from "The Simple Cobbler of Aggawamm in America"
...First, such as have given or taken any unfriendly reports of us New-English, should doe well to recollect themselves. Wee have beene reputed a Colluvies of wild Opinionists, swarmed into a remote wildernes to find elbow-roome for our phanatick Doctrines and practises: I trust our diligence past, and constant sedulity against such persons and courses, will plead better things for us. I dare take upon me, to bee the Herald of.New-EngIand so farre, as to proclaime to the world, in the name of our Colony, that all Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other Enthusiasts shall have free Liberty to keepe away from us, and such as will come to be gone as fast as they can, the sooner the better.
Secondly, I dare averre, that God doth no where in his word tolerate Christian States, to give Tolerations to such adversaries of his Truth, if they have power in their hands to suppresse them....
If the devil might have his free option, I believe he would ask nothing else, but liberty to enfranchize all other Religions, and to embondage the true; nor should he need. It is much to be feared that lax tolerations upon state pretenses and planting necessities, will be the next subtle stratagem he will spread, to distaste the truth of God and supplant the peace of the churches. Tolerations in things tolerable, exquisitely drawn out by the lines of the Scripture, and pencil of the spirit, are the sacred favours of Truth, the due latitudes of Love, the fair compartiments of Christian fraternity: but irregular dispensations, dealt forth by the facilities of men, are the frontiers of error, the redoubts of schism, the perilous irritaments of carnal enmity.
My heart hath naturally detested four things: The standing of the Apocrypha in the Bible; foreigners dwelling in my country, to crowd out native subjects into the corners of the Earth; alchemized coins; tolerations of divers religions, or of one religion in segregant shapes: He that willingly assents to the last, if he examines his heart by daylight, his conscience will tell him, he is either an atheist, or an heretic, or an hypocrite, or at best a captive to some lust. Poly-piety is the greatest impiety in the world. True religion is ignis probationis [fire of proof], which doth congregare homogenea & segregare heterogenia. [congregate the homogeneous and segregate the heterogeneous].
Not to tolerate things meerly indifferent to weak consciences, argues a conscience too strong: pressed uniformity in these, causes much disunity: To tolerate more then indifferents, is not to deale indifferently with God: He that doth it, takes his Scepter out of his hand, and bids him stand by. Who hath to doe to institute Religion but God. The power of all Religion and Ordinances, lies in their purity: their purity in their simplicity: then are mixtures pernicious. I lived in a City, where a Papist preached in one Church, a Lutheran in another, a Calvinist in a third--a Lutheran one part of the day, a Calvinist the other, in the same Pulpit: the Religion of that place was but motley and meagre, their affections Leopard-like.
If the whole Creature should conspire to do the Creator a mischief or offer him an insolency, it would be in nothing more, then cling untruths against his truth, or by sophisticating his truths with human medleys. The removing of some one iota in scripture may draw out all the life, and traverse all the truth of the whole Bible; but to authorize an untruth, by a toleration of state, is to build a sconce against the walls of heaven, to batter God out of his chair. To tell a practical lie is a great sin, but yet transient; but to set up a theoretical untruth, is to warrant every lie that lies from its to the top of every branch it hath, which are not a few....
That State is wise, that will improve all paines and patience rather to compose, then tolerate differences in Religion. There is no divine Truth, but hath much Celestiall fire in it from the Spirit of Truth: nor no irreligious untruth, without its proportion of Antifire from the spirit of Error to contradict it: the zeale of the one, the virulency of the other, must necessarily kindle Combustions. Fiery diseases seated in the spirit, imbroile the whole frame of the body: others more externall and cool, are less dangerous. They which divide in Religion, divide in God; they who divide in him, divide beyond Genus Generalissimum, where there is no reconciliation, without atonement--that is, without uniting in him, who is One, and in his Truth, which is also one....
