Front Page Titles (by Subject) Gordon: An Apology for the Danger of the Church, Proving, that the Church is, and ought to be always in Danger; and that it would be dangerous for her to be out of Danger. Being a Second Part of the Apology for Parson Alberoni. Anno 1719. - A Collection of Tracts, vol. I
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Gordon: An Apology for the Danger of the Church, Proving, that the Church is, and ought to be always in Danger; and that it would be dangerous for her to be out of Danger. Being a Second Part of the Apology for Parson Alberoni. Anno 1719. - 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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An Apology for the Danger of the Church, Proving, that the Church is, and ought to be always in Danger; and that it would be dangerous for her to be out of Danger. Being a Second Part of the Apology for Parson Alberoni.
THE Prospect of doing great and useful Actions, or the Consideration of having done them, must needs be Matter of Pleasure and Triumph to a Mind honestly ambitious. It is therefore no little Joy to me to reflect, that I have been a Person of notable Moment and Significancy this Winter; by my strenuous Defence of High-Church, and the Trade thereof. I have placed its true Sons and Overseers in a true Light, in which every one may behold them, and bow down with his Face to the Earth.
As all pious Deeds meet with some Reward, either in the internal Satisfaction of the Mind, or from the Monuments of Praise erected by Mankind to the Doer, I have no Reason to say that my late Apology went without its Recompence; since by it I have gain’d, what I sincerely aim’d at, to the Genuine Priesthood all due Honour, and to myself ———. But it becomes me who am but a private Gentleman, to serve my Country for nothing.
There is, however, some good Fortune generally attending the brave Man who draws in Defence of the Church. She is a lucky old Body, and few find Cause to repent of having done her a good Turn. I myself, her weak tho’ voluntary Champion, am two Pair of Shoes and a Beaver the richer, for wearing out three Pens, and exhausting a Halfp’ worth of Ink in her Service. I still want a Sword-knot, and a Tooth-pick-case, which I make no Question of earning in a few Days from the Steeple. I have for that Purpose, at this very Juncture, seventeen Pamphlets in my Head, all carved out into proper Method and Paragraphs, and ten of them are already sold to my Bookseller, who purchases my Brains at so much a Sheet. I would willingly sell him the other seven, and throw two or three little ones into the Bargain; but he shakes his Ears, and seems to say, he has ventur’d enough already.
In this Manner is my pregnant Head become an Office of Wit and Manuscripts, to be employ’d wholly in the Interest of the Sacred Brood of Aaron.
Pursuant to this I have a Project now on Foot, which, if duly encouraged, will tend to the universal Credit and Emolument of this distress’d Church. In short, it is my Purpose to expose my Head, and the Furniture thereof, to Sale by Auction, at St. Paul’s Chapter-house, on the 30th of May next; at which Time and Place, I do hereby humbly hope and beg, the Presence and Encouragement of all the Reverend Zealots within this Realm. The Particulars are as follows.
Of unborn Pamphlets, and Satires, to be publish’d as soon as they are brought forth, for the Benefit of our Mother-Church, and her hopeful Boys, the Parsons.
Imprimis, The Nature and Necessity of an Ecclesiastical Delirium, or the Art of holy Foaming. Written in the Stile of the eloquent Dr. Sacheverel.
2. The holy Monopoly; or a new Conveyance of an old Grant, sign’d and seal’d above; proving the Clergy to be the natural Lords of all the Women and Land in Great Britain, and the rightful Occupiers of both, in Spite of all Lay——— and Rent-Rolls whatsoever.———A valuable Pamphlet!
3. The Tribe of Issachar; or an Argument to prove that the Laity have a Right to no Liberty, but that of being Slaves to the Clergy. To which is added, An Appendix, proving, that the Parsons ought to govern the World.
4. The Modern Paradox; or a Demonstration that Ungodliness may be orthodox, and a good Life damnable. The whole being intended for a Defence of the Rev. Dr. Sacheverel, and a Reproof to Mr. Whiston.
5. The Truth of Contradiction; or Church-Arithmetick, demonstrating, That three is one, and one is three.
6. The Unreasonableness of understanding the Scripture.
7. The absolute Necessity of understanding our Duty to the Clergy.
8. The Innocence of Perjury and Rebellion, on one Side.
9. A plain Proof that Laymen may lawfully commit Sin, if they will pay for it, and kneel for Pardon to the Clergy.
There are several more MSS. of the like Nature and Tendency, which may be seen at the Place of Sale, with the Price mark’d upon them.
I have already confessed, that my humble Attempts to serve the Church have not altogether missed their Recompence; and if the late blessed Martyr, Jemmy Shepherd, with some other orthodox Gentlemen, who fought and were hang’d for the Church, did not fare so merrily, it was because the Clergy were not consulted and obey’d, as questionless they ought to have been. But thus it will ever be, while the King and Parliament are suffer’d to act independently on the Convocation.
Since therefore I have succeeded in my honest Endeavours, to set up the Parsons as the Idols of the Universe, I cannot, in Gratitude to them and myself, forbear pursuing my Blow, till I have satiated their holy Leachery, and Mr. Leslie’s Prophecy, by persuading Mankind, to fall down before them, with their Faces to the Earth, and lick up the Dust of their Fest. And when I have once oblig’d the Lay Gibeonites to be as respectful and miserable as becomes them, the Clergy and I will sit down together, and sacrifice to Wine and Tobacco.
In the mean while it shall be my present Task to confound Gainsayers, by proving, That the Church is, andought to be in Danger, and that it would be dangerous for her to be out of Danger.
