Front Page Titles (by Subject) Gordon: A Modest Aplogy for Parson Alberoni, Governor to King Philip, a Minor, and universal Curate of the whole Spanish Monarchy; the whole being a short, but unanswerable Defence of Priestcraft, and a New Confutation of the Bishop of Bangor. - A Collection of Tracts, vol. I
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Gordon: A Modest Aplogy for Parson Alberoni, Governor to King Philip, a Minor, and universal Curate of the whole Spanish Monarchy; the whole being a short, but unanswerable Defence of Priestcraft, and a New Confutation of the Bishop of Bangor. - John Trenchard, A Collection of Tracts, vol. I 
A Collection of Tracts. By the Late John Trenchard, Esq; and Thomas Gordon, Esq; The First Volume. (London: F. Cogan, 1751).
Part of: A Collection of Tracts, 2 vols.
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A Modest Aplogy for Parson Alberoni, Governor to King Philip, a Minor, and universal Curate of the whole Spanish Monarchy; the whole being a short, but unanswerable Defence of Priestcraft, and a New Confutation of the Bishop of Bangor.
AS the Characters and Descriptions in this little Treatise are intended for a Picture of one Set of Men only, who have distinguished themselves as much by their uncommon Practices and Positions, as I have done by this uncommon Apology, I may reasonably hope that none will rail at it, who are not hit by it. Therefore if any Gentlemen please to take it ill that I have published their Portraitures, I am ready to thank them: Their Anger will be my Defence; and it will be sufficient, for the Justification of my Copy, that there are really such Originals. They have long sat for their Picture, and the Features are so strong and obvious, that it was scarce possible to miss them. If they appear frightful, now they are drawn, the Fault is not in me.
How amiable is the Character of a Clergyman, when it is not stained by the Wearer! And every good Man will honour that Minister who does not dishonour himself That there are still many such, is my Pleasure, that there are not more, is my Concern.
I added an Explanation of this Kind by way of Postscript to the second Edition, and have prefixed it as a Preface to the others. It may be necessary to the Wilful and the Weak.
The Guesses which have been made about the Author, give me Occasion to declare to the World, that my Name never yet was in Print.
IT is surprizing what sublime Consequences are produced by the humblest Instruments. One would think that Brass is a Metal void of Comliness and Merit, either in Colour or Smell; and yet a suitable Portion of it, placed conveniently upon the Forehead, does frequently entitle the Bearer to the highest Stations in Church and State. It often makes a bold Figure at the Head of a Regiment, and often commands Attention at the Council-Table. In Westminster-Hall it is loud, and therefore successful; and, in Parliament popular and persuasive, for the same Reason. And then again, if you take it in another Capacity, it still carries all before it. Thomas a Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury, as have been since several other good Doctors of equal Meekness and Merit, whom my fear of giving Offence keeps me from mentioning; and at this very Time, a certain Apostolical Gentleman, who shall also be nameless, is Cardinal of a great Church betwixt Newgate and Tyburn.
O Catholick Brass, manifold are thy Virtues! I admire thy Interest, though I never felt thy Friendship; an obstinate Fellow, one Modesty by Name, never suffering me to take Acquaintance with thee. Thou fortunate Favourite of the Court and the Cassocks, many a fair Lady hast thou won, and many a fair Post enjoyed! Powerful also is thy Force in Argument: How invincibly hast thou supported the Divine Right of Kings and Clergy, their unbroken Succession, and unlimited Power, to the utter Confusion of common Sense, and the Bishop of Bangor.
But to proceed with the mighty Events that arise from contemptible Causes; every Body has heard that the famous Sir John Whittington, at his first setting out into the World, had no greater Cargo than a homely Tabby Cat, and she too, like other mortal Merchandize, subject to Tare and Tret. But she proved a mighty Hunter, and, by her Teeth and Reputation, promoted her Fellow Traveller to the chief Post in the chief City. And thus to draw a Moral from the Story, The Destruction of Rats became the Generation of a Knight and a Lord Mayor.
I have heard, in foreign Countries, of a fleshy headed Chamber-Maid, who from pinning her Misiress’s Rump, got astride three Nations, and rode them almost out of Breath; for she was Corpulent, and, for the most part, had a Spur in her Head.
Even the great Virgil became a Courtier by being a Farrier; and a lapster has been the Elements of an Ambassador.
Arts and Sciences themselves have had their Birth from trivial Chance. Musick, as sweet a Girl as she is, had a dirty Anvil for her Mother, and a base born Hammer for her Father, and was midwifed into the World by a sooty Blacksmith. And Astrology derives its Genealogy from Cow-keeping, the Chaldæan Herdsmen having, while they looked after their Flocks, grown familiar with the Stars. Thus Venus had her Water first watched by Rusticks, who, one would think, could have neither sufficient Breeding, nor Capacity for Pimping———but the most elegant Arts were rude in their Beginnings.
A Friar, whilst he was boiling up a Balsam for a broken Shin, stumbled upon the Generation of Gunpowder, which was therefore conceived in the Womb of a Gallipot, made pregnant by a Priest.
The great Pope Sixtus the Fifth owed his triple Crown to the keeping of Pigs, and from a mean Swineherd mounted till he came to be Chief of another Herd, still preserving an Analogy between his first and last Employment.
The great Tompion had never made Watches, had he not first made Hob-nails.
All this Waste of Learning, which, in other Hands, might fill many Books, may serve to introduce the Manner and Motive by which I came to be an Author. Know then, Curious Reader, that a Stationer in the City having, last Week, trusted me with an Inkhorn and the Appurtenances, I began immediately to make Use of it, and upon a Trial of my Genius, I found I could make as good a Figure in print as some other famous Writers, whose Merit is best known to themselves.
My first Attempt was upon the Witty and Voluminous Mr. Mist, the Journalist, because I would begin with something signal at my first setting out. I found his Paper, after much search, in a blind Ale house, near Hockley in the Hole. Having met my Rival for Fame, instantly I drew my Pen, and by several bold Strokes upon hisMargin, discovered plainly, that Sense and Modesty were not his Seconds, for they both proved mine. But for all this dreadful Enmity between us, I will candidly own that the Jews, for whom he lately drew up an inimitable Petition, have almost as good a Title as himself to one sort of Advancement in a Christian Commonwealth. My Antagonist would certainly fill a particular tall Post, which is empty oftener than it should be, with becoming Merit and Justice. But see, how these Parsons run away with Preferments from the Laity! This very Post is, I am told, conferred, for the present, upon a genuine Son of the Church, who has conscientiously deserved it.
