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away (as they say) with holy water; partly also because the form of religion credits a man, partly because it is easie in it selfe; it's of a light carriage, being but the shadow and picture of the substance of religion; as now, what an easie matter it is to come to Church ? They hear (at least outwardly) very attentively and hour or more, and then to turn to a proof, and to turn down a leaf, here's the form. But now to spend Saturday night, and all the whole Sabbath day morning, in trimming the Lamp, and in getting oyle in the heart to meet the Bridegroom the next day, and so meet him in the Word, and there to tremble at the voice of God, and suck the brest while it is open, and when the word is done, to goe aside privately, and there to chew upon the word, there to lament with tears all the vain thoughts in duties, deadnesse in hearing, this is hard, because this is the power of godlinesse, and this men will not take up: so for private prayer, what an easie matter it is for a man to say over a few prayers out of some devout book, or to repeat some old prayer got by heart since a childe, or to have two or three short winded wishes for Gods rnercy in the morning and at night; this form is easie: but now to prepare the
then to come to God with a bleeding hunger-starved heart, not only with a desire, but with a warrant, I must have such or such a mercy, and there to wrestle with God, although it be an hour or two together for a blessing, this is too hard; men think none doe thus, and therefore they will not.
Fifthly, the way of presumption, whereby men having seen their sins, catch hold easily upon Gods mercy, and snatch comforts, before they are reached out unto them. There is no word of comfort in the book of God intended for such as regard iniquity in their hearts, though they doe not act it in their lives. Their only comfort is, that the sentence of damnation is not yet executed upon them.
Sixthly, the way of sloth, whereby men lie still, and say God must
may be they would hear oftner. If God will alwaies thunder, they will alwaye pray; if strike them now and then with sicknesse, God shall be paid with good words and promises enow, that they will be better if they live; but as long as peace lasts, they will run to Hell as fast as they can; and if God wili not catch them, they care not, they will not return.
Seventhly, the way of carelesnesse when men feeling many difficulties, pass through some of them, but not all, and what they cannot get now, they feed themselves with a false hope they shall hereafter; they are content to be called Precisians, and fools, and crazie brains, but they want brokennesse of heart, and they will pray (it may be) for it, and passe by that difficulty; but to keep the wound alwaies open, this they will not doe, to be alwaies sighing for help, and never to give themselves rest till their hearts are humbled; that they will not; these have a name to live, yet are dead.
Eighthly, the way of moderation or honest discretion, Rev. 3.16. which indeed is nothing but lukewarmnesse of the soul, and that is, when a man contrives and cuts out such a way to Heaven, as he may be hated of none, but please all, and so do any thing for a quiet life, and so sleep in a whole skin. The Lord saith, He that will live godly, must suffer persecution: No, not so, Lord. Surely (think they) if men were discreet and wise, it would prevent a great deal of trouble and oposition in good courses; this man will commend those that are most zealous, if they were but wise; if he meet with a black-mouth'd swearer, he will not reprove him, lest he be displeased with him; if he meet with an honest man, hee'l yeeld to all he saith, that so he may commend him; and when he meets them both together, they shall be both alike welcome, (what ever hee thinks) to his house and table, because he would fain be at peace with all men.
Ninthly, and lastly, the way of Self-love, whereby a man fearing terribly he shall be damned, useth diligently all means whereby he shall be saved. Here is the strongest difficulty of all, to row against the stream, and to hate a mans self, and then to follow Christ fully.
THE BLOUDY TENENT OF PERSECUTION FOR CAUSE
THE PREFACE First, That the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the Wars of present and former Ages, for their respective Consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.
Secondly, Pregnant Scriptures and Arguments are throughout the Worke proposed against the Doctrine of Persecution for cause of Conscience.
Thirdly, Satisfactorie Answers are given to Scriptures, and objections produced by Mr. Calvin, Beza, Mr. Cotton, and the Ministers of the New English Churches, and others former and later, tending to prove the Doctrine of Persecution for cause of Conscience.
Fourthly, The Doctrine of Persecution for cause of Conscience, is proved guilty of all the blood of the Soules crying for vengeance under the Altar.
Fifthly, All Civill States with their Officers of justice in their respective constitutions and administrations are proved essentially Civill, and therefore not Judges, Governours or Defendours of the Spirituall or Christian state and Worship.
Sixtly, It is the will and command of God, that (since the comming of his Sonne the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish or Antichristian consciences and worships, bee granted to all men in all Nations and Countries: and they are onely to bee fought against with that Sword which is only (in Soule matters) able to conquer, to wit, the Sword of Gods Spirit, the Word of God.
THE ANSWER OF MR. JOHN COTTON OF BOSTON IN NEW-ENGLAND, TO THE AFORESAID ARGUMENTS AGAINST PERSECUTION FOR CAUSE
OF CONSCIENCE PROFESSEDLY MAINTEINING PERSECUTION FOR CAUSE OF CONSCIENCE
The Question which you put, is, Whether Persecution for cause of Conscience, be not against the Doctrine of Jesus Christ the King of Kings.
