“Philalethes” Pens Sharp Critique of Quaker War Tax Compliance

I finally tracked down a copy of a rare tract published around with the typically-loquacious title of


How paid by the Beſt Chriſtians,
And to what Purpoſe.

Some Remarks on the late vigorous Expedition againſt CANADA.

Of Civil Government,
How Inconſiſtent it is with the Government of Chriſt in his Church.

Compared with the Ancient Juſt and Righteous Principles of the Quakers, and their Modern Practice and Doctrine.

With ſome Notes upon the Diſcipline of their Church in this Province, eſpecially at Philadelphia.

The given author is a pseudonymous “Philalethes,” a pseudonym used by Thomas Maule (though I’m not entirely certain this particular tract was written by Maule). (The author was probably William Rakestraw.)

It’s all kinds of delightful — a bit like an internet flame war hundreds of years ahead of its time. In sharp contrast with most of the records of Quaker debates about tax resistance, which tend to be civil, sober, and respectful — this one sneers and pulls no punches.

His argument goes beyond the question of war taxes to address the thorny issue of whether Quakers, now that they found themselves able to wield political power in some of the American colonies, could with integrity serve both the church and the state, or whether this inevitably meant trying and failing to serve two masters — God and Mammon.

I’ll reproduce some excerpts from the tract here today, with some editing:

  • I’ve updated the 18th centuryiſms — strange spellings, obsolete pronoun forms, the amuſing long “s”, arbitrary capitalization of nouns, and other such.
  • I’ve made some changes to punctuation for clarity and to conform to modern use.
  • I’ve omitted a long section in which the author complains about the injustice of internal Quaker meeting disciplinary proceedings (of which clearly he had been on the losing side one too many times). I’ve also left out a postscript, which I’ll probably post another day, that has to do with specific cases of Quaker war tax resistance and what happened to the resisters.
  • I’ve tried to interpret as best I could the publisher’s odd and inconsistent use of italics, small-caps, quotation marks, parentheses, and such.
  • Every once in a while I had to guess at a word that was unclear in the copy of the tract I had to work with.
  • I’ve expanded some abbreviations when I knew what they stood for.

And I’ll interpolate some comments when I think it will be helpful.

Dæmona non Armis, sed Morte subegit Jesus.
He that never said nor acted any Evil,
Jesus, by Death, not Arms, Conquer’d the Devil.

Preface to the ensuing Discourse

If private conferences, remonstrances, or capitulations, for almost four years past, would have prevailed with the gravest heads we have, to have debated the point in controversy betwixt me and the church, I had not exposed in print these few sheets, so very much against the mind of some to near related to the charge. Most concerned have or might have seen it, before I sent it to the press, but it returned only with these notes: some said, “it was sharp,” another very ingenious person, of great sense, advises, not to publish it, for no other reason but my own ease; but I am more easy to print than to forbear. But what is meant by sharp I know not, unless too too true, and if so where’s the damage? I have fetched no blood; if I have, like a file, rubbed off the rust, it is but to show the pure clean mettle. “Rebuke them sharp,” says Paul. And why? because the corruption will imposthumate and turn to gangrene. The reformation was never effected by encomiums, nor polite meanage. “He’s too polemic” or “satyric” said another. No! I am neither lewd nor malicious; then satyr is proper. But who is so sharp as our own folk, whose language would not become me now. But were it no more for the sake of innocent truth, then the damage I have sustained, and the unjust wounding of my reputation, this had never peeped into the world in so mean clothing. But truth had none at her first entrance till she was dressed up by the learned, and then they made her look more like a whore than a chaste virgin. But I a plain rustic and hope to be plainly understood, without Thomas Story’s key to open the nice point, as he called it, for such was his sermon up and down the country, so nice, so new and strange, never heard of in our pulpits before, as by and by will appear; wherefore his advice was, to come to him to open the mystery.

Know Reader, this discourse is intended for none but such whose known principles from the beginning have been against coercive power and force, professing regular conformity to the laws of our blessed lord and master Christ Jesus, both in doctrine, practice, and discipline; but if any have missed it in either, I find it my duty to let them know where and how, and clear the truth from error and innovation; and if I have wronged any person or cause, let me know it, and I’ll repent and recant.

