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Must we cast off any ordinance of God to punish heretics because of the abuse of it? If the thing were indifferent, the abuse might take away the use, but not so when the thing is necessary. When Jeremiah was accused and arraigned as worthy to die, his defense is not this, “You ought not to vindicate religion with the sword, nor put any man to death for the cause of conscience,” but this is it, “Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears” (Jer. 26:15). Neither did the apostles (though often persecuted) plead the unlawfulness of persecuting men for heresy, but they pleaded the goodness of their cause, and that they were no heretics.
- George Gillespie, Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty (1644), at http://www.naphtali.com/articles/george-gillespie/wholesome-severity/.