Now by Persecution for Cause of Conscience, I conceive you meane, either for professing some point of Doctrine which you believe in Conscience to be the Truth, or for practising some Worke which in Conscience you believe to be a Religious Duty.
Now in Points of Doctrine some are fundamentall, without right beliefe whereof a Man cannot be saved: Others are circumstantiall or lesse principall, wherein Men may differ in judgement, without prejudice of salvation on either part.
In like sort, in Points of Practice, some concerne the waightier Duties of the Law, as, What God we worship, and with what kinde of Worship; whether such, as if it be Right, fellowship with God is held; if Corrupt, fellowship with Him is lost.
Againe, in Points of Doctrine and Worship lesse Principall: either they are held forth in a meeke and peaceable way, though the Things be Erroneous or unlawfull: Or they are held forth with such Arrogance and Impetuousnesse, as tendeth and reacheth (even of it selfe) to the disturbance of Civill Peace.
Finally, let me adde this one distinction more: When we are persecuted for Conscience sake, It is either for Conscience rightly informed, or for erronious and blind Conscience.
These things premised, I would lay down mine Answer to the Question in certaine Conclusions.
First, it is not lawfull to persecute any for Conscience sake Rightly informed; for in persecuting such, Christ himselfe is persecuted in them, Acts 9.4.
Secondly, for an Erronious and blind Conscience, (even in fundamentall and weighty Points) It is not lawfull to persecute any, till after Admonition once or twice: and so the Apostle directeth, Tit. 3. 10. and giveth the Reason, that in fundamentall and principall points of Doctrine or Worship, the Word of God in such things is so cleare, that hee cannot but bee convinced in Conscience of the dangerous Errour of his way, after once or twice Admonition, wisely and faithfully dispensed. And then if any one persist, it is not out of Conscience, but against his Conscience, as the Apostle saith vers. II. He is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of Himselfe, that is, of his owne Conscience. So that if such a Man after such Admonition shall still persist in the Errour of his way, and be therefore punished; He is not persecuted for Cause of Conscience, but for sinning against bis Owne Conscience.
Thirdly, In things of lesser moment, whether Points of Doctrine or Worship, If a man hold them forth in a Spirit of Christian Meeknesse and Love (though with Zeale and Constancie) he is not to be persecuted, but tolerated, till God may be pleased to manifest his Truth to him, Phil. 3.17. Rom. 14.1, 2, 3, 4.
But if a Man hold forth or professe any Errour or false way, with a boysterous and arrogant spirit, to the disturbance of Civill peace, he may justly be punished according to the qualitie and measure of the disturbance caused by him.
A REPLY TO THE AFORESAID ANSWER OF MR. COTTON
IN A CONFERENCE BETWEENE TRUTH AND PEACE
CHAP. I. Truth. In what darke corner of the World (sweet Peace) are we two met? How hath this present evill World banished Me from all the Coasts & Quarters of it? and how hath the Righteous God in judgement taken Thee from the Earth, Rev. 6.4.
Peace. 'Tis lamentably true (blessed Truth) the foundations of the World have long been out of course: the Gates of Earth and Hell have conspired together to intercept our joyfull meeting and our holy kisses; With what a wearied, tyred Wing have I flowne over Nations, Kingdomes, Cities, Townes, to finde out precious Truth?
Truth. The like enquiries in my flights and travells have I made for Peace, and still am told, she hath left the Earth, and fled to Heaven.
Peace. Deare Truth, What is the Earth but a dungeon of darknesse, where Truth is not ?
Truth. And what 's the Peace thereof but a fleeting dreame, thine A pe and Counterfeit?
Peace. O where 's the Promise of the God of Heaven, that Righteousnes and Peace shall kisse each other ?
Truth. Patience (sweet Peace) these Heavens and Earth are growing Old, and shall be changed like a Garment, Psal. 102. They shall melt away, and be burnt up with all the Works that are therein; and the most high Eternall Creatour, shall gloriously create New Heavens and New Earth, wherein dwells Righetousnesse, 2 Pet. 3. Our kisses then shall have their endlesse date of pure and sweetest joyes ? till then both Thou and I must hope, and wait, and beare the furie of the Dragons wrath, whose monstrous Lies and Furies shall with himselfe be cast into the lake of Fire, the second death, Revel. 20.
Peace. Most precious Truth, thou knowest we are both pursued and laid for: Mine heart is full of sighes, mine eyes with teares: Where can I better vent my full oppressed bosome, then into thine, whose faithfull lips may for these few houres revive my drooping wandring spirits, and here begin to wipe Teares from mine eyes, and the eyes of my dearest Children?
Truth. Sweet daughter of the God of Peace, begin; powre out thy sorrowes, vent thy complaints: how joyfull am I to improve