But it would look very strange if after four years pause on my papers and searching, for all I had sent to our elders, and carrying them to our yearly meeting at Burlington (for what, judge Reader) and to this day, no man ever told me of one error in all my scribbles. I say, now to charge would look very oddly; however I am not too old to learn yet; but if what I have written be unanswerable according to our own axioms, then, I hope, somebody will thank me for taking so much pains to wash the spots out of mother’s coat, not with gall but with clean water of the word of truth. No! I am neither prejudiced nor biased; but if all my labor be lost (which I hope will not) I must leave the issue to the Great Baptizer, that can wash and must wash us if ever we are clean. “Why do I differ with Friends” (say some) to which I answer that I don’t see where I differ in the least point, if by “Friends” is meant such as were called “Quakers” . But woe is me! my mother, that hath born me a man of strife and contention. I do not affect quarrels; but for strife or lawful striving, and contending heartily for the principles of our primitive, most holy profession, it falls to my lot; and woe is me if I do not do it. Is there not a cause when I see errors creeping in so fast? What! though the church have a plenipotentiary power let her not exceed her commission, nor bind that which her head, Christ, has freed, etc. He never allowed her a juridictive power. The highest degree of her authority is but a censure. If that will not do the civil magistrate must. But if the members of the true church will be civil magistrates, they must divest themselves of the canonic gown; lay by their spiritual sword and put on their wardrobes and take up the carnal weapon. This is and has been the trade of our spiritual shepherds this thirty years, to my knowledge; and when this piece of carnal drudgery is over, it is but putting on their pontificalibus, and then go to church and sing divine service and be as spiritual as ever, till next court, etc.

Tribute to Cæsar

That which induced me to write the following periods was the one half of a sermon preached by Thomas Story beginning with this text: “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter or see the kingdom of God.” Had he kept here and so ended, we had been edified to the furthering our progress thither.

You may remember Thomas Story from a Picket Line entry , in which he gives his opinion of the proper Christian position on war taxes. The tract continues:

But all the other half of his doctrine was to lead us to Canada; such a digression, I believe, was never known in our pulpit before, nor in any other. The text was forgot by hearers and preacher too (for ought I to know) for he never came to it again , and so left a great army of us (near two thousand souls) either to follow the camp, or pay others in our stead (which is all one) for so doing. Tribute to Cæsar was the whole burden of the story. No High-Church-Man in England, no, not Sacheverill himself could have managed the subject better.…

That’d be the Reverend Henry Sacheverill, who was railing against dissenters from the Anglican Church back in England at the time. His inflammatory rhetoric was famously parodied by Daniel Defoe in his tract “The Shortest Way with The Dissenters” — a sort of precursor to the more well-known satirical style of Swift’s “Modest Proposal” that urged England to launch a campaign of bloody extermination against dissenting sects. Sacheverill didn’t realize he was being parodied and enthusiastically praised this satirical pamphlet.

Where were we?

…I confess it amazed me as much as if (at unawares) I had been in the midst of the camp between New York and the lake. “Strange doctrine” (says one) “I never heard the like,” says another. What! was this the Quakers’ doctrine formerly? “I know it was not,” says another.

But from John 3:3 we skip to Romans 13:1–7. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers,” etc. If by the “higher powers” is meant here kings and rulers, let George Fox answer for me, as on the same occasion elsewhere, to persuade us to pay our taxes (of which more anon) see his book, entitled Several Papers Given Forth, , page 8. “Friends, to you all that desire an earthly king, etc. are not you worse than they in the days of Moses, and as blind as the Jews? etc. Did the Christians in the days of Christ and his apostles cry up any king but Christ? or to have any other ruler over them? Is he not the head of the church? Has he not all power in heaven and earth given to him? Must not all bow to and be subject to him, and all things to be done in his name? You say Peter said, honor the king and love the brotherhood, and honor all men. This doesn’t hold forth that Peter bid them set up an earthly king over them, neither do you read, though there were so many thousands convinced among them, that there was an earthly king among them; neither do you read that there were any kings since the days of the apostles, but amongst the apostate Christians, and false church, the mother of harlots.”

But to the powers that are ordained of God, if all the powers that are, are ordained of God, then God ordains powers to plague and vex his own royal seed, which is absurd to affirm. Besides, when the devil took Christ into the mountain, and showed him all the world, “these,” said he, “are mine, and” (Christ did not gainsay it) “I give them to whom I please;” I, the prince of this world; can any suppose this power was ordained of God? permitted it might be, as he permits wicked princes, and popes too, that tyrannize over their subjects. Are these the powers the apostle means? “Yes,” says Thomas Story, “Cæsar must be obeyed, though a Tyrant.” But I can prove all the ancient and modern reformers (Robert Barclay not excepted) oppose him. The whole world wandered after the beast; the dragon gave his power to the beast, see Revelation 12, 13, 17, prove sufficiently what powers were of God and what not. And pray, who ordained our powers here? Why, William Penn. And who ordained him supreme ruler and governor? Charles the second. And who ordained him, the whole course of his life and actions speak louder than words. But by George Fox’s rule, we as well as other earthly powers are apostates, false church and mother of harlots.

Thus by our own rules I have answered what rulers ordained are, that rule for Cæsar and themselves more than for God. I charge nobody.