But before I proceed, I must, for my own Security from Cavillers, and for the greater Clearness of my Discourse, settle the Idea which I and all Men ought to have of the Church, by defining the Word. The Church then, is a sable Society of Gentlemen, wearing broad Hats and deep Garments; who possess great Part of the Wealth and Power of the World, and would have All, as a Reward for keeping Mankind in decent Ignorance and Bondage.
And now I enter upon my Design, with great Alacrity of Heart.
I own the Gospel makes this Story of the Church’s Danger a meer Fable; but be it also known, that tho’ our Saviour says the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, our Parsons will not take his Word for it. I am sorry with all my Heart, for the great Misunderstanding and Difference which there are between Jesus Christ and his Ambassadors, almost in every Point of Belief and Practice; and, I confess, it is very odd, that they who pretend all their Power to be from him, should not credit his most solemn Promises; but I see no Remedy for these Things.
I that am a Layman, find great Comfort in being a Christian and a Believer; and particularly I am so much of a Heretick, as to think, that when our Saviour said, his Father was greater than he, he did not tell a Word of a Lie; I know his Ambassadors are of another Opinion; but I have Faith in Christ Jesus.
The Danger of the Church comes from divers Causes, the principal of which I shall reckon up.
And first, common Sense and Sobriety are great Enemies to the Church. While Folks are sober and rational, they can see about them, and want that large Competency of Blindness which so eminently qualifies a Man for a good Churchman. So long as they are destitute of that Title to Orthodoxy, they will be attending to the Means of their own Interest and Safety, than which no greater Rubs can be thrown in the Priesthood’s Way.
Not many Years ago, when we were beating our Enemies, and defending ourselves and Europe from Chains; when Success and Reputation attended us abroad, and we flourish’d in Peace and Security at home; an ignorant Person would think we were a happy People, and indeed we were so: But what then? Our Happiness, Virtue, and Concord, were not only utterly inconsistent with the Welfare of the Church; but put it into terrible Danger: And therefore all her true Sons bent their whole Might and Zeal to relieve her by distracting the Nation; and their pious and fiery Endeavours, at last, made the People mad, and the Church safe. Its strongest Votaries, the ingenious Vulgar, drank away their Reason and Humanity, and committed Bloodshed and Blasphemy, every where, for the Church, with vast Zeal and Success; and the Church gather’d most Strength when Religion and Reason had least. As for those Fanatical sober Rogues, that kept their Senses, they were devoutly knock’d down by those who were so orthodox as to have none. At this blessed Juncture the Clergy had the Happiness to see more Blood and Beer drawn for the Church, than ever had been before on any Occasion whatsoever. And it is always an infallible Sign of the Church’s Health and Prosperity, when the Business of Excisemen and Surgeons increases beyond measure.
It will fall naturally under this Head, to observe who are the Church’s best and stanchest Friends.
And in the first Place, there are many Noble Lords, who are born Friends to the Church, and live and die in that Friendship. There is the little Lord Apemore, who has bestow’d his whole Heart upon Parsons and Race-Horses. He knows nothing else, and, happily for the Church, cares for nothing else. He seems, with St. Francis, to be an implacable Foe to all human Knowledge and Charity; but he can say the Athanasian Creed, drink Damnation to the Whigs, and is upon the whole a compleat Churchman. Lord Apemore was once Drinking a Health to his Horse Frederick, and among those who heard it, it went round; but when it came to the Turn of a Whig in Company to drink, he being thick of Hearing, mistook, and, throwing up his Hat with loyal Noise and Affection, drank Prince Frederick. Upon which the Peer, rising from his Seat, Dam me, Sir, what d’ye mean, Sir? Dam me, Sir, d’ye know where you are, Sir? Dam me, Sir, we know no Prince Frederick here, Sir; and Dam me, Sir, we are drinking a better Man’s Health, Sir. This excellent Speech has gain’d his Lordship the Reputation of a Wit, and a brave Man, among all the Parsons and ’Squires round the Country.
Corpulus is another right Honourable Person, who has been a true Churchman from his Cradle. To a Concussion in that Machine it is thought he is indebted for his Orthodox Principles, and his Security from the dangerous Influence of human Reason. I could give ample Proofs of this, but his Lordship through the whole Course of his Life has done it to my Hand. He makes a Joke of the King’s Title, and of his own Oath to maintain it; he is as honourably ignorant as becomes a Great Personage and a true Churchman, and he never goes to Bed without swallowing eight Quarts, and as many Thousand Oaths. Let the World judge if this Man be not a cordial and approved Friend to the Hierarchy.
The Lord Syntax is past Forty, and has all the Rules of Grammar by Heart; but notwithstanding this great Accomplishment, the Cawl is not yet taken off his Face, and he is still a Minor. But being a Babe in common Sense, he is consequently a resolute High Churchman.
Lord Gemini does likewise demand honourable Mention on this Occasion. Nature was very negligent when she made this Great Man, for he is an unfinish’d Piece of brown Earth, and his Mind (if he has one) tallies exactly to his Outside. He cannot shut his Mouth, nor hold his Tongue. However, half made as he is, he is full of bright Zeal; and, when he is in the House, he seems to mean several Speeches for the Church, but no Mortal is so well bred as to hear him: And yet, his Mouth, as I said, being always ready open, he proceeds eternally.
I confess, that Earl Tahnan, though he is a Churchman, wants two essential Qualifications for that Character: He has Sense, and he is never drunk. But, quoth Cato, who had not a due Respect for Priesthood and Tyranny: Solus Cæsar ad evertendam Rempublicam sobrius advenit. To be just to Earl Talman, I grant he was twice a Whig upon valuable Considerations, and once out of a Pique. But at present he is a great Churchman, because he has not a proper Reason to be otherwise.
