Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XLIII.: Of High-Church Atheism. Part 2. - The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743)
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Number XLIII.: Of High-Church Atheism. Part 2. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743) 
The Independent Whig: or, a Defence of Primitive Christianity, And of Our Ecclesiastical Establishment, against The Exorbitant Claims and Encroachments of Fanatical and Disaffected Clergymen. The Seventh Edition, with Additions and Amendments (London: J. Peele, 1743). Vol. 2.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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Of High-Church Atheism.Part 2.
Wednesday,November 9. 1720.
I Proceed, as I promised in my last, to shew, by an Induction of Particulars, how the High-Chuch Priests promote True Atheism or Irreligion, by which I mean Practical Atheism.
I. And first, I will begin with Perjury, or False Swearing.
I will venture to lay it down as a Truth in Politics, that Oaths (or something equivalent to them) are, on many Occasions, necessary in Government; and that Peace among Neighbours, Punishment of Rogues, and the Settlement of Property, depend upon them. In the next Place, I will lay down as religious Truths, that an Oath is a solemn Act, both of natural and revealed Religion; that Oaths to a Government are to be kept; that there is no greater Irreligion, no greater Affront to God, no greater Insincerity and Injustice to Man, than Perjury; and no Point of Religion, upon which the Honour of God, and the Welfare of Mankind, are more highly concerned, than in keeping Oaths; that Oaths of Allegiance to a Government intend Loyalty; that Oaths are to be taken in the Sense of the Imposers: that the Heart is to concur with the Lips in repeating them; that Men are to have no mental Reserves in taking Oaths; and that they must not design to break them, nor take them with Design to repent of them.
And yet, on this Head, Atheists cannot be guilty of greater Irreligion, than some of our High-Church Men, (under the Conduct of our High-Church Priests) who sometimes are not for restraining our Kings by their Coronation-Oaths; and at other times, are not for restraining the People by their Oaths of Allegiance; that is, they are at one time for breaking Oaths, by contending for unlimited Power, and unlimited Obedience; and at another time for breaking Oaths, by retrenching the Authority of the Prince, and Allegiance of the Subject. Under this Reign, they are for the latter Perjury; as appears by their open Rebellions; their irreverent Discourses of the Person, and Family, of his Majesty; their Endeavours to alienate from him the Hearts of his Subjects; and inspiring the People with Disaffection to his Government; their inventing and reporting defamatory Stories, to blemish his Character, and weaken his Authority; their rejoicing at any public Distractions; their taking Sides with the French, Turks, Swedes Spaniards, and Muscovites, whenever any of these Nations are in Measures contrary to the Interest of his Majesty; and lastly, by the ridiculing and cracking Jests upon the State-Oaths, and citing, as a Sort of Scripture, these Verses of Hudibras:
And these Things are done by them, not after an Atheistical Manner, not under the Appearance of attacking and ridiculing Religion and Virtue, the Joye of Heaven, and the Fears of Hell; but almost as if Slander and Calumny, Treason and Sedition, were Articles of their Church, which they were in Duty obliged to perform. They pretend all the while to be religious Men, good Churchmen; concerned for the Church’s Safety; Enemies of false Religion, and particularly of Presbyterianism; and zealous for the Orthodox Faith, contained in St. Athanasius’s Creed. And though the High-Church Priests have not as yet written any Books to defend this Manner of taking and keeping Oaths; yet they take a Method no less effectual to recommend it: They not only do not bear their Testimony against this open Wickedness, this open practical Atheism, (as is their Duty) but are active themselves in the same Practices, and countenance the Guilty, by the Credit and Applause which they give them; and by the Distinction which they shew towards them, recommending them as good Churchmen, and reviling others, principally, for being faithful to the Oaths which they have taken to the Government. All which is more effectual to promote Perjury, than direct dogmatizing in Behalf of it; for this sly Way gets them the Applause of many, and prevents the Clamour of others against them; who would be generally detested, notwithstanding the Devotion of the People towards them, if they openly defended Perjury.
Now, pray, what is the Difference between these High-Church Men and Atheists? Can Atheists be less bound by Oaths? Can Atheists be worse Subjects? Are not Atheists detestable, because it is supposed, that they cannot be bound by Oaths? And are others less detestable, whom Oaths do not bind? Can any thing be said worse of Atheists, than what Mr. Lesley says, (in his Answer to King’s State of the Protestants in Ireland) that the Parliament cannot make an Oath, which the Clergy will not take? Had not King george Reason to apprehend as much Mischief from his Swearing ---- Religious——Factious ---- Rebel—Church-Subjects, as he could have from Swearing-Rebel-Atheists! Was the Case of the Dissenters, and other good Subjects, who were plundered before the Rebellion for their Loyalty, or suffered in the Rebellion, better for receiving such Usage from the Hands of High-Churchmen, than from Atheists? They are plainly as bad as Atheists can ever be supposed to be; worse than Atheists, acting by the Principles of Ease and Self-preservation, which may be supposed to be the most general Principles of Action in Atheists; and, in fine, worse than any profligate Libertines that I ever met with in Italy itself, that Seat of High-Churchship; where I never heard even such talk so irreligiously about Oaths, as I have heard some High-Churchmen, or deliver such open Perjury as Parson B----se. What adds to the Wickedness and Guilt of these High-Churchmen, is, that they pretend to be Christians, and to take their Religion from the New Testament; that they are of a Church, whose distinguishing Doctrine is Loyalty to the Prince, and which they extend so far, as to allow Resistance in no Case to be lawful; and that they have a Sovereign, against whom they have nothing to object, but his Virtues, his mild, equal, impartial, and just Administration of Government; for, as to his Title, (which is the best of Titles, even the voluntary Establishment of a free People by an Act of their Legislature) these swearing High-Churchmen can have no just Scruple.
These High-Churchmen therefore are true Atheists; they are practical Atheists. The speculative Difference between them and Atheists, is a Matter of small Moment; for, what is it to their Neighbours, while they act like Atheists, that they believe in God and Religion? For, while they act like Atheists, they do all the Mischief that Atheists can do, and all those Things for which alone Atheism is so justly detestable. For if speculative Atheism did not lead Man to Immorality, to Faction, to Rebellion, &c. it would be so far from being detestable, that it would be preferable to any Religion that spoiled Mens Morals, and made them bad Subjects: And I would rather have a speculative Atheist for my Neighbour and Fellow-Subject, and run the Hazard of his being a vicious Man, than an Orthodox-religious Man, whose Religion made him vicious.