From On the Absurdity of Authoritative Toleration of Gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry by John Brown of Haddington
Toleration of heresies is a licence for heretics to war against the Most High
If, Sir, as you pretend, magistrates ought to tolerate heresy, idolatry and blasphemy, then a power and office derived from God ought to be employed and executed in encouraging the most shocking dishonours and outrage against Him; the authority of God, placed in, and exercised by, magistrates, would then to be set in opposition to His own immediate authority, manifested in His word. This would suggest that they, as ministers of God for good to men:
- ought to license and encourage His enemies to deny, pervert, and revile His truths contained in His oracles, and confirmed by the blood of His Son, and to introduce the most accursed and damnable errors into their place, in His church;
- ought to give the devil and his agents as much countenance and assistance in driving men to hell, as they give to Jesus Christ and His faithful servants in leading them to heaven; and
- ought to give a company of wizards as much countenance and protection in worshipping the devil and his angels, as a society of precious saints worshipping the Lord and His Christ, in the beauty of holiness.
In short, authoritative tolerations of heresy, blasphemy or idolatry are solemn proclamations issued forth by the deputies of God, in His name, bearing that Satan and his emissaries have full liberty granted them to cast forth their floods of error, and every abomination that proceeds from it, for the dishonour of God, and the temporal and eternal destruction of men. Nor, for ought I know, have they ever neglected to improve their opportunity; as the issues of the tolerations granted by Cromwell, King James VII and Queen Anne, in part manifest.
The absurdity of a government tolerating Popery
How absurd then, after all the amazing deliverances from it, which God has mercifully bestowed upon us—after all that our fathers have suffered from it—after all our public and solemn engagements to God, or to men, against it, and when the very accession of our sovereign King George and his family to the British throne, and their establishment, depends on the nation’s detestation of popery, and when the tremendous destruction of its votaries [adherents] draws nigh (Rev 14, Rev 16 & Rev 18:4-8), would it be for our rulers to grant any authoritative toleration of a pretended religion. For popery is:
- a religion that tramples on our Bibles, which God inspired, and requires us to search as the means of our eternal salvation (2 Tim 3:15-17, 2nd Pet 1:19-21, Isa 8:20, John 5:39, Acts 17:11 & Col 3:16);
- a religion that blasphemes these oracles of God as imperfect, obscure, destitute of any fixed meaning or conscience-binding authority until they receive it from the Pope or his councils, and as infinitely dangerous to the temporal, spiritual and eternal interests of men, if perused without a pontifical licence (Dan 7:25, Dan 11:36, 2nd Thess 2:4 & 2 Tim 4:4);
- a religion which overthrows the full mediation of our Redeemer, confining His mediatorial work to His manhood, and making saints, angels, crosses, images, etc., mediators of satisfaction, intercession, or saving influence, along with Him, and the Pope and his clergy, infallible prophets, sin expiating priests, and kingly dispensers of spiritual privileges, and formers of laws and offices in the church (Dan 2:36-39, Dan 7:25, & Rev 17:14);
- a blasphemous religion, which in the most daring manner, reproaches and misrepresents God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and what belongs to Him, and ascribes His excellencies and prerogatives to creatures (Dan 7:25, Dan 11:36-38, 2nd Thess 2:4, Rev 8:1, 5, 6, Rev 17:3);
- a religion wholly given to superstition, mingling multitudes of heathenish or other human or devilish ceremonies, with every part of its worship (Dan 7:25, 2nd Tim 4:4 with Mat 28:20, & Deut 12:32);
- a religion full of abominable idolatries, giving to multitudes of saints and angels, images, relics and consecrated wafers, that worship and glory which is due to God alone (Dan 11:38, 39, 2nd Thess 4:4, Rev 9:20, 21, Rev 13:3, 4, & Rev 14:9-11);
- a religion pregnant with the most shocking villainies, pretended miracles, dispensing with, or commuting the most solemn engagements;
- a religion which includes indulgence of equivocation and mental reservation in oaths, and inculcating breach of faith with heretics (when for the advantage of the Romish church);
- a religion which, by holding multitudes of sins to be venial [i.e., a “small sin’ that does not deserve eternal damnation], including
- the sale of pardons and indulgences,
- prohibiting clergymen and devotees to marry, and
- licensing of stews [i.e., brothels],
promotes the most horrible debauchery (Dan 11:36-39, 2nd Thess 2:3, 7, 9-12, 1st Tim 4:1-3, 2nd Tim 3:1-6, 8, 13, Rev 9:21, Rev 11:8, Rev 13:13, Rev 14, Rev 16:13, 14, Rev 17:2, 3, 5, & Rev 18:2);
- a bloody religion, in the propagation and maintenance of which, about sixty millions of mankind, many of them saints, have been murdered, in the most cruel and inhuman forms (Dan 7:25, Rev 8:13, Rev 9:11, 21, Rev 11:2, 7, Rev 13:2, 7, Rev 17:6, Rev 18:24, Rev 16:2); and
- a religion, the cordial and persevering profession and practice of which, God hath declared inevitably damning (1 Thess 2:3, 9-12, Rev 9:11, Rev 17:11, Rev 14:9-11, Rev 19:20 & Rev 20:10).