Lord Bowling-Green is no Fool neither, nay he was a Wit and a Writer during the Life of a great Poet, whose Death had such an Effect upon him, that he has not writ a Line since. But, though the Peer has Sense, yet it happens so oddly, that he is a true Churchman. But malicious People pretend to give you a Reason for it, by alledging that he leans towards Infidelity. If this be true, the Thing is not at all strange.
I was going on with my Characters of this Sort, but I must remember that I have not now Time to write a Folio.
From what has been said, I hope it is evident, why most of our Rural Squires and Pursuers of Foxes are excellent High Churchmen. These married Minors are all under the Dominion of their Wives and the Parsons, who regale one another with Caudle and Orthodoxy, and so forth, and govern these simple Vehicles of Worship and Nonsense, and mould their Hearts and their Heads into what Faith and Figure they please. And it must be acknowledged, to the Honour of these genuine Gentlemen, that they have an admirable Knack at Planting Orthodoxy in all its Branches, where ever they come.
Andrew la Fool, Esq; keeps special Beer, and has a Wife who loves the Church and all its Tackle. Andrew never dines without seven Parsons at his Elbow.
Squire Toby lived in a married State nine Years without Issue; he at length took a Chaplain into his House, and now his Wife is with Child. See, says Toby, the Blessing that attends the keeping of a Clergyman in one’s House! And yet, but to please my Wife, I had not done it.
I am far from being surpriz’d that our Rural Members vote on all Occasions for the Church. Is not filial Duty a potent Reason? And is there no Gratitude, nor Affection, due to the good Men who brought them probably into World, and certainly into the House: For, our Country Candidates have an Agent, to be sure, if not a Father, in every Parish in the County, who carries all the Votes in the Village under his Girdle.
Nor are these Sons of the Cassock, last mentioned, any more rebellious in their Capacity than in their Inclinations. Their pious and convenient Ignorance is a certain Pledge for their Zeal, and these two are perpetually of a Size.
As to the Bebaviour and Practice of these Levitical Cubs, it is the easiest Task in the World; Their whole Business is to be drunk and Orthodox.
Having now shewn why so many Lords and Commons are true Church-men, I need say nothing of the Rabble, since they are so for the same Reason, and therefore ’tis no wonder the Church has such a Majority amongst them. The Church if the Mob forsake it, is undone.
Hence it is that for good and pious Ends I have, as Council for the Clergy, drawn the following Deed of Conveyance, which, I do not doubt, will be readily signed and sealed by the Parties concerned. The Purport of it is to enrich the Church-Interest with a Multitude of Persons whom the Whigs may well spare.
“Whereas there are divers and sundry well-meaning ignorant Persons in this Land, who call themselves Whigs, and yet want the necessary Marks and Qualifications belonging to that Character, which is maintained by a good Understanding, and by a powerful Love for Truth and Liberty, and, in general, by a just Sense of Things; And whereas the aforesaid good and sensless Persons do originally and naturally belong to the Class of true Church-men, whose Cause has from the beginning been supported by Number and Nonsense; We therefore whose Names are hereunto subscribed, taking into our tender Consideration the Interest of the Clergy, do as Representatives of the whole Body of Whigs in Great Britain, by these Presents renounce, release, and for ever quit our Claim, to all Boobies, and Idiots who may have run blindly into our Party; And we do hereby freely, and of our own meet Motion, resign and make over the said Fools and Naturals unto the High Church of England, whose proper Goods and Chattles they are, the said Church knowing full well how to apply the Blindness and Stupidity of them the said Asses to admirable and Orthodox Ends and Purposes, Witness our Hands. &c.”
A. B. cum Sociis suis.
I have but one Scruple upon my Conscience in relation to this Grant of mine in behalf of the Church. I doubt it will obstruct the Bill for Preventing the Growth of Peerage, if ever it should come in again: And, on the contrary, make many new Creations necessary to fill up the Vacancies it will occasion. But let our Superiors look to that. The Church in the mean while ought to pray servently for Success to such a Bill; for if it pass, I will be bold to prophesy, that fifty Years hence the whole House, at least a great Majority, will be genuine Church-men; unless the same be first rendered intirely empty by a rigorous Execution of this my Conveyance.
Another traiterous Enemy to the Church hath been the Weather.
When that remarkable Phenomenon appeared about three Years since, every one that had Orthodox Eyes saw Armies and Champions in the Air, brandishing their Broad Swords, and threatning present Death and Destruction to all Fanaticks and Low Church-men; yet so it shamefully happens, that that Caravan of Tory-Clouds has neither brought over the Pretender, nor struck any other Blow on the Church’s side.
The Wind likewise plaid the Truant from the Church, and in spight of the Prophesies and Prayers of all the Parsons and other old Women in the Nation, Sir George Bing’s Fleet was not sunk. One would naturally take the Sea, by its Noise and Roaring, to be an Orthodox Person; but, by its late great Civilities to our Ships, it seems to have quite deserted the Church-Interest, and tacked about to the Whigs.
I happened to be down in Essex about the time when Sir John Norris was sent into the Baltick to detain the moderate and pious King of Sweden from that Expedition, from which our Church expected great Salvation, as the Reverend Mr. T———zealously phras’d it, and on Sunday I went to Church. Our Parson, after taking his Text, and making a Flourish or two about the Meaning of it, told us, that tho’ the Doom denounced against the Ships of Tarshish and the ISLES, was an old Prophesy, it might probably, nay it did certainly extend much further, and we were encouraged to hope great Effects from it, in this our Day. You shall see, says he, and I speak it from the Mouth of Inspiration itself, you shall suddenly see the Wonders of the Lord in the Deep. Can the Almighty prosper those Ships that are the Bulwarks of Usurpation, Commonwealths and Schism? No, he cannot, he must not, if he be true to his own Word, if he has any Regard for his own Church and People. His whole Sermon was to the like Purpose, and he seemed to have strong and Christian Hopes that our Navy would perish. But notwithstanding that he preached and foamed with wonderful Zeal, and vented great Eloquence and Spittle; and notwithstanding that he threatened the Lord, if he did not grant a Tempest; and the People, if they did not pray for it; yet neither God nor the Weather obey’d him, and Sir John and his Squadron went in Safety.