Behold, kind Reader, A true and full Account of the Origination of this admirable Pamphlet. If Heaven spare me my Life and my Inkhorn, it is likely I may swell into Volumes, as divers and sundry useful Writers have done for no better Reason.
Having thus succeeded beyond Expectation in my first Essay, I am emboldened thereby to an Undertaking equal, if possible, to my last, and from the Defence of Mr. Mist, I intend to pass, perhaps naturally enough, to an Apology for the Reverend Parson Alberoni, who by the high Station he enjoys, of Viceroy over the King of Spain, is become the Mark of much unreasonable Envy. This Task of mine will lead me to open and justify the Grounds and commendable Aims of the flourishing Trade of Priestcrast, for which I promise myself the pious Thanks of the Convocation, the next Time it sits.
I hope I shall need no Excuse for the sharp Things which my Zeal for the Church and the Cardinal will tempt me to utter.
As to the trifling Charge against my Client, that he has commanded his Pupil, to break through Faith and Treaties, and surprize his Neighbours, though it be very true there is Nothing at all in it. I behold with Shame the Ignorance of Mankind as to what passes daily among us. Do not all know that Oaths and Obligations, when they are so saucy as to fetter the Catholick Pleasure or Profit of the Clergy, are ever broken through by the whole Body, with great Fortitude and Unanimity. Nor is there any Malignity in this convenient Piece of Wickedness; for the most damnable Sin ceases to be so, as soon as the Priest has unchristen’dit, and sucked out its Venom with a Salvo: When he has done this, as a goodly Casuist finely observes, Licet ante peccaverint, jam non peccant: That is, The most gross Sinners are now innocent, being undamnea by the Priest.
This ought to be meant of the Laity; for as to the Clergy, who are the avowed Porters of Heaven, and Comptrollers of its Power and Keys, and Treasurers of its Wrath and Mercies, I can’t conceive they should be at any Time in an unsanctified State, let them do what they will. To us indeed, who being Laymen, and only the Beasts of the People, see no further than the Externals of Things, a Parson may appear a very sad Fellow, and tainted with that which, in one of another Cloth, might seem great Lewdness. But alas! they have an indelible Character which consecrates all their Actions, and is the spiritual Salt that keeps the Corruptions of the Clergy from stinking.
It may perhaps not be unbecoming my present Design, to inquire into what Nook or Quarter of the Priest this indelible Character, convey’d by Ordination, lurks; and I think it is evident it cannot lodge in the Cassock or Habit, since the same has been often worn by Lay-Girls, who being only Companions to the holy Priests in their Labours and Exercises, could not pretend to take Orders, to be ever instituted and inducted.
Nor can this essential and unalterable Spot reside in the Carcass of the Priest. For when a Levite has been maliciously tossed off a Beam, and expir’d for want of footing, or died a natural Death of Debauchery, or in any other manner worthy of himself, it has never been known that the said Carcass forgave Sins, or executed any other Branch of the Ecclesiastical Office. For it is remarkable, that, when a Parson is dead, he lies as quiet and peaceable as another Body, which is a Confutation of a Point generally believ’d, namely, That a Priest is never a good Neighbour.
I would not have it alledged that the abovenamed Stain of Priesthood, sticks like Bird-lime, to the Soul of the Doctor, when the same has given his Body the Slip, or that he keeps his Orders when he has lost his Organs. Profane Wits will make a Jest of a Ghost in Orders, and, looking upwards, be surpriz’d to find a Priest in a Place where no one would expect him. But let such a Scoffer be answerable for his own Mirth, I am sure I have a very good Meaning.
However, though this indelible Character must for ever remain a profound Mystery to me, who am but an uncircumcis’d Layman, and though I am in Duty bound to know what I cannot understand; I have still something further to say in Defence of my favourite Cardinal, his leaping over Oaths, which, as I have already prov’d, cannot tie down a Churchman.
Archbishop Laud, besides his taking and tendering Oaths with an &c. which some weak fanatical Ministers would not swallow, and were therefore, like silly Fellows, unworthy of their Cloth and Order, undone because they would not be forsworn; I say, besides this Essay of his Perjury for the Good of himself and the Church, He and the King obliged the Clergy of Scotland to swear to a Canonical Conformity to a Liturgy, a Year before it was made. And I have read of a Monarch, a Glorious Churchman, for whom, once a Year, many godly Revilings and Falshoods are utter’d, and many Handkerchiefs wet, who, besides many other Instances of his Sincerity and Devotion, swore to the Espousals of one Lady, while he was engag’d by Heart and Hand to another whom he afterwards married.
What I would from hence infer in favour of my Client, is, that if a Popish Prince and a Popish Priest have as good a Right to be forsworn as an English Catholick Prince, and an English Catholick Priest, the Cardinal and his Pupil stand justified.
You must own, Reader, a Monopoly of Perjury is not publick spirited — I do not indeed envy any of our own Clergy their full Share, who may have been trading that Way; but to engross the whole Community would be unfair Trafficking.
But to go on with my Apology,———Kings are accountaile to none bat God, and the Priests to none but themselves. As this Principle is exactly agreeable to the Pretensions and Practices of the Church in all Ages, I would be glad to see the daring Infidel who calls it in Question. The Lay-World may make Oaths, and take them, but so long as their Force depends upon the Pleasure and Explications of the Clergy, they will be but of small Service to Mankind. I will vouch for the Priests, that they always scorn’d to be barr’d by the triffling Regards of Conscience and Swearing, from the more catholick Pursuits of their Pleasure and Power; and History, both Antient and Modern, will vouch for me. I will give Instances.
