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The Independent Whig. Being a Collection of Papers All written, some of them published During the Late Rebellion (London: J. Peele, 1747). Vol. 4.
The contents of vol. 4 are essays written by Gordon “during the Late Rebellion” meaning the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. There are 32 essays.
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IF these Papers be of any Use to the Public, they cannot be unacceptable to a public Spirit. I therefore inscribe them to your Lordship. In writing them, in publishing them, in dedicating them, I had, I have, no View but to the Public, no personal Purposes, no narrow Self-interest to serve; unless it be accounted a selfish Ambition to aim at standing well in the Esteem of one, whom all Men esteem; a Subject of great Rank, great Talents, with suitable Zeal and Application. What will not such Parts and such Activity accomplish? I wish your Lordship Joy of such fair Beginnings: I wish the Public Joy of your Lordship. May your Time and Abilities be ever employed, as they are now employed, for the Benefit of your Country!
If in so many Occupations, and under so much Fatigue, your Lordship has any Leisure to look into the following Sheets, you will find in them a hearty Concern for Truth and Liberty: If you please to read this short Address, you will find in it a sincere Regard for your Lordship.
You will not therefore, I hope, be surprised to perceive your Patronage requested, for these Reasons only, without your Permission, even without your Knowlege, to a Work composed by one, who, not having the Honour of your Acquaintance, assumes that of publicly subscribing himself,
The Independent Whig.
THE following Papers were produced, several of them occasionally published, during the late Rebellion. Many more are added upon Subjects very interesting to all Protestant Readers, and all true Englishmen.
The late Rebellion, like the former, was nurtured and defended by the same impious Positions, which had been poisoning the Minds of Men for near a Century before the Revolution; often revived, and confidently propagated, since the Revolution; and at all times pestilent to Civil Liberty and Human Reason, as well as to Religion. Transubstantiation is not a higher Insult upon Christianity and Common Sense, than are the Doctrines of Indefeasible Hereditary Right, and of unconditional Obedience to the Will of a Royal Madman, impiously stiled God’s Vicegerent, whilst he is violating all the Laws of God, and defacing God’s Works. To warrant, by God’s Word, such godless Flattery and Outrages, was obvious Blasphemy, as it was in the Flatterers to call themselves God’s Ministers, or to throw God’s Judgments, as they generally did, at all rational and godly Gainsayers. Nor can there be a more manifest Engine of spiritual Mountebankry, in the whole Trade of spiritual Mountebanks, than to monopolize the Terrors of the Lord, and to inflict his Wrath where-ever they point their Spleen. It is the common Track of all Impostors, as well as of all Enthusiasts; the common Theme and Policy of all who claim implicit Belief; the Creed of all implicit Believers. It is indeed the sure Art and Mystery of governing and pillaging Mankind. When Men are thoroughly intoxicated and terrified, they are not only easily enslaved, but rejoice in their Slavery. Such complete Slaves are thenceforward the ready Instruments of universal Slavery, zealous to subdue, to afflict, and to damn all that are Free and Rational.
The best Minds, when deluded, are capable of doing the greatest Mischief. In the Work of Persecution (the most impious and most aggravated Wickedness under the Sun) Men of Conscience are often the keenest Destroyers of Men of Conscience: The best Men then murder the best; contrary to their Meaning, and at their own Peril. They think themselves the only true Servants of the Living God, in destroying his only true Servants. They are thus blindly led by Impostors to defy Almighty God out of Zeal for him, and to undo and kill their Brethren out of pure Love to them. Who will serve Satan lukewarmly, when by it he concludes that he is serving God?
All sincere Persecutors are Madmen. Their Fury is bent against Conscience, because Conscience condemns their Fury. Whatever Cause, or Cant, is recommended by holy Men, will by holy Dupes be esteemed Holy: And then ’tis glorious to fight for it; it is Martyrdom to die for it. Can there be a greater Impostor than the Pope? Yet all good Catholics are Champions unto Death for him.
If in England, and in our English Schools, we could suppose a Spirit so incredibly wicked to reign, that our Youth were taught to be Jacobites there, or, coming thither Jacobites, they were rather further hardened than untaught; that in Places of Learning they were improved in Ignorance; poisoned with impious Principles, by those who taught Religion; and animated to Rebellion and Perjury, by such as were largely encouraged, and nobly endowed, to propagate Peace and Loyalty; would it not look as if we were threatened with Perdition as a Nation; and that an utter Dissolution of Society must follow such an utter Dissolution of Religion and Morals? Would it sound credible, that such shocking Profligacy should be stiled Religion, such godless Profligates the Ministers of God? That such profane Falshoods should be derived from the Gospel of Truth; such hellish Frauds from the Simplicity of God’s Word; such unexampled Cruelty from the Meekness of Christianity; and such endless Darkness and Difficulty be found in the revealed Will of God, by Men who profess themselves called by the Holy Ghost to clear and explain it?
An University is an Association of Schools and Schoolmasters: Can any thing be more preposterous and daring, than for such Men, Tutors of Boys, Teachers of Words, and dry Science, Men generally aukward and unpractised in the World, to set up for governing the World? Laud was a bigotted Priest, raised by a bigotted Prince above himself, and unnaturally aided by him to set the Mitre above the Crown, in Return for his setting the Crown above the Law. The Clergy in his time, by his Craft and Assistance, strove to engross all Civil Employments. When Dr. Juxon was made Lord Treasurer; upon this strange Promotion, Mr. Garrard tells Lord Wentworth, Lord Deputy of Ireland, “That the Clergy were so elated, on joining the white Sleeves to the white Staff, that they were sure of more ecclesiastical Ministers of State; Bishop Wren to be Secretary of State, Bishop Bancroft Chancellor of the Exchequer; and the Master of the Rolls was proposed to be supplied out of the Clergy.” Mr. Garrard further observes to Lord Wentworth, “That they were grown so foolish at Oxford, as to have a Question proposed there about the Legality of Ship-Money; and another Question about the Tumults in Scotland, whether the new Church Service there was a just Cause of Scandal.” This was setting up for Umpire between King and People, or rather over both, and for supreme Legislators .
In Consequence of this Phrensy, every Parish Priest was a Limb and Mouthsman of the Legislature, or rather a Champion against Law itself. Harrison, Parson of Creek in Northamptonshire, under this Possession, appeared at the Bar of the Common Pleas, and boldly arraigned Judge Hutton, then sitting there, as guilty of High Treason, for giving his Opinion against Ship-Money. This mad Priest, when committed for this Outrage, justified what he had done, “as done in Defence of the King’s supreme Power, such as he asserted was held by all Orthodox Divines (special Judges!) to be inherent in the King, who had Power to tax his Subjects in whatever Sums he thought fit—That all Statutes were but Acts of Favour from the King, such as he might break or recal at his Pleasure.” The same impious Phrensy then possessed the Body of the Clergy, or was more impiously counterseited by them: For they, at the same time, maintained a Tenet directly contradictory; namely, “That the Clergy had a Power independent upon the Crown.”—They were obliged to the Revolution, and the Hanover Succession, for restoring the Constitution, Christianity, and common Sense.
Of the same impious Tendency was their implacable Rage against Dissenters, their Fines, Gaols, and penal Laws:—An absurd, as well as a godless Spirit! They might as rationally have contended for a Uniformity of Faces, Features, and Fashions, as for a Uniformity of Consciences; and a Canon for Conformity of Looks and Dress would have appeared no incredible Stretch of the then Clerical Policy: Nor would it have proved any unusual Strain of priestly Persuasion, to have heard an Orthodox Priest, zealous against private Conscience, cry with Indignation, “Men and Brethren, why, O stubborn and accursed, change ye not your Stature and Aspect, and conform yourselves to the Orthodox Standard of Looks and Size, without which there is no Salvation!” The Man who has no Conscience, is qualified to deal rigorously with Conscience: And no Man is fit to be a Persecutor but an Impostor or an Enthusiast.
Dr. BYFIELD, a noted Empiric, famous in his Day for haranguing in Coffee-houses upon Religion, and thence gaining a Croud of Customers for his Sal Volatile, used to urge the best Argument that ever was offered for Persecution; “Reason, he said, was an impotent Way of Conversion; so was Tenderness and Mercy: Did God Almighty reason with St. Paul, when he meant to convert him, or did he spare him? No, says the Doctor; in order effectually to convince him, He knock’d him down.” To make this Reasoning complete and unanswerable, the Doctor need only have added, that every Persecutor has the Power and Wisdom of God; the only Principle that can ground the Claim of Infallibility upon the Claim of Spiritual Power in mortal Man. This is the only consistent Contradiction, or rather Blasphemy: Any Position short of this is Impudence and Jargon. It is an Indication of being real Papists, yet renouncing Popery.
FatherFrancis Macedo, a Portuguese Jesuit, famous for Fecundity of Brain and Books, composed a Volume in Praise of the Inquisition; and in it discovers God to have been the first Inquisitor. Under that Character he represents the Almighty sitting upon Adam and Eve, in Paradise; next upon Cain, out of Paradise; afterwards upon the Founders of the Tower of Babel. The discerning Father finds St. Peter to have been an Inquisitor in the New Testament, exercising Inquisitorial Vengeance upon Ananias and Sapphira. He maintains that St. Peter transmitted this Power to the Popes, and they to St. Dominic. So daringly do selfish or crazy Divines find sacred Warrant for Rogueries and for Iniquity, too flagrant and barbarous to come from any Spirit but their own, or that of Moloch. As consistent, and not more impious, was the Reasoning of the Thief under Sentence of Death, when he told the Ordinary, that God was the Father of Felony; for he had taught the Jews to rob the Egyptians.
Hell is the last Inquisition of Popery, its last and eternal Penalty for any Offence against the Church: Nor does that Church know a more heinous Offence than Reason and Conscience, except Property and Power in the Hands of the Laity. As Hell is her Inquisition to come, she exercises a temporary Hell in her present Judgments and Tyranny: And for the greater Rein-forcement and Terror, the Judgments of God are boldly usurped, and confidently applied:—The usual Policy of all pious Craftsmen, as well as of those of Rome!
Here in England, in some former Reigns, when Passive Obedience was the courtly Flattery of pious Sycophants, when Self-defence was Rebellion, and Truth was Treason, Divine Judgments were denounced against all who contradicted the Blasphemers Strams in Fashion Did a lawless Sentence pass by a corrupt Tribunal upon a worthy Man, obnoxious to the Court? It was a Judgment upon him, for having maintained Law against arbitrary Will, and preferred equal and manly Liberty to beastly Vassalage. The Verdict of a packed Jury, the Breath of a servile Lawyer, the Displeasure of an angry Tyrant, were all the Heralds of Wrath Divine; and the God of Mercy was represented as afflicting and crushing his best Servants. Every Patriot was a Republican; all Republicans were Rebels; all Rebels were damned. Conscientious Men were Fanatics: Rational Inquirers were Freethinkers: Both Sorts were out of the Pale of the modish Orthodoxy, and therefore in the Clutches of Satan. For the most trifling Pleasure and Humours of such Divines, the Divine Judgments were seen inflicted: Men have died before their Time for not making Bows at Church, and broken their Legs in a Frost, or lost their Eyes by an Inflammation, or their Children in the Small Pox, or their Lands in a Law-suit, or their Cattle in the Murrain, or a Ditch; all for obstinately refusing to perceive Sanctity in a Garment, though worn by a Priest; or in a Table, though placed at the most religious End of the Church; or in Forms and Repetitions, however established by human Laws, and declared to be decent and edifying by learned Men, listed to prove them lawful.
I have largely, I hope clearly, discoursed in the following Sheets, of the Rashness and Folly of playing thus wantonly with the Divine Judgments. Let me add here, that the Application of God’s Judgments is generally a Contradiction to the Character of his Wisdom, and Justice, and Goodness, and indeed of all his Attributes: It is surely an Insult upon all the Reason of Man. But Enthusiasts consider themselves as the only Favourites of God, and his Providence only exerted for them. Pious Impostors only attend to the Gratification of their Craft and Passions. The Mate of a Ship impiously affronted a Catholic Missionary on board, by questioning the Truth of a Miracle wrought by the Parings of St. Francis’s Toe-nails. The Missionary threatened the Mate with some Divine Vengeance, which soon overtook the unbelieving Blasphemer; for in some Weeks after he fell over a Gun, and broke his Shin. The Missionary perceived a dreadful Judgment in this small Accident, and glorified St. Francis. The holy, hot Fanatic was convinced, that the Almighty was as angry at the Mate as he himself himself was: The blind Monk thought, that he himself only saw clearly. But the Jesuits in India, Men of Science, and professed Astronomers, were great Knaves, and wilful Impostors, when they urged an Eclipse of the Sun as a Miracle wrought in favour of their Mission, and a Judgment sent against Gainsayers.
It was a very curious Judgment which a holy Minister of the Kirk saw falling upon a Lady in his Parish. He had pressed her to drink a Glass of his Raisin-Wine: She found it four, made Faces at it, but drank it, and got the Colic. The Lord hath visited her, quoth his Gravity, for turning up her Nose at God’s good Creature. So he called his bad Vinegar.
There is no End of Disputes and Heats upon Religious Subjects, of great or of small Moment. Every Man’s Way of Worship is best in his own Opinion; and all are, or seem, in some Sort defensible. Let every Man enjoy his own. If he be in Earnest in it, he cannot offend that Divine Being, who, having created us all frail, will make Allowances for human Frailties. The Man who prays from the Heart, surely cannot offend him, in whatever indelicate Language he does it. The Man who has studied a politer Phrase, must please him by studying to please him: But let him not condemn another, who exercises equal Devotion in a ruder Stile.
PLINY the Orator, in his Panegyric upon Trajan, has made a just Distinction upon this Head, such a one as would have done Credit to our squabbling Divines, and even cured them of their Squabbling, had they been blessed with as much Temper and Discernment as this candid Heathen. He mentions it “as worthy of Observation, that the Deities themselves are not so much delighted with elegant Strains of Speech from those who worship them, as with Probity and Devoutness.” He adds, “That such who frequent their Temples with righteous and sincere Hearts, are better accepted there, than they who offer composed Forms.” Animadverto etiam Deos ipsos non tam accuratis adorantium Precibus, quam Innocentia et Sanctitate laetari; gratioremque existimari qui Delubris eorum puram castamque Mentem, quam qui meditatum Carmen intulerit.
PLINY speaks the Voice of Reason, concerning the Manner of Worshiping the Divine Being: And sound Reason is always a sound Rule, the only Rule to know his Will, when he has given us no other. With any Mode of Worship composed by God, every reasonable Man will comply. With Forms composed by Men, lie obliges no Man to comply. Private Conscience is the safest Guide. Every Thing is sinful to those who think it sinful. No sincere Christian, therefore, can be a Schismatic: In joining in a Worship which his Heart condemns, he condemns himself, and God will condemn him. Every Christian is the best Judge, what it is that does, or that does not, edify him.
To say that Forms are essential, is as ridiculous, as it would be uncharitable to say, that we cannot be saved without them. The Nonjuring Part of the Jacobite Clergy (perhaps the most innocent Part of them) maintain a most absurd, antichristian, and fanatical Position, that without the Form of a Bishop’s Hand, no Man, however pious or learned, can preach the Gospel, or administer the Ordinances; and that whoever has passed through that Form, however ignorant or wicked, is a Minister of Christ. Neither can this Form be obtained, without an awful Declaration, which I doubt no Man in his Senses could make, with a safe Conscience, “that in applying for it he is called by the Holy Ghost.”
By what certain Proof can any Man know, that he has this Call? Whoever asserts it, is a bold Man: Whoever believes him, is a credulous Man. It has been often the Cant of Hypocrites, often the Cry of Fanatics. Men do not need an extraordinary Call from God, to get a Livelihood, to accumulate Wealth, and to raise their Rents. Their Care and Industry to serve themselves do not infer an immediate Commission from him. The humble, the charitable Christian makes no such high Claims. Selfish, fierce, and ambitious Professors, generally do. Had that hot-headed Zealot, Dr. Sacheverel, any Call from Heaven to revile the Government, and rail at Protestant Dissenters? Whoever wants a meek Spirit, cannot have God’s Spirit, a Spirit always pure and peaceable. Wrath, and Pride, and Railing, are sure Marks of an opposite Spirit. By their Fruits you shall know them. If their Hearts be haughty and uncharitable, their Behaviour imperious, their Language passionate, or petulant; their Call is manifestly not from God, but from their own ungodly Passions.
It wants little Discernment to conclude, that any Man, manifestly addicted to this World, came not from that above, and that he cannot be a proper Instrument for carrying other Men thither. He who is bitter and peevish towards Men, and treats any Man with Rancour or Indecency, is only the Herald of his own Wrath and Ill-manners, and can never be an Advocate for Truth or Religion: It is base enough to vent his Spite, and display his savage Breeding; and ’tis foolish enough to think, by doing so, to serve or entertain Mankind: But it is downright Assurance or Craziness, to warrant his Brutality and Spleen with the unnatural Pretence of God’s Glory, or the Love of Truth. When I see Abuse, Ill-nature, and Insolence, in the Writings of a Divine, I consider him as a Layman spoiled, and pity any Cause in such Hands. Saucy Language and Invective are not apt to convince: They prove nothing but an angry Spirit, and an ill-bred Man. Railing for Truth and Religion is a backward Way of propagating either. What would a sensible Pagan say of such fierce Writers, but that they were pious Wasps; not Preachers, but Scolders of the Word? Surely Good-nature (to say nothing of Good-breeding) is inseparable from Christianity; nor can that be Religion, which wants Meekness and Humanity. But as Superstition is a Substitute for Religion and Virtue, and easily practised by the most virious; Scurrility and Wrath pass with Enthusiasts for Zeal; and they assume a high Character, whilst they act a mean Part in a vulgar Strain.
As to the Doctrines combated in the following Papers, the Doctrines of Popery, or those taken from Popery, and tending to support it, I think it of infinite Concern to Society to have them clearly displayed and exposed; since they strike at the very Being, at least at the Well-being, of Society. They manifestly debauch weak Heads, and inflame weak Minds. They are the Pillars and Prompters of Superstition. What Friend, Follower, or Well-wisher, would the Pope, or King James, or the Descendants of King James, have found in these Kingdoms, but for the Prevalence and Poison of such Doctrines, the Cant of Infallibility, and of Indefeasible Hereditary Right, and other such factious, senseless By-words of Superstition and Party?
I hope I have demonstrated, how repugnant to Religion, to Liberty and Property; indeed, how frightful to Britons, and all Rational Men, the Pretensions of King James and of Popery are; Pretensions evidently founded upon Impiety, Fraud, and endless Contradictions. Can there be higher Nonsense, or a stronger Doctrine of Impiety and Immorality, than that any Man has any Right to violate a Trust; nay, that such Right is Hereditary and Unalienable? It might be maintained, and maintained with higher Consistency, that if the Arch-fiend were mortal, and had Descendants, he and they would be intitled to Hereditary, Satanic Misrule in the Kingdom of Darkness. He is originally from Heaven, and justly banished elsewhere: He and his Fellow-fiends, ever raging against the Divine Being, for their just Expulsion and Torment, are said to be incessantly plotting and striving for Re-admission, and consequently for overturning all the Laws and Government of Heaven. Were any of the Inhabitants there, insensible and unworthy of their happy Lot, disposed to join in the horrid Treason, would they not merit the same Vengeance?
The most promising Method of makeing People Jacobites, is to make them Papists; and then no Nonsense can shock them. It will be then safe, nay, acceptable, to tell them, that King James is a ruling Hierarch above, complimented with a larger Dominion in the Sky, than what he lost below it. Nor would such a Position be more absurd and incredible than what Pope Leo (distinguished and worshiped in the Roman Church, by the Title of Saint Leo) has asserted; namely, that God has taken St.Peterinto theFellowshipof theIndivisibleTrinity. Neither is this Blasphemy and Impossibility more glaring than those of Transubstantiation, of the Pope’s Infallibility, &c. &c. &c.
If King James had Numbers adhering to his Cause, the Thing is not strange, nor without Example. Faction, and Fraud, and Superstition, can always do Wonders amongst the Populace every-where: The Death of Nero, that Imperial Butcher, and Monster in all Bestiality, though it was a Blessing to the Roman Empire, and a Relief to Mankind, was lamented by the Rabble at Rome, and long lamented. Nay, they treated him as a Deity, reared Altars to him, and appointed him Sacrifices and ministring Priests. Neither was Nero a worse Character than several of the Popes, and Popish Saints. I think King James was believed to have worked Miracles when he was dead: Probably he may, in time, be sainted. He had many Qualifications for an eminent Popish Saint, small Capacity, blind Credulity, Zeal without Knowlege, above all Oaths and Faith to Heretics, devoted to all the Calls of Popery, and to all the Craft of Popish Priests.
Every genuine Papist must hate every heretical Government, consequently this Government. Every converted Papist is therefore an Enemy to the Government. Disaffection prompted by Bigotry, and the Craft of Impostors, is the most dangerous Disaffection. He must be a Traitor at the Peril of his Salvation: What can be a stronger Motive? This shews the dangerous Tendency, and mischievous Effect, of separating Religion from Reason; as such Separation makes Men Dupes to Deceivers; who, where-ever Reason is consulted, or Religion is interpreted by Reason, can never mislead those who adhere to either.
I bless God, no Time was ever known which afforded Reason more Scope, or Conscience more Ease, than the present Time; a very improper Time, therefore, for the late Adventurer. Had he come in an Age when Gods and Heroes sprang out of the Earth; when Goddesses courted or stole the Embraces of Men, who, though mortal, were beautiful and strong; and when a jolly Trojan could rival Mars; had he arrived amongst a People void of Eyes and Laws, and assured them, “That he had come from afar for their Good; that he was a near Relation of Jupiter, the chief Ruler of the Skies, who, out of Kindness to the Nation, had sent this his Kinsman to be their King;” he might perhaps have found Admission from a People living in Blindness, and prone to Superstition. But to come recommended by the Pope, the Enemy of our Religion; by France, the sworn Foe to our Liberty and Laws; or to recommend himself, as the Grandson of King James; was to frighten, rather than to gain, free and discerning Protestants, who hated Popery and France, had bravely expelled King James as a Bigot, and an Oppressor, and solemnly abjured for ever all his Popish Descendants.
Wonderful is the Force, rather the Enchantment of Party. It finds Crimes in Virtues, when Virtue is against Party: It sees Virtue in Crimes, where Crimes favour Party. At best, it lessens the Horror of the most horrible Crimes. What can be more so, than unprovoked Disaffection, Perjury, and Rebellion? Compared with those, what are Felony and Robbery more than venial Offences? Yet many, who abhor Robbers and Felons, pay great Honour to Traitors, and justify Perjury and Treason: Whilst a Person forsworn in a private Cause, in which one Man suffers, is detested, a Person who takes a false Oath to the Community, and is thence an Enemy to every Man in it, is often caressed, and deemed the more worthy of public Trust for betraying the Public: Numbers defend the dreadful Treachery: General Practice makes it at least less hideous, sometimes popular. I have heard of famous Communities, where Oaths to the Government were never forgiven, when taken to be kept, but popular when broken as soon as taken; and taken in order to be broken. Yet a more harmless Character, that of a Knight of the Post, was by no means honourable there, unless when employed for the Service of Party; and then it was meritorious. What ought, what can, alarm Society more, than such a Spirit? What can be more threatening to Society, than such Practices? What more alarming to Protestants, than the Advances of Popery?
Whatever favours the Progress of Popery, must be dreadful to all sincere, to all thinking Protestants. What can be more so, than the bold and impious Claim in Priests to save and to damn; or, indeed, to do any thing, which any Man else cannot do, when called or permitted by the Civil Power? This is downright Popery, the very Pith and Vitals of Popery. Whoever asserts it, is at best an unsound Protestant, a Papist without the Name, or perhaps the Intention. Apostolic Succession is another wild Claim maintained by such visionary Men, Protestants in Name: A Claim to succeed the Apostles in being very unlike the Apostles; not in working Miracles; not in wandering over the World, in Poverty, Humility, Distress, and Danger, to preach the Gospel where it is not known; but in telling People over and over what they already know; in uttering Words which any Man may utter; in reading Books which any Man may read; in performing Actions which any Man may perform; and in deriving great Revenues, Pride and Pomp from the poor, humble, despised Apostles. Neither is the Craziness and Contradiction of such a Claim the worst Part of it. It is the Broadway to Popery, and is Popery. Without deriving themselves from Rome, they think that they cannot derive themselves from the Apostles. To be thoroughly consistent, they must go back to Rome. Whoever allows Apostolic Succession to the Church of Rome, condemns Protestants, declares them Schismatics, and himself to be no Protestant.
This Claim of Apostolic Succession, at best wild and false, comes with the better Grace from the Church of Rome, as that Church pretends to work Miracles: A Power which she proves by asserting it, and by cursing all such as deny it. Just so she proves Transubstantiation, Infallibility, and all her other Nonsense, and pious Impossibilities. In truth, all her priestly Power, all Power over the Soul, except that of rational Conviction, implies Infallibility, and is dowmight Nonsense, or downright Craft. These are the great Props of Popery. What can never be proved, ought never to be believed. What will not bear Examination, ought to be rejected absolutely, or must be swallowed implicitly. How can the Heart of Man consent to what the Mind of Man cannot conceive? Lay aside your Reason, and be convinced by our Authority, is a Precept truly Popish: That is, put out your Eyes, and we will shew you rare Sights. Yet this is the Spirit and Strain of Popery, and of such as embrace its Principles, without adopting or owning its Name. Widely opposite is the Principle of genuine Protestants; “Nothing to be admitted without Evidence; no Evidence inconsistent with Reason.”
But, dropping all further Pursuit of this Subject here, I leave my Readers to their own Reflections upon it, and upon every other Subject handled in the ensuing Papers: In them I hope they will find nothing unworthy of a good Protestant, and a good Subject.
If amongst one Sort of Readers I have some Enemies, it is my Misfortune, but their Fault. In all my Writings I have treated Religion, not only with Decency, but with true Respect; as I have Superstition, Bigotry, and ecclesiastical Craft, with Freedom; since these are the Bane of Reason, and consequently of Religion, which is always perverted and lost when Reason is banished. Where this great Standard of all Things is gone, the Fraud and Interest of particular Men become the general Law, and ensure the Bondage of all Men. When Men, interested in disguising Religion, interested in making it subservient to their own Ends and Passions, cannot defend their religious Opinions by Reason, they will sacrifice the Reason of all Men to their Opinions: And then they need not reason, but hang and burn. Power in Things purely spiritual, is and must be spiritual, or rather secular Tyranny. Whoever can persuade others, that what he says comes from God, that what he does is warranted by God, sets himself up for God, and becomes in Effect the Object of their Worship. From this wild Claim, dreadful and mis-shapen as it is, the Roman Babel hath arisen, with all the bloated, the barbarous and contagious Train of Imposture and Tyranny; the People blind, chained, and starving; their Masters gorged and triumphant, and Christianity turned into Cant, Commerce, Juggling and Cruelty: And the same Claim would have every where the same Effect, to exterminate Religion, and to inslave Men. It is the great Foundation, as of Popery, so of Mahometism, and of all Imposture, of all spiritual Empire.
Upon this Subject, where nothing too strong can be said, I have said no more than what many of the Clergy have said; no more than what all the Clergy have submitted to, declared, and sworn. I have written against all Clerical Power: They have renounced it upon Oath. Can they be decently offended with me, for justifying their Oath, and them for taking it? I have done no more than the ablest and best of their Body, and consequently the greatest Ornaments to it, Chillingworth, Tillotson, Whitchcot, Burnet, Wake, with many more venerable Fathers, some still remaining, have done.
Whoever maintains contrary Principles, is not a true Member of this Protestant Church, is not a good Subject.
I have dealt freely with Superstition, which is religious Fear without Ground, and religious Folly without End, an Indignity to the Deity, a Forfeiture of right Reason, and an utter Departure from true Religion: None but such as are Slaves to Superstition, or would gain by Superstition, can be offended with me, for exposing so odious, so gross, so dangerous, an Evil.
I have dealt freely with Bigots, sour, narrow Men, who would contract the noble diffusive Spirit of Christianity, would make the Deity delight, as they do, in Peevishness, Grimace and Jargon, in Cant and Sound, in Sternhold and Hopkins.
I have been free, very free with the Persecutor, that is, with the Bigot in Wrath, and armed to destroy: An infernal Instrument under a celestial Disguise, damning human Souls, butchering human Bodies, yet blasphemously preaching Salvation and Mercy. What a diabolical Groupe of Hypocrisy, Cruelty, and atheistical Zeal! Whoever would influence or alter religious Opinions, by Gaols and Fines, or, which is a further Strain of the same impious Policy, by Torture and Execution, hath already renounced the Spirit of Christianity, disowned Conscience, mocks God; deifies himself, and proclaims everlasting War amongst Men.
These are the three pestilent Foes which I have chiefly attacked, Superstition, its Child Bigotry, and the baneful Issue of both, Persecution. Can three more furious, more desolating Curses, visit those who dwell upon the Earth? What Havock they would make, is notorious from what they have made. In being a declared Enemy to these, I am but a Champion for Religion, and human Society; and therefore a good Subject in Church and State. I have never used any Clergyman indecently, much less any of them ill; however some of them have used me. With many of them I live upon good Terms: Nor would I hurt even those, who have so little of the Gospel Spirit as to hurt others for differing from them. I sincerely regard our religious Establishment. Though far from perfect, it is the best I know: I truly esteem all the worthy Members of it; all who have the Temper of Christians, and the Manners of Gentlemen. As to those who distinguish themselves by Scurrility and Perjury (if there be any such); Men who pervert the Dignity of Preaching into Scolding; who take Oaths to the Government, and act like Traitors to it; no one who regards God and the Government, can reverence them: What good Christian, what loyal Subject can?
To conclude this Head, I shall take upon me to aver, That, in whatever I have written of the Church and the Clergy, I have the Bible, Reason, the Law of the Land, together with the best, and most learned, of the Clergy, on my side.
I must caution, and assure my Readers, that, whatever Asperity they find in these Papers against Popery, I bear no Ill-will, not the least Disgust, to the Person of any Papist, nor would I hurt any Papist for being such. Some of them are my Friends; I know many worthy, many well-bred, Men amongst them; and I am sorry from my Soul, to see any of them subject to the Witchcraft of their Religion, to the blinding Influence of their Priests, and to so furious a Faith. I would gladly reconcile them to this free, this mild Government, by beseeching them to consider, how differently every Popish Government uses Protestants, from what this Government uses Papists; that every Man in every Country thinks his own Religion as good as they think theirs: And then what would be the dreadful, the barbarous and desolating Consequence, if every Man were to punish every Man for any Religion?
I would likewise observe to my Readers, that, whatever I have said against Nonresidence, I heartily esteem many Nonresidents. The thing is surely liable to Censure and Complaint. But Exceptions may be allowed for Men of superior Merit. In such Merit I always comprise Moderation, mutual Charity, and universal Benevolence; Principles which I perceive with Pleasure prevailing amongst the present Clergy. The chief amongst them for Conscience and Character, despise the Narrowness, the unchristian Fierceness, and Party Spirit, so long and so lamentably reigning amongst their Predecessors, perverting and poisoning most Part of the Nation, reviling and persecuting the other; maintaining Systems of Craziness and Contradiction, mistaking Rage and Nonsense for Religion, and fathering upon the God of Wisdom Priestly Folly, Fanaticism, and Dreams.
I never had any Quarrel to any Clergyman, who had none to Conscience and the Government; and I desire to keep Peace with all of them, who keep their Oaths. Even to such as have used me scurrilously, I have made no suitable Returns, nor any Return but that of Pity and Silence, with my unfeigned good Wishes, that, if they would not condescend to the Temper of Christians, they would at least aspire to the Language and Decency of Gentlemen. Neither do I boast of such Forbearance as Matter of Merit. I bless God, it is natural to me. I should be very sorry to be angry at any worthy Man: I should be ashamed to be angry at a worthless and despicable Man: Hatred I bear to no Man. Personal Distaste is an unmanly, indeed a scandalous Motive for writing. I have no Disgust to Papists, but should grieve to see Popery increase. That Men, who call themselves Protestants, should contribute to that Increase, is a melancholy Consideration: The Fact is too true.
Whoever promotes Superstition, promotes Popery: Whoever contends for Power in Priests, is an Advocate for the Papal Power: Whoever asserts, that Presbyterians (that is, Protestants) are worse than Papists, is himself no Protestant; nay, is directly serving the Cause of Popery. Yet this has been the Style, and constant Cry, of those, who called themselves the only true Churchmen, for more than a Century; and by it they have directly encouraged weak People (and, God knows, in these Points most People are weak) to embrace Popery. By this false Cry they have promoted the Popish Cause much more successfully, than all the secret Popish Missionaries have been able, or ever will be able, to do, by all their mean Converts cheated or bribed into Popery in Lanes and Corners, chiefly from Stables, Sculleries, and the Rabble.
Panegyrics upon Popery by Protestant Divines, have been a common, nay, a fashionable Monster: Writings against Popery by the same Hands (for that Monster too has sometimes, nay, often, been seen) were not so monstrous. An Epicure, who praises Luxury, or an Indulgence in Meats, Drinks, and Women, may very consistently blame, and except to, particular Dishes, Liquors, and Ladies; yet be still a thorough Epicure.
I Am well pleased with the seasonable public Zeal against the double-headed Tyranny with which we are threatened. I therefore here present the Public with such a Display of Popery, as may serve to rouse the most stupid and lukewarm Protestants, and undeceive Papists, who are kept by their Priests from the true Knowlege of it.
According to the Popish Historians, and even by the Testimony of the best and ablest Popish Writers, no Throne, no Pagan Throne, was ever filled with such Monsters of Immorality as the Papal Throne; Monsters most detestably wicked in themselves, and the constant Authors of universal Wickedness, Imposture, Delusion, Oppression, Robbery, Tyranny, Murder, and Massacre; pestilent Enemies to all good Men, and to whatever was good in the World.
These Popes even bear Testimony against one another: Stephen VII. thought his Predecessor Formosus so horrid a Criminal, that he had him pulled out of his Grave, and his Body thrown into the Tyber. Stephen himself was strangled as a Criminal equally horrible.
baronius, that great Advocate for Popery, to which he often sacrifices Truth and History, declares Pope Sergius to have been the most abominable of Men, living in a Brothel, particularly with two celebrated Harlots, Mother and Daughter, who governed the Pope, and the Roman Church, and made the most of both. By one of these Harlots he had a Son, who came to be Pope by the Name of John XI.; a Pope who lived in Incest with his own Mother. Her Name was Marozia, a Lady of uncommon Fortune, Mistress To two Popes, one of them her Son.
john XII. professed the Black Art, and paid Divine Worship to Venus and Jupiter: He debauched Ladies on the Steps of the Altar, and was famous for all diabolical Excesses. This infernal Father of Christendom was deposed by a Council summoned and supported by the Emperor Otho. A Deposition which the same keen Churchman Baronius is not ashamed to censure as an Act of Presumption, as passing Judgment, upon one whom no Man on Earth had a Right to judge. So that he was accounted a regular and genuine Pope; and if he was, why may not the worst and most accursed Being be one?
boniface VII. murdered Benedict VI. in order to succeed him; and they were commonly expelling and butchering one another.———Cardinal Benno mentions one Gerard Brazet, who was appointed and paid as Poisoner-General to the Holy See, and who poisoned Seven of Eight Popes, at the Instigation of such as wanted to be Popes. These Popes were in Truth such Sons of Perdition, that even Baronius owns “the End of the World to have been then thought at hand, as no Time had produced such Monsters, and so many Scenes of Horror.”
The famous Hildebrand, Gregory VII. filled all Germany with Blood, and Fire, and Famine; and carried every Curse of human Tyranny, and diabolical Pride, as far as they could go. MatthewParis, a Papist and Ecclesiastic, calls Innocent III. a Lion in Cruelty, and a Blood-sucker in Avarice. Observe, that this was the Pope who oppressed and plundered this poor Nation so long and so unmercifully, during the miserable Reign of Henry III. Benedict XII. purchased a Lady of Condition and Beauty from her Family for so much ready Money. She was Sister to the celebrated Petrarch. Lucretia, Daughter to Alexander VI. was likewise his Mistress, and Mistress to his Son Cæsar Borgia, as also Wife to another of his Sons,
———Pontificis Filia, Sponsa, Nurus.
innocent VIII. left Sixteen Children. I need not say, all spurious; for no Pope can marry. Leo X. boasted “what Treasure the Church had derived from the Fable of Christ.” Paul III. not only lay with his Daughter, but, to have her all to himself, poisoned her Husband.
Can That be the Church of God, which hath such Heads? Does it become the Champions of that Church to reproach the Reformation as derived from the Lewdness of Harry VIII.? And can the humble and merciful Jesus own such polluted, such bloody Successors? Have such carnal, such worldly, and such devilish Abominations, any thing to do with Religion, or spiritual Characters, but to disgrace and extirpate both?
If we descend from the Heads of that Church to her great Champions and Supports, the Schoolmen; the Extravagancies and Fooleries of the latter are incredible. They are the Metaphysics of the Heathen Philosopher Aristotle, prostituted to maintain the lying Claims of Churchmen: What is incredible, is explained by what is impossible; and what is impossible, is maintained by what is unintelligible: Imposture is founded upon Subtleties; Nonsense defended by Sophistry; Contradiction by Names and Authority; and a monstrous Theology is recommended under barbarous Terms. Here follow a few of the important Points there discussed, “Whether it be possible for the Deity to become feminine? Whether the Foreskin of our Saviour (cut off in Circumcision) be yet taken in the Eucharist, where he is supposed to be swallowed Whole? Whether the Body of Christ comes into the Elements of Bread and Wine by the way of Deduction, or of Re-production; or if his Body had been made of Flint, how it could have been crucified?”
These are some of the deep Questions amongst their principal Theologians, and are called Divinity; as if the further from Common Sense, the nearer to Religion; and the more mad, the more Orthodox.
The Catholic Canons are of a Piece with the Catholic Theology, shameless, immoral, and extravagant. It is a System of Chimeras, extracted from the Authority and Writings of old Popes and Doctors; the Dreams and Distinctions of Pedants, and the Decretals of designing Pontiffs, set up against the Civil Law, Reason and Morality. They assert, for instance, that Meum and Tuum, and the Ascertaining of Property, was introduced by Injustice and Violence; and that, according to the wisest of all the antient Sages, all Things are common amongst Friends, especially Women: That the Crimes and Failings of the Pope are as excusable, as the Robberies committed by the Hebrews upon the Egyptians. By the same Ecclesiastical Laws, and for the sake of Ecclesiastical Men, Lewdness and Adultery are treated rather as Levities than Crimes, and stiled lucky Adventures, Leve peccatum, & quod Galli vocant BONAM FORTUNAM, Gallantries.
The Miracles of Rome are so numerous and impudent, so ridiculous, and so impossible, that Protestants, as well as sensible Turks and Heathens, would think them invented to disgrace the Roman Church, did not the Roman Church avow and affirm them; none of them performed before Heretics, who only want them, but only before Catholics, who want them not; never worked in Public to render them uncontested, but in Corners and Chapels, as if on purpose to raise Suspicion about them.
In the Lives of the Popish Saints, all published by Authority, are found the following Miracles gravely asserted, with a Thousand others equally ridiculous: The Blessed Virgin visiting Friers in the Night: Jesus Christ playing at Cards with a Nun in her Cell, courting Nuns, and marrying Nuns, his Virgin Mother being the Match-maker: Beasts and Birds adoring the Host: The Devil bearing Testimony for the Church against Heretics: An Oven heated with Snow by St. Patrick; and a Pound of Honey converted into a Pound of Butter, to please his Nurse: St. Anthony preaching to the Fishes, St. Francis to the Beasts; and neither Congregation willing to depart, till the Saints had blessed them: The wet Habits of Friers hung upon the Sun-beams: The Monks enter tained in Heaven under the Blessed Virgin’s Robes: A Nun sweetening a Vessel of sour Wine, and her Image upon an empty Tub filling it with Oil, and continuing it full for some Months, for the Use of the Convent: St. Dominic forcing the Devil, in the Shape of a Monkey, to hold his Candle, till Satan’s Fingers were burnt to the Bone: A Ship carrying the Body of a dead Saint, piloted by a Raven, for many Leagues: The Blessed Virgin’s successful Dispute with some Devils in Behalf of a lewd Priest, who had been assiduous in his Devotions to her.
These strange Dreams, full of Nonsense and Blasphemy, are the great Proofs, that the Roman Church is the true Church. But these Fooleries and Frauds, however subversive of Religion, and the genuine Marks of Imposture, are pardonable, in comparison of her bloody and persecuting Spirit, the Consequence of her cruel want of Charity, the most signal Christian Virtue. She damns all who are not of her horrid Communion, and murders, or would murder, all that she damns; Witness her universal Practice, and constant Massacres, at Paris, in Ireland, her Crusades against the best Christians, the daily Fires of the Inquisition, and the Burnings in Smithfield, especially under Queen Mary.
Be warned, O Protestants; continue what ye are, Christians and Freemen: Your All is at Stake, Liberty, Property, Conscience: Abhor the Harlot, and oppose the Tool of the Harlot.
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.
THE French Government, though a mild one for an arbitrary one, is yet a very terrible one to an Englishman. All the Advantages in it are not comparable to one single Advantage in ours; I mean the Act of Habeas Corpus, which secures, at least rescues, you from all wanton and oppressive Imprisonment. In France, by the Word of a Minister, the greatest, the most innocent Subject, may, from Caprice, or a Whisper, or the Pique of a Mistress, be committed to a Dungeon for his Life, or the best Part of it, or as long as the Minister, or his Mistress or Minion, pleases. Some have been thus shut up in dismal Durance and Solitude for Years together, though no Harm was meant them; not for any Offence, real or imaginary, but only through Mistake and Likeness of Names. Thus a Minister has sometimes committed his Favourites, and useful Agents, who lay in Misery for Years, and might have perished in it, had not Accidents contributed to undeceive him. I think it is Cardinal de Retz that says (I am sure it is some good French Author), that he always dreaded the Favour of being removed from a bad to a better Apartment in the Bastile, because in the Passages there were Trap-Doors suspected, and armed Wheels beneath, where a Prisoner was in an Instant so minced and grinded as to leave behind him no Memorial of his Person.
Next to their arbitrary Imprisonments, come their arbitrary Banishments; and for small Offences they are often inflicted, as well as for great. If any Member of the Parliament have the Honour and Courage freely to remonstrate against registring an oppressive Edict (for no Edict is valid, unless registred by the Parliament) a few Lines presently dispatch him from his Seat there, and from the City, into Exile: How far and how long, depends, like all Things else, upon the Anger or Mercy of the Monarch, or of those who direct the Monarch.
Such Orders, called Letters of the Signet, lie in the Hands of the Ministers, as well as in those of the Under-Governors of Provinces, to be used at their Discretion, frequently to gratify their own Vengeance. Is an Intendant piqued against any Man of Quality; or a Minister against a President of Parliament? Such a Letter is strait sent to him, and be instantly from Home, sometimes into a remote Province. Is the Governor’s Lady, or Daughter, disgusted at another Lady in the Place, finer and more admired than herself? Her Punishment is decreed, and the poor Rival sent a Wandering; a Crime is easily forged, and the Sufferer has no Remedy. The smallest Affront to a Monk in Favour (and Monks, God knows, are soon offended!) finds the same Compensation; a Victim must be offered to his holy Rage. I saw, at Vannes in Bretagne, a Lady in Years, banished thither from her Family in Perigord (some Hundreds of Miles off) for speaking slightly of that libidinous Impostor the Jesuit Girard, famous for his pretended Devotion, and real Debauchery, committed with the devout Damsel Cadiere.
The Abuse of raising and sinking the French Coin, at the Pleasure of the French King, is most alarming to all Men of Property: An industrious Merchant lies down to Rest, happy in his Wealth, perhaps Twenty or Thirty thousand Pounds, the just Effects of his Industry; and wakes next Morning reduced to Half, stripped by the Edict of a Night. When the King’s Coffers were filled with the Money of his Subjects, and he had Payments to make, he raised the Coin to an enormous Value: When his Finances were exhausted, and he wanted to replenish them from the Purses of his Subjects, he sunk the Coin extravagantly low. How would the English relish or bear such Grinding and Robbery?
TheFrench King levies Money, and raises Taxes, at his Pleasure; and punishes such Officers of Justice in Parliament, as dare dispute his Pleasure. He furnishes the Farmers of his Revenue (generally Upstarts and Bloodsuckers) with all his boundless Power to raise it how they can. Nor can we be surprised at any the most merciless Treatment from such Sons of Rapine, thus armed with sovereign Power to spoil and oppress. It is common to see a whole Village stripped of all the Effects and Furniture in it; nay, to see the very Houses pulled down, the Roofs and Timbers carried off, and the wretched Inhabitants exposed naked to wander and starve.
Has not the English Freeholder, Farmer, Manufacturer, Cause to bless his own Government, and different happy Lot? These have no arbitrary Demands to apprehend, and know to a Farthing what they have to pay, long before the Payment is asked. If they be injured in their Portion of Payment, they have easy Recourse to Tribunals and Protectors of their own, generally their Neighbours, who will chuse to do them Justice, or dare not refuse it.
a french Gentleman, who travelled through England after the Peace of Utrecht, says in his Travels, which are printed, “That he believes that there is no Instance in any Nation whatsoever, of so great a Revenue raised with so much Ease to the Subject, at so small an Expence to the Public, and with so little Danger to the Liberties of the People.” A remarkable Testimony from a Frenchman! What is more remarkable, he is speaking of an English Tax much decried, our Excises. He adds, “What an Army of Officers does the French King employ, only for his Duty upon Salt, in the several Provinces? What an Army in his Customs? The Excise in England (says he) is collected with all possible Ease, whilst in France, they are every Day making terrible Examples, hanging, confiscating, and tearing the poor People to Pieces.” Mind this, O my Fellow Citizens! Learn to love your own desirable Condition, and to hate the Parricides, who would labour to make you sick of it, and willing to risk or change it. This Author observes, candidly, “That the Tyranny of Farmers of the Revenue, who exact Payment with Rigour, is not felt in England, as it sadly is in France.”
“In all the Cities and great walled Towns in France (says another French Author of Quality, and great Family) there are armed Men posted at the Gates by the Farmers of the Revenue, to examine all who pass. If any one is found defrauding the Excise, perhaps under Half-a-Crown, the Offender, if a Man, is sent to the Gallies; if a Woman, and poor, she is whipped by the Hangman; if she have an Estate, she forfeits it all, or most of it, and lies at the Mercy of a brutal Farmer. If a Man of the first Fashion, a great Lord, should be found, after severe Searches, to have in his Baggage a Pound of Salt, of about a Penny Loss to the Farmer, his Lordship’s whole Equipage is forfeited, his Person is imprisoned, and he is fined in a great Sum.”