In short, there has not been a Blast of Wind, or a Shower of Rain these five Years, but what has been drawn, Head over Heels, into the Party and Interest of the Church. It thundered for the Church, and snowed for the Church, and froze for the Church. And yet the Whigs who have got all the Money in the Nation, have so bribed the Elements, that they have quite forsook the Catholick Cause. We had last Summer, very hot Weather, when in the Opinion of all the Orthodox, boded nothing less to the Nation, than a general Famine and Pestilence, for the Martyrdom of the blessed Martyr, and the keeping out of the Pretender. But these pestilential Friends of the Church, though earnestly wished for, and positively foretold, have not done the Church the least Service, by laying waste their native Country. How often was the King’s Army to have been frozen up in Scotland, during the late Rebellion, and most of the Parsons in the Kingdom had pawn’d their Word and Faith upon it. But in the Issue, neither the Frost nor the Snow help’d the Church and the Pretender.
In last Autumn Word was brought to the Parson of a certain Parish, that such a Boy in the Village was just then killed with Thunder and Lightning. Is he? says the Parson, it is what I always foretold, that that Boy would come to a dismal End, for he went constantly to a fanatick Conventicle; and neither I nor his School-master could disswade him from it. Ay, but Sir, replied the Messenger, who brought the Doctor these glad Tidings, Gaffer Pitchfork is murder’d too, with thick same toady Clap of Thunder, and you do know, Sir, he was a Main Man for the Church, and fought bravely for putting up the Maypole. At this the Doctor scratch’d his Head, and said, It is appointed to all Men once to die.
My Landlady at Hartly Row, who is a good Church-woman, and very great with the Parson of the Parish, is well assured, that the late Meteor is a visible Judgment upon us, for our putting down the Convocation, as she calls it. I hope, when his Majesty hears this, he will summon the Parsons again to save us from Comets and Lightning, and to rebuke the Nation once more for Infidelity, in not believing in them, and also to convince the Bishop of Bangor, by censuring him.
What Pity is this, that neither the Clouds, nor the Sun, nor the Moon, nor the Stars, nor any Thing above them, can be brought to favour the Cause of the Church!
Providence is likewise, I fear, become an Enemy to High-Church; for it disappoints her on all Occasions.
At a Time when her Foundations seem’d to be laid deep, and her Designs ripe for Execution, on an unlucky First of August, the Church’s Nurse died, and the Babe fainted. All the holy Treachery and Violence, used then by the Church’s Friends, and all their seasonable Violations of Treaties and Oaths, were for that Bout utterly lost, and their Conscience and Honesty thrown away to no Purpose.
This was an unkind Discourtesy, which I fear they will never forgive, and yet in about a Year’s Time afterwards, the Church was play’d another slippery Trick, as bad as the former, by the removing out of this mortal Life a Monarch who was Champion and Gladiator in chief for our Orthodox Clergy.
Relying on the Faith of Treaties abroad, and the Obligation of Oaths at home, we were quite destitute of Forces, when the late Earl of Mar by rebelling against his Maker and his King, in Favour of Popery and the Church, became the Darling of our genuine Parsons, who presently voted him a righteous Iustrument in the Hand of Providence, to bring in the Pretender, and rescue them from the insupportable Ties of Faith and Morality, a Burthen which neither they nor their Predecessors ever would bear, and it must be owned, they had then a tempting Opportunity to avow publickly their long and constant Perjury and Expectations, without any apparent Danger of temporal Loss (a Consideration always uppermost with them) and yet they were so cautious as only to mutter their Hopes privately to all the World.
The same French Forces which had so long contended the Prize with all Europe, had now nothing else to do but to break the Peace, and please the Parsons, and replant Tyranny and Roman Orthodoxy amongst us.
Here was now a pleasing Prospect for the Church, Mar had a large Army of invincible Highlanders; a formidable Invasion from abroad daily threatened us; we had Tumults, Madness, Confusion and Disaffection in every Parish in the Nation, and in every County a Rising was feared and expected; and in short things, were running into a total Dissolution. So much had our peaceful Clergy done, and so much had they to hope from their own Doings. The Church was very cock-a-hoop, and held up its Head and crowed. By their Behaviour and Assurance, I dare pronounce that these pious Peace-makers and Ambassadors of the meek Jesus, would not have taken a Composition of three Parts of the Church-Lands for their Hopes of the Pretender and the whole. They were even sure of their Point.
There is a Parson in Somersetshire (to name no more) who from the Revolution had raved every Sunday with great Zeal and Devotion against Foreigners. He had sworn to King William, and hated him, and spread the same Hatred through the whole Parish, every one of whom he had debauched with Drunkenness and Disloyalty. Upon his Majesty’s Accession, he likewise swore to him and abused him, renewing with greater Virulence than ever his Imprecations upon Foreigners. In one of his Sermons he had this Expression; Suppose the Time should come when we shall have a King that does not understand the Common Prayer what think we will become of the poor Church? This excellent Christian, when he thought the Invasion and Desolation, which he had long wished to his native Country, were at hand, began to tell his People, that there was a wide Difference betweem some Foreigners and others, and that as they ought to abhor, and even destroy, such of them as were the open or secret Enemies of the Church, so it was their Duty to honour and entertain, and even to divide their Substance with such Foreigners as came to save it. This was Hint enough, and the Doctrine was so clear, that a pretty young Girl asked her Mother, who had as much Knowledge as her self, Whether these brave Outlandish Men would marry with us poor English Volks?