When the Prince is hard-hearted enough to humour the Church-Men, by oppressing and plundering the Laity, and Politick enough to divide the Spoils with them, then it is Damnation to resist him, because he has a Divine Right to be Mischievous to all Men but themselves: But if his Majesty is so ill advised, as to provoke their Rage by his Benevolence to Mankind; or, if by a schismatical Adherence to Truth and Liberty, he frustrate their Hopes of making him a good Church-Man, the Church grows presently in imminent Danger from Virtue and Moderation, who are notorious Dissenters from Orthodoxy, then it is little better than Damnation not to resist him, and Woes are denounced against the fearful Heart and the weak Hand.
As to his present Majesty, there are those of the Clergy, who have forsworn to be true and faithful to him, over and over, and yet do not so much as pretend they mean any such Matter. They say they must swear or starve, which is a Confession that they would rather be damned than fast. What a Tribe of Simpletons were the Martyrs in all Ages! their heterodox Notions made them erroneously prefer their Souls to their Bellies, and even to their Lives——— And yet they had a stronger Plea for conforming to Idolatry and Perjury; as Death and Tortures are somewhat more frightful than bare Deprivation———But now a-Days, by universal Consent, Tithes bear a higher Price than Conscience in any Market in England.
In Edward the Sixth’s Time, the Clergy, to shew themselves true Conformists, forsook their Harlots and the Mass, and were, to appearance, reconcil’d to one Woman, and the New Testament. In Queen Mary’s Reign they abandoned the Gospel and their Wives, and re-became Orthodox Catholicks, and to prove it, grew godly Burners of all that had either a Conscience or a Bible. Upon Queen Elizabeth’s Accession to the Throne, they once more, like conformable Friends to themselves, forswore and complied, and afterwards plotted and rebelled. But her Reign proved long and glorious. And indeed some, who have not that Reverence for the Gown, which they ought to have, are of Opinion, it is a certain Symptom of happy Times, when the Priests run mad and cabal; for, say they, while the People are suffered to enjoy their own, the Clergy can have no Plunder; whereas, in a general Oppression, the Prince and Priests generally divide Stakes———They add, that Wolves and Ravens never fare best but where there are most Carcasses. But these Things ought not to be spoken, and,
I wonder how any Man in his Senses dare say such disrespectful Things of the Officers of God Almighty’s Revenue, who also are a Board of Commissioners for managing his Power, or rather their own Power, by his Ministration.
In the Business of Excommunication, for Instance, do we not see their Maker is made little better than their Executioner? He is oblig’d not only to ratify their Sentence, but to deliver the Person excommunicate into the safe Custody of Satan, their Goaler in Comitatu Hell. The Prisoner the while, not finding himself a bit restrained by his crediting Landlord, the Devil, goes to the Court and for a little Money is absolved, be his Crime what it will, and this Sentence also must be ratified in Heaven, and the former unratified; and the great God, as if he were the Constable of the Court, must take the Prisoner out of a Goal, where he never was, and from the Custody of a Goaler, whom he never saw, and reinstate him in a Church which perhaps he never owned. Thus is the Creator of all things, and the Giver of all Good, made the Instrument of their Anger and Avarice, and a Property to bring them Reverence and Money.
These Things are not at all aggravated here, and yet the bare mention of them may seem to expose them; but I mean no more by it than to shew the wonderful and inconceivoable Power of the Priesthood, who are as implicitly obeyed in Heaven, as they ought to be on Earth, and have the upper and infernal Worlds as much in their Gift, as he has, who is the Maker of both; nay much more, for, as a Reverend Doctor of our Church has it, he has given them his Commission to dispose of them, and he cannot contradict himself. They will not allow the King of Kings the common Prerogative of pardoning a poor Felon, once in a Sessions, without their consent, and then he must not be Punished. How great and awful must these Men be, who are thus absolute over the Absolute, and Kings of the King of Kings! This may perhaps seem to represent them as no Friends to Monarchy, but this cannot be imagined, since they themselves are Monarchs of God and Men.
After all this Omnipotence which I have proved to be in the Clergy, where is the need of believing in any other God, or of living as if there was one? No, no, if you would be absolved and saved, believe in the Priest, and live in the fear of the Cassock. What can be more handy than our having a Forgiver, and a Saviour in every Parish, besides Deputy-Pardonners, and Journey-men-Saviours?
There is indeed an antient Treatise named Scripture, which, if we give any Credit to it, would be apt to stagger this our Faith in the Clergy. It was of great Repute at the Reformation by a few Doctors, who, not knowing their own Power, basely sacrificed the Interest of the Surplice to that of Christianity. But their Successors, wiser than these old Fellows, and better Church-Men, finding that the said Book was pragmatical, and would be opposing the Policy and Proceedings of their Society, translated all the Reverence, which was formerly paid to that venerable old Book, to a Book of Canons, composed on purpose, as a Rival to bring the other under disgrace, insomuch that it is now for the most part condemned to the mean Office of teaching Children to read. A certain modern Bishop has indeed done his malicious part to restore it to its pristine Regard and Dignity, but as he is zealously opposed by all the truly Orthodox, it is hoped by many he will not succeed.
Commend me to the German Monk whom I have seen mentioned somewhere, I think by Monsieur Le Clerc. This genuine Priest, faithful to the Interest of his Order, told his Penitents, in the godliness of his Zeal, Thatthere was a certain Book writ in Greek, called the New Testament, which was full of Heresies; and another certain Book, writ in Hebrew, called the Old Testament, which, if they believed it, would make them all Jews.
I would recommend the Example of this Monk to our own Monks, but they have saved me the trouble.
There is an Outcry in the Mouths of too many of the Laity against the Clergy, which I think is very unreasonable; they accuse them of an implacable Enmity to Knowledge and Illumination; which is very true and yet very just. How often must these perverse Men be told, that Learning and Eyes in the Laity are the greatest Causes of the Contempt of the Clergy? Why should we be inquiring into Points which ought only to be believed thoroughly, but never understood nor conceived? It ought to suffice us to know that the Priests know all Things. This might at first have prevented Dissenters, and ought now to reclaim them. If we did but humbly and lazily follow our Guides, it would save us much Trouble, and yet put them to none.
Besides, this Charge is too general; for they are always willing we should read and understand those few Texts that speak civilly of the Priesthood, and wish, no doubt, there were more of them. Nay, now and then they are so courteous as to split a Verse in the Bible with us, and, keeping one half to themselves, give us generously the other. For Example, Be wise as Serpents, and innocent as Doves, in a Text they seem very ready to divide with us. The Harmlesness of the Pidgeon is at our Service, but we must not pretend to rob them of the Serpent.