Remember this, O Britons! Rejoice and tremble!
A Religion which damns all Others, exposes itself at first Sight to be suspected of Imposture, as it breathes a Spirit so opposite to the Spirit of the Gospel. Nothing but the clearest and most express Warrant from the Mouth of God, can excuse any Man for pronouncing such a horrid Sentence against another Man: The very Name of the Man, as well as the Name of his Maker, ought to be seen in that Warrant. No less Authority will do: Whoever pretends to it, impiously apes the Almighty; presumes to do, in the Name of God, what God himself never did; and impudently practises a Cheat covered and recommended under the Name and Attributes of Truth and Piety.
These blaspheming Impostors usurp the Place of Almighty God, and act like Satan in it. They turn Religion into a Trade, and damn all that refuse to deal with Them, and Them only. This Charm and the Gains they make of it, are Symptoms of a Spirit truly Worldly and Devilish, of wicked Combination and Mountebankry, destructive of all Religion, and of all human Liberty; a Design which none but the most unrelenting Tyrants can Attempt, and which the most successful Tyranny can never Accomplish.
It is against common Reason, ’tis against the Wisdom and Mercy of God, and indeed against all his Attributes, and very Essence, to presume, that he divests himself (All wise and Infallible as he is!) of his indispensable Power of eternal Rewards and Punishments, which He only is able to inflict and bestow; and transfers the same to any frail human Creature, subject to constant Weakness, Passions, and Folly, as all human Creatures are. To suppose that he does so, is an Imputation of Wantonness or Frenzy, upon the Deity, as if he contrived to make Sport of the Creation, and render Men Dupes and Slaves to one another; as if he delighted in exalting Pride, and oppressing Innocence; delighted in the Tyranny and wicked Craft of One or a Few; and in the Delusion and Vassalage of all the Rest.
Whom has the Almighty created resembling himself, able to dictate, without Opposition, in his Name, or to exercise his infinite Power without Appeal? How much the Popes are unlike him, or rather, how profanely most of them have belyed him, and how absolutely renounced his Rules and Laws, I have shewn in a former. The best of them were Counterfeits, all Usurpers, assuming all Earthly, indeed all Heavenly Power, to which no earthly Creature was equal, or indeed had any Pretence. Did it appear upon their Election, that they had then gained one Ability or Talent, which they had not before, or lost one Failing which they had before? The Father of Christendom, the infallible Guide of Christians, the unerring Vicar of Jesus Christ, instead of better, grew generally worse, more addicted to sinful Pursuits, more Proud, more Unforgiving, more Craving, less Merciful, and less and less resembled our Blessed Saviour. The same Behaviour, (still continued, or a worse) inferred the same Character still to continue, or to grow worse, and consequently the Vanity and extreme Impropriety, and even Forgery of his new Titles. His Infallibility was a flagrant Jest and Imposition. As Infallibility implies the present Aid of the Divine Spirit, which does not hesitate, nor proceed by Examination, nor stay for better Lights; it was plain that the Pope had no such Aid; for he always acted in Form in all perplexed Questions, called Consistories from time to time; consulted learned Men; put off the Decision from Year to Year; sometimes durst not decide at all, and sometimes decided wrong: At least, the next infallible Head (his Successor) was in the Wrong, by deciding it a contrary Way. For it, was no new Thing for Pope to contradict Pope, and to curse one another, each of them always first invoking the Holy Ghost.
The Infallibility of Councils is equally ridiculous; and so were many of their Decisions, generally carried by Balloting, often by Faction, sometimes by Fighting; the Members cursing and contradicting one another; and guided, or rather infatuated and inflamed, by the worst and most unchristian Passions.
Infallibility is not to be found amongst Men; it is one of the Perfections of God, peculiar and incommunicable; whoever claims it, may with the same Craziness, or from the same Craft and impious Purpose, claim Omnipotence. Whoever is subject to Sin, is subject to Error: Are not all Men subject to Sin? Have there been greater Sinners than the Popes? And are Offenders against the Majesty of God, and the Purity of the Gospel, proper Vehicles of Godlike Infallibility, or proper Explainers of the Gospel, of itself so plain as to want no Explanation, at least for Gospel Ends; and it is profaned, when wrested to any other! Who can discover the Simplicity of the Gospel in the various and intricate Grimaces of the Mass, or any of the meek Gospel Spirit in such as follow the Mass?
TheMass, like the Whole of Popery, is invented and calculated for the Exaltation and Profit of the Popish Clergy, and to bind, and blind, and plunder the Laity. What can be added to the Imposture of creating God by consecrating Bread, but that it is the highest Blasphemy that ever shocked the Reason of Man, or gave the Lye to Demonstration, and the Five Senses? Other Impostors have devised lying Genealogie; for the Eternal Being, related false Wonders about him, pretended great Interest in him, with a Power to mollify or inflame him, and got a good Livelihood out of him, with suitable Reverence from Dupes and the Rabble, and were always striving to frighten such as they could not persuade nor plague; but none of them pretended to make the Deity by a Word. To Popish Cheats, falsly call’d Catholics, the Glory hath been reserved of surpassing the highest Cheats in Paganism, as well as the highest Cruelty and the most extravagant Forgeries of Pagans. Holy Lyes and holy Rage, generally found necessary to support all pious Impostures, are essentially so to uphold the greatest of all.
For a Creature to create the Eternal Creator of all Things, is a wonderful Falshood to assert, and impossible to be believed, as it is a Contradiction too glaring to be conceived by the Heart of Man, or to be uttered by any Mouth, where the Mind is not first awed by Terrors, or intoxicated by Delusions, or corrupted by Craft. Can they believe in God, who assert, that the One God can be eaten Whole by Millions, every Day, can be created and renewed and multiplied daily, and still remain One God? Yet, with these Omnipotent Blasphemers, it is Atheism to deny his Multiplication; so that it is at once Atheism to doubt his Unity, and Atheism to deny that he may be new-created every Hour, and a Box of consecrated Wafers contains a Host of Gods, all one and the same God. Could the Wit of Demons invent higher or more profane Mockery? Nor would it be higher Mockery in these shameless Conjurers to pretend to annihilate their Creator. They might wrest a Text as literally to their Purpose. Has not our Blessed Saviour said to his Disciples, A littlewhile, and ye shall not see me? A Text tending as much to the Power of the Priest in unmaking God, as the other Text, from whence they would derive Power to make God.
What reasonable Man, what Christian Man, would be of a Church where this is the prime Article of Faith, and where Damnation is denounced against all who doubt it? Who would hear, much less follow, such dreadful Guides, who maintain such impious Contradictions, and burn all who will not profess a sacred Lye and Impossibility, which is an Affront to the Deity, an Insult upon the Almighty, or rather a Denial of his Existence?
A Piece of Bread, Bread to the Sight, Bread to the Touch, Taste and Smell, becomes at once, in the Logic of Priests, and by their Legerdemain, the Almighty and Immutable God, and is sliced into infinite Gods: Though they impudently maintain, that they believe no more than One God; yet would burn you alive, if you question’d daily their Power and Practice of creating Gods without Number.
They practise the same barefaced Inconsistency in their Treatment of Saints, Male and Female; some of them Idiots, many of them Murderers, most of them Mad, all unblessed with Christian Charity. They fear and adore these Saints; pray to these Saints; compliment these Saints with Offerings and Divine Praises; ascribe Divine Attributes, Power and Miracles to these Saints; yet deny that they worship Saints.
Methinks that Men thus Omnipotent, possess’d with Power to Damn and Save, and enabled by the Deity to make their Maker, should condescend, for the Conviction of Gainsayers, to do some Miracles of a lower and easier Nature; such as the creating a Fly, or ordering a dead Insect to live; such as animating a Corpse, as well as deifying a Wafer; ordering a common Lock to open, or a common Door to shut, as readily as they do the mighty Gates of Heaven and Hell; for these last are Miracles which they pretend to work daily.
They indeed tell us of other Miracles wrought by their Saints; but we desire to see them wrought. Nor can they with any Face complain of our want of Faith, whilst we reasonably complain of their want of Miracles. What less than Miracles can prove the miraculous Power which they pretend to exercise, their marvellous Mysteries, and incredible Operations? If they can damn a Heretic by a Word, why not imprison and punish him by the same Word? If they can open Heaven to a suffering Catholic, perhaps imprisoned for the meritorious Offence of commiting Treason for the Service of the Holy Church, against an heretical State, why not order the Prison Doors to fly open, to the Releasment of the pious Catholic, and to the Confusion of his heretical Judges and Persecutors? Why not award Heretics to Death, by the Word of Command, as well as to Hell? Why not command Heretics to the Stake and the Gallows, or command the Stake and the Gallows to burn or hang Heretics? Such Exertion of Power and Orthodoxy would soon frighten Heresy out of the Land, and re-establish the Catholic Faith, Unity and Revenues, with Renown and Triumph.
A famous Impostor amongst the Jews, and one of their Messiahs (for the poor People have had many, and none without Followers) Sabatai Sevi by Name, the Deliverer of Israel by Profession, undertook to restore the whole Nation to Canaan, with a high Hand, and heavenly Power and Wonders. He gain’d easy Belief and numerous Adherents, some of them in the Stile of Prophets, confirming his Divine Mission, and foretelling miraculous Effects and Events forthwith to ensue. Great Commotions followed; the Turkish Divan was alarmed, and sent for the Impostor: He was put in Irons, yet still asserted his own Divine Character; though he, who was to release and re-establish a Nation, could not release himself. His bewitched Followers too still believed in him, averred what Miracles he wrought, and prophesied that he was to dethrone the Grand Seignior, and even to drag him along in Chains. That Monarch ordered him into his Presence, and with Imperial Brevity offered him his Choice, either to work a present Miracle, or to turn Turk, or to be impaled alive. Sabatai, unable to comply with the first, and not liking the third, made no Scruple of the second; he declared himself a Mahometan without Hesitation, and thenceforward laboured to convert the Jews to Mahometism, a Change he alleged necessarily previous to their final Restoration. As a Proof of the strange Force of Delusion, his Followers still believed in him, even after such open, such avowed Apostasy: They said Sabatai was carried up into Heaven, and a Dæmon had assumed the Shape and white Hair of the old Man, on purpose to disgrace him.
Transubstantiation is the most wonderful Miracle that ever was wrought; and if it be false, the pretended Authors of it are the greatest Impostors that ever pretended to Miracles, as all Impostors do. I would only have such as pretend to maintain it, either to abjure their daring Pretences, or to work a small Miracle. If they perform any Miracle before competent Witnesses, we Protestants may venture to turn Papists: If they can work none, we ought to expect their Conversion to Protestantism. We have no Authority but their Word for the mighty Miracle of Transubstantiation; Human Reason, and the Five Senses, which alone attest and confirm other Miracles, contradict this. We offer them no painful Alternative; we call for no Impaling, no Racks, nor Dungeons; though these be their last and most conclusive Arguments to us.
IN the Midst of all our public Difficulties, and the Evils that threaten us (I hope only for a short Time) it must give high Joy, and equal Hopes, to all Britons and Protestants, to behold such an universal, such an ardent Spirit in Protestants and Britons, upon the present Trial and Exigency; with such a glorious Abhorrence of the desperate Attempts, and bloody Designs, of our Enemies abroad and at home.
The very Attempt to change the Government, is a Proof of the Excellence and Freedom of the Government. If our Government were wretched and weak, and the Subjects oppressed and miserable, France would be the first to support an oppressive Government, and strengthen the Oppression. As the Administration is just, and the People free, France will never cease plotting and labouring the Destruction of Government and People. If in our present Situation we are dreadful to France; if we thwart her persidious Counsels, and cripple her Tyranny, will not France strive to disable, to enslave, and to ruin, her capital and most formidable Foe?
This is her present Scheme; she is pursuing her Interest, let us pursue ours; if she succeed, we are undone; if we prevail, she is sunk; she must truckle to Terms of our imposing; and thus humbling herself to her Neighbours, whom she has long insulted, against all Shame, and contrary to all Faith, she must accept such a Peace as they will grant her.
To carry her Point, she chuses a Person very proper for her Purposes, if they succeed; but very proper likewise to mar their Success, by letting us see our notorious and alarming Danger, in imposing upon us for our King a Nursling of the Pope, a Pupil of her own, bred in Romish blind Bigotry, nurtured in all the Principles of lawless Sway; one destitute of all Property, subsisting by Food and Raiment from France, taught by his Father, and his own Fate, to hate us; and now armed to punish us, or rather to destroy us.
It hath been truly observed, that whoever comes from Banishment to Sovereignty, will exercise it with infinite Havock and Cruelty: He hath suffered supreme Injury, and must be satisfied with equal Vengeance. Whoever forced him out, or kept him out, is his rightful Victim: Life and Property are claimed together. Great Property is always certain Guilt in the Eye of a Tyrant; and it is easy to prove it forfeited, by calling the Owner a Traitor: What numberless Sacrifices, what copious Forfeitures, must this devoted Nation furnish out? A Nation almost all Heretics; all Enemies to the Tyranny of France, thence all proper Objects of Slaughter and Bondage; all accursed by Rome, therefore worthy of Fire and Extirpation.
We must even pay France for keeping this our Enemy, for his Education, and for all the Efforts made for him against us; for her Expence and Supplies in the last Rebellion, in the present Rebellion, and ever since the Revolution; pay her for establishing him our Tyrant, and ever afterwards as the Deputy of France: For, if he do not enslave us, he cannot reign over us; and as he cannot enslave us, without the Power of France, we must be Slaves, in Reality, to France; in Name, to her Viceroy, who will have the Honour to be the chief Slave, and consequently the most contemptible, as all are who wear a Crown by foreign Permission, and reign by Command.
To answer all the Demands of France, all his own Demands (which will still be as great and real, as if he were a real King) together with the Demands of his needy and craving Followers, who will plead their Wants of Wealth and Land, as abundant Titles to both, especially when forfeited to the Usurper by Resistance and Heresy; all the Estates and Treasure of Heretics and Rebels, will hardly suffice. Even the Bank of England, and all the public Funds, are all justly liable to Forfeiture, as they were established to keep him out, and to secure Rebels and Heretics against his coming in. What can be more obvious, what more tempting, to be so seized, and so distributed? What more agreeable to the Maxims of France and Rome in particular, and to the Maxims of Popish and Arbitrary Sway in general? The Church Preferments, so long possess’d by an heretical Clergy, the Church-Lands, so sacrilegiously usurped by the heretical Laity, Gentry and Nobility, will be hardly sufficient to gratify the Hopes, and to compensate the Merits of an Army of Confessors, holyMen, who have laboured incessantly, wrote and railed, cursed the Heretics, and starved for above half a Century, in the blessed View of seeing an obstinate Nation ruined, as well as damn’d Protestants in the Flames, and the Holy Church in Triumph.
The old Laws must likewise succumb and bend to new Masters. Who will dare to hold up an Act of Parliament against the Mass? What Heretic venture to plead for Heretics? What Protestant Lawyer (if any Protestants be left, or one Protestant Law) will venture to affront the Pope, or a popish Sovereign, by defending Liberty, Law, and Conscience, in Opposition to Powers who hold Liberty to be Rebellion, Law to be Treason, and Conscience to be Schismatical and Damnable; all to be punish’d with a high Hand, and instantly rooted out, or crushed by Fire and Sword?
A Bloody Host of Robbers from the Woods and Bogs of Ireland, Droves of Savages from the Rocks and Caverns of the Highlands, void of Letters, and even of Humanity, armed with Ignorance, Brutality, and barbarous Zeal, must be turned into an Army, to secure a violent Establishment by Acts of Violence; crazy Monks, without Mercy or Knowledge, must be our Teachers, to instruct us in the Guilt of Christian Charity, and the Danger of Human Reason: A new Nobility of Upstarts, Fugitives, and Outlaws, raised from Obscurity, chiefly known for their Barbarity, original Macs and O’s, shall swagger (I had almost said wallow) in the highest Stations and Dignities, bear the grandest Titles, without being able to read them, and sink and defile them by wearing them. The old Nobility must be extinguished, or beg, or perish; or, which is worse, be Converts, and feed upon the Bounty of an Usurper, at least subsist at his Mercy.
Such wide and wasting Violence, and these dreadful Changes, are rather certain than improbable. The Invader knows, that all able, all wealthy, all discerning Men; all sober and religious Men; all who love Liberty Sacred and Civil, their Property, their Bible, and their Conscience, must necessarily hate his Person, and abhor his Education, his Principles and Dependencies. They can never be safe till he be defeated: He can never thoroughly succeed till they be thoroughly destroyed.
Confusion, Extirpation, and Massacre, are the known, the approved, the tried Measures of Popery, and of popish Tyrants. They think that by Cruelty to Heretics, they do Service to God and themselves: The more Cruelty the more Service. This Principle justifies all Rigour and Acts of Rage and Perfidy, and even consecrates them all as holy and meritorious.Charles the IXth of France, in Obedience to the Dictates of his Faith, by a long Train of fair Usage, kind Words, and a thousand Caresses to the Hugonots, deluded the Heads of them to Paris; where he renewed and enlarged all his friendly Professions, distinguished them as his most welcome Guests at the Wedding of his Sister, betrothed to their Chief, the King of Navarre; granted them many Favours, and pretended to be guided by the Counsels of their favourite Leader, the celebrated Admiral de Coligni. When he had thus drawn the Principals of the Religion together, and lulled them into due Security (for when they were prepared and armed, a small Number of them was dreadful to any Number of their Enemies) he ordered them all to be massacred at once, upon a Signal given: He was himself a keen Instrument in the Massacre. The Tyrant, as cruel as faithless, not only animated and applauded the most eager Murderers, but shot from his Window such of the innocent betrayed Victims as were like to escape their Butchers, the raging Catholics. The Carnage was pursued at the same Hour all over France. An Hundred thousand Protestants fell Sacrifices to the Moloch of Popery, and to the Maxims of French Tyranny. The Pope, one of the ablest that ever filled the papal Chair, but still a Pope, approved all the bloody Guilt, all the infernal Slaughter, and particularly the Murder of Coligni, one of the first Heads in Christendom for War and Counsel, but unpardonably zealous for the Gospel of Christ, and the Rights of Men.
In one of the Croisades against the Waldenses, Two hundred thousand Souls in one City were doomed at once to Sword and Fire, though many of them were Papists. The Lay-Commander, a Man of great Quality, was for saving those of his own Communion; but a Monk, commission’d by the Pope, insisted that the Slaughter should be general, and left to God the Care of his own.
What was the Irish Massacre, but an Effort of Irish Papists, to restore Popery? Popery, and the Spirit of Popery, is still the same. King James, in Ireland, enabled the wild bigotted Irish, the old Murderers in the Year 1641, or their murdering Descendants, universally to plunder the Protestants there, to divest them of Land, Dwelling, and daily Bread, and to force Numbers of them to starve, or to beg their Bread in England and Scotland. It was natural to fear that the worst was not past, that the Lives of Protestants would soon follow their Property, and another Carnage would complete the Restoration of Popery. The King, who had Weakness enough to go such dreadful Lengths, had Bigotry enough (the most mischievous Weakness of all!) to have gone Lengths still more dreadful, mad as he was for Popery and lawless Power; since he was persuaded, that they supported each other: The only sound Judgment which he seems ever to have made.
THE young Pretender is not the less an Invader for his coming accompanied with so few Persons. If all that are now about him had come from Abroad with him, he would not have been more an Usurper, or they greater Enemies. The Natives are always the greatest Enemies to their Country, when they are Enemies. The Turks are not fiercer Enemies to Christians, than the Popish Irish and the Popish Highlanders are to English Protestants. If they have, besides, long smarted as Fugitives, Traitors, and banished Outlaws, do they not return with heightened Rage, with Vengeance still more direful and bloody? Or, though they have never been Abroad, nor felt the Punishment and Ignominy of Traitors; yet, if they have nourished continual Rancour against the Government, been continually bent upon its Overthrow, and long sought its Ruin, are they not habitual and ardent Foes to all that love and support it? Can any Croud of Intruders from Abroad be conceived more fierce or implacable? Could a Herd of invading Tartars have proved more eager Thieves, more merciless Butchers and Plunderers, than the wild Clans following the Young Pretender? There is one Good resulting from all this shocking Evil; namely, that it is so shocking, and that by it he gives us a Sample of his Government, and of his Notions of Government. This is so glaring, that they who are not alarmed by it, deserve the sharpest Whips, and the heaviest Chains, without Redemption or End.
Does he talk of a Free Parliament? Mockery and Insult! Never was a more Free Parliament than ours, or so much Property in any Parliament. There are several single Members in either House, able to buy every Follower he has, with all their Chiefs. I could name to him the Lady of one Member, who has more Wealth upon her Toilet than would cloathe his Army, much better than they now are, after all their boundless Plunder.
WhatEnglish County, or even what small Borough, would own him, or his Writ, or chuse a Man fit for his Purpose? He can have no Prospect of any Parliament, but a Parliament of Highland-Robbers, or Irish Rapperees, at best such as they shall choose and admit. What Parliament can he possibly have, but a Parliament like his Army, composed of Indigents, Outlaws, and Savages? What other Parliament would serve his Turn? He cannot but see the Dread and Antipathy of the Nation, flaming fiercely from every Corner of it against him: Yet he has the Modesty and Consistency to talk of a new Parliament. The whole Nation are his Enemies, except some unnatural Desperadoes, in it; nor can he ever hope for any Parliament but a Parliament of Desperadoes, such as the Nation will never choose. Does he mean to have a Free Parliament chosen by Force? This was the Scheme of his pretended Grandfather; who, like a true Tyrant, robbed the Electors of their Charters, and filled them with Creatures of his own: But even his own Creatures, abhorring his Religion and his Tyranny, abandoned the Bigot and the Tyrant. Is better to be hoped from this proscribed Invader?
Parliaments, he knows, sound charmingly to English Ears; and therefore tries with that Sound to charm Englishmen: But, whilst they have the Thing itself, they will not be mocked with the Grimace, and mere Sound.
He comes from Rome, to protect the English Church; from France, to defend English Liberty; a Papist, to protect Protestants. Can there be greater or more insulting Drollery? We enjoy more Liberty than any, than all, the Nations of the Earth ever enjoy’d, now or heretofore. We enjoy Religion in higher Perfection than ever, because every Man enjoys his own Religion. The Church is more secure than ever, because her Sons do not disgrace her by seeking to persecute Dissenters, nor endanger her by the false factious Cry of her Danger. His Majesty protects Property, and defends the Laws; his Subjects love and trust him. Never were there known such ardent, such active Proofs of popular Confidence in a Prince.
Here is a System of national Felicity, a System unparallel’d thoughout the World! A Change from this System implies a Fall to final Misery and Destruction. The Bait of a new Parliament is an old Snare, the Cant of a Pretender. His Religion and Principles (Popish and Arbitrary) are our Dread and Abomination: He is a Stranger in his Person; his Counsellors and Exiles are starving and desperate Outlaws; his Measures are barbarous; his Soldiers are Savages. If he regarded Parliaments, he would have staid till the Parliament had sent for him. He has intruded against the Voice of Parliament, and of the Nation, the loud and repeated Voice of both. He tramples upon Law, he plunders Property, he imprisons and executes Men, he commits universal Spoil, yet talks of Right; he profanes the Name of Authority, and jests with that of Parliament. Did his pretended Grandfather love Parliaments? Would he be advised by Parliaments? Or did he keep his Oaths to Parliaments?
His very Claim, the Claim of Descent, is a Defiance of Parliament, and Law, and Oaths. If the Parliament can exclude one King, and choose another, then is his Claim by Blood a Bawble; nay, ’tis Treason against the Constitution. But, if that Claim prevail, then there is an End of Parliaments, and a Man may destroy a Nation, because he is called, or calls himself, King of it, or because his Ancestors, nay, because his pretended Ancestors, were Kings of it. If no Disqualification can disable him, then a Person unfit for the lowest Office in Life is fit for the highest; one that is dumb may utter Laws; a deaf Man may listen to Counsel, and hear Petitions; a frantic Enthusiast may dictate in Religion; and an Idiot, or, which is worse, a wilful and perjured Tyrant, may govern the State.
Such is his latent Claim; it must be such; and he dare neither give it up, nor explicitly assert it. The Parliament, many, all Parliaments have settled the Succession, as it is now settled; forced to do so by the Perfidy, the Bigotry, the Frenzy and Tyranny of his pretended Grandfather. Yet he mocks those that will be mocked, with an Appeal to Parliament. He does not, he dares not describe what sort of Parliament he means, how chosen, and how principled; neither need he describe it; we can guess his Meaning: He must either have no Parliament, or one worse than none. In the Members, a desperate Fortune, and an implacable Spirit, will be the first Qualification; blind Bigotry, the next; and an abandoned Submission to his Will, the last and greatest, recommended by the other two.
So that, whether he should have such a Parliament, or no Parliament, there will be an End of genuine Parliaments. And then—what follows? Ask him, and he will not tell you: But I will, and all Men may guess; even whatever he pleases, final Bondage, and the Inquisition; Monks and Fraud triumphant, Conscience oppress’d, the Bible banish’d, Popery and Flames in Fashion, and Protestants burned, or their Bodies secured at the Expence of their Faith, and their Souls. Here is a Catalogue of Woes, dreadful ones, yet not all. Behold them, Britons, abhor them, and prevent them.
A PopishGovernment, and a Protestant Parliament, are a Contradiction: They are Fire and Water to each other. A Popish Parliament, in a Protestant Country, is equally impossible. Will he declare himself a Protestant? He dares not. Nor shall we believe him, if he do. The most furious Papists are his keenest Emissaries, the most active to poison and pervert Protestants: The grossest Papists, almost Savages, are armed for him, and for our Destruction.
Are these Tokens of his being a Protestant, or inclined to be? His pretended Grandfather long feigned himself a Protestant: His pretended Grand Uncle carried on the Fraud to his Death. Both of them continually nurtur’d Popery, and betray’d the Protestants; one of them openly attempted their Destruction.
We have already a Protestant King, one of our own seeking and approving, never suspected of Popery, or of any Fraud, or of any Equivocation; his Progeny all Protestants by Principle and Education: Shall we risk a desperate Change, because the young Pretender talks civilly, and makes Promises? Are not all his Actions lawless, most of them barbarous? And is Success likely to mend such a wild lawless Adventurer? He labours to be Master by Violence. What he gains by Violence, he must keep by Violence; and can never be safe, till all Men be undone, till Will determine Law, and the Sword decide Property.
Such is thy threatened Fate, O England! Rouse, and extirpate the Parricides that threaten it. The Spirit of the Nation hath loudly displayed itself, and gloriously from Sea to Sea, with noble Ardor and Disdain, against a wanton Intruder, against Savage Traitors, and a Rebellion unprovoked. What remains but to nourish and pursue that glorious Spirit? The Alternative is short, To save all, or to lose all, To destroy, or be destroyed.
In my next, I shall illustrate and confirm all that I have here advanced, by an Example out of the History of England.
IN the following Extracts from the Reign, or rather the Usurpation and Tyranny of William the Norman, we have a Specimen of what may as reasonably be dreaded from the Pretender (either old or young) who like the other Invader, claims an airy fictitious Right, and would assert it by Force, against Law and Religion; and, to enjoy it, would make three Kingdoms perjur’d Slaves or Victims.
WILLIAM the Norman, improperly call’d Conqueror, invaded England at the Head of Forces mix’d and collected from many Countries, most of them needy Adventurers, allured by Promises of Plunder and Settlements in this Kingdom, which, when subdued, was to be turned into Spoil, and parted amongst the Spoilers, with proper Preference and Allotment to the principal Spoiler. It was an Attempt as desperate as wicked; and they might all have probably perished in it, though they were victorious at first, had not the Clergy deserted the Common Cause, and broken their Engagement to the Nobility and the Londoners, purely to make early Court to the Usurper, and to gain proper Advantages to themselves, whatever became of the rest. The Case, I bless God, is different now, and we have a different Clergy, who being convinced, that they have a Common Interest with the Laity in the Cause of Liberty, join cordially with them, and have borne an illustrious Testimony against unnatural Rebels and barbarous Usurpation.
Yet, with all the Advantage of this fatal Defection, he could never have succeeded, had he not submitted to Conditions. He found himself encompassed with so many Distresses, and still threatened with so many more, that, to prevent Famine, and to divert the continual Demands of his Followers, he agreed to Terms, the more readily, as he intended to keep none. He swore to the English, upon receiving the Crown from them, to preserve all their Laws and Liberties. He added many magnificent Promises, which, with his fair Behaviour, disposed them frankly to trust him.
His Deceit lasted not long, but gave way to his innate Appetite for Power, and to his devouring Avarice. He had another constant Stimulation to rob and oppress, from the restless Discontents and Importunities of his Comrades in the Usurpation, calling upon him for Donatives and Gratifications, boldly pleading their many Wants and many Services, together with his Promises and Treaty with them. To answer all their Demands, and all his own, he had no other Resource but to rob the English, and, by perjuring himself to them, be able to keep his Faith with his Brother Robbers; besides, he took Tyranny to be his best Policy, to disable the Oppressed from avenging their Oppression.
This is the eternal Oversight and false Craft of Tyrants; as if a People wealthy and well protected (Blessings that naturally dispose them to be content) were more to be seared by their Protector, than a People plundered and desperate. The Dread of lawless Power may reduce the Bodies of Men, perhaps their Lips, to acquiesce; but their Spirits will remain the more ulcerated and implacable.
It is plain, that William the Norman came into England a determined Enemy to the English. He was in his own Nature a Tyrant, as almost all that aim at Conquest are, and engaged by Compact to exercise endless Tyranny: Yet he swore and promised, and made fair Professions; talked of his pretended Title, and Kindred to the Throne, and referred all his Pretensions to the Decision of the English, in other Words, to a Free Parliament, who to be sure must act from pure Conviction with Norman Swords at their Throats.
He was obliged to impoverish the whole Nation to gratify those, who, upon that Condition only, joined with him in invading the Nation. His Course of Reigning was therefore naturally a Course of Plunder, and of Cruelty to such as dared to complain of being plundered: Complaint was a Proof of Disaffection, and the Complainers were hanged as Traitors. The first Tax that he raised was oppressive and arbitrary, and levied with all the Excesses of Rigour; the whole contrary to his Oath. The Motives for it were equally odious, as it was for Money to pay his Confederate Spoilers; a doleful Reason to the poor Natives: Yet all this was not the worst: He had such Contempt for his Honour and his Oath, as well as for his Subjects, that not a Farthing of this terrible Tax was paid to the Normans, though for them only he avowed to have raised it. He kept the whole to himself, as a Fund against the miserable People from whom he had squeez’d it; miserable indeed, thus mocked and drained, yet liable to be again equally drained, upon the same Pretence.
Hitherto he had robbed them but in Part: He next proceeds to strip them to the Skin, upon a Charge against them, founded upon downright Impudence, namely, their Adherence to their late lawful King, Harold the Second, when they had no other to adhere to. Had that brave Prince been alive, the English Throne would not have been defiled by the rough William, who had no Peace whilst the English had any Land: No Argument will do against a naked Sword. He seized a great Number of Estates, with as little Ceremony as Mercy.
When by this, and every furious Oppressions he had made the miserable Nation stark-mad, his next Step was to punish them for being so. He, therefore, besides infinite Vengeance, corporal and capital, at once seized into his own Hands all Baronies, and all Fiefs of the Crown, whatsoever. Thus he reduced all the Nobility and Landholders in England to Nakedness and want of Bread. Their Misery, which seem’d complete, bad yet a heavy Aggravation, and they had another shocking Scene to behold: Their Estates were granted to the Favourites and Champions of the Usurper, desperate Adventurers, and the needy Hunters or Fortune.
TheseUpstarts and Spoilers were incredibly exalted. Some of them rioted in the Revenues of whole Counties; many of them counted their Manors by Hundreds. Others were made Lords of Cities, others Proprietors of great Towns; the rest commanded strong Forts and Castles, now purposely built to insure the everlasting Bondage of the wretched English. All these lofty Upstarts had it now in their Option, to starve, or to seed, the genuine Lords and Owners; I mean, such of them as the cruel Mercy of the Invader had left to live bereft of Dignity and Bread.
These new Lords, governed by the Maxims and Spirit of their Master, admitting none to hold under them but their own Adherents, England was in a direct Way to lose its Name, which was absurdly derived from any Number of Slaves and Beggars.
THIS wonderful Revolution of Ranks and Property, so universal and so sudden, as hardly to be matched in any Country, under any Tyrant, upon any Provocation, contracted fresh Guilt and Horror from the insidious Behaviour of the Usurper just before. It was unusually soft, and even fatherly. He seemed to affect Popularity. He had relaxed the severe Exercise of Power, recalled Exiles, released Prisoners; shewn Tenderness to the English, and punished the insolent Normans. He had again talked of calling a Free Parliament, and even assembled from all Parts of the Kingdom, such Men of Note for Quality and Knowlege as were fittest to acquaint him with the national Customs and Laws.
This Change of Behaviour in him cheated the poor English, and recovered the Tyrant their Hearts. In him it was all a faithless Feint, the Effect of his present Dread from an actual Invasion in the North, from Denmark. As soon as he had bribed away that Peril, by Money to the Danish General, he strait returned to his Rage, heightened by this last Danger. Besides all the human Victims to his Fury, he vented it upon Buildings and the Soil. In the best Part of the North, for Sixty Miles together, he spread Desolation so complete, that in all that Tract not a Tree or Shrub was left; not a House or Church, nor Subsistence for Man or Beast. He was indeed least merciful to such as he did not forthwith destroy, but left to the Pangs of Famine, to seek Relief from Carrion, from the most loathsome Insects and Vermin, and from the Flesh of one another, till they at last expired, bereft of that horrible Food. The whole Region was convered into so absolute a Desert, that for many Years together the Marks of the Plough were not seen in it.
WhenWilliam had as it were extinguished the English Nobility and Landholders, he extended his savage Scheme to the English Clergy, despising their Privileges, trampling upon their Charters, and subjecting them to what Burdens he pleased. Where they submitted, he used them like Slaves, and half-starved them; where they asserted their Rights, he treated them like Traitors, stripped them of their Freeholds, and put Normaus in their room. Most of the Army too was quartered upon them. He caused all religious Houses to be searched, and seized all the Wealth in them; for That was what he wanted, though he pretended to look for concealed Rebels and Traitors. It proved a lucrative Search to him, as he spared nothing that was valuable, the rich Ornaments of their Saints and Shrines, their massy Plate, nor any of their precious Furniture, however consecrated to holy Purposes.
With all this Outrage upon Clergymen, he had no Aversion to the Clergy. For, like many other cruel Men, he was a great Bigot, full of Reverence, and even of Liberality, to Monks. William hated the English Clergy because they were Englishmen (just as any Popish Tyrant will always hate English Protestants). His Hatred and Mistrust of them was so excessive, that by Juggling with the Pope (the Father and Encourager of all Mischief and Impiety) he procured his Consent to deprive all the obnoxious Dignitaries at a Blow. Some he banished, others he imprisoned, and supplied all the Vacancies with Strangers, Creatures of his own, or of the Pope.
Such was the Return which he made to the English Clergy, for their early Submission to him and their Treachery to their Country. A different Spirit, because a different Religion, actuates our modern Clergy, who oppose the Advances of a Foreign Yoke and Foreign Superstition, with true English Courage and true Protestant Zeal.
His whole Reign was a Series of Robbery and Cruelty. He was so singularly abhorred, that when a whole Army of Conspirators was formed to destroy him, not a single Conspirator was found to inform him of his Danger. He saw it before be heard of it, and had no Resource but to offer them their own Terms, and implicitly submitted to the Meanest. He owned all their Reproaches to be just, condemned himself and all his barbarous, faithless Tyranny, solemnly promised a thorough Reformation, and gave them his Soul for a Pledge. He took an awful Oath, upon the Holy Gospel, and expresly submitted to be damned, if he failed, for the future, to rule according to the known Laws of England.
Thus he stripped them of their Fears, as he did the credulous Fools their Followers of their Weapons; the only avenging Devils that he dreaded. The Leaders broke their Army, against all Sense, and he his Oath, against all Conscience and Shame. Nay, his Oath did but whet his Vengeance. They who had been the Witnesses and Depositaries of his sacramental Engagement, first felt his Perjury and Revenge, and he pursued the Slaughter with profuse Barbarity, which was more bitterly felt by such whom he starved in Dungeons and Exile, than by those whom he only butchered. The Massacre was extensive and unrelenting. This was rash Rage against true Policy. A Prince who acts like a Destroyer, is in perpetual Danger of being destroyed. William had one constant Encouragement to the blackest Perjury and Tyranny, the Pope’s Warrant and Absolution: A Consideration worthy of the Thoughts and Abhorrence of all Englishmen at this Day!
His constant Perfidy, Oppression and Cruelty, begot more Conspiracies, and these fresh Barbarity and Carnage. Suspicion was a Proof of Guilt, and whomsoever he disliked, he suspected; so that having Criminals without Number, he made Victims without Mercy. Hanging was the gentlest Punishment: To be banished and starved was accounted a Favour. Numbers perished in loathsome Dungeons: Many had their Eyes pulled out; many had their Feet and Hands lopped off, and both Sorts were left with the Burden of Life and Carcasses, without Organs to guide and support Life.
After he had long waded in Blood, shed all the best, and thinned the Nation, at least of its English Inhabitants, he set himself to accumulate Money, and spared no Oppression, nor Device to oppress. It was a Course not of Taxing and Collecting, but of Rapine and Grinding. He had got a Kingdom by Robbery and Slaugh ter, and afterwards intensly and eagerly pursued the Trade. He came to the Kingdom by Force and Treachery, and he ruled it as he got it. Neither did the consuming Tyranny cease with him: His Son Rufus was rather worse than he; indeed, a wolfish Tyrant. Several of the same Line were as bad. They claimed the Kingdom as their Property, and a Right to it from Conquest. It had been much the same thing to the Nation, had they claimed it by Divine Right, only the latter must be owned better calculated for Delusion and Tyranny, as it carries a more awful Sound, and derives itself from Heaven. We know what dreadful Conclusions were forged for unlimited Servitude, during the arbitrary Times when it was in Fashion here.
God and his Majesty defend us from such Times, and from all such as would revive them!
P. S.In this Character of William, called the Conqueror, I have taken the Facts and Circumstances as I found them in History; so far am I from inventing either, to serve any Purpose of my own. That he is not generally seen in so black a Light, I conceive to be owing to the favourable Account given of him by Sir William Temple; a Performance unworthy of so able and candid a Writer.
THE following Speech in French is handed about in MS. at Paris, and commended for its Smartness and Eloquence. His Excellency Mynheer Van Hoey has sent a Copy of it to the Hague: An important Piece of Intelligence from such an able Hand! A Friend of mine having transmitted a Transcript of it to me, I think it well worth the Perusal of English Readers. In order to be quite exact in my Translation of it, I have even preserved some Gallicisms, that none of the Pith and Scope of so curious a Piece might be lost.
I HAVE the Honour to wait upon your Majesty from my Royal Master, the Prince Regent, and am fully instructed by him (your Ministers, Sire, have seen my Instructions) to display to your Majesty what a profound and lively Sense he fosters in his princely Heart, of your generous Friendship to himself and his Cause; of your bountiful and seasonable Assistance; and of your Cordiality in continuing to assist him; Assistance, Sire, so signal and successful, as to have raised him from a forsaken Wanderer, to command an Army, to the Possession of almost all one Kingdom, and to the fair Hopes of another.
His R. H. Sire, is so passionately penetrated with a Spirit of Gratitude towards your Majesty, his gracious Benefactor and Founder, that he ardently longs to publish his Gratitude to your Majesty before the Face of the whole World, by returning you your own Gift again, and laying his Crown at your Feet. A Title to it he had before, but, at best, disputed, always ineffectual: Your Majesty, Sire, in giving him Possession, has, as it were, substantially purchased the Title to yourself. His highest Ambition will be, to have the Honour to wear, for your Majesty’s Use, a Crown conferred upon him by your Majesty’s Bounty.
For this pleasing Reason, Sire, he earnestly applies to your Majesty, to facilitate to him the Means of thus signalizing his Thanks to your Majesty. Be pleased, Sire, to enable him to a final Triumph; since he cannot, he will not, triumph finally, but for your Majesty.
He has the Honour, Sire, to offer other Views of Advantage to your Majesty, from such a happy, such a seasonable Revolution in England; as that vain, ill-judging Nation, long infatuated with the deceitful and dangerous Pride of Liberty, and with a damnable Antipathy to the true Apostolic Church, shall then no longer obstruct your Majesty’s paternal Schemes for the Glory of your Crown, and for the just Abasement of such Princes and States, as would, for narrow Interests and presumptuous Ends of their own, dare to dispute your Majesty’s wise Measures for your own Honour and their Humiliation.
His R. H. Sire, incapable of the low Policy of such ungenerous Caution and Neutrality, will ambitiously seek his own Glory in advancing that of your Majesty, in humbling all who are so blind as to refuse to receive Laws from so great a Monarch. In such Assistance given to your Majesty, Sire, for such laudable and pacific Ends, his R. H. besides the Reasonableness of paying a just Debt, will have the Pleasure and Merit of imitating the Examples of his Royal Grandfather, and his Royal Grand Uncle (of pious Memory) in their Behaviour towards your Majesty’s Great Grandfather, Lewis the Great, a glorious Champion against Schismatics and Commonwealths, and against all who stood so obstinately in Defence of their own pretended Rights, as not to submit them to his Godlike Power.
His R. H. Sire, hath planned out Measures for effectually reducing untractable Spirits, when, by your Majesty’s Favour, he is once settled. He likewise hopes and even intreats, your Majesty’s Concurrence in this his noble Design: He the less doubts your Aid, Sire, as it is a Common Cause, almost equally interesting to both your Majesty and himself. He purposes to begin with Persuasions and gentle Methods, and is so moderate as to be content with all his Subjects who will embrace the Apostolic System of the Nonjurors (of whom, Sire, I have the Honour to be one) neither can our Faith or Discipline, though we be Protestants, offend your Majesty, since they so intimately square with those of the Gallican Church, which we have been ambitious to resemble and imitate, in all her essential Tenets and Practices, “Prayers for the Dead; Adoration of the Host; the Invocation of Saints; the Fire of Purgatory; the Power of Priests to open the Gates of Heaven and Hell; the Doctrines of Auricular Confession, Priestly Absolution, Chrism, Penance, Altars, and the Unbloody Sacrifice thereon; but above all, the princely Power, and indelible Character, with their uninterrupted Apostolic Succession, of Bishops and Priests.”
We hold too, Sire, the Divine Hereditary Right and irresistible Authority of Kings. We detest Schismatics, and consider the present Clergy as Intruders, Presbyterians, and Time-servers, ever since the Revolution; and we reclaim the Church Lands from the sacrilegious Usurpers of them.
These Catholic Principles, Sire, will, we hope, warrant us, in the equitable Eyes of your Majesty, for assuming, as we do, the Title of the Catholic Church of Great Britain. These Catholic Principles, Sire, and our steady Loyalty, have so endeared us to his R. H. the P. R. that he professeth to have our Restoration at Heart, as much as we have his. We burn, Sire, with servent Zeal, to see the Churches gloriously filled with a staunch Apostolic Ministry, Confessors, who have a common Claim, common Sufferings, and a common Interest with himself.
He hopes, Sire, that your Majesty will graciously please to behold him, with sympathizing Eyes, in the same tender and just Light as he doth us, engaged, Sire, in a Cause in which your Majesty has an equal Concern with himself; since, as he will rule by you, Sire, he will be ever animated with the same glowing Ambition to rule for you, Sire, according to the illustrious Precedent set him by his last and best Predecessors.
It is thus, Sire, that his R. H. has the pleasing Prospect of lessening, in Part, that immense Heap of Obligations, which have been so long and so plentifully showering upon him and his House from the august House of France, particularly by yourself, Sire, the Representative and living Glory of that Imperial House. As to the literal Method of discharging those Debts, he has the Honour to leave it intirely, Sire, to your Majesty’s Wisdom and Discretion; determined, as he is, when all is paid, still to consider himself your Debtor, and the Debt itself as immortal and irredeemable. For your present Security, Sire, he offers your Majesty his Heart and his Kingdoms, which are indeed already yours; and he graciously consigns to me, Sire, the Glory of making your Majesty that Offer.
It transports my Soul, Sire, and even softens it, as your Majesty may be pleased to perceive by these sincere Tears, to foresee, as I do, with an unchangeable Hope, the blessed Time approaching, when your Majesty shall have given to England a new Face, fixed the true Heir upon the Throne, and Uniformity in the Church; when the Hierarchy shall no longer be invaded and defiled by Schismatics, nor insolent Republicans limit and affront the Crown; when Church and Monarchy shall go Hand in Hand, and give Laws without Controul, except when honoured with your Majesty’s enlightening Commands, or warned by your wise Measures: Both Church and State will be the Work of your own Hands. Condescend, Sire, to enable us to complete your own glorious Work. Be, Sire, be, to our Three Kingdoms what you are so conspicuously to France, Louis the Well-beloved.
Your Majesty’s great Wisdom will acquaint you, Sire, that present Success depends upon present Supplies. The usurped Government in England grows every Day more formidable, especially at Sea, at your Majesty’s grievous Expence, and to our lamentable Misfortune. It wounds us, Sire, it wounds us with Grief, to see Merchants and Republicans so boldly seizing the Ships and Wealth of so great a Monarch. Be speedy, Sire, to avenge yourself and us; shorten their saucy Triumph and immoderate Gains, and give them a rightful Governor; a Governor of your own, who will cure them of their drunken Insolence from Wealth, and of their wild Wantonness from Liberty; teach them, Sire, proper Respect for your Majesty, with due Loyalty and Obedience to his R. H. your Majesty’s grateful Ward and faithful Ally.
It will doubtless touch your Royal Heart, Sire, with the most pleasing Sensations, to heat the agreeable Information which I have the Honour to communicate to your Majesty, that there is an intire and equitable Plan fixed for securing the Royal Throne, as soon as it is recovered. All who served or favoured the Usurpation, are, not only never to be trusted, but to be dispatched and forfeited, like the Regicides, Sire, at the last Restoration. They are, however, to be treated in the mean time with gentle Language, and even to be fed with fair Hopes, since it would be premature and imprudent to terrify them into more desperate Measures of Defence than they are even now taking.
These Forfeitures, Sire, and the Stocks, which have been rather Funds of public Rebellion, than of the public Revenue, will competently exalt and enrich his M———’s Court and Followers. The present Churchmen, who have so long and wilfully lopped themselves off from the ApostolicSuccession, are to be divested of all their usurped Emoluments; their Ministry will be declared Schismatical, and all their Ordinations null. Many of the Church Lands will be resumed, most of them perhaps forfeited, and the rest purchased. Thus, Sire, the Church will be brought to flourish with the Monarchy, and to crush all Sectaries, and all Republicans. For, at present, alas! none but Presbyterians govern the Church; none but Republicans administer the Monarchy.