With such sort of Management it is no wonder that the poor Orthodox Vulgar are worked up into the greatest Credulity and Rage. I have met with some of them who thought it no Sin to murder the Hanoverians, so that they said, they were Men-Eaters: And when I asked them how they came to know so much of the Hanoverians, they answered, Oh, our Parson has told us enough of they. Nay, some of them believe that his Majesty eat up all the Children he ever had, except the Prince, and they pretend to tell you how His Royal Highness was saved from the same Fate.
To some of the Clergy alone appertains the sacred Right of doing well by deceiving, and of promoting Ruin, Ignorance and War for the Prosperity of the Church; and such are the Men whom the Nation pays to propagate Truth and Morality, and maintain Peace.
I will not here pretend to make an exact Computation and Comparison between the Number of the well affected and ill affected Parts of the Clergy; but I am not at all apprized that I wrong them, if I venture to say, that not one in seven of these conscientious Pastors opened his Mouth against the late Rebellion in the Western Counties.
In the Pulpit they either say nothing of his present Majesty or that which is much worse than nothing; whereas in the late Reign they were so blasphemously loyal, that they seemed to have forgot Jesus Christ, to preach up the Q———n.
But I was saying, that at one Juncture, I mean during the Rebellion, the Hopes and Views of our Genuine Clergy were in a promising Posture, and very near fulfilling, and many of them were so discerning as to see the Finger of God in the Rebellion, and they became Sureties every where for Providence, that it would go through with the Work which they had begun. But Providence had deserted them and has never returned since.
And thus Providence refuses to aid, though so often commanded, the Interest of Perjury and Rebellion, though they are both so evidently for the Good of the Church.
I do not know whether they may not, in their private Junto’s and Cabals, have come to a Resolution, that Providence is a Schismatick; and the more, because it is plain that both Providence, and the Author of Providence, are irreclaimable Dissenters from the Principles and Practises of High-church. They seem to be so sensible of this, that they have long since displaced the Almighty, as much as in them lies, from any Power or Concernment in this World, or the other, having dubbed themselves Gods and Forgivers; and exercising with Authority all the great Offices of Omnipotence.
The Bishop of Bangor too, is the Occasion of no small Terror to the Church, and in Confederacy with her mortal Foes, marching, as he does, at the Head of Truth, Reason, Scripture and Sincerity, and the like fanatical Fellows, who have the Heresy and Impudence to espouse an Interest diametrically opposite to that of the Convocation.
This ill advised Bishop is so romantick and froward, as to think, that the Clergy ought to depart from several Points, which, though they are bloody Antagonists to the Spirit of the Gospel, yet do evidently tend to the Glory of the Church. His Lordship ridiculously believes that when a Man is a good Man, though in this Particular he differs widely from the Parsons, yet God will have Mercy upon him. But, to silence this perverse Writer for ever, let him know that these Clergy have endeavoured to pluck God’s own Keys out of his Hands, and to hinder him from shewing Mercy, or opening Paradise, if he would. They like Sine Cures so well that they have a Mind to make the Almighty’s Government a Sine Cure too. Are not such Priests brave Fellows who would make their Maker a Minor, and themselves his Directors and Guardians? When his Lordship is informed of this, I hope he will drop the Controversy.
The Bishop is also grievously deceived in another Instance; He is of Opinion that the Clergy ought to be the Propagators and Defenders of Liberty and the Gospel. See here the Ignorance of a Father of the Church! He does not know that Christianity may be at the last Gasp, and yet the Church in a most flourishing Condition.
I could mention many more Mistakes of the Bishop’s; and particularly he is so ill a Churchman, as to think there is some Force in Oaths, and that they who take them should not altogether break them. But as his Lordship is out-voted, upon this Article, by a vast Majority of most Orthodox Teachers, I take it he deserves no other Confutation: Besides, this is a sort of Reasoning which he is used to.
There is no doubt a very good Reason to be given, why these Reverend Examples of Truth and Piety play with Oaths, and call upon the tremendous Name of God to a Lie. They themselves say it is for Bread, though some others think it is for Drink. However that be, it is plain Perjury is but a small Fault, if any. Now suppose His Majesty, taught by the Church, should break his Oath, and seize its Possessions, I know the Parsons are so reasonable a Sort of People, that they would never upbraid His Majesty for walking in their Steps, and being forsworn. But I doubt his Majesty is so much of a King, and a Christian, that he will never be brought to follow his Clergy in this Path.
Before I have done with this Head, I must give the Parsons one Caution. I beg them for the Time to come, never to upbraid any Body with the Practice of Occasional Conformity; since probably some bitter Presbyterian, who does not honour the Cloth, may give them to understand, that it is almost as innocent to take the Church-Sacrament for a Place, as it is to be forsworn for a Living.
The Happiness of Mankind is moreover a great and powerful Antagonist to the Church.
Here in England we enjoy such a shameful Share of Wealth and Liberty, that it is no Wonder at all our Clergy are perpetually grumbling. If we were but so reasonable and orthodox as to part with all our Substance and Privileges to them, it is almost probable, that these our good Guides to Misery and Salvation, would grow content and easy, which it is impossible for Men of their Spirit and Pretensions to be; so long as we are so saucy and heterodox as to be rich and free.
