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maintain the pride and luxury of his court and prelates; and now, since, through the infinite mercy and favor of God, we have shaken off his Babylonish yoke, hath not ceased by his spies and agents, bulls and emissaries, once to destroy both king and Parliament; perpetually to seduce, corrupt, and pervert as many as they can of the people. Whether therefore it be fit or reasonable to tolerate men thus principled in religion towards the state, I submit it to the consideration of all magistrates, who are best able to provide for their own and the public safety. As for tolerating the exercise of their religion, supposing their stateactivities not to be dangerous, I answer, that toleration is either public or private; and the exercise of their religion, as far as it is idolatrous, can be tolerated neither way: not publicly, without grievous and unsufferable scandal given to all conscientious beholders; not privately, without great offence to God, declared against all kind of idolatry, though secret. Ezek. viii. 7, 8.
Having shown thus, that Popery, as being idolatrous, is not to be tolerated either in public or private; it must be now thought how to remove it, and hinder the growth thereof, I mean in our natives, and not foreigners, privileged by the law of nations. Are we to punish them by corporal punishment, or fines in their estates, upon account of their religion? I suppose it stands not with the
clemency of the Gospel, more than what appertains to the security of the state: but first we must remove their idolatry, and all the furniture thereof, whether idols or the mass wherein they adore their God under bread and wine: for the commandment forbids to adore, not only "any graven image, but the likeness of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them nor worship them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." If they say, that by removing their idols we violate their consciences, we have no warrant to regard conscience which is not grounded on Scripture and they themselves confess, in their late defences, that they hold not their images necessary to salvation, but only as they are enjoined them by tradition.
St. Paul judged, that not only to tolerate, but to examine and prove all things, was no danger to our holding fast that which is good. How shall we prove all things, which includes all opinions at least founded on Scripture, unless we not only tolerate them, but patiently hear them, and seriously read them? If he who thinks himself in the truth professes to have learnt it, not by implicit faith, but by attentive study of the Scriptures, and full persuasion of heart, with what equity can he refuse to hear or read him who demonstrates to have gained his knowledge by the same way? Is it a fair course to assert truth, by arrogating to
himself the only freedom of speech, and stopping the mouths of others equally gifted? This is the direct way to bring in that Papistical implicit faith, which we all disclaim. They pretend it would unsettle the weaker sort; the same groundless fear is pretended by the Romish clergy. At least, then, let them have leave to write in Latin, which the common people understand not; that what they hold may be discussed among the learned only. We suffer the idolatrous books of Papists, without this fear, to be sold and read as common as our own: why not much rather of Anabaptists, Arians, Arminians, and Socinians? There is no learned. man but will confess he hath much profited by reading controversies, his senses awakened, his judgment sharpened, and the truth which he holds more firmly established. If then it be profitable for him to read, why should it not at least be tolerable and free for his adversary to write? In logic they teach, that contraries laid together more evidently appear: it follows, then, that all controversy being permitted, falsehood will appear more false, and truth the more true; which must needs conduce much, not only to the confounding of Popery, but to the general confirmation of unimplicit truth.
TO BENEDETTO BUONMATTAI, a Florentine.
AM glad to hear, my dear Buonmattai, that you are preparing new institutes of your native language, and have just brought the work to a conclusion. The
way to fame which you have chosen is the same as that which some persons of the first genius have embraced; and your fellow-citizens seem ardently to expect that you will either illustrate or amplify, or at least polish and methodize, the labors of your predecessors. By such a work, you will lay your countrymen under no common obligation, which they will be ungrateful if they do not acknowledge. For I hold him to deserve the highest praise who fixes the principles and forms the manners of a state, and makes the wisdom of his administration conspicuous both at home and abroad. But I assign the second place to him, who endeavors by precepts and by rules to perpetuate that style and idiom of speech and composition which have flourished in the purest periods of the language, and
who, as it were, throws up such a trench around it, that people may be prevented from going beyond the boundary almost by the terrors of a Romulean prohibition. If we compare the benefits which each of these confer, we shall find that the former alone can render the intercourse of the citizens just and conscientious, but that the latter gives that gentility, that elegance, that refinement which are next to be desired. The one inspires lofty courage and intrepid ardor against the invasion of an enemy; the other exerts himself to annihilate that barbarism which commits more extensive ravages on the minds of men, which is the intestine enemy of genius and literature, by the taste which he inspires, and the good authors which he causes to be read. Nor do I think it a matter of little moment whether the language of a people be vitiated or refined, whether the popular idiom be erroneous or correct. This consideration was more than once found salutary at Athens. It is the opinion of Plato, that changes in the dress and habits of the citizens portend great commotions and changes in the state; and I am inclined to believe, that when the language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin or their degradation. For what do terms used without skill or meaning, which are at once corrupt and misapplied, denote, but a people listless, supine, and ripe for servitude? On the contrary, we have never