The cunningest Serpent that ever was, I mean the Devil in Milton, compassed the Earth by Night, and could not endure the enlightned Side of the Globe.
How agreeable the Policy of the Arch-Fiend is to the other Gentlemen in Black, I need not explain.—Without Doubt the Wisdom and good Parts, even of the Devil, are imitable. Who can blame them for hiding Deformities and cloven Feet? Should Knowledge and the Scriptures be let loose against the Clergy, what dreadful Havock would they make. These merciless Informers would make their Reputation to be only Daub and Varnish; and their Wealth, only Booty and Plunder: For what would not two such hold Lihertines swear? Can we blame Men for warding against their mortal Foes.
For the Safety therefore of the Parsons, in their Fortunes and Characters, I will consult my intimate Friends the two Houses, about stopping the Mouth of the Bible, and the Bishop of Bangor. This, I hope, my Friends will comply with, for I know they love to do popular Things, and will be proud to please the Convocation.
I have been long thinking of a Project to reconcile Religion and the Church to each other. They were originally intimate Friends, but at present they live at mortal Odds.
I would not say one Word, upon any Consideration, to persuade the Clergy to give Christianity the upper hand of their Interest, for I love them too well to affront them; neither would I have them affright themselves with my reconciling Design above mentioned, for I have given it over as utterly impracticable; but as I am their Friend and Apologist, I beg leave to recommend to them the Removal of unpopular Qualities and Practices, of which they are fond. And
First, I would advise them to conceal that unprofitable Propensity which is in them, to burn or strangle Dissenters. Persecution is certainly a laudable Calling, when any thing is to be got by it; and in such a Case, I am not for robbing the Clergy of their Dues, but at present there is neither Gain nor Credit in it: And therefore I beseech them, as they love themselves which is the strongest Motive my Invention can dictate, to banish this Pennyless-Spirit: The Malignity of the Times has deprived them of the Power of doing Catholick Mischief and Murder for the Welfare of the Church.
In order to persuade them effectually to close with this my Advice, I pray the Clergy not to judge of other Men’s Consciences by their own. It would be really whimsical, in a few Men, who are void of Hearing, to set up for adjusting or restraining the Laws of Harmony. The Pleasure of Procuration is Greek and Hebrew to an Eunuch; and indeed to a Creature that is gelt, Liberty of Cod-piece must have a very odd Sound.
Another Point which seems wrong in them, is their stiling themselves the Ambassadors of a great Potentate, who, I am afraid, will not own them. We all know their Instructions, as mystical as they would keep them, and I fear me, were they examined by them, like many other Statesmen, they would be found too great to be good. Should the late Earl of Mar, who hath given some shrewd Suspicions of his being for the Pretender, take it in his Head to call himself King George’s Ambassador, would not his Practices, in some small Measure, bring in Question his Professions? The Application is easy; it is only supposing the Devil a Pretender to the Kingdom of Heaven.
There is, in a certain Diocess in this Nation, a Living worth about Six Hundred Pounds a Year. This, and two or three more Preferments, maintain the Doctor in becoming Ease and Corpulancy. He keeps a Chariot in Town, and a Journey-Man in the Country; and his Curate and his Coach-Horses are his equal Drudges, saving that the four Legged Cattle are better fed, and have sleeker Cassocks than his Spiritual Dray-Horse. The Doctor goes down once a Year to sheer his Flock, and fill his Pockets, or, in other Words, to receive the Wages of his Embassy; and then, sometimes in an Afternoon, if his Belly do not happen to be too full, he vouchsafes to mount the Pulpit, and to instruct his People in the Greatness of his Character and his Dulness. This composes the whole Parish to Rest; but the Doctor one Day denouncing himself the Lord’s Ambassador with greater Fire and Loudness than could have been reasonably expected from him, it rouzed a Clown of the Congregation, who waked his next Neighbour, with———Do’st hear, Tom, dost hear? Ay, says Tom, yawning, what does he say? Say, answered the other, He says a plaguy Lye to be sure; he says as how he is the Lord’s Humbassandor; But I think he is more rather the Lord’s Receiver-General, for he never comes but to take Money.
Six Hundred Pounds a Year is modestly Speaking, a competent Fee for lulling the largest Congregation in England asleep once in a Twelve-Month.———Such Tithes are the Price of Napping, and such mighty Odds there are between a Curtain-Lecture and a Cushion-Lecture.
The next Piece of Counsel I would give my Friends in Black, is, that when they are caught in a small Crime, or so, they would not always be throwing the Blame upon a Couple of civil Persons and good Neighbours, called Flesh and Blood; it is not satisfactory. A Bear when he is hungry, may eat up a good Christian, and give as strong a Reason for it.—No, let them Sin as they Preach, and scorn to tell us why or wherefore.
Their Ambition, of being such near Kinsmen to the Apostles, has likewise done them a Diskindness. A Priest may be a boon Companion, and an admirable Church-man, and yet not be a Bit like his Cousin St. Paul. It is therefore for the Honour of the Clergy, that I would have them drop their Alliance with the Saints: People will be making shameful Comparisons, in which the Gown, I doubt, will suffer; for know all Men, by these Presents, the Railing at the Government, and Undermining it, and the Contempt of Temperance, and Oaths, with other Modes that are now Orthodox, were not Apostolical Virtues in Former Days: And whereas Humility, Meekness, Patience, brotherly Love and Charity, are, at this Day, every Mother’s Son of them, Dissenters and Schismaticks, the same were in some small Repute many Hundred Years ago. But what is that to our present Apostles?
I often amuse myself with considering the Greatness and Multiplicity of the Characters belonging to the Orthodox Clergy. The meanest Reader of them is a Kinsman to the Apostles and our Saviour’s Lieutenant, and Door-Keeper of Heaven and Hell, and the Creator of Christians, and the Forgiver of Sins, and a Trumpeter, and a Watchman, and a Journey-man, and—(I am out of Breath) an Ambassador.