Permit me, Sire, to acquaint your Majesty with one successful Stroke of our Policy, which hath done us marvellous Service. We have convinced all our Adherents, that the present complying Churchmen, Bishops and Clergy, are Presbyterians; and that Presbyterians are much worse Christians than Papists, a Nick-name which Schismatics give to Catholics. In this Step, Sire, we do but confirm our Esteem and Charity for the Gallican Church, with which we have long studied to unite our own, and even agreed to a Scheme for that Purpose; a Scheme which Mr. Lesly, a celebrated Champion of ours, had the honest Boldness to present to an English Convocation in the Reign of Queen Anne.
We have, Sire, many Writers, and many Books ready written, to prove all our Claims, as soon as we can Master the Kingdom, and the Press; Passive Obedience, and indefeasible Right, shall be again our constant, and our affectionate Themes, loudly and awfully echoed by every Divine from every Pulpit; Doctrines, Sire, ever dear to his R. H.’s best Predecessors, and tenderly nourished by them. We shall produce, Sire, voluminous Histories (purposely composed) to prove the Succession of the Stuarts from the antient Monarchical House of Noah, and that the said Succession was never interrupted, whatever Breaches Time and Violence, Necessity and Accidents, may have made in it. An egregious Performance this, Sire, worthy of the Countenance of all rightful Kings, and of all offended Patriots who oppose Kings whom they cannot approve.
It is the firm Purpose of his R. H. (for to him his Royal Father, your Majesty knows, will resign) it is, Sire, his fixed Resolution, to revive, and even to sharpen the old Laws, and to reign with Vigour, like an absolute Master, at least by the Direction of the greatest of all. For it will be, Sire, his Study and his Pride, always to reign according to your Model, and by your sage Counsel; and to shew himself worthy of such a revered, such a superior Pattern and Director.
Such,Sire, are the Sentiments, Views, Hopes, and Situation of his R. H. the P. R. Heaven and your Majesty have rendered him hitherto victorious. He hopes that the greatest King upon Earth will concur with the King of Heaven, in accomplishing a Work so favoured and forwarded by both.
I shall impatiently wait, Sire, for the Honour of your Majesty’s Commands, and still more impatiently for the Execution of them from your Majesty’s Ministers.
IN the latter End of the Year 1639, in the Irish Parliament, the Irish Popish Members, who were many, were extremely forward to shew themselves well affected and zealous Subjects, and concurred unanimously in a Vote for Four Subsidies to the King. In the Middle of the Year 1641, the Irish rebel against the King, they massacre all his Protestant Subjects, and are led and animated in all their brutal Outrages, by these very Papish Members, lately so complaisant, so loyal, and so zealous for the King, now desying his Authority, overturning the Government, and butchering his only true Subjects.
It is remarkable enough, that so able a Man as the Earl of Strafford (he was then only Lord Wentworth, and Lord Deputy, but was afterwards Earl of Strafford, the Name which he is chiefly known by) then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, had, but the Year before, in all his Dispatches from thence flourished, in high Strains, upon the Loyalty and Affection of the native Irish: He even upbraids the Scots, then forced by Oppression into Arms, with the exemplary and peaceable Behaviour of the Irish.
This Representation that great Man partly meant as a Compliment upon his own Management, and, probably, found it well-pleasing at Court, where Popery was too much in Fashion, and the Irish too much caressed for being Papists, especially by the Queen, who governed the Spirit of the King. He too, tho’ a Protestant, was partial to Popery, as a Religion favourable to high Monarchy, such as, it cannot be denied, he was fond of. Yet the discerning Lord Lieutenant is so candid as to warn the King against employing the Earl of Antrim to quell the Troubles in Scotland, as the King was inclined he should; for this Popish Earl was then in great Favour with the King, and even with Archbishop Laud. “I neither hope much (says the sagacious Wentworth) from his Parts, nor from his Power, nor from his Affections.—As he is a Papist, and Grandson to that famous Rebel, the Earl of Tyrone, he is not to be trusted with any Store of Arms which he is now applying for.”
In another Letter to the King, about raising Forces in Ireland against Scotland, “He beseeches his Majesty, not to grant the Earl of Antrim a Troop (which he would surely be a Suitor for) as a Thing which would prove very unpopular to all the English, from his Religion, his Race, his Unfitness for Trust, his interested Views, his evil and traiterous Designs, &c.” Besides, Lord Strafford, in all his Letters, treats him as a very weak, vain Man.
After all this weighty Warning, the King is still favourable to this Popish Earl, talks of his free and noble Spirit, at that Conjuncture, and recommends him to the Lord Lieutenant, as worthy to be trusted and employed. His Majesty, soon after, in a Letter to Strafford, tells him, “I should be glad you could find some way to furnish the Earl of Antrim with Arms, though he be a Roman Catholic; for he may be of Use to me at this Time, to let loose upon the Earl of Argyle.”
antrim, thus encouraged, applied for Six thousand Arms, and even purposed to put the Forces he raised under the Command of his Cousin O Neal. “I am astonished, says Lord Strafford, with his Lordship’s Purpose, Colonel O Neal, understood to be in his Heart and Affections a Traitor! What a Prospect for all us English here, to see Six thousand Men (Irish Papists) armed with our own Weapons (ourselves by that means turned naked) Men led by Tyrone’s Grandchild, the Son of old Randal Mac Donald, in the same Country, formerly the very Heart and Strength of those mighty, long, lasting Rebellions?”
But though the Lord Lieutenant had excellently exposed the Danger of arming Lord Antrim, the misled King orders him to give the Earl all possible Assistance, and even to give him a Commission under the Great Seal, to levy Forces. An Army of Irish Papists were accordingly raised, and officer’d by a savage List of frightful Names, Macs and O’s, all of rebellious Race; all, two Years after, bloody Butchers in the Irish Rebellion, and, even now, all ready to begin it, with a Commission from his Majesty, turned against himself, as well as against his Subjects. At best the Earl of Antrim did no Service to the King; he had other Aims, though he had not Capacity, nor, just then, an Opportunity, to pursue them. He took the first Opportunity, and most barbarously improved it; yet, after the Restoration, he pleaded King Charles the First’s Commission for all he did, and actually got a Pardon from King Charles the Second, I think, upon that Plea.
One thing is extremely remarkable. It appears to be the Opinion of Lord Strafford, that before the Earl of Argyle declared himself, and took the Covenant, his Country was given away by the King to the Earl of Antrim and others.
If King Charles the First, so true a Protestant, was thus perniciously misled and betrayed by Papists; what Wonder that Charles the Second, a real Papist, the more dangerous and guilty as he was a pretended Protestant, a Prince of such loose Principles, and a Libertine in Life, was as fond of Popery as he was of arbitrary Power, a known Foe to Law and Virtue, and Protestants; a known Dissembler, partial to Papists, their constant Friend and Dupe? He was in all their Measures hearty; though he was too lazy and timid, and too much devoted to Voluptuousness, to risk his Ease and Pleasures, and Crown, by openly declaring for the Pope, and introducing Popish Superstition barefaced, both so odious to the English.
His Brother, whose Zeal, like his Blindness, was extreme, tried the mad Experiment, and madly perished in the Trial. He was baffled and deposed; and surely it was worse than Death, to fall from a Throne, to live upon Alms from the Enemy of the English Name.
His pretended Son is a saturnine Bigot, full of the Dreams of his Divine Right, which implies blind Slavery in his Subjects: He is drunk with fell Vengeance against them for the damnable Crimes of Sacrilege and Rebellion, in renouncing him and his Oracle and Prompter, the Pope. What Hope can be conceiv’d of his Off-spring? Neither he nor they dare, if they would, abjure the Pope or arbitrary Power. Without the Pope they may want Bread, and hereditary Right implies a Right to be arbitrary. The Blood they pretend to is but a discouraging Recommendation, yet they have no other.
It must appear gross Mockery, Mockery even to barbarous Highlanders, to employ such bloody Savages, to rob the Property and to confine and murder the Persons of Men, under the crazy Pretence of restoring Liberty. The great Grievance is, that Liberty is too fix’d and flourishing; that it tramples upon Superstition and Tyranny, and must be pull’d down before these can be set up.
By what Law does the Invader pretend to come in, but that he has Right against Law, and to destroy Law? His Intrusion, by all the Steps of Violence and Blood, infers that no Violence can disqualify him, nor could disqualify his pretended Father; that therefore he hath, and his pretended Father had, a Right to rule by Violence, and that no Man in the Three Nations, nor the Three Nations themselves, have any Right to oppose Violence. Concise Reasoning! “All that is in them, all the Lives, all the Property in them, are mine by Right, and I will take it by Force.”
His Auxiliaries from Abroad are as shocking as his Claims at Home, the Power of France, the Curses and Demands of the Pope. France pants for our Destruction, and shows that the sure Way to destroy us, is to enslave us; to render us forlorn and even double Slaves at once to French and Papal Tyranny; nay, Slaves at second Hand to a King of Straw, a Royal Shadow, set up by Rome and the House of Boarbon. What dare he refuse to his Masters and Creators? His own Bigotry, his Hatred of Protestants, his Dread of Liberty, and the Merit of extirpating Heresy, will all excite him to execute his Deputation with Zeal. Religion, Liberty, Trade, all odious to his Masters and to himself, must fall sudden Sacrifices to their joint Policy and Zeal.
What think you, Englishmen, Protestants, and Freemen, of the shocking Scene? For all this is no more than the necessary Effects and natural Operations of Popery and Tyranny. Gratian, the famous Canonist, the great Oracle of the Vatican, maintains, “That a Christian City (or Community) may be totally and lawfully burned for a few Heretics dwelling in it.” This Decision, so positive and bloody, is but agreeable to the universal Spirit and Practice of Popery. Nor can there be such a thorough renouncing of Christ by the strongest Words of Apostasy, as the Butchering of Men and Christians in his Name, and blasphemously urging his Authority.
If the Heresy of a few draws down and warrants this fiery Doom upon a Community, What hath a whole Nation of Heretics to expect? What indeed, but incessant Fires, and Furnaces seven Times heated?
Take Warning, O Britons! when your Government is gone, your Liberty is gone, and your Religion must follow. Foreign Politics, and indefeasible Right, will, must, soon swallow your dear Liberty, and all your Fortunes: Papal Zeal, for ever burning and bloody, must, will, furiously extinguish your Religion, and burn your Persons and Bibles. Remember Queen Mary: Remember the French and Irish Massacres: Remember the Spanish Inquisition, with the unrelenting Racks and Flames there: Remember the swift and inhuman Destruction every-where brought upon Protestants by Popery; and may God give you Understanding in all Things!
BY the Stile of the Pretender’s Declaration he seems to rely, for his principal Support, upon the Stupidity and Infatuation of the Nation. He says, “his only Intention is, to reinstate his Subjects in the full Enjoyment of their Religion, Laws and Liberties.” When we are in the most copious Possession of all these Blessings, even to Profusion and Satiety, beyond all the Nations of the Earth, he comes from Rome, where Religion is founded in Fraud, Rapine and Cruelty, to reinstate us Protestants in the full Enjoyment of our Religion, which is accursed by Rome, and we are damned by Rome for holding it.
Just so Queen Mary reinstated her Subjects in the full Enjoyment of their Religion, by setting up the Papists to burn the Protestants, and pursued this her motherly Goodness and Protection of them in all their Rights, to the End of her detestable Life. She promised as fair as he does, promised the very same Things, and prosessed the same public Spirit.
What Reason can we have to believe that he will not follow her catholic Example, educated, as he is, in the same catholic Principles, which eternally infer the same catholic Spirit? Before we can take his Word, he must shew us, what he never can shew, that ever a Popish Prince kept his Engagements to Protestant Subjects, or that the Genius of Popery, and the Maxims of the Pope, will suffer him to keep them. Did his pretended Father keep them? He does not pretend to say that he did; he cannot pretend to say it: He knows that he did not; yet does not condemn, not even censure him, for not doing it, nor for breaking all his solemn Oaths, and invading all our Rights.
What therefore does he mean by his Intention “to reinstate his Subjects in the Enjoymen: of all their Rights?” I doubt he hath a double Meaning; first to mislead, if he can, such as already enjoy all their Rights; when at the same Time he intends, as his Education and Religion direct him, to spoil them of all. He would draw them the while to think that they are wrong’d of their Right, and he comes to restore them. Thus he gives weak Minds Hopes, in order to bring them to give him Admittance; and then, when they have made him Master, he will teach them what their Rights are; namely, to be redeemed from Heresy, and to be forced, for their Good, into the Bosom of the Catholic Church; to be ruled by an hereditary, indefeasible Sovereign, who will recal them from the Guilt of Rebellion, and rule them by the salutary Laws of absolute Monarchy. Liberty, as it is now understood and practised, can be none of their Rights, as by it his Father was dethroned, and himself stands excluded.
He therefore cannot mean English Protestant Liberty: If he did, his Declaration would be ridiculous; for what People upon Earth have so much Liberty as we? His present Attempt would, for the same Reason, be a Contradiction; since, whilst we enjoy our present Liberty, he can never reign. As little can be mean the present Protestant Religion, which excluded his Father for ever, and him from ever succeeding his Father.
This Language and these Promises are therefore mere Mockery to all Men of Sense, and Sugar-Plums to Children and Fools. It is equally absurd and deceitful to call us his Subjects: He is an Exile by Law, and can have no Subjects. We are not, we scorn to be his Subjects. By calling us his Subjects he disowns the Law; yet, mocking Sovereignty, and deriding us, he offers us a gracious Impossibility, of reinstating us in what we never wanted; what we enjoy above all Men, our Religion, Laws and Liberties.
Is not this pleasant? His Father ran Headlong to destroy all these, the Moment after he had sworn to preserve them all: King William restored them: King George has enlarged them; and steadily preserves them. In what Sense are they to be reinstated, but by being re-destroyed? As he is the visionary Representative of all his Subjects, that is, of all us, who are not his Subjects, by reinstating himself he concludes that we shall all be reinstated,—for we are all his.
Neither are such extravagant Doctrines and Demands unlike those preach’d up by the Court Sycophants in his Father’s Time, and too long before. It would be endless to cite Quotations and Sermons, and the Abuses then put upon God’s Word, on this Subject, by Men profanely calling themselves Religious, and prostituteing the Name of Protestants to Popish Purposes. One Illustration shall suffice here out of Thousands. Doctor Ball, Master of the Temple, taking for his Text the Words of our blessed Saviour, “Render unto Cæsar the Things that are Cæsar’s,” desired his Audience to observe, that the Words were Renderunto Cæsar, not Giveunto Cæsar; for that all was Cæsar’sbefore. The courtly Doctor goes on to shew all Men, that no Man had a Right to any Thing; that whatever Men had was Cæsar’s, and Cæsar ad a Right to all Things.
Ineed hardly add, that by Cæsar the Doctor meant King James, or King Charles (I forget which) Princes not very Cæsarean, but greedy of all the Rights which Doctor Ball conferred upon Cæsar; nor had he any other Reason for so conferring them. Had it been necessary to have derived these Princes from the Blood of Cæsar, ’tis not improbable that the courteous Divine would have invented a lineal Descent from him, found a Text for it, and branded as Atheists all who disputed it.
I cannot but here remark, with Concern, that the Divines of those Days, even some able Divines, whilst they contended against the Frauds and Horrors of Popery with irresistible Force and Success, yet with strange Inconsistency, and strange Zeal, maintained the wild Tenets of indefeasible Right, and blind Bondage to the Will of a Tyrant; even of a Popish Tyrant. It is one of the many and mighty Blessings attending the Revolution and Protestant Succession, that our Divines breathe a different Spirit, and contend, like good Englishmen, for Civil Liberty; and, like good Christians, for Liberty of Conscience,——Doctrines odious and decried in former Reigns.
The Pretender therefore, by Religion, Laws and Liberties, means such as his pretended Father, King James, pleased to allow his Subjects; for he strove to extinguish all the Laws of Religion and Liberty, which they claimed to themselves. By these Laws and Liberties, therefore, he cannot intend, and therefore we cannot understand him to intend, Ours. His Words are manifest Cant, the Cant of all Invaders. Who, that invades a Country, would not flatter it to obtain it? There is not a Tyrant in Europe but pretends to allow his Slaves great Rights and Privileges, and professes how tenderly he will maintain them in such. Old Louis, in every Step he took, and in every Edict he published, purposely to destroy the Edict of Nantz (and he was continually, by all Steps and Edicts, pushing that persidious Design) was careful constantly to declare, “That he would never violate the Edict of Nantz,” which he still faithlesly stiled the perpetual, the irrevocable Edict.
The only literal Meaning which the Pretender’s Words will bear, is a Meaning which he will not publicly own, nor like to have it discovered. “To reinstate all his Subjects in the Enjoyment of their Religion, Laws and Liberties,” is a very proper Declaration and Encouragement to most of those who own him for their Sovereign; to all bigotted Papists and hotheaded Nonjurors; to desperate Out-laws, starving Exiles, savage Highlanders, and Irish Rapparees; to all who claim Estates, forfeited by their own, or their Father’s Treason; and to all Traitors who gasp for the Estates and Properties of all real and true Subjects, who incur the Treason of opposing them.
To all that hungry Host such a Promise is a delicious Bait; a Redemption from Misery; a Call to Happiness; an Invitation to take Possession of the promised Land, with all its Wealth, and Milk and Honey. But it is a terrible Denunciation of Woe to us, the present Possessors, to be stripped and extirpated, destroyed or expelled, like the accursed Philistines: For, as God gave Canaan to the Jews, the Pope can give England to the Catholics; just as he did Half the Globe to the Spaniards, who have rendered it, by every Effort of savage Cruelty and devouring Tyranny, almost as waste as when God first created it.
By the same Rule of just Construction we find what he means by removing the Encroachments made upon aFreePeople. These Encroachments are the Revolution, the Protestant Succession, the Disestablishment of Popery, the Restraints upon Papists, the Settlement of Heresy, the Exclusion of Catholic Princes, and our Resistance of Catholic Tyranny.
These are Encroachments and Grievances with a Witness; terrible Grievances to the Pope; terrible Encroachments upon the Pope’s Pupil. Can he come, encouraged by the Pope, to mend the Condition of Protestants? For, by the Pope’s Encouragement he comes, armed with the Pope’s Blessing upon his Popish Endeavours, and with the Pope’s Curse against Protestants. Can he come by the Aid of France and Spain, to increase the Happiness and Strength, and to improve the Liberties of Englishmen? For, by the Aid of these Catholic Powers, he comes armed against England.
His Promises therefore, in any other Stile, are Derision———His Argument from Success, is a most rash and profane Argument, most used to wicked Purposes, and to colour wicked Courses: The blackest Criminals have at all Times urged it, as often as they have been successful. By the same Argument, Providence hath been much longer against him and his Family than for them: They have been Fifty-seven Years in Exile, and he hath had a Mock-Reign of a few Months over Out-laws in Arms. We, who oppose him, can more justly urge his own best Argument against him; we act under the Gospel and the Law, in Conformity to both, and have the best Claim to Favour from Providence. We therefore faithfully trust to Providence, and own ourselves indebted to it for the Revolution and Protestant Succession, as we hope soon to be for his utter Defeat and final Expulsion. Why such a Defeat hath not happened sooner, all Men lament, and most Men foresaw.
If he reason consistently, he must confess, that Providence hath forsaken him, and forced him to fly from the same antient Capital. How he got thither we all know, and he ought with Compunction to recollect. It was by the Treachery of Parricides in Authority, Men always gently used, faithfully protected, and even favoured by the Government.
He made War upon his Majesty, and his Majesty’s best Subjects, by the Aid of the worst. He did it by Surprize, at the Head of Barbarians and Rebels unprovoked, all of them mercifully used; many of them pardoned for former Treasons; many of them trusted; some of them preferred by his Majesty, ungratefully and unnaturally turning his own Arms against him; unfurnished with any Plea from Oppression, any Persecution for Conscience, any Encroachment upon the Laws, any Alarm from Arbitrary Power; under the most legal, the gentlest Administration; in full Possession of Liberty, surfeited with it, unworthy of it, and wantoning in it.
Such is the mad, the unhallowed Spirit and Character of this Rebellion, and such Glory does it reflect upon the Revolution, which was only an Effort and Scheme of Self-Defence, or rather, of Self-Preservation, against a crazy Tyrant’s defying Oaths, rending Piecemeal the Laws of God and Man, and making War upon Law and Conscience, and human Society.
Equally unfortunate is he in his Attack upon the Government, from the Faults found with it. The mildest Government is always the most boldly blamed; Fulness of Liberty is constantly exposed to the Abuse of Liberty; like Health and Wealth, and all other worldly Blessings: Ambition and Discontent will readily find Grievances, or as readily make them. Nay, the necessary Defence of Society is a Grievance to those who want to distress Society, or even to alter it for Ends of their own. Places and Employments, which are inseparable from Society, as without them it cannot be governed, are Grievances to such who want them and cannot get them; and the Possession of them is the surest Cure for railing at them. The Abuse of Parliaments comes with an evil and ill-judged Grace from his Pen, and is a preposterous Grievance out of his Mouth. King James hectored and defied Parliaments, would have extinguished Parliaments, and set up his weak Will, that is, Popery and Tyranny, in the Room of Law, of Gospel, and of Parliaments. The Excellency of our Laws is a Proof of the Excellency of our Parliaments, and a glorious Defence of them; neither can they have higher Praise, than that the Pretender and other Papists dislike them.
PENAL Laws are the stale Common-Place of all disaffected Men, and the eternal Subject of their Invectives, because they set Bounds to their Fury. It is natural fot Rebels to rail at the Laws that hamper and hang them. I wonder that the Pretender’s Manifesto should venture to mention Penal Laws, when before the Revolution almost every Penal Law was wrested into a Capital Law. Even the Defence of Law was made Capital; and so worthy an Englishman, and so great a Man as Algernoon Sidney, was arraigned for Libelling; for, so that excellent Book of his in Defence of Liberty against Tyranny, since printed and read with Applause, was then called; and that true Patriot was executed for publishing it, though it never went out of his Closet, nor was proved to be his Hand-writing. Harmless Words and Conversation became the Objects of Penal Laws, which were virulently stretched to make public Martyrs. I doubt it is the greatest Misfortune of this Government, that Penal Laws have been so little exerted; we see the Numbers and Boldness of Papists: Pray God we may not feel it.
He talks idly and loosely about former Miscarriages under King James, and the Outcries against them. He calls Outrages and Tyranny Miscarriages; the Invasion and Suspension of the Laws; the High Commission, an Inquisition set up to destroy this Protestant Church; the exacting of Money from the Subjects, without Law, and against Law; the Imprisonment of the Bishops of the Church, a Third of the Bench at once, for their modest Petition to be relieved from crying Oppression; an Army maintained against Parliament and People; many of the Officers Papists, commissioned against Law; many of them Irish Papists, the Butchers of Protestants in 41! or sprung from such Butchers, and still raging with the same Spirit of Butchery; Cities and Boroughs robbed of their Charters, their dear Birthright! Parliaments extinguished; Protestants displaced and oppressed; some burned, many banished; Popish Priests governing public Councils; Popery itself advancing with dreadful Strides, already possess’d of the Throne, and just invading the Church; barefaced Tyranny set up; Jefferies, and the other Instruments of Tyranny, wantoning in Oppression, sporting with the Lives and Fortunes of Men, and wading in Blood: All these frightful and consuming Woes; all this Train of Horrors, he calls Miscarriages; neither does he call them by this gentle Name explicitly, but only for Argument-sake, supposes them, and boldly adds, that “They have been more than atoned for by an Exile of his Family during Fifty-seven Years.”
This may pass for Reasoning amongst Banditti; Ruffians, desperate Partizans, and the Enthusiasts of Party; amongst savage Papists, attending him from Ignorance, Bogs and Mountains; but it is an Insult upon Common Sense; the more so, because he does not once blame King James for having committed such a Group of Tyrannical Excesses: So far is he from declaring that he is sorry for them, ashamed of them, and that they shall never be repeated; though had he so declared, we should not have so believed: His Religion permits him to promise fair, but damns him if he keeps his Promises.
By this odd Language, and as odd Silence, we may clearly see what he intends, and what we may certainly expect, even to see all reversed that was done at and since the Revolution, and all revived that was done before. What that was I have just shewed, and could still shew more tragically, had I Time to retail here all the Doings of James II. whose whole History is but one continued Strain of Perfidy Perjury, Bigotry and Tyranny; a little Heart full of great Ambition; a weak Head; and neither Head nor Heart in his own keeping.
It seems we have had an unlawful Government ever since the Revolution. Unhappily for him, this his Complaint hurts him bitterly. It is certain, that we have enjoy’d more Felicity and Liberty, since the Revolution, than this Nation ever knew since it was a Nation. It is certain, that Tyranny was never carried to such a Height as before the Revolution under his pretended Father.
Here is a Choice offered us, to continue what we are, Happy and Free; or, to relapse into the Servitude and Yoke put upon the Necks of our Forefathers by his Father. We have a hopeful Specimen, from his Son’s Behaviour in Scotland, what we may assuredly hope for in England. There he rules by wanton Will, by Sword and Target, chiefly by the Aid and Counsels of Mountaineers, who neither obey Law, nor can read it. These are his Measures of Government, for which he has full Powers from his Father at Rome. Whilst he is openly trampling upon all Laws, and all that Free Parliaments have done, and is acting what every Parliament must abhor, he mocks us with an Appeal to a Free Parliament: So acted and so talked King James, but would never stand the Trial. His whole Trust was in an Irish Army, as that of his Son is in one like it.
The Argument from Providence, taken from his Success, is equally ridiculous. Hath Providence led him to Victory, and the antient Capital of Scotland? Then Providence justifies lawless Invasion and Outrages, and the Violence of the Sword against the sacred Sanction of Laws.
With the same Inconsistency and Impotence, he talks of the miserable Situation of the Kingdom at Home and Abroad. Who hath contributed so highly as himself to make it miserable? Before he embroiled us, we rioted in Ease and Plenty; this gauled his great Patron, who therefore sent him to reduce Free Britons to the Condition of his own Subjects, who are hungry Slaves; nor is there so sure a Way to exalt France, as to sink and inslave Britain. Without this Design we should not have had this Visit. It is the Interest of France, and therefore the Business of France, to undo us. This is the Use she means to make of the Pretender; it is the Use which she made of King Charles and King James; who, from powerful Independent Sovereigns, demeaned themselves to be the Deputies and Co-adjutors of the French King, to enthral Europe; a Task never to be effected till they had enthralled their People. They became the Instruments and Confederates of France against their own Subjects. Thence arises the Zeal of France to establish, or, if you will, to reinstate the Pretender, as of a Race propitious to France: Thence her Hatred to King William, to King George, and to Liberty; and thence her Partiality and Succours to the Pretender. If France apprehended any Good from England, France, far from helping him, would help England against him.
This is, at present, the Persuasion of every true Englishman, and justly fills them All with their present universal hostile Hatred to France; and to the Pretender, as the Implement of France. The same Persuasion endears to them, with seasonable and unexampled Affection, their own excellent and matchless Constitution, and their own brave and excellent King George: God bless and prosper him, and blast the Devices of his Enemies!
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?
A french Invasion implies a French Conquest; Conquest implies Servitude. He must be fit for Bedlam who dreams that France can mean any thing but our Desolation and Ruin by endeavouring to force a King upon us, or that they even mean that he shall be King, whatever Mock-Royalty they nominally give him. It is their own Interest and Dominion only that they seek, to master and crush us for beating and disappointing them: They know that they can never flourish and domineer till they have impoverished and oppressed us: And none but an absolute Creature of theirs, one pliable into every Form and Impression, obsequious to their Dictates, and supple to their Will, can serve them by domineering over Us.
If they found such Complaisance from King Charles II. without any Claim to the Merit of restoring him: If that Prince shewed so little Gratitude to the English Nation, for their Zeal and Generosity in recalling him, as to sacrifice, as he did during his whole Reign, so loyal a People to the unjust Views and pernicious Ambition of France, and but seemed a Protestant the better to betray his Protestant Subjects. If King James II. blindly and ungratefully followed the same Course, and whilst he had the aukward Ambition of aiming at absolute Power here, yet was meanly subservient to the Dictates and Grandeur of France, still more meanly owning the Sovereignty of the Pope; though neither France nor the Pope had any Share in giving him his Crown. If both these Princes, only for the sake of makeing their weak and depraved Will a Law to their good Protestant Subjects, truckled to the Will and Craft of France and Rome, what is to be expected from one who has no Support but theirs, no Principles but those of Popery and Tyranny; or, if he had other and better Principles, dares not maintain them, though he may be allowed to profess them, and practise Guile the better to serve the Purposes of these his Protectors, and his own Purposes?
A Ruler imposed upon a Country may claim Right, but will rule by Force where his Right is not owned. They who help him to rule will rule for him, and be his Masters, though he bear the Name. Neither he nor they will trust a People whom they have once forced. He will not be suffered to trust them if he would. For then he ceases to be independent of those who imposed him. Whoever call in Question his Right, will pay for their Sauciness with their Lives. The Laws that oppose it will be Treason: The Acts of Violence that support it will be called Laws, and the Sword will direct, as well as execute, the Process. Hungry Harpies will be craving after Prey; Vengeance will be hunting for Victims; to gorge both Sorts, the Rich and the Guiltless must perish. Whereever there is Property there will be Guilt: All Men will be exposed to suffer, the Best most: Suffering will be followed with Complaint, Complaints with Punishment. Wise Men will excite Jealousy: Great Men will be the Objects of Fear: And as Discontents will be constantly and plentifully furnished; fresh Terrors to extinguish them will continually be increased, and continually be renewing such Diseontents.
Here is a dreadful Series and Intercourse of Enmity, where one Side only is armed, and void of Mercy; as the other is of Help and Hope. Title, Quality, Fortune, will be obnoxious and marked; every Virtue will become a Snare, and whatever furnished out the Ease and Ornament of Life, will become a Call for taking Life away. The Industry of Years, the Acquisition of Ages, the Fruits of a Thousand Cares, will be swept away in a Moment, all to reward the guilty Authors of such horrible Iniquity and Combustion. Such will be the Penalty exacted for the Guilt of Fortune and Merit; such the Price imposed upon public Ruin; a Price always paying, but never finally paid till All is paid. The Course of Law and even of Nature will be inverted, Nobility demeaned; Meanness exalted; Worth punished; Guilt rewarded: Whatever was once Law will be Treason; whatever was once Treason will be Law.
Thus tragical and perishing must be the State of England. What must be the State Abroad, but that all Europe must follow the general Servitude begun here; and thus deprived of its chief Protection and Resource, sorrowfully bear the Yoke of a restless Nation, eager to put Chains on all others, though they bear the heaviest themselves?
They had never accomplished the grand Design, without the Help of the two Royal Brothers, the English Monarchs above-mentioned. For, though France made them not, she moulded and managed them. Far from attending to the Call of National Interest and Honour, and asserting the Glory of the English Diadem, by preserving the Balance, and checking the Encroachments of France; the Two Royal Brothers encouraged all her Encroachments upon all her Neighbours, upon the Empire, upon Spain, and upon the Dutch, our more intimate Neighbours and Fellow-Protestants; nay, assisted to exterminate the whole Dutch Nation, in order to make England a more contiguous Member of the French Monarchy, to which the English Monarchs were become mean Pensioners and Auxiliaries, with the preposterous Pride of aiming themselves at absolute Power over free Subjects, who were too proud to be Slaves, especially second-hand Slaves to France.
The Monarchs of England descended to be the unnatural Instrument of exalting France, and were the Authors of all the Expence, answerable for all the dreadful Wars in Europe ever since. A Frown from a King of Great Britain would have made the Grand Monarch a very harmless Neighbour. Would Edward III. would Henry V. nay, would Oliver Cromwell, in King Charles’s Place, have suffered him to spoil his weakest Neighbours, or once to have displayed the Flower-de-luce upon the Rhine or Moselle? Oliver kept him in constant Awe; though, for his own Ends, such was the unhappy Situation of an Usurper, he allowed him too much Line. The Two Brothers lacquied to him as their Superior, took his Hire, and, as it were, wore his Livery, and encouraged him in all his perfidious, in all his barbarous Invasions.
It was this, this infamous Acquiescence and Venality from hence, that made him the Terror, the Oppressor of Europe, and raised his Vanity, and his Power with it, so high, that it required a William III. and a Duke of Marlborough to tame him and take him down. That these two great Genius’s in State and War did not thoroughly humble him, was owing to the devilish Spirit of Party, which generally destroys a Country by a Pretence of saving it.
FRANCE knows that in order to enslave Europe she must begin with Great Britain. Great Britain ought to know, all wise Men in it do know, that England has nothing but Chains and Misery to hope from the Policy and Friendship of France. This is a dreadful Prospect to Britons and Protestants, and the only one, if she succeed. Ought it not to be the first and last Resolution of Englishmen and Protestants, that she shall not? What Indignation must they not naturally feel against the perfidious, the insolent, and sanguinary Efforts of France, and against all who impiously take Part with France? Her Partizans here, if there be any such, must be the most unnatural of all Parricides: A glorious Spirit appears amongst all Classes of Men, in spite of all the late Pains taken, all the traiterous Misrepresentations used to prevent it, to damp it, and to turn the Resentment of Englishmen upon the Guardians of England, without sparing the Highest.
The last Revolution was a manifest Deliverance from Popery and Tyranny. This would be as manifest a Delivery into both. King James deposed himself: He would abolish Parliaments, he would establish Popery; his Will was to be a Law to his Subjects; their Consciences must submit to his Bigotry. These were Grievances indeed, not made, nor to be aggravated, but felt. No wonder he at once lost Lords and Commons, Army, Clergy and People. He had incited and even warranted them to desert him, and effectually warned them never to trust him more, whom no Oaths nor Laws could bind, and who had set up Superstition against the Gospel, Jesuitism against the English Hierarchy, Acts of State framed by his Popish Wife, and his Popish Priests (all carefully tutor’d by France) against Acts of Parliament.
What are the Grievances at present? War and Taxes, and Foreign Subsidies: Heavy Evils, without doubt. But, from what Causes, and when did they begin? Were they not all derived from the same Root, from the same Quarter and devilish Policy, from whence we are just now threatened with Relief? They all came from France, and from the pernicious Subserviency of our former Princes to France. All that was sacred and valuable to England was then sacrificed to France; English Honour, the Religion, the Trade of England, with a Balance of Millions yearly in favour of France. These are, most probably, the intended Blessings under which we are to be reinstated by the Revolution now threatened.
Religion too often follows Power, or is changed and subverted by Power. France, by extending her Sway, will extend Popery; and if by planting a French Deputy upon the English Throne, she can master this great Source and Asylum of Protestantism, Religion will too naturally end, where there is an End of Liberty.
What can be a more alarming Call, what a more interesting Quarrel? It is literally pro Aris & Focis, for whatever concerns God or Conscience, whatever concerns our Liberties and Fortunes, to keep them or to lose them; nay, to keep them or lose them for ever, is the Dispute. Our Enemies will be as eager to keep Footing, as to gain it. If present Defence and Spirit be wanting, future Remedies will probably be ineffectual.
What can be a more sensible Insult, or higher Provocation, than that a Nation, whom we have always beaten, and are now beating, should dare to face our Coasts, and audaciously threaten to conquer us, and even to rule us by a Deputy? Indeed, if they carry this Point, they carry all. If they fail in this, they fail in all. The Decision is short and comprehensible on both Sides. If she succeed, we are undone: If she miscarry, she is finally baffled and vanquished.
THE further Enthusiasm departs from Reason, the more secure it is against Reason. Moderate Nonsense, Nonsense that comes near the Reach of Reason, may be cured by Reason; but downright Nonsense and Contradiction is an Overmatch for all the Reason of Mankind, especially when such Nonsense is accounted sacred, and Reason reckoned profane. Popish Craft is aware of all this; it knows where its chief Strength lies, and never cheats by halves. Its Delusion is above all human Comprehension, and scorns Argument as the Work of carnal Reason, perhaps a Temptation from Satan.
By the same Craft and Fanaticism, the Scriptures may be grosly abused by such as think that they believe the Scriptures; Cruelty may be made to pass for Charity; Imposture for Instruction; and the Gospel itself for a Book altogether unintelligible, and even dangerous, without the Explication of the Priest; who therefore carefully keeps it from his poor Dupes, and lets them have neither a New Testament nor a Saviour, but what are of his own making.
Their Tenets, like their Miracles, are foolish enough to raise Laughter, were it not for their Cruelty, which is without Bounds, and, but for the daily Practice of it, would be beyond Belief. Whatever Follies and Extravagancies are found in all other Religions, come far short of those in Popery, all wonderfully improved by all the Visions of dreaming Monks, and by all the adopted Drolleries of Paganism.
But, reserving the Fooleries of Popery for another Paper, I shall observe here the mad Assurance of Papists, in damning at once whole Nations and Empires; indeed all that are not perverted into their own Complication of Frauds, Nonsense, Fanaticism, Contradiction, Hypocrisy, and Cruelty. A Pagan, perverted into Popery, is to be pitied; yet, to make such Proselytes, is the great Boast and Pursuit of their Missionaries, who thence make them Ten times more the Children of——Delusion.
Father Alexander de Rhodes, makes a bold, and, I think, an impious Observation concerning the Chinese, though he makes it from what he thinks a Spirit of Piety. After he has computed the Number of Souls in that immense Empire to be Two hundred and Fifty Millions, he adds, with a Sigh, That at least Five Millions of them are damned every Year. That is, the whole Nation are as surely damned as they die, and as fast as they die. Helas! J’ay souvent fait le Compte, que tous les ans au moins cinque Millions descendent aux Enfers.
Would any rational Man, can any Christian Man, be of the same Religion with this blasphemous Enthusiast, or bear to see such Blasphemy and Enthusiasm propagated in the World? Such a Principle charged upon Christianity would deter all who consult Reason, and honour the Deity, from embracing it. Who, that does either, can believe that all the Souls whom God creates, or hath created, are damned, unless they learn the Popish Creed, which, perhaps, they never heard, or, perhaps, wanted Capacity to understand; or thought themselves not obliged to believe upon the Word of a Missionary? Could it be half so great a Crime to deny the Existence of a Deity, as to conceive the Deity to be such a cruel, such a diabolical Being?
That crazy Father adds, “That yet we remain with our Arms across, whilst Jesus Christ suffers such a mighty Reproach.” A mighty Reproach! Who is it that offers it, except this Father, and such Enthusiasts or Impostors, who turn God into a Tyrant, and Religion into Blasphemy?
FatherDandini breathes the same Antichristian Spirit, which is indeed the Spirit of that Church. He was Missionary and Apostolic Nuncio to the poor Christian Maronites upon Mount Lebanon. He says, that they defer the Baptism of their Children till they are Fifty or Sixty Days old: and then adds these horrible, these Antichristian Words: It thence happens, that they (the poor Infants, guiltless, and incapable of Guilt) die with the Loss of their Souls. Such Madmen and Blasphemers are called Teachers! What Tyrant, what Demon, was ever charged with such transcendent Cruelty, as is here charged upon the Father of Mercies and of Men?
Can Protestants be too often warned against this restless, this bloody Imposture, which abolishes Truth and Reason, and the Mercies of God; an Imposture which professes to banish Scripture, enslave Conscience, and persecute Protestants; to usurp their Wealth, to damn their Souls, and to burn their Bodies and Bibles.
MY Lord, I am sorry, seriously sorry, for the Danger of your Soul, from your Wavering in the Faith.
Father, I doubt I shall increase your Sorrow when I assure you, that I do not waver—I think my Soul safe in my present Faith.
This fatal Change touches my Heart.
I dare say it does—You have lost me, and I have found myself.
My Lord, you have made a sad Change, and you are the chief Loser by it.
One of us is—I have gained my Senses, and you have lost the keeping of them:
That Gain, I fear, will prove your Perdition—Would your Lordship trust to the Guideance of your Senses, rather than to the Guidance of the Church?
You mean to your Guidance; for you Priests call yourselves the CHURCH. Do you, or do any of you, permit your Followers to know any Thing of the Church, or of Religion, but what you tell them?
We tell you what are the Duties of Religion, and teach you how to practise them: Your Senses may deceive you.
Or shew us that you do—An unpardonable Offence and Presumption!
In that very Thing they deceive you, and ruin you, by depriving you of our Guidance.—
And in this very thing you deceive us, by depriving us of the Guidance of our Senses.
Alas! my Lord, they are dangerous Guides? They are Snares, by which Satan leads us into all Error and Peril, with our own Consent and Approbation.
That were dreadful indeed, if it were true!—But, Father, I beg your Pardon, I cannot take your Word; for you are pleading your own Cause. I am maintaining the Use and Clearness of my Senses, in all Duties Moral, Civil, and Religious. My Senses can have no Interest in misleading me; nay, ’tis their Interest to lead me right; for they are part of me, and in acting for me they act for themselves: Neither can they hurt me without hurting themselves.—And if you have any Interest in view, different from that of our Senses, as it is manifest you have; it is likewise manifest, that it cannot be our Interest.
How, my Lord! Are not we your spiritual Guides, engaged in your Interest, your best Interest, the Interest of your Soul?
What! against my Senses?
Yes; I have told your Lordship, that your Senses may prove a Snare, and a false Light.
You have, indeed, often told me so; and I, too long, believed you: But I now plainly perceive that my Senses are my best Preservatives against Snares and false Lights. Suppose my spiritual Director imposes upon me, and carries on Designs against me for his own Advantage (Father, such Things have been!) how am I to detect him, and escape his Frauds? Must I not consult and follow my Senses?
If your Lordship will be making uncharitable Suppositions—
Father, do not force me into a Detail of the Cheats and Combinations, and Usurpations of you Romish Priests—You know I have lately read some of your History.
We are not exempt from human Frailty.
’Tis too soft a Name for such Doings—But, if you are subject to these terrible Frailties (and surely, spiritual Fraud and Villainy are the greatest of all) are you proper Guides to conduct us to Heaven? Or can we be so injurious to God and Religion, as to think you have any Credit there?
My Lord, had not even the blessed Apostles their Infirmities?
Not such as I mentioned—They were the best Teachers, because they were the best of Men. They wrought Miracles publicly, which were therefore never suspected of Forgery—They claimed no Power, but Persuasion. They did not turn the Souls of Men into Commodities of Price, nor Salvation into a Market—They neither sold, nor said, Masses.
Perhaps they might not celebrate public Devotion just in the same Form that we do—But our Forms are still Apostolic, because framed and injoined by the Church—For the Model and Direction of Religion are left by the Apostles to the Church; and therefore whatever the Church does is Apostolic.
However unlike the Apostles it be, it is well for you, that those first and true Followers of Christ are above all Vengeance: And whoever is not, is no Follower of his. What dreadful Examples they might make of you, for your infinite Slander upon them? Did the Apostles convey to you what they had not themselves, nor sought; and what their Master had not, Wealth and worldly Dominion?
My Lord, nothing is perfect at first; no Institution ever was.
How, Father? Could not he, who was perfect, make his own Institution perfect!
It is plain he did not: He left it to his Apostles to improve it, and they to us, their Successors.
Soyou were to complete what they did not, what the Son of God and his chosen Twelve did not?
He left us to explain his Will, and to perform his Ordinances.
As if he could not himself explain what himself revealed and dictated. And as to his Ordinances, as they were the Means of Edification to all, they were left to all alike. The particular Modes of administring them were framed and limited by the Consent of Societies, and the Policy of States.
Can your Lordship possibly think them valid without us?
God forbid that I did not—What a shocking Notion it would convey of the Father of Wisdom, and of Mercies, and of Men, to suppose him to leave the Salvation of Men, whom he has made and redeemed, to the Mercy, and Discretion, and Designs of Monks, passionate and greedy Monks?
What Designs can they have, but to save Men?
Yes; to enslave Men, and to enrich themselves—Have they not, under all the Vows of Poverty, engrossed, and are still engrossing, endless Wealth? Do they not labour to govern the World, which they have renounced? And are these spiritual Men exempt from the Works of the Flesh?
I have owned to your Lordship, that we have human Frailties like other Men.
If you be like other Men, frail and fallible (for the former will for ever imply the latter) how are you better qualified than any others to save all?
Becausewe have a Commission—
From one another, to serve yourselves, by selling the Favours of Heaven: For you do nothing for nothing; and whatever you have, you are still craving for more—Can Men be more abused, or the Almighty more belyed, than to suppose that any Set of Men, especially the most worldly of all Men, the most vain, proud and vindictive, and equally vicious, should be trusted with a Power to save all Men? This would be to make the Almighty their Confederate in a Fraud.
Whatever mean Opinion your Lordship has lately conceived of us, we have his Commission.
Yousay that you have, and never was any Thing more untruly said, even by you. Christ bad the Apostles, “Go and speak to all Nations.” But what are you the better for that? He did not apply himself to you, Father Ambrose, and direct you “to count your Beads, or say Mass, nor order me, Lord—, to pay you for your Pains.”
I hope, my Lord, he hath not left the Christian Flock without Christian Guides.
No, he left them the Bible.
The Bible! Alas, what a Nose of Wax?
You make it so, and pervert it abominably, to warrant all your Impieties, Contradictions, Frands, and Usurpations.
A heavy Charge! What Impieties, my Lord? What Contradictions, Frauds, and Usurpations?
Whatever you assume, without Warrant, is Usurpation. The Scriptures gave you neither Lands, nor Dominions, nor Titles.
Is not the Labourer worthy of his Hire?
No, if he be not hired, and yet would measure his own Wages.—Father, you no longer labour for me, and I shall no longer give you Hire.
Hath not the Protestant Church of England Ministers; and have not these Ministers a stated Livelihood?
Yes, the Law gives it them—The King is, by the Law, supreme Head of the Church; and it is the King that executes the Laws. An ecclesiastical Establishment infers the Necessity of ecclesiastical Revenues.
I believesome of them claim a Right more than merely legal.
I hope but few. They who do so belong to you, rather than to us. If they be in earnest, they are Enthusiasts, and to be pitied: If they be not in earnest, they are Impostors; a worse Character, and undeserving of Pity.
What your Lordship advances is true of Heretics, who can claim no Divine-Mission, and consequently no Divine Succession.
They may claim both as well, and as much as Catholics do. Calling Men Heretics is only calling Names, and shewing Spite or Folly. They are chiefly Madmen or Impostors, who scatter and apply such Names. Perhaps there is not a Man in the World but who is a Heretic to every other Man. Thinking and Imagination have no Standard; they are as various as Taste, Features, and Complexion.
Then you reject the Authority of the Church to settle Faith.
If by the Church you mean the Clergy, I do intirely. With your Church the most profane Extravagancies pass for Faith. What can be more so than the unsizeable Monster of Transubstantiation, which alone contains all Impiety and Imposture, all Assurance and Nonsense?
I shall not enter into any Discussion or Defence of the profound Mystery of Transubstantiation.
