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Christ to his disciples, let them alone, they are blind, leaders of the blind, and so leaves them to that sad event, which is, their falling into the ditch, or perishing together. See the parable of the wheat and the tares, Mat. 13. 24. interpreted by Christ himself, v. 37, 38. And he that soweth the good seed (saith Christ) is the Son of man, The field is the world, the good seed are the children of the Kingdome (which being sown by the son of man, must needs be meant faithfull and sincere-hearted proffessors of the truth of the gospell :) But the tares (saith he) are the children of the wicked one, and the enemy that soweth them is the devill, which being the children of the wicked one, and sown by the devill after the children of the Kingdome, must needs be meant such as crept in unawars, and were sent in as Paul speaketh, See Gal. 24. to spie out the Saints liberties, that they might bring them into bondage, and so were formall Professors of Christ at the first, but afterwards discovered to be Hereticks, Schismaticks, Apostats, Blasphemers, such as was Hymintus, Phyletus, Alexander, Demas, and such false teachers as Peter speaks of, 2 Pet. 2. 12. That should bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, whose pernicious wayes many should follow; by reason of whom the way of truth should be evill spoken of: but to go on, the harvest, saith Christ, is the end of the world, and the reapers are no other than the angels ; Now the question (for our instruction in righteousness) being made by the servants unto their Lord, when the tares were discovered, whether it was his will that they should go and gather them up, and take them out of the field, his first answer, v. 29. is
and the reason he renders, is this, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them; And the next answer, v. 30. is an express word of command, that they should let both grow together in the field, which is the world, and untill the time of the harvest, which is the end thereof, and then his purpose is to speak to the reapers, which are not men but Angels, to gather them up, and bind them in bundles to burn them. I shall produce but one instance more to shew that our Lord Jesus forbids such a practice as this among his Disciples or servants, 2. Tim. 2. 24, 25,
26. The servant of the Lord, saith Paul, in the word of the Lord, must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, not to strike, patient in meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves ; which word signifieth a setting a mans selfe in an opposition to the truth in a more than ordinary manner, even by way of covenant or resolution of spirit, yet are they still to be waiting with meekness upon them, if God at any time will give them repentance to the acknowledgement of the truth, that they may recover themselves out of the snares of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Another argument that there can be no warrant from Christ for such a practice as this, is taken from such expressions of his, whereby he shews his dislike thereof, and it standeth thus.
7. Arg. If Christ Jesus the Lord have sharply reproved and checked his servants when he hath espied such a spirit as this but breaking forth in them, then can no servant of his have any countenance, much less authority from him so to practise. But the first is true, he hath sharply reproved them when he espied such a spirit as this but breaking forth, witness his words Luke 22. 24. 25. &c. Joh. 18. 10. 11. Mat. 26. 51. 52, 53, 54, & Luke. 9. 46. 47. & 49, 50. & 52, 53, 54. 55. 56. where it is said, when the Samaritans perceived that Christs face was towards Ierusalem they did so envy him for Ierusalems sake, which was the place of Gods worship, that they would not receive him nor afford unto him such common curtesie as belonged unto strangers, for which discurteous repulse of their Lord and master, James and Iohn in a preposterous zeal judged, that they deserved to dy, and thereupon moved the question to Christ in these words, verse, 55. Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them? but what is the answer of Christ ? it is said, he turned, and rebuked them, saying, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. They were scarce awar that they were hereunto moved, by no other spirit than the spirit of Antichrist, for saith he, The Son of man is not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them, and if he came into this world to save mens lives, and not to destroy them, and will have his Servants to learn of him meekness, and mercy, and to be as he was in this present evil world, I say, if he came to save mens lives, even the rebellious, then no servant of his can have any authority from him for such cases as these to destroy them.
The last Argument standeth thus.
8. Arg. That which of it self is inconsistent with the civil peace, liberty, prosperity and safety of a Place, Commonwealth or nation, no servant of Christ Jesus can have liberty, much less authority from his Lord to do. But this outward forcing of men in matters of conscience towards God to believe as others believe, and to practise and worship as others do, cannot stand with the Peace, Liberty, Prosperity, and safety of a Place, Commonwealth, or nation. Therefore no servant of Christ can have any liberty, much less authority so to doe.
