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THE

PREFATORY

DISCOURSE.

Setting forth the avowed Doctrines, 'and con

Jtant Practice of the Church of Rome, concerning the Perfecution of Protestants.

1.

1. Rome,

infallible, bath passed an irrevocable Decree

against Christians of all Denominations, that do not conform to her Communion, whereby se declares them accursed Hereticks, and pretends to cut them off from being Partakers of the Mercies of the Christian Covenant. This power the supposes herself te be invested with, in Consequence of her Spiritual Dominion, as the [Mater & Magistra) Mother and. Governess of the Christian World. But the Spiritual Powers are not the only Weapons employed for the Extirpation of Heresy.

II. FOR it is the constant and standing Maxim of the Church, that even such Heretical Opinions as do not interfere with the Principles of Civil Government, deserve, in Strictness, some Civil Punishment;

though

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though its Members are divided in their Sentiments concerning the Extent and Degree, and in some Instances, concerning the Expediency of it. In those Countries, for Instance, where the Inquisition is establised, the Romanists attribute to the Church (or to the Church and * Christian Magistrate together) the same Power of Life and Death over Hereticks, which temporal Judges execute on Criminals; -- only regarding Heresy as the most aggravated Crime. In France, and wherever else there is no Inquisition, they only afcribe a Kind of parental Aathority to the Church, extending to the Infliction of wholesome Severities, through the Asistance of the Christian Magistrate, but not of capital | Punishment. The former propose

to * The learned and candid Reader will please to observe, that the Author's Intention is to give such a general State of this Matter, as the Romanists themselves would allow to be a fair one in the Mouth of an Adversary. Now it being the fame Thing, with respect to the principal Point in Dispute, whether the pretended Right of punishing Hereticks is lodged in the Church separately, or in the Church and State conjointly, this part of the Controversy (lo fiercely contested among the Romanists themselves) is here designedly omitted, as not worth attending to ;-especially as the Advocates for Perfecu. tion confine this supposed Right to the Professors of the Cathoon lick Faith, and would inake the World believe, that though they have a Right to perfecute Hereticks, Heretical Governors have no Right to persecute Catholick Subjects. Therefore the grand Question still returns, Whether the Christian Religion gives the Popish Church, or a Popish State (it matters not which) a Right to perfecute those who diffent from them in such Matters of Conscience, as are consistent with the Principles of Civil Government.

of This is meant with regard to the Laity among the Proteftants; for as to their Clergy, it is certain, that they are perfecuted even unto Death in most Popis Countries, especially in France, as may be seen by the Edicis of 1686, 1724, and 1745. And there are recent Examples of the Execution of these cruel Ediets on several worthy Proteftant Clergymen,

to extirpate Herely by destroying Hereticks, the late, ter by harassing and oppressing them. And to these two Opinions we may add a third, : espoused by the more moderate Members of this Church, that though the Church and Christian State are invested with an undoubted Right of infli&ting civil Penalties on Hegeticks, it is not always expedient to exercise it. And this Difference in Opinion produces as great Diversity in the Arguments advanced to vindicate the Perfecutions of the Church of Rome.

III. THE Spanish Divines, and all the Defenders of the Inquisition, endeavour to justify its greatest Cruelties upon the Principles of the antient Jewilh Church; and quote with much Parade tbe Examples of Mofes, Joshua, and the best Kings of Israel, in Vindication of their modern Practice of putting Here, ticks to Death. This they do, without so much atteinpting to sew that the Cases are parallel ; and therefore we must charitably hope, they do not see tbe Impropriety of bringing such Authorities, inasmuch es they take the very Thing for granted, which ought firft to be proved.

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IV. It will therefore be highly expedient, to examine into the original Institution of the Hebrew Government, in order to see, whether it bears fucb an Analogy to the Civil Governments now subsisting, as would justify the Arguments and Conclusions so often brought in Support of the most fierce and bloody Perfecutions.

NOW the great and fundamental Articles of this Constitution was, that the God af Ifrael was like; wise , their temporal Prince, the great King Jeho

VAH,

VAH, who made the Temple bis Palace, and the Holy of Holies the Chamber of his Prefence, where He refided by a Shekinah, or visible Glory, and gave Audience to the High-Priest, bis great Minister of State.

Thus it came to pass, that the main or distinguishing Principles of the Religion of the People of Israel became in Praćtice the Tokens and Evidences of the Homage and Allegiance due to their Prince. In fucb Circumstances, those capital Deviations from the Duty prescribed, as tended to overthrow the Constitution, were to be considered as so many Overt- Asts of Treason and Rebellion. And as every Government must bave the Power of providing for its own Preservation, so it is expresly commanded in the Law of Moses, that such Subjects as would not conform to their Duty, especially if they fell off to Idolatry, were to suffer a temporal Death; Idolatry, and such like Crimes, being not only Aets of Apostasy in respeet to Religion, but of Treason in regard to Government.

And the Person so offending, was not to be pitied, neither to be fpared, neither to be concealed: But thou shalt surely kill him; and thine Hand shall be first upon him, to put him to Death, and afterwards the Hand of all the People: And thou shalt stone him with Stones, that he die; because he sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy GOD. And all Ifrael shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such Wickedness as this among you. Deuter. xiii. 8, 9, 10, 11.

IT might further be observed, that as this was a Civil Constitution, as well as a Religious one, so the great Jehovah, the King of Israel, bad made a Grant of the Land of Canaan to the Hebrew Nation, on the express Condition, that the People continued in their Loyalty and Obedience to Him. Therefore it was impoffible for any Member of this Society to set up another Religion, without committing HighTreason against the Prince, and incurring e Forfeiture of those Privileges wbich were beld under bin.

tinued

AS to the Punishment due to such Crimes in a future State, and the Terrors of a Judgment to come, these being distinct Articles, in which all Nations and People are concerned, in Proportion to the Light they bave received, therefore the Confideration of them may be omitted in the present Cafe.

V. HOWEVER, thus much, I am persuaded, appears already, that the Advocates for the Inquir fition have miserably failed in their grand Attempt, and bave widely mistook the Nature of the Proof they ought to bring in Vindication of this Tribunal. For what Good can it do the Cause of Persecution, to quote the Precepts or Examples recorded in the Old Testament, when the Case of all Christian Nations is so very diffimilar to that of the Jews? And what Inference can be drawn from the Hebrew Constitution, under & Theocracy, or the Temporal Kingly Government of the great JEHOVAH, that is applicable to any Government or Constitution now subsisting ? And if one main Design of the Establishment of the

Inquisition was to root out Judaism, may we not justly wonder to find it actually condueted upon Jewish Principles,--tho' such Laws were not intended at firft for universal Use, and have been repealed, or at least superseded by the coming of the Gospel,* if not long before?

THE * Probably this Law, and the other which follows it in the same Chapter, being still more severe against an Idolatrous City, were no longer in force, than while the Shekinah, or visible Presence, was continued in the Temple. But this is proposed only as a Conjecture.

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