The next verse, Romans 13:2: “He that resists the powers receives damnation.” I have received no damnation for resisting the ordinance; no, though I am a Low Church-man, I am for passive obedience; and where for conscience I cannot assist, I’ll not resist but suffer my pewter dishes to be taken from me, and not so much as murmur at it, as I did.

Thirdly, rulers are not a terror to good, but evil works; he that resists such rulers deserves to be whipped; and this answers and agrees with George Fox’s printed sheet sent up and down the country here to make us pay our taxes; for Cæsar’s weapons are for punishment of evil doers, etc. for which he is to have his tribute, etc. I wonder how this made for the cause in hand, to pay tribute for a vigorous war against Canada.

But hear Samuell Claridge in the same paper: “We don’t think it concerns us to inquire what the Queen does with the taxes we pay her.”

All this is granted. But take a parallel case, 1 Corinthians 10:27–28: “If any, etc. bid you to a feast, and you are disposed to go, whatsoever is set before you, eat, ask no question for conscience sake; but if any say, this is offered in sacrifice to idols, eat not,” 1 Corinthians 8:7: “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge, for some with conscience of the idol to this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” Hence I observe we ought not to ask Cæsar what he does with his dues or tribute, but pay it freely. But if he tells me it is for no other use but war and destruction, I’ll beg his pardon and say “my Master forbids it.” But some have now, as then, who with conscience defiled eat it as a thing offered to idols. Thomas Story for one, before five or six, said, “If the officer demand a tax of me, and tell me it is to maintain war, I’ll pay it.” And another preacher, C.B., “If a ship of war comes here for supplies to fight, I’ll assist to my power.” All which exceeds the text and every article of our fundamental doctrine and practice, and which is so obvious that everybody knows it. Nay, to corroborate the case, at a meeting at Byberry he the said Thomas Story thus: “Friends in England pay their taxes to kill Friends in Holland, and they in Holland to kill Friends in England.” At another meeting he said, “Friends paid their taxes, and tyrants must be obeyed, but not in their tyranny.” But these dilemmas are plain deliriums, cant, and jargon, and the whole a lump of sophistry; Romans 13:4: “For he’s the minister of God to you for good.” But if I do no evil, I need not be afraid. Romans 13:5: “You must needs be subject not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.” How for conscience? not against conscience, as being implicitly enthralled to Cæsar instead of God. By all which it plainly appears, all the noise, we have made for Tribute to Cæsar is only to his civil capacity, in the apostle’s sense, and the sense of the old Quakers too.

“Render therefore to all their dues.” This literally understood would make sad work; for had the apostle Paul obeyed all his commands, he had saved his head. It was an objection wisely answered by John Milton, viz. “religion to God and loyalty to Cæsar cannot be parted,” for it is Contrary to the plain teaching of Christ; no man can serve two masters. Our Penn as wisely says, “Our civil obedience is only due to Cæsar, not to confound the things of God with Cæsar’s; for no man can be true to him, that’s false to his own conscience, nor can he extort from it a tribute to carry on any war, much less offensive, nor ought true Christians to pay it.”

This is a fantastic quote from William Penn, but it’s proven difficult to track down (I’m not the first to try). It may be that Philalethes is quoting from memory, or from oral tradition, or from a written source that has since been lost. The surviving writings of Penn do not, as far as I know, contain anything like this direct and unambiguous endorsement of war tax resistance.

But before I go further, let me tell the Reader the cause of this great dispute about Tribute to Cæsar: thus our powers here ordained an order without any ordination but their own (for the Queen never thought on it or expected it from Quakers) for two thousand pounds for military uses (though it is denied) but if I prove it not to all but bigots, I lose the cause, but if I do (I have heard many say) they are great hypocrites.

Just upon news of the expedition to Canada our powers convened, the governor was ordered to send two hundred men (not a word of money) for this expedition. Our powers to show their loyalty to Cæsar, very frankly orders two thousand pounds to be levied in form, and the severest that ever was known here or elsewhere (it is said). And when the army was on their way, Samuel Hariot told me his sloop had been pressed, and another master sent with her if he had not gone himself, with bread and flour, freighted by the treasurer Samuel Carpenter and ordered by our governor to go first to the governor of New York, and thence to the governor of New England at Boston, to whom this cargo was delivered. How or to what uses this cargo was employed is not my business, but some that knew the thing, and can tell, and would if it did not interfere with the honor of our religion; however, it is said the army was little the better for it.

The meaning of this politic fetch (you must know) was kept under the thumb in the House, but a member, a man in boots, told them they had better be plain and above board with the country.

“Politic fetch” was a term coined by Milton for one of his rants against corrupt clergy who “countenance with their prostituted gravities every politic fetch that was then on foot, as oft as the potent statists pleased to employ them.”

