Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number II.: An Idea of the French Government. The Spirit of Popery, how terrible to Protestants. - The Independent Whig, vol. 4 (1747)
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Number II.: An Idea of the French Government. The Spirit of Popery, how terrible to Protestants. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 4 (1747) 
The Independent Whig. Being a Collection of Papers All written, some of them published During the Late Rebellion (London: J. Peele, 1747). Vol. 4.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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An Idea of the French Government. The Spirit of Popery, how terrible to Protestants.
I HERE offer some further Thoughts upon Popery; as also upon the French Government. Ours is a Government by Laws: Theirs is a Government by Will. By whatever Prefaces or Pretences the King recommends his Laws, his own Will and Pleasure is the last and strongest: This is his constant Stile to his Parliament, which is only an Assembly of the Judges of the several Courts of Justice, all the King’s immediate Creatures, created by him, paid by him, and commanded by him. The General States of the Realm, representing the Kingdom, and resembling our Parliaments, are long since laid aside there. The King has no other Rule or Limitation in raising Money, formerly raised only by the States, than his Humour and Passions, or those of his Ministers. A mean Capacity, or want of Capacity, Royal Folly, or Royal Frenzy, are no Disqualifications. His Will is still sacred, however extravagantly or stupidly exerted; and still his Pleasure is his Law.
henry IV. with all his great Abilities, had no more Power than his weak Son Lewis XIII. nor was ever half so copiously flattered. His Grandson, Lewis XIV. had he studied to give Proof (as indeed he needed not) how little he resembled his Grandfather, could not have done it more effectually than in his revoking the Edict of Nantz: An Act of such inimitable Treachery, as could not be charged upon the most faithless Pagan Princes; of such prodigious Cruelty, as was never matched by Nero; of such amazing Folly, as would have put the Emperor Claudius out of Countenance.
This too shews fully, how little the Promises and Oaths of Popish Princes are to be relied on: They are rather Snares and Wiles, and when they are most plausible, and sound the strongest, generally infer the most Danger. He had not only frequently ratified that sacred Edict, which was the inviolable Band of the inward Peace of France, but in all his Infringements of it (which might proceed from his Weakness, or the subdolous Advice of his Ministers) he always declared, that he would preserve it inviolable.
Did not our late King James say, and promise, and swear every Thing, take every Oath, submit to every Engagement; yet the next Moment violate them all openly, as if they had been Words of Course, by which he had meant nothing but Deceit and Insult? I will be bold to add; as an alarming Proof how little Protestants can trust any Security or Assurance from Papists, that, had King James been sincere and willing to observe his Oaths and Promises, his Religion, or, which is the same thing, his Priests, who led him by his Bigotry, would not have permitted him. What was an Oath to the Cause of Religion? And why should he, how durst he, keep an Oath so pernicious to the Church, and given for the Security and Success of Heresy? Such Reasoning, from the Keepers of his Conscience, would have convinced him of the great Guilt of observing an Oath to Heretics, and of the great Merit of breaking it. It was Lawful, and even Politic, to take it, as by it he lulled his Protestant Subjects into Security; but it was absolutely necessary, and his Duty, to break it, as it was injurious to his Friends the Papists, and obstructed the Growth of Popery.
The Question is not Whether it be a Doctrine of Popery, to keep no Faith with Heretics? I think it a needless Question: The proper Question is, Whether the Papists have ever done it, at least upon Principle, or longer than Times and Necessity forced them? History and universal Experience are Demonstrations, that they never did.
The Edict of Nantz, the wise Work of Henry the Great, was an Eye-sore to the Papists from the Beginning, though the surest and only Remedy for the long and furious Civil Wars in France; but Bigotry was too strong for public Peace, for Christian Charity, and all human Wisdom. The Extirpation of Protestants, however accompanied with War and Desolation, was the great Point in View, and the assiduous Drift of Papists. The perpetual Pursuit of that Court (constantly Bigotted after the Death of Henry) was therefore to destroy that perpetual Edict; for such it was in the Name, Tenor, and Design of it. After continual Breaches made in it, Lewis XIV. had the Honour to finish its Destruction, when he found, that the Bigotry, Perjury, and Tyranny of King James, co-operating with his own, made it safe for him to do it. Yet James was not then ashamed to contend for Liberty of Conscience to all Sects here, on purpose to enable Popery to devour them all: A black Snare, worthy of that Religion, but easily seen through, and frustrated with great Spirit by those whom it was spread to destroy.