But as great Men as they are, it is hard, methinks, that an honest Lay-Man, when he dies, cannot step up Stairs, without a Ticket from an Ambassador, who is perhaps a Bed, or out of Humour, or taking his Bottle or his Girl, and the like.
My Friends, the Ambassadors have another Custom too, which savours not so much of the Serpent as it oughtto do. A Man cannot grow eminent for his Knowledge and Writings, but forth with the Ambassadors grow fearful of him, and cry Atheist at him. This I would pray them to forbear. I own I have my own Ends in giving them this wholesome Admonition; for, to tell it to my dear Friend, the World, as a Secret, which I desire may go no further, I begin myself to be more than apprehensive of the Charge of Atheism against me.
The Church-Men have, moreover, found it for their Interest, Time out of Mind, that most of their Foes should drink a Bumper to Beelzebub next their Heart every Morning. Now, I declare I am not at all acquainted with the Devil, and I desire the Ambassadors, if he should tell them the contrary, not to credit him for, whatever they may think of it, he’s a sad lying Fellow.
Mr. Lock I grant, gave them sufficient Cause to abuse him, by his speaking well of human Understanding, and explaining the Scriptures. But for myself, I vow and protest, upon the Word of an Author, I never yet did the Clergy the least ill Office, by teaching Mankind either Reason or Religion: I confess, I love them both well enough to merit the Character of an Infidel, but I keep my Affection to Piety and Truth, to myself, for fear of provoking the Ambassadors; they being engaged in another Interest.
I who am their Apologist, must own, it is not without Reason they look asquint upon Humanity, and useful Knowledge, and Moderation, and the like Lay-Vertues. A Man that wants Legs, would certainly think himself insulted and reproached, should a pragmatical Fellow take it in his Head to be dancing and cutting Capers before him. Folks that have no Teeth, do not love Crust.
But notwithstanding all these friendly Concessions of mine in Favour of the Ambassadors, I must still pray them, for the future, to keep their Atheism to themselves, tho’ they may have a great deal of it to spare. For, while there are yet a few left, who make bold to believe there is another God besides the Clergy, an Adherence to Scripture and common Sense will not fail to be approved by many, and would be by more, were it thought consistent with the Dignity and Designs of the Ambassadors, to permit the common People to return to their Senses.
But this, alas, is not to be expected, so long as Judgment and Understanding are so apparently opposite to the Rights of the Church.
The Roman Clergy are justified in keeping the Laity in Subjection and Ignorance, by a bold Pretence to Infallibility: Whereas our Priests, equally bold, but less reasonable, would make us Slaves and Blockheads, and yet cannot give us Reason for it. It is confessed they have a certain hard Word, one Orthodox, which is their Friend at a pinch, and serves them on all Occasions, for a ready Answer to every Objection. But this same Orthodox, tho’ it fully convinces many good Church-Men, yet bath lost its Original meaning, and, for many Ages, signified either every Thing, or nothing. Indeed, when the Church hath her Hands unbound, Orthodox is a Word of high Importance, and constantly signifies the Pillory and Whipping-Post, and the Church that has these reforming Engines of its Side, is, of course, the most Apostolical.
This Orthodox has likewise been compelled to mean several other Meanings, upon several Occasions. Sometimes it is an Altar, and sometimes a Book of Canons; sometimes a Convocation, and sometimes a Mob; it is this Minute a Bishop in his Throne, and the next, a Tithe-Pig. Now and then it is Slavery and unlimited Loyalty, and presently it is Sedition and Rebellion, without reserve. It is a Tyrant when a Master, and an Incendiary when a Servant, and either plotting Mischief or acting it. When it is a Doctor, it argues by strong Hand, and, as ill as it likes the Bible, it would keep it all to itself. When it is in Adversity, it snatches up the first Remedy that comes to its Hand, lawful or unlawful; but to others in the same Circumstances it recommends Prayers and Tears, especially when they are to no purpose: If you give it all it asks, it will perhaps seem contented; but if you shew its hated Foe, Moderation, the least Countenance, it will spit in your Face, and call you Son of a Whore: For, whatever Disguise it appears in, it is very apt to be in a Passion, and call Names; nay, if its Hands are not tied, it will bite and scratch, and kick, and fling, and bounce and bellow, and knock down all that come near it, unless they swear a bloody Oath, they are for the Church.
But as useful as this Orthodox is to the Clergy, it will never justify them, in the Opinion of impartial Judges, for marking the best and most elevated Spirits with the Brand of Atheism. Virtue, Learning, and Humanity, will find Friends in spite of Orthodoxy, and many of the Laity will live in the Fear of God, let the Clergy take it ever so ill; and others will be Lovers of Truth and Mankind, at the hazard of being hated by the Church.
I must now have some Talk with my Friends, the Ambassadors, upon another Point, and that is their Claim of Divine Right to every Thing which they have a Mind to call theirs.
It is certain the Monks acquired most of their Possessions by such Means and Arts as would have been scandalous and diabolical, had they been practised by Lay-Men. But Clerks only have the sacred Privilege of tricking and playing the Devil for the Prosperity of the Church. Now these Possessions of the Monks, tho’ forfeited to the Crown by the Law, for having been fraudulently got, and unjustly kept, to maintain Laziness and Debauchery, are to this Hour claimed by our present Monks, as the undoubtd Successors of the other bald Vermin, in Purity of Doctrine and of Manners. Thus aiming in every Point to resemble these their pious Predecessors, they would willingly hold their Lands by Roguery and Divine Right.
The antient Monks were much more generous and reasonable than the present Set; for they gave their Bubbles an Equivalent for their Wealth ——— They would at any time Jockey away a small Tenement in Abraham’s Bosom for a rich Manor in England; whereas our modern Monks, notwithstanding their avowed Authority over their Maker, and his Dominions above, are so far from dealing like Chapmen, that, in Exchange for our Possessions, they do not so much as offer us a little Bargain in Paradise. If the Propriety of that Ground be theirs, they might at least tender a future Cottage for a present Palace, and the rather, because by Experience we know, that when we are at their Mercy, they allow us, in this Life, little else but Dungeons, Whips and Chains, and the like Inducements, to reverence the Priesthood, who, for the Good of our Souls, use our Bodies bloody ill. And it cannot be denied, when the Ambassadors are let loose, they act as if they were, in Truth, the Scourges of God, by divine Right.
