must be still punished more, as long as he obeyeth God and his conscience, before men, an honest man must not be suffered to live. For he will certainly do it to the death.
Direct. XXIX. 'Remember the wonderful variety of men's apprehensions, which must be supposed in all laws!' Men's faces are scarce more various and unlike, than their understandings are: for besides that nature hath diversified intellects as well as faces, the diversity and unlikeness is much increased, by variety of educations, company, representations, accidents, cogitations, and many other causes. It is wiser to make laws, that all men shall take the same physic, or eat only the same meat, or that all shoes shall be of a size, and all clothes of the same bigness; upon supposition, that all men's health, or appetite, or feet, or bodies, are alike; than to make laws that all men shall agree (or
e Rom. xiv. 23.
Rom. xiv. 15. 1 Cor. viii. 11.
say that they agree) in every opinion, circumstance, or ceremony, in matters of religion.
Direct. xxx. Remember especially, that most Christians are ignorant, and of weak understandings, and not able to make use of all the distinctions and subtleties which are needful, to bring them over to your mind in doubtful and unnecessary things.' Therefore the laws which will be the means of peace, must suppose this weakness and ignorance of most subjects! And how convenient it is, to say to a poor, ignorant Christian, " Know this, or profess this or that, which the ablest, godly pastors themselves are not agreed in, or else thou shalt be imprisoned or banished;" I leave to equal men to judge.
Direct. XXXI. Human infirmities must be supposed in the best and strongest Christians.' All have their errors and their faults; divines themselves as well as others. Therefore either some errors and faults must be accounted tolerable, or else no two persons must tolerate one another in the world, but kill on till the strongest only shall survive. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." And if the strong must be born with themselves, "Then they that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please themselves; but every one to please his neighbour for good to edification; for even Christ pleased not himself." "And him that is weak in the faith we must receive; but not to doubtful disputations "."
Direct. XXXII. The pastors must not be impatient under the abuses which they receive from weak or distempered brethren.' We must excel others in patience, and meekness, and forbearance, as much as we do in knowledge, and in other graces. If the nurse or mother will take every word or action of the child, as if it were the injury of an enemy, there will be no preservation of the family in peace! If children cry, or fight, or chide, or make any foul or troublesome work, the mother will not therefore turn them out of doors, or use them like strangers, but remember that it is her place and duty to bear with that weakness which she cannot
Gal. vi. 1, 2.
f Rom. xv. 1—3.
Rom. xiv. 1.
cure. The proud impatience of the pastors hath frequently brought them into the guilt of persecution, to the alienating of the people's hearts, and the distraction and division of the churches: when poor, distempered persons are offended with them, and it may be revile them, and call them seducers, or antichristian, or superstitious, or what their pride and passion shall suggest: or if some weak ones raise up some erroneous opinions, alas! many pastors have no more wit, or grace, or pity, than presently to be rough with them, and revile them again, and seek to right themselves by ways of force, and club down every error and contention; when they should overcome them by evidence of truth, and by meekness, patience, and love. (Though there be place also for severity, with turbulent, implacable, impenitent heretics.)
Direct. XXXIII. Time of learning and overcoming their mistakes, must be allowed to those that are misinformed." We must not turn those of the lower forms out of Christ's school, because they learn not as much as those of the higher forms in a few weeks or years. The Holy Ghost teacheth those who for the time might have been teachers of others, and yet had need to be taught the first principles. He doth not turn them out of the church for their non-proficiency. And where there is ignorance, there will be error.
Direct. XXXIV. Some inconveniences must be expected and tolerated, and no perfect order and concord expected here on earth.' It is not good reasoning to say, If we suffer these men, they will cause this or that disorder or inconvenience: but you must also consider whither you must drive it, if you suffer them not; and what will be the consequents. He that will follow his conscience to a prison, will be likely to follow it to death. And if nothing but death, or prison, or banishment can restrain them from what they take to be their duty, it must be considered how many must be so used; and whether (if they were truly faulty) they deserve so much and if they do, yet whether the evils of the toleration or of the punishment are like to be the greater. Peace and concord will never be perfect, till knowledge and holiness be perfect.
Direct. xxxv. 'You may go farther in restraining than
Heb. v. 11, 12.