But why so private, when the Jersians at the same time (a Friend the Speaker) raised a larger fund, directly and in express words for the expedition against Canada; and all the country (some few excepted) paid it, and nobody to call them to account for such unaccustomed practice among the Quakers; and yet, at the same time, the same people, to a nicety, scruple and will not pay Cæsar’s militia nor the poor parson, a civil minister, that has had acts of parliament for five hundred years to pay him tithe; “This we can’t do for conscience,” though the powers ordained do order it. How do we obey the power then, though defensive, as this was an offensive war.

But secondly, to prove this two thousand pounds was for war only too, though affirmed to the contrary, it was to the Queen and to her disposing only; if so, was it not presumption to rob her of her prerogative and give her money, ten pounds per month, to all the runaway servants that went to serve the Queen in this war? Was not this paying to maintain war? I need say no more, all the country believe it, and Thomas Story, the oracle to the powers, advised to it, with, G.O. and I.L.

G.O.” is probably Griffith Owen. “I.L.” might be James Logan?

…Who need then be ashamed to own it? But this was nuts for prelate and presbyter. “Now,” says one, “the Quakers can pray, and pay, and fight, and obey,” who before railed at them for doing neither. The other to me said, “Now you are gone, Thomas Story and G.O. have given up the cause.” By all which, I observe (as well as all thinking men) that the pulpit has always been the magazine of firebrands that used to set the world in flames, and so it does still (with grief and shame it’s spoken) in our communion, as well as in others; and all this happens because the pulpit sets up too near the chair of state.

That’s a fine quote, and a good summary of his argument, so I’ll pause to repeat it: “The pulpit has always been the magazine of firebrands that used to set the world in flames… and all this happens because the pulpit sets up too near the chair of state.”

We must have ministers of the gospel to be the powers, governors, judges, justices, statesmen, and every thing that belongs to the powers, viz. the civil, military, classic, and provincial, (George Fox notwithstanding to the contrary).

It’s no improper question, if again I ask: Who ordained these powers? for they were never heard of. If they had properly belonged to Christ’s kingdom, we should have had order upon order, and a continued succession (no doubt) of the same form of government; but alas! it’s absurd, ay, and preposterous too, to plead for such a government where Christ’s kingdom is not nor never was nor will be, viz., in the state’s polities. Another question follows: What do we there then? We, we, I mean, that above all people pretend to be most Christ-like (chew upon this a while, and try how it will digest in your stomach). I have told you often, and now again, that Christ’s kingdom is his church only; and if it be true, (and I know of none that dares to deny it) how comes it to pass that you weave the church and the state into one garment or piece? Though they were one corporation under the law, Christ made them two distinct functions, unless you’ll have gospel to be law and law gospel. I have often told our church doctors they have no more to do in Cæsar’s court than in his camp; the last they decline in conceit. But doesn’t the court maintain the camp? Doesn’t the camp defend the court? Then where’s the difference? We deny the camp in words, but in works we do maintain it, witness the bread and flour we sent them by Samuell Harriot at the very juncture, when they were going to Canada. Tush! it is mere cant to deny it. But from whence do all these blunders proceed, but from ambition, ignorance, carelessness, and a superstitious veneration to the clergy. But more of this by and by.

It seems to me as if our Moses has left us, and gone up into the mount, and committed us to the care of Aaron, who forgetting or neglecting his duty, has made a golden calf and set us all a dancing about it and sacrificing our reason and senses to it; the name of which calf is Custom, Human Tradition, Ordinance, etc. These are the gods we serve or the tyrants we obey. But Moses comes down by and by, and he’ll make dust of the idol and teach you better manners, or I am mistaken. Excuse this small digression.

I hope I have sufficiently proved the above fund and tax was raised and levied on the country for no other end but to maintain an offensive war.

The next point is to prove how inconsistent it is with our own fundamental principles, as well as the doctrine of Christ and all the primitive Christians.

It would swell my little book too big to insert all our Friends’ opinions on the subject. I’ll therefore only insert Robert Barclay’s Apology page 406. “If the magistrate be truly a Christian, or desires so to be, he ought himself in the first place, to obey the command of his Master, saying, ‘Love your enemies,’ etc. and then he could not command us to kill them; but if he be not a true Christian, then ought we to obey our lord and king, Christ Jesus, to whom he ought also to obey; for in the kingdom of Christ, all ought to submit to his laws, etc. If any say “he paid tribute to Cæsar, so do we;” what then? This is but a man of straw, and proves not the case.