In the Territories of the Church abroad, the Priests enjoy the great good Fortune of having never a happy Layman under their Dominion; and having beside, the Power of Fire and Sword, there is not a single Schismatick, nor the Appearance of Heresy and Knowledge amongst them; but Church Affairs go on in a blessed Course of Tyranny, Sodomy, and Stupidity, without Rub or Disturbance. Can any one wonder that our zealous Clergy are tempted to an Imitation of such a pious Pattern of genuine Church Power and Plenty, where the Bible is locked up, and the Laity starve?
The Nature of our Government and Constitution, brings also no small Danger to the Church.
In this Country the Orthodox Clergy cannot excommunicate and damn a Man, but presently the Heterodox Law grants him a Replevin. Besides, we have several other Bars to the Felicity of the Church; We have a Parliament, and we have Trade, and, which is worse than all, the Convocation cannot do what they please, and the King will not part with his Prerogative to prorogue them. So that the Law on one Side, and the Prerogative on the other, grind the poor Church between the upper and the nether Millstone, as Mr. Leslie emphatically complains.
There is one Instance particularly, in which the Prerogative bears hard upon the Church. The Parsons, you must know, to prove themselves a well-born People, go for their Parentage seventeen hundred Years backwards, and father themselves upon the Apostles. Now not being able to prove this, either by Record, or Resemblance, they have given Occasion to some prophane Folks to alledge, that the Priests must needs be Bastards, because their Parents utterly disown them, and they are kept by the Parish. But they, on the other hand, scorning to part with their Apostolick Birth, have forged out a vast Chain, long enough to hold ten Millions of Foxes, and this they call the Chain of Succession; one End of which is tied to the Apostles, and the other to themselves; and it reaches from Jerusalem to Lambeth, taking Rome in its Way. This is an important, and even miraculous Chain; for, though it has frequently been broke, and there are Gaps in it seventy Years long, yet it has never been once interrupted to this Day. It is like Milton’s Bridge, built by Sin and Death, over the Chaos, wonderful and invisible. It is pity this Cable-rope of Succession should lie thus incog. when in the Opinion of High-Church, the whole Hierarchy hangs by it. It is therefore no wonder they maintain it with most Apostolick Wrath and Obstinacy.
But even here now, in the momentous Point of Succession, the Prerogative breaks in upon the Cassock, and the King, who is but a Layman, creates Bishops, and, by this Act of his, does, as it were, beget Sons and Heirs to the Apostles. This is a sad Encroachment upon the Privileges of the Parsons, who have doubtless a Divine Right to breed each other. I know they pretend they still choose their Bishops, and, on that Occasion mock God with Prayers, as if they really did. Thus an Apothecary’s Boy, or an old Woman, by order of the Doctor, administers a Clyster; and, if a Cure ensues, the Boy or the old Woman was the Physician.
There are many other Faults in our Laws, in Relation to the Church, of which the Priesthood have just Reason to complain. Smithfield is turned into a meer Market, where Bullocks are butchered instead of Hereticks, and the Clergy are never again like to be complimented with a Burnt Offering from thence; and a Dissenter may now be so saucy as to worship God, and the Parson cannot punish him for it; and the Laity are suffered to believe, that the revealed Will of God is not hid; and there is a dangerous Opinion prevailing among us, that the Almighty will not tumble us into Hell, for Sincerity and Well-meaning. And, to add no more, the Clergy have not the Government of all Things.
The next Thing I shall mention, which has administered great Grief and Danger to the Church, is the High Duty upon French Wine and Brandy. This Grievance is sufficient to make all the genuine Parsons in England Male-contents. For, though they drink Malt Liquor in great Quantities, and though that be of a windy Nature, and is a great Help to Zeal, yet a Dram is the Life of Orthodoxy, and Claret is clear Wit to use their own waggish Stile. I know a Parson who drinks nothing but Small-beer, and he is a Whig, as one may easily imagine, and unless he change his Liquor in order to change his Principles, he is like to continue a Whig till Doomsday. So much does the Church lose by a sober Son.
Another Cause from which the genuine Churchmen are in great Danger, is a Reformation of Manners, which would strip them of many pretty Liberties, and force upon them the Bitterness of Morality, which is too strong Meat for these Babes. As Orthodoxy and Lewdness are often the lovingest Neighbours in the World, it must needs go to their Heart to be parted.
In Popish Countries, for Example, where the Clergy often fall into such Carnal Crimes and Copulations, as our spotless Society of Saints here at home do abhor; Would it not be a heavy Judgment upon a pious Priest to be stripp’d at once of his Whore and his Altar? And then, Would not an Embargo on Toping, in the same Countries, have an Aspect every Bit as terrible towards the Church? For, there are, beyond Sea, such Monsters as drunken Priests; though my Countrymen, who never see such Sights here in England, may imagine I talk wildly. And now for an honest tippling Priest, who would as freely suffer Death as Thirst, to be thus reformed out of his Bottle, and divorced from his croney Barrel, would be downright Persecution, and wound the Church through his Sides.
A Reformation is likewise so tyrannical and hard-hearted, as to oblige the Clergy to live as if there was really something in Religion, beside Farce and Tithes; and it expects too that these spiritual Militia, should be, at least, now and then upon Duty, and not live idle above fix Days in seven, and upon the seventh, not above nineteen Hours in four and twenty.
Besides, a Reformation would be for reviving the Force of Scripture Laws, which bear wondrous hard upon the Clergy. I remember particularly, the third Chapter to Timothy lays such intolerable Injunctions and Restraints upon them, as must needs be as far from the Liking of the genuine Parsons, as I am sure they are from their Practice; for the aforesaid Chapter expects they should be no Brawlers, nor Strikers, nor greedy of filthy Lucre, nor given to Wine; nor lifted up with Pride; but, on the contrary, that they should be blameless, vigilant, sober, of good Behaviour, and apt to teach; and I know not how many more Impossibilities.