Wise are those men who will be persuaded rather to live within the pale of truth where they may be quiet than in the purlieus where they are sure to be hunted ever and anon, do authority what it can. Every singular opinion hath a singular opinion of itself, and he that holds it, a singular opinion of himself, and a simple opinion of all contrasentients. He that confutes them, must confute all three at once, or else he does nothingâ€“which will not be done without more stir than the peace of the State or Church can endure.
And prudent are those Christians, that will rather give what may be given, then hazard all by yielding nothing. To sell all peace of Country, to buy some peace of conscience unseasonably, is more avarice than thrift, imprudence than patience: they deal not equally, that set any Truth of God at such a rate; but they deal wisely that will stay till the Market is fallen....
Concerning Tolerations I may further assert.
That Persecution of true Religion, and Toleration of false, are the jannes and jambres to the Kingdome of Christ, whereof the last is farre the worst....
Augustine's tongue had not owed his mouth one pennyrent though it had never spake word more in it, but this, Nullum malum pejus libertate errandi [No evil is worse than liberty for the erring].
Frederick Duke of Saxon, spake not one foote beyond the mark when he said. He had rather the Earth should swallow him up quick, then he should give a toleration to any opinion against any truth of God.
He that is willing to tolerate any Religion, or discrepant way of Religion, besides his own, unless it be in matters meerly indifferent, either doubts of his own, or is not sincere in it.
He that is willing to tolerate any unsound Opinion, that his own may also be tolerated, though never so sound, will for a need hang Gods Bible at the Devills girdle.
Every Toleration of false Religions, or Opinions hath as many Errours and sins in it, as all the false Religious and Opinions it tolerates, and one sound one more.
That State that will give Liberty of Conscience in matters of Religion, must give Liberty of Conscience and Conversation in their Morall Laws, or else the Fiddle will be out of tune, and some of the strings crack.
He that will rather make an irreligious quarrel with other Religions then try the Truth of his own by valuable Arguments, and peaceable Sufferings; either his Religion, or himself is irreligious.
Experience will teach Churches and Christians, that it is farre better to live in a State united, though a little Corrupt, then in a State, whereof some Part is incorrupt, and all the rest divided.
I am not altogether ignorant of the eight Rules given by Orthodox divines about giving Tolerations, yet with their favour I dare affirm,
That there is no Rule given by God for any State to give an affirmative Toleration to any false Religion, or Opinion whatsoever; they must connive in some Cases, but may not concede in any.
That the state of England (so far as my Intelligence serves) might in time have prevented with ease, and may yet without any great difficulty deny both toleration, and connivances salva Republica.[without violation of the state].
That if the State of EngIand shall either willingly Tolerate, or weakly connive at such Courses, the Church of that Kingdome will sooner become the Devils dancing-Schoole, than Gods Temple, the civil state a bear-garden than an exchange... And what pity it is, that that Country which hath been the Staple of Truth to all Christendom, should now become the Aviary of Errors to the whole world, let every fearing heart judge.
I take Liberty of Conscience to be nothing but a freedom from sinne, and error... And Liberty of Errour nothing but a Prison for Conscience. Then small will be the kindnesse of a State to build such Prisons for their Subjects.
The Scripture saith, there is nothing makes free but Truth, and Truth faith, there is no Truth but one: If the States of the World would make it their summ-operous Care to preserve this One Truth in its purity and Authority it would case you of all other Politicall cares. I am sure Satan makes it his grand, if not only task, to adulterate Truth; Falsehood is his sole Scepter, whereby he first ruffled, and ever since ruined the World. . . .
There is talk of an universall Toleration, I would talke as loud as I could against it, did I know what more apt and reasonable Sacrifice England could offer to God for his late performing all his heavenly Truths then an universall Toleration of all hellish Errors, or how they shall make an universall Reformation, but by making Christ's Academy the Devil's University,...
It is said, That Men ought to have Liberty of their Conscience, and that it is persecution to debarre them of it: I can rather stand amazed then reply to this: it is an astonishment to think that the braines of men should be parboiled in such impious ignorance; Let all the wits under the Heavens lay their heads together and find an Assertion worse then this (one excepted) I will petition to be chosen the universall Idiot of the world....