Again we have suffered much in our country because we neither could ourselves bear arms, nor send others in our place, nor give our money for the buying of drums, standards, or other military attire, etc. Let it be remembered that when the emperor would have employed the Christian soldiers to fight against their brethren, they refused (see Sleiden, page 487), lest we destroy by our works what we establish in words.…

I haven’t tracked down this “[Johann] Sleiden, page 487” reference yet… any leads?

…I need say no more; all the world that know us, know that this is our very professed principle; and the whole doctrine of Christ is love, faith and good works. Upon what topic Thomas Story builds his anti-Christian as well as anti-Quaker sophisms, I know not. If his doctrine be orthodox, this must needs be heterodox; and if so, I am gone and have lost the prize. But I fear him not, let him defend in print what he has said in the pulpit, if he can or dare. But that this is an anti-Christian principle, either to indulge fraudulent stratagems of war, as Robert Barclay says Christians dare not do, which is a deceitful insinuation to make people believe we don’t pay to maintain war, nor make laws for that purpose, when at bottom it is so and the consequence proves it. A sharp reprimand for which I’ll give you from the poor Indians of Nantucket in New England, Thomas Pots, one of our preachers being on the spot, and the same juncture of that expedition, was told by Friends there that the inhabitants of that island, the English, etc. ordered these Indians to appear in council, to give their result what they intended to do in this affair; (take their answer and record it with our ancient brethren that first learned us to depend wholly on God). These Indians met, told the council as follows, “If Canada Indians and French are permitted to come down upon us, we will go out and meet them, and capitulate with them, and see if we can persuade them not to hurt us, for, and because, we are an innocent people, and never intended to hurt them etc. But whether they will hear or forbear, we know not, but will trust in our God; for he is able to deliver us.” (Observe, these Indians are Christian proselytes.)

Another Indian in Long Island told the people there their God was angry with them, because of a great dearth that their cattle died so fast that a cow was offered for six shillings; and the reason of this, said he, is because you are continuing to kill an innocent people that never did you any hurt. I wonder who hurt us? unless God almighty, who at the same time killed seven or eight in one day, when we were continuing this underhand mischief against a people who never did, nor never (I believe) could or would hurt us, had we kept our hands clear of their blood. But, — God make us to see this weak side and repent.

Now I’ll compare Thomas Story with Robert Barclay, an old soldier of divine mettle, whom none dare deny for a true Quaker and Christian, whose memory lives, and will forever. If inconsistency in fundamental truths makes false doctrine, as two contradictions can’t be either true or false, I’ll leave it to the verdict of the learned which of these is the best champion, or the greatest man for truth.

Robert Barclay: “If a magistrate be a true Christian, or desires to be, he ought in the first place, to obey his lord and master, King Jesus; but if not, we ought not to obey him, but our lord, etc.” But Thomas Story says, “Cæsar must be obeyed, though a tyrant.”

Reader, judge of this harmony betwixt Robert Barclay and Thomas Story. A tyrant obeyed, says Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Peter Martyr, Zwinglius, etc. No, spit on their heads, etc. Nay, says my author, it can be proved that fifty kings and emperors have been deposed for their evil government. Then not obeyed. Ezekiel 45:9: “Thus said the Lord, let it suffice you princes of Israel, remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice; take away your exactions from my people, says the Lord.” Robert Barclay: “We neither can ourselves bear arms, nor may others.”

Thomas Story: “We ought to pay our tribute to Cæsar, though he demand it for the bearing of arms, and killing our Friends, and we know it.” Christ and Robert Barclay: “Do violence to none, love enemies, clothe and feed them.” Thomas Story bids to pay, do violence, send bread and flour to feed such that are going on purpose to kill (our Friends too for aught we know).

Pray untie this Gordian knot, this riddle and paradox. If war, or the favorites of it, be altogether contrary to the law and spirit of Christ, the maintaining of war by paying to it is altogether contrary to the law and spirit of Christ; and if we, contrary to his law, do these things, then we break his commands; and if breaking his commands, or exhorting so to do be false doctrine; (for this Thomas Story did) ergo for the whole. And if this be not sound argument, I’ll lay down the cudgels.

These truths I have been preaching (if writing be preaching, as I think it is) this three years to our elders within doors; and for my love and good will they have turned me out, and for no other cause, let them prove it if they can. And seeing I have had so ill treatment, and a deaf ear to all the epistles and remonstrances I have given them, I now appeal to all sober Christians without doors whether I have deserved to be abused as you’ll see by and by.

I’ll spare you most of this “by and by” which comes in a later section.