The first proposition can scarce be denyed if these things be considered sci. That Christ Iesus the Lord is the Prince of Peace, Isa. 9. 6. Heb. 7. 2. and the more a man is made partaker of, and led by the Spirit of the Lord, which is the Spirit of Peace, the more peaceable and quiet is he like to be towards all those with whom he hath to do, for this Prince of Peace hath given express command unto all his Servants, who are the Children of Peace (in whose hearts his word stands, with power, as the word of a King) to be at peace among themselves, 1 Thes. 5. 13. To love in peace. 2 Cor. 13. 11. To follow peace with all men, Heb. 12. 14. To seek
peace it, 1. Pet. 3. 11. To follow after those things that make for peace, Rom. 24. 19. If it be possible as much as in them lyeth to have peace with all men, Rom. 22. 16. Yea not to seek their own, but every man anothers wealth, 1 Cor. 10. 24. To seek the peace of the place, where God hath bounded his habitation, yea, and to pray unto God for it, and for the rulers thereof, Jer. 29. 7. 1. Tim. 2. 2. By all which it doth evidently appear, that that which of it self cannot stand with the peace and prosperity of a place, and nation, that can be servant of Christ have by the authority of this Lord, unless by a just judgement from him upon the rulers of this world for giving their power, and sword, to the beast, thus to be chused and made drunk with the blood of the Saints, which his tender heart cannot but
avenge upon themselves, and upon the Nations for their loving to have it so.
And as for the second Proposition, which is this, that this outward forcing of men in matters of conscience towards God to believe as others believe, and to practise and worship, not as themselves (but as others) are perswaded cannot stand with the peace, liberty, prosperity, and safety of a Place, Nation, and Commonwealth; this will as plainly appear in the examination of each particular thereof.
And first, it cannot stand with the peace of a Commonwealth, for as there could be no peace expected in the Israel of old, so long as that harlot Jezabell (who thirsted after innocent blood) could at her pleasure obtain the seal and power of the King, to effect her bloody design upon the servants of the Lord, who withstood her Idolatrous Priests, and that Idolatrous way and worship which they had set up, so likewise as long as that spirituall Jezabell among those that account themselves the Israel of God, (who is seen in Rev. 17. 3. to ride upon that scarlot-coloured beast, and to own herself as the City and spouse of that great King, the King of Saints, so long I say as she, can by her glorious deckings and splendours, so deceive and allure the Kings and Rulers of the earth, to commit fornication with her, and to give their sword and power to the beast that bears her up, there can be no expectation of peace in the earth, but still of wars, and rumors of wars, untill mens hearts fail them: for so long as there is an outward force or power to be had to maintain and uphold the carnall interests and advantages of some upon religious accounts, and so prosecute others, who for conscience sake towards God, dare not, yea cannot conform to their way. What hopes are hereby begotten and nourished in some? what jealousies, suspitions and fears in others ? what revengefull desires in most? yea, what plottings and contrivings in all ? and as a fruit and effect hereof, what riding ? running ? troublesome, and tumultuous assemblings together, and sidings ? yea, and outragious murderings and bloodshedings are hereby produced in a Nation, to gain that power and sword to their party, either to crush, suppress, or cause the other to conform, or
at the least and best to save themselves from being crushed, suppressed or forced to conformity? But were this snare of the destroyer and murderer once discovered and broken, which is under a specious and religious pretence of doing God good service, to oppress and slay his innocent servants and children, and to force men to that which their minds and consciences are not perswaded unto, which is worse than Idolatry; or at least would it please the most high to help the Kings and Rulers of the earth, to take King Davids counsell, Psal. 2. which is, to kiss the son lest he be angry, and in his anger smite that glorious Image, (which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream) Dan. 2. 31, 32, 33, 34. upon his feet, that were part of iron, and part of clay, and so break them to peeces, that the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold be broken to peeces together, become as chaff, and so vanish away, that there should no place be found for them; And would it please the most high to put it into their hearts, to manage that power and sword of steel which he hath put into their hands (and takes out again at his good pleasure) so that it might onely attend the very thing for which it is bestowed upon them, which is to do justly, and to shew mercy, as those that walk in such eminent places) humbly before the Lord, which are things more pleasing to him, then such burnt offerings and sacrifices, although they amounted to thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oyl, especially being such as he hath not required at their hands, how soon would the earth which now is moved exceedingly, reel to and fro like a drunkard, and is removed like a cottage, become a quiet and peaceable habitation, for if there were neither fear on one hand, nor hope on the other, that this sword should be drawn forth to maintain the carnall interest of some, which they enjoy upon religious pretences, and to suppress the understandings and consciences of others, to the hazard of their proper and lawfull interest and outward enjoyments, and all men should see the Rulers as resolute in this point as Galle was, so that men of all sects and religions, which now are pious, were become hopeless of any other help to support themselves and their way, or to draw others thereto, than what by the