I would not have you—It has been often, and lately, well exposed;—but you must not renounce such gainful and flattering Blasphemy, which sets you above God, and makes Men your Slaves, Body and Soul, by frightening them out of their Senses. Men that can make God, may well set up to rule in his stead; may well give away and direct both the upper and nether World, much more this little one that lies between them.
My Lord, this pierces me—
I doubt it does not change you.
My Lord, I own it does not. But surely, if God institutes Priests, he gives them some Power, Power to be useful.
He never gave you any Power; and whereever you have it, you make it only useful to yourselves, and by it destroy Many, and deceive All.—All Men have Power to be useful to one another.
Is your Lordship then against all Priests?
Against all that would enthral and deceive me.
I am glad you allow that some do not.
I mean that our own do not.
My Lord, are they exempt from Error?
No Man is; but if they deceive us, ’tis our own Fault. They are of our own Choice and Establishment. We allow them no Power, but that of Persuasion and the Law of the Land.
Do they not claim the Power of making one another?
we give them that Power, as we suppose them best acquainted with one another.—We even appoint and limit the Manner of applying and exercising it.—
Is there not such a Thing as Absolution amongst you?
Yes, the Priest tells the People, what the Word of God tells both him and them, and what any of us could tell them, if the Law appointed us, “That God pardons and absolves “Sinners who truly repent.” May not any Christian declare as much?
It is a very singular Absolution which Heretics and Laymen can pronounce.
OfHeretics I have spoke already: And as to Laymen, why may they not (if appointed thereunto) read out of a Book, what God has plainly written in his Book, or what any other Book takes out of God’s Book.
Are not the Clergy only so appointed?
TheLaw may appoint any Man;—it even declares what is Scripture; why not declare too, who is to read the Scripture, and to do all the Duties of Religion?
This is discharging all Clergymen at once.
Why so? Whoever does the Offices of Religion, as the Law appoints him, will be a Clergyman in the Eye and Language of the Law. The leaving you, the Romish Clergy, to be Masters in Religion, has made you Masters of Mankind.
So the Law is to take care of your Souls.—
It appoints us Teachers, and leaves us the Bible to teach them and us too. We dread Forcers of Faith, and all who would punish us for not having Theirs.
O my Lord, consider what a Relief Absalution is to a doubting and despairing Soul.
our Absolution is sufficient, and the only one; any other is Imposition and Tyranny. Where God pardons, can you, dare you, condemn? Where God condemns, can you, dare you punish?
We know who are proper Objects of his Mercy, and who of his Wrath.—
What then? Can you obstruct his Wrath or Mercy from reaching such Objects?
We can labour to hasten his Mercy, or to avert his Wrath.
So can I and every Man labour;—but neither you nor I can inform God, or help him by our Instruction.—To the Submissive and Liberal, be they ever such Offenders, your Absolution is ready; and you damn the most Innocent, who refuses to obey and pay. What can be more impudent and profane? There are no such impious Doings amongst Protestants.
My Lord, pray consider——
I do, Father; how tender you are upon this Article?—It is indeed of high Moment to your Craft, to be thought to carry the Fate of human Souls in your own Hands, to damn and save Men, and to manage your Maker;—but, Father, it is dreadful Imposture and Blasphemy; as your Penalties and Severities are dreadful Cruelty.
I do not wonder to find your Lordship, when you had gone so far, going still further, and declaring against Church Discipline too.
Father, if by Church Discipline you mean Punishment for Errors (which are generally involuntary, else Men would not suffer for them) I think it diabolical; and if there be a Hell upon Earth, it is your Inquisition; a lying, bloody, fiery, torturing Tribunal, set up to guard Craft against Conscience, and, under the cheating Name of the Holy Office, fatal to all Truth and Religion.
Perhaps in some Countries it may be carried too far, I wish it were not. There are many Catholie Countries where it never was, nor would be suffered.
True, Father, and you give the Reason—No Thanks to your Religion and your Priest——The true Catholic Spirit is for it every-where. In England its Treachery began to operate, and its Fires to flame, under the Catholic Queen Mary, a Zealot for Popery, and a murdering Demon to her Protestant Subjects. These had set her upon the Throne, and in Requital she burned them. What think you, Father, of her Faith, pledged to Heretics?
They may have forfeited their Right to it——
By being Heretics. A fair Confession! If you had not made it, we know your Meaning. At least I do, who have conversed with you often upon the Subject.
Is the World to be over-run with Heretics, without Restraint or Remedy?
CanFire and Sword remedy or restrain Opinion? Or ought such Remedies ever to be tried? Heretics may be good Subjects to a State, as well as good Christians, and thence merit the Protection of it. Have Catholics always been so?
Yes, to Catholic States.
A good Hint, Father—But often not then. Have not Catholic Priests frequently plagued, sometimes murdered Catholic Princes? And were they not prompted to it by the Heads of the Catholic Church?
Explanations may be offered——
To justify the Church in her greatest Foulness and Enormities. You know she cannot err, and all her Frauds and Massacres are Holy.
My Lord, Times and Circumstances, and the Insolence of Heretics——
Sanctify what never can be defended—The Butchery of Heretics is a just Sacrifice to the offended Catholic Church—What do we deserve, Father, we English Heretics?
I never heard an English Catholic wish you the least Violence; they abhor it.
I know the sensible Lay Catholics do—But what if the Pope should decree our Chastisement (I will not call it by the worst Name) and you Priests, sworn blindly to obey him, and warmed with your own Zeal, should urge the Damnation of disobeying the Pope?
My Lord, I cannot suppose any such Thing.
Father, I will not press you—I know you must either evade the Question, or give an insincere Answer. For the same Reason I shall not perplex you with Questions about the Government, and the present Attempts against it. Only I would beg you constantly to believe, that they will be blasted, and then you will be under no Temptation to promote them.
My Lord, I love Peace, and am in no Plot.
Persist there. Give me leave, however, to tell you what an unfortunate Faith you hold. It flatters you with your own Importance, even to Blasphemy. For, not to meddle with the glaring, bold, and wonderful Lye of Infallibility (an incommunicable Attribute of the Omnipotent and Omnipresent God, never to be found in frail Men) can there be greater Blasphemy than your Doctrine of making your Maker, and that of disposing of Heaven and Hell, and the Souls of Men?
Do not your Clergy assert the real Presence in the Sacrament, after they have blessed the Elements?
They who mean more than the Divine Blessing and Efficacy of that Holy Ordinance upon their Souls, are not Protestants.—Then, Father, your Antichristian Principles of punishing Men for religious Opinions, Principles so destructive of Religion and human Society, make you dreadful, not to say odious, to all Men who follow Reason and the Gospel.
ThePolicy of the Church was devised for the Preservation of the Church; which cannot be done without Power, nor Power be exerted without Penalties.
There is no such Policy in the Gospel, no Church Power, no Civil Penalties.
It was found necessary——
Not by Christ, nor by his Apostles. Was it not Apostasy to relinquish and contradict their Example?
Have not the Protestant Clergy been for wholsome Severities?
Notrue Protestants——Bigots and Apostates, if you please——And such, if there be any such remaining, the civil Power curbs, as it should the Ecclesiastics every where. They are too subject to Zeal without Knowlege. Our present Clergy, especially their Chiefs, are famous for Moderation. This is true Christian Merit. Whatever be the Cause, let them have their due Praise.
MY Lord, Heretics must not pretend to——
As much as you do, and as reasonably to do Mischief.——Suppose they were to retaliate upon you, to entertain no Charity; to keep no Faith towards you, and to return your own wholsome Severities upon you; to set up an Inquisition, to imprison and torture, confiscate and burn Catholics, as Catholics do Protestants; and, in short, none of you were suffered to live unmolested amongst them,——with what Face could you complain?
They themselves own, that Salvation is to be had in our Church; we deny it to them. Is not this a Proof that we are the only Orthodox Church?
It is an evident Proof of the contrary. That Church which wants Charity, wants Christianity. Whoever has most Charity is the best Christian. Men had better be without Religion, than Savages for it. The most barbarous Socts, Turks and Tartars, flatter themselves, and damn all others, in the same Stile. The most flaming Enthusiasts, such as took Madness for Religion, have boldly claimed an exclusive Heaven, and wantonly configned all the rest of the World to Hell.
My Lord, we would punish and suppress all such Enthusiasts.
And do yourselves just what they do. This damning Spirit is a Sign that Religion is perverted into Faction, and that they who possess it would frighten Men, in order to enslave them. It is a studied Fraud, to acquire Dominion and Money, and a plain Renouncing of the Spirit of Christ. I wonder bow a Man, who finds himself possessed with such a Spirit, can have Peace of Mind, or expect Favour from God or Man.—But Enthusiasts can reconcile Contradictions. All Uncharitableness tends to Persecution; and ’tis high Assurance in a Man of a persecuting Spirit, to offer to make Converts. If ever any Man could warrant Persecution, the Persecuter warrants it against himself.
My Lord, I have said nothing to provoke you to all this Bitterness against the Catholic Church; I only alleged, that you Protestants gave it the Preference to your own.
No, we do not: We say that yours is a corrupt, idolatrous, and Antichristian Church; but we are not bold enough to confine the Mercies of God, which are infinite; and therefore allow his infinite Mercies to extend even to uncharitable Papists, who are the more to be pitied for their cruel Want of Charity. So that, in allowing Salvation to be had in your Church, we make a Compliment to our own, by owning, that it abounds in Charity.—Father, I have been the longer upon this Head, because I know it to be your great Bait to catch old Women, Children, and the Rabble. Your Argument is shocking to common Sense. The more I think of you and your Church, the gladder I am to have left you. Where has God said, that he will damn any Man for not going to Mass, or for diffenting from any religious Mode, or any clerical Institution?
My Lord, must not the Church be supported with proper Sanctions and Terrors?
You support yours with dreadful ones indeed; but the Church of Christ abhors all such. If you claim any such, he disclaims you. Dungeons, Flames, and Tortures, are no Legacy from him; nor can there be a stronger Proof that any Church is not from God, than that she exercises any Vengeance and Fury in his Name. There cannot be a higher Insult upon the Name of Christ, nor a greater Affront to the Reason of Men, than the alleging a Warrant from that holy, meek, and humble Name, for any sort of Severity, much more for any Cruelty, or even for any Share of Power or Pride.
What thinks your Lordship of the Jewish Church? Did not the Almighty environ her with Authority and Penalties?
Yes; but the Civil Magistrate had the Application of them; and God always speaks to the Priests by Moses, his Representative. Father, how do you like the Example? Besides, every Ceremony, and the whole Jewish Discipline, were precisely described and limited by God himself, and nothing left to the Direction of the Priests, not even their own Garments, nor the Utensils of Sacrifice, nor the Forms at the Altar. Can you shew any such Authority for your endless Grimaces, or for any of your pious Tricks and Postures? Did the wise God indite your motly Mass? Did the God of Mercy frame your Inquisition, or command you to murder or torture your Fellow-Creatures, for Words and Forms, and Opinions, which are for the most part involuntary, and often thought godly, and therefore indispensable? But pray, Father, why do you urge Judaism? Is it not abolished? And do not you burn Jews?
I ownJudaism to be abolished; but I deny that we burn Jews, or any body else.
How! Are not both Jews and Christians burned in Catholic Countries every Day?
It is done by the Civil Power—we wash our Hands of it;—nay, we bear our strongest Testimony against it, and even beseech the Civil Magistrate, in the Bowels of Jesus Christ, not to hurt Life or Limb of Heretics condemned.
Impudent Mockery of God and Man! If the Magistrate did not burn the Heretic, you would soon burn the Magistrate as a Favourer of Heretics. Such an Atheistical Stretch of Hypocrisy is beyond any of the Frauds or Barbarities of Paganism, and new in the Creation till devised by Catholic Priests.
I own the Severity of the Inquisition may be carried too far.
How gently spoken of such an infernal Tribunal?
It is not, perhaps, to be justified in all Points.—But it is always represented worse than it is.
Father, it cannot; the most innocent Man is obnoxious to it; the most pious Man is most obnoxious; all that he hath is seized as soon as he is accused; and his Family, without being accused at all, are left to perish. He is secured in a dismal Dungeon, bereft of all Comfort, surrounded with all Terrors, with the Menaces of the Rack, and continual Alarms from the Gaoler to prepare for it. After lying many Months in this hideous Situation, under dreadful Tumult of Mind, without knowing for what Offence (for no Witnesses appear) he must at last accuse and convict himself: Though he cannot, he must confess unknown Guilt, by the Force of Torture, all his Limbs disjointed, his Bowels burst with a Torrent of Water, poured into him by Force, and all Vent carefully stopp’d; his Back broken, his Feet scorched up to a Scroll; and against Relief from Death, an attending Physician declares how much more he can bear. After several Repetitions of the Rack, always a full Hour at a Time, he must invent Crimes against himself, and then be consigned to perish in Flames, often made slow to prolong the Torture. Neither, for all these his hellish Sufferings, must his nearest Relations, his tender Wife or Infants, venture to bewail him, much less complain for him; unless they have a Mind to undergo the very same. During all this frightful Process, the poor Victim is deafened with the Cry of the Mercies of the Holy Office: For so these bloody Hypocrites call their Slaughter-House.
My Lord, it is still Holy, though it may be stretched too far.
That is indeed strange: How can such a Complication of Avarice, Fraud, and Blood be Holy?
To prevent Souls from going astray by punishing those that do.
Monstrous Position! Who but such who make a Market of Souls can maintain it? Another, and an equal Horror, attends all this Group of Horrors;—the wretched Martyr is continually tempted to damn his Soul, by sacrificing his Conscience to save himself from the Flames.
Can a Man damn his Soul by reconciling himself to the Catholic Church?
Catholic Church! Priestly Cant! It is a Conspiracy against God and Man; such a System of Fraud and Cruelty, as none but the Enemies of God and Man could invent. Could the Devil devise, or inflict any Thing more devilish than the Inquisition?
My Lord, I am against its Excesses; but are there no Terrors, no Restraint to be laid upon Heresy, to secure the Catholic Church from its Ravages?
Truth, and Sense, and Conscience, are Heresy in the Eye of your Church; and a Restraint upon these is Impiety and Tyranny in any Church. The smallest Penalty upon Conscience implies the highest and last Penalty, which must be exerted when smaller Penalties fail;—so naturally do Racks and Flames follow Fines and Gaols.
How is Obstinacy to be conquered?
By Persuasion, or not at all. But what you often call Obstinacy, I call Reason and Piety. With you all steady Protestants are obstinate Heretics;——and you have often kindled your Fires, even here in England, to punish their Obstinacy. Nay, when some of them, terrisied by Flames, have declared themselves Catholics, you have burned them, lest they should relapse. Father, with what Face can you tempt any Protestant into your Church?
Because it is the only true Church.
Then there never was, there never can be, a false Church. The Truth is, the Proselytes you gain (generally the Lowest and the most Ignorant of the People) you gain by downright Falshoods.
That, my Lord, is a very heavy Charge.
The more so for being true, your Conversions, like your Miracles, are done in Corners, and wrought upon none but the Superstitious and Blind.
My Lord, we make Converts by bringing them into new Light.
So say the Mahometans, and so say all Impostors; and so all misled Enthusiasts believe. Transubstantiation, and other lying Wonders, are some of your new Lights. That all Protestants are damned, is another of your new Lights; with other the like Antichristian and damnable Positions.
WE do maintain that ours is the Catholic, that is, the Universal Church of Christ.
Another false Light as obvious and shameless as the rest.
It is what your Lordship once believed.
The more Fool I. I may thank you; I took your Word for all Things, and trusted in you implicitly: I heard nothing but what you told me; I read nothing but what you permitted me.
Surely I put the best Books into your Hands.
The best to blind my Eyes: The Lives of your crazy Saints, and their ridiculous Miracles; Panegyricks upon Popery, and Invectives against Protestants. Don’t you remember, when I had a mind to look into the Works of Locks and Tillotson, and Hoadly, as Writers remarkable for sound Reasoning and Candor, you told me that Tillotson was an Atheist, Locke a Hobbist, and Hoadly a Presbyterian, a Name that you had taught me to detest. And when I was curious to see Milton, and asked you about him, you said he had a Devil.
I spoke but the Sense of the Church.
The Universal Church?
Yes, my Lord. That she is Universal, is as true as that her being so is a Proof that she is the only Church of God.
mahomet may offer the same Proof for his Church. His hath more Members, and more Unity, than yours; and is less bloody. She tolerates all Sects, even all Sects of Christians; and you destroy all, or terrify them into Hypocrites, many into Atheism; such especially, who judging of all Religion by yours, rather than believe such a Chaos of Nonsense, Contradictions, Pride, Lust and Rapine, Fraud and Cruelty, to be from God, conclude that there is none.
My Lord, there are Men of Parts and Learning in our Church; if they saw or thought her such a Monster, would they continue in her?
Yes, they must, or be undone and destroyed. Besides, Learning is often found accompanied with Enthusiasm, as well as with other Weakness and Follies. Monsieur Paschal, a learned, candid, and acute Writer, as any of his Age, to prove the Church of Rome the true Church, from her possessing the pretended Power of Miracles, is so simple as to urge the Blood of Januarius melting annually upon the Anniversary of his Martyrdom.
O my Lord! Is not that wonderful?
It is wonderfully alleged. Father, I have seen that false Miracle, which is work’d to no End but to cheat the People, and to feed Monks. None are suffered to examine it, and all the rest believed it before. It is like all the rest of yours, a ridiculous Forgery!
What! All our Miracles Forgeries, my Lord?
Father, I have but one Rule to guide me: As there is no Use of Miracles, but to convince Unbelievers, they ought to be worked chiefly, if not only, before Unbelievers. Strange Feats, said to be done, but done in Hugger-mugger, amongst interested Men and Bigots, will always pass for Cheats amongst Men of Sense. The Vial said to contain the Blood of Januarius, is carefully and leisurely heated with the warm Hands of the officiating Friars; and sometimes, with all that Help, the Miracle is very dilatory in appearing.
My Lord, Heretics are so hardened as not to see, and even disown what they really see.
Theymust see what is done before their Eyes, unless they put them out. Besides, their Curiosity would prompt them to fee, to say nothing of their Interest. Father, work me but one fair Miracle, and I will return to you again, without another Argument.
My Lord, did I ever pretend to work any?
You are for ever urging those of your Church, and they are one of the great Topicks of your Reasoning with the Wretches you convert; and, whilst you mislead them with what is false, you conceal from them, and utterly deny, what is notoriously true.
My Lord, what do we deny that is true?
Every Thing that shews the Deformity and cruel Spirit of your Church. I shall not repeat your many and continued Misrepresentations to myself; but I cannot forget your Behaviour to my Servants, as I have since learned.
I hope, my Lord, I have done my Duty towards your Servants.
Yes, the Duty of a Romish Emissary. When you were converting my Postillion Natt (for John the Coachman was too hard for you, and laughed at your precious Relique of a Cord from St. Peter’s Drag net, by which you would fain have convinced him that all Protestants were damned) as poor Natt, who was of Irish Protestant Parents, abhorred the Irish Massacre, you assured him solemnly, that it was all a vile Forgery, maliciously framed to blacken the Catholics. You wept for the poor persecuted Catholic Church, herself the most merciful, the most charitable, Church in the whole World, and an utter Enemy to all Persecution.
I gave him a true Account.
A moving one you did, and by it melted the Heart of Natt. This, with your pious Kindness in rescuing his poor Soul from Damnation, finished his Conversion.
I bless God, he perseveres in it.
You keep him in it. The like Rhetoric made the Dairy-maid your Convert. You found her one Sunday Morning reading Fox’s Acts and Monuments, and shedding Tears over the Memory of the Protestant Martyrs burned in Queen Mary’s Reign.—You too shed Tears, to see such an innocent Soul so misled: You conceived a passionate Kindness for her Soul, tenderly undertook to save it; then defended the poor, belyed, meek Church, and that pious Queen, who had, sore against her Will, seen her Council condemn so many of her poor Subjects, tho’ Heretics, for Treason against her Person. To confirm the Maid, and effectually to ensure her Salvation, you gave her a Bead of St. Bridget’s, one that the Devil, abhorring its intrinsic Value, had often stole away, but was always forced to bring back again: A further Proof of its Value, from its Power over the Devil.
My Lord, you are pleased to laugh at my poor pious Endeavours to do Good.
I wish I could call them poor. My poor Servants, for you have perverted three or four of them, are so bewitched with the Raree-shews and Symphonies in the Mass, and with your Absolution, which sets their Consciences so much at rest, let them wrong me as much, and commit as great Disorders as they will, in my Family or out of it, that I doubt they have taken leave of our Church (which affords them no such Shews nor Comfort) for ever.
My Lord, you yourself found Comfort amongst us once, and then you disliked the Religion in Fashion.
I own it: You taught me to abhor it, and to adore yours; and you did so, by the same fraudulent Wiles and Misrepresentations. You persuaded me, particularly, that the Pope did not pretend to give away Kingdoms; but studied, like a Father, the Peace of Society. My Parson has since shewn me a Decree of the Council of Lateran, under Innocent III. expresly ordaining, That the Pope shall discharge the Subjects of an heretical Prince from their Allegiance and give away his Kingdom to a Catholic Prince, in order to exterminate Heretics: A devilish Power, which the Pope hath often exerted, and still pretends to.
The Thing has been subject to Dispute—
To a knavish Distinction rather.—“The Pope, says Bellarmin, allows you to obey your King; but when he is a Heretic he is no longer your King.”
My Lord, this is at least fair Warning.
Yes, and we take it—Nor, amongst all the just Prejudices against your Church (and God knows they are many and shocking!) need there be a greater than your treating, as your Head and sovereign Director, an old frail Friar, complimenting him with Infallibility, and the Attributes of God; investing him with the Power of God, to damn and save; and, as the same Bellarmin maintains, to make Virtue to be Vice, and Vice to be Virtue. What Blasphemy! Many Popes have been Monsters in all Wickedness and Pollution, chosen by Harlots, and living in Brothels: All of them subject to common Frailties; some of them downright Changelings; none of them, amidst all this wonderful Power, able to restore a lost Tooth, or to cure his own Cough.
My Lord, the Abuse of Authority doth not infer its Nullity.
Yes certainly, in such extravagant and impious Trusts as cannot but be abused.
Will your Lordship allow no Head to the Church?
Yes surely; Christ and his Word; and, under him, the Christian Heads of Society.
Are such Heads likely to be free from Error?
They will certainly err the less, for not pretending to be free from Error.—No Church in the World has ever produced such tragical Abominations as your infallible Church has produced; but you keep most of these carefully concealed from your poor blind Dupes; I know it by Experience: And such of your Impostures and Fooleries as you cannot conceal, you disguise and adorn as holy Mysteries.
My Lord, I hope it is lawful to revere Mysteries—
Not such as cannot come from God. You may as well bring your Gun-powder Treason out of the Gospel, as your Transubstantiation.
We are unjustly reproached with that Treason.
So you have often told me, and so you are all instructed to tell your Bubbles—Just as, for the Credit of your Church, you persuade most of your Popish Thieves to die innocent—I know something of your Policy in that Matter.
Surely your Lordship knows the Gunpowder Treason to be a Trick of State.
Yes, one of your Tricks of State; so do you. The Evidence was all from those of your own Communion;—many died justifying it; none denied it:—But when it was found that a Design to blow up the Three Estates of the Realm; a Design concerted by Papists, all Men of Condition, some of them of great Quality, and approved by all the Heads of the Papists, brought a horrible Stain upon Popery, then your Preachers, and Confessors, and Writers, were taught boldly to deny it.
My Lord, I always thought it too bad to be probable.
What think you of the Massacre of Paris?
I never justified it.
The Pope did;———therefore you must. Then there is that of which we have spoken, the Inquisition, I think the worst of all. A horrible Tribunal! settled for the constant Execution of Cruelty and Fraud: You are far from giving up that.
MY Lord, I have blamed its Excesses—Lord.Without naming them.—Father, the Thing itself is an Excess, an infernal Excess. You know the Whole of it as well as I do; but dare not own it, in any of its just Colours, to your English Penitents. You cannot but remember what you told my Bricklayer’s Labourer when he broke his Leg, and you, in the poor Fellow’s Affright and Distress, plied him about his being a Heretic, and insinuated to him, that this was the Cause of so heavy a Judgment upon him.
Perhaps it would have been well for him if he himself had believed so.
Yes; then you would have had him sure. I say you must remember, that when you were haranguing to him upon the matchless Charity and tender Mercies of the Catholic Church, in order to bring him into it, and the poor Man mentioned the Inquisition, of which it seems he had read a good deal more than you cared he should, you cried out, with Hands lifted up; and a heavy Sigh, “O the flagitious Malice of Men!”—Then turning to the poor Man, you added, You see, dear Child, how one fatal Error brings on another, and many. Had you been of the Church, you would have found how grievously the Church is wronged.” You then assured him, that the Inquisition was a Criminal Court, set up chiefly by the State, against apostate Infidel Moors and Jews, who were all public Traitors; but that it never hurt any good Catholic; or, which is the same Thing, any good Christian.
Was there not great Truth in this?
There was great Truth concealed—Was this a Picture of the Inquisition?
I think it was pretry near the Matter.
Not the least Resemblance. Your Authority, with your gracious and devout Manner, stagger’d the weak Fellow, and you might have probably got him over: But my old Steward, Goulding, over-hearing you when you least thought of it, asked you, with a great Zounds, “Are not the Inquisitors all Priests, and the only Masters there; and are not all Protestants burnable by the Laws and constant Practice of the Inquisition?”—A Question which you chose not to answer, but went away, pitying, as you went, the poor passionate Man for cursing so abominably. Goulding replied, “Whoever it is that curses, by—I know who it is that lyes.” You then complained of Persecution, and retired.
Your Lordship is very particular.
I had it from La Trappe, my Valet de Chambre, whom you once attacked, but soon gave over.—He produced you Mons. Daillé and Dr. Tillotson—No wonder the latter is so great an Atheist. I cannot say but I then first began to doubt, next to examine; and whoever does both will soon leave you. A Church of such a lying, cruel, damning, burning Spirit, ought to be the Abhorrence of all Men.
Could you not leave us without becomeing our Enemy?
An Enemy to your System I own I am, without any Prejudices purely personal. All that leave you are in your Opinion certainly damned, tho’ they left you upon the fullest Inquiry and Conviction.
It is possible that they may be too rash, whatever they think.
They can never be too hasty in going over to you, but are always rash in deserting you. Nothing can be more dishonest than this your Conduct; you pretend to convince People by Reason and the Bible, but will you suffer them to be re-convinc’d when they find ever so just Cause from both to leave you?
When they are in the right Way, my Lord, we are willing to keep them there. Are we to be blamed?
Yes, if you would keep them against their Conscience, when you had gained them by appealing to their Conscience. They must then follow you, and obey you, and renounce their Reason, their Conscience, and their Bible. This is ensnaring and enslaving Men, and not converting them.
Their Conscience may mislead them, and often does.
If they mean conscientiously it is sufficient, and God will pardon their involuntary Mistakes. Conversion, not founded upon Conscience and Conviction, is Hypocrisy or Servitude. The Truth is, as you teach an implicit Faith, that is, Religion without Reason; and as Ignorance is confessed to be the Mother of Devotion, that is, of Devotion without Sense, you hold your Followers not by Conviction, which only can make People religious, and keep them so; but by the Force of Superstition, by fairy Menaces, or by temporal Terrors; all which keep them fast in your Chains. Your true Catholics are not Followers of Christ, but Followers of you. He who is not a Christian by Conviction is no Christian; and Conviction implies Reason.
We deny no Man the Use of his Reason.
When he uses it not against you, nor in religious Points. But dare a Spaniard, dare an Italian, dare any Papist whatsoever, reason with you upon Religion, and oppose his Doubts to your Dictates? If any Man dares to do so Abroad the Inquisition waits for him with all its Flames and Rage. If any Man thwarts your Authority and Teners even here, he will have Hell set open to swallow him, and all its Furies let loose upon him.
Are Men always to wander in Uncertainty?
Yes, till they are fixed by Conviction and Conscience.
What if they never fix?
If they never do, no Man can force them; they must be left to God. Better their Minds wander (a Thing that hurts no Man) than be cowed, and their Bodies punished or enslaved.
Is it not a great Blessing to be restrained from foul Error?
No Error is foul if it be harmless; besides, if what would restrain Error, would also restrain Reason and Truth (the genuine End of all your Restraints) I detest the impious Policy. The noblest Notions of God appear atheistical to all Bigots; and all Bigots are Persecutors. Socrates was put to Death for his rational Sentiments of the Deity; nor was he the last. The wisest Men are often sacrificed to what mad Zealots call Holy. It was Capital in Egypt to kill one of their sacred Beasts, a Wolf, a Crocodile, or a Cat.
Do we, my Lord, defend heathen Idolatry and heathen Cruelty?
No, you only imitate them, and exceed them: These Heathens, though mad enough to destroy such, who hurt their ravenous Objects of Worship, were not so mad as to kill or punish Men for refusing to worship them.
My Lord, what wild Beasts do we worship?
You worship worse Objects, Ignatius Loyola, and that most bloody Priest, Dominic, Founder of the Inquisition. What ravenous Beast ever proved such a Pest to Society as Thomas à Becket did to England?
He was indeed passionately zealous for the Church.
For Popery, and for Tyranny in his own Person; a lawless and vindictive Incendiary, who defied the Laws of the Land, and even those of the living God.
Your Lordship is assuredly too just to think him an Atheist.
I think him worse; as no Atheist ever did so much Mischief. Under that Character a Man can never do much, but will rather frighten Men than convert them. But Becket played the Devil by affecting Saintship; and, to the eternal Infamy of your Church, obtained it: The dead Traitor had more Oblations paid him, than our blessed Redeemer and his blessed Mother.
My Lord, this is a wide Field your Lordship is got into, and——
Father, I see that you are tired, and so am I—Let me, however, offer to your Consideration a Passage from the judicious Plutarch: Speaking of human Sacrifices offer’d to Saturn by the Carthaginians, during a Famine, Five hundred at once, Two hundred of them pick’d from the best Families, the rest Voluntiers from amongst the Citizens, he asks, “Whether that People had not acted more wisely, if they had chosen for their Legislator a Critias or Diagoras, both known Atheists, than to have establish’d such a sanguinary Institution?”
What would your Lordship infer from all this to our present Purposes? Not surely, that Catholics are worse than Atheists!———
The Word Catholic hath a solemn, indeed a deceitful Sound, and is very boldly assum’d, to exclude all other Christians from Christ’s Church and from the Benefit of his Death: But it is of a Piece with the devilish Spirit of Popery, which avowedly damns, and, where it can, actually destroys all those of a different Faith.———This, Father, you cannot deny.
We would willingly save all Men.———
And allow none to be saved but yourselves—Those who will not submit to your Terms of Salvation, must be Victims and Fuel to the Inquisition.———
Still, my Lord, this is not Atheism.—
It is human Sacrifice, and worse than Atheism.——Nor can I conceive so wicked, so dreadful a Being, in the whole Compass of Nature, as a Papist heated with Bigotry and Vengeance, and acting up to the Rigor of Popish Principles——Is a Devil worse than an Inquisitor, who is only a Punisher for Religion, or a Persecutor, acting in his highest Sphere?——What a pestilent Ingredient must a zealous Papist be in a Community of Protestants?——His Zeal makes him a busy Seducer; and every Person seduced is, must be, a keen Enemy to the Community. And as the Seducers are many and indefatigable, the Seduced are without Number. Let the Legislature attend to this. Moreover, the Conscience of every Convert to Popery is the Pope’s, and obliges him to hate all who abjure the Pope and the Pope’s Pupil. Yet what tender Usage you all find, Father, under this Government! Dare any Popish State be guilty of the like Tenderness to Protestants?
My Lord, your Lordship will allow—
Father, I will allow nothing to the Temper of you and your Converts.—I know how determined, how ready you all are, and for What. You and they are all warm Zealots. They are mostly as poor as ignorant, and subject to none of those Pauses which retard Men of Fortune and Families, and who have some Sense, in spight of Bigotry.—I know your Ardour and Influence, and the Spirit of your Religion, so well, that I often rejoice and wonder, that I am not hang’d. Ah! Father, had I been advised or frightened by you (for you importunately tried both Ways) where must I have been?
If not here, I hope in Heaven.—
By your Help and that of Mr. Ketch.—After all, as much as I dread Popery, I am not for destroying Papists, though they have always, and every-where, shewn us the Way, and wantonly tempted us to follow them in it.—But I am earnestly for disabling Popery from destroying Protestants; and if some such Scheme is not effectually pursued, I shall think the Parliament in a Lethargy, the Government infatuated, and the Nation desperate.—
Adieu, Father, I shall be glad to see you sometimes.—But no Whispering, no Closeting, no dark Applications to my Family.—I shall heartily endeavour to reclaim those of them whom you have already poison’d.
AN hereditary Right to preserve the Laws, is inherent in all lawful Kings; an hereditary Claim to break the Laws, is a Forfeiture of all kingly Right. Indefeasible hereditary Right is Jargon, the Cant of Usurpers and Impostors, to cheat the Many, and to abuse all Men.
Blood is only one Qualification in a Prince, and not the highest; Justice and Capacity are the Greatest and the Best. As the Prince may be a Child, and yet must reign like a Man, because he reigns over Men, the Laws must govern those who govern the Prince; else the Will of his Ministers, or his Playfellows, must be the Law. If he prove a Lunatic, the next of Kin, or a Council, must rule in his stead. He who hath no Sense cannot exercise Government, which is the Direction of the public Sense. He who wants Justice and Integrity, and regards not Oaths and Laws, is at least under equal Disability. This is moral, as well as political Lunacy; therefore a moral and political Disqualification.
Whoever is intrusted with Government, having the Interests of all Men under his Direction, has the highest Occasion for a good Heart, as well as a sound Head: But where the Laws prevail, tho’ he be weak, yet by letting the Laws take place, his Government may be easy. If he be wilful, as well as weak, yet will needs be wiser than the Law, dispense with Law, and set up his own Humour, his Peevishness, or his Superstition, for Law, he becomes a public Enemy, a Tyrant, who deposes himself.
Such a public Enemy was King James, an obstinate Bigot, a perjured Oppressor, an open Foe to the Laws and to his People: He therefore regularly dethroned himself. He can scarce be said to have ever filled the Throne: He began to forfeit it e’er he was warm in it. The English Throne, established and limited by Laws, ceased to be his, when he became a Tyrant in it. Whilst he held it, he held it not for himself, but for miserable Monks and hot-headed Zealots, who set up a Government against Law, a Religion against Sense, and the Shadow of a King to support both. He never had much Understanding; what little he had he forfeited, and with it his Crown, to the Infatuation of Popery.
A weak Man makes a very good Papist, indeed the best; but a weak Papist makes a wretched King. I own, that a Man of Sense may be a Papist; but I deny, that he makes use of his Sense: The Grimace and Frauds of Priests blind him, and fairy Terrors awe him.
KingJames, the Weakest of his Race, (tho’ not the Worst nor the Falsest) yet strove for some Time to dissemble; but wanting Capacity even for that (which requires so little, and is often found in the silliest Women) soon exposed his Heart quite bare, contracted with Bigotry, panting for Tyranny, and cankered with Rage.
He had professed fairly, promised strongly, sworn solemnly, to maintain Religion and Law; because his Priests told him, that Falshood and Perjury were necessary to advance their Cause, and seasonable to lull their Enemies asleep: For what Falshood, what Villainy, what Cruelty, will not such Priests promote, to serve their pestilent Cause? When his Priests thought their Point sure, they taught him to throw off the Cloke of Deceit and Perjury, roundly to assert the determined Tyrant, and the implacable Bigot.
He thus called upon the Nation to turn him out of it, or rather fled from the Nation. He ran to the French King, the inveterate Enemy to his People, for Succour against his People. It was upon Promise of Assistance from that King, that both this Bigot, and the abandoned Voluptuary his Brother, had ventured to enslave this Free Nation.
lewis XIV. was as dark a Zealot as James II. with no exalted Genius; but judging the Ruin of England to be for the Glory of France, sent Forces to King James, then in Ireland, who put himself at the Head of these and his Irish Troops: He indeed continued at their Head, for he was the first that ran away.
Again he took Refuge in France, where he remained, despised, to the End of his Life; the more for his continual Solicitations to France, to force him and Slavery upon England: For, rather than England should remain free, he would have enslaved it as the Deputy of France.
Had he an hereditary Right to sacrifice England to France? Can the Heart of Man conceive, that any Man, with any Name, has a Right to violate any Trust? Hath Folly a Right to dictate to Wisdom; Perjury, Pride and Oppression, to abolish wholsome Laws; Fraud and Imposture to crush Truth and Religion?
InIreland his Government was as brutal as the Manners of the native Savages there: He set out with deceitful Promises, as he had done here; and continued repeating them all the while that he was breaking them. One constant Declaration of his was most ridiculous, especially as he imagined it to be deep and wise, and as his Flatterers applauded it for its Candor: “That he would make no Distinction between his Popish and his Protestant Subjects.” A Declaration (if not a Blunder) terrible to Protestants, who saw him thus, contrary to his Oath taken to maintain them in their Religion and Laws, declare equal Favour to their barbarous bloody Enemies, who in fact reaped all his Favours.
He was so notoriously shameless in his Breach of Faith to Protestants, and in his bigotted Partiality to the Irish, that, by a Set of infamous perjured Irish Judges, he discharged all the Charters of the Kingdom in a Term or Two. The Estates of the Protestants, Nobles and Commons, were by the same Judges surrendered as fast as claimed by any of the wild Irish, who had long forfeited them by Rebellion and Massacre. The Protestant Proprietors, who had earned them by their Blood and Money, improved them by their long Industry, and held them by Acts of Settlement, were thrust out of their Freeholds and Bread by the brutal Butchers of their Predecessors, of their Parents and Kindred.
But as Process at Law, however sudden and arbitrary, was too slow, an Irish Parliament of the furious Natives, chosen by the King’s new Charters, or rather by his Direction and Nomination, did, in a solemn Act, confiscate most of the Estates of the Protestants in the whole Kingdom, and condemned the Owners to die as Traitors. They were all thus charged with Treason, and all in a Lump condemned to Death and Forfeiture; for they were declared convicted of High Treason, tho’ never tried, nor even summoned. The frighten’d Victims had many of them recourse to England for Bread; and Families of fair Fortunes in Ireland saw themselves reduced, for Support, to Alms and parochial Collections in England.
This was adjudging awhole Protestant Kingdom, at once, to Execution and Destruction. It comprehended near Fifteen hundred of the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, and Men of Fortune, all said in the Act to have been attainted and convicted, and were therefore adjudged to Death and Confiscation. To render the deadly Snare the more fatal and secure, no Copy of the inhuman Act was suffered to be issued for four Months.
After this Flight of Tyranny (so wild and merciless!) no other Excess of it need be wondered at. Subjects were imprisoned; their Money, Horses, Houses, and Furniture seized, by a mere Order from the King; sometimes a mere verbal Order. And James, one of the weakest Men in the Kingdom, and as blind a Bigot as the blindest, acted like the confirmed Master of the Persons and Property of all Men in it; yet was himself all the while the wretched Property and tame Instrument of the Pope, and even of his own Priests. Whilst it was made Treason and Death for Five Protestants to be seen together, even in Churches, the King’s Chaplains, in their public Sermons, maintained to his Face the Pope’s absolute Sovereignty over Kings.
Strange Inconsistency! for a frail, vicious, silly Man to claim Godlike Power over God’s Creatures, made after God’s Image (many of them wiser and better, few worse or weaker than himself;) yet confess himself the implicit Vassal of an usurping Impostor at Rome, cheating the World with pious Cant and Mountebankry, impudently boasting lying Wonders, and subsisting by manifest Frauds!
Can there be a greater Demonstration, that Power without Controul belongs to no human Creature; than that such as have most loudly claimed it over all, were unblessed with any superior Capacity, or any better Morals than the rest? Is it conceivable, that the God of Wisdom should adjudge the Government of the World to such as have none; the Care of Men to such as oppress Men; should convey his own Power to those who abuse it, or invest with a sacred Character Men who swear falsly by his holy Name, or injure and cheat in it?
KingJames delighted in lawless Proceedings, merely because they were lawless. Even when the Law would have served him in some of his Measures, it was answered, That the King would be served his own Way; which was a Confession. That he would abolish Law.
james, when Duke of York, and High Commissioner in Scotland, had given a Specimen of his Spirit and Government sufficient to deter all Men from ever wishing him upon the Throne. He opposed and defeated, or cancelled, every good Law: He promoted all that were tyrannical and bad: He had the Earl of Argyll condemned to die, because he would not forswear himself. The Earl was a good Protestant, had a great Estate, great Interest and Abilities; all dreadful Eye-sores to the small Spirit and great Bigotry of the Duke of York. His Royal Highness besides, delighting in frequent Victims and Executions at Edinburgh, distinguished himself by a Symptom of Cruelty almost peculiar to himself, and almost always avoided by the most cruel Princes, by such as were proverbial for Cruelty, even by Nero. James, besides encouraging the Use of the Rack, to force Confessions from such who were obnoxious to the Tyranny of the Times, sat pleased with the shocking Spectacle of seeing Men racked, their Bones crushed, broken, and bursting with their Blood through the Flesh: A horrid Sight to Britons! A hopeful Successor to the British Crown! It was a Sight singular in Britain, and even at Rome, under the Tyranny of the Cæsars, for near a Century after the Usurpation of the First Cæsar. That Monster Domitian was the first of the Roman Imperial Tyrants that ventured upon it.
Neither did any of these Imperial Tyrants ever exercise such a Piece of Tyranny as was exercised in Scotland under Charles the Second. Besides all the daily Oppressions and Barbarities upon the Presbyterians there (forced out of their Establish’d Church, and fiercely persecuted) to oblige the Court, especially James the King’s Brother, there was an Order of Council for placing Soldiers on the public Roads, with Instructions to ask such as passed by, insnaring Questions, about the King and Religion; and if they appeared to be Presbyterians (People conscientiously tender in the Point of Religion and Oaths) and refused the Test offered them by the Soldiers, the Soldiers had express Orders to put them to present Death. ——A Stretch of Tyranny unmatched by the most decried Tyrants!
These were some of the Miscarriages, before the Revolution, such as the present Invader supposes to have happened, without owning any; and he claims the same Right and Power claimed by King James, nor offers one Limitation or Amendment. The Government ever since then, that Government, from which has been derived such a Series of Ease and Liberty, and such an utter Absence of all violent Measures, as are matchless in History from the Creation; has, he says, been all Usurpation. It has been indeed a total Deviation from the Government of his Ancestors, a Government which he comes to restore. To prove his Right and Descent, and to recommend his future Measures, he invades the Kingdom, defies the Laws, robs, ravages, and goes to Mass.
These are the Proofs which he gives of his Lineal Claim, and he is welcome to the Fame of them. He, and his barbarous Train, act as if they studied and were paid to make themselves odious to Heaven and Earth, and were industriously calling for quick and signal Vengeance from both. I bless God it hastens apace;—let us pray for its sudden Completion.
I HAVE lately read a very seasonable Pamphlet, of real Use, good Sense and Knowlege, called An Inquiry how far Papists ought to be treated here as good Subjects, and how far they are chargeable with the Tenets commonly imputed to them. It is written in answer to a Popish Pamphlet, carefully distributed, full of glaring Deceit, boldly denying all the detestable Tenets and Horrors of Popery; and, still further to cheat the Ignorant, denying them with a Curse, as Peter did his Master, and with the same Sincerity. For Example:
cursed be he (says the Popish Apologist) that commits Idolatry, that prays to Images or Relics, or worships them, for Gods. To this Curse, and to all that follow, he makes his miserable Votaries say, Amen.
This sounds strong, and is indeed strong Fraud. Do not Papists adore Relics? Do they not openly worship Images, and pray to Saints? as the Author of the Inquiry clearly proves. Yes; but it seems that this is no Idolatry, for they do not worship them as Gods; that is, they do not call them God Jehovah, nor God the Creator of all Things; they only invoke them as Deputy Deities, generally in the same high devotional Strain: And such Divine Invocation, implying a Divine Prerogative to relieve and save the Invoker, is a Declaration of Deity in the Being invoked: It is therefore Idolatry, when made to any Being except the Supreme.
They ascribe Godlike Power to their most ridiculous Relics, Stocks and Stones, old Iron, Bones, Nails and Hair, by making them work Miracles, heal the Sick, raise the Dead, and exert the like Acts and Attributes of Omnipotence. Neither do they pray to their Saints as only Mediators and Intercessors with God, as is sometimes pretended; they pray to them directly, and for what none but the Godhead only can grant, all the Blessings of this Life and the next. This is all obvious in their Breviaries and Catechisms, where Prayers are framed immediately to the Saints, and in a Stile as high and rapturous as to God himself, as is at Length explained in the Inquiry.
This Apologist pronounces another bold Curse upon every Goddess-Worshiper, who believes the Virgin Mary to be more than a Creature. I must own, that amongst all the Extravagances of the Papists, I never knew a Papist deny that God created the Virgin Mary; but I never heard of a Papist who did not treat her beyond the Quality of a Creature, and with all the awful Epithets of a Deity. They all pray to her, they all worship her. Is such Divine Treatment due to any Creature?
But there follows a Reserve that justifies all;—Cursed is he who honours her, worships her, or puts his Trust in her as much as in God. A curious Come-off! He makes his Votaries own, that the Omnipotent God is superior to one of his Creatures; but still they are to adore and invoke this human Creature with the Worship and Language due only to God, her Creator. They implore her in Form, “to deliver them from Sin, “to protect them from Evil, and to receive them at the Hour of Death.” What could they ask more of their Maker? Is not all this treating her as a Deity, a Sovereign Deity? Did the blindest Heathens ever apply such Strains of Adoration to any of their Deities, even to the Highest of all, Jupiter Optimus Maximus!
The Curse is, however, repeated upon him who believes her above her Son, or that she can in any Thing command him. Above her Son, is an odd Phrase, but hath its Art and Meaning here.—It founds as if they denied the Idolatry of worshiping her as well as the Son. We know it to be Idolatry to worship her at all, and we know that they worship her. This is enough to fix the Charge upon them.—Or, that she can in any Thing command him. If she can protect and pardon Sinners, and receive their Souls into eternal Bliss, without him, she need not command him; she hath thus sufficient Godlike Power without him. But, if I am not mistaken, I have seen a Popish Prayer, invoking the Virgin to command her Son, in Terms, Impera Filio tuo: Nor can such Language appear strange in Popery.
The next Curse is upon him who believes the Angels and Saints in Heaven to be his Redeemers, who prays to them as such, or who gives God’s Honour to them, or to any Creature whatsoever. Was ever such mock Defence! We do not charge them with believing Saints and Angels to be their Redeemers, but with worshiping Saints and Angels: Nor can they deny that they do. It is the constant Practice of their Church, and it is injoined by the Authority of the Church, to worship and invoke the Angels, who are always in the Presence of the Lord, and willingly watchfor our Security, which is committed to them. They are also ordered to invoke the dead Saints, and to reverence their Relics. All this is amply proved in the Inquiry.
