Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XXXI.: The Absurdity of Jacobitism, the Impiety of Popery, and the Enthusiasm of Party. - The Independent Whig, vol. 4 (1747)
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Number XXXI.: The Absurdity of Jacobitism, the Impiety of Popery, and the Enthusiasm of Party. - 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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The Absurdity of Jacobitism, the Impiety of Popery, and the Enthusiasm of Party.
WE have seen the happy Issue of an unhallowed Rebellion, which was the genuine Off-spring of Jacobitism, Jacobitism not owned, but carefully recommended under the venerable and popular Name of Patriotism. A shameless Disguise! Jacobitism abolishes Patriotism. The latter is supported by Truth and Reason and Liberty, and it supports them. Jacobitism is founded in Nonsense: It sets up a Name against the Constitution, against the eternal Lights of Nature, the Welfare of Society and all the Rights of Men. It is defended just as Popery is defended, by Frauds and Impossibilities. There is not more Nonsense in the Infallibility of a Friar, than in the Indefeasibility of a Pretender; and the Papal Apostolic Succession is not a greater Absurdity, than the Pretender’s Hereditary Succession: A Position which infers the Denial of a Providence; and is a Charge upon the Deity of leaving human Affairs to roll at random; or, which is as bad, to be conducted by Children and Madmen, by Bigots, who are the most dangerous Idiots; or by Fools prompted by Impostors. That a Pope can never err, is a Proposition as rational, as that a Tyrant cannot forfeit.
The Voice of Jacobitism is therefore the same with the Voice of Popery, to give up our Senses: And it is as consistent to believe that Almighty God may be made out of Dough, as that a good Ruler, a Character that implies Wisdom and Largeness of Heart, could be found in the narrow and undiscerning Genius of King James, a blind Bigot to pious Cheats, and crazy for Tyrannical Rule. And what better can be expected from those who inherit his Principles and his Blood?
Jacobites do with Patriotism, as Papists do with Religion: They profanely prostitute the Name to abolish the Thing. What Resemblance is there between the meek Jesus of Galilea, and the imperious Impostor at Rome, who claims the triple Crown of Heaven and Earth and Hell, as Heir to one who had not a Place where to lay his Head? Do the Cardinals, those pompous and princely Prelates, resemble the poor wandering Apostles? Or does a Mass-Book bear Likeness to any of the Gospels? What single Life did Christ or his Apostles take away, even of their Enemies and Persecutors? His pretended Vicar has murdered Millions, chiefly the true Worshipers of the Lamb.
How dare a Jacobite defile the sacred Name of Patriotism, when he would leave the Gospel to the cruel Mercy of a Tool to the Pope, and all the Laws of Liberty to a professed Enemy to Law? It was Objection sufficient against the late Intruder, that he claimed upon the Right of an Outlaw. This was his chief Claim amongst the Highlanders; and as any Fraud can cheat Savages, the Fraud of Hereditary Right (as great a one as any in Popery) inspired and armed them. Yet the Cry of Patriotism, which was echoed as loud, was a flat Contradiction to it: But the Spirit of Faction, blinded by Rage, perceived not the Contradiction. If he meant to rule by Law, and there founded his Right, he quitted his Title from Blood. If he adhered to his Descent from King James, why allege a Right from Law, which King James scorned and overturned? Besides, we are already governed by Law; every Act of Government was warranted by express Law; and no Law violated or stretched in any one Instance
The Truth is (if Men mad with Party could see Truth) certain Chiefs who thirsted for a Share of Power, and could have none, till they had destroyed those who held it, were determined to overturn all Power, in order to grasp all. Their Hereditary Bondmen, proud of that infamous Tie, zealous in Proportion to their Brutality, brutal in Proportion to their Blindness, followed their Chiefs, led by the Force of Vassalage and Hopes of Plunder. Any Bread was better than none; and the English Climate was better than their own. Their Chieftains further animated them with the Cant of Loyalty: Their Preachers (the Nonjurors and other Popish Priests) fired them with a Call from God; and the most potent Cheat was fetched from Religion.
