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Which may serve the Place of a General Reply to such
late Discourses as have opposed a TOLERATION.
The Author WILLIAM Penn.
ye even so to them. Mat. vii. 12. Render unto Cæfar the things that are Cæsar's, and to
God, the things that are God's. Mark xii, 17.
OLERATION, for these ten years past, has
not been more the cry of some, than persecution has been the practice of others, though not on grounds equally rational.
The present cause of this address, is to solicit a conversion of that power to our relief, which hitherto has been employed to our depression ; that after this large experience of our innocency, and long since expired apprenticeship of cruel sufferings, you will be pleased to cancel all our bonds, and give us a possession of those freedoms, to which we are intituled by English birth-right.
This has been often promised to us, and we as earnestly have expected the performance; but to this time we labour under the unspeakable pressure of nasty prifons, and daily confiscation of our goods, to the apparent ruin of intire families.
We would not attribute the whole of this severity to malice, since not a little share may justly be af. cribed to mis-intelligence.
For it is the infelicity of governors to see and hear by the eyes and ears of other men ; which is equally unhappy for the people.
And we are bold to say, that suppositions, and mere conjectures, have been the best measures that most have taken of us, and of our principles ; for whilst there have been none more inoffensive, we have been marked for capital offenders. A 2
(iv) It is hard that we should always lie under this undeserved imputation; and, which is worse, be persesecuted as such, without the liberty of a juft defence.
In short, if you are apprehensive that our principles are inconsistent with the civil government, grant us a free conference about the points in question, and let us know what are those laws, essential to preservation, that our opinions carry an opposition to ? And if upon a due enquiry we are found so heterdox as represented; it will be then but time enough to inflict these heavy penalties upon us.
And as this medium feems the faireft, and most reasonable ; so can you never do yourselves greater juftice, either in the vindication of your proceedings against us, if we be criminal; or if innocent, in difengaging your service of such as have been authors of so much mif-information.
But could we once obtain the favour of such debate, we doubt not to evince a clear consistency of our life and doctrine with the English government, and that an indulging of Diffenters in the sense defended, is not only most Christian and rational, but prudent also; and the contrary (how plausible foever insinuated) the most injurious to the peace, and destructive of that discreet balance, which the best and wiseft states have ever carefully observed.
But if this fair and equal offer find not a place with you, on which to rest its foot; much less that it should bring us back the olive-branch of TOLERATION; we heartily embrace and bless the providence of God; and, in his strength, resolve by patience to outweary persecution, and by our constant sufferings seek to obtain a victory, more glorious than any our adversaries can atchieve by all their cruelties.
VINCIT QUI PATITUR,
From a prisoner for conscience sake, Newgate, the 7th of
W. P. the Izth month, cal. led February, 1670,
P R E F A CE.
selves to be, it would save us all the labour we bestow in rendering Persecution so unchriftian as it most truly is. Nay, were they those men of reason they character themselves, and what the civil law ftiles good citizens, it had been needless for us to tell them, that neither can any external coercive power convince the understanding of the poorest ideot, nor fines and prisons be judged fit and adequate penalties for faults purely intellectual ; as well as that they are destructive of all civil government.
But we need not run so far as beyond the seas, to fetch the sense of the Codes, Institutes, and Digests, out of the Corpus Civile, to adjudge such practices incongruous with the good of civil society ; since our own good, old, admirable laws of England have made such excellent provision for its inhabitants, that if they were but thought as fit to be executed by this present age, as they were rightly judged necessary to be made by our careful ancestors, we know how great a stroke they would give such as venture to lead away our property in triumph (as our just forfeiture) for only worshipping our God in a differing way from that which is more generally professed and established.
And indeed it is most truly lamentable, that above others (who have been found in so unnatural and anti