’Tis a miserable Subterfuge to say, that they reverence the Deity more, or, in their own Words, that they do not give God’s Honour to them; and yet, in reality, they do it, by putting them in God’s Stead, and complimenting them with God’s Power. Out of the vilest amongst dead Men they chuse their heavenly Protectors and Idols. The implacable Traitor, Becket, had infinitely more Worship and Oblations paid him than all the Host of Heaven; not only than Jesus Christ, but even than the Mother of Christ, though she was then infinitely more revered than the Deity. Indeed, for many Centuries, consummate Madness, or consummate Villainy, was the chief Recommendation to Saintship; and the blackest Character upon Earth, the Roman Pontiffs presumed to furnish Heaven with such Rivals to the Deity, as were too infamous to live amongst Men. It is certain, that many who had adorned Gibbets, or deserved them, helped to swell the Roman Calendar, and were complimented with a Seat on the Right-hand of God, with the Title of His chief Favourites and Counsellors.
The pleasantest Curse follows: Cursed be he that worships any Breaden God, or makes Gods ofthe empty Elements of Bread and Wine. A safe Curse! Well may the Framer of it make his true Catholic say Amen to it! Before it is consecrated ’tis not God; and he deserves to be cursed who will worship bare Bread as God. After it is consecrated ’tis God, our Blessed Saviour in Person; and who can be cursed who worships our Blessed Saviour?
This Fallacy is too gross; but a gross Imposture will bear no better. A Wafer is no God; but a few Words and Grimaces of the Priest make it a God; whilst, to Taste and Touch, and Sight, and Smell, ’tis still a Wafer. Weigh it, dissect it, separate and examine its Parts, ’tis a manifest Composition of Flouer and Water, just as it was before. But you are damned if you believe Demonstration. These very Particles of Water and Flouer are, in spite of Demonstration, changed in an Instant, without the least Alteration, into the whole Body of Jesus; and, tho’ there be but one Jesus, he is multiplied into Millions every Day.
At this Rate a Priest has Power over God himself, and more Power than God himself can have; for God cannot reconcile Contradictions, nor convert Bread into Flesh and Blood, whilst it continues still to be Bread. There never was such an impudent Imposture in all the Visions and Chimeras of Paganism. The many Transformations of Vistnum, God of the Indian Bramins, into a Fish, a Hog, a Lion, a Bramin, a Flying Horse, are credible Impossibilities, compared to Transubstantiation, the highest Affront to the Eyes and Reason of Man, and the most shocking Indignity to the Deity, every offered or invented by the most daring Impostors known amongst Men.
The next Curse is not more modest or sincere:—Cursed is he that believes, that Priests can forgive Sins, whether the Sinner repents or no; or that any Power in Heaven or Earth can forgive Sins, without a hearty Repentance, &c.
A repenting Sinner has satisfying Assurance, from the Word of God, that “God forgives all who truly repent.” The Almighty does not add, That he wants the Interposition of a Priest. His Mercy is not mock Mercy, to be awakened or applied at the Request of the Priest; the All-seeing Eye needs no Voucher for the Sincerity of the Sinner’s Heart. When the Framer of the Curses denies, that any Power in Heaven or Earth can forgive Sins without Repentance, he seems to put God upon the same Foot with the Priest, and disables him equally with the Priest from bestowing Mercy. Surely the Almighty can pardon, if he will, even the Impenitent; but a Priest cannot pardon the Penitent, already pardoned by God, who does not create Souls to be the Vassals of Priests, less still their Dupes and Property.
If Repentance opens Heaven to Sinners, as God himself has told us it does, all the Use of a Priest to a Sinner, dying or living, is to exhort him to repent; an Office to be performed by any pious Relation or Friend. Yet, for asserting this Truth in a Popish Country, you would be burned alive in the Inquisition. But such bloody Cruelty is never to be owned in England, at least this is not the Time; therefore careful Hypocrisy, and all false Softenings, are to be employed.
I know not how this Casuist can exempt the Council of Trent from his Curse. Those Reverend Faith-makers have decreed Absolution from a Priest to be a Judicial Act, that is, final and peremptory. A most blasphemous Decree! divesting the Almighty of his Prerogative, and conferring it upon a Priest; yet a Decree naturally made by Priests. The Fathers of that Council were chiefly the Pope’s Implements and Registers; and it was too truly said, that the Holy Ghost was, from time to time, conveyed from Rome to Trent in a Portmantua.
ThisPopish Advocate yields too much; yet I doubt not but he knows what he does. A Popish Dispensation to deceive Protestants is no new Thing; and I defy the ablest Missionary to convert any sensible, well-informed Protestant to Popery, without deceiving him. He dare not tell all; no, not to Papists. I doubt few Papists know that it is another decreed Point and Doctrine of the Church of Rome, That, in performing the Office of the Sacrament, of any Sacrament, the Words and Gestures and Operations of the Priest, however full and formal they be, yet are of none Effect, without his Intention accompanying them. No; the most momentous Ordinance of Religion is invalid and none, unless the Priest pleases to make it so, by intending it to be so.
As these Sacraments, Seven in Number, are all necessary to Salvation, and the Priestly Performance necessary to the Sacrament, so is his Intention and good Pleasure necessary to make a Sacrament; and the eternal Fate of immortal Souls depends upon his Caprice. An impious, or a revengeful Priest (both very common Characters) may damn his whole Flock. Is not this representing the good God as a terrible Tyrant to his Creatures, and a Confederate with cruel Impostors?
Thus high is the Power of Priests carried in that godless, that apostate Church, where it is safer to be a Traitor, a Sodomite, a Poisoner, or an Assassin, than to follow Christ and Conscience, in Opposition to Fraud and Idolatry. Yet a Priest of that very Church ventures, in this enlightened Country, to represent the Romish Priests as Lambs, Lovers of Truth, and claiming no other Privilege, no Power, no offensive Weapons. Even the Pope is a disinterested Soul; and cursed is he who believes that there is Authority in the Pope to forgive Sins, or to give Leave to commit Sins, for a Sum of Money. The Pope needs not pretend to it; he has other Pretences, even when Money is the Motive. Offenders submit, they beg Pardon, and the Money convinces him that they are sincere. There is a Rate for Sins, according to the Quality of each, fixed in the Office of the Rota at Rome, where the most heinous and hideous are not excepted, even the Murder of a Parent, or the Debauching of a Sister.
This pecuniary Traffic for Sins is claimed and practised by the Priests, under the soft Title of Commutations; and why not by the highest of all Priests, the Sovereign Pontiff? Whoever takes Money to absolve Sinners, gives them Leave, nay Encouragement, to commit Sin; and the Pope, for a round Sum, given not to him, but to the Church, though he fingers it all, grants Indulgences for many Generations: And because this is not called Absolution nor Forgiveness, but is only an Exemption from Perdition, and equally effectual with Absolution, therefore this candid Defender of Popery curses all who believe that the Pope claims Authority to forgive Sins for a Sum of Money; or any Priest to grant present Absolution for future Sins.
Mind what Art and Reserve in the Expression, Present Sins, and Sins in Time to come! Does not the Pope make a Market of the Sins and Souls of Men? And do not the Priests (his Brokers, and their own) retale Pardons, for a Price, to Sinners and their Heirs? What set the Reformation on foot in Germany, but the scandalous Traffic of Indulgences, sold openly at Wirtemberg by the Pope’s infamous Agents, the strolling Friars, living in Debauchery, practising all Frauds and Falshoods to cheat People of their Money, by such tempting Baits as the Pope’s infallible Receipts for Salvation? They were sold in Parcels to the best Bidders, who, to make the most of their Bargain, hired the popular preaching Friars to extol their sublime Excellency as infallible Passports to Heaven, and to revile and frighten all who hesitated a Moment to save their Souls by so cheap a Commodity.
The Curses go on: Cursed is he that contemns the Word of God, or hides it from the People, on design to keep them from the Knowlege of their Duty, and to preserve them in Ignorance and Error.
“Here, says the Author of the Inquiry, is a most shameful Account of the Papists biding the Scriptures from the People. The Question is, Why are the Scriptures kept at all from the People? The Answer, continues he, is, that they do not so keep them for this or that particular Purpose. It may be so; but you may have other Purposes, other Ends, other Designs, all bad in themselves.”———He then shews, “That the free Use of the Bible is restrained from the People by the Authority of the Council of Trent, and the Constitution of Pope Pius IV. and that the same Restraint extends to every particular Layman, without Leave from the Bishop or Inquisitor; nor then without the Advice of the Minister or Confessor, nor after all this, without a Licence in Form; and whoever presumes to read or have the Bible without such Licence, cannot receive Absolution of his Sins, unless he first surrenders up his Bible to the Ordinary.”
After some lively and unanswerable Expostulations, our Protestant Author adds upon this Head: “Now, if for these, or for such-like Reasons, you do in fact hide the Scriptures from the People, is it not a most shameful Chicanery, solemnly to curse those who hide them for other Reasons?—A Man charged for robbing on the Highway, to clear himself, wishes that he may be hang’d if ever he robbed on Design to keep People from travelling such a particular Road, or from travelling with Money about them; but still he is a Robber, which is what he is charged with.”
In my next I shall continue the Chace of this Romish Fox, with the Assistance of my Protestant Coadjutor.
I PROCEED to examine the Sincerity and good Faith of the Catholic Curses. I find them all worded with notable Craft, to deceive the Ignorant, but with equal Assurance; since the Deceit is obvious to-every discerning Reader, as the Author of the Inquiry has demonstrated.
The Tenth in Order is, Cursed is he that undervalues the Word of God, or that, forsaking Scripture, chuses rather to follow human Traditions than it. Whatever the Popish Clergy do in this Respect, ’tis not safe to own, that they esteem the Traditions of Men more highly than the Word of God. If they value such Traditions as highly as they do God’s Word, they slight and undervalue that Word. The Author of the Inquiry shews, that the Council of Trent injoins “these Traditions to be received and reverenced with equal Affection of filial Piety with the Scriptures of Truth.” Most of the Popish Traditions are fabulous, many of them ridiculous, great Part of them framed by Priests, and injoined by priestly Authority for priestly Ends; few of them instructive, all precarious; yet all reverenced by the Papists as much as Scripture.
It is Cant to deny that they reverence Traditions more than Scripture: That they do it at all is Crime enough; nor dare they plead Not guilty. It is indeed much safer, in their Church, to neglect the Scripture, than their priestly Traditions and Impositions. Without being obliged to know, or suffered to know, one Chapter in the Bible, ’tis dangerous (often capital) to omit or neglect the Injunctions of their Priests, tho’ not one of them be found in the Bible. Penance, Auricular Confession, Absolution, Transubstantiation, Infallibility, Purgatory, the Power of Priests to damn and save, to open the Gates of Heaven and Hell, are all so many human and priestly Devices, or rather Frauds, to rule the World, and to cheat the Creation: Not one of them mentioned or meant in Scripture, yet all guarded with Sword and Fire; and all who dare doubt or deny them, tortured and burnt in this World, and doomed to eternal Burning in the next.
Then, as they command and practise openly what no Scripture commands, they notorioufly slight and omit Duties which the Scripture explicitly injoins. Our Saviour commands, that all should drink of the Cup of his Blood. In the Popish Sacrament there is no Cup, at least none for the People: The Priest keeps all that to himself, as if he thought it enough for the Laity to be half Christians. St. Paul makes it a Mark of Apostasy to forbid to marry. The Romish Clergy are all forbid to marry. St. Paul makes it another Mark of Apostasy “to abstain from Meats, which God hath commanded to be received with Thanksgiving.” The Popish Church forbids the Use of Meats for a great Part of the Year; but, for Money, permits you the Use of them during the strictest Fast in the Year. The Apostle condemns the Worship of Saints as a Doctrine of Devils. The Papists are more copious, more assiduous in their Devotions to Saints, than to all the Three Persons in the Godhead.
The Curse about the Ten Commandments is expressed in the same equivocal Way. I shall take no further Notice of it here, than that I wonder the Commandments should at all be brought into it, since the Second explicitly forbids what the Papists so grosly practise, the Worship of Images; or (which is just the same Thing) the Worship of the Persons represented by the Images. Their poor People, always ignorant, only worship what they see; and if they worshiped a Saint or an Angel in Person, they would be still Idolaters.
The small, but well-meant Craft in the next Curse, is plain enough to be diverting.—Cursed is he that preaches to the People in unknown Tongues, such as they understand not; or uses any other Means to keep them in Ignorance. Pray observe: Nobody charges them with preaching in an unknown Tongue; the Charge is, That they pray in an unknown Tongue; and the Charge is true. They dare not deny it by the most elusive Terms which they can invent. Their Practice in it is in direct Defiance of Scripture, which largely condemns it; of common Sense, which it affronts; and of all the Purposes of rational Devotion, which it can never raise. Can there be any Edification where there is no Knowlege? For aught the People know, the Priest, in the Mass, may be applying to Mahomet, or to Simon Magus. All that they hear from him is a doleful Tone; all that they see in him is Bowings, Turnings, Grimaces, and making Mouths. By these Tricks and Accents he may amaze them and warm them, and so he might by the Words of Petronius Arbiter, or any other profane Strains, fanatically and wailingly pronounced.
Can there be greater Impiety, or a higher Insult upon true Piety and the Understandings of Christians, than thus daringly to debar them from the Duty of praying for themselves and their own Souls, yet to mock them with the Appearance of doing it? Can there be more successful Means used, by Art and Imposture, to keep the People in Ignorance? Fi, fa, fum, or any other Jargon, would be as edifying.
In the Romish Church, Ignorance is allowed to be the Mother of Devotion; and ’tis carefully cultivated there, as the first Foundation and Elements of popular Superstition, and of Papal Tyranny, to which all Religion, all Reason and Conscience, must be enslaved or sacrificed. In that Church the Instruction, the Correction, the Commands of the Priests, are all authoritative and uncontroulable; to contradict him is Heresy; Heresy is Death and Damnation. Where profound Ignorance is the Mother of Devotion, blind Submission is naturally her Daughter.
This last Curse, equivocal as it is, I doubt involves the Framer of it in it; nor can any thing but Ignorance clear him of it; a Plea which I doubt he cannot offer.
As the Aim of this good Catholic is to conceal and deny all the real Deformities and Horrors of Popery, he would seem to deny the Pope’s dispensing Power:—Cursed be he that believes that the Pope can give to any, upon any Account whatsoever, Dispensation to lye or swear falsly; or, that it is lawful for any, at the last Hour, to protest himself innocent, in case he be guilty.
There is great Boldness in this Curse; for, tho’ the Pope must be a Madman if he averred, in these unwary Words, that he could encourage any Man to swear falsly, and to lye, he notoriously claims a Power to dispense with Oaths, the most awful and important Oaths, all Oaths and Engagements to Princes and States, and all Oaths and Engagements from Princes and States. For many Centuries successively (in the dark Ages, when the Papal Power flourished most) hardly a Year passed but his Holiness discharged some Sovereign from his Oath to his People, or some People from their Oath to their Sovereign, as often as his Wrath or his Avarice prompted him; for one or other, or both, of these pious Motives, generally swayed the holy Father. He frequently tempted and incensed Prince and People to violate Laws and Oaths, and to oppress one another. He particularly warranted the repeated Perjuries of our Henry III. who was continually oppressing the Nation, and as often frightened by the Barons into Oaths and Concessions; then as readily discharged by the Pope from fulfilling them, but never without a competent Price.
This Practice was as common in most Catholic Countries, as horrible in all. The Popes were for ever dispensing with Laws, Oaths, Canons, and even with their own Decrees; and they had a Non-obstante to all Engagements, Secular and Sacred, to God and Man. Was not all this owning, as well as practising, Dispensations to lye, and to swear falsly? “It is as easy to grant a Dispensation to Sin for the future, as to absolve for Sin that is past,” as the Author of the Inquiry truly observes.
cursed is he that believes it lawful for any, at the last Hour, to protest himself innocent, in case he be guilty.
“Aye, says the Author of the Inquiry, or at any Hour. But when a Man is absolved from his Guilt by a Priest, is he then guilty?”—When the Priest has restored him to a State of Innocence, he will think it just to assert his Innocence.
All the other Curses are excellently explained, and the Drift and Artifices of the Framer fairly exposed, by the Author of the Inquiry; for there are several more Curses that I have for that Reason omitted. It is remarkable, that after the Framer of the Curses had denied or disguised the most shocking Positions and Practices of Popery, he yet adds the following and last Curse: Cursed are we, if, in saying Amen to any of these Curses, we use any Equivocation or mental Reservation, or do not assent to them in the common and obvious Sense of the Words.
To all which I answer, Lord have Mercy upon us! The full and particular Answer to that, and to them all, I leave to the discerning Inquirer, who handles this last, as he has the rest, with proper Discernment and Strength.
I end where the Protestant Author begins. He tells us, that this Popish Performance is called, A Vindication of the Roman Catholics, being their most solemn Declaration of their utter Abhorrence of the following Tenets vulgarly laid to their Charge: And then follow the Curses. He says, that it was first published in order to introduce Popery here, in the Beginning of the Reign of the late King James, of whose detestable Government, blind Popish Bigotry, and furious Tyranny, I have lately given a short but true Account. It was reprinted at London, by the present Popish titular Bishop of London, in the Year 1743, when an Invasion was designed against England in favour of the Pretender. It was again republished “at a Time when a Popish Prince was attempting to drive out a Protestant one! a Time when Popery was thought likely to get into Power! a Time when Papists began to think themselves secure of gaining their Ends.”
The professed Purpose of this Popish Pamphlet is to persuade Protestants, that Papists merit equal Protections as equally good Subjects. Strange Assurance, after all that Protestants have suffered from Papists! Can Protestants ever forget the Popish Fires and Protestant Victims under Queen Mary, with their incessant, perfidious, and bloody Plots ever since, to restore Popery here; the dreadful Conspiracy to extirpate this whole Protestant State by Gunpowder; the Irish Massacre, fomented by the Pope, and the Popish Priests the keenest Butchers in it; the Massacre of Paris, approved and hallowed by the Pope; the daily Butcheries in the Inquisation; no Faith to be kept with Protestants; all Protestants persecuted, robbed, starved, and slaughtered, in all Popish Countries where Popish Priests have any Credit; all Protestants extirpated in all Countries where Popish Priests have Sway; the Spirit of Popery still the same, sanguinary and devouring; the Popish Emissaries ever busy, deluding and perverting the Simple and Credulous, daily making Proselytes, every Proselyte an Enemy to their Country, ready to turn against it, and zealous to destroy it?
“THE Settlement made by the Jesuits, upon the River Paraguay in America, is extremely remarkable. These good Fathers, every-where indefatigable in improving their Apostolic Talents, and turning Souls into Ecclesiastical Traffic and Power, began there, by drawing together, into one fixed Habitation, about Fifty Families of wandering Indians, whom they had persuaded to take their Word implicitly for whatever they told them: For this is what they call Conversion; and is, indeed, the true Art of making Catholics, who have no other Ground for their Faith, but the Assertions of their Priests.
“From this Beginning, and such Encouragement, the assiduous Fathers, ranging the Country, and dazling the stupid Savages with their shining Beads, charming them with their pious Tales and Grimaces, their tuneful Devotions and high Professions, made such a Harvest of Converts as to form a Commonwealth, or rather an Empire of Souls: For every Convert is a Subject most blindly obedient.
“The holy Fathers, not Fifty in Number, are thus Sovereigns of a noble Country, larger than some Kingdoms, and better peopled. It is divided into several large Districts, each of them governed by a single Jesuit, who is, as it were, a provincial Prince; but more powerful and revered, and better obeyed, than any European, or even any Eastern Monarch. His Word is not only a Law, but an Oracle; his Nod infers supreme Command: He is absolute Lord of Life and Death, and Property; may inflict capital Punishment for the lightest Offence; and is more dreaded, therefore more obeyed, than the Deity. His first Ministers and Officers, Civil and Military, are doomed by him to the meanest Punishments, and whipped not only like common Slaves, but like common Felons: Nor is this all their Punishment at least all their Abasement, which to a Man of Spirit is the worst Punishment. Whilst they are yet marked and mangled with the Lash, they run (Colonels and Captains run) and kneel before their holy Sovereign, condemn themselves for having incurred his pious Displeasure, and humbly kissing his reverend Sleeve, thank him for the fatherly Honour he has done them, in correcting them like Dogs.
“So much Tameness and Vassalage is part, and an important Article, of their Conversion. They are even pleased with their Servitude, and care not what they do and suffer here, for the mighty Treasures of Joy and Liberty which are insured to them hereafter by the good Father, who gives them all that he has to give in the next World, and, by way of Barter and Amends, takes all that they have in the present.
“The poor Indians cultivate the Ground, dig and plough, and reap and sow; they make Stuffs, and other Manufactures; they rear Fowls, they breed Cattle, they carry Burdens, and labour hard above Ground, as well as under it, where, in Sweat and Darkness, and in Peril of perishing, they drudge in the Mines: Yet, with all this Industry, they earn nothing, nothing for themselves: All their Earnings, all the Profit and Advantages, appertain not to them, but solely to the good Father, their spiritual Sovereign, who rewards them to the full with what costs him nothing; Blessings, and Masses, and distant Prospects. Their Grain and Manufactures are all carried into his Warehouses, their Cattle and Fowls into his Yards, their Gold and Silver into his Treasury: They dare not wear a Rag of their own spinning, nor taste a Grain of their own sowing, nor a Bit of Meat of their own feeding, nor touch the Metal of their own producing; nor so much as an Egg from the Hens they rear: They themselves are fed and subsisted, from Day to Day, by a limited Allowance, furnished them by the Appointment, and at the Mercy, of their great Lord, a small Priest.
“Yet, under all these Discouragements (which are none to them, who seem to have sacrificed their Feeling, as well as their Reason, to the Sorcery of Superstition) they are diligent and laborious to the last Degree, and vie with one another for the high Price and Distinction bestowed by the Father upon such as excel most in their Work and Industry, even the bewitching Honour of kissing his Sleeve. The second Commandment in their Table of Duties is, To fear the Jesuit, and obey him; as the two next are much akin to it, and of the like Tendency, even, To study Humility, and to contemn all worldly Goods. The Precept, of fearing God, seems to be prefixed for Form, and in Policy only, since it is impossible there should be any Knowlege of God where the Exercise of Reason is not known, nor permitted; nor can God be said to be regarded by those who use the Images of God like Beasts.
“All these Stores and Warehouses, so much Grain, so many Manufactures, so much Gold and Silver, so many Commodities, from so fine, so large, and so plentiful a Country, abounding in Mines, in Rivers, and Meadows full of Horses and Sheep and Black Cattle, of Timber and Fruit-Trees, of Flax and Indigo, Hemp and Cotton, Sugar, Drugs, and Medicinal Herbs, must enable these good Fathers, who have renounced all Wealth, and the World itself, to carry on an infinite and most lucrative Trade, in which, though they have vowed Poverty, they are extremely active, and consequently must make that Jesuitical Government a most powerful one. It hath Advantages which no other Government ever had; an absolute Independency upon its People, or their Purses; the whole Wealth of the Country in its present Rossession; the People absolutely submissive, and resigned to its good Pleasure, and all its Calls; no Factions; not a Malecontent; an Army of Sixty thousand Men, all tame and tractable, devoted to blind Obedience, commanded in Chief by a Jesuit, and obstinately averse to be commanded by any other General; a vast Revenue of many Millions; no Trouble in Taxing, no Time lost in collecting Taxes.
“Such a Government, whilst it proceeds upon the same Principles, is unchangeable. No wonder these Jesuits are extremely jealous and tender, not only in keeping the poor Indians Slaves to Ignorance and Bigotry, in order to keep them Slaves to themselves; but in concealing so much Empire and Wealth from all the World, especially from Spain, from whence they were sent, at the Expence of that Crown, to convert the Indians, and make them Subjects to the Spanish Monarchy. The good Fathers are so far from meaning any such Thing, that they not only carefully avoid teaching them the Spanish Tongue, but press it upon them as a Point of Conscience, not to converse with the Spaniards. It any Spaniard happens to come amongst them (a Thing which the Jesuits are so far from encouraging, that they care not to see it) he is indeed civilly used, but carefully confined within the Walls of their holy Citadel, the Presbytery; or if, by earnest Intreaty, he obtain Leave to walk through the Town, he is closely guarded by the Jesuit at his Side, and sees not an Indian in the Streets; for the Indians are ordered to shut themselves up, and fasten their Doors, upon any such Occasion.
“Besides, these vigilant Fathers keep Five or Six thousand Men, employed in several Detachments (Apostolic Troops!) to watch and scour the Frontiers, in order to cut off all Intercourse with the neighbouring Countries, not yet subjected to the good Fathers. Towards one of their Frontiers particularly, left the rich Mines in it might invite a Settlement from abroad, they have destroyed all the Horses, in order to discourage any such Settlement. For these self-denying Friars, who are sworn to Poverty, have an ardent Zeal to secure all these wealthy Mines to themselves for Religious Uses.
“These poor, rich, humble, sovereign Missionaries, as they are Masters of such immense Wealth, all consecrated to their own Use, that is, to the Use of Religion, make a proper Display of it. The Churches are spacious, magnificent in their Structure, and set off with all Pomp and Decorations, grand Porticoes and Colormades, rich Altars, adorned with Bas Reliefs, Pictures in Frames of massy Gold, and Saints of solid Silver, the Foot and Sides covered with Cloth of Gold, and the Pedestals with Plates of Gold; the Tabernacle made of Gold; the Pyx or Box for the Sacrament, of Gold, set round with Emeralds and other Jewels; the Vessels and Candlesticks made of Gold; the Whole, when illuminated, making a Shew almost beyond Belief. A proper Bait for the Eyes of deluded Indians, who, by such fine Sights, and the pious Mountebankry attending them, are retained in due Awe and Wonder!
“The princely Person of the poor Jesuit is suitably lodged in a spacious Palace, containing grand Apartments, furnished with many Pictures and Images, with proper Lodgings for his Train of Officers and Domestics; the Quadrangles and Gardens all in Proportion; the whole Court making a Square of some Miles. Observe, That all the many opulent Warehouses belonging to the holy disinterested Man are contained in it.
“Such is the Situation, such the State and inimitable Authority, of every Jesuit in Paraguay. There are but Forty odd of these Monks in all that great Tract of Country, and in it they have above a Million of Souls, not only to obey them, but to worship them; nor do these, their sightless and abject Slaves, know any other God: For where the true God is ever so little known no Man will worship Friars, who always paint him as like themselves, as they themselves are, in reality, unlike him.”
THY venturing thyself into Britain hath produced a Discovery, which ought to wound thee with sore Remorse; namely, that however sorry and wretched the Friends whom thou hast picked up in Scotland are, even barbarous Highlanders, Strangers to Humanity and our Language, Enemies to our Religion and Laws; yet thou hast no better Friends in England, none who are blessed either with Religion, or with Property, or with Sense. Neither canst thou wonder at it. Thou art an Outlaw, and canst hope no sincere Assistance but from such as are as desperate as thyself. Whoever joins with thee, or stands up for thee, by doing so forfeits all he hath, whether thou dost miscarry or succeed. If thou failest, he is forfeited and hanged: If thou carriest thy Point, all that he hath is thine, or at thy Mercy. For whether thou becomest Master by Force, or by Claim of Inheritance, it will be equally treasonable to contend with thee, when thou art Master. Thou needest only sanctify thy Usurpation with the profane Colour of Divine Right, and then all thy Violence is Law.
All the Laws in being are against thee. Canst thou give us any satisfying Reason, why all our Laws, and with them our Conscience, our Bible and our Property, should be sacrificed to thy Will? What is it to us that thou callest thy Name Stuart? A Name that will gain thee no Man that was not bewitched to thee before, by desperate Superstition, or desperate Ambition, or a desperate Fortune.
Under thy pretended Grandfather (to go no further back) we had a Struggle for our All; and by God’s Blessing and the Assistance of William the Valiant Prince of Orange, our Struggle was successful; as we trust, in God, our present Struggle will be. God hath blessed us with another William; we trust another Deliverer, a Hero and a Protestant, like his renowned Namesake; a Youth inured to Dangers and Battles, and ennobled by them; the Champion of Freemen, the Scourge of Rebels, the Terror of France, and thy Terror. Thou flyest before him, thou and the desperate Host: We firmly hope that thy Flight will soon be final. We have now, as we had then, the zealous Concurrence of all Ranks of Protestants, Churchmen and Dissenters. Nor do we fear the Power and Malice of the Papists, thy only unchangeable Friends, and our unchangeable Enemies. Thou hast no Argument to offer but thy Will, and thy Sword: And this was thy pretended Grandfather’s best Argument. The Defence of our Religion and our Laws (the only Glory of a King and his only Support) was so far from his Heart, that though he promised and swore to preserve both inviolably, he openly strove to extirpate one and to abolish the other.
What canst thou promise that he did not swear? And what were his Oaths and all his Engagements to his Protestant Subjects, but Snares laid to lull them fast asleep, and then to destroy them before they were thoroughly awake? His mad and ungodly Zeal hurried him too fast. He would not allow his People sufficient Time to be well deceived. His sacred Oaths were violated almost as soon as made. Verily, he broke some Parts of his Oath before he took it, by seizing the Revenues to be settled by Parliament before the Parliament had granted them; and then asked the Parliament to grant him what he had seized. His blind Bigotry to Popery (as Bigotry is always without Bounds in a narrow Genius) made the Protestant Faith, as well as the English Councils, odious to him. He was blindly led by the Jesuits, and other Emissaries from Rome, particularly by an idolatrous Woman of that Communion, his Italian Wife. His whole Conduct was such, so perfidious, so precipitate and arbitrary, that whoever is not for ever warned by it against Popery in their Princes, and against a Popish Prince on the English Throne, will never take any Warning, never be a real Englishman.
Thou canst not deceive us with thy Promises; we shall not trust thee even upon thy Oath. We know how Papists reason, and how easily Popish Priests can absolve Popish Princes. No Oath must be kept that mars the Catholic Faith, and Catholic Tyranny. Neither canst thou convince any reasonable Man, that ever Popery prevailed without Tyranny, or that any Tyranny was complete without Popery in any State called Christian: Nor canst thou prove, that ever any Popish Prince kept Faith with a Protestant People.
But thou hast indeed in Fact dispensed with thyself from imposing upon us, by any artful faithless Engagements in form, to maintain our Rights; whether from thy own Modesty, that thou wilt not profess what thou art far from intending; or that thy Priests do not think it good Policy to seek by fair Means, what they hope, and perhaps make thee hope, to gain for thee and themselves by a strong Hand. Thou didst therefore mock the People of Glasgow, with notable Bitterness, when in Defence of the Demands of thy wild Mountain-men, sent to rob them of a great Sum, thou toldest them, “Thou wouldest maintain them in all their Rights;” when, in Fact, thou wast convincing them, that they hadNone. The good People of Scotland may say the same Thing to Thee, and yet drive thee out of their Country the Day after. Had not the Men of Glasgow a Right to their own Money? Pray, what Right hadst thou to it, besides the great Swords of thy half-naked Highlanders, who make no Distinction between Robbery and Right, and are therefore proper Defenders of thine?
Thy Mockery of poor Men in Distress was still more bitter, when thou didst acquaint the forlorn Inhabitants of that City (trembling with the Daggers of Savages at their Throats) with what great Success thou hadst had, and “how it became them to be glad, that thou hadst had so much.” As thou wast stripping them with an unfeeling Heart (for Heretics deserve no Pity) couldst thou thus banter them too with an unmoved Countenance? Whatever thou didst mean, or howsoever thou didst look, thy whole Conduct, and thy Words, on this Occasion, furnish an instructive Lesson to every Briton, and will, I hope, make as deep and proper Impressions upon all Britons, as they did, and do, and still shall upon me.
Young Man, I pray thee, who sent for thee, and what didst thou come for? That thou comest in the Name of thy Father may be a Plea in the Mouth of a Child; but instead of an Argument for thee, rather excites an Alarm against thee. Thy Father is a Name of Contempt and Aversion to Protestants and Englishmen; and none but the Ungodly, the Unenlightened Dwellers upon the Mountains, have invited thee or stood by thee; Sons of Belial and of Blood, chosen to support thy Reign by committing universal Plunder, and cutting Throats. Or if France and Spain and Rome espouse thy Cause, can it be any other than the Cause of Babylon and of Antichrist? Canst thou conceive a Cause more odious, more execrable and alarming to the Ears of Englishmen and Protestants?
What comest thou for? Is it to restore thy Father to what he never had, a Crown? Thy Father is debarred from the Crown; and common Fame says, is as much unqualified as disqualified for it. And how well qualified thou art, let the Laws declare, together with thy lawless Intrusion, and the barbarian Rule exercised by thee and thy Savages in Scotland. We know of no Restoring in England but what we dread to see restored, Popery and Slavery. Is it because thy pretended Grandfather attempted to establish both, that thy Father pretends to succeed him? Thy true Errand is to abolish our dear and sacred Birthright, the matchless Blessings of Liberty, with all the Laws that secure these heavenly Blessings, as also the illustrious Protestant King, who secures all these Laws. The Laws are the Rule of his Reign; as Veracity and Magnanimity are the Rules of his Life. He never, in one Instance, deceived his Subjects; never wronged, never defrauded, much less oppressed, one single Subject. His Heart is too manly to be false. He abhors Popery, as it promotes Contradiction and Falsehood, and inspires Cruelty and Deceit, with Perjury and Tyranny, the true Marks of the Beast and her Followers!
What thinkest thou of thy pretended Grandfather? What thinkest thou of thy Father and thyself, and of what thou art now doing and pursuing? Was the Reign of King James any more like the Reign of King George, than insolent and merciless Oppression is like fatherly Protection; than mean Deceit (very mean in a King) is like princely Sincerity and the open Spirit of a Man; or than diabolical Perjury is like the pious and heroic Adherence of our Great King to Faith and Oaths?
How dost thou like this Explanation and true Comparison? What is in thy Father to recommend him to Englishmen and Protestants? Is it the Blood of thy presended Grandfather? This is a Distinction that would do him or thee but little good: None but Enthusiasts regard it: We true Protestants and Englishmen disown it. I doubt many despise it. Dost thou hope to bring it into Esteem, and with it thy Popery and thy murdering Robbers, half-clad Highlanders, in sported Blankets?
Whatever Name thou dost assume, thou art an Usurper: Whatever Title thou dost claim, thou hast in reality none but Violence. Thy Success must be our Destruction.———With what Face canst thou desire a Free People to be Slaves to an Outlaw and an Exile? The Laws, the Laws of God and Man, are on our Side: By these Laws thou art a Criminal condemned. Thou art indeed a desperate Adventurer. All thy Way is paved with Guilt and Danger. Dost thou set up thyself, or the Phantom thy Father, both Strangers, both Outlaws, against the Peace and Felicity of Three great Kingdoms? Must He or Thou reign, though They perish; as surely they must, if either of you do? This argues a desperate Spirit. It is bidding Defiance to the Living God: It is denouncing Perdition to his Creatures.
Whenever this Nation hath wanted a King, they have chosen a King. William the Third; the late King George; and this King George, came all to the Throne by the Invitation and Authority of Parliament. These Kings we know; but, What art thou? Surely not a King, but a very strange Character, a Wanderer and a Robber, attempting to seize a Kingdom. Thy Abettors and Followers suit thy Person and Fortune. Any one of them though unable to read thy assumed Title, might, with equal Pretences, produce a longer Genealogy for himself than thine, and as sounding. For, according to thy Example and Demand, every Man that can, may rob and master human Society.
I bless God, we want not a King: If we did, we should never chuse nor admit thee. I bless God, we have a good and a gracious King, a just and a brave King. Is it likely, that we shall change him for one descended from thy pretended Grandfather? So thou mayest depart. God bless King George; God bless and multiply his Race; God protect his Family and these Nations, and blast the Hopes of all Pretenders with the Devices of all Papists, at home and abroad.
O young Man! this is the warm and devout Prayer (however thou mayst dislike it) of thy upright Monitor,
THE learned Dr. Middleton hath, with unanswerable Strength and Clearness, demonstrated at large the Conformity of Popery to antient Paganism. I shall here shew the intimate Resemblance between the Popish Clergy and those of modern Paganism in the East; and I shall take my Proofs from Popish Authors only, even the Eastern Missionaries, Authors highly esteemed, and their Works highly approved by the Romish Church.
The Bonzes, Lamas, Talapois, are much the same Sort of Priests with different Names in different Countries in the East; Bonzes in Japan and China, Lamas in Tartary, Talapois in Siam. They profess to adore Two Divinities, Fo and Omito, Father and Son, and hold, that the Invocation of these Two is sufficient to expiate all Crimes the most enormous, and to procure their Votaries a happy Regeneration, or Renascence, according to their Notions of Transmigration.
They have a Table of Five very laudable, moral Precepts, or Commandments: First, To do no Murder. Secondly, Not to commit Adultry. Thirdly, Not to covet. Fourthly, Not to bear False Witness. Fifthly, Not to practise Intemperance. But above all, they recommend Alms-deeds, especially to themselves; and preach up the Duty of furnishing the Priests with Wealth and all Things; of obeying them in all Things; and of building them Temples; “Since (they allege) that it is by Their Prayers, and by the Penance which they impose, that you are redeemed from eternal Torments.”
What unlimited Power must not such revered Impostors gain over their blind Followers? The Soul of a Man they hold goes, when he dies, into some other Creature, a better or a worse, according to his Merit or Defaults; and this Character of him depends upon the Word and Pleasure of the Priests.
A Pagan, who thought himself dying, sent for a Romish Missionary. “Father, says the poor Man, the Bonzes, who know perfectly what passes in the other World, and our Lot after Death, assure me, that as I lived a Pensioner upon the Emperor’s Bounty, I shall be transformed at my Death into a Post-horse, to carry his Dispatches into the Provinces. They exhort me therefore to beware of starting and stumbling, biting and kicking; but to be obedient and submissive, to run chearfully, and to eat sparingly. Thus, they say, I shall earn the Compassion of the Gods, who often bring a Man of Quality, and a great Mandarin, out of a dumb Beast. Now, Father, my next State startles me, and I dread the Thought. In my Sleep I find myself already saddled, trembling, and ready to fly at the first Lash of the Post-boy; I wake in Sweat and Horror, and continue to fansy myself a Horse. I am told, Father, that in your Religion there is more Tenderness, that by it Men in this World continue Men in t’other; and I would rather be a Christian than a Beast.”
It is Father Le Comte who tells this Story, without seeing the obvious Analogy between the Bonzes of China and the Bonzes of Rome. Father Du Halde, who repeats it from him, as little sees how naturally his own Reflections upon these Eastern Cheats return upon the Cheats of his own Order, and upon all the Orders of his Church. “It is manifest, says he, that if the Chineses be thus Bubbles, and the Believers of a Doctrine so absurd and ridiculous, as that of the Metempsychosis; the Bonzes, who so zealously spread it, derive no small Advantage from it. It marvelously supports all the Rogueries which they employ to extort Almsgifts, and to swell their Revenues. As they come from the lowest Populace, and are inured from their Infancy to an idle Profession, they find that this Doctrine warrants all the Tricks and Frauds which they practise to excite the Liberality of the People.”
What a true Picture of the Popish Monks! This lying Doctrine, and all the knavish Devices of the Bonzes, however copious, impudent and lucrative, are barren, impotent and modest, compared to Purgatory, Transubstantiation; the Penances, Absolutions, and all the infinite and incredible Rogueries of the Pope and the other Romish Bonzes. Those in the East must be owned to be tolerable Proficients in all the Arts of pious Knavery, their Intrusion into Courts, their Flatteries to great Men, their Cajoleries to weak Women; their Gravity, Hypocrisy and eternal Avarice; nightly Devotions, Austerities, Fastings and Mortifications; their Pilgrimages; the Magnificence and Decorations of their Temples; their many Postures, Genuflections and Prostrations; their Incense, Perfumes, and Wax-Candles; their Idols, Pictures and endless Repetitions: For in all these Tricks they abound, as those of Rome do. But in all these Grimaces and Efforts of Fraud, though full and fond of them, they are but Babes to their elder Brothers of Rome.
Almost all spiritual Rogueries do, in many Instances, resemble one another: Even in China you would take yourself to be in Spain or Portugal. Such a common Sameness you find in the Devotion of the Eastern Bonzes and the European Monks, and in the Credulity of the People, Catholic or Pagan. You see these solemn Drolls, the Bonzes, scourging themselves with Rods, flashing themselves with Knives in the Streets; dragging heavy Iron Chains; battering their naked Bodies with rough Stones; stopping at every Door, and Canting:—“All this we suffer for the Expiation of your Sins! Can you refuse us moderate Alms?”
The same Le Comte says, he saw “a young Bonze, of a very genteel Air, and of a proper Address to deceive the Crowd, in the Middle of a Town shut in and standing upright, in a close Chair, driven thick all round with long iron Nails, the sharp Ends inward; so that he could no way lean against it without a Thousand Wounds. Two Fellows whom he had hired, carried him from Door to Door; and at every Door he made his Speech: You see me thus inclosed and tortured for the Good of your Souls: Nor will I ever relinquish this my Prison, till you have bought all these my Nails. Each Nail will cost but Six-pence; a small Price for such a Treasure of Benedictions as it brings! In purchasing them you will do an Act of heavenly Merit, not to us theBonzes,but to the GodFo,to whose Honour weBonzesare building a Temple.”
Observe that the holy Penitent had above Two thousand of these Nails to sell. By this precious Commodity, though he lost some Blood he got Money, with the Odour of Sanctity, perhaps more Mistresses, and notable Credit with his Order, as well as to it.
The Nails had certainly an intrinsic Value, however far short of their religious Value. But how superior is the intrinsic Value of a Thousand Masses; and who but Priests can retail them for a single Farthing? Do not the Popish Priests likewise turn into ready Money all the Supernumerary Merit and Sufferings of their Saints and Confessors? According to their Doctrine and Marketing, all rigid Disciplinarians and Martyrs are so many new Redeemers of Souls, and so many Benefactors to the Monks, who turn their Blood and Penance into ready Cash.
Let them produce what Instances of Superstition they can (be the same ever so extravagant, ever so scandalous and blasphemous) from the Fooleries and Frauds of the Pagans, the most idolatrous Pagans, and of all the Pagan Priesthood; the Whole will come infinitely short of their own. And as to priestly Tyranny, Cruelty and national Havock, Popery has committed more in a Day than Paganism in a Thousand Years. All the Roguery and Rapine of the Bonzes have not visibly lessened the mighty Numbers of People in China; Numbers, perhaps, equal to all those upon the rest of the Globe.
america, which, though called but a Quarter of the World, is almost a Half, swarmed once in many Parts of it with Inhabitants, but is now nigh desolate, many of its best Regions utterly desolate, rendered so by Catholic Cruelty. Spain, by the Expulsion of the industrious Moors, some Millions, first and last, and by the daily Butcheries of the Inquisition for some Centuries, has long found a very natural Return of Beggary and dismal Solitude, instead of Multitudes and Plenty; many of her fertile Plains as desert as her most barren Mountains; and nothing prospering but Priests, who mar and damp, and banish all Prosperity, and blast all the Blessings of Nature, as they thwart and curse all the Wisdom and Virtue of Man. In France, and all over Christendom, their Outrages, Devastations, their Antichristian Spirit and boundless Cruelties, are sadly remembered and felt.
As to the lewd Arts and Debaucheries of the Bonzes with Women, and one another, their Monasteries, and their Tricks to maintain them; their Hermitages and priestly Retreats; their hard-hearted Unconcern for all the rest of the World, even for Parents and Relations: All these, the common Curses of Priestcraft every where, are still more visible in the Popish Countries of Europe, more prevalent and more pernicious.
The Popish Missionaries in the East mention with Horror the Use which Libertines, Priests and other Fanatics, make of the Doctrine of Transmigration, in order to commit Whoredom and Self-Murder. Such a one need only represent to a young Nymph, tender of her Person, and loth to prostitute it, that her Body is hardly any Part of her, at least the meanest Part, a transient Covering and Vehicle, soon of itself to perish, the Slave and Off-cast of the Soul, and not to be regarded: And having thus taught her to despise her Person, he enjoys it. If she still refuse, he has another Argument, “That in her last State she had promised him to be his, and then, by dying, deprived him of his Right;” which he therefore claims, and often regains in her present State.
No doubt such Craft and Lewdness are abominable, but not peculiar to the Eastern Bonzes. Many Debaucheries, more hideous, have been practised by our Romish Bonzes, and by Artifices as impious; all under the Cloke of Religion: Witness Father Girard, Confessor and spiritual Director to Madamoiselle Cadiere, famous as he is for making a Bawd of Devotion to debauch her Person, and turning her frantic spiritual Raptures into Raptures of real Carnality. Any lewd Priest having the blind Guidance of a fine Lady’s Conscience, may too easily guide her into his own Arms.
Neither were the ancient Pagan Priests the only sacerdotal Procurers for the God of their Temple, or the only ones who gratified their own infamous Passion, by pretending to carry a lovely Lady to the Embraces of the Idol. It is no more than what the Romish Priests have done, under the Name and pretended Demand of some popular Saint. And when a blessed Saint condescended to visit a charming She-Votary, long his passionate Adorer, could she help being transported with so heavenly a Favour, or be either incredulous or unthankful to the holy Instrument who managed the Amour and procured it?
jetzer, a visionary Monk in Swisserland, just before the Reformation, was visited, as he for some time verily believed, by the Virgin Mary in Person, in all her Glory, attended by Angels. The awful, but fond Apparition, gave him several wonderful Marks of Distinction, and even promised him every Favour but the last. Some of these Favours seemed too painful and butcherly to come from the Queen of Heaven, and by cruelly piercing his Feet and Hands with a Knife (in order to honour him with our Saviour’s Wounds upon the Cross) the poor deluded Dotard, after several Visits, much Suffering, and long Belief, was at last undeceived, and discovered the supposed Virgin speaking in the Voice of the Sub-prior, the Contriver and chief Manager of the infernal Cheat, though the whole Convent was engaged in it. The Contrivers had all formally renounced God under their Hands, in order to learn Sorcery. To prevent all Inquiry, they several times gave their poor Victim Poison, without Success. The holy Reprobates were soon after burned at the Stake
It is observable, that this diabolical Plot was framed out of pious Zeal to advance the Glory and Interest of the holy Order: And the General of the Order, who had laboured in vain to prevent the Discovery of the sacred Villainy, was supposed to have died broken-hearted, or by his own Hands, because the Discovery was made, and the atheistical Zealots executed.
As to the Austerities which cost some of the crazy Bonzes, and their as crazy Followers their Lives, for which the Missionaries charge them with promoting Self-Murder; the Charge comes with great Impropriety and want of Modesty from them. The Romish Church has produced many such Self-Murders (I wish that she had never produced any other:) Many of her Votaries have emaciated, starved, and even destroyed themselves with the mad Rigor of Penance.
