From On the Absurdity of Authoritative Toleration of Gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry
Magistrates are to promote godliness
The power which magistrates have, as ministers of God for good to men, ought to be so exercised as most effectually conduces to make all their subjects live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, and make all men come to a saving knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim 2:1, 2, 4. But how can those magistrates who allow or protect men in ungodliness, blasphemy, and idolatry, promote such an end? Has not God himself testified that heresy, as well as blasphemy and idolatry, like a canker, eat out the doctrine which is according to godliness, and increase unto more and more ungodliness, and make men worse and worse, till they be monstrously wicked? (Rom 1:21-32; 1 Tim 4:1-3; 1 Tim 6:3-4; 2 Tim 2:16-17; 2 Tim 4:3-4; 2 Tim 3:1-9; 2 Tim 3:13; 2 Thess 2:3-12; 2 Pet 2:1-3; 2 Pet 2:10-20)
If magistrates protect and encourage obstinate seducers in blaspheming God, reproaching his Son as a mere creature, or as an impostor (or in furiously rending his well-compacted body, the church), or in corrupting principles and morals, and ruining the souls of neighbours, children, or servants – how can such as are truly serious and ardently zealous for God fail to have their righteous souls vexed from day to day, with the damnable doctrines and filthy conversation of these wicked? (Psa 69:9; Psa 119:136; Psa 119:139; Psa 119:158; 2 Pet 2:8). To truly zealous saints, a den of thieves is no more of a grievous neighbour than is a synagogue of Satan.
Magistrates cannot promote godliness, with fear, if they permit evil to fester and grow?
All magistrates ruling over men must be just, ruling in the fear of the Lord, 2 Sam 23:3. But how can they be just if they dispose of that protection or encouragement, [and rather turn] to that which dishonours and provokes God to the highest, saps the foundation of all true virtue, and produces the most ruinous practices, all which are due to that doctrine, worship, and practice which is according to godliness, and promotes glory, honour, immortality, eternal life? How can they rule in the fear of God, if, in their magisterial administrations, they shew no regard to that religion by which His declarative glory is advanced, but instead license, protect, and encourage, that which infinitely dishonours and offends Him?