Now, I their Apologist, do earnestly perswade the Ambassadors to drop their Claim. All the Laicks who read the Bible know there is nothing of it in that Book, and they do not see that the Clergy live in so good an Understanding and Conformity with their Maker, as to merit from him a Grant of all the Lands in England by Word of Mouth.
What they have by human Right let them keep, and make much of it; nay, (to please them) let them wrangle and go to Law about it as much and as often as they will ——— But this is a Hint they do not want. A Parson’s Bull and his Grey Pad feed on Tithe-Hay and Corn, which is the Provender of these Brutes by Divine Right, and yet I never observed they grew fatter upon this divine Food than a Lay-Bull and a Lay-Stone-Horse, or were less addicted to Carnality and Lewdness.
I shall say nothing here of the Divine Right which doubtless the Ambassadors have to Pluralities and Non-Residence: Only by the by, suppose the Earl of Stair should desire his Majesty to make him Ambassador to half a dozen Courts beside that of France, and undertake to execute all these Employments by his Footmen, I fancy his Excellency would be roundly told, that Discharging an Ambassy by a Curate is such a Solœcism in Politicks as a Lay-Minister must not be guilty of.
I now proceed to another Catholick Topick which is run into prodigious Luxuriancy and Irregularity; I mean the good Art of Lying for the Church. I do not intend to debar the Ambassadors from their most righteous and most antient Practice of martyring their Conscience to their Cassock, and venturing their precious Souls against the dangerous and fanatical Encroachments of their old Foe, Truth, which was never a Friend to the Trade of the Tippit. It is to be wished, however, that their laudable Zeal for this venerable Usage were a little limited; and therefore that it may not grow useless by being altogether boundless, as it is at this Day, I, theApologist for the Church, prompted by pure Affection, will make bold to lay down two Rules to be observed by the Ambassadors, who are Liars for the good of it, as well as Sir Henry Wootton was for the good of the State.
And First, I implore them, as they love their precious Livings, not to fib out of the Bible. I know it is the hardest Thing in the World to break Men of a long and strong Habit, particularly when they much delight in it; but I pray them to consider that the Bible is the most aukward Creature under the Sun at fathering a Lie. You may easily know when he is quoted for a Falshood, for if you ask him, he will deal uprightly with you and tell you the naked Truth. It was a malicious Thing of our Ancestors, and great Blow upon the Ambassadors, to teach this Foreigner our Language; for ever since he has been naturalized, and taught English, he blabs out every Thing he knows.
Good Doctors, take Warning from the wretched Fate of a Brother Doctor, who in a furious Fit of Zeal, to destroy his Country, and save the Church, took a Passage or two out of the Bible, that were not in it. Upon this some unleavened Laymen, who had a singular Affection for Scripture, but were bitter Enemies to the Church, went and consulted their old Friend the Bible, who told them frankly, and like a Neighbour, that this Saviour of the Church had belied him; and, after spending some Moments in Admiration of the Doctor’s want of Memory, added, that the Doctor and he had never been, in the least, acquainted in all their Lives.
A sore Stroke this upon our Ambassador, but it did not rest here. These hard-hearted Laymen, preferring the Reputation of an obsolete Treatise to that of a modish Ambassador, hung up the Story at Westminster-hall, and then published it to all the World. Which dreadful Usage did so provoke the meek Ambassador, that from that Hour to this he could never endure Law, or Gospel, or Truth, or good Manners; but, being now both distracted and hardened to a Degree, he swears and rails, and lies more or less every Day in the Week, but most terribly on Sundays.
Behold the Damage which accrues to the Church from the aptness of the Bible to tell Tales.
This Boldness in us Lay-Animals, or, as a great Church Man loves to call us, The Beasts of the People, to meddle with Knowledge, and study the Word of God, is undoubtedly a shameful Insult upon the Ambassadors, and a manifest Impropriation of their Rights and Profits. But there is no Help for it, the Laity will, against all Reason, be exercising their Reason, and judging in Thing which, though plain and necessary, ought to remain a profound Mystery. All this is the more intolerable, for that both the Prophets and Apostles give a very harsh and unkind Character of our present Orthodox Clergy. It is well for these Calumniaters and Low Churchmen, that they are dead.
Having now shewed the Ambassadors that it is by no Means safe, even when the Church is in the greatest Danger, to lie for its preservation out of the Holy Scriptures, which are ever backward to own and vindicate the Cause of the Cassock; I proceed to give them a Rule to lie by, when they fetch their Falshoods out of their own Heads———And it is only this, to lie with Probability. How many a glorious Catholick Forgery has been murdered by making it too Catholick, that is, too monstrous. What Pity it is there should be any Excess in Piety, and good Works.
