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interest, must unavoidably decay. And let me say, that had there been this freedom granted eighteen years ago, protestancy had been too potent for the enemies of it; nor had there been those divisions for popery to make its advantage by; at least, not in the civil interest of the nation. And where that has been preserved intire, it has been never able to prevail witness the careful government of Holland, where the preservation of their civil interest from fraction hath secured them against the growth of popery, though it be almost tolerated by them: so powerful are the effects of an united civil interest in government. Now because the civil interest of this nation is the preservation of the free and legal government of it from all subjection to foreign claim, and that the several sorts of protestants are united, as in the common protestancy, that is, a general renunciation of Rome, so in the maintenance of this civil government as a common security, (for it strikes at both their rights, civil and sacred; their conscience, religion and law, to admit any foreign jurisdiction here) it must follow, that had these several, as well English as protestant parties, been timely encouraged to this united civil interest, they had secured the government from this danger, by rendering it too for midable for the attempt.

But there is a twofold mistake that I think fit to remove. First, that the difference betwixt protestants and their dissenters is generally managed as if it were civil. Secondly, the difference betwixt papist and protestant is carried on as if it were chiefly religious.

To the first, I say, it is plausible, but false; it is an artifice of ill men to inflame the government against good people, to make base ends by other men's ruin: whereas they that dissent, are at a ne plus ultra on the behalf of the English government, as well as themselves. They neither acknowledge, nor submit to any other authority. They hold the one common civil head; and not only acquiesce in the distribution of justice by law, but embrace it as the best part of their patrimony. So that the difference between protestants and their dissenters is purely religious, and mostly about church-government, and some forms of worship apprehended to be not so pure and apostolical as could be desired: and here it is, that tenderness should be exercised, if in any case in the world, or St. Paul is mistaken.

But as to the second, under correction, the case is altered; for though it be mostly managed on the side of religion, the great point is merely civil, and should never be otherwise admitted or understood. For want of this caution, protes

tants suffer themselves to be drawn into tedious controversies about religion, and give occasion to the professors and favourers of that way to exclaim against them, as persecu tors for religion, who had reprobated such severity in the papists to their ancestors (a most plausible, and very often a successful, plea); when, in reality, the difference is not so much religious as civil. Not but that there is a vast contrariety in doctrine and worship too: but this, barely, should not be the cause of our so great distance, and that provision the law makes against them; but rather that fundamental inconsistency they carry with them to the security of the English government and constitution unto which they belong, by acknowledging a foreign jurisdiction in these kingdoms. So that drawing into question and danger the constitution and government, to which scripture, and nature, and civil pact, oblige their fidelity and obedience, there seems a discharge upon the civil government from any far. ther care of their protection, who make it a piece of conscience to seek its ruin, and which is worse, a principle, not to be informed of better things; for even here not reason or law, but the pope, must be judge.

This being the brief and modest state of the case, I must return to my first great principle, That civil interest is the foundation and end of civil government :' and that how much men desert the interest of a kingdom, so much they wound and subvert the government of it. I appeal to all wise and considerate men of the truth of this, by the present posture of affairs and their proper cause.


To come then to our point: Shall Englishmen by Englishmen, and protestants by protestants, be free or oppressed? That is, Whether shall we receive as Englishmen and protestants, those that have no other civil interest than that which is purely English, and who sincerely profess and embrace the same protestation, for which the ancient reformers were styled protestants; or for the sake of humour or base ends, disown them, and expose them and their families to utter misery ?'

I would hope better of our great church-men's charity and prudence but if they should be so unhappy as to keep to their old measures, and still play the gaudy, but empty, name of church against the civil interest and religion of the nation, they will show themselves deserted of God; and then how long it will be before they will be seen and left of all sober men, let them judge. For to speak freely, after all this light that is now in the world, no ignorance can excuse such zeal; nor will wise men believe it to be any thing

more than a trick to weaken protestancy, that her declared enemy may with less hazard gain the chair. And there is not so much reason to fear professed Roman Catholics, as those gentlemen, who valuing themselves by their respects to the church, and tenderness of its independent honour, have the opportunity, with less suspicion, of letting in popery at the back-door. These are men that pay off the fanatic in the name of the church, but for the good of the pope, to whose account those endeavours must be placed.

But it will go a great way to our deliverance, if we are not careless to observe the secret workings of those that have vowed our misery; and, of them, such as are in masquerade, and wear the guise of friends, are most dangerous. But some men are purblind, they can see danger as near as their nose; but in a difficulty that is not a foot from them, they are presumptive, restive, and not to be governed. Could some church-men but see the irreparable mischiefs that will attend them (if sincere to their present profession) unless prevented by a modest and Christian condescension to dissenting protestant Christians, they would never suffer themselves to be misguided by stiff and rigid principles at this time of day.

If Christianity, that most meek and self-denying religion, cannot prevail upon them, methinks the power of interest, and that self-interest too, should have some success; for in those cases they use not to be obstinate.

But I expect it should be told me, That this is the way to ruin the church, and let in an anarchy in religion :' Cujus contrarium verum. I am glad to obviate this, before I leave you, seeing the contrary is most true; for it leaves the church and church-men as they are, with this distinction, that whereas now conformity is coercive, which is popish, it will be then persuasive, which is Christian. And there may be some hopes, when the parsons, destitute of the magistrate's sword, shall of necessity inforce their religion by good doctrine and holy living: nor ought they to murmur, for that which satisfied Christ and his apostles, should satisfy them his kingdom is not of this world; therefore they should not fight for him, if they would be his servants, and the children of his kingdom. Christ, and not civil force, is the rock his church is built upon. Nor indeed has any thing so tarnished the cause of protestancy, as the professors of it betaking themselves to worldly arms to propagate their religion. David could not wear Saul's armour; and true protestants cannot use popish weapons, imposition and persecution. In short; it is the very interest of the church of

England, to preserve the civil interest entire, or else popery will endanger all: but that cannot be, unless all of that civil interest be preserved; therefore protestant dissenters should be indulged.


But some will say, There is a difference, even among 'dissenters: some will give a security to the civil government by taking the oaths; others will not: and be it through tenderness, how do we know but papists will shelter themselves under the wings of such dissenters ? And so, in tolerating protestant dissenters to fortify protestancy, in reality popery will be hereby sheltered incognito.'

I answer, first, That such oaths are little or no security to any government; and though they may give some allay to the jealousy of governors, they never had the effect desired. For neither in private cases, nor yet in public transactions, have men adhered to their oaths, but their interest. He that is a knave, was never made honest by an oath : nor is it an oath, but honesty, that keeps honest men such. Read story, and consult our modern times; tell me what government stood the firmer or longer for them? Men may take them for their own