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greatest deliverers, and had the people wholly at their devotion, by so discharging their trust as we see, did not only weaken and unfit themselves to be dispensers of what liberty they pretended, but unfitted also the people, now grown worse and more disordinate, to receive or to digest any liberty at all. For stories teach us, that liberty sought out of season, in a corrupt and degenerate age, brought Rome itself to a farther slavery: for liberty hath a sharp and double edge, fit only to be handled by just and virtuous men; to bad and dissolute, it becomes a mischief unwieldy in their own hands: neither is it completely given, but by them who have the happy skill to know what is grievance and unjust to a people, and how to remove it wisely; what good laws are wanting, and how to frame them substantially, that good men may enjoy the freedom whch they merit, and the bad the curb which they need. But to do this, and to know these exquisite proportions, the heroic wisdom which is required, surmounted far the principles of these narrow politicians: what wonder then if they sunk as these unfortunate Britons before them, entangled and oppressed with things too hard and generous above their strain and temper? For Britain, to speak a truth not often spoken, as it is a land fruitful enough of men stout and courageous in war, so it is naturally not overfertile of men able to govern justly and prudently in peace, trusting only in their mother-wit; who
consider not justly, that civility, prudence, love of the public good, more than of money or vain honor, are to this soil in a manner outlandish; grow not here, but in minds well implanted with solid and elaborate breeding, too impolitic else and rude, if not headstrong and intractable to the industry and virtue either of executing or understanding true civil government. Valiant indeed, and prosperous to win a field; but to know the end and reason of winning unjudicious and unwise: in good or bad success alike unteachable. For the sun, which we want, ripens wits as well as fruits; and as wine and oil are imported to us from abroad, so must ripe understanding, and many civil virtues, be imported into our minds from foreign writings, and examples of best ages: we shall else miscarry still, and come short in the attempts of any great enterprise. Hence did their victories prove as fruitless as their losses dangerous; and left them still conquering under the same grievances that men suffer conquered; which was indeed unlikely to go otherwise, unless men more than vulgar bred up, as few of them were, in the knowledge of ancient and illustrious deeds, invincible against many and vain titles, impartial to friendships and relations, had conducted their affairs: but then from the chapman to the retailer, many whose ignorance was more audacious than the rest, were admitted, with all their sordid rudiments, to bear no mean sway among them, both in church and state.
From the confluence of all their errors, mischiefs, and misdemeanors, what in the eyes of men could be expected, but what befell those ancient inhabitants, whom they so much resembled, confusion in the end?
RUE religion is the true worship and
service of God, learned and believed
from the word of God only. No man or angel can know how God would be
worshipped and served unless God reveal it: he hath revealed and taught it us in the Holy Scriptures by inspired ministers, and in the Gospel by his own Son and his Apostles, with strictest command, to reject all other traditions or additions whatsoever.
With good and religious reason, therefore, all Protestant churches with one consent, and particularly the Church of England in her thirty-nine articles, article 6th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and elsewhere, maintain these two points, as the main principles of true religion, that the rule of true religion is the word of God only; and that their faith ought not to be an implicit faith, that is, to believe, though as the Church believes, against or without express authority of Scripture. And if
all Protestants, as universally as they hold these two principles, so attentively and religiously would observe them, they would avoid and cut off many debates and contentions, schisms and persecutions, which too oft have been among them, and more firmly unite against the common adversary. For hence it directly follows, that no true Protestant can persecute, or not tolerate, his fellow-Protestant, though dissenting from him in some opinions, but he must flatly deny and renounce these two his own main principles, whereon true religion is founded; while he compels his brother from that which he believes as the manifest word of God, to an implicit faith (which he himself condemns) to the endangering of his brother's soul, whether by rash belief, or outward conformity: for "whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Let us now inquire whether Popery be tolerable or no. Popery is a double thing to deal with, and claims a twofold power, ecclesiastical and political, both usurped, and the one supporting the other.
But, ecclesiastical is ever pretended to political. The pope by this mixed faculty pretends right, to kingdoms and states, and especially to this of England, thrones and unthrones kings, and absolves the people from their obedience to them; sometimes interdicts to whole nations the public worship of God, shutting up their churches: and was wont to drain away greatest part of the wealth of this then miserable land, as part of his patrimony, to