II. The Scriptures plainly represent magistrates’ granting of men an unrestrained freedom to profess and practice a false religion as extremely sinful and hurtful.
1. It is in the name of God to give liberty to the flesh, of which heresies and idolatry are the manifest and damning works, Gal. 5:13, 19-21, with Rom. 8:7-8.
2. It is not merely to pity and spare, but to encourage such as seek to draw away their subjects from God, contrary to Deut. 13:9-10; Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:4-5; 2 Peter 2:1-3.
3. In so doing, magistrates, as political shepherds, not only suffer the flock of God, the King of nations, under their charge, to wander or be driven from their fold and pasture, but encourage them in it, contrary to Ezek. 34:5-8; Acts 20:30.
4. It marks a heavy judgement of God upon, and anarchy in a Commonwealth, when every man is left without restraint, and does that which is right in his own eyes, in matters of religion, Judges 17:6; Zech. 11:9, 16; 2 Chron. 20:33; Amos 4:4-5.
5. In granting such liberty, magistrates are not for Christ, by whom they rule, Prov. viii. 15, 16, but against him, in encouraging and protecting doctrines and works of the devil, which he came to destroy, John viii. 44; 1 Tim. 4:2; Rev. 16:13-14, with 1 John 3:8 and Zech. 13:2.
6. False religion eats out the true doctrine of Christ, and the true piety and virtue which proceed from the faith of it, which are like joints and bands to connect and establish a nation, Isa. 45, 65; 2 Tim. 2:16-17; Gal. 5:10-12.
7. Heresies produce divisions, 1 Cor. 11:18-19, make men wanton, filthy, dreamers, despisers and revilers of magistrates, Jude 4, 8; 2 Pet. ii. 10-17. They render times perilous, and make traitors, heady, high minded, truce breakers, false accusers, fierce, without natural affection, despisers of those that are good, 2 Tim. 3:1-13. They produce envy, strife, evil surmising, and perverse disputing, 1 Tim. 6:3-4; Gal. 5:19-20. They spoil Christ’s vines, Song of Songs 2:15.
8. False religion deprives a nation of God’s protecting hedge of favourable providence, and opens an inlet to the floods of destructive judgements, Exod. 32:25; Ezek. 13:4-5; 22:30-31.
9. Magistrates’ indulgence of a false religion is represented as a kicking at the true religion, and an honouring of the corrupters above God, and brings a charge of the wickedness upon the tolerators of it. Hence Eli the judge of Israel is represented as kicking at God’s sacrifice, honouring his profane sons above God, and making himself fat with God’s portion of the sacrifices, because he did not effectually restrain his sons, 1 Sam. 2:12-16, 23-25, 29; Eph. 5:7, 11; and Nehemiah contended with the rulers of Judah for suffering the worship of God to be neglected, and the Sabbath profaned, Neh. 13:10-18.
10. Such indulgence of false or corrupt religion is represented as tending to make men abhor the true religion, and speak evil of it, 1 Sam. 2:17; 2 Pet. 2:1-3.
John Brown, The absurdity and perfidy of all authoritative toleration of gross heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, popery, in Britain. In two letters to a friend. In which the doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith relative to toleration of a false religion, and the power of the civil magistrate about sacred matters; and the nature, origin, ends and obligation of the National Covenant and Solemn League are candidly represented and defended (1780; Glasgow, 1803), pp 19-21.