Her Policy is such, that whilst she indulges the most Voluptuous and Licentious in all their Excesses (for a proper Consideration!) she encourages the most shocking Austerities, even the incredible ones of La Trappe, where the miserable Devotees daily accelerate their own Death. Such Saint-like Men bring her Credit: Debauched Men bring her Money: And whatever Men suffer, however they sin, she thrives by the great Blessings of Wealth, and Fraud, and Tyranny.
AMONGST the many good Sermons (some of them excellent ones) published upon the present Conjuncture, I have seen one from an eminent Hand, which would serve upon any public Conjuncture, and expose the Author to no Hazard, whatsoever the Issue happened to be. He leaves others to rouse and alarm, to inflame the Heart, to paint the Horrors of Popery and Tyranny, and to defy all the Patrons and Powers of either. He deals chiefly in Generals, about the Vices and Apostasy of the Jews, the Calamities following the same, and the Warning we should take from thence.
He likewise enters into our own History; gives us Examples of our own happy Escapes by the kind Interpositions of Providence, in the Midst of surrounding Dangers; and says as much of our present Danger as became a prudent Preacher, unwilling to lose old Friends, or to make new Enemies. Perhaps his Performance might have been stronger and less guarded, had he postponed it till the Rebellion had been extinguished: A Precaution which a renowned Doctor took during the former Rebellion Thirty Years ago. After the Rebellion was over he published a good Sermon against Rebellion, and by it merited his first Dignity in the Church.
He calls upon us to bear our Testimony against prevailing Corruptions———But if we grow careless and indifferent,—and suffer a Spirit of Irreligion to prevail over the Nation, we forfeit our Title to God’s Protection. He mentions with Detestation the Blasphemy, which, he says, has swarmed from the Press, and names a Burlesque upon the Christian Hymn, called the Te Deum. It was, indeed, a licentious and scurrilous Libel. But as it was a weak and wild Production, I think it below the Dignity of the Pulpit to mention it, especially with such pompous Abhorrence. Are all Men to expect Divine Judgments for what all Men condemn? Is the wife God to afflict a whole People, because a libertine Poet writes a licentious Ode?
When he represents Blasphemy as swarming from the Press, and only quotes a rash Rhapsody, universally condemned, as much as the Writer of it was pitied; the Terrors which he had raised, vanish in Consolation from the probable Hopes that he can quote no more, or none so terrible.
What other Productions from the Press he means, I know not. Sure he is too candid to mean all that offend the hot Men and Bigots amongst the Clergy, who are apt to blacken the Best, when the Best thwart them. I have seen bitter Invectives from many of them, some of them of Name and Distinction, against the fairest Reasoning, against Christian Charity and Moderation; against all Men who differed from them in their most narrow Conceits, and most interested Schemes. Locke has been reviled as a Socinian, for his noble Attempts to improve human Reason, and even for shewing the Reasonableness of Christianity; Tillotson as an Atheist, for his Rational Divinity; Hoadly as a Presbyterian, for supporting the established Episcopal Church upon the Principles of the Constitution. All these, and many more, have been mercilesly used only for their eminent Merit, for their calm Tempers, their charitable Principles, and their invincible Reasoning.
The Preacher knew, that the most opprobrious Names, even these of Atheist and Blasphemer, are often no more than Names of Abuse, scolding Terms, thrown at Random, often falsly, by angry Bigots, sometimes by grave Impostors, upon Men who love Truth, and therefore seek it and defend it, for its own sake only, without other View, Claim or Reward. By-words and Prejudices govern the Many of all Conditions. Credulity passes for Conformity, Antipathy for Zeal. The Fox-hunter (a High-churchman) in one of Mr. Addison’s Freeholders, boasts how happy they were in that County, for that they had not a Presbyterian in it, except the Bishop; and how popular, a keen Spaniel of his was amongst the Country Gentlemen, for having once almost worried a Dissenting Teacher.
Never was Man more scurrilously and more bitterly treated by passionate Divines, than that great Ornament to his Profession, that Divine Reasoner, Mr. Chillingworth. His Arguments were stiled subtle Atheism; his Defence of Reason declared worse than Popery, at least as bad; “For what Advantage would it be to the Protestant Cause, were the Pope deposed from his infallible Chair, if Reason be inthroned in it?” says Dr. Cheynell: “This, said he, will only serve to advance Socinianism.”
chillingworth had other Revilers without Number: But Cheynell was the most remarkable. He was personally kind to him, yet refused to bury him, but eagerly buried his Book.
When the Preacher quotes one blasphemous Performance, yet talks of others, he leaves his Hearers and Readers to guess what they are; and they who have heard very good ones, nay the best railed at by Men whom they implicitly believe, will fix the Imputation there. Books that expose Ecclesiastical Craft and Encroachment, which are surely as mischievous Weeds as ever choaked the Field of the Gospel, are vehemently decried by weak or designing Men, and treated as furiously as ever Chillingworth’s Books were treated. And as Men have been often reviled as Atheists for defending God’s Truth against Impostors; the Nation has been threatened with God’s Wrath for encouraging such Truth.
Liberty will always be abused most, where it abounds most. But no Abuse of it can atone for its Loss. Reason and true Religion will always gain by Liberty, and be able to defend themselves against all Attacks: Folly, Virulence and Scurrility, when discharged against them, will only serve to shew their Strength and Beauty: Even Blasphemy will appear more detestable, when examined by Reason. They who admired the Te Deum most, saw the Burlesque of it with the most Indignation; and any one will see, by comparing them, the Impotence as well as Impiety of the Attempt.
Are we to bear our Testimony against prevailing Corruptions, and to see none amongst the Clergy? The Preacher is silent upon this Head. Is it not a great Corruption, this which I have mentioned, the virulent Behaviour of some of them (I fear I might say many of them) towards such as differ from them, even in Matters of Conscience, and such as blame and would amend the most unwarrantable Parts of their Conduct? How barbarously have they used the Advocates for Toleration and diffusive Christian Charity? Strange Unchristian Proceedings! By defending the most indefensible Things, Persecution, secular Pride and Power in spiritual Hands (the constant Curse and Bane of Religion in all Ages, the Parent of the Inquisition, and even of Popery) they forfeited the Character of Christian Teachers; and by debasing Religion into Party, were justly considered, not as Preachers of Christ, but of Faction. Could there be a worse Spirit, or greater Corruption? And could the Preacher inadvertently omit them? Could he conceive them to be the less provoking to God, because they came from the Clergy?
Was it not natural, at least was it not just, in the Preacher, when he was complaining of public Corruptions, to have inquired into those of his own Order, whether many of them be not slack in the Performance of their Duty; many too indifferent about it; many of them performing none; yet all zealous to claim Dignity from their Cloth, and Divine Respect to their Persons, though nothing Divine appear in their Practice? Not a Word of Non-Residence! Is not Non-Residence a very crying Corruption, yet what more common; to undertake the Care, that is, the Salvation of Souls, to be paid for it, often greatly paid, to answer to God for it, yet transfer that interesting, that awful Trust to another, discouraged by small Wages not to perform it?
Is this a Way to prevent the Growth of Popery (of which the Preacher complains) or to procure Reverence to Churchmen? Is this an Expedient to prevent the Growth of Irreligion, if there be any Teachers of Religion, who convert Religion into Commerce, and prostitute a sacred Trust to worldly Ends, to Voluptuousness, Avarice, Strife? These are they who make Unbelievers. The want of Respect to such irreligious Teachers will never pass for Irreligion with any Man, who has Religion or common Sense: And it is too common a Practice for Clergymen who exercise the least Religion, to complain loudest of the Want of it in others. Or, is it not rather Artifice, to hide such Want in themselves?
I dwell no longer here upon the great Corruption of Non-Residence, so introductive to all other Corruptions, especially to all Corruptions in Religion and good Morals, and consequently the greatest that affect and ruin human Society. Let me observe to the candid Christian Reader, that our Preacher, who puts on such Concern for Religion, and against Irreligion, says not a Syllable about this prevailing, this irreligious Custom, much less against it. So far is he from raising any Alarm, or apprehending Divine Judgments for such unhallowed Neglect of Divine Duties, Neglect so affrontful to God, and pernicious to Man.
His Censure of the Errors and Faults of the Clergy would have appeared candid, after he had been praising them for their Defence of the Doctrines of the Reformation in King James’s Time: And it would have looked equally candid in him, had he owned the Heat and persecuting Spirit of the Clergy before and after the Revolution, with their mad Partiality to a Popish Successor, and their having helped him to destroy the Nation and themselves. As it did the Clergy Honour at home and abroad, to have behaved like Englishmen in King James’s Time, it would have been for the Credit of the Preacher, had he owned their great Weakness and Iniquity in having flattered that King and his Brother, in their worst and most unprotestant Measures, and sanctified all their lawless, ungodly Doings: Threatening and godless Flattery! Big with terrible Consequences, almost fatal to the Nation, surely more interesting to us, in this Generation, than the Backslidings of the Jews some Thousand Years ago!
What he says about the Jews is as foreign to us as their Constitution and Government were to ours. They worshiped Idols, graven Images, and strange Gods, and thus provoked the true God. These are not the Sins of Englishmen, at least of those who adhere to our present English Government; and I hope the Nation in general will not be doomed to the heavy Judgments of a just God; for the Idolatry of Papists, and the Rebellion of apostate Protestants.
The Preacher therefore in vain rouses Terror from false Objects. An honest and well-affected Citizen of London, of Edinburgh, of Carlisle, or of Sarum, or any where, I hope, is not threatened with Divine Judgment, because the Ruffians in the Highlands have renounced God and the King. This would be strange Divinity: I wish it were less urged. It can serve no Interest but the Interest of Craft, or of Enthusiasm: And generally, from one or other of these Motives, the awful, the inscrutable Judgements of God are boldly denounced and applied. This Rashness, indeed Impiety, has been often exposed, and always will be, as often as ’tis attacked, yet is always confidently resumed by Demagogues, Fanatics and Craftsmen.
The Nonjurors have been threatening the Nation with Divine Judgments, ever since the Revolution. The People and Clergy are by them declared to be in a State of Schism and Damnation; the Kingdom under an Usurpation, and both King and Subjects intitled to God’s avengeing Wrath: A Doom particularly denounced by Dr. Brett, whose Popish Doctrine of authoritative Absolution, was moved to be approved by the Convocation in a late Reign, and no Censure passed upon the Motion. I know not that our Preacher was then a Member of it: He was certainly one soon afterwards, one of the zealous Committee for censuring and misrepresenting that truly Protestant and Christian Sermon of Bishop Hoadly, defending Christ’s own Doctrine, that “His Kingdom is not of this World.” Not a Word from that pious Synod against the Nonjurors Clergy, nor against the other Incendiary Preachers, who raised the former Rebellion; so far from threatening them with Judgments!
One Comfort, however, the Preacher finds in the general Aversion of the Nation to Popery, but a Comfort that hath an Abatement in it, namely, “That a Fear of Popery is not always a Concern for the Purity of the Gospel, but a Fear merely of the Powers of a Popish church.” Strange Reasoning in an Englishman, and a Protestant Preacher! Whatever sincere Protestant knows Popery, must fear it; whoever fears it, will oppose it. Whoever opposes Popery, serves the Interest of the Gospel, and of Liberty, and consequently serves his Country, both in its spiritual and temporal Interest. What would the Preacher have more? Can he himself do more? Or ought he to mistrust the Intentions of any Man in serving so just, so Divine a Cause? How would he like to be charged with a bad Design, or with an hypocritical Meaning; in this or any other of his pious Labours? Does not he himself fear Popery? So much the greater Cause have his Readers to fear it: As Cato pertinently said to Cæsar, in relation to Catiline’s Conspiracy, which Cæsar secretly encouraged, yet publickly railed at the Conspirators, whilst he was striving to save them from capital Punishment, by artfully transferring the present Dread of the Senators upon other Objects.
If Popery be the Bane of the Gospel, as I think it is; he who assaults Popery is an Instrument to restore the Purity of the Gospel. Popery is worse than no Religion, as our best Divines allow and assert; and its bitter, unsociable burning, damning Spirit, is pernicious to all Religion, to Reason, Peace and Mercy. Ought not Religion, ought not Reason and Humanity all justly to fear, what they all have Cause to abhor, and what destroys them all, the Power of a Popish Church? And can there be higher Merit than exposing and crushing the most dreadful Devices and Engines of human Misery?
The Preacher seems fond of this unfair, inconclusive Reasoning, and adds, that “those who have the least Religion, have reason to be apprehensive of Ecclesiastical Courts and Inquisitions,under the Direction of Popery.” I hope he will not deny, that all who have any Religion, or the most Religion, have ample and equal Cause for such Apprehensions. Does he know any thing more terrible, more diabolical, than the Inquisition, to any reasonable Man, who would not shipwreck his Conscience, his Liberty, his Life and Fortune? It is so far from being chiefly terrible to Men of little or no Religion, that such only are the safest from it. Men of no Conscience will submit to any System, take any Oaths, and die for no Creed. The greatest Atheists are known to be the most cruel Inquisitors: The greatest Hypocrites are generally the loudest Professors everywhere; and he who has the least Religion or Honesty, is generally the readiest to charge others with the Want of them.
BUT in this (that is, in the Apprehension of the Inquisition, under the Direction of Popery) says the Preacher, still more strangely, there is no Virtue or Merit. Surely there is little Candor, and great want of Charity in this Assertion. Is there no Virtue in Anxiety for public and private Liberty; in a Passion to save our Country, in an Abhorrence of Slavery, Imposture, Idolatry, Persecution? No Merit in the Love of Truth and Freedom, in rescuing and defending all that is dear to Men and Society? If the Preacher thinks all this not to be Religion, namely, to love, to serve, and to endeavour to save the Public, by opposing and pulling down what destroys the Public, and extirpates Religion itself, he had better have kept his Opinion to himself.
The famous Doctor Gainham, many Years Resident in the Fleet, hearing the Reverend Dr. L———commended for his great Humanity, and great Piety; cried out, with his usual Modesty, “Who the D———I thanks him for that? His Wise beats him. It is she that keeps him humble, and he appears pious by being sad.”
What higher Virtue can be required in Society? What better Religion in any Member of it, than a warm Zeal for his Country, its Religion and Liberties, and a suitable Detestation of Slavery, Imposture and Idolatry? Will he oppose to so much useful Merit, dry Speculations, Monkish Distinctions, and the Repetition of Creeds? Will he set up any narrow Bigot against so noble a Character; a Character justly esteemed beyond all others in all free, polite and rational Nations? The antient Greeks and Romans never inquired, concerning a Friend to the State, a Hero in the Field, a Patriot in the Senate, what Form of Prayer he used, or what Mode of Worship he practised, or what Articles of Belief he professed? His public Services, his virtuous Dealings, were all that the Public wanted from him; and whoever had Virtue was reckoned to have Religion.
Virtue is Religion, at least the surest Proof and Indication of it: Whoever has Virtue is a good Citizen and a good Man: Nor need Society or his Neighbours inquire further about him. The contrary Reasoning strikes at the very Root of Religion itself, and of all private and social Virtue: Thus the best Man may be said to be just only from Dread of the Laws; the best Women to be chaste from Fear of Obloquy; the most pious Preachers to be disguised Hypocrites, only courting Preferment, or popular Applause; the bravest Soldiers animated by nothing but the Love of Glory or of Pay; and the most devout Christian by the Terrors of Damnation.
ARISTIDES, Epaminondas, Scipio, Paulus Æmilius, Cato, Cicero, all Friends to Mankind, all virtuous Benefactors to their Country, naturally loved Liberty, naturally abhorred Tyranny; animated to both by a Principle of Virtue. Was not this Religion? Will it be said, that they acted against Tyrants, only from their Fear of Tyranny, and from no Regard for Liberty? And was it a lucky Circumstance to Rome and Athens, that Tyranny had something in it to be feared by Men, who had no Impulse but what led them to Virtue and the public Good?
The Wise, the Just, and the Brave, have at all times been the Aversion of Bigots and Craftsmen, two Characters ever famous for little Service to Mankind, yet always loudest to profess it. What Exploits did the common Tribe of enthusiastic Saints and designing Faith-Makers, ever perform for the Age they lived in, but to darken, divide and enthral it?
“Ecclesiastical Courts and Inquisitions, under the Direction of Popery,” is a suspicious, at best an odd Phrase, though perhaps not odd from him. He is noted for his Zeal for Ecclesiastical Powers, and for Penalties upon such as differ from him, even in Religious Modes and Trifles invented by Men: He is a known Advocate for severe Laws against Tender Consciences, who boggle at Forms and Rituals, though agreeing with himself in all fundamental Principles, and equal to himself in all Points of Morality. He is therefore a Champion for someEcclesiastical Courts and Inquisitions; and whoever is for any, where Conscience is concerned, is for the worst and the highest, since where small Penalties do not avail, the greatest must be applied. Nor doth it import the poor Sufferer, by what Name his Sufferings are called, or under whose Direction he suffers.
AllPersecution is a Departure from Christianity, and the Bane of it. All Persecutors are alike; and where they are equally Masters, would go equal Lengths. They would be all Inquisitors. In this Protestant Country they have formerly rioted in Fury and Oppression, in Fines and Dungeons, by the mad Assistance of the then Civil Magistrate, who favoured Popery, because Popery was the Support of Tyranny. That they failed in this their natural Progress to erect an Inquisition, was owing to Christian Checks from the Civil Power better directed. Such Ecclesiastical Inquisitions underthe Direction of Popery know no Bounds, because they own no Controul: They are independent upon, and absolute over, the Civil Power: An Independency long claimed, and sometimes confidently usurped in this free Protestant Country, even since it enjoyed its highest Freedom, derived from the Revolution.
AgainstEcclesiastical Inquisitions, even under the Direction of Popery, the Preacher says nothing: Though it fell so naturally in his Way, at this alarming Conjuncture, when Popery was making hideous Advances to devour us, he only adds, very coolly, with the cautious Softening of a perhaps, and a may be, that “it is a happy Circumstance at present, that there is something in Popery, for those to be afraid of, who have no Regard for Religion.”
I thought that almost every Thing in Popery was dreadful and shocking to those who have the most Religion. The Doctrines of Popery are Antichristian, robbing the Almighty of his highest Attributes, and vesting them blasphemously in Impostors: The Powers of Popery are Murderous and Implacable: The Worship of Popery is Buffoonery and Idolatry. Popery pretends to make God, and eat him: Popery locks up God’s Word: Popery butchers Protestants. Such is the Religion of Popery; such are the Ecclesiastical Courts and Inquisitions, under the Direction of Popery.
Our Author has therefore judiciously discovered that there is, or rather suggests, that there may be, something in Popery to be feared. I hope he would not restrain it to such as have no Regard to Religion. He would have done well, and it lay directly in his Way, to have told us, how dreadful the Whole of Popery was to every Man of any Religion, or of any Sense. It is the only Sermon which I have seen upon this awakening Occasion, where the Horrors of Popery were not the just and chief Scope and Theme of the Preacher. I have seen many excellent ones from many of our Prelates, many excellent ones from the inferior Clergy, with great Pleasure and Edification, all full of tremendous Descriptions of Popery, and of warm Indignation against it, pertinently adapted to the Time, and to the People.
THE Preacher referred to in my former, urges the Idolatry of the Jews, and the Judgments following it, in order by them to awaken us; us, who have nothing similar to the Jews, and do not run after false Gods. Another Preacher in his Sermon upon the General Fast, has unanswerably shewn us the Vanity and Danger of such idle Reasonings and false Comparisons.
“From the Character given of the Holy Scriptures, of the Old Testament, in several Places of the Apostolic Writings, Men, he says, have not only been accustomed to regulate God’s Proceeding with Particulars, but also to judge of the Fate of Kingdoms and Societies, upon their Ideas of his Administration of the Jewish Commonwealth. This, saith he, hath been the Source of numberless Superstitions, burtful both to Religion and Government; some even derogatory to the Justice of God, others to the Rights of Mankind; but all of them violating the rational Conclusions of that Learning and Instruction we are bid to seek for in Scripture, which is so abundantly able to make us wise unto Salvation.”
He proceeds to acquaint us, that though, in the Jewish Dispensation, God might, with the highest Justice, punish the Children for the Crimes of their Fathers; yet in the present Disposition of Things, such a Dispensation would, according to all our Ideas of Right, intrench on that Divine Attribute (the Justice of God.) He then shews how much “the Title of the Lord’s Anointed, given to the Jewish Kings, who were pointed out by Name by God himself, and anointed by the express Direction of God himself, has been perverted by Court-Flatterers, to support modern Tyranny, and so became a principal Prop of that absurd and destructive Doctrine of Divine, Indefeasible, Hereditary Right.”
All this is true and plain, and justifies what the Author had said before, that “to conclude of God’s Dealings with States and Societies, from his Dispensations to the Jewish People, will be the Occasion of our turning to our Delusion that Scripture, which was written for our Instruction; at this Juncture, says he, it would be turning it to our apparent Damage.” Religion (says he afterwards) was, amongst the Jews, incorporated with their Society, and had a public Part. Hence Vice and Impiety became public Crimes, and, as such, were severely punished on the State. But the Christian Religion has no public Part; it hath not the State for its Subjects. Hence Vice and Impiety are not now public Crimes, but only private Crimes.” He concludes therefore, as reasonably as charitably, “that Great Britain, in its present Circumstances, may reasonably aspire to the distinguished Protection of Heaven.”
It is a daring Undertaking, to settle the Judgments of an infinitely wise, just, and merciful God; to ascertain what they are, or where it is that they fall. I hope and believe, that no National Calamity can be called a Judgment from God; since, during such, the most Innocent are seen to suffer equally with the most Guilty, often more; sometimes the Guilty escape, and the Innocent perish. Can we suppose, dare we presume, that his unerring Justice makes no Distinction between Guilt and Innocence, and weighs not exactly the Degrees of both? It seems to be an Affront to the Almighty, and a Denial of his Providence, to maintain the contrary: It represents Religion to be without Sense, and the great Judge of all the Earth to be void of Equity.
Enthusiasts, who see the Almighty pleased or angry, just as they themselves are, may arm him with Vengeance against Times which they dislike, and against Persons whom they hate: They may even behold him slaying the Cattle and desolating the Soil, and confidently ascribe all this general undistinguishing Havock to the Sins of particular Men. Impostors, such as Romish Monks, may represent him as actuared with human Passions, and themselves directing and restraining his Passions; represent him launceing his Judgments, and themselves stopping his Hand; thus guiding and controuling the Almighty, and thence governing his Creatures. But a Protestant Divine scattering Judgments makes a very Unpretestant Figure, and borrows the Colours and Character of a Popish Priest, who controuls the Deity, creates his Creator, eats his Creator, and directs his Creator whom to punish and whom to damn; whom to protect and whom to save; foresees Judgments, applies Judgments, and charms away Judgments.
There cannot be a more lucrative Branch of Priestcraft than a Monopoly of Divine Judgements. It infers the sovereign Direction of Superstition, of vain Credulity, of pannic Fears, and of all the unaccountable Whims and Weaknesses of the poor human Soul, the constant and liberal Bubble of such pious Traders.
As the Jesuits were busy in advancing this their Staple spiritual Traffic amongst the poor Indians, the Dutch, who are themselves keen Traders, but Traders of another Sort, were too hard even for these vigilant Fathers. The Apostolic Factors taking a pious, knavish Advantage of an approaching Eclipse of the Sun, threatened the poor Savages (led by the Light of Nature to despise the Absurdities of Popery) “that God, at the Request of his Monitors, the Fathers, would visit them for their Obstinacy, with a dreadful Warning: The Sun should be darkened in the Midst of his Career and Glory, as a Mark of Divine Wrath, and a Presage of Divine Vengeance to follow.” The Indians acquainted the Dutch with the terrible Threats of the Fathers. “Bid them, said the sly Hogan Mogans,put off this Presage of their mighty Judgment for a single Day, and we will be their Converts as well as you.” The Indians made the Jesuits the fair Offer: The Holy Dealers in Judgments were taken in their own Snare.
Our Preacher plainly insinuates, that Judgements threatened us, and approached us, for the Depravity of certain Opinions and Writings; a Sort of Sins which infer but few Sinners, at least in Comparison of the Nation.
The Number of Authors, good and bad, is but a Handful when compared with the People. I have heard that a few righteous Men may save a Nation; but never, that a few Sinners will damn a Nation. All Nations are Sinners at all Times; and ours particularly; else our Common Prayer is very rashly framed. But still we are not greater Sinners than any of our Neighbouring Nations: Yet these Nations are not all visited with Highlanders; though some of these Nations entertain very great Sinners, even scribbling Sinners, as scurrilous and licentious as ours! France abounds with more Deists, or (which is the same Thing in the Eyes of Bigots) Atheists, than any Country in Europe; yet France is too hard for its Neighbours, and even assists the Highlanders: There are more blasphemous Songs made in a Year, and sung every Day in Paris, than were ever made in England since the Begining of Time. This cannot be owing to want of Power in France, either Civil or Religious. No Ecclesiastical Courts are wanting there, no Power in King or Clergy!
We are certainly less corrupt, less debauched, than we were immediately after the Restoration. Was the Restoration a Judgment? Was not Charles II. our most Religious, as well as most Gracious King; and had he not that Character given him by the Clergy? Or was his Restoration, at first at least, reckoned a Curse by any but a few Enthusiasts, chiefly Fifth-Monarchy-Men? But Enthusiasts are not confined to any Party; they are found in all Sects, amongst Churchmen, as well as amongst Dissenters; and Enthusiasts will be always spying Judgments falling, or ready to fall, upon such who thwart their Favourite Notions and Pursuits.
As pious Enthusiasts act, so do pious Impostors, with Zeal equally strong, though not equally sincere, generally with more Art. We can therefore never see, never expect a Time, when such Men will not be boldly denouncing God’s Judgments. Mankind will never be without Sin: The Crazy and Artful will always make Mankind worse than they are, and will be always threatening them with Judgments. Heresy is the great Cry of the Romish Craftsmen; who confidently denounce God’s Judgments against all that entertain it. Most of those who are Heretics to Rome, are Heretics or Schismatics to one another, all threatening one another with the same awful Vengeance. This Consideration alone is sufficient to shew the extreme Rashness or Knavery of those who scatter and apply such Names, and the extreme Folly of those who are affected by them.
The Arians were charged by the Orthodox with denying our blessed Saviour, God the Son, his due Share of the Godhead: They were threatened with Divine Vengeance for such damning Heresy, and found their Accusers the keen Executors of that Vengeance. The Orthodox had Divine Vengeance equally denounced against them by the Arians, for denying due Honour to God the Father, and felt in their Turn that Vengeance inflicted on them without Mercy or Measure, by the Denouncers. Both Sides thought themselves bound to punish as well as to accuse. Here was a Source of Rancour without End; of Blood, which has scarce ever ceased to run: All the natural Consequence of Zealots interpreting Judgments! For they who presume to foretel them, do often call for them, generally inflict them, or suborn others to do so.
Did the Highlanders come commissioned from God, as well as from the Pretender, to scourge a Nation who had renounced the Pretender, and were praying to God against the Highlanders? What Part of the Jewish Story is analogous to this? Had any of our Prelates, like the Prelate Aaron, set up molten Images, or a golden Calf; for the English to worship? I do not find that one Magistrate, or one Inhabitant of Glasgow, had paid the least Divine Worship to Baal Peor, or any Burgess of Dumfreis, made his Children pass through the Fire to Moloch: Yet both these Towns were terribly ravaged by the barbarous Rebels. The Barbarians are now routed by the Sword of our young Joshua, whose Hand, strengthened by the Lord Jehovah, hath prevailed against those reprobate Philistines. It is hoped that their own Rocks and Dens will yield up the prosane Tribe to the avenging Rod of Justice.
But whatever they suffer (and they who made so many suffer so grievously, cannot suffer too much) their Sufferings and Punishment cannot properly be called a Judgment; since some of them are more innocent than others, did less harm, and meant none, nay meant well, thought themselves asserting a just Cause and doing their Duty. Such is the Force of Prejudice, handed down from Father to Son, and reckoned Honour and Loyalty; and such is the Power of Delusion in believing what they are taught by Impostors, whom they account pious, and who perhaps think themselves so.
This Plea, which the Frame and Safety of human Society cannot allow to pass at the civil Tribunal, as by it the greatest Malefactors, and worst Parricides would escape the Censure of Society, and thus be enabled and even encouraged to destroy Society; will yet find Allowance at the Divine Tribunal, where all Hearts are open, and no Deceit can be hid. Guilt may be so disguised, so befriended and defended, as to appear innocent, sometimes meritorious, in the Eyes of Men: Such were human Sacrifices of old; such the lasting Tyranny and Cheats of Rome, with all other pious Fury and Fraud everywhere: Rebellion against the best Government, and Passive Obedience to the most lawless Tyranny. Innocence and Virtue may be so misrepresented, so traduced, and so painted by Art and Malice, as to be odious, persecuted and murdered, often with popular Applause; witness our blessed Saviour, and the first Martyrs, with all the succeeding Victims to Priests and Tyrants; Sir John Oldcastle and Admiral Coligni. I have heard Dr. Tillotson reviled, Dr. Sacheverel adored; King James extolled, King William cursed.
We can never know that God sends his Judgments, when he does not tell us: It is great Presumption in us to pretend to tell, when He does not tell. If we might with Modesty make any Conjecture, it seems probable, that his extraordinary temporal Interposition with Divine temporal Punishment, is in Cases where human Laws are not, or cannot be exerted. This is, Deo dignus vindice nodus.
Amongst several popular Topics for invoking Divine Vengeance, and applying it to Things below, I have often thought that the black Behaviour of the high Clergy for near a hundred Years before the Revolution, and long after, was an obvious and tempting one; I mean their unchristian Enmity to Conscience and Dissenters, and their infamous Doctrines of Slavery. They set our Princes (the weakest and the worst) above Law; made them the only Authors and absolute Masters of Law, consequently of the Lives and Properties of Men, and prompted them to Perjury in order to exert Tyranny.
They were not ashamed to extol James I. (the weakest, the falsest, and the most heartless Prince that ever misbecame a Crown) as the Solomon of the Age, the Pattern of Learning and of Religion, acting by the Wisdom, and speaking by the Spirit of God: Wicked and pernicious Flattery, and the Consequences terrible! The vain Monarch, a constant Bubble, and the sure Property of Flatterers and Favourites, claimed despotic Sway; claimed to set aside Parliaments, or to over-rule their Counsels, to levy Money without them, and to govern by Proclamations.
HIS Son prompted by the same pious Flatterers, and delighting in the same impious lying Doctrines, grasped the same lawless Authority. He hugged and exalted the Preaching Parasites, who represented him sacred and irresistible as the Godhead, the Laws as Sedition, his People as Slaves. Such of the Clergy as adhered to Liberty and the Laws, and ventured to maintain them, were the constant Objects of his Frowns and Indignation, and persecuted without Mercy by their more fashionable Brethren.
I enter not into the Particulars of his Reign, no Part of it wise, the greatest Part of it arbitrary and wicked, the last Part of it miserable. For a great Share of the Mischief, of the Violence and the Misery of it, the Clergy were answerable, as they animated and justified him in all his lawless Pretensions, and all his violent Doings. His cruel Death, though immediately chargeable upon a usurping Army, the only Authors of it, was for almost a Century charged as a Crime upon the Nation, and the Nation constantly threatened with Judgments for it, even after all were dead, who either saw it, or consented to it. This was the Language of the disaffected Clergy (I mean disaffected to the Constitution) till the Revolution, and by all the Disaffected to the Revolution ever since. Not a Word of any Judgment upon themselves, who had all along led these weak, depraved Princes to their Destruction, with pious false Strains of Loyalty in their Mouths, the Word of God perverted, Liberty spurned under Foot, the Laws sacrificed to Will and Lust, the Crown misled, and its worst Enemies, the Preachers, caressed.
How frequent and fashionable Ecclesiastical Perjury became after the Revolution; how much it was fostered and propagated in Places of Learning, by learned and holy Men; how zealously, how fiercely and industriously King William and the late King George were opposed, blackened and even marked for Destruction, for the glorious Offence of saving and securing our Religion, our Liberty, and our All; all this chiefly by Reverend Men, who had taken the most solemn Oaths to be true and faithful to these Princes, our temporal Redeemers; and how highly they cherished and practised all Disloyalty, Perjury and Rebellion; all Men remember, and it is shocking to Memory: Surely it could never escape that of our Preacher. Nor could the Jewish Story furnish him with a more shocking Instance of National Ingratitude and Revolt against God, or of more impious Defiance of the Almighty and his Judgments. Yet here our prudent Preacher neither rouses popular Indignation, nor perceives any Divine Vengeance threatened.
With what Face could such Men appear in a Pulpit, as Teachers of Religion, they whom the most emphatic Ties of Religion could not bind; they who distinguished themselves by the blackest Perjury; they who promoted Perjury by Doctrine, as well as by Example; they to whom Perjury was Merit and a Recommendation, and who railed at all such as refused to be perjured? What bold Mockery in such profane Reprobates, to pretend to Divine Right, or to any Respect amongst Men, or to any Reputation from a Phantom of Orthodoxy? Could they who violated the most sacred Oaths, be influenced by any Principles, Orthodox or Moral? Yet who so craving after high Respect, so loud for Orthodoxy, so void of Charity, so prone to damn Men, or so unfit to save Men? They were even wicked in assuming any favourable Character; as they did it to deceive others, by disguising their own Iniquity. Could such Men recommend a good Life, when they were daily renouncing the Precepts of the Gospel, and propagating the most hideous Morals, Perjury, Rebellion, Treason? What availed their Orthodoxy if they really had it, since it restrained them not from defying all the Laws of God and Man? They were implacable to pious Dissenters, and to all moderate and charitable Churchmen: And Orthodoxy without Charity is a Contradiction, and disgraces itself.
What saved Religion, thus abandoned and perverted by its pretended Guides, but the mighty Blessing of Liberty, which left us the full Use of our Reason, our Bibles, and our Consciences; the natural Blessings of the Revolution? No wonder they hated it, devoutly damned it, swore to it, and laboured to overturn it, with all the heavenly Blessings derived from it, particularly, the highest and best, Liberty of Conscience and Civil Liberty. What saved the Credit and Character of the Church, but the sound Principles, virtuous Lives and Christian Charity of Tillotson, Tennison, Burnet, Lloyd, and Wake, and other Low-Churchmen, all hated and libelled by such as called themselves the only true Churchmen, chiefly distinguished by the great Characteristicks of Perjury and Persecution? Even the Dissenters contributed by their Religious Loyalty and sober Lives, to preserve the National Religion, and consequently the Church, from perishing by the desperate Impiety and Immoralities of her own apostate Sons.
Dr. hickes, who knew them well, says, “That those Clergy have set open the Floodgates to a Deluge of Atheism and Impiety;” and he owns the Charge brought against them, that “their Behaviour had made Men sceptical, and gone further towards eradicating all the Notions of a Deity, than all the Labours of Mr. Hobbes——Made some Men suspect Religion as a Cheat, and laid them under a Temptation to call the Whole of Religion in Question.” Yet the same learned Man, who was a flaming Enthusiast for Party, turns this Reproach into a Compliment, and thanks God, that the main Body of the Clergy were Jacobites in their Hearts. Nor was it at all strange, to hear such an impious Strain from this Reverend Divine, thus to thank God for the Perjury of the Clergy. Mr. Lesly defied the Parliament to make an Oath which the Clergy would not take——He makes them worse than Atheists, as “they mocked God to his Face, since it was better, says he, to have no God at all, than set up one to laugh at him.”
I could bring many other Testimonies against them from the best Men amongst them, even from their most favourite Authors, particularly from Bishop Kenn, a Non-swearing Jacobite, and a sad Spectator of their Apostasy from Conscience and Oaths, the sacred and tremendous Pledges of Conscience; Kenn, their avowed Monitor, full of paternal Invectives against their ungodly Conduct, and of warm Sighs for it. But their atheistical Carriage was too notorious to want Proof.
Where they presided in the celebrated Nurseries of Education, their first Care was to corrupt and poison the Minds of Youth (often of the first Quality in the Nation, a dreadful Presage to their Country!) and to teach them for their first Lessons, nay as a first Principles, to banish Conscience, to hate the Government, and to defy the Living God, by swearing falsly by his Name. We may guess the lamentable Effects of this upon the Minds of Youth.
This was the forlorn, this the impious State of many of the disaffected Clergy, within the Memory of Man. Could they be more ripe for Divine Judgments, or could there be a more cogent Call to threaten them with such? Could any public Disaster befalling the Jews some Thousand Years ago, be of such an alarming Example to Englishmen? The Jews, stiff-necked, disobedient and ungrateful as they were, incurred not more aggravated Guilt. Idolatry, their most enormous Crime, inferred wrong Conceptions of the Deity; and their Ignorance (though their own Fault) was some Extenuation. Under right Notions of the true God, they could never have worshiped false Gods.
Our Case was, perhaps, more crying: In the midst of the Sun-shine of the Gospel, in this Christian Country, many who preached it renounced in Practice (the most effectual Way of renouncing) all the most essential Precepts of the Gospel, as they did those of the Constitution, and were at once Traitors to Religion and the State. Neither was their Apostasy more notorious than their Hypocrisy: Whilst thus they lived in open practical Atheism, they loudly complained of the natural Effects of their own atheistical Doings, the Growth of Irreligion, and the Danger of the Church. Who were, who could be, such successful Promoters of all Impiety as themselves? Who, who but they could so effectually endanger any Christian Church? Without Conscience, which is the Seat and Centre of Religion, there can be no Religion. Besides their own want of Conscience, they would allow none to other Men, and were implacable, indeed professed Enemies to tender Consciences: A sad Proof, that they were themselves unacquainted with any such Tenderness!
The Cry of Atheism, a Cry much in their Mouths, as ill became them. Men who live as if there were no God, are the most likely to disbelieve the Being of a God. And by this Rule, they themselves had the best Claim to that Character, which they so freely bestowed upon Men unresembling themselves. It was therefore no wonder to hear Dr. Hickes call Dr. Tillotson an Atheist, and publish him in Print as the gravest Atheist that ever lived. For Hickes, though he had not taken the Oaths, was as furious a Jacobite as those that had. He entertained all their uncharitable Fierceness and infamous Principles; and I do not believe that any Set of Men, not owning the Romish Communion, ever entertained so bad Principles, or laboured so vehemently to introduce every public Crime and Curse, Invasion from France, the Restoration of a Popish Tyrant, the Deposition, nay the Assassination of a Protestant Hero and Deliverer, with the Resettlement of the worst Parts of Popery, and the Exertion of all Barbarky against Protestant Dissenters.
Mr. collier had the Traiterous Assurance and Impiety, to exercise openly in the Face of the Day and the Crowd, one of the most dangerous and detestable Articles, or rather Abominations of Popery, in absolving at the Gallows an Assassin hanged for a Conspiracy to have murdered King William. That Divine thus committed such an Insult upon the Godhead and the Government, as was new in the Creation, at least in the Eyes of Englishmen. What were all the Offensive Drolleries of the Stage, which Mr. Collier has passionately treated as profane, compared to the Devilish Crimes of Treason, Civil War, National Desolation, Popish Tyranny, and the Murder of a King, all pardoned by Mr. Collier in the Person of a bloody Traitor?
All this shews, that our Preacher might have found National Provocations at least as shocking as those of the Jews, nearer Home, and not so long ago; such dreadful Provocations to God as must make the Ears of a Christian to tingle. Here he had ample Room to have displayed his Discernment, his Judgments, and his Eloquence, upon such as deserved them. A contemptible Libel is a contemptible Topic for so able a Preacher.
Here too he had an ample Field for Panegyric upon the present Clergy, who have gloriously departed from the Corruption, Disloyalty, Uncharitableness, and all the profligate Principles of the former; their sincere Zeal for this Protestant King, Church and Government, their Abhorrence of Popery, and their Alacrity to defend it, their excellent Sermons, and all the noble Testimonies they have so seasonably borne.
For myself, I truly honour, I shall ever honour, all such of them as have thus distinguished themselves; as I shall ever heartily despite all mean halting Temporizers, and thoroughly detest all Particides, who longed for a Change, and wished our Misery complete, by the Success of the Rebels, whom God, of his infinite Mercy to this Nation, disappoint and confound! and in order to it, disclose and punish all their secret Abettors and Favourers!
But I return to say something more of the Half-Protestant Clergy before the Revolution; and then proceed upon the Behaviour of those after it.
These prostitute Preachers, formerly, surrendered the poor People, who fed them, to Beggary and Slavery, and the Crown, which promoted and enriched them, to Delusion, desperate Courses, and final Ruin. I owe, there were then, and always, excellent Men amongst the Clergy, but what an unequal Portion of the Clergy they then were, any Man that can read may see. One Thing was very remarkable and very shameful (if any Thing could have been so to Men so lost to Truth and Shame) whilst they were zealously dooming all Men to be absolute Slaves to the Sovereign, they excepted themselves, and confidently asserted an independent Power in themselves; a Power destructive of Sovereignty as well as of Liberty.
Who were the greatest Sinners then in the Nation, and who so properly the Subjects of Divine Judgments? But they who most freely scatter such Judgments, never fix them where most due. Could there be a more National, a more Crying Sin, than such an open, such a pernicious Attack upon the Happiness of all Men, upon their Laws, Liberty and Conscience? Could there be higher Mockery of God, than to preach up Tyranny (the Root and Engine of all Evil under the Sun) as the Ordinance of God? To leave it implicitly to the Will of a weak, passionate, or debauched Man, to make and unmake Laws, to exalt the worst Men, and to reward the best with Gaols and Gibbets? To damn the best and only Remedy against the most direful Curse that can befal Society? To compliment a Prince void of Probity and Morals, a Charles II. with the Modelling or Mangling of the Constitution, and with the Fate and Fortune of all Men?
When such Parasites (the more malignant as well as more inexcusable for their holy Character) had tempted their Sovereign to provoke his Subjects to rebel, it was high Assurance in them to condemn Rebellion, to condemn what they had really caused. They were the original Incendiaries, and laid the Train. Rebellion was but the Explosion, and naturally followed.
The same Incendiaries, who led, or rather drove, our Princes into violent and despotic Counsels, before the Revolution, incensed the People into unprovoked Disaffection, after it. They misrepresented the Public Saviour as a Public Usurper. They took all Oaths: They taught their Hearers to break all, and shewed them the Way.
What could be a more hideous Iniquity, a more threatening Curse, a bolder Disowning of the Living God; a more impious Insult upon the Reason of Man; a more dangerous Assault upon Civil Society, or a more desperate Renouncing of all Morals, and Defiance of all Shame?
Was not National Perjury a Crime terribly complex, pregnant with Guilt and Woe, a National Provocation of Divine Justice? Yet upon this alarming Subject Auditories were rarely roused. What is still more monstrous, Perjury was accounted Merit: And whilst the most conscientious Dissenter, religiously true to the Government and his Oath, was traduced and damned; a perjured High-Churchman, brutal and debauched, was a Favourite Character.
COULD there be a broader Way to National Perdition, than what I have above specified? Or could the Terrors of Divine Vengeance be more seasonably urged? Yet this was a Topic not in fashion, and whoever would have presumed to have urged it, would have not only passed, but been damned, for a False Brother.
Very different Offences, none against God, but high ones against themselves, were the Burden of their Outcries for Divine Wrath; airy Notions, crabbed, unmeaning Distinctions; Tithes given by Men, not allowed to be of Right Divine; Rituals, Postures, Cloth and Colours; Blood shed an hundred Years ago; a vitions Jacobite Priesthood, not respected as the Vicegerents of God, though daily forswearing by his holy Name, and propagating Perjury and Treason: For such impious Crimes as these, public Woes and Wrath Divine were usually denounced, and seen just approaching.
It may be easily remembered what a malignant Spirit possessed the then bigotted, factious Clergy in the former Rebellion; how little the Duty of Loyalty, and their sacred Oaths, influenced such Men. Could there be a greater Sin, personal or national? Yet I do not remember, that it was then the common Subject of Declamation from the Pulpit, or menaced with Divine Judgments.
The Ministers of the Kirk of Scotland, an Hundred Years ago, threatened all who took not the Covenant, or forsook it, with the fearful Judgments of the Lord, and were wonderfully quick-fighted in perceiving the same dreadfully overtaking all Backsliders; that is, all who would not form their Opinions, their Religion and their Politics, just according to the fieroe Humours and narrow Pattern of the Saints. The English Clergy reviled the Saints, as Traitors and Hypocrites, and derived all National Judgments from the Sins, the Frenzy and Rebellion of the Saints, consigning them freely to eternal Wrath, as the Saints did these their Enemies, returning Curse for Curse, as well as angry Names, Lordly Prelates, Priests of Baal, Dumb Dogs, and Persecutors of the Brethren.
The Almighty was claimed as a partial Champion on either Side: Both Sides defended Injustice by Religion; ingrossed Christianity whilst they wounded Charity, besought the merciful God, in Wrath, to blast one another, and applied the Divine Thunder with infernal Fury. The Gross of both Parties blindly believed, and devoutly confirmed the Voice and impious Censure of their lying Leaders: And the same Eyes who clearly saw Roguery and Fanaticism in the opposite Party, perceived not the same Roguery and Fanaticism as obvious in their own.
Could there be more Antichristian Bigots than such Clergymen, on both Sides? What would become of Religion, and of Mankind, were such Madmen left to govern them? Yet, who so eager as these Madmen to govern the World, Religion, and Human-kind?
A Clergyman in the West, hearing that a Farmer in the Village had perished by Lightening, cried, with Extasy and uplifted Hands, “The Lord will be glorified in all his Doings: This Man was an unchangeable Anabaptist, and could not be brought into the Way of Salvation. Whither he is gone, I do not say; but I would not follow him for the Empire of the Globe.” He scarce had finished this pious uncharitable Rant, before he was told, that Sympson the Parish-Clerk, a zealous Churchman, who suited proper Psalms to Jacobite Holy-Days, had fallen even as the Farmer had fallen, close by his Side, and by the same Stroke—“The Lord giveth, said the good Doctor, and the Lord taketh away: Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
This gloomy Bigot and Party-man (for he had been on both Sides, though strongly suspected to be still of that which he had upon Oath renounced) treated the great Sovereign of universal Nature, like a Party-man, narrow and prejudiced as himself! He presumed to apply everlasting Mercy and everlasting Wrath, just according to the Measure of his own Peevishness and Partiality.
These Dealers in Judgments never see, nor apprehend any, for their own Enormities and Excesses, however scandalous, however affecting the Public Weal. They generally apply them to Persons and Opinions, which they themselves dislike; to Opinions which discredit and cross their interested Maxims; to Persons who expose clerical Faults, and call for clerical Amendment, and therefore are proper Objects of clerical Vengeance, consequently of Divine Judgment. All such Reformers are terrible Atheists and unpardonable Sinners, and with John Huss, our Cranmer and Ridley, consigned to temporal and eternal Flames; the best Men cursed and martyred by the worst.
