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Property. whatsoever, as fad experience hath made manifeft. Governours invading this particular natural right of men's examining and judging for themselves, has been the original spring and fountain from whence have flowed all those cruel and lamentable barbarities of imprisonment and banishment, burnings and massecres, wars and bloodshed, confiscating of goods, laying cities and countries waste, and all the miseries that attend it; I say, all these that have been practised by the christian world, upon the account of religion, have been caused by governours invading the aforesaid natural propera ty of their people."
If it should be objected, that the allowing all men a liberty to examine and judge for themselves, as aforesaid, has a tendency to pervert men's minds, by opening a door to all sorts of errors and bersfies; and therefore such a liberty ought to be restrained, by obliging all societies to submit their judgments to the judgment of those to whose care and government they are committed, who are suppołed to be better qualified to examine and judge for them, than they are for themselves.
Answer, first, that governours are better qualified to examine and judge what is truth, and what is'error, than those focieties committed to their care, is not always true in fact ; but fupposing it were, yet still every man must examine and judge for himself, because every man is accountable for himself, and must answer for his own opinions and actions at the day of judgment; no man being there substituted to answer, or to be punished or rewarded for another man's actions, any farther then he hath been an accesory in those actions, and in that cafe he answers only for that part which he was an accessory in, and the acter himself must give an account for all the part he bore in those acts..
Answer, secondly, that men's enjoying their. right and property, in examining and judging for themselves, has a tendency to pervert men's minds is not true; because examination is a friend and not an enemy to truth. Error and falfhood are what will not abide examination; and therefore they fly from it, and seek to human laws for sanca çuary ånd propagation. How many errors are there in the Church of Rome, which probably would soon vanish, were they not defended and propagated by human laws? whereas truth loves the light, and comes to the light, and submits herself to every man's examination. Truth will bear 'examination, and thrives by it, and never suffers more than when she is surrounded with darkness. Truth is best guarded and propagated by free examination, and has no need or propagation by human laws, because she can better recommend herself without them; and therefore the allowing all men a liberty to examine and judge for themselves, has not" a tendency, in itself to pervert men's minds, as the objection supposes."
Answer, thirdly, allowing that such a liberty, opens a door to all sorts of errors," as the objection fets forth, yet it does not follow that therefore it ought to be taken away; it being very unreasona, ble and unjust to infer, that because some men have misapplied and abused their property, therefore all property must be taken away; such kind of reaJoning as this would deprive all mankind of every priviledge and comfort they enjoy, yea, even of life it self; to allow men the use of speech, opens à door to lying, perjury, Mander, blafphemy, and a multitude of other disorders of the tongue; and therefore 'tis neceffary ( according to this sort of reasoning ) that the use of speech should be taken away from fociety. Eating and drinking opens a door to glu tony and drunkenness, to riots and disora L 2
eating and drinking ought to be allowed only to those who are the governours of society, who are supposed to have a better command of their appetites than to abuse their liberty, as aforesaid. But such kind of reasoning as this is monstrous. Every man ought to be secure in the enjoyment of his property, and if men, at any time, abuse their liberty, they are accountable to God for that abuse; and so far as such an abuse affeets the society to which they belong, so far they are accountable for it to that society. And therefore, supposing that á man should so far misapply his property in the present case, as to draw any wrong conclusions in his reasoning upon any subject, and should be led into an error hereby, and should likewise propose that error as a truth to others, together with the grounds and reasons upon which he assents to it, in such a case, he ought, in reason, not only to be tolerated herein, but also to be proteEted and secured in the use of this his natural property (provided he is not injurious to the personal character or property of others, or the common rights of mankind) because truth is what every man has an equal right to, and interest in, and what every man has a natural right to be an advocate for; and therefore every man ought in reason to be secure, both in his enquiries after truth, and in his offering his arguments and reasons for what he judges to be so: and tho' he mistakes herein, he ought not to be persecuted for his error, but to be protefted in the enjoyment of his property. If his error leads him to practice that which is hurtful to society, then the government is to restrain and keep him from such practices; and as this is a securing the property of others, which he would invade, so it is not an invasion of his property, be, cause no man hath a right and property to invade
the right and property of others, tho' he should be never strongly persuaded that he has ; his error makes no alteration in the case: and therefore, tho' he is to be protected in his examining and judging for himself, and tho' he ought to determine his practice from his own, and not from other men's judgments of things, yet he is not to be protected in, but prevented from invading the right and property of others.
Again, As man is made a free accountable crea ture, and as he is accountable to God, who is the author of his being, and as his happiness or misery depend upon the good or bad use he makes of his liberty, in his approving or disapproving himself to God, and as it is his natural underived right to examine and judge for himself, what is truth, and what is error in every case, except his liberty be restrained, either by the light of nature, or di. vine revelation; so it is his natural right to chuse for himself that way and method of serving God, and recommending himself to his favour which, upon a thorough examination, appears to him to be most agreeable to God's will(which we commonly call religion) I say, that it is the natural and underived right of every man to chuse his own religion, because his own eternal happiness or misery. depend upon that choice. This is as much his natural right, as his right to his natural life.. This is a right that he can never forfeit, as he may some other natural rights. The naturl right to life may be forfeited, as he that invades the life of his neighbour forfeits his own life, to the society to which he belongs. Gen. ix 6. He tbat meddeth. man's blood, by man mall his blood be led; but a pian's right to chufe his own religion, is what he can never forfeit; and as this is the natural right of every man, so it is the business of government, not only to tolerate; but to keep every man in the
quiet poffeffion of this his natural property, and to defend aud guard him from every injury which he is liable to; in the use and enjoyment of it. Só likewise on the other side, if governours should be 1o far from fecuring the people, committed to their care, in the enjoyment of this their natural property, that on the contrary they chuse a religion for their people, and require them to submit to their choice, and persecute those that do not ; this is a very great invasion of men's natural property, and is highly criminal in any government, and has most fatal consequences attending it; because if a false religion happens to be established, it is propagated as far as the power of the establishers can extend it, and is continued down
from generation to generation. ! If it should be objected, first, that such liberty
would throw all things into confusion, by opening a door to schism and fastion, and therefore such a liberty ought not to be allowed. Answer, The aforesaid liberty hath no such tendency, because such a liberty is a friend, and not an enemy to peace and unity; there is nothing in the nature of the thing which can more 'tend to the peace and unity of any society, nor to the security of any govern'ment, than for every one of that fociety to have the free use and enjoyment of all their rights and properties, and to be secured from every invader; whereas on the other side, when men's rights and properties are invaded, it is very difficult for them to be easy under such oppressions, and this lays a foundation for schism and faction, and tho’to avoid the perfecution which attends refusing to submit to the establisaed religion, men do play the bypocrite for a time; yet when; time and opportunity serve, they are apt to cast off the yoke from their neck, and that often proves very fatal both to the governours and to the fociety. But allowing what