According to the apostle’s rule, and the Quakers too, 1 Corinthians 14, let two or three speak and the rest judge. But for this presumption of mine, of judging, am I called in question, and judged, in a more arbitrary manner than ever I heard of any malefactor, either in church or state. What! judge my testimony, arraign my doctrine, put me to prove what I have preached! “Insolent fellow! I am not bound to answer you! What come you here for with your rattles?” Here’s the foundation of this dispute, occasioned by Thomas Story, and his language to me, who is so conceited of his doctrinal notions, and so dogmatical that we ought to believe it if it comes from his mouth; and such is the superstitious veneration to this poor man, that rather than call him, or suffer him to be called, to account for his doctrine, patiently take (like asses) all that’s laid on their backs.

But William Penn against the clergy (not our clergy) says, “The consequence of not doing it, has been the introduction of much false doctrine, superstition and formality, which gives just occasion for schism.” We blame other professions for their too much reliance on their teachers and church ordinances, discipline (church discipline). “Yes,” said Thomas Story, “the church is the ground and pillar of truth;” so says papist and prelate too; so say Thomas Story, ay! and so say I. But I ask Thomas Story too, what church this was? Whether militant or triumphant? but no answer to this, only “If the church believe his doctrine, I had no business to call him in question.” No, yes but I will and do call him, and church too, to answer for this anti-church doctrine; and if they defend either one or the other, I’ll oppose (to my power) both. But it is too clear, ignorance and carelessness is the very cause of implicit faith and blind obedience. And thus when it comes to pass that after a people have had a good degree of knowledge of divine truths, yet it may and often does vanish away either through idleness and carelessness, attended with formality and superstitious ceremony. What a natural propensity people have to change! though truth cannot change. This saying we all have at our fingers’ ends. Nevertheless, when the preachers change in their doctrine, we ought not to persuade ourselves that we are incapable of judging in matters of religion. No! we ought to be scrutinous, and cannot sufficiently overhaul whatever we hear preached. But read William Penn’s Address to Protestants, it will sufficiently excuse me for examining Thomas Story with his false notions. But false or true, here’s the misery, no such thing in our church as debating any point of doctrine, in a monthly or weekly meeting, though preached in the greatest general meeting of all America. Nay, so far from debating that he is counted rude and absurd that dares contradict the Doctor; No! have a care, if he does, by our new rule of discipline, we’ll turn him out. But more of this anon.

…or not.

Now something by itself of Civil Government

I have observed before that civil government belongs not properly to the church of Christ, nor was it ever introduced here , that fast friend to Pontifex Maximus, Episcopus Episcoporum

That is, “supreme pontiff, bishop of bishops,” a sarcastically pompous title for a high church mucky-muck.

viz. the pope and the prelate, where the effect has lodged ever since, not to the honor of Christ, nor his spouse, the bride, the lamb’s wife. The woeful consequence of this hodge-podge mess of medley and jumbling of church and state together again, that had been so long parted by Christ himself, brought more trouble into the church and was more occasion of the suffering of the church than all the sufferings she ever met with before, as any one a little acquainted with reading may and will easily understand. But to us that have been as great sufferers under this civil ecclesiastical power as any in this last age (burning excepted), for us, I say, in this province, to assume to ourselves the state politic power, is the point I mean to debate with our church members in public, after many years private conference with them and their weak opposition dropped with these words, or the same in effect: “We wish it were come to that, as there was no need of us in the state, etc.” But I’ll go on, and show what harmony there is betwixt church and state.

If we do but take our measures by the holy scripture of the New Testament, and not fly to apostolical example, we shall resolve the case at once. In the beginning, when men grew numerous they contracted themselves into societies for preservation of concord and good discipline and began to think on foundations to set their structure upon, and found by experience that no natural or artificial building, nor civil nor ecclesiastic society of men, could be upheld without a bottom on which they were first founded; first, the civil society united, that they might live safely, and enjoy their liberties without opposition, and they united into churches to live religiously according to Christ’s doctrine and the example of the apostles. Now civil societies have their laws proper and peculiar to themselves, and the churches have their rules of discipline peculiar to themselves, and far different from each other. But the cause of so many wars in Christendom, has been because the civil magistrate and the church confound their jurisdictions under the law. These societies were (as it were) one corporation, individual; for the priests and Levites had their ministerial office in civil causes; but Christ has made them now two distinct provinces. I would fain know how we come to unite them together again? Or what rule or foundation our gospel ministers have to build a house on such a bottom that has neither Christ nor his apostles for example? Then if neither precept nor precedent be from, of, or by them, certainly it must be against them; and if against them it must needs be anti-Christian and anti-apostolical. That Christ never abetted such a discipline to his disciples is plain from his doctrine to them of lording over one another. We want him here to check our lords and masters that lord it over their brethren with the utmost severity and without compassion make him pay, or take from him more than the utmost penny, which too is not really due by gospel right; ay! and delivered over to councils to be scourged, etc. viz. fined and imprisoned, his goods violently taken from him, who for conscience sake dare not obey these lords, which are our brethren in the church, and good friends there, but out of the church, tyrants. How should it be otherwise — the state cannot be upheld without force and violence; but how this becomes the spirit and life of our peaceable savior may soon be answered. If he had been minded to uphold his kingdom by this rule, we now take, Cæsar nor Pilate could never have stood before him. But it is as clear as the sun, neither he nor any that belonged to him had any business in the state, nor none of the primitive Christians, , who brought into the church more poisonous doctrine than ever will be purged out until the general reformation and the restitution of Christ’s kingdom. Hence it appears (as himself said) “My kingdom is not of this world.”