This Wantonness in applying at random the awful Judgments of God, where he himself does not declare them such, would appear as ridiculous as it is bold (generally blasphemous) were it not for the dangerous and cruel Use, which the pretended and designing Explainers make of it. For, it is a special Market for Craftsmen.
An idle, romping School-boy trod upon his Grandmother’s Toe, and put a capital Corn into a raging Fit. The old Woman lost all Temper, and in a Fury as bitter as her Pain, told him, “That the Lord would requite him.” The Lad, in infinite Confusion and Affright, had Recourse to his Heels, and sprang down Stairs in such a Hurry, that he fell and broke his Leg. “Did I not tell you so, Sirrah?” says his Grandmother, falling into a fresh Passion with him for his Misfortune. She, however, prayed the Almighty to forgive the poor Child, and to correct him no further; “For that She had forgiven him.”
Vice is usually followed by Misfortunes: Evil Doings, both in a Nation and in the Individuals of a Nation, produce evil Consequences and punish themselves. Debauchery brings Diseases, as Idleness and Profusion do Penury. That all Evil is displeasing to God, we all know, and he is no Respecter of Persons. Doubtless he considers and hates Crimes according to their Malignity and Degrees. As nothing can hurt Him, it is probable, that the Men who offend him most, are they who do most Hurt to one another; that consequently, all Oppressors, all Persecutors and Deceivers, are the most odious in his Eyes: That mental Errors and erroneous Worship, well meant, cannot displease him; and that Sincerity in Devotion, is ever acceptable to him; that no Religion but that which plagues and punishes Men (as all cheating Religions do) can be offensive to him; that Living well, and Doing well to one another, are the capital Duties amongst Men, and the most acceptable to God: That whoever does these Duties, need fear no Judgements.
As to Words and Professions and Symbols, it is in the Power of the worst Men to utter and perform them; and such Utterance and Performance, however solemn and seemingly devout, are no Proofs of a sincere or devout Heart. The greatest Impostors are always the most pompous, pathetic and grave.
It was a rational and an honest Answer, which the Oracle returned to a State of Greece, going to War with another Greek State, and desiring to know, what they must do to make Apollo their Friend? “If you will but act like honest Men, and fight like brave Men, Apollo will always be your Friend,” replied Apollo’ Priest, tho’ generally a Lyar, and always a Cheat: Yet in the Language of these Cheats, Heaven was constantly interposing and sending down Judgments, in their Defence, upon all Lovers of Truth, who profanely laughed at their Trade, and detested their Imposture.
An Emperor of China was superstitiously alarmed to see a Mulberry-Tree in his Garden covered with Leaves in the Space of Seven Days; then wither and lose them all, in Three Days more. The solemn prophesying Bigots about him, increased his Panic with a doleful Tale of terrible Judgments to ensue. His Minister, to whom he communicated his Fears, and the terrible Presages of his pious Fortune-Tellers, calmed his Mind with the Argument of an honest and a rational Man: “Virtue, said he, rules all Presages, and renders them Good or Evil: Govern your Subjects with Equity, and nothing can shake your Repose.”
A Pagan Priest of old, and Interpreter of Omens (which all Men alike misunderstand and misconstrue) would on such an Occasion have filled the Temples with the Smoke of Incense, which had signified no more than so much Air; or made them flow with the Blood of Victims; of just as much Use as so much Water: A Popish Priest would have enjoined Fasts, Processions, Masses and Penance; proper Means to make the People idle, superstitious, and Idolaters of their Priests; but, above all, Riches and Oblations to the Church, fresh Honours and Prerogatives to the Clergy, with the Lives and Estates of all such as had offended the Clergy, confuted their Lyes, laughed at their Grimaces, and detested their bold Mockery of God and Man.
Such are the Profit and Advantages accruing to crafty Men from the System of Judgements; no wonder it is never dropped; a System which makes Priests the Privy Counsellors of the Almighty, the Oracles of his Will, the Heralds of his Wrath, the Intercessors for his Mercy, armed with a Divine Claim to all Means of supporting their Dignity, and executing this their high Deputation below; a Claim to princely Revenues, implicit Reverence, all secular Authority, Ecclesiastical Courts and Inquisitions; Powers to crush all Gainsayers, and all such as presumed to think or to dream contrary to their Standard of thinking and dreaming; a Presumption which, in the Cry of Craftsmen, will always be the crying Profaneness and great Curse of the Age, and always be drawing down Judgments upon the Nation.
This Cry answers another End, equally wicked; it constantly serves the outrageous Spirit of Faction. The Decay of Religion and the Contempt of the Clergy, was a popular Engine in Queen Anne’s Time, employed to change the whole Administration (the most Glorious that ever England had seen) and threatened the most destructive Change that ever England could see. The Convocation were loudest in the Cry, and drew up an Invective against all the sober Part of the Nation; indeed a Libel against the Nation itself, under the Charge of growing Irreligion and Infidelity; a Charge full of Falshood, Bitterness and Calumny; chiefly composed by a lively, learned and restless Incendiary, nurtured in Faction, and hardened in Perjury, afterwards convicted of Treason and banished for it, yet reckoned a Champion for the Church against Religion and Morals; supported and lamented as a Confessor, after he was condemned as a Parricide; and adored as a Martyr, though he died in the Service of Rebellion.
Yet it has been common to hear this Incendiary, with all this complex Guilt, applauded as a Pastoral Pattern, by Men of the same Spirit; and I have lately seen a Panegyric in the public Papers, upon a dead Vicar in Kent, for having strictly adhered to the Discipline of that Incendiary, and thence shewn himself worthy of such a Patron: As if Treason and Perjury were no Stain upon a Bishop, much less a Disqualification for a Bishoprick. Hath there been more abandoned Casuistry found amongst the Jesuits?
No Wonder that in a Libel from him there were palpable Falsifications in Fact, and not a Sentence of fair Truth; yet his Brethren concurred irreligiously and factiously with the Libeller. They were most incensed against what had gained Glory to the Nation and apparently made it prosper, namely a Toleration to Tender Consciences. They therefore reviled the Ministry, who supported it, and misrepresented them as little better than Atheists.
I will not charge our Preacher with any such Intention, when, complaining of the prevailing Impiety, Blasphemy; and undisguised Profaneness, appearing, as he says, in many Instances; he adds, “how deplorable must the State of a Nation be, when Men find Encouragement to provide such Entertainment for the Nation!”
He had just mentioned the Burlesque upon the Te Deum, which was not encouraged by the Nation, but universally decried, as I have before observed. He had therefore no Cause to deplore the State or Taste of the Nation upon that Score. It is strange that he gives no more Instances of the Prevalence of Blasphemy, when he says, Blasphemyswarms. The mad Books about the Trinity are not blasphemous, but only the different Guesses of Men about a Mystery, which no Man can explain. No wonder they eternally vary in their eternal Explanations.
He does not, he says, condemn a sober Inquiry into the Truth of Religion; but I presume he will take upon him to judge whether it be sober or no, and readily condemn it, if it appear to him not to be sober. It will be easy, perhaps good Policy, to call it ludicrous and profane, though the Author meant sincerely, and studied Decency. Suppose the Objections be ever so candid and strong; will a Zealot like them the better for that Character? Perhaps their very Strength may be the greatest Crime: They may be therefore faulty, because there is no Fault to be descried in them; and they may be punishable for being unanswerable. Calvin needed not have burned Servetus (and probably, for his own Reputation, would not) could he have answered him.
Whatever there is in Religion agreeable to eternal Reason, every reasonable Man will embrace and defend. Whatever is against Reason it is pardonable to doubt; it is reasonable to examine. Every Man will readily consent to what is obviously his Interest. There is no Merit, but rather Blindness and Folly and infinite Danger, in resting our Faith upon Names and Authority. Implicit Belief is Credulity, which subverts Religion, and establishes Priestly Tyranny.
FALSE, scurrilous and foolish Attacks upon Religion, will be ineffectual, scorned and shocking. The Many will always have Religion, which is rarely gained by Inquiry, but generally taken implicitly, and retained by Rote: There are few that have not some System of Speculations, which is Religion to them, and answers the Purposes of Religion to Society, as it infers an Awe of a superior Power. At worst, every Man professes Morality, which is the surest Demonstration of having Religion, and is itself Religion; generally found the purest, as it is not tainted with Superstition and Craft, two pestilent Ingredients that pervert Religion into Farce and Interest. Religion so perverted is none, or worse than none.
Is a Papist the better Neighbour for believing the huge Lyes of Transubstantiation and Infallibility; when by the same Spirit and Authority which persuades him to think that he believes Impossibilities (for the Thing is impossible) he is led to punish and destroy his Neighbours for not doing what they cannot do, or for not prosessing what their Conscience abhors?
I would much rather confide in a Man who does not believe a future State, than in one who trusts to Absolution for gaining him everlasting Bliss. The former has the Motives of natural Honesty, Credit and Friendship amongst his Neighbours, with Security from Starving, Stripes and Infamy, to hold both his Heart and his Hand from Enormities. The latter, though he believes that his Sins will damn him, will commit the worst, if by committing the worst he can induce his Priest to absolve and save him. To murder Heretics, is Merit; to murder an heretical Prince, is the highest Merit. No temporal Reward that the Jesuits could have given, would have tempted Ravillac to have stabbed Henry IV. of France: But he was effectually tempted with an Assurance of a Retribution in Paradise, which no worldly Power could have offered him.
The Religion of most Nations is rather Chance and a Lot, than a Choice; much less the Effect of anxious Examination. It descends from the Parents, like the National Language; and all Nations think their own the best, though not one in many Thousands can prove it to be so, even where it is so. They never once doubt it, yet pay great Sums to certain Persons to maintain to them what they are already sure of, and for repeating to them what they already know; nay, what they would kill any one for calling in question; or, that would charge them with questioning.
The Christian Populace, I doubt, would have been mostly Mahometans, had they been born Mahometans: The Mahometans would have been English Christians, had they been born Englishmen; the Jews been persecuting Catholics, and the Catholics persecuting Jews, had their Births been exchanged. A late Grand Monarque, if born amongst Hugonots, in lower Life, and with a better Education, would have been a zealous Calvinist, or probably scared into Popery by the converting Dragoons. Daniel Burgess might have been a Cardinal; Richard Baxter a mortified Capuchin; George Fox Pope of Rome; Archbishop Laud a keen Son of the Kirk; Dr. Sacheverel a raging Faquir, scattering Death and Damnation; and our Preacher an accomplished Mufti.
It is impossible and against Nature, to settle a Uniformity of Opinions any more than of Tastes, Faces and Complexions. Where the most cruel and wicked Pains are taken about it, and the most knavish and sanguinary Instruments employed to effect it, Success is most notoriously wanted. Cruelty to increase Religion, mars Religion. Violent Methods used against Atheism, make Atheists (if there be any such) and teach them to dissemble and to hide their Sentiments. You cannot confute what they do not own, and they continue incurable by not daring to confess and to reason. The best Men often bear this Brand, who seeing Impostors imposing the holy Name of Religion upon their own Pursuit of Power and Gain, by bearing their Testimony against such Impiety, provoke the Impostors to render them odious to Bigots and to the gross Vulgar, who always believe what their own Impostors tell them, and never see further than their own Impostors let them. The Cry of Craft becomes the Cry of the Vulgar: He is always an Atheist whom the Craftsmen pronounce to be so; and then Curses, Dungeons and Flames, are proper Punishment for Atheism.
Where is there less Religion than where Religion is most awfully guarded, with all human Restraints and Terrors, by all the Arts of Men, and all the Malice of Devils; by lying Miracles, stupendous Ignorance, a tame, stupid and zealous Populace, a riotous omnipotent Priesthood, vested with boundless Power and Wealth? In the most Catholic Countries you find pompous, deceitful Devotion; no rational Piety; no Signs of the plain Religion of the Gospel; the Spirit of the Gospel disowned and extinct; the very first Principles and Sources of Religion shut up and held in Chains; Freedom of Opinion, Tender Consciences, Voluntary Worship, all accounted the most heinous Crimes against Religious Men, damned and punished with Racks and Fire; Idolatry the only Devotion in fashion; and more Safety in living a Sodomite and a Murderer, than a pious Dissenter.
Men of Inquiry and Penetration cannot be Papists; and, finding no Religion to be better than Popery (since a Man who has no Religion, has no Temptation to do Mischief for Religion) such Men are of Course led towards Atheism. For I sincerely believe, that few Men were ever led into it: An eternal Power cloathed with all suitable Attributes, is evident from the Light of Nature. Who would not rather believe that there was no God, than a God who did or delighted in Cruelty and Folly, or impowered any Men, under any Pretence or Name, to cheat and inthral all Men, or to afflict and torture any Man? The Name of Atheist given to Men of fair Characters, noted for Parts and Knowlege, as it often is by Bigots and Knaves, ceases to be odious in the Eyes of many, and becomes sometimes eligible and pleasing in those of most.
Thus Religion is banished out of the World under Colour of securing Religion in it. This Security, in truth, is all meant, not for Religion but for Religious Men, impudently so called by themselves, hypocritically by all whom they terrify, and slavishly by all whom they bewitch. By this selfish, cruel, impious Policy, they who have the Assurance to send Missionaries to convert Nations, warn all discerning Nations never to be converted. But they trust to the Lyes of their Priests, and to the Ignorance or Credulity of the People. They dare tell no People, however stupid, that when once they become Catholics, they must become Slaves, be plundered and oppressed to support and exalt their Catholic Perverters; that they must not entertain the most rational Thought; but, if they change their Opinion, must either be Hypocrites, or burned for their Sincerity. This is the eternal Fate and Disgrace of all who hold persecuting Principles, that none who do so can offer to make Converts with any Consistency or Honesty; or with any Success, when once they are known: This is the just Curse always attending Persecutors.
The Many, especially the mere Vulgar, will have the Religion in fashion, and always believe that to be Religion, which their Priests tell them is so. Men of free Opinions will always be charged by Bigots and the Croud, with having no Religion: Though without Freedom of Opinion there can be no rational Religion: Opinions taken upon Trust, as they are void of Reason, do no Credit to Religion, nor ought to be received, much less reverenced, for such.
It is therefore a Liberty belonging to all Men, to examine by Reason what is proposed to them for Religion: If they find it true, they will embrace it; if it appear false or foolish, they ought not. It is repugnant to our Idea of God, that he can injoin what is not true, or expect from Man to assent to what the best Light, which God has given to Man, cannot comprehend.
There can be no Merit, but, on the contrary, great Folly, in swallowing any Notions implicitly: They may be false as well as true; and he who takes the Word of another for any Thing which he tells him, may as well take his Word for all that he tells him, and thence become the Slave and Property of his Leader. If we once give up Reason, there is no End of Wandering and Misguidance; and the Disuse of Reason encourages and even invites false Lights and false Teachers. Even before we can believe God’s Word we must know it to be his; nor is there any sure Rule to know it by but Reason. When it appears to Reason, that it is God’s Word, the Reason of Man must assent to it. If we believe it upon the Authority of Men, we can never be certain but that Men may deceive us.
Thenceforward it is not Reason, not Religion, that governs you, but they who are Guides in Religion, and may, if they will, make your Religion, a Religion to their own Purposes, as the Popish Priests literally do. You are then absolutely at their Mercy, what to believe, what to fear, and what to adore. This is the great Source of Popery. They who assume the absolute Explanation of Scripture, are in effect the Makers of Scripture; as the sovereign Explanation of Laws implies Law-making. Both these Powers establish Tyranny at once. No Papist can he said to have any Religion. He says after the Priest by Rote, and is the Priest’s Bubble and Slave.
Such Credulity has been indeed the grand Source of the most crying and desolating Evils that have laid waste the Creation, and afflicted and enslaved Men; the Source of all Idolatry, pious Frauds, and Persecution; of Tyranny, and of (what comprehends them all) Popery.
The Pagans adored as Deities the Host of Heaven, infernal Spirits, Beasts wild and tame, devouring Serpents, Birds of Prey, stinking Herbs and Diseases; all upon the Credit of lying Priests, and by the senseless Force of Fashion.
The Papists worship Bread and Bones, and Dead Men: And the Impostors, their Priests, who poison and bewitch them with such Trumpery, Mischief and Nonsense, as if it were all real Religion, pass with their blind Votaries as Vice Gods, who can do whatever God himself can do, bless and curse, blast and prosper, save and damn, and dispose of Heaven and Earth.
Ought such Blindness, such Fraud and Villainy, to be called Religion? Yet have the Papists any other? Are they, can they be, the better for so devilish a Religion, that keeps them in all Grossness and Ignorance, and prompts them to all Impiety, and to the worst Barbarities? Are they better Subjects for being ready at the Priest’s Command, to rebel against their Prince, to depose and stab, and murder him; nay, for thinking such horrible Crimes to be meritorious? Can they be good Neighbours, who hate and damn, persecute and kill their Neighbours, for following Reason and Conscience; and worshiping God, as God requires to be worshiped, in Spirit and in Truth?
Is their Religion any Restraint from Crimes, when it prompts them to commit the highest, and absolves them from all Guilt when they have contracted the most hideous? This very Power of Absolution usurped by their Clergy, is a Dissolution of Religion itself, and defeats all its Purposes and Influence. What Criminal, threatened with Damnation, and the Gallows just expecting him, will not be sorry to be so near Pain and Death, and unceasing Torments after Death? Yet for this mechanical Sorrow, or even for professing it, all his Guilt is discharged, and he thus more encouraged to contract a fresh Score, not the less secure from being ever so black. Still a new Pardon is ready upon every new Peril, which will naturally lead him to apply for it, and to declare his Fitness to receive it.
Here is an everlasting Warrant for everlasting Transgression; and every such Warrant a certain Incitement to Sin. The Religion of Popery, therefore, acting up to all its Principles, far from being a Check to Crimes, is a Call to all Crimes and Immorality; nay, an Office for all Mischief, all Cruelty, and all Abominations; and thus dreadfully may every Religion be perverted, where the Priests claim such absolving Power, and thus abuse it.
That there are not more Mischiefs daily flowing from this horrid Fountain (as God knows there have been, and are, too many and too dreadful) must be ascribed to natural Impulse, to innate Tenderness, the Child of Humanity, not quite extinguished, nor hardened even by Craft into Brutality and Cruilty. A Papist, left to Nature and the Rules of Honour, is capable of high Generosity, Trust and Friendship: But the best-hearted Papist, under the Influence of his Priest, inflamed by false Fears or false Hopes (the stronger with Bigots for being false) Heaven opened to receive and reward him, if he be obedient, and Hell to swallow and burn him, if disobedient; will zealously sacrifice all Faith and Friendship, and perpetrate the most inhuman, the most infamous Enormities.
The noblest, the most religious Character, charged with Heresy, is horrible to all who are taught to hate Heretics; as the Papists are earnestly taught; and where Paradise is the Reward of destroying Heretics, there will be Numbers ready to earn it. When the Pope had damned the poor pious Albigenses, the Proto-martyrs of the Reformation, and had published a Croisade against them, half a Million of Men, drunk with Zeal, thirsting for Blood, and urged by murdering Monks, took Arms to destroy those Primitive Christians. The most vicious and profligate Criminals, the most abandoned Outlaws and desperate Cut-throats, were the keenest Adventurers and deepest in the Slaughter, as by it they gained a plenary Pardon for all their Sins.
Could there be a more awakening Call to Mankind, to combine together for the utter Extirpation of such a hellish Hierarchy? Can all the internal Spirits together, boast such Myriads of Murders, such successful Outrages against Men and the Creation, in a Thousand Years, as the more infernal Spirit of Popery has produced and gloried in, every Century? Yet so blinding is Superstition, so bewitching is Priestcraft, that the Father of the Assassins of Christians was reverenced as the Father of Christendom, and adored like a God: Rome, the Sink of Abominations, the Seminary of Frauds, Sodomy, Cruelty and Tyranny, passed for the Holy City. What Mockery of God! what Infatuation in Men!
Could the Want of Religion have thus intoxicated, thus enslaved, thus butchered Mankind, thus defaced the Creation, thus mastered, or banished Reason? It does not appear that the greatest Disturbers and Pests of the World, have been so from want of Religion. Most of them were Slaves to Superstition, Tyrants to their Fellow-Creatures, some of them Sacrificers of Men; and, which is much the same Thing, most of them Persecutors of Conscience.
ferdinando the Catholic had great Zeal, without common Honesty. Philip II. was drenched in Perfidy, Incest and Blood; a bigoted Papist, an implacable Enemy to Protestants; a flaming Patron of the Inquisition; an eager Burner of Jews and Heretics. His Son made his Kingdom a Desert, by the Expulsion of the Moors, his most industrious Subjects, not made idle by keeping Holy Days. This weak Prince, in spight of all Warning from his wisest Nobles, gave way to Bigotry, to the lying inflammatory Invectives of the Clergy, threatening him with terrible Judgments, and rousing him by forged Miracles, particularly of a Bell, which being a good Catholic, rang to the same Tune of its own accord.
lewis the Eleventh of France was drunk with Superstition; a Bigot to Saints and Relics; faithless to God and Man; a Tyrant to his People. Whilst he was once treating of a Peace with Charles Duke of Burgundy, who from eternal Experience knew that no Treaty would bind him, the Duke insisted that, besides the usual Oath on such Occasions, Lewis should swear by St. Claude. Lewis, who would readily invoke God and Angels, and all the other Saints in Paradise, to any Falshood, shewed an utter Aversion to forswear himself by St. Claude. He had a notable Reason for this Distinction and Difficulty: There was a current Tradition, which he firmly believed, “That whoever swore falsly by that Saint, would infallibly die within the Year.” A Successor of his, wanting his Sagacity and Courage, surpassed him in Bigotry. To prove himself a complete Bigot, he acted like a miserable Politician, by lightening his Country of a Million of People; as bad a Neighbour as a King; a persidious and extensive Ravager, without other Check than the Safety of his Person; for, though he was lavish of Blood, he had none of his own to spare.
Had these Tyrants wanted Religion (for their Superstition passed with themselves for such, as it does with all Men who have it) would they, could they, have done more Mischief? I think it evident, that they would have done less, had their Bigotry been less. Bigotry justifies every Iniquity: Absolution discharges all.
I KNOW no possible Harm that the free Exercise of Reason can do to the World. It may, it must, on the contrary, do much Good. It is the Perversion of it that only can do Hurt; but still the Cure is to be found in itself: And the Abuse of it does not condemn it. What has been more abused and perverted than Religion, chiefly by the professed Teachers of Religion? Now, whether Religion perverted, or Reason perverted, do most Mischief, let the Observation of all Men, and the Experience of all Times, declare.
By what I have said, the Thing, methinks, may be decided. The Many are never Freethinkers. The Tribe of Felons, of Robbers and Murderers, never are: They generally live in the common Profession, and die in the common Devotion. Where Reason is most stretched it can never produce the Evils which pious Craft, particularly Absolution and sacerdotal Power, have constantly produced.
It is remarkable, that all the noted Railers against Reason and Free Inquiry into Things Religious, have been undiscerning Bigots, or interested and designing Impostors, Persecutors of Conscience, and such who would monopolize the Rule of Conscience; Laud with his hot-headed Brethren and Followers; Sheldon and the other debauched Court-Clergy after the Restoration; such sour Men as Dr. South, and such crazy ones as Dr. Sacheverel, since the Revolution: Whilst all the great Men and great Divines of those Times, and of all Times, have distinguished themselves by their free Sentiments, and encouraged the same Freedom in others; Lord Verulam, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Lord Falkland, Lord Shaftesbury, Chillingworth, Taylor, Tillotson, Cudworth, Whitchcote, Bayle, Locke, Fleetwood, Newton, Trenchard, and all others of their discerning candid Spirit, all Friends to Mankind, all hated by Bigots.
Did these great and good Men ever promote Animosity and Strife, for Speculations, Ceremonies and Trifles? The Good of Mankind was their grand Aim and Study; the Improvement of Reason, the Empire of Christian Charity, and universal Benevolence, the Motives and Objects of their Pursuit.
It would make a curious, useful, and, I think, an easy Inquiry, what little Good, and what mighty Mischief has been in all Ages done by Bigotry, compared with what little Harm, and what great Good, are necessarily done by Free Inquiry, or if you will, Freethinking. By the Witchcraft of Bigotry you see Christians set against Christians: Nation against Nation; Countries enslaved; Persecution reigning; Communities exhausted, slaughtered or starving; Learning and Liberty banished; their Champions martyred; and a few gloomy Tyrants, without Bowels, grinding and terrifying all Men, without Mercy.
Freedom of Opinion would prevent or remove all these tragical Curses, and is therefore always itself decried and cursed by those who do or would inflict them. Let Free Inquiry take place, what a surprizing glorious Change would appear all over the World, and as it were a new Creation, the Beauty of Liberty, the Force of Truth, captivating every rational Beholder, and scattering their mortal Enemies; Monks and Delusion, and every Deformity flying; all the Contradictions, all the Cheats, all the Terrors of Popery disappearing, with all the Popish Trumpery whatsoever; infallible Frailty; a Deity of Dough; stinking Relics, without any Originals; Saints without Holiness, often without Existence; Objects of Worship created by Carpenters; travelling Houses; sailing Milstones; talking Stone, and dancing Timber; the Inquisition sunk in utter Darkness, the Inquisitors trembling and seeking to hide themselves in their own late Dungeons: The Turks laughing at Mahomet; the Catholics at his Holiness, and our Protestant Papists at St. Atterbury and St. Laud.
There are no Freethinkers in Lapland or the Highlands. Savages who make no Inquiry, have no Scruples. Bigots are Savages in Religion, and the ready Authors of all Mischief and Confusion.
The Russians now in Arms against their King and Country, are led into Rebellion by Authority, as well as for Pay and Plunder. Common Sense and very small Reflection, would change their Hearts, make them ashamed of their Crime, reconcile them to their Duty, and arm them against their Idol, and against those who have seduced them to worship him. They would soon perceive that it is crying Wickedness and Phrensy, in needy, uninformed Mountainers, to destroy what the Representatives of the Kingdom have established, and over and over confirmed. They would know that the late King James was a perjured Tyrant, the blind Tool of France and Rome, and an Enemy to his People; that he had robbed them of their Property, and traiterously broke all the Laws that secured their Religion and Liberty, and Fortune: That as he acted like a Beast of Prey, it was as necessary and as right to expel him, as to expel a foreign Enemy. That an hereditary Right to be lawless is impious Cant, which extinguishes Religion and human Society: That every State has inherent in it a Right of Self-preservation, consequently of combating Force with Force: a Right exerted at the Revolution; and ’tis Treason to question it, Rebellion to rise against it.
But, alas! the very Redemption from Slavery, procured us by the Revolution, these wild Men, cheated by their Priests, and awed by their Chiefs, believe to be Oppression, and commence Rebels to overthrow public Liberty, the highest national Blessing, but represented to them as intolerable Slavery. Under this Blindness, they who are miserable Vassals to their Chiefs, and miserably oppressed by them, follow their Chiefs to oppress the Public and all Men, preposterously professing to rescue the Public and all Men from Oppression: A wonderful Contradiction naturally arising from a Composition of Infatuation and Impudence! The former always swallows what the latter asserts.
Were the unfortunate furious Clans guided only by the Light of Nature (ever extinguished by false Guides) they would be quiet, contented Subjects to the King, and throw off their real Tyrants, the Chiefs. Such would be their Happiness in thinking and judging for themselves; and such too would be the Happiness of their Neighbours and the whole Kingdom: Such is their present Misery, Slavery and Rebellion; such too the Misfortune of the Kingdom, in blindly following the Guidance and mischievous Tuition of others, who serve their own Ends, and gratify their Ambition and Rage, by the Blood and Blindness of their credulous and bewitched Followers.
I do not remember one unprovoked War, or Rebellion, or Sedition, raised by Men, who thought for themselves, and weighed Right and Wrong. There never have been, there never can be many such. They who think not for themselves are no Thinkers at all: They who let others think for them, are the blind Followers of others. And thus Men of Craft govern all the rest, not only Fools, but Men of good natural Sense, who not exercising their own Reason, cannot be said to have their own Religion; as I have just illustrated in the Example of the Highlanders: Quibus non Judicium non Odium, nisi indita et jussa.
The same is true of such as rebelled against the late King, who, no more than his Son, ever broke a Law, or ever oppressed a Subject. Apostate Priests belyed his Reign, blackened his Character, incensed their Dupes and the Rabble, and blowed the Trumpet of Rebellion.
The great and consuming Curse of Persecution, as wasteful a Calamity as Rebellion, and generally springing from the same bewitching Craft, and the same implicit Credulity, had never banished Humanity, thinned the World, silenced the Gospel, mocked God, overturned Religion, and affronted common Sense, but for such magical Imposture nurturing popular Infatuation. No Man would have hated, much less hurt another for a Mistake in counting his Fingers, or for a Blunder in his Fancy, no more than in his Dreams, which are the Fancies of Sleep; had not Craft told Simplicity that certain Damnation attended such heinous involuntary Errors.
Transubstantiation, and other Positions, equally impossible to be true, never to be explained, therefore never to be believed, were yet made Articles of Faith; such Articles as none but Hypocrites or Fools could subscribe; so that they who had least Religion had most Orthodoxy; and such Articles as they who had most Conscience, or any, were burned for not subscribing; so that such as had least Orthodoxy, had most Religion.
The Light of Nature never taught any Man to plague another for living under a different Roof on a Sunday, no more than any other Day, or for his different Posture at Dinner, or for eating none, or for eating Apples instead of Onions, or for praying in a Barn, and making no Bows to either End of it. But Catholic Guides, who put out the natural Sight of Man, to make Men see clearer, first intoxicated Mankind, then domineering over them, have set City against City, Neighbour against Neighbour, the Son against the Father; and in the Name of Charity made Men cut one another’s Throats.
The great Obstacle and Terror of their Catholic Impostors, is Freedom of Inquiry, which implies the Strength and Exercise of Reason: A formidable Foe, indeed! No wonder they are for ever attacking it, and for ever trying to weaken and destroy it, by all the Arts of Calumny, all the Efforts of Malice. By implicite Belief, without Examination, the Catholic Impostors reign and prosper, and Catholic Communities are kept in gross Ignorance, heavy Chains and utter Misery.
THE English Convocation at that Time, amongst their other Antichristian Measures, scarce credible, too wicked for the wickedest Tyrants and Persecutors till then, injoined an Oath, by which besides other Extravagancies, all Ministers were to swear to an Et Cætera. You were to swear “never to consent to an Alteration of the present Government of the Church by Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons, Et Cætera.” If you refused this monstrous Oath, you were to be forfeited and starved.
Strange, unchristian Proceeding! Could there be greater Injustice, indeed greater Folly, than for the King to confirm it? It was not only an Oath, which no Man of strict Conscience could take, “to swear to he knew not what;” but by it the King gave up his Power and Supremacy. It was the King and Parliament that made and consequently governed the Church; so that in agreeing to this Canon and Oath, he gave away his own Prerogative, and sacrificed the Rights and Power of Parliament, as he had indeed Parliaments themselves. It was encouraging universal Perjury; as it certainly is such, to swear at random to what is not explained, nor even expressed. It was forcing Men to swear to what they disliked or might come to dislike, and never to change what many thought grievous and even sinful. It was taking an Oath to resist King and Parliament, whenever they, who had formed the Church, should attempt to change or reform it. It was engaging by an Oath to be Rebels, whenever the Supreme Power should alter or intermeddle in Church-Matters. It was giving up the Right of the Subject to petition for Redress of Grievance, at a Time when the Administration of the Church was one of the principal Grievances of the Nation: A Grievance so sharp, so general, and so resented, that the Motion to impeach Archbishop Laud, found not one negative Voice .
The Government of the Church, by this Oath, never to be altered, was then, and had been long oppressive and barbarous, and the Morals as well as the Doctrines of many of the Clergy, very shocking. Could these Men, so fond of assuming a Divine Right, be said to feel the smallest Influence of the Divine Spirit amongst them, whilst they were indulging their Pride and Passion against the soberest and most serious Christians, reproaching them, and exposing them to popular Hate, to Fines, Prisons, and the Want of Bread, all for a Ceremony, a Posture, or a Garment? Could Truth or Virtue be found in those Men, who justified Falshoods out of the Divine Word; told the King, who was sworn to rule by Laws, that he was bound by no Law, and damned the Subject for defending his Property, when it was assaulted against all Law.
The private Manners of many of the Clergy were then so corrupt and scandalous, that the Accusations and Petitions, and Charges against their ill Lives, sent up to Parliament, and many of them published, are too long as well as too shocking to be repeated. I shall only add, that it is hardly credible how insufficient, how vicious, how superstitious, many of them were; and the more so, the more conforming, and always the bitterest Enemies to Non-Conformists.
If these Men were the Men in Fashion and Favour with the King, it is no Compliment to him, or them, that they were so by the most pestilent and falsest of all Flattery, as well as through his great Weakness in believing and caressing them. It shewed what best pleased him, not the Observance of his Oath, not the Execution of lawful Power, not the Protection of his Subjects in their lawful Rights, but the Exertion of a Power without Bounds, against Law and Oaths and the Rights of his People, all by the Persuasion and Flattery of the Clergy, in Return for his extreme Complacency to them. Had he used them, as he did his other Subjects, they would have convinced him that they were the worst Subjects he had.
What was this but a Spirit of Tyranny in him? And what Sort of Men, what Sort of Christians were they, who flattered and encouraged this Spirit, so destructive to Christians and Men? It was a persidious Compliment even in them; since whilst they allowed and even animated him to fleece the Laity at his Pleasure, he was not to lay a Finger upon any of their meanest Claims; and they claimed, even exercised over the Laity an Usurpation equal, nay superior to his, not only over a good Measure of their Property, but an undivided Sovereignty over their Minds.
When this their Spirit, and his, was so apparent in their Actions, as well as in their Declarations, how could either he or they be popular, or even tolerable, to a Free People, daily incensed by both, for depriving them of their precious Freedom of Body, Property and Conscience? And under such Circumstances, so much Suffering on one Side, so much Encroachment and Violence on the other, how could such an Oath be relished or received, an Oath big with Absurdity, Perjury and Treason; impossible to be kept or understood, deifying the Handiworks of Men, and defying the Legislature? It could not fail of giving a fresh and terrible Alarm, and heighten popular Disgusts, already extremely high. Nay, the Bishops would needs oblige the Clergy to swear to the Approbation of Ship-Money, and all such lawless Measures of the Court.
The High-Commission Court acted with the Rage and Inhumanity of Inquisitors. The Sabbath was violated by Authority and Royal Command, at the Suit of the Clergy. The soberest and most holy Ministers were branded with the Name of Puritans, persecuted and turned out of the Ministry and Bread.
How little Religion was concerned or aimed at in these Practices and Proceedings of Churchmen, was manifest; since hardly a Drunkard, or an Idler, Non-Resident, or an Ignorant amongst the Clergy, was turned out, though many such there were, as was too fully proved soon after, whilst the most learned, the most exemplary, diligent and most scrupulous Teachers, were daily disgraced, stripped and undone.
The more Wealth or Power in Priests, always the less Morals. It is then not Morality, or Knowlege, or any good Quality, that recommends Men to their Favour, but Acquiescence in Modes and Discipline, and Zeal for a Party.
This was too manifest at that Time, and gave infinite Scandal to all sober Men, to see Ministers of Parts and Piety, punished, silenced and undone; and such as were very vicious and loose, very ignorant and insufficient, caressed and preferred. For Fasting and Praying, and a religious Observance of a religious Day, Men were subjected to Gaols and Fines, and the Fury of the High-Commission and Episcopal Courts; persecuted and undone for not reading and publishing Orders for profaning the Sabbath, or not paying Worship to an Altar.
The Exercises of Piety and Devotion were suppressed, such as Lectures and Afternoon-Sermons, and Expositions of Scripture on the Lord’s-Day. The Communion-Table of Protestants was turned into an Altar, conformably to the Superstition of the Papists: Bowings were practised towards it, and recommended as an Essential in Religion: Pictures were set up in Churches, with other terrible Symptoms to the Reformed Religion, and so many apparent Advances towards Popery. What availed it, that they who made them, disavowed the Imputation of Popery, when they thus pursued its Spirit and its Practices? What is Popery, the dangerous Part of Popery, but its Idolatry and superstitious Rites, and chiefly its Power usurped over Consciences? Even the Superstitions, the Fooleries of Popery, are so far formidable as they tend to introduce Papal Power; since Priests have always directed Superstition so as to profit by it.
It is worthy of Observation, that after the Overthrow of the Church and Monarchy, many of the Episcopal Clergy not only signed the Engagement, to be true and faithful to the Commonwealth, as then established without a King or House of Lords, but printed and published their Reasons for doing so. In this Proceeding they eased and assisted their Consciences with a Distinction, between a Government de Facto, and one de Jure. A Distinction against Conscience, and of great Service to Faction and Perjury after the Revolution in 1688. ’Tis equally remarkable, that the Presbyterian Ministers refused so to subscribe the above Engagement, and many of them published their Reasons for such their Refusal; yet were boldly branded, after the Restoration, as Republicans, by the very Men who had sworn to be true to the Republic.
UPON this Subject I expect to find the more Candour and Attention, as the common Danger has calmed the Minds of Men, and almost silenced the Clamour of Party. False Zeal and Disaffection are driven into Cabals in Corners; and I hope that common Sense will be heard in the Cause of National Peace and Union.
It cannot but be a pardonable Attempt, to prevent or allay popular Heats unjustly raised, and industriously kept up, such as turn the Head and inflame the Heart, and weaken Society by dividing it: to remove pernicious Prejudices, to reconcile Men to their common Interest, to abate their Wrath and Disgusts, inspired by such as would mislead them, against those who never hurt them.
If their Passions be kindled, and their Minds racked to no Purpose, or for an ill Purpose, are not the Authors of such Pain and Disquiet to be considered by them as dangerous Seducers and Firebrands, who would gain Credit or Profit at their Expence, govern them by imposing upon them, teaze them with false Fears and Information, and disturb the Public for private Ends? It is not for the Credit of any Man, to defame King, Lords and Commons, because a Libeller bids him, and to regard his Character and Authority more than those of the Legislature.
One who lives by a Paper, or strives to serve the Views of a Faction by it, will be apt to consider, not what is true and right, but what is taking and gainful; and, under the Temptation of multiplying Lyes, to multiply Loaves and Readers. If it be popular to rail at public Men and public Measures, it cannot be expected that he will take the unpopular Side and make their Panegyric, even when they most deserve it. It is more probable, that he will rail at their best Actions, if their best Actions be ill understood, and therefore unpopular, and will study to make them so, if in doing it he can but raise the Name and Sale of his Paper.
This generally is the Policy and Temper of such Writers. They are the Swiss of Interest and Party, and with loud Pretences to Independency, are Slaves to the popular Cry, Slaves to their own Passions, Slaves to a Spirit of their own raising or fostering. What Party-writer dare, if he would, do Justice to a worthy Character obnoxious to his Party, or own that there are any such? What mercenary Writer will venture to tell any Truth, which is likely to sink the Sale of his Paper, or to smother any safe Falsification which tends to raise it? It is the great Drift, therefore the constant Practice, of both Sorts, to humour their Readers, to incense and mislead them; to magnify their own Favourites, to blacken and traduce their Opponents, to see nothing but Excellency and Merit in the former, to allow nothing but Folly or Malignity in the latter.
If we were to take the Word of the Examiner, a very witty, but very unfair and bitter Paper in the late Queen’s Time, we must believe and wonder, as doubtless the Author meant his Readers should, that Lord Cowper had started at once from an Attorney’s Clerk, to a Lord Chancellor; from transcribing Briefs, to keep the Great Seal, and to preside on the Bench; that a Page was converted into a Captain-General, and that the Duke of Marlborough had been raised from carrying his Master’s Train, to the Command of the Confederate Army. We have seen, says that lively Writer, mentioning, or rather inventing the wild Marvels of the Whig Ministry, who were to be represented as having done nothing but what was wild and marvellous; We have seen Footmen remov’d from behind the Coach into the Inside, and the Livery left off for the lac’d Coat. Princes have been made out of Pages, Chancellors out of Clerks, and the White Staff and Blue Ribbon bestow’d as Play-Things upon the Laquey and By-blow .
Was this Author to be credited in recounting any Party-Matter, or in drawing any Party Character? He might with equal Truth and Consistency, though not with equal Policy, have informed his Readers, that they had seen Wonders still greater, “A Presbyterian retrieving the Honour of the Church; a Dissenter, from taking Notes at a Conventicle, dictating at the Council-Table, and governing, a High-Church Queen, by the Merit of his superior Zeal for the Hierarchy; that they had seen a Barrister helping the Crown to an Heir; the Issue of a Lawyer’s Daughter ruling Three Kingdoms; the Grand-daughter of Chancellor Hyde holding the Sceptre by Hereditary and Divine Right; a God’s Vicegerent upon Earth descended from a Wiltshire Justice of the Peace!”
Such ugly, or such ludicrous Lights, can much Spite and a little Wit, throw upon the highest and the noblest Characters; and so easy it is to make an ill Draught of the best, yet one more pleasing to Ill-nature and Ignorance than if it were just! This is a Work fitting every mean, every licentious, Genius; ’tis not strange that it draws many Adventurers, who, to succeed, need only invent and rail, crack Jests without Wit, argue without Sense, and assert without Truth.
This was literally the Undertaking, these literally the Talents of Dyer and Roper, Co-temporaries with the Examiner, and, without a Grain of his Wit, as much read as he. Their Ribaldry, their blunt Abuse and wooden Satire, had many Admirers: They diverted Ale-houses, and kept alive the Rage of Party, which is too easily kept alive, when such Wretches can serve the Turn. Their Reviling was called Smartness; their personal Rancour was Love for their Country; their stupid Guesses, shewed their Sagacity; their Forgery of Facts, good Intelligence: Even their Contradictions and Impossibilities were swallowed as Facts and Signs of deep Foresight. All who had so nobly and for so many Years supported the Throne, were Enemies to Monarchy: The Bishops were pulling down the Church: The Dissenters governed all Things, though none of them were employed: The Whigs were bringing in the Pretender, as the Prelates were Presbytery. There were no Jacobites in the Three Kingdoms; or the Jacobites were the Queen’s best Friends, even when they thought themselves strong enough to place him upon her Throne, and had actually attempted it. The Dutch were our worst Enemies; the French our truest Friends: Popery was better than Presbytery. The Duke of Marlborough was neither a General nor a Soldier, but certainly a Coward; Lord Somers was a Sharer with Kid the Pirate; and a Lunatic from Oxford was the Saviour of the Church.
These were the then prevailing Doctrines and Positions; this the popular System of political Belief, and these miserable Authors the popular Directors in Politics. Ought not such Extravagances, boldly published, greedily credited, and producing so much Heat and Delusion and ill Blood, to serve as a Warning to all People that can but read and remember, how rash and dangerous it is to trust, and how much they ought to despise, false, hot, and abusive Writers, who scatter Calumny, Imposture and Ribaldry, only to serve the Interest of a Party, or their own Interest; who for this End stick at no Abuse, no Falshood, and even torture Facts into Falsehood, and Merit into Dispraise; who advance not what is true and healing, but what is mischievous and pleasing. The poor People are always their Bubbles and Property, and they live and prosper by deceiving them.
Nothing is more to the Disgrace of such Libels and Libellers, than that they are most loud and current during public Distraction and Distress; that they thrive best when the Public suffers most, and when public Distraction prevails. Popular Discontents are their Nourishment, and they the Fuel of public Discontents, which sometimes have no other.
A french Quack in London, when the Plague raged at Marseilles, and was terribly apprehended here, swore, “that if the Plague did but come hither, he should surely make his Fortune.” Had the same narrow, unfeeling Genius been a Penman in pursuit of Fortune, or a Firebrand of Party, he would have rejoiced in popular Commotions and the Prospect of a Civil War; a Season when Pamphlets swarm most, and Invectives fly faster; when Fury and Uproar prevail, Law is despised, the still Voice of Reason not heard, and all Enormities are encouraged by Impunity.
It would surely spoil the Pleasure of a good Citizen, when he is reading any lying and angry Libel, to consider, that it is written purposely to deceive him, to make him a bad Neighbour and a bad Subject; that it robs him of two valuable Things, his Time and Tranquillity, and supposes him to be a Dupe and in Leading-strings.
What can be a greater Crime, what can argue a worse Spirit, than, for Vengeance, for a Peny, or a Place, to propagate Discord and Falshood? Not to care who is hurt, or what Mischief be done, so the Author be gratified, and the Paper sell? This is a Proceeding too heinous to be aggravated, scarce credible, yet too common.
A Public Libel admits but of one Alleviation; I mean, when, with all its mischievous Tendency, it is produced without Malice. It was natural to pity the poor offending Author, who excusing himself to a Secretary of State, for abusing the Government, said, “He did it from no Ill-will, but only for Bread.” When the Secretary asked him, Why he did not then chuse to write for the Government? “Alas, my Lord, said the scared Calumniator, I shall then want Bread, for then nobody will buy what I write.”
It was not Ambition, it was not Ill-nature, that guided his Pen; and if he did any Harm, he meant none. But when Rancour and Rage, or a greedy Spirit, arms the Hand of an Author; when he openly defies Authority, belyes and blackens those who bear it, and vilifies all their Measures, not because they are wrong, though he may say so, but because they are theirs; they only who are influenced and misled by him, are intitled to Pity, but he himself to none.
MonsieurPatin, an eminent and witty Physician at Paris, who had long seen the Falsities and Calumnies spread by the Writers of News and Politics, gives them a Character suitable to his Indignation; Genus hominum audatissimum, mendacissimum, avidissimum ut Rem faciant, “A most shameless, a most lying Tribe; most abandoned in Pursuit of the Peny.” They indeed rarely consider what is Right or Wrong, but what will take. Is any good Man unpopular, or to be made so? They cry him down; and then let him be ever so able, ever so virtuous, he is guilty and foolish. Is a worthless Man popular, or is it worth while to make him so? They cry him up; and he has at once all Merit, and every fine Quality. The same Pens which libelled a Tennison deified a Sacheverell.
Is the popular Humour for War? Or does a Cry for War answer any End of Sedition or Gain? Does it hurt a Man or a Party they hate? Or does it gratify the Men and Party they espouse? Or does it quicken the Sale of a Libel? They are presently loud for War, be it ever so unseasonable, ever so ruinous, and inveigh against all pacific Men and Counsels. Is the Sound of Peace in fashion, or serves any of the narrow and passionate Purposes abovementioned? They are vehement Advocates for Peace, let it be ever so premature, and the Terms ever so scandalous: They then vilify all the Managers and all the Advantages of the War, and extol all who would make a ruinous Peace. Is the Peace solid and honourable, and they displeased and disappointed? It must be shewn in hideous Colours, and the People taught to hate it, and all that had any Hand in it.