In the Time of the late Rebellion I dined by Accident at a Gentleman’s House in the West, who made no secret of his being a Jacobite, or, as he explained it, a true Churchman. The Parson, I found, was gone to the next Village to cater for News, and, being impatiently expected by the Squire, arrived just as we were sitting down to Dinner. Well, Doctor, says his Worship, What is the Word? Mar, Mar, Sir, replied the Doctor, What should it be? Here all the Family chuckled, perceiving the good Man had got a Packet that pleased him. However, before he broached his best News, he let us know that King George (to whom he gave another Name) had got a Guard about him, consisting of five thousand Turks, and ten thousand Presbyterian Parsons. These ill Tidings made Madam sigh for the Church, and therefore the Doctor hastened to tell her better. Come, Madam, says he, hold up, Day dawns in the North, the brave Mar has two hundred thousand Highlanders well armed and principled, to serve your Ladyship and the Church; and three hundred and fourscore great French Ships of War, werethis Morning seen making towards Portsmouth. The Lady thanked God with an Ejaculation, and his Ambassador with a Glass of Sherry. He then proceeded to assure us, That the Duke of Argyle’s Army had deserted to a Man, and that his Grace, himself, was fled in a poor fishing Boat, to Greenland, or somewhere far away; that his Majesty had stole away from St. James’s, and was not to be found high nor low; and that the Duke of Marlborough bit his Thumbs, and looked as pale as Ashes. This great News procured the Ambassador the other Glass of Sherry, and Madam clapped the other Custard upon his Plate. He then assured us, of his own Knowledge, that the Duke of Berwick, had on some Occasion or other given the Earl of Stair a terrible Box on the Ear, and ordered him to leave the Kingdom in three Hours, on pain of being put in the Stocks. A brave Man this Duke of Berwick, says a Booby at the Parson’s Elbow, the Squire’s eldest Son. Ay, says the Parson, and
He went on in this Wantonness of Fancy, and lied and rhimed beyond all Bounds. The Squire squeezed him by the Hand, and put his Health round, and I saw nothing but Mirth and Gaiety. For myself, I laughed with the rest, and owned the Ambassador’s News to be wonderful strange. He was afterwards very Arch upon a brace of Turks, and a Garden of Turnips that he had planted in his Majesty’s Bed-chamber. But as he was going on in his News and Calumny, and just shipping off the Royal Family, for whom he had provided a Lodging somewhere in Holland, an honest Gentleman came in with the printed Account of both the Battle of Preston, and that of Dumblain; for, living far from a Post Town he had his Letters but once a Week. The Ambassador was instantly taken with an Occasion to make Water, and left both his News and his Custard unfinished. But I told the Gentleman the Wonders the Doctor had told us, and he shewed us the monstrous impossibility of them; which had so good an Effect, that tho’ he continues his Trade to this Day, and lies as fervently as ever, especially from his wooden Sanctuary, yet the perverse People uncharitably refuse to be any longer his Rogues and Zealots; whereas before this his unhappy Detection he could set them a Railing and Swearing, and Mobbing at his Christian Pleasure. It is true, many of the good Women, are still his Believers and Conformists; but this is ascribed to a Cause not quite so spiritual.
Take Warning, O Reverend Ambassadors, from the forlorn Miscarriage of this your blundering Brother, who, transported with Orthodox Zeal, carried a well-meaning Lye beyond the Bounds of Likelihood, and has thereby utterly disabled himself from serving the Church and his Order, as long as he lives———Better, oh better he had been a Bed that inauspicious Day, though with his Handmaid as usual.
Not so the artful and eloquent Father Francis, who holds forth a Lye, and weeps over a Lye, with a praiseworthy Cunning and Dexterity. He dresses up the pretty Puppit so amiably, all at the Cost and Charges of his own Fancy, and laments over it so movingly, that there is not a dry Eye, nor a dry Handkerchief, in the whole Congregation. The Tears and Rage of his Hearers are equally in his Power; the whole Order would no doubt envy him, were he not, though greatly lewd an excellent Churchman.
He was once raising the Pity of his Hearers for a hopeful, unfortunate young Gentleman, who, though born to three great Estates, was so ill used, and persecuted, that he had not a Hovel to put his Catholick Head in. In short, he described the poor Lad’s Circumstances so artfully, and lamented him so pathetically, that I thrust my Hand into my Pocket, and, had the Pretender been within three Pews of me, I should infallibly have reached him half a Crown; a larger Charity than I give to every poor Body. I perceived the same Sympathy and Commiseration in the Looks of the whole Church.
On every Thirtieth of January, how many Butchers does he send Home, calling for their Cleavers, to hew in Pieces all the Presbyterian Demons, that had a Hand in the Slaughter of the Martyr! For it is a standing Maxim and Resolve amongst the Ambassadors, that all the Dissenters, who ever lived, or shall live, to the end of the World, must be the individual Men that murdered King Charles the First, with their own Hands. Another Time he gave us a frightful Image and Description of Oliver Cromwell’s Time; but he threw so many Modern Incidents into the Character, that the whole Congregation mistook him to mean the present Reign, and I, like a Booby amongst the rest, was of the same Opinion; and he put me so out of Humour with the Court and the Ministry, that I snatched up my Hat and Cane, and went directly to expostulate with a Secretary of State, upon the dreadful Doings and Mismanagements which Friar Francis had pointed at: I likewise intended to admonish the Courtiers to be ruled by the Clergy, if they expected to prosper. But when I came to St. James’s, I found that Things had quite another Face there, than when they came out of the Mouth of Friar Francis. So I kept my Business to myself, and sneaked off, warned however to trust no more to the Representations of this Reverend Father in Guile.
But, I hope, for the sake of the Ambassadors, no Body else will take the same Pains to be untaught the Apostolical Forgeries, which their Excellencies may find it convenient to broach from Time to Time.———Such a rash Proceeding would utterly destroy the Credit of the Cassock throughout this Land. But my hononrable Friends know themselves very safe in the conformable Credulity of their Hearers: And yet I must still praise that wary Doctor most who lies best, that is, like Friar Francis, most artfully. He well knows, that the pious Art of Falshood is the only Engine they have left to defend the Reputation of the Crape, and to wound that of their great Rival for Power the Government. He therefore manages with Care and Art this last Shift.
I have already given a Reason sufficient, why Oaths ought not to Hamstring the Ambassadors, to which I will here add, in Defence of the innocent Sin of Perjury, that if their universal Custom and Practice in all Ages, be of any Force, as sometimes Custom alone creates Law, then here is an Apology, in a few Words, for such Genuine Clergymen as have forsworn to his present Majesty for the Preservation of their Cupboards and Tithes, of which the Holy-Church hath made them Overseers. It is not, therefore, without valuable Considerations, that the conscientiousPriests have reconciled themselves to this innocent Sin, and made Perjury the easiest Task under the Sun. Not but that the conformable, good Creatures can abstain from it (as much as they are used to it) when there is more got by Nonjuring.
I knew the Ambassador of a Parish near the Bath, who had for many Years sworn and prayed with constant Conformity, and enjoyed his Living and his October, without the least Tumult in his Conscience, till the beginning of the late Rebellion; but this same Conscience of his (being something of a Time server) no sooner heard the High-landers were risen, but it began to rise too, and gave the Doctor several Hints, which he thought were just and reasonable. In short it drew up a remonstrance to him by which it appeared, that if he did but handle the present Opportunity well, he might bid fair to get something, without losing any thing. The Doctor was ready to follow the Advice of so rational a Conscience, and so pretended to quit his Parish, because as he told the People in a doleful Discourse at parting, he could not with any Conscience, pray for a Prince who had no Right, and so forth. Thus the Doctor seemed to risk a small Living for the good of his poor Soul, and a Deanery: And only seemed, for being as cautious as he was Conscientious, he had his Church supplied with a Deputy Ambassador, vulgarly called a Curate. However, the Doctor enjoyed the Honour and Character of a Confessor for a few Weeks, and then the Defeats of Mar and Foster gave him such convincing Proofs of his Majesty’s Right, that his courteous Conscience, the best natured yielding Thing alive, made him and Perjury cordial Friends once more. He took the Oaths, and kept his Parish, and prays now for the Government with the same Sincerity as ever.