QueenMary was raised to the Throne by Protestants; gave them all fair Words, and Royal Assurances; then made it the great and constant Business, nay, the Glory of her Reign, to burn Protestants. She proved so faithless and furious a Bigot, that the most bloody Bigot of his Time, her Husband, Philip II. was, or pretended to be, ashamed of her Fury, and bore his Testimony against it.
The Behaviour of that perjur’d Tyrant to his Subjects in the Low Countries, is another Instance of the Mockery of the Faith of a Popish Prince. He had solemnly sworn at the Altar to maintain them in all their Privileges (and surely Religion is the tenderest of all) and immediately after manifested the same Contempt for their Privileges, and his own Oath, as he did for their Persons and Properties, seizing the one, and butchering the other, with infinite Wantonness and Cruelty. His Defence was (Pray mind his Defence!) “That the Pope had absolved him from his Oath to Heretics.”
Can Protestants possibly trust Papists, when the Papists, even with good Intentions, can be under no Tye to Protestants? Who is it that governs them in all Points of Religion, but their Priests? The Priest may be said to give them their Religion: For all that they have, or can have, is upon his Word; even the Books that they read, they read by his Permission, and are permitted to hear no Arguments but his Arguments.
As the Papists are guided implicitly by their Priests, so are their Priests by the Pope. Can any Man of Common Sense keep his Countenance, and say, that the Pope, or Popish Priests, are Friends to this Protestant Establishment, or to this Protestant Royal Family? The Popish Laity are, by being Papists, obliged to love or hate by the Direction of the Popish Clergy. Have the Popish Clergy ever hesitated to propagate their Faith by Fire and Sword, and to employ both against Protestants, whenever they had Power, Opportunity, or even Temptation? Where-ever they fail to execute such Treason and Cruelty, it is where they dare not: Nor have they, nor can they have, any other Restraint. Where Violence is like to succeed, and promises them the Abasement of Heretics, the Extinction of Heresy, and the Exaltation of Popery, it is impious in them not to exercise Violence.
All their Declarations of being peaceably disposed, and Enemies to public Disturbances, are insidious: Perhaps too they may be in Earnest just at the Time when they say so: But when Opportunity offers; when their Bigotry is awakened by the Call of their Priests; when the Cause of Religion is to be served, Heaven opened to the Zealous and Active, and Hell to the Backward and Slow; dare they reason, or hesitate, and look on with Unconcern? Dare they then preach Peace and Submission to an Heretical Government?
There are, doubtless, God forbid that I should deny but there are, worthy, moderate, and peaceable Men amongst the Papists. Nature hath formed them like other Men: But their Religion is stronger than Nature; and their Priests having the Direction of their Religion, have of Course the Management of their Conscience, and can rouse it or calm it at Pleasure. What will not a Man do for his Soul? And who is to advise a Papist but his Priest? If he be assured, that Rebellion and Treason are his Duty, will he pause to commit them, when by them he saves his Soul, or damns it by his Refusal? Will he scruple to burn a Heretic, though a Kinsman, or a Neighbour, when excited by the same Premium, and the sam Terrors?
I am far from calling for any Hardships upon Papists: It is none to be upon our Guard against them. They are the professed Subjects of the Pope: The Pope is a professed Enemy to our Constitution: Can they be, will he suffer them to be, Friends to it? They are assiduous in making Converts to their Superstition: I wish others were equally so in recovering such, and exposing the fraudulent and miserable Arguments of the Perverters. To me it seems Blasphemy against God, to make Nonsense, and Self-Contradiction, necessary to please him; such as Transubstantiation, and making the Salvation of Souls depend upon the Word or Consent of a Priest: It seems a Denial of Jesus Christ, to kill or punish Men in his Name, for taking the best Course they can to serve him, though it were even a foolish one. It seems an abolishing of civil Society and Morality, to persecute, or even to tax and mark Men for differing in Opinion from one another, or to settle penal Opinions by a Majority, or by the Power of One, or by any Power whatsoever.
That of the Pope is established in Fraud and Blood, trampling upon the Scriptures of Truth, the Power and Mercies of God, and the Reason of Man; supported by Fear and Ignorance, by egregious Nonsense, Impudence, false Terrors, and real Cruelties.