For, as all their Strength and Hopes lie in the Credulity and Mutability of the People, they always appeal to them, because they are always sure to deceive them. They have two short Maxims: Whatever those whom they dislike attempt, is bad; though it were to save the Nation: Whatever promotes their Party or their Paper, is good; though it threaten National Destruction. The same Pens which had inculcated Passive Obedience to a weak Prince, barbarously trampling upon all Law, excited Rebellion against an able Prince ruling benevolently by Law. Could there be more daring Impiety, or more shocking Assurance? And ought such memorable Assurance and Impiety ever to be forgot?
What could the People think of such miserable Guides, or of themselves, for not detesting them? They indeed reap their chief Security from Oblivion. They bounce and rail for a Day: Their Productions are read and thrown aside: It is forgot that every next Production of theirs contradicts their last. They praise and revile, they revile and praise, the same Man in the short Revolution of a Moon, as if they changed with it; yet their Inconsistency is not minded, because their past Labours are not remembered. Such Labours survive not their Date, and like the Insects of a Day, as they were formed for the Day, they die with it.
Unhappily for one of these transient Writers, who trusted to his Talent in well timing a Thing, as the Phrase is, a Reader of his caught him cruelly mangling in one Paper, a Character upon which he had lately bestowed much Incense in another. This the Gentleman happened to remember, though it was several Days before, and knowing him, asked him, how could so much late Merit deserve so much present Satire. How! says the Author; have you not heard the News? He has (naming a very honourable Person and cursing him) “He has taken a Place, and We are all just where we were.” He meant, besides himself, many other Candidates for Places, who had long inveighed at all Placemen, in hopes to remove and succeed them.
This is another shameless Practice of such unfair and passionate Writers, to represent all Places as odious and even criminal, whilst they themselves are thirsting after them, and only rail at them because they cannot get them. This is always a proper Answer to such maglignant Railers, and ought to be a constant Antidote against their Malignity: Nor can there be a greater Disgrace to their Readers, than to be at all influenced by such ridiculous Prejudice and Railing. Without the Establishment of Employments, of Places and Distinction, no human Society can be established, no more than without Magistracy and Laws. Both these imply Places as well as Priority: And none but a mere Mob, nor even a Mob without Intoxication, can dream of subsisting without the Degrees of Higher and Lower, without Places and Inequality, and without Government, or dream of preserving Government without Governors, without Men in Place and Office: For the chief Governor does but hold the chief Place. Where there are Laws, they must be executed; where there is Authority, it must be administered; nor can either be done without Hands, without Ministers and Officers, nor are these to be had without Support, without Places and Recompences.
All this is so plain, that it is almost a Shame to prove it; but it is a greater Shame to those who make it necessary, and no small one to such as want such Proof.
Human Passions are too powerful for the human Understanding: Where Disgusts are strong, Reason is weak. When we are brought to dislike the Persons of Men we dislike their good Fortune. When we come to envy their Fortune, we dislike their Persons; and whatever they have, whatever they do, we are apt to hate, when we hate them. In this unhappy Turn and Imbecillity in human Nature, lies the great Encouragement and Strength of Libellers. They perceive how easy it is to make Men think ill of one another; how natural it is to wish ill where we think ill, and to fall into the strongest Prejudices for the silliest Reasons.
An ancient Baronet in Lincolnshire, who was fond of Nottingham Ale beyond all other Liquors, though no Enemy to any, yet would never taste a Drop of it, nor bear to hear it proposed, after the Lord Chancellor Finch, who had made a very just Decree in his Disfavour, was created Earl of Nottingham. From that Moment and for ever, he conceived an inveterate Aversion to that Ale and that Place, and, whenever he mentioned it, he called it in spite Snottingham; therefore often mentioned it.
We ought to be the more upon our Guard against hasty Censure and unreasonable Piques, as we are prone to them. We ought to judge of Men and their Conduct with the more Caution, because we are apt to do it with Prejudice. This is the Voice of Humanity; this is but Christian Charity. We should read all Writers with Caution, but cannot arm ourselves with too much, when we read Party-Writers, or too scrupulously consider their Drift and Motives.
Every Reader of those warm Orators, should ask himself, whether they do not speak from the Passions as well as to the Passions; whether Men in a Flame can reason candidly, or see clearly; whether an angry Man can represent fairly; whether what gives most Offence, would give any, if it came from a different Quarter and different Men: Whether public Complaints be not often breathed from Griefs which the Public does not feel, and might not be removed by a Remedy which would not make the Public easier: Whether one who gets a Peny, by censuring the Ministry, or hopes for a Place by a Change of Ministers, knows State Affairs better, or would conduct them better, than they, or would lose a Peny by praising them, though they ever so manifestly deserved his Praise: Whether one who collects News knows more of the Condition of Christendom, than the Secretary of State; whether either the Dealer in News or in Politicks, would hurt his Paper by generous Truth and Observation, or would not rather promote it by Misrepresentations, and by ill-natured and random Censure?
Whoever is the Author of Slander and Invective, usurps the Place of Justice, awards Judgment, and inflicts personal Punishment; a most unnatural Judge, governed by his own Evidence, decreeing in Wrath, and condemning without hearing! Cicero observing and censuring the scandalous, personal Invectives allowed at Athens, even upon the Stage, says, it was perhaps “excusable thus to lash popular Incendiaries, and the Sons of Sedition ; though it had been still better to have left them to the Judgment of the Tribunal, than that of a Satirist. But to suffer such Invectives against Men in Authority, was unpardonable.” He mentions Pericles, who held the chief. The same great Author says, that to vilify and depreciate such as were intrusted with the Administration of the Roman State, was an Attack upon the State itself, and consequently liable to the same Construction and Punishment .
These scandalous Scurrilities upon the Persons of Men, intolerable in any State, could not be always borne even in that of Athens. Even the Athenians, fond of Licentiousness beyond any civilized Nation, were forced to restrain it by a Law. Horace, no Enemy to just Satire, observes, that its Excesses upon the Stage were so violent, as to require such Restraint, as the natural Effect and Cure of Liberty abused . If this Law, then and therefore made by the Areopagus, cramped the Spirit of the Comic and other Writers, whom had they to thank but themselves?
It was high Time to have recourse to such a Check, when Alcibiades, for want of a Redress from Law, for an Attack upon his Character in the Poems of Eupolis, redressed himself by drowning the Poet: Terrible Vengeance, as unjustifiable as what provoked it, but not surprising from a Man of his great Spirit, great Quality, and public Dignity, exposed to public Scorn in a wanton Lampoon! Both acted arbitrarily: Eupolis setting himself up for a Judge and a Doer of Justice, assaulted the Reputation of Alcibiades: Just so reasoned Alcibiades , and took away the Life of Eupolis.
Thus ended the invective Strains of the Greek Poets; and ended in Disgrace, as they had been exerted without Mercy or Bounds . As their Licentiousness had been extreme and shocking, the Law was awful, and its Penalties dreadful: By it the Offenders were to be cudgelled; nay, cudgelled to Death .
machiavel’s Distinction between public Calumny and public Accusation, will always be just. Accusation infers Facts and Proofs, and proceeds by them. Calumny supposes every Thing, and proves nothing: The less it demonstrates, the more it can invent, and charge the highest Guilt upon the greatest Innocence. It is generally addressed to the Vulgar, and conceived in vulgar Strains, such as none but the Vulgar can approve or answer.
As the Poor are apt to envy the Rich, Men of Ambition to emulate Men in Power, the Unfortunate such as flourish, ’tis natural for mean Souls to bear Spite to such as do not resemble them, and for bad Characters to traduce good. This Trade they easily monopolize. Such as they rival cannot rival them, and therefore they are unanswerable. Language like their own, which is the only proper Language for them, is what no Gentleman can return them. No well-bred Man is a Match for a Scold, nor will envy him the Credit of excelling in his Profession.
THE first Step to Knowledge is to be sensible that we want it; and we must perceive the Use of it before we know its Value. The first Step to guard ourselves against Prejudices, is to be sure that we are subject to them. The next Reflection ought to be, that it is as unjust in us to bear Prejudices against others, as it is in others to bear Prejudices against us.
If none but benevolent Thoughts were entertained, no malevolent Courses would be followed. Neighbours would not treat Neighbours with odious Names, nor charge those Names and such who bear them, with criminal Meanings, which are confidently imputed by one Side, yet never owned by the other. Indeed, the whole Drift of such Names is to promote Bitterness and Strife. They are like Weapons offensive, returning Wound for Wound, the Reproach of Fool for that of Knave, and Nickname for Nickname. A Tory is a guilty Character to a Whig; a Whig is equally so to a Tory; yet each is pleased with his own: They differ only in the Construction, and are guarded by strong Prejudices against making a true one, but so pleased with such Prejudices, that they would be sorry to lose them. They find Delight in hating the opposite Characters, and in esteeming their own: A Temper proper to perpetuate Piques and Fewds, and Proof against all Cure! The Spirit of Faction is civil Rage not yet kindled into civil War, but ripe for it, supporting itself, and annoying its Opponents by any Means, however unfair and barbarous. So it do but succeed, it cares not how; and in order to it, its great Aim will be to make the People hate and love improper Objects upon false Grounds.
It is a much easier Task to raise a Party-spirit than to lay it, to inflame than to calm and extinguish. Very mean Instruments serve to excite Mutiny in an Army, and Discontents and Sedition in a Community, such as the ablest Generals and the wisest Magistrates cannot prevent nor compose. Two common Soldiers raised such a furious Uproar in a Roman Army, as threatened the Destruction of the Commanders, and even of the Emperor; nor did it end without infinite Cruelty and Slaughter. Yet the Incendiaries worked up the Soldiers to all this Rage and Disorder, chiefly by aggravating the common and necessary Lot of Soldiers, that “they were subject to Duty and Danger, and had no more Pay than they were promised.” Afterwards indeed, to feed their mad Rage, they invented many Calumnies, which all passed with the blind Croud for Truth and friendly Information, and produced the Murder of many of their Officers, the ablest and most vigilant. Yet so many Victims not satisfying the Incendiaries, who still thirsted for more Blood, especially that of the General, one of them openly charged him with the Assassination of a dear Brother, whom he never had: And nothing but this Discovery, that the Assassination was all imaginary and framed, and that the Brother was just created, as well as just killed, saved the General from a real one .
All Crouds, in Cities as well as in Camps, are credulous, violent, easily misled, hard to be undeceived. Whilst their Seducer is their Idol, any Man who would disabuse them is considered as their Enemy, and in danger of being their Victim. Their Prejudice is blind to both, and teaches them, that in all this Folly and Mischief they are well advised, and righteously employed.
The drunken Mob, who demolished Houses of public Worship in the late Queen’s Time, thought such brutal Impiety the Work of God, and the crazy Ecclesiastic, whose Phrensy inspired them, God’s best Ambassador. They adored this wretched popular Meteor, and hated as he did, and because he did, the most amiable Names and Characters then in being, all moderate Men; nay, Moderation itself.
Neither is much Art required in firing the Many: Every Society, every Condition of Life, will readily find Evils and Inconveniences to complain of, Losses and Disappointments, public Calamities, severe Laws and Taxes. Whoever rails loudest against those Evils, however necessary and inevitable, is sure to be best heard by those who lie under them, and will be reckoned their special Friend; though, far from bringing them any Relief, he only aggravates their Sufferings by teazing and probing a Wound which he knows he cannot heal: And could such as love him for being misled by him, see through his evil Purposes or Folly, they would soon change their Fondness for him into another Passion, and bear with Patience what they must bear, be it ever so disagreeable, and they ever so angry. But he trusts to their Rage, which he can so easily rouse, and fears not their Reason, which they so seldom use, and he takes care they shall not.
Human Society cannot subsist but at the Expence of Particulars, who must part with their Blood as well as their Money, when public Want or Distress calls for either or both. It would be a desireable Blessing to be exempt from Taxes and all public Burdens, were the Public secure without them———But, to be discharged from them, when the Public must sink or perish for want of them, would be sacrificing All to save a Part, which yet could not be so saved. Pericles told the Athenians, during the War with Lacedæmon, when the Plague and other Misfortunes had made them tired of the War, and uneasy with him, their General, that “it was better for private Men to suffer when the Public prospered, than for private Men to prosper when the Public was in a State of Decay; because the private Ruin even of thriving Men is necessarily implied in the Ruin of the Public; but when the Public flourishes, private Men are the more likely to flourish.”
As Sickness and Sorrow and Death are the Lot and Conditions of natural Life; Impositions, Pressures and Payment are the inseparable Terms of civil and social Life. These however are all obvious Themes for Declamation, for tragical Strains, and fine Fuel for the Passions, which are so awake and tender upon this Head, that very coarse Clamour, and the most absurd Orators, are able so to fire them, especially those of the unobserving Multitude, too easily incensed with the Sounds of Property and Liberty, even when most deceitfully and idly echoed. The present Pique and Sensation animates them, and when their Blood boils, no great Art is required to keep up the Ferment. A dull lying Libel, or a miserable Couplet will do: For the present State of Things seems always the worst to those who dislike it.
watTyler’s chief Argument to his Swarm of Levellers, was such a Couplet:
Nor needed he any other to convince them, that they were all as good as their Betters, and that there ought to be neither higher nor lower amongst the Sons of Adam. In the Tumult of their Rage they were not aware, that if some were not above others, none could be safe, however obvious their own present proceedings made this Observation.
It may seem wonderful that any Number of Men, much more that an Hundred thousand Men, should be found in a civilized Country, all accustomed to the Conditions of Subordination and Society, yet all at once renouncing those Conditions and all Subordination, all agreeing to level all Distinction, to open all the Gaols, to set free and employ all Criminals, to murder all Judges, Magistrates, and all Men of Rank; to kill and rob all the Industrious and Wealthy, to destroy all their Wealth, to burn all Records, all Archives, and Writings, and thence abolish all Knowlege, and to cancel all Laws and Restraints whatsoever! Yet this Spirit, raised by mean Incendiaries, Wat Tyler and a few more, seized the Commonalty every-where; and the Commonalty, in order to remove Grievances, ran into Perdition.
Grievances is a Word of endless Extent and Meaning; nor, where it signifies any Thing besides the Breach of Laws is it possible to fix it. The Imprisonment of Persons, the Seizure of Property, Taxes imposed, Lives taken away, or attempted, all against Law, are Grievances, and dreadful ones; tragically felt here before the Revolution, now happily abolished; but again furiously threatening us. Under his present Majesty we suffer no Grievance which Law forbids, and we enjoy all Protection and Security which Law requires or Humanity dictates. One of the most threatening Grievances to a State, is public Ingratitude for public Benefits. The next to it, and the Effect of it, is Licentiousness; and both of them infer or presage all other Grievances: Ungrateful and licentious Language is followed naturally and too fast by ungrateful and licentious Actions: Men from saying what they please will soon learn to do what they please; and the one is often intended to introduce the other.
There were many public Grievances in Wat Tyler’s Time; but his own was only personal, the Insult of a brutal Tax-gatherer upon his Daughter: Yet he became the Idol of the Multitude; he was regarded as their Deliverer, whilst he was leading them to Outrages, Poverty and the Gallows, and under the Cry of Oppression was promoting public and private Destruction. His Followers were too blind and raging to ask him or themselves, “whether the Rights and Liberties of Englishmen could subsist; whether human Society could subsist, upon such Terms, by the Exercise of savage Violence, by canceling all Rights, and by dissolving all Society?” We may easily conceive how, under such Rage and Infatuation; such Fondness for him, and Hatred to their Superiors, they would have treated any Man attempting to shew them into what a Gulph he was leading them.
The Consequence of this mad Insurrection was a natural one, a Cloud of Martyrs to their own Folly, and a wanton Increase of Power to the vicious Court of Richard II. wantoning before in the Abuse of Power.
As the Tyranny of a Prince is Licentiousness in one; Licentiousness in the People is the Tyranny of All over their Governors and one another; and both Prince and People, by grasping at more Power and more Liberty than they can manage, lose what they have. If it be Madness in a Prince to seek to be lawless, as I think it is, and do not remember one Prince finding Happiness in that unhappy Pursuit; it is rather more Madness in the People to seek to be Licentious. Single Tyranny may last some time, and often does long; but Licentiousness, which is popular Tyranny, must soon destroy itself, and generally leads to what seems most opposite to it, single Tyranny.
When All are Masters there can be no Security, consequently no true Liberty to any, much less any Concord amongst all. Some Subordination will soon be found necessary, and then he who can influence most by cajoling best, will soon come to sway all. And as the Many are always blind to their Favourite, as well as to those who are not so, they will be apt, in their headstrong Partiality to a new Idol, and in their furious Antipathy to his Opponents, to compliment him with so much Power (perhaps more than what they deposed, or would depose, his Predecessor for claiming) that the same People who before thought all Subjection to be Slavery, will find themselves Slaves instead of Subjects, and probably not perceive the Difference till ’tis too late to make it.
It is with Liberty, as ’tis with Power: It is always unsafe when it is excessive. The same Limits that separate Power and Liberty secure both. Liberty is Power in the Hands of the People; Power is Liberty in the Hands of the Prince. Unbounded Liberty is as dangerous as unbounded Power; dangerous to the People, as well as to the Prince; and there is as much an End of Liberty when the People can do what they please, as when the Prince can. He who domineers over his Superiors is as much a Tyrant, as he who does so over his Inferiors; or more a Tyrant, as the one only abuses his Trust, the other both abuses and usurps it.
None of the Turkish Emperors, terribly arbitrary as they are, ever did, or ordered Things more extravagantly arbitrary, than the ragged Leaders of the Rabble did at Constantinople in deposing their late Emperor, and for some time afterwards, under the present. One of them, who owed a little Money to a Butcher (for a Debt from a Beggar could not be great) obliged the new Grand Seignior and the Divan, where this Ragamuffin was then Omnipotent, to invest his Creditor the Butcher with the Principality of Wallachia. It was sound Advice from the Cham of Tartary to the Emperor and his Ministers, upon this Occasion, to humour the dirty popular Chiefs, to let them do and say, swagger and dictate as they pleased, as the surest way of rendering them contemptible to the Populace. They became so in a short Time, and then due Vengeance overtook them.
The same Laws which intitle the People to Protection from the Crown, intitle the Crown to Obedience and Reverence from the People, whilst the Person who wears it observes these Laws. Proportionable Respect is by the same Laws due to all the subordinate Magistrates and Ministers of the Crown, who square their Conduct by the Law: To insult them is to defy Law and Justice. As ’tis Defamation against the People to call in question their just Rights; ’tis defaming the Crown and its Ministers, to vilify and traduce them in the Exercise of their Regal and Ministerial Rights.
The meanest Tradesman has a just Claim of Damages for scandalizing him in his Dealings, and hurting his Credit. Is there no Crime in alarming the Public by false Imputations and Calumnies wantonly thrown upon public Counsels and public Men? Can Trade go on, says an industrious Citizen very justly, if Men in Trade are exposed to be undone by Scandal and Misrepresentation? No, The lowest Tradesman is therefore intitled to Damages and Amends for Aspersions upon his Character. Now as he who expects Justice should do Justice, would it not appear very unjust, and even surprising, to hear any of those Tradesmen, so tender of their own Character, aspersing and blackening that of their Governors with equal Freedom and Folly, or chearfully listening to those who do? They would prosecute any Man for once treating them with the same Freedom and Acrimony. Could such Traducers decently complain if they were prosecuted for throwing their Invectives upon the first Names in the Nation?
Can there be more partial Dealing than this, or stronger Proof of a prejudiced Spirit, and of Liberty abused? Few Men practise what even Children know, that “we ought to do to every Man what we would have all Men do to us.” Surely the Character of a Privy Counsellor is as much the Care of the Law, as the Character of a Tradesman. Let me add another Observation equally true and important, that “the surest Way to lose Liberty is to abuse it.”
RUDE Behaviour is allowed by all to be inexcusable; yet it is by many often justified, when they see it used towards such as they dislike. Rude Writing, still more unpardonable, is excused and commended, if it annoy those whom we wish to see annoyed. Thus what is universally condemned is occasionally approved. We always find a Plea for what we love or hate, and Reason is pressed into the Service of the Passions. It is not always true, that those who love the Treason hate the Traitor, at least whilst he is committing it. They then chiefly begin to hate him, when they no longer want him. It is the same with Men of brutal Manners, whether exercised with their Tongues or their Pens. Those who are pleased with their foul Occupation will not immediately find their Persons odious.
I have seen with Concern a very sensible Man not only pleased with a very ugly, very unlike Character, merely because he hated the Person for whom it was drawn, but heard him commend the miserable Man who drew it, though he well knew him to be animated by Malice only, and that it wanted all just Resemblance of the Original.
From such Encouragement angry Writers, particularly Party-writers, are great Dealers in Characters, especially those of such eminent Men whom they consider as their Opponents. This Practice, which requires the utmost Delicacy and Tenderness, is generally pursued without any, but, on the contrary, with apparent Want of all Charity, Decency and Truth. As ’tis their great Drift to make Men odious, their great Study is to make them hideous; and when they imagine that they have made a Man appear bad, they think themselves justified in using him barbarously. They first labour to render him unpopular, then triumph, and sometimes live upon his Unpopularity. For whoever is the Object of their Slander, is industriously and confidently set up as the Object of public Hate.
’Tis pity such wicked Policy should have any Success; it is great pity it should have so much; since the best Men are often thus hunted down by the Rage and Clamour of the worst, and exposed to real Sufferings by the shameless Cry and Imputation of forged Guilt.
A Paper that once obtains to be popular, as many miserable Papers have been, grows at the same Time oracular, and all the Falshoods in it, like those uttered by the old Oracles, are believed without Scruple or Inquiry, because they come from thence; at least they are believed for a while, till they have had their Effect, and the bad Impressions are made; and they are the sooner made because they are bad. Most People, especially the lowest, are pleased to see exalted Characters depressed, and bright Characters sullied. This Practice alone has served to make many low Writers popular, and ingenious bitter Writers still more popular.
If dull Scurrility be pleasing, witty Scurrility adorned with Fancy and Stile, must be very pleasing. Even the best Men, though they condemn it, are curious to see it, and cannot help being entertained with it.
This good Reception of Abuse and Calumny will always be an Encouragement to Men of bad and bitter Hearts to be pouring out their Venom upon Men of Eminence and Name. For Abuse upon obscure Men cannot have equal Progress and Effect. It is therefore the best Policy in Revilers to aim high. But though such Policy may bring them Money, and, if they are ingenious Men, Praise, it will be Money basely earned, and but very partial Praise, since whilst the Wit is extolled, the Application of it will be detested. And for dull Scurrility, though it pass well with the Rabble, the Author will be taken for one of them, at least for a very dishonest Man, if he have a Capacity above them, and yet in such unmanly Instances condescends to theirs.
No generous Mind will blacken and wound merely because it can do so with Safety. The Terrors of the Law, and the Resentment of Particulars, may be evaded by very dull Skill and small Arts. But a candid Heart despises all crooked Dealings, and scorns to offend Truth and the Persons of Men, only because it can shelter itself behind Evasions and Reserves. Where-ever all the World applies the Spite of an Author, there he will be believed to have intended it; and if he know so much, he is an-answerable for all the rest. A Dash, or a foreign Feature thrown into a Picture, will be construed to proceed from the Caution or Cunning of the Painter, and one Stroke of Likeness though it infer no Blemish, shall be found to correspond with every aggravated and ugly Line in the whole Piece. The Ill-nature of the Author readily trusts to the Ill-nature of the Reader, to find out who it is he means.
The finest Poem may be burlesqued by a droll Imitator, the straitest Shape warped by a spiteful Pencil, and the fairest Character blackened by an ill-natured Pen.
Such Characters therefore, or any Character, ought never to be attempted but by the most candid and impartial Pens; such as those of Party-writers never are, nor can be; yet none are so forward as they to make such Attempts. Who would take the Representation of any Action, or the Character of any Person from those whose Business it is to misrepresent, to praise, and to depreciate, to heighten, to lessen and to blacken every Action and every Person? They profess to direct the public Choice, whom to hate and whom to love. They extol their own Friends and Measures only, condemn all the rest, and do both blindly. Are such Men to be credited? Would any Man now take the Account of the Times, and of those who lived in them, from Le Strange, Dyer or Abel Roper? Yet these Men were once in great Vogue, were much read, much credited by their different Parties, and in a good Degree guided their Passions.
Surely no Man who is angry at another is fit to draw his Character; yet Anger is generally the great Call, often the great Qualification, for such an Undertaking; an Undertaking which requires great Discernment, as well as a Temper altogether cool-and unprejudiced. Every angry Man expects that you should be as angry as he, and would interest all Men in his private Griefs, which he therefore covers and recommends under public Pretences and Zeal: If you do not adopt his Interest and Passions you are no longer a Friend to your Country, and must excuse him for representing you as an Enemy to it.
Every one ought to take Part with the Unhappy and Afflicted. Is a worthy Man disappointed, or a Sufferer upon any account? It should be Matter of Concern to every Man: But, if the Public do not suffer too, we cannot sympathize with him upon the public Account, though whilst he is under the Agitation of his Passions, which are always apt to darken and mislead the Mind, he may imagine his Cause and that of the Public to be the same. Does a bad, a worthless, or an insignificant Man, missing his unreasonable Aims, complain that Merit is neglected, and inveigh against such as have Favours to bestow, for bestowing them better than upon him? I do not conceive that the Public, or any Man in it, need be concerned otherwise than to condemn his Assurance, for interesting the Public, or any who regard it, in his private Importance. Yet by such Men the Public is sometimes appealed to, its Aid invoked, and the first and best Men belonging to it aspersed and insulted.
Whoever is heartily disposed to speak ill of another, will easily find something to say; or if he cannot find it, he may invent it———Both Facts and Qualities are readily coined by a willing Fancy, or blackened and aggravated by a malevolent Heart. Proceedings the most Advantageous to the People, may, by a malicious Representation of them, or even by an unpleasing Name given them, be rendered odious to the People. Measures the most Mischievous to the People, may, by plausible and false Colouring, be made dear and interesting to the People. The Reformation, with all its Tendency to rescue the People from Darkness and Thraldom, was far from being a popular Undertaking. The infernal Tribunal of the Inquisition, with all its Horrors, Barbarity and Flames, is adored as well as feared by the Populace.
A Dealer in satirical Characters is the most unfit Person in the World to draw that of others; for he is at once Witness, Judge and Executioner, and utterly unqualified for the Business which he professes. He shews the World that he is provoked, and thus furnishes the World with a good Reason for not being provoked too, though it be his great Aim to provoke the World to be as angry as he, and consequently as unfair. He is privately, perhaps mistakenly, piqued, and, scattering the envenomed Arrows of his Wrath at random, makes public Victims of innocent and worthy Men.
Who had a better or more adorable Character than Socrates? Yet the comic Poet Aristophanes presented such a frightful Picture of him to the Athenians, and forged such a false, but such a popular Charge, of Libertinism of Opinion, against that Divine Person, only for entertaining Notions of the Supreme Being derogatory to popular Superstition, and to the Plurality of Gods at Athens, that they condemned him to die. The pious Advocate for One God was put to Death as an Atheist. In the Eyes of Fools the highest Wisdom is Folly. The most sublime Truths pass with a Bigot for Impiety; and blind Guides have always most Followers.
By this Fate of Socrates, and the personal Malice of Aristophanes, which then had its Effect, the Character of Socrates is not hurt, but that of his spiteful Enemy greatly impaired. What aggravated his Malice, is, that many of his Plays were full of Jests and Buffoonries upon the Gods, and intended to expose them to public Derision. What shameless Assurance in such a Man, a professed Droll upon Divine Subjects, and even upon the Divinities themselves, to accuse any Man, especially so great and so good a Man, for Speculations about Religion!
Mr. dryden gave a very pertinent Answer to a Romish Priest after the Revolution, who wanted him to employ his Wit against the Protestants. “Father, said the shrewd old Poet, my Zeal for you has already made me burn my Fingers: I have long experienced, that one who believes the Infallibility of a Man, worships a Wafer as his God, and trusts that you can create a Deity out of Dough, makes a ridiculous Figure in attempting to ridicule any religious Opinion, or any Notion about Religion, however ridiculous it be.”
What Characters are to be handled with Tenderness and Decency, if great Characters be not, especially by private and obscure Men? Virulence and Calumny are no Marks of Guilt, except in him who utters them: and the heaviest Charge in every Libel falls upon the Libeller. All the Blots he makes in a fair Character, are so many real ones upon his own; nor will any reasonable Man expect Truth and Candour out of a Mouth that foams with Rage, and flows with Spite. Ill-will is a furious Prompter; it delights in mangling Characters, in pulling down the Highest, in blackening the Fairest, in distorting the Uprightest, and in misrepresenting All.
If an impartial Hand were to draw that of the Chancellor Clarendon, he would appear to have been an able Minister, the cool Conductor of the Restoration; successfully employed afterwards in the Service of the Crown; a true Friend to the Constitution, a Patron of the Church, with Christian Temper towards Dissenters; zealous for the true Interest of the King, and kind to his Adherents; equally vigilant for that of the Laws, in Opposition to Sycopliants and unworthy Favourites, who in Flattery to the Person of the King, were undermining his Authority, by setting it above the Laws, which were its fastest and only Support.
This was his true Character. A far different, and a shocking one was given him by the hot Party-men, his Enemies. Upon that great public Change, as all the Cavaliers expected Favour and Places, there were twenty Candidates for one Preferment; and as some Employments still remained, for Reasons of State, in the Hands of the late Possessors, every disappointed Cavalier became a furious Malecontent, and a mortal Foe to the Chancellor. A Cry was soon raised against him, as neglecting the King’s Friends, hugging his Enemies, and tampering with the Presbyterians. That Cry increased and spread, and those Imputations were fast followed by more and blacker. He was corrupt in Office, an Enemy to the King, whom he had faithfully served, and just restored, and a Traitor to the State, which he had so lately saved. All who railed at him because they were out of Place, persisted to rail till they got in, and looking upon him as their Enemy, stuck at no Means to destroy him. Were such Men capable of any fair Conviction, of doing Justice to his great Merit, or even of seeing any in him?
Was the Treasurer Godolphin ever fairly represented by the Tories, after he employed the Whigs? Was his Successor ever truly painted by the Whigs, when he appeared at the Head of the Tories, or by the Tories when they fansied him still leavened with Whiggism? Were they not both the Buts of infinite Scurrility? Folly was found in their wisest Counsels, Malignity and Mischief in their fairest Intentions; the meanest Libellers, who knew least of them, had the most to say against them; and there was no End of Libels in all Shapes, in Pamphlets and Songs, Characters and Queries. Such is the Condition of human Life, such the Lot of human Society, that for a Pique or a Joke, or a little Gain, public Tranquillity is risked, and the greatest Persons worried and belyed.
The late Duke of Marlborough will ever be a Name of immortal Renown to the English Nation; the wisest Counsellor, the greatest General of his Time, equal to those of any Time; superior, in the Cabinet and the Field, not only to public Enemies, but even to Fortune and Faction; but exposed to popular Hate and Scorn, by the pestilent Breath of Libellers and the Gall of Party; all his Merit and Fame, all his Victories and Laurels unable to support him against Invectives and Whispers; he triumphing Abroad over a Power dreadful for half a Century to all Europe, and impotent Calumny triumphing over him at Home; his many Victories and Conquests, many of them unbloody, all of them complete and glorious, decried as idle and even destructive, all by the same Men, who had before celebrated him as victorious without Loss of Men; Sine clade victor.
These Instances sufficiently shew, that the highest Services may be decried, the best Men traduced, and the greatest Merit rendered unpopular, by Prejudice and Clamour, by very low Means, and by very mean Instruments.
In all great Changes, during all public Ferments, and public Difficulties, War subsisting, new Taxes imposed, or old ones increased, Trade decreasing, great Events expected, great Attention raised, many hoping, many fearing, more disappointed than gratified, all prone to Censuring, if public Measures fall wrong, as the best may, they will be believed to have been concerted wrong, at least so represented, and thus the wisest be made unpopular. Nor is Innocence and Ability any Defence against popular Clamour, though raised by Art and Malice, and spread by Credulity and Folly. Even the best Counsels are most hateful to such as hate the Authors of them.
The Sum of a malicious Character may be true, the Facts true, yet the Character falsly drawn, by Aggravations thrown in and multiplied; by Facts omitted, or half stated, or untruly stated; and the whole Character, in itself blameless and amiable, shall appear hideous by these Aggravations and Omissions.
Ridicule, when ’tis outrageous, is itself ridiculous; that is, when it adds Facts and Colours, omits the best Features, and invents bad ones. Sometimes Malice alone draws and falsifies the whole Character, yet confidently represents it for true.
Under this Liberty taken with Characters, the most Unexceptionable can never be safe. They who take it are to be considered as the Carnifices gloriæ, as the Levellers and Assassines of great Merit and Fame. It can belong only to the lowest and the worst Characters to blacken the highest and the best.
The accomplished Adrianus Turnebus, a Name zealously celebrated by Scaliger, Thuanus, and all the able Pens of his Time, deserves more Applause from his own short and true Testimony concerning himself, than from all his learned Writings, numerous and excellent as they are. “It has, says he, been always a Caution with me, tenderly and sacredly observed, Never to shew any Inclination to advance my own Fame, by blasting that of any Man .”
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.
THERE can never be too much Justice done by Englishmen, to the Person and late Performance of that wonderful Statesman and Patriot to his Country, Mynheer Van Hoey. Sure I am, that the following Paraphrase will appear a just Representation of the French Minister’s Letter to him; such a Letter as no Minister but a French Minister could have written; nor even a French Minister have ventured to have written to any foreign Minister, but Mynheer Van Hoey. The French Letter is indeed truly French, a complete Specimen of French Insolence and French Pedantry, and hath not its Fellow in History, nor even amongst the Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum.
THE King has commanded me to write to you, as the only proper Neutral Minister, either capable or willing to oblige his Majesty upon so nice and unheard of a Trial. Indeed his Majesty does not consider your Excellency as a Neutral Ambassador, but rather as a Natural Advocate for him and his Interest.
Every body knows, Monsieur, at least you do, that the young Pretender is the King’s Cousin, though the English Nation allow his Father to be Nobody’s Cousin, as his real Parents were unknown, and his pretended Parents were Outlaws. Now as the English Troops have gained some Advantage over him, by destroying many Thousands of his invincible Followers, and routing them all, at the desperate Expence of near Fifty killed on the other Side, this young Prince, who had the true Courage to despise Danger so much as never to appear in it, is by it intitled to the Favour of all Powers who can esteem him for it, especially to the Favour of the King of England, whom he only strove to dethrone. Moreover, the brave English Nation cannot but shew high Affection to that wandering Prince their Countryman, whom they do not own, one so personally mild as to fight with no Man that would fight with Him; one who advanced so daringly whilst there was no Opposition, and so tenderly shunned the Sight of Blood.
These,Monsieur, are unanswerable Reasons for Mercy, and even for Generosity towards this harmless brave young Prince, especially from the King of Great Britain, who had nothing to fear from him but the Loss of his Life and Crown, with the Liberties, Wealth and Blood of his Subjects. The same powerful Arguments must have equal Force in procuring Pardon to the Adherents of the said young Prince, as they did no more than rebel, and only endeavoured to overthrow a naughty Constitution, and to spoil and subdue English Republicans, for the Service of France their good Friend and Ally.
It was therefore but natural in them, and their Duty, to follow the said young Prince’s Standard, set up by France. That young Prince has to urge in his own Behalf, that when the Duke of Cumberland attacked and overturned that Standard, the above brave Prince never once appeared to support it, but behaving like his genuine Ancestors, and yielding to his and their great Complaisance and Humanity, hastened with Horror from the Uproar of Slaughter and a bloody Field. What though his Followers broke the Laws and desied their Sovereign and the Living God? It was all done in a Time of Confusion, which they themselves had raised: It is therefore reasonably hoped, that these poor Rebels, the more to be pitied for being implacable, will be subjected to no Prosecution or Rigour.
The King desires you, Monsieur, to represent to the English Ministry the great Inconveniency it will be to the French King, if his Cousin be imprisoned and the Rebels hanged; as neither He nor They have done more than was for the Advantage and Glory of that King. If they have forfeited their Lives by the Laws of England, yet his Majesty hopes to find nothing worse than Pardon and Benignity towards them from the King of Great Britain, whom they strove, by the Aid of the French King, to sacrifice to France and Popery. It will be highly generous in his Britannic Majesty, to extend the utmost Lenity to such who attempted to dethrone him, in Justice to a Family which does not exist in the English Annals, but a Family espoused by the French and the Highlanders.
But if, contrary to the Expectation and Interest of France, the said young Prince be laid in Durance, or his worthy Adherents be hanged, it is easy to apprehend that the French King will be angry; that he will do, what he has already done, and is doing daily, even all the Harm he can to the King of England; that if the King of England pretend to hinder him from doing more, and will not so much as pardon his implacable Enemies, the good Emissaries of France, still zealously bent to set France against the King of England; then will the French Forces, during the War, certainly kill all the English, who will let them. It is too certain, Monsieur, that if the English King do not spare the English and Scotch Rebels, raised, animated, and fed by France, it will discourage all Rebels in every Country in Europe, either to serve or to trust France, whenever she has Occasion to raise Rebellion; and will therefore be a bad Example set to all Europe against France. The King of England cannot but know, what a sincere Love the King of France has for the Stuarts; a Family who so long faithfully sacrificed England to France.
No Man, Monsieur, is fitter, no Frenchman is fitter, than yourself, to act this extraordinary Part, for the Honour of France. Your long Partiality to France; your known Zeal for any Peace which may be most for the Honour of France; and your wonderful Talents, so long the Admiration of all Europe, as well as of your own Country, will rouse your uncommon Spirit and Eloquence upon this important French Project.
Your Excellency, Monsieur, must be quick in your Application, else Dungeons, Axes and Halters, will be the immediate Portion of the best Friends that France has in England. Pray let me have your Answer from the English Ministry, that when that awful and profound Genius, the Monarch my Master sees it, he may set his sublime Wit to work, how to wreak more Vengeance upon England .
In the mean time, Monsieur, he graciously condescends to wish, that the King of England may humbly submit to grant him whatever he desires, and give him particularly this Mark of Submission and Awe.
YOU cannot but know, Monsieur, what great and daily Advantages accrue to France from the continual Importation of English Money for French Commodities, Wines, Brandies, Silks, Brocades, Laces, Cambricks, &c. and what essential Detriment the Exportation of English Coin must be to our Enemies the English. His Majesty, who is sensible with what true Pleasure your Excellency must have observed this, commands me to desire you, to acquaint the English Ministry, how sincerely his Majesty interests himself in this Affair. Every body knows, that the Smugglers are his true Friends, and how much his Honour and Profit is concerned to protect their Persons, and to study their Prosperity. Now, as there are certain hard and unreasonable Laws subsisting in England against these his good Friends and Confederates, who only seek their own Advantages in a Trade which they bravely risk their Lives and Fortunes to carry on; and as they are, for such their brave and desperate Behaviour, intitled to the Favour of all brave Men, the King my Master reasonably hopes, that all the said hard Laws against them will be suspended; that a Practice which is only pernicious to the Trade and Interest of England, may not be abolished, or even rendered useless, nor the resolute Followers of it be subjected to the Rigor of Prosecution.
These, Sir, are cogent Reasons to abolish the Laws against Smugglers; to soften the King and Parliament of England in their Favour, and to procure them all Tenderness from the brave English Nation, which they have the Courage to defy and to rob. They do but follow the Impulses of their Wants and Industry, and seek the Glory of being Rich at the Expence of their Country. Whilst they are under such potent Temptations to break the Laws and the Peace, and to terrify and command the Coasts, they are surely intitled to the just Admiration of all Frenchmen, and to the Commiseration and Generosity of all Englishmen. It will be a particular Mark of Generosity in his Britannic Majesty, to shew Lenity to such courageous Offenders, who rob his Revenue, kill his Officers, and spurn his Authority under foot.
But if, contrary to all Expectation, Smugglers be punished, and Smuggling suppressed, then will the King of France be angry and disappointed, and frown, and threaten to hurt England more than he can: And it is a melancholy Truth, Sir, that if Severity be used against English Smugglers, it will discourage Smugglers all over Europe from assisting and inriching France, by hurting and exhausting their own Country.
The King of England cannot but know the sincere Friendship the French King bears to the Smugglers, and to all other English Criminals and Traitors, who have served him so usefully against their Native Country.
You are, Sir, the fittest Man, and the only likely Minister living to exert your singular Parts and Industry, and to display your matchless Eloquence and Piety, upon this great Point, so interesting to France. Your Excellence will please to be quick; else Smuggling may be checked, and Smugglers imprisoned. His Majesty, ever fond of Glory and universal Submission, pants to see your Answer from the English Ministry, that he may be prepared to support his Power by protecting Smugglers and Outlaws, as well as in exciting and employing them for the Honour of his Court and Reign, all over the World. Yet he truly wishes, that the Crown of England may be so courteous and wise, as, for the Honour of France, to spare Smugglers.
I have the Honour to be, with profound Regard, Monsieur, &c.
N.B.It is whispered at Paris pretty confidently, and universally believed there, that Monsieur D’Argenson, thinking nothing too arduous for his Abilities, especially when assisted by those of Mynheer Van Hoey, intends, when he has gained, or rather commanded, his Point for the Rebels and Smugglers, to require a Cessation of the Penal Laws in England against Papists, and then an instant Restoration of Popery.
I HAVE the Honour to transmit to your Excellency, a Letter from Monsieur D’Argenson to me; a Letter containing such a Strain of Politics as none but a refined French Politician could have sent to me; and I am fond of the Writer, and pleased with the Drift of it. It is to apply to the Protestant King of Great Britain, the good Ally of the States General, my Masters, in behalf of the Popish Pretender to his Throne, and of the Pretender’s Adherents, the Rebels; since they have been defeated by the Duke of Cumberland, in their Attempts to dethrone the King his Father, to extinguish the Line of Hanover, and to inslave the English, all by the deep Counsels and Succours of France.
TheFrench Ministers, who have long known me to be their Friend, and treated me differently from all Foreign Ministers whatsoever, as indeed they have found my Behaviour different from that of all other Ministers; have done me the Credit to trust me with what no other Minister would undertake, or be asked to undertake.
They know how long and zealously I have contended, that all Nations should implicitly submit to make Peace with France, because otherwise France would never have done making arbitrary War upon all Nations. They therefore judge me fit to forward the Commands of France to the King of England, for shewing Favour to the young Pretender, because he had the Courage, by the Persuasion and Assistance of France, to attempt to dethrone the King of England; the Courage to submit to go upon that French Exploit, to venture his Person in a single Ship, to seize the Royal Revenue, where-ever he found it unguarded; nay, the Courage to behold the utter Defeat of his Forces, the brave Highlanders, without once heading or rallying them, and to scorn Danger so much as never to appear in it. For the same Reasons, equal Favour is by France expected to the Rebels, who did nothing but by the Assistance and Dictates of France.
These, my Lord, are strong French Arguments why the King of England should favour brave Rebels, prompted by France to destroy him. I wish I had Eloquence to convince all Mankind, that the best Defence against all public Crimes, is to pardon all public Criminals; and that the surest way to secure Princes against Rebellion, is to spare and encourage Rebels.
Indeed different Measures and Maxims prevail in France, where Gallies, Banishment, Dungeons, Racks and Wheels, support the Throne, and awe the Seditious, and are duly exercised even against Opinions and Writings. But it is the Policy and Study of France, that the same Prerogative and Measures should not prevail in England. Monsieur D’Argenson well knows how much it imports the Interest and Safety of France, that your Court should be kept in due Awe by his Court, and return upon it none of its own Measures.
It is for this Reason, my Lord, that Monsieur D’Argenson expects from your Excellency a placid Compliance with this his Demand, and with my Request seconding the same. Here, my Lord, exert your Talents, and exhaust your Persuasion; and then He and I will thank you. You will then be happy in having successfully obliged the French Court; and it is what is expected from the English Ministry.
It is wretched Policy to shed the Blood of those who would shed ours. It will be to the Glory of the King of England’s Clemency, to wink at Treason, and to encourage Traitors, brave unhappy Men, such as the French Council will unwillingly see executed, for their Attachment to France, and for their laudable Efforts to serve France. Consider, my Lord, that Courage is called Virtue, and therefore they were virtuous in rebelling. Can the heroic King of England, can the brave English Nation, blame such Virtue?
Pray, my Lord, behold the young Pretender and his Adherents in this Light. The young Man would have conquered England for the Good of England, dethroned the King out of Humanity, and inslaved the English for their Glory. Such was his harmless Heroism, such his Clemency; if the King of England will duly return his Clemency, it will be acceptable to France.
I own I am rash in thus acquainting your Excellency with what your Excellency knew before. But I am performing a Task very interesting to me, considering from whence it comes. Let these two Kings contend equally together, the King of France in pushing with all his Might to give England another King; and the King of England in submitting to France. May the Former carry all his Views, so salutary to all Europe! And may the Latter be sensible of this, and acquiesce in it! May they both thus earn everlasting Praise, the one in awing all Christendom, and the other for permitting and encouraging him!
I have the Honour to be, &c.
The surprising late Correspondence between the French Ministry and the Dutch Minister Van Hoey, is nothing wonderful. They know Him, though he does not seem to know Them; and his boasted Credit with Them, is, I dare say, intirely conformable to their Opinion of Him: Nor has any Ministry in Europe a different Opinion of him. Sure I am, that the English Ministry have not.
As to Monsieur D’Argenson, he has made himself the just Wonder of all Europe, as he has wisely insinuated to every State in it, that there is but one Sovereign in it; that it depends upon the Pleasure of that one, how far they shall exert their Sovereign Power; and upon his Condescension, whether they shall exert any. Methinks I rejoice to find such a singular Minister at the Head of the French Councils; as I did, a few Years ago, to find that profound Statesman, Broglio, at the Head of the French Armies in Germany; a Statesman so long the diverting Admiration of the English, whilst he had the Honour of representing the French Politicians here, and entertaining the English Court; a Function in which he was not unequally assisted by his Lady, Madame L’Ambassadrice:
The Talents of Monsieur D’Argenson seem to be exactly of a Piece with those of the Bishop of Beauvais, in the Regency of Anne of Austria, the Queen-Mother of France. He was her Almoner, and so much in her good Graces, that at first he was considered as prime Minister, and even gave Audience as such: A Station in which he soon shewed his amazing Qualifications, especially to the Dutch Ambassador, who, upon some particular Application or Memorial from the States-General to the said Bishop, was smartly answered by that deep French Politician, that if the Dutch Nation expected any Assistance or Countenance from France, they must forthwith, and, de bon Cœur, all turn Roman Catholics.
I think the profound Bishop has left at least one genuine Successor in Monsieur D’Argenson, who has lately given an equal Specimen of his equally signal Abilities.