A Gentleman in this City, whose Heart is set upon a Reformation of Manners, gave me not long ago, the Perusal of his Creed, out of which I drew the following dangerous Positions, and now I publish them, that the genuine Clergy may guard against them.
1. He believes that a Man may be saved by adhering to naked Truth and plain Religion.
2. That it is not damnable, not to believe what we cannot believe.
3. That Christianity is as good a Man as Orthodoxy, saving the Judgment of the Clergy.
4. That it is possible for a Pastor to have Grace in his Heart, though he has ne’er a Rose in his Hat, and that he may tell Truth, and instruct the People, though he be not wrapped up in twenty Ells of Holland.
5. That an innocent Infant may be saved, without a Parson’s dropping Water upon its Face.
6. That a well disposed Person may eat Bread, and drink Wine, in Remembrance of our Saviour’s Death, without the Priest’s Form of Words, which yet do not change the Elements, which yet are a proper Sacrifice, which yet is not Flesh and Blood.
7. That God may possibly pardon a repenting Sinner, though the Parson do not absolutely give his Consent, and order him so to do.
8. That a Man may venture to understand the understandable Parts of Scripture.
9. That there is such a Thing as a scrupulous Conscience; With Submission to the Parsons.
10. That a Man may keep his Oath to King George, and yet not be damned for it; again saving the Opinion and Practice of High-Church.
11. That the Clergy as well as others, would be better, if they had fewer Faults.
12. That Dissenters are our Fellow-Creatures.
13. That Religion is a Rational Thing.
My Acquaintance (above-mentioned) holds all these and more such heretical Notions, which, were they tolerated, would bring no small Danger to the Church. But I hope, her genuine Sons will continue their Zeal, and defend her against them all.
Among many other Causes which I could assign for the Danger of the Church, I shall mention but two; and these are two Holy Days, the 30th of January, and the 29th of May; a Couple of Days that send many a pious Priest to meet his Fate. Then it is that our Orthodox Parsons exerts their Wrath and Eloquence with huge Might and Success. They demolish the Whigs, and then kill themselves with Joy and Drinking. Cups and Carousals, succeed to Zeal and Scolding, and many an able-bodied Levite sacrifices his Sobriety and his Tabernacle, to the Health and Confusion of the Church and Low-Church-Men. They send Dissenters to the Devil, but go first themselves, to tell him they are coming.
Thus half the genuine Clergy lay Hands upon themselves, and pour their own Deaths down their Throats. Some of them depart spiced with right Nantz, others sows’d in October, some pickled in Florence, and many steep’d in Oxford-Ale. Ah these drunken Holydays! (says my witty Friend, Dr. Byfield) no Body gets by them but Lucifer and the Excisemen. They have turned the whole Year into an idle Jubilee, and the Common-Prayer Book into an Almanack. I hate their superstitious Trumpery———It is only the Whore of Babylon in an English Vizor, and the Pope in a Periwig. Premember the Time, when we neither minded Surplices nor Saints Days; and then! Drunkenness was sent to the Stocks, and Whoring to the House of Correction. But now! the Priests are gone astray, and the People follow them.
I am acquainted with a Rosicrucian in this Town, who holds a Correspondence with the other World, and in it with Hugh Peters particularly, from whom he lately received the following Epistle, a Copy of which he gave me. As it is the newest and best Apology that ever was made for Drunkenness, I chearfully publish it, for the peculiar Service of my Ecclesiastical Clients.
To the truly illuminate, and sublimate by the Symphony of the Spirit of Essence, bright above Brightness, and Blossom of invisible Knowledge, Jacob Fitz Behmen, living in the World; Hugh Peters, a visionary Elect, wisheth Perpetuity of Permanence.
“You tell me that your Friend, the Doctor, drinks and decays apace, and that we Ghosts may soon expect his Company, he being already almost one of us. I am glad of the News, and shall be pleased to see him. But I cannot with you condemn him for swallowing so much Brandy and Wine: On the contrary, I applaud him, for his artful Seasoning of himself, with hot Liquors for his Removal into this warm Climate, where, let me tell you, ’tis Dog-days all the Year.
“It was for want of this extreme Unction, that Julius Cæsar (the soberest Tyrant and Whoremaster in the World) was plagued with the dry Gripes half a Century after his Arrival on this side the Grave. Alexander the Great, by Report, was wiser, for ’tis a Tradition here, that his Ghost came reeking from a drunken Feast, like a Butterfly preserved in Spirit of Wine.
“Many great Men, and Judges of the Earth, have tried the same Expedient with comfortable Success: But above all other Species of Mortals the Reverend the Clergy, my Brother-Trade, who understand their Interest in the upper World, the best of all other Characters of Crafts whatsoever, are not wanting in Foresight and Sagacity to fortify themselves with hot Liquors and hot Sermons, against the Influence of this hot Region. You know while they are in your World, they are great Monopolizers of Fire and Brimstone and when they come hither we do not grudge them their own Commodity.
“It is from this Tribe of Men chiefly we have an Account of what is doing on the funny Side of the Globe; for, being all profess’d Politicians and Newsmongers, we find them the best Intelligencers imaginable. Besides, they are constantly coming, and by that Means, we never want Advices. So that whenever we spy a black Ghost stalking towards the Ferry, we all cry out, with one Mouth, a Mail from Mankind!
