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William Penn’s Letter to King James II:
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God, the things that are God’s.”
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A religious liberty foundation document. On behalf of the Quakers, William Penn appeals to King James II to protect freedom of conscience, starting with the famous quotation from Jesus: IT was the saying of our Blessed Lord to the Captious Jews, in the case of Tribute, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's. this distinction ought to be observed by all Men, in the Conduct of their lives, so the King has given Us an Illustrious Example in His own Person that excites Us to it; For while HE was a Subject, HE gave Caesar His Tribute; and now HE is Caesar, gives GOD his Due, (viz) The Sovereignty over Consciences.”

At the bottom of the second page, James offers his acknowledgement “that conscience ought not to be Forced.” In 1687 James II proclaimed the Declaration of Indulgence or Declaration of Liberty of Conscience, the first step in establishing freedom of religion in Great Britain.

WILLIAM PENN. Broadsheet. The Speech of William Penn to his Majesty upon his Delivering the Quakers Address. [London, 1687.] 2 pp., quarto (175 x 280 mm).

Inventory #24804       Price: $6,500

Complete Transcript

The SPEECH OF WILLIAM PENN To His MAJESTY, Upon His Delivering the Quakers Address.

May it Please the KING,

IT was the saying of our Blessed Lord to the Captious Jews, in the case of Tribute, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's. As this distinction ought to be observed by all Men, in the Conduct of their lives, so the KING has given Us an Illustrious Example in His own Person that excites Us to it; For while HE was a Subject, HE gave Caesar His Tribute; and now HE is a Caesar, gives GOD his Due, (viz) The Sovereignty over Consciences. It were a great shame then, for any English-Man (that pretends to Christianity,) not to give GOD his Due. By this Grace HE has relieved His Distressed Subjects from Their Cruel Sufferings, and raised to Himself a New and Lasting Empire, by adding Their Affections to Their Duty. And We Pray GOD to continue the KING in this Noble Resolution; For HE is now upon a Principle, that has good Nature, Christianity, and the goodness of Civil Society on its side, a Security to Him beyond all the little Arts of Government.

<2> I would not that any should think, that We came hither with design to fill the Gazet with Our Thanks, but as Our Sufferings would have moved Stones to Compassion; So We should be harder, if We were not moved to Gratitude.

Now, since the KING's Mercy and Goodness have reached to Us throughout the Kingdom of England, and Principality of Wales; Our General Assembly from all those parts, met at London about Our Church-Affairs has appointed Us to Wait upon the KING with Our Humble Thanks, and Me to Deliver them; Which I do by this ADDRESS, with all the Affection and Respect of a Dutiful Subject.

His MAJESTIES most Gracious ANSWER.

Gentlemen,

I Thank You heartily for Your Address, some of You know, (I am sure You do Mr. Pen,) that it was always My Principle, that Conscience ought not to be Forced. And that all Men ought to have the Liberty of Their Consciences: And what I have Promis'd in My Declaration, I will continue to Perform as long as I Live; And I Hope, before I Die, to Settle It so, that After Ages shall have no Reason to alter It.

FINIS.

Condition

Minor toning at top margin, minor loss at bottom left not affecting text.


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