The Religion of Thieves and Savages, embraced upon wicked Principles, and managed by impious Guides, increases their Ardour for Robbery and other Acts of Barbarity. Their Enemies, that is, whomsoever they mean to rob, are all Egyptians; and their Leaders assure them of the high and godly Merit of spoiling the Egyptians. The Example of the Jews is a Warrant to the Highlanders, to serve the good Subjects of King George as the Jews did the naughty Subjects of King Pharaoh.
Those who have no Religion but what knavish Leaders teach them, had better have none. He who has no Religion will not do Mischief for the Sake of Religion. He whose Religion prompts him to Mischief, is the worse for his Religion. The Highlanders, whilst they were committing Treason and Robbery against God and the King, thought themselves serving both, and entitled to the Blood and Property of all good Subjects, who refused to commit the same damnable Outrages. They were persuaded by their Impostors, that they themselves were all Patriots, and that it was Patriotism to rob and kill, to overset the Government, and to promote Confusion. They were so heated and enchanted, that whilst they were all gasping after Places, they inveighed aloud and without Measure against Places and Placemen; meaning the present Possessors. This Trick and Cry they had long learned from the Times, and from certain disinterested Patriots, who by such Cant really meant no Advantage to the Highlanders, but only courted Help and Support from the Highlanders and all Men, nor scrupled to accept it from the Worst.
These wild Partizans, educated on Hills and in Caves, as fierce as Wolves, as ignorant as Cattle, were furnished with Cant, which they called Reason. They talked of Right and Usurpation, always took one for the other, and held Opinions against Fact and Sense. A miserable Mob, naked of Instruction as well as of Covering, would be Judges of all Things, Reason; Power and Property, would overthrow an Establishment made by the Three Estates, reverse public Wisdom, and reform by destroying. Wretches bred in Nastiness and Ignorance, and all Immorality, were to purify the State, and to restore Religion.
Such is the Spirit of Party, generally as furious as blind, as catching as Enthusiasm, and as incurable. I shall therefore here subjoin some Observations upon the Enthusiasm of Faction.
To persist in a false Opinion is Obstinacy or Stupidity. To urge Religion for the Support of a false Opinion is Enthusiasm or Knavery. The latter generally governs the former. The designing Man makes a Property of the weak Man, improves that Weakness to serve himself, and directs well-meaning Zeal to mischievous Ends. When a Man is once persuaded that he is moved by the Spirit of God, or serving the Cause of God by the Direction of Men that come from God, he wants no further Incentive to pursue the most daring Courses, and to do the most desperate Actions; all in Defence of such a divine Cause, and in Obedience to such divine Monitors.
A Person who concludes himself in the direct Road to Paradise, and intitled to the best Place in it; who sees God and Angels applauding him, and Heaven open to receive him, will avoid no Pain or Peril, Racks or Gibbets, in his Way thither. What is momentary Pain, even the keenest and most various, to the Joys of everlasting Bliss? If present Interest and Gratification be superadded, with Power and Pre-eminence enjoyed or expected; such Happiness possessed here, together with the sweet Assurance of perfect Happiness and Glory hereafter, must transport him irresistibly. He is above all human Impulse, even Humanity itself. His Cause is more than human, and he thinks himself allowed, nay called, to sacrifice to it whatever is human, to crush Society and to butcher Men. He considers himself as the Ally and chosen Instrument of the Almighty, and then all his Enemies are God’s Enemies; whatever opposes him opposes God; and whilst he is rioting in Murder and wading in Blood, he is only fighting God’s Battles, executing God’s Vengeance, and shewing himself the Champion of the Lord.
