Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XI.: Popery tried by Christianity and Reason, and proved an Enemy to both. - The Independent Whig, vol. 4 (1747)
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Number XI.: Popery tried by Christianity and Reason, and proved an Enemy to both. - 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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Popery tried by Christianity and Reason, and proved an Enemy to both.
WHATEVER tends to the general Good of Men, will easily be believed to come from God. Whatever only promotes the Interest of particular Men, especially if it be burdensome and injurious to the rest of Men, is only the Contrivance of particular Men, and can never come from God, who made all Men, and is no Respecter of Persons. To say, that he countenances any narrow, selfish Craft, to cheat and plunder, and oppress All for the sake of a Few, or of Many, is not only to belye, but to blaspheme him; as, if the all-wise Creator of Men, and Preserver of Heaven and Earth, could descend to low Confederacies and Imposture, the more detestable and impious, for profanely usurping the Name of Piety.
I shall not here enter into a Display of the infinite Machinery of Popery, obviously framed to cheat and engross the World, to mock God, and to rob and abuse Men. I shall at present inquire a little into the Notions of Charity entertained by the Romish Church.
If she want that great Characteristical Grace, she wants Christianity. Alms and Partiality to those of her own Fraternity, are only Flattery for Flattery, the Wages of Credulity and Bondage, all to keep her Dupes in good Humour, at the Expence of Truth and their Eye-sight.
The genuine Trial of Charity is, to apply it to People of a different Persuasion. If it shew Mercy, and Tenderness, and good Will, there; and hope the Salvation of their Souls, though it condemn their Opinions; it is genuine, it is Christian Charity. But where it hates, and damns, and persecutes all others; it renounces Christianity, and bears the blackest Mark of Imposture; at best, of Fanaticism.
It is a preposterous Notion of God, who formed us all, to conceive, that he is addicted to Modes, and guided by Names and Caprice; and that he hates, and will damn, any human Soul for striving to please him the best Way it can; much less for disliking any Worship, which, however followed and magnified, seems more likely to offend and contradict, than to please the Almighty God, if it be no-where commanded in his Word, but rather clearly forbidden there. How can a Man, who has read the Second Commandment, bow to an Image, much less pray to it? He, who contradicts this Divine Command, is a daring Impostor, a Revolter from God, and a Tyrant to Men. His Guilt and Tyranny are still greater, if he curse or punish any Man for obeying God, rather than Men. By it he avows himself an Idolater, a Champion for Idolatry, an Apostate from God, and an implacable Foe to all who worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
If an uncharitable Sentence could be warranted in any Christian, it would surely be warranted against such, who contradict the most explicit, the most positive Laws of God; and at the same time pretend to be his only Followers and Favourites; and therefore deny his Mercy and Salvation to all human Race besides. If ever Persecution can be justified, it is so, when ’tis inflicted upon Persecutors. Do not they, who are armed to destroy all, invite Destruction from all? Are they, who want all Charity, and shew no Mercy, intitled to Mercy or Charity? Whoever follows Reason, and the Bible, is an Object of Horror and Vengeance to Papists, who lock up the Scriptures, and banish the Use of Reason: Popery damns all who adhere to either, burns all that it damns, and thus exposes itself to be used by others, as it always uses others.
The Plea, that They only are in the Right, and all others in the Wrong, is the stale Plea of all Persecutors and Fanatics, from the Pope down to Muggleton; and may be turned by every one upon every one. Muggleton was as free of his Damnation to all who would not believe implicitly in him, as his Holiness could be: He even endowed his Wife Mary with the Power of damning. And doubtless the Sentence of that cursing Pair would have proved equally tragical with that of the Pope, had their Means been equal.
All these profane Cursers, whether they act from Craziness or Craft, set up at once for Omnipotence, and indeed for all the Attributes of God, in attempting to do what God never did, by fixing all the endless Roamings of the human Soul, and obliging all Men to reason and to dream alike, with Faculties infinitely unlike. What two Men upon Earth had ever exactly the same Person, Features, Sensations, and Perceptions? Are not the Speculations of Men still more various, infinitely more wandering and unfixed? And what can be more frantic, than to blame Men for differing, when Nature itself, and consequently Necessity, hath made them to differ? To curse Men for so differing, is profane; to torture and burn them for it, is diabolical.
Persecutors therefore, having renounced Christianity and Reason, ought to be renounced by both. Persecution is destructive of human Society. Men eternally differing in Notions one from another, must, when thus animated, for ever be destroying one another: And, to drive all such Difference out of the World, there must be but one Man left in it. This is the only, and the last, certain Expedient. So that Persecution infers the Extirpation of Men, as well as of Religion and Reason; at least, unless all Men surrender themselves implicitly to Hypocrisy, and to eternal Vassalage.
Such are the Genius, such the Principles, and such the everlasting Practices, of Popery. Papists are bound in Conscience to destroy us Protestants. He is no Catholic who will not destroy Heresy, and consequently Heretics; and he, who is not a Catholic, is, according to Catholic Charity, surely damned.
Could the Wit of Man, could the Malice of Judas, or of Satan, frame a more shocking System, a more dreadful Conspiracy against human Reason, human Society, human Peace, Religion, and the Lives of Men?
Such a shocking System, such a dreadful Conspiracy, is Popery, yet Papists call themselves the only Christians. To profess the Name of Christ to believe in him, to imitate him, and die for him, is all nothing, without being a Papist; nay, you are damned for all this, unless you are a Papist; damned in the next World, and burned in this. Had Popery been contrived by the bitterest, and most sanguinary Enemies of Popery, it could not have been contrived more shocking and incredible, than it really is.
Yet this dreadful Picture, this devilish Spirit of Popery, are so far from provoking its Votaries to abhor it, much less to forsake it, that the more dreadful it is, the more They reverence it; they awfully admire, nay, adore, its highest Extravagances, which therefore hold them still the faster. Their Priests are Masters of their Senses. Who, that believes his Senses, can believe what contradicts them all, believe an Impossibility, Transubstantiation? Their Priests govern them by their Fears. Their Priests can damn or save them; at best they cannot be saved without their Priests. Dare they after this contradict their Priests?