I believe all this will be readily granted by our wise men, who will perhaps tell me I may spare my labor etc. Granted, I answer: if he that knew not his Master’s mind was beat, what must be done to them that knew it and did it not?

That this was our faith , I remember, ay, and believe, had been our practice now at this time, had not a long-headed state’s politician decoyed into the foil, as ducks are. But is it not a pity that we that began in the spirit should end thus in the flesh! But what business a gospel minister has out of the church I would fain know. “Look to yourself, and the flock over which the holy ghost has made you overseer: Have you anything to do with them that are without” viz. out of the church. Is this not apostolic doctrine? And I believe he’d find business enough there too, if he’d mind it. Come I’d have us take one pattern from Rome for once, and try the experiment:

The Roman censor, though a civil function, had no jurisdiction, nor courts of plea, or indictment, nor any punitive force annexed. It stood more with the majesty of that office, to have no other constable, sergeants or boms about them, than that of terror and shame.

“Boms”? Whatever. I don’t know what source he’s quoting from here, though he says later it’s Milton. (Turns out he’s loosely quoting The Reason of Church-Government Urged Against Prelaty) In case you’re losing the plot at this point, “Philalethes” isn’t suggesting that we need to bring back the Roman censor. He’s saying that the Church should exercise its moral authority in a way that is compatible with the nonviolent, noncoercive strictures of Christ, rather than trying to bend the violent, coercive apparatus of the state to serve Christian ends. He’s using the Roman censor as an example of an authority operating successfully without being backed up by violence and coercion.

Then (pray observe) if the courts of judicature, to a politic censorship, seem too contentious, much more may it to the discipline of the church, and her members, to be quite divested of all jurisdiction whatever? for so much the less contention, so much more Christian. And could this Roman office of a censor, without his jurisdicial sword, strike such a terror and awe on the great spirits of Rome, as with one dash of ignominy to make the guilty tremble? Much more may the true Christian minister guard himself with more piercing beams of dread and majesty to conquer the enemies of the true church, without the keys of state to help; for when the church members, without carnal weapons (indeed they ought to have none) are able to do so great a work upon the unforced obedience of men, it argues a divinity about them, well becoming their holy function.

Thus far Milton.

I wish our divines had this faculty of the Roman censor, there would be no need of all the constables in the county to guard them with clubs and staves, to knock down all that do not obey order.

But I guess what answer I shall have here: “Why we observe the same rule in our church?”

Reply: But this was a civil capacity, nor is the same rule neither observed in our church, for it has not the same efficacy nor power; for the offender, without any shame at all, or regret, etc. stand hold his old course still (under the rose) and no show of reformation.

But to politics again, this has been objected: “The burden of the state has providentially fallen on our shoulders in this uncultivated land, where rules of discipline have been wanting; and why may we not assist in the civil power? Seeing good men are fittest for government? and the act seems to become them too very well; they encourage virtue, and punish vice.” Well! of a civil plea, this is the best that can be offered. Again: “The saints shall judge the earth.” Good still; “besides, here’s acts of justice, mercy and…”

This paragraph actually just ends with the “and” — no ellipsis, no end-quote. It’s at the end of the page, and the next page starts fresh with a new paragraph, so something may have been left out at this point.

To all which I answer, if saints be judges, they must use none but saints’ weapons; “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, etc.” says Paul. But then I query, are none good or fit to rule but such of our communion? Yes! but though such; this interferes not with the discipline of the true church; if the duty or office can be performed by love, persuasion, argument, or by the authority of that power Christ gives his church, and that is no jurisdictive power, I’m sure; as appears by the power he used himself, to any of his churches (though some take more, as I’ll prove before I have done). When the two brothers quarreled about their estate and applied to him, “who made me a judge or a divider,” (said he). Again, the woman taken in the act of adultery, “Go away, do so no more.” I could paraphrase on these two examples, but wise men know the meaning without it, and it plainly appears he used no coercion or punitive force; and he forbade it to all his followers. Judge then! can you serve two masters? In short, the government of Christ is economical in his church only, and is altogether love and peace, and has no business with any of the affairs of state any further than to admonish to justice, etc. But is it not strange to see a state’s minister, a justice of peace, and a gospel minister in one skin; indeed he may have two cloaks, his divinity cloak and his humanity cloak, but then he must lay by one when he wears the other. It’s not common to wear two great cloaks at once; but to be very exact, he should have three at least, one for the pulpit, the other for the upper house, and the third for the honorable bench; and this cloak too must be lined with stuff called patience, to bear with all the billingsgate rhetoric, with the brawls and hocus-pocus fatigues of the noisy bar; and what a fine show the pulpit divine makes amidst the throng of K—s and F—s, judge ye.