The Enthusiasm of Party is often as violent as the Enthusiasm of Superstition; either of them inflames the Heart, fills it with Wrath and Antipathies, and banishes Charity and Mercy. When both Sorts meet in the same Person, as they often do, his Madness and Fury is extreme; as he damns you from a Spirit of Fanaticism, he would hang you from a Spirit of Faction. Papists and Jacobites are dreadfully animated with this double Spirit of temporal and eternal Vengeance: A Spirit of which England and the whole Christian World have been often and long the bleeding Witnesses. Every Man who is not so mad as themselves and opposes their Fury, is the certain Object of it: He is a Traitor and a Heretic, worthy of a Gibbet and everlasting Torments.
In the most Catholic Countries they have opened a present Hell; nor can the infernal Spirits invent a worse; I mean the Inquisition, where human Sacrifices are daily offered; where human Bodies, after a merciless Series of ghostly Terrors and Tortures, are consigned to perish alive in Flames here, and human Souls to live in eternal Flames hereafter: The most sincere Professors, such as cannot lye to God, nor to their Conscience, to their Bible and to common Sense, are the most constant Fuel there. The impious Managers commit a double Insult upon the Living God, by trampling upon all his Commandments, and blasphemously claim his Name and Authority, in openly defying his Word and all his Attributes. They barbarously burn God’s innocent Creatures for God’s holy Cause. Could they affront the good God so much by believing that there was no God? To make him the Patron of pestilent Cruelty and Fraud, is in Effect to deny him, and worse.
Yet many of these pernicious Deceivers are themselves deceived. They are persuaded that they serve Heaven in these their hellish Doings; a Persuasion which makes them Tenfold more the Children of Darkness and Iniquity. They at least instill their Antichristian Whims into the Heads and Hearts of their dark Followers, who swallow eagerly and blindly all the glaring Forgeries of their reprobate Guides as the Dictates of the Deity, however expresly forbid and abhorred by the Deity. Tender Children and Ladies in Spain, who shed Tears for the Execution of a Murderer, exult at the canonical Murder of an Heretic, or a Jew, burned for adhering to his Conscience and his Bible, the best and only Directors in Religion, and the only acceptable Way of worshiping God. This reversing of Religion is called Religion: Christian Charity is extinct; Enthusiasts are gratified, and Antichristian Impostors prosper.
The Cause of King James and of Popery was one and the same. He strove to introduce Popery, and Popery always produces an Expulsion of Protestants. He overthrew the Laws, and set up Tyranny. As a Papist and a Tyrant, he pursued the Destruction of Englishmen. Upon what Principles could an Englishman defend him, as many of them did? By no Principle of Reason, but by something much more powerful with them, a Spirit of Faction and Enthusiasm. They alleged his Hereditary Right, because he had Kings for his Predecessors. Has any Man any Right to Perjury and Usurpation? Have not all Men a Right of Self-preservation, to defend themselves from Destruction, and to disable the Destroyer? A dumb Man cannot be Successor to an Orator, nor a Lunatic to a Professor of Law or Divinity. King James’s Tyranny was political Lunacy, a worse Qualification than natural Dumbness. There are hereditary Professors of Divinity in Germany; but I never heard that one of them, though born mute, or falling into Lunacy, had a Right to act for himself, and to read Lectures in Theology.
The only natural Way of defending that weak, bewitched Prince, was what I once heard offered by a Country Gentleman, unnaturally a Jacobite, for he had a great Estate. He concluded all his Arguments with the best, and confirmed it by a warm Oath, “That he was to have gone Ambassador to Spain if King James had continued to reign in England.”
The keenest Zealots for King James, such as were the foremost in all Plots to restore him, had, at his first Flight, when he was taken as a Fugitive at Rochester, approved themselves his most sanguinary Enemies. When it was debated in Council at the Cockpit, how he should be treated, a Brace of Bishops, afterwards high Nonjurors, and, in their own Conceit, Confessors for his Cause, proposed to have him used as his Father had been used.
His Cause was never the better nor the worse for their Testimony, passionate and selfish, first and last. In both Humours, however repugnant to one another, the Prelates probably thought themselves warranted by Religion, as all Enthusiasts do. For Enthusiasm is never without its selfish Side; and its interested Views are not always confined to Heaven alone, though their Hopes there still terminate in dear Self.