Before I have done, I must have a little Chat with my Friends, the Ambassadors, upon the Head of Politicks; and I cannot but conceive they are somewhat too fickle and changing in their Friendship and Enmity to Princes and States; and Inconstancy in Schemes is an essential Error in Statesmen.
The Ambassadors were, for some Time, exceeding fond of the late French King, who indeed took prevailing Methods to please them. In the first Place he exerted the full Prerogative of a Monarch by Divine Right, upon his Lay-Subjects, and treated them as Slaves, born to breath but for his Pleasure. Secondly, He strove gloriously, by Frauds and Violence, to destroy the most powerful and most obnoxious Nest of Republicans in the World, dull Dutch-men, that will be for Trade and Liberty of Conscience, let our Clergy say what they will to the contrary—. Thirdly (O glorious Article!) He exercised such wholesome Severities on Dissenters, that every true Church-man ought to Worship him to all Eternity. And yet, after all this complicated Merit, they withdrew their Protection from him, as soon as he grew Friends with King William. But he quickly merited their Smiles; for he bravely broke his Faith, and fell a murdering the D—d Dutch again: And during the whole Course of the War, they continued to grieve for his Losses, and to curse the Duke of Marlborough for stopping the Course of his most Christian Cruelties. But still they grumbled at his Slowness in lending them a few Ships and Troops to do a certain Jobb which they had much at Heart, because it would have changed the ill-contrived Model of our Laws and Religion into a Form more pleasing to them.
The Regent too was honoured with their good Graces, while he was suspected of aiding the Rebellion for the Church; but, now it appears he has no Spight against their Country and Constitution, they have taken a mortal one at him.
Sweden was once the only Object of their Affection and their Prayers, whilst its King was expected with a Fleet and Army to rescue the Church, by Fire, and Sword, and Popery from the Danger of a Protestant Government. But Sweden failed them, and presently.
The Czar of Muscovy got into their Favour, and it was strongly hoped, that that meek Monarch would set Fire to the Nation, and help the Church; and though he baulked them, the Ambassadors are still fond of him, he having, by Humanity to his Son, and several others, shewn that he knows the use of wholesome Severities; besides, ’tis thought he has no Good-Will for England.
The Turk was at one Time a very popular Church-Man, for he was at War with the Christians, and therefore———great Things were expected from him by the Ambassadors for the Prosperity of the Church: But Prince Eugene, who is not a good Church-Man, drove their Mahometan Friend back to his Whore-House again———
Even the Emperor himself, when he was reported he had given his Sister to the Pretender, was honoured with the Character of a Well-wisher to the Church of England; but that Lye not proving true, his Imperial Majesty lost Ground amongst the Ambassadors, and is at present in such Disgrace with them, that nothing, but his going to Mass, makes them keep Measures with him.
The Dutch were ever the Objects of their Indignation and utter Aversion, but at this present Time, even these Republicans, and No-Christians, by their Slowness in signing the Quadruple-Alliance, have won the Hearts of our Ambassadors, and the Hogan Mogans have now the good Fortune to be deemed judicious and moderate Schismaticks; but I am in great Dread, that they will very shortly anger the Church again.
But Parson Alberoni, my Client, is, of all the Potentates in Europe, the Pope himself not excepted, their present Favourite and Darling, as I, though unworthy, expect soon to be, for penning this unanswerable Encomium upon Him and Them.
Their Love of this Potent, High Church-Man, who, like another Cardinal Laud, leads his Pupil by the Nose, and the Purse-Strings, can proceed from nothing but their Fondness for Works of Charity, to which, it seems, my Client shews a strong Inclination, particularly, in an Instance or two that cannot but please the Church.
We all know there are several worthy English Gentlemen, the good Friends of our Ambassadors, and loyal Sufferers for the Church, who live like Vagrants in Italy, and are fed with Crumbs from the Pope’s Table. Now the loving Cardinal has, in his Royal Bounty, invited these pious Protestants into his Kingdom, offering them a Morsel, and a Bed, though it is feared the present Parliament hath taken such uncatholick Resolutions as may put the Cardinal’s Majesty out of Humour, and tempt him to change his Mind.
Sir George Bing too is never to be forgiven by any Man who wishes well to the Church and Uniformity, for creating such a dangerous Schism in the Cardinal’s Fleet, who were too Orthodox Catholicks to digest the dreadful Heresy of Protestant Powder and Ball.
It was rude in St. George to break the Heads of so many civil Spaniards, who were Men of peaceable Behaviour, and no-wise addicted to Fighting. It is true they afterwards behaved themselves like Heroes, when they refought the English in the Marquis de Beretti Landi’s Papers, where his Excellency has made them shew the true Spanish Bravery, by beating Sir George bravely, and running away from him bloodily. And it is plain to all the World, that they shewed, by a bold Flight, they scorned to die to please that merciless Heretick.
I could add many Particulars to illustrate the Worth of my eminent Client Parson Alberoni, whose great Capacity to rule his Master is visible to Mankind. I could likewise insist that he has as good a Right as any other Priest or Vicar whatsoever, to act as becomes his Order, by nourishing War and Desolation.
But I will wave the Detail of these Points, tho’ there is a great deal in them, having a grand Thing to urge in his Behalf, which renders him singularly Dear to all true Church-Men——— Reader, a Word in your Ear; Parson Alberoni intends, if King George would but let him, to restore———and the Church-Lands;
Having left this important Whisper upon the Reader’s Memory, I shall say no more.
N. B. Not one of the numerous Answers which will be made to this Apology, will be worth reading, But, at the earnest Report of my Bookseller, I design to write and publish a Reply to myself, which I desire every Body to Buy.