Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pluralism? Not for Samuel Rutherford

Samuel Rutherford Refutes Roger Williams Regarding Toleration, Sectarianism and Peace

(The original spelling, from the 1649 edition of Rutherford's Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, has been retained.)

Mr. Roger Williams writes in his book, The Bloody Tenet:

Whether peace of civill societies be sure, where there is toleration of all Religions, and what peace Christians can have in Toleration.

Civill peace is pax civitatis, the peace of the citie, Jer.29.7. Pray for the peace of the Citie, which [or so that the ] peace of the citie or citizens so compacted in a civill way of union, may be intire, unbroken, and safe. Notwithstanding [the] many thousands of Gods people, the Jewes, [who] were there in bondage, and would neither be constrained to the worship of the City of Babell, nor restrained from so much of the worship of the true God, as they could practise, as is plain in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would rather suffer, then desist from true worship, or practice false: So the Amoricans and wildest Papists keep the peace of their Townes and Cities safe and distinct, where there is no spirituall and heavenly peace. (Bloody Tenet, cap. 6. p.24,25.)

Rutherford replies, answering his charge that the Americans and papists have opressive governments that lack true peace because they do not tolerate other faiths.

[Begin Quote]
Peace is commanded in the new Testament. [But] no word of toleration of divers Religions, which are the Seminaries of discords between the seed of the woman and the Serpents seed, in all the New Testament, is to be found by precept, promise, or practice, nor any ground of repealing judicial Lawes for punishing seducing teachers.

Answer. All this is to prove that there may be no breach of Citie peace, or civil peace, where there are multitudes of sundry Religions. But 1. the man should remember, there is a Christian externall peace, which in an ordinarie providence can not be kept, where there be divers Religions, and sundry waies of worshipping Christ, & we beleeve our Saviour intendeth so much, Mat.10:34. Thinke not that I am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace, but the sword. v.35. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother. Luke 21.16. And ye shall be betrayed both by your parents, brethren, kinsfolks, and friends, and some of you they shall cause to be put to death.

And what is the quarrell, but divers Religions and waies of worship about Christ. So Paul exhorteth to Christian peace, Ephes.4:3. Indeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, not because of contrary Religions, and many Sectaries called the holy partie that are to bee tolerated in meeknesse and mutuall forbearance: But v.5. Because there is but one Lord, one faith, one baptisme, and but one Religion whether Presbyteriall or Independent, and since the Apostles and Christ in the New Testament so often recommend peace, and never once insinuate forbearance in diversitie of Religion, and all the Apostles and Apostolike Church had but one Religion, toleration of many Religions not being a part of the New Testament liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, as is the libertie from Ceremonies, and righteousness by the Law, that the foolish Galathians affected, Gal.5.1,2, We conclude there is a Law against Toleration of many Religions, not any repealing of that Law in the New Testament, but divers Religions expressely forbidden as contrary to peace, and foretold to fall out as sad judgements, Mat.10.35. Mat.24.24. Luke 21.14,15,16,17,18. I Tim.4.1,2,3,4. 2 Tim.3.5,6,7,8. 2 Joh.10.

Our Adversaries are obliged to give us precept, promise, or godly practice, why a moral sin forbidden and severely punished in the Old Testament, should yet remain a moral sin in the New Testament, and yet not be punishable by men or churches. Did not Solomons toleration of the Idolatrous worship, I Kings 11, provoke the Lord to anger? How can one then maintain that his wives consciences' should not have been compelled to leave off the worshipping of the Gods of the Moabites and Ammonites by appealing to Rom. 14.19? Let us follow after the thing that makes for peace (saith Paul) but toleration of many Religions is contrary to peace, if one of them be the only true way, the rest are all false ways. The mixture of the two contrary seeds, the seed of the Serpent, and the seed of the woman must be against peace; and Paul exhorting to union and Christian peace, thinks many Religions, many Sects and opinions tolerated, 1 Cor.1.10. to be just contrary to peace. Now I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that here be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joyned together in the same minde, and in the same judgement.

Hence he seriously exhorts from Schismes and Sects, whereas upon supposition of divers Sects, all being godly, we should have some charitable precepts commanding men of divers Religions to bear with one another. But where is that written? and if they dwell together peaceably, why but they may marry together, Achab then in marrying the King of the Zidonians daughter, failed not, and he married her wicked Religion. Clotildis the daughter of Clodoveus married Almaricus the Arrian, King of the Wisigots, the Maid being educated in the sound faith, but Procopius, l. 1. Bell. Gothorum said, there was never peace between them.

As for Mr. Williams Chaldean and Heathenish or American peace, we leave it to himself; the peace the people of God was to pray for, Jer.29. was onely outward prosperity, freedome from the Sword of Egypt, and from other Nations, that the captive Church might also partake of that peace. But I hope Jeremiah bade not the people of God in Judea, under the Babylonish captivity, follow an Heathenish peace, with toleration of divers Religions, or yet a Religious peace, or a Church peace, that standeth well with many Religions. Actually they [the Jews] are to denounce wrath against the Chaldee Religion, Jer.10.11. and would he have Christians all keeping such an Heathenish unity and peace, as Babylonians and Americans have, and in the mean time tolerate all Religions? Christians who have one God, and one faith, and one hope are to follow more then a Civill and Heathenish peace.

Libertines give us heathenish, not Christians peace under many Religions. It is therefore in vaine for Libertines to tell us, that Abraham lived long amongst the Canaanites, who were contrary to him in Religion, Gen.13. and Isaac with them, Gen.26. and Jacob twenty years with Laban an Idolater, Gen.31. Israel in Egypt 430 years, in Babylon 70. Israel under the Romans with Herodians, Pharisees. What of all these? the godly Rulers and Church, sometimes Pilgrims, sometimes servants, sometimes captives, never having the Sword nor power of it as Magistrates to take order with false Teachers, did peaceably dwell with them, ergo, godly Magistrates armed with the Sword, must now suffer the Sheep of Christ, to be worried and preyed upon by Wolves? this consequence is nothing, this is a facto ad jus, and to argue from the controverted practice of Heathen.
Excerpted from: A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience by Samuel Rutherford, pp. 331-334

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