TheIndian Bramans, the greatest Martyrs to voluntary Mortification upon Earth, entertain most selfish and ambitious Hopes in all that they painfully suffer. In all their Flights and Excesses of Penance, hanging by the Hair of the Head upon the Branches of Trees; or upon sharp Iron Hooks fastened in their Flesh, till the Hold be torn, and their Bodies drop; always naked; often starving; never sitting down; for Years together constantly exposed to all the Elements; scorched by a burning Sun; devoured by Insects; at the Mercy of Beasts of Prey; their Limbs painfully distorted into unnatural Postures, and never suffered to return to their former Position; they all the while foster the weening Consolation of revisiting the World after Death, under the sublime Characters of great Lords and Princes, higher or lower, according to the Degree of their former Penance.
There are Persons now alive, who remember several English Bramans, living under strict and lasting Penance for King James; some who had laid themselves under a Curse, never to change their Clothes; others never to shave their Beards or Heads, till He regained his Crown. So that you might have seen Men covered with Hair; others with no Covering at all; all comforting themselves with a glorious and speedy Deliverance from their present Roughness and Nakedness. For, I do not remember any Jacobite, though ever so well reconciled to Razors and Taylors, but he was within three Months at furthest of the Pretender and Preferment. The Experience and Disappointments of half a Century have not been able to cure them of their Hopes. Enthusiasm is a Frensy: Time, Facts and Reason are no Remedies against it. Whilst the Enthusiast lives he believes, and sometimes adores his Idol as alive, long after ’tis dead. The Duke of Monmouth was confidently believed by many to be alive Forty Years after he had lost his Head; and probably some believe so still.
Distress naturally leads to Enthusiasm: Oppression and Persecution are its common Parents, It is roused by favourite Hopes disappointed, or eagerly entertained; by lasting Resentment, or by any other settled Passion. The enthusiastic Spirit, an Hundred Years ago, which spread so fast, assumed so many Shapes, and did such Wonders in all Shapes, was first raised by the Tyranny of the Court, and the Cruelty of the hot Clergy. ’Twas to a Laud that the Nation owed an Oliver. The Puritans, mercilesly used, applied ardently to God to deliver them from an oppressive Government and a domineering vindictive Priesthood. As they thought their Cause just and pious, their Sufferings barbarous and irreligious, they came to have Hopes, then Confidence, at last firm Assurance, that the God of Mercy would succour godly Sufferers. No wonder that they were glad to help him to the Means, and to become his ready Instruments to help themselves.
Thenceforward all their Doings were the Lord’s Doings; they themselves were his only People and Favourites; To oppose them was to oppose God, though their Ways were far from resembling his Ways. They particularly persecuted others as bitterly, as if they themselves had never suffered the Bitterness of Persecution, which is every-where the Bane of Religion, and the Refuge of Impostors, at best of Enthusiasts.
Such were the Roundheads, who, however, as they preserved a good Outside, Sobriety and fair Appearances, gained popular Credit and Sway, partly from the opposite Deportment of the Clergy, who had long behaved with great Haughtiness and little Exactness. Perhaps it is well that they had not behaved better. Had they added Strictness of Life and laborious Preaching to their detestable and enslaving Doctrines, England might have been under Slavery still, as it was for many Years to the bigotted Prince whom they mocked with the Name of Martyr; which Name was a Confession, that he perished by trusting to their wicked Doctrine and supporting their ridiculous Chimeras.
The suffering Cavaliers, of course, turned Enthusiasts too, but Enthusiasts of another Sort. They were enraged to see their Adversaries prospering and victorious. They therefore, in the Heat of their Resentment and their Cups, used to treat the Almighty very opprobriously, and even with Execrations, for deserting the Church and Monarchy, in favour of Fanatics and Republicans. They little apprehended, that they themselves were then behaving like Fanatics possessed. Fanaticism is never on one Side. The best Apology that can be made for Laud, and for his Brethren in Bigotry and Spirit, is, that they were as great Fanatics as every persecuted; for all Persecution is Fanaticism or Imposture: At best it is terrible Extravagance! Consciences are no more to be shaped than Air and Weather. When Charles the First pleaded his Conscience (as he did in the Affair of Episcopacy) he forgot how little he had regarded that Plea from Thousands, in Points of at least equal Tenderness. But few Men are so religious or reasonable as to allow what all Men plead, with Reason and Christianity on their Side.