Any guesses as to what “K—s and F—s” were?

I look upon this piece of politics in our church (I meddle with no other) to be an innovation, and as great an abuse to our profession as any that ever yet was introduced into the church, from the apostles to Constantine’s time. And then the woeful presage was threatened from heaven: “This day is poison entered the church;” I fear our church, too, is poisoned by the pill. Why not? the quality is the same, it must needs then be so, for it is compounded of the same drugs, which makes me, in consideration of our primitive innocency, with wonder as well as grief, sing,

Great God! are these the Fruits of our Profession,
  of which so long times we’ve been only Talking!
How comes it thus to pass we loose Possession
  just by a Counter walking?

    It had been better we had ne’er been born,
    Then Truth, through us, should e’er be made a scorn.
What! must our Sixty Years long Travail all be lost,
  Because of some mens Murmurs,
Be made of none Effect, and left at last,
  On this side Jordan, for Moabs Tribe to scorn us!
’Twere better far in Thraledome we’d expired,
Then loose that Land by us so long desired.

At another time thinking of the fears and defeats of war, my muse jingled thus,

But what a Noble Plot is Crost,
And what a great design is lost?
What Time is spent and Money Wasted,
And this great Enterprize is Blasted;
And that which Aggravates the Cause,
There’s some dare not obey their Laws,
And this begets more Civil Wars,
And Mixes with the Churches Jars,
That used to be no Carnal Power;
But if this hold, ’twill all Devour.

Some folk don’t love music, therefore I’ll make an end and call another cause.


Suppose the government alter, and we are put upon to raise two thousand pounds more in direct terms for defraying military expenses only, must we deny or comply? Here will be the trial of our skill. If we refuse, the plea is good against us; if we comply, we are gone then, sure enough, and nobody will strive to help us.

It is an action never to be forgot, how our sapientipotent Thomas Story busied himself in flaming zeal to Cæsar, when he rode post with his packet of printed papers borrowed from George Fox and S.C. (which papers was but a man of straw neither) persuading us to pay our taxes to Cæsar, as a civil minister, to punish evil and favor good, all which we knew to be our duty before he was born. But he inverted the term, from civil to military, and by his sophistic turns and false logic (for he has a special faculty in tropes and figures, viz. in elench and dilemmas, that is) to make his story and arguments to hold both ways; and such persons as were utterly averse to pay for war uses, he had such power that he overawed their consciences, and instead of a gospel minister of peace and salvation, he’s now a son of Mars and minister of state; and by his military lecture preaches little but war and destruction. Oh! how unlike this is to our primitive heroes that left their swords in the field to make shares and coulters of them. But, behold! this mysterious juggle and cheat! after he had with his charms amused the poor people, he told them it was a nice point; but if they would come to him, he would unriddle the mystery; but though I addressed myself to him, in a humble manner, to know this “nice point,” as he called it, he asked me what I came to him for with my rattles? Very unbecoming (I thought) of one that should give an account with meekness and fear of his faith. But instead of this account, I met with then, and since, before five or six of our eldest members, nothing but insolent taunt, imperious, proud, disdainful language and behavior, yet the church winks at it; and instead of reproving him and satisfying my tender scruples, in behalf of one hundred more, I am brought to the bar, to the bilboes, and arraigned for an offender, and denied, for no other cause (that I know or ever heard of) but for opposing Thomas Story with his high church doctrine. It is pretended, indeed, I did not give him gospel order; but this is not true neither. But what gospel order is there for a public heterodox doctrine, preached before thousands of persons? It was no personal damage or trespass, for which that order was intended, as appears by the text, and William Penn upon the famous Address to Protestants. But to wipe off all scruples, and to show how partial, or rather maliciously, I was dealt with, I did first go privately to him, and secondly, by order of the meeting with five or six, as above, yet from a propensed and designed pique, or in plain true terms, malice propensed (for I can prove I was judged six months before I appeared at the bar) thinking if I were denied, nobody would regard what I had to say in my own defence. Here’s discipline by a scheme! Nova stilo.

That’s where the best of the argument ends. From here, it goes on into a long address about how his Meeting fails to follow any reasonable protocol for resolving disputes like this one. After that comes a postscript that’s worth adding here, but I’ll do it some other day.