« VorigeDoorgaan »
magistrate shall banish with the sword, there is not the right knowledge, spiritual word, nor church of Christ; it is, Invocare brachium seculare, (to invoke the secular arni.)
' It is not Christian-like, but tyrannical (said D. Philipson) to banish and persecute people about faith and religion; and they that so do, are certainly of the pharisaical generation, who resisted the Holy Ghost.
Erasmus said, That though they take our monies and goods, they cannot therefore hurt our salvation; they afflict us much with prisons, but they do not thereby separate us from God. In de Krydges wrede, fol. 63.
· Lucernus said, He that commandeth any thing, wherewith he bindeth the conscience, this is an antichrist. In de Bemise Disp. fol. 71.
Irenæus affirmed, That all forcing of conscience, though it was but a forbidding of the exercise, which is esteemed by one or another to be necessary to salvation, is in no wise right nor fitting. He also affirmed, that through the diversity of religions, the kingdom should not be brought into any disturbance.
• Constantius, the emperor, said, That it was enough that he preserved the unity of the faith, that he might be excusable before the judgment-seat of God; and that he would leave every one to his own understanding, according to the account he will give before the judgment-seat of Christ. Hereto may we stir up people, (said he) not compel them; beseech them to come into the unity of the Christians, but to do violence to them, we will not in any wise. Şehast. Frank, Chron. fol. 127.
i dugustinus said, Some disturbed the peace of the church, while they went about to root out the tares beforo their time; and ibrough this error of blindness (said he) are they themselves separated so much the more, from being united unto Christ.
Retnaldus testified, That he, who with imprisoning and persecution seeketh to spread the gospel, and greaseth his hands with blood, shall niuch rather be looked upon for a wild hunter than a preacher, or a defender of the Christian religion.
• I have for a long season determined (said Henry the IV. king of France, in his speech to the parliament 1599,) to reform the church, which, without peace (said he) I cannot do : and it is impossible to reform or convert people by violence. I am king, as a shepherd (said he) and will not shed the blood of my sheep, hut will gather them through the mildness and goodness of a king, and not VOL. IJ. ).
through the power of tyranny: and I will give them that are of the reformed religion, right liberty, to live and dwell free, without being examined, perplexed, molested, or compelled to any thing, contrary to their consciences; for they shall have the free exercise of their religion, &c. [Vid. Chron. Van de Underg. 2. deel, p. 1514.]
• Ennius said, Wisdom is driven out, when the matter is acted by force. And therefore the best of men, and most glorious of princes, were always ready to give toleration.
Euseb, in his second book of the life of Constantine, reports these words of the emperor: Let them which err, with joy receive the like fruition of peace and quietness with i he faithful; sith the restoring of communication and society may bring them into the right way of truth: let none give molestation to any ; let every one do as he determines in his mind. And indeed, there is great reason for princes to give toleration to disagreeing persons, whose opinions cannot by fair means be altered ; for if the persons be confident, they will serve God according to their persuasions; and if they be publicly prohibited, they will privately convene: and then all those inconveniences and mischiefs, which are arguments against the permission of conventicles, are arguments for the public permission of differing religions, &c. they being restrained and made miserable, endears the discontented persons mutually, and makes more hearty and dangerous confederations,
• The like counsel in the divisions of Germany at the first reformation, was thought reasonable by the emperor Ferdinand, and his excellent son Maximilian; for they had observed, that violence did exasperate, was unblessed, unsuccessful, and unreasonable; and therefore they made decrees of toleration.
• The duke of Savoy, repenting of his war undertaken for religion against the Piedmontans, promised them toleration; and was as good as his word.
• Also is is remarkable, that till the time of Justinian the emperor, anno domini 525, the Catholics and Novatians had churches indifferently permitted, even in Rome itself.
• And Paul preached the kingdom of God, teaching those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence; and no man forbad him: and this he did for the space of two years in his own hired house at Rome, and received all that came to him.
« Now, o king, seeing these noble testimonies concerning liberty of conscience of kings, emperors, and others, and the liberty that Paul had at Rome in the days of the
heathen emperor, our desire is, that we may have the same liberty at Dantzic to meet together in our own hired houses; which cannot be any prejudice, either to the king and the city of Dantzic, for us to meet together to wait upon the Lord, and pray unto him, and to serve and worship him in spirit and truth in our own hired houses; seeing our principle leads us to hurt no man, but to love our enemies, and to pray for them; yea, them that do persecute us. And therefore, O king, consider, and the city of Dantzic, would you not think it hard for others to force you from your religion to another, contrary to your consciences ? And if it be so, that you would think it hard to you, then do you unto others as you would have them do unto you; do not you that unto others, which you would not have them do unto you; for that is the royal law, which ought to be obeyed. And so in love to thy immortal soul, and for thy eternal good this is written.'