After the Restoration the same mad merciless Spirit seized the hot Clergy again, though they had been undone by it before. In treating the Dissenters as Fanatics they shewed themselves raging Fanatics, and were the blind Instruments of Popery to destroy both Church and Dissenters. Their Zeal and Declamations for Passive Obedience to a Prince inwardly a Papist, outwardly a Profligate, and passionate for Tyranny, were Flights of Madness and Enthusiasm, if they were in earnest: If they were not, they merit a worse Character. All the shocking Violences of his Reign were not only defended, but hallowed. So were those of his Brother, till the poor undiscerning Sovereign, trusting to this very Doctrine, like a flaming Enthusiast for Popery and Tyranny, touched the Altar. Then, and not till then, they who had seen, with Unconcern, nay, with Approbation, Law and Liberty destroyed, Life and Property seized, by mere Will, became Enthusiasts to Interest, and gave up the Monarch, or rather preached him down.
How the same Set of Enthusiasts (for I speak only of the violent, the persecuting and the lawless) behaved in the next Reign, with what dreadful Contempt of their Oaths and Deliverer, I forbear to explain here, as I shall hereafter explain it. The best that can be said for them, is, that they who had been fierce Enthusiasts for Popish and Arbitrary Princes, became Enthusiasts, more fierce, if possible, against a zealous Protestant Prince, scrupulously defending the Protestant Religion and the Laws, and the Restorer of both.
In the late Reign the same devilish lawless Spirit of Enthusiasm made terrible Efforts, and had nigh produced as terrible Events, abolished the Protestant Succession, and restored Tyranny and Popery.
What has revived the same Attempt at this Day, but the Dream, the Enthusiasm of Hereditary Right? Who have revived it but Enthusiasts, zealous to support it, at the Expence of Religion and Liberty, and the utter Overthrow of the Nation? They were Enthusiasts intoxicated with their own Merit, transported with Ambition, urged by Necessity; implacable Exiles; forfeited Traitors eager to be restored; fine Titles and Preferments, all extremely wanted; Laws of their own making; a King of their own crowning; Plenty in room of Penury; Liberty and Ease instead of Flight, Gaols and Executions; Distress changed into Prosperity; Misery into Happiness; Gloominess into Gaiety; Honours cancelling Disgrace; all good Things wanted, into all good Things possessed!
What an inchanting Prospect! Well may it have roused the needy Clans; opened their cold Huts; prompted ragged Heroes to arm and eat, to espouse fanatic, but lucrative Loyalty; to draw the Broad Sword, to brace the Target, to promise themselves a Southern Canaan, and to destroy all who opposed such a glorious Adventure. What could be more tempting, than to gain a comfortable Covering and some Cows, or Money to buy them, by restoring Loyalty, and making their Fortune in the Cause of God; a Cause espoused by the Pope, supported by France and Spain, and thus recommended to a Free Protestant Nation?
I shall illustrate the Whole of this Head with the Example of a Highland Gentleman, bred to Arms, and in Hereditary Principles. At the Head of a Party of his Clan, all armed, he invaded several Farms at some Distance, plundered them of all, and particularly drove off all the Cattle. He was taken, tried and executed, in spight of all that he could urge in his Justification: For, at his Trial; this pleasant Gentleman-Robber, not only pleaded Not guilty, but persevered in this his Plea to the last, even at the Gallows: He was hanged in obstinate Innocence, and in his own Opinion died a Martyr. He said that he had made fair War, openly in Arms, with a Piper before him. Perhaps too he had the Chevalier’s Commission in his Pocket, as other such innocent Robbers have had since.