“At all Seasons of the Year we have them pretty thick; but it is incredible what Gluts of them arrive a few Days after the 30th of January, and the 29th of May. And the Reason is obvious; for———
Here Friend Hugh falls into the same Observations which I have already made, and shews, beyond Contradiction, how his Brother-Trade, as he calls them, kill themselves with Preaching and Debauchery, at these High-Church Tides. Nothing so quickly destroys the Constitution, and the Understanding, as Brandy, and Tobacco, and Zeal.
I have now, I may modestly boast, fully proved the Danger of the Church; and, by assigning the true Causes of that Danger, I am the only Advocate she has, who have not lyed upon this Occasion, seeing all the numerous Assertors of her holy Peril, who went before me, do, in the Account they give thereof fib most outragiously; though I, who am not of their Order, dare by no Means say so. These Men lay all the Blame of this Matter upon Infidels and profane Persons; but I can never join with them in such an unreasonable Charge; for I cannot think it at all likely that the Clergy would wilfully murder their own Mother, and so be guilty of Manslaughter.
My next Task is to prove, that the Church ought to be in Danger, and this I shall do by shewing, that she gets by it.
Pity is a potent Passion, and whoever has the Art of gaining it, seldom fails to draw our Affections along with it. Now the Church having no other Way of being beloved but to be pitied, she must, in Order to that, appear exceeding miserable and woful.
Misery is often the greatest, and sometimes, the only Merit, which attends Persons and Things. For Proof of this, I never saw a Rogue going to be hanged, though ever so wicked and ugly, but he was first pitied, and then praised; especially by the Women, who have a strange Biass to weeping and being deceived.
Hence it proceeded that when the Doctor and his High-Church were both thought in a hopeful Way to the Gallows, our Orthodox Compassion got the better of our Heretical Reason, and the Champion merited our Mercy meerly by meriting a Halter.
The Church, therefore, if she would be safe, must be always in Danger; while she is so, our Concern for the old Woman in Distress, will throw Dust in the Eyes of our Understanding, and effectually prevent a Discovery of her Nakedness and Wrinkles.
And now to conclude, what remains but that the Danger of the Church, which is grown so necessary to her well being, be established by a Canon, and made the thirty tenth Article of her Faith, to be believed on Pain of Damnation? In the mean while, let me assume to myself the just Glory of having started the Design of such an Article, by shewing its Reasonableness.
Lastly, loving Reader, let me acquaint thee in a few Words, with my own Usefulness and Importance, which makes me, indeed, a little proud, but not a Bit vain.
And in the first Place, I have written a matchless Defence of Priestcraft, a Task never attempted before. And yet the Masters and Guardians of that noble Science, have proved but unthankful Clients, and even railed at me, their Apologist, most unmercifully, and indeed unanswerably. But I have always observed, that Orthodoxy has admirable Talents for selling of Oysters. I am, in particular, beholden to a great Doctor, famous for Paunch and Principles, who preached a whole Sermon against me, in which he foamed and reviled, beyond a Possibility of Reply. Lord love him, if possible, it is the only Way of Reasoning he knows.
I have likewise been most christianly cursed in many other Pulpits, with the same Force of Bitterness and Lungs. Bless me, that my loving priestly Friends will not be taught more Wit! I had been rallying a Sort of Men who are very sad Fellows, and shameful Enemies to Conscience, Truth, and their Country; and presently up start the Lord’s Ambassadors, and cry, we are the Men, damn the Author. At such odds are they with common Sense, and the Mercy of God?
Secondly, I have convinced several Laymen, that there is another God besides the Clergy, though they had lived long in Ignorance as to that Point. And I have Advice from divers Counties in England, that when the Parsons cock their Beavers, and gives themselves Airs, the Country Folks cut them down with a Text out of Parson Alberoni. When a Vicar in Kent the other Day, sent his Clerk to a sensible Clown in the Parish, to demand his Easter-Dues on Pain of Excommunication. What, says Ralph to Sternhold, I warrant ye, you come Ambussador now from the Lord’s Receiver General, don’t you? And the chief Inhabitants of a Parish in Surry, have sent a Letter to their Docter here in Town, begging him, if his Belly be not too full, to come down and preach among them, and not to affront them any longer with his Journey-man.
Thirdly, I have conferred Reputation upon six and fifty Authors, every one of whom was graciously pleased to write my Book after it was in Print, and they are heartily welcome. All their other Works, when once they got into the Corner of a Bookseller’s Shop grew rickety for want of handling, and so could never travel over the Counter, till a Grocer’s Prentice carried away the helpless Creatures in a charitable Wheel-barrow. Seven of these worthy Gentlemen, and one of them a grave Counsellor in the Temple, confessed to me that they were the Authors of the Apology, but modestly begged me not to discover them. I must however thank the bountiful Mr. P———H———, for his uncommon Goodness in adopting my poor fatherless Child, as soon as it was brought forth into the public. I fear it is more than ever I shall be able to do for one of his.
I am told that one of these Fathers of my Pamphlet, threatens to break Squares with the Court, because they have not yet rewarded him with a thousand Pounds a Year. But, I doubt, this ingenious Pelferer of my Parts and Performance, is too hasty, Why, even I, who have written full four Half Sheets, for the Good of my self and my Country, am not yet Lord High Admiral, nor have so much as the Proffer of a Blue Garter; which so discontents me, that I will write no more these three Days; but then I will set about my Apology for great Men, in which I will prove them to be the civillest Creatures breathing to their own publick Persons. Reader, Adieu, for a Fortnight.
P. S. I acknowledge the former Part of this Book has been laid at the Door of a Gentleman or two, whose Names do me Honour. I wish they may be as well pleased on this Occasion as I am.