G. F. Postscript. • Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. And remember, O king, Justin Martyr's two apologies to the Roman emperors, in the defence of the persecuted Christians; and that notable apology, which was written by Tertullian, upon the same subject; which are not only for the Christian religion, but against all persecution for religion.'
Dear Peter Hendricks, and John Claus, and J. Rawlins,
and all the rest of friends in Amsterdam, Friesland, and Rollerdam, to whom is my love in the seed of life, that is over all.
' I received thy letter, with a letter from Dantzic : I have written something to you to the king of Poland, which you may translate into High Dutch, and send it to friends there to give it to the king; or you may print it, after it be delivered in manuscript, which may be serviceable to other princes. So in haste, with my love. And the Lord God Almighty over all give you dominion in his eternal power, and in it over all preserve you, and keep you to his glory, that you may answer that of God in all people. Amen.
George l'ox. London, the 13th of 9th month, 1677.
I continued yet in and about London some weeks, the parliament sitting again, and friends attending upon them to get some redress of our sufferings, which about this time were very great, and heavy upon many friends in divers parts of the nation ; they being very unduly prosecuted upon the statutes made against popish recusants : though our persecutors could not but know that friends were utterly against popery; having borne testimony against it in word and writing, and suffered under it. But though many of the members of parliament in either house were kind to friends, and willing to have done something for their ease, yet having much business upon them, they were hindered from doing the good they would, so that the sufferings upon friends were continued.
But that which added much to the grief and exercise of friends, was, that some who made a profession of the same truth with us, being gone from the simplicity of the gospel into a fleshly liberty, and labouring to draw others after them, did oppose the order and discipline, which God by his power had set up and established in his church; and made a great noise and clamour against prescriptions ; whereby they easily drew after them such as were loosely inclined, and desired a broader way than the path of truth to walk in. Some also that were more simple, but young in truth, or weak in judgment, were apt to be betrayed by them, not knowing ihe depths of satan in these wiles ; for whose sakes I was moved to write the following paper, for the undeceiving the deceived, and the opening the understandings of the weak in this matter :
All you that do deny prescriptions without distinction, you may as well deny all the scriptures, which were given forth by the power and spirit of God. For do not they prescribe how men should walk both to God and man, both in the Old Testament and in the New ? Yea, from the very first promise of Christ in Genesis, what people ought to believe and trust in, and all along till ye come to the prophets? Did not the Lord prescribe to his people, both by the fathers and then by his prophets ? did he not prescribe to the people how they should walk, though they turned against the prophets in the old covenant, for de claring or prescribing to them the way, how they might walk to please God and keep in favour with him? And then after, in the days of Christ, did not he prescribe and teach, how people should walk and believe? And after him the apostles, did not they prescribe unto people how they might come to believe, and receive the gospel and
the kingdom of God, directing unto that which would give them the knowledge of God, and how they should walk in the new covenant in the days of the gospel, and by what way they should come to the holy city? And did not the apostles send forth their decrees by faithful chosen men (them that had hazarded their lives for Christ's sake) to the churches, by which they were established ? And so you that deny prescriptions given forth by the power and spirit of God, do thereby oppose the Spirit, that gave them forth in all the holy men of God. And were there not some all along in the days of Moses, and in the days of the prophets, and in the days of Christ, and in the days of h's apostles, who did withstand that which they gave forth from the spirit of God? And bath there not been the same since the days of the apostles ? And how many have risen, since truth appeared, to oppose the order which stands in the power and spirit of God? who are but in the same spirit, which hath opposed the spirit of God all along from the beginning. And see, what names or titles the spirit of God gave that opposing spirit in the old covenant, and also in the new, which ie the same now as was : for after the Lord had given forth the old covenant, there were some among themselves that did oppose, which were worse than public enemies. And likewise after, in the days of the new covenant, in the gospel-times, you may see what sort did oppose both Christ and the apostles, after they came to some sights of the truth, and how they turned against Christ and his apostles ? And see what liberty they pleaded for, and ran into in the apostles' days, who could not abide the cross, the yoke of Jesus. And therefore we see the same rough and high spirit cries now for liberty (which the power and spirit of Christ cannot give,) and cries imposition, and yet is impo-ing; and cries liberty of conscience, and yet is opposing liberty of conscience; and cries against prescriptions, and yet is prescribing both in words and writing so with the everlasting power and spirit of God this spirit is fathomed; its rise, beginning and end; and it is judged. And this spirit cries, we must not judge conscience; we must not judge matters of faith; and we must not judge the spirits, nor religions, &c. Yes; they that be in the pure spirit and power of God, which the apostles were in; they judge of conscience, whether it be a seared conscience or a tender conscience they judge of faith, whether it be a dead one, or a living one: they judge of religion, whether it be vain, or pure or defiled: they judge of spirits, and try them whether they be of God or no: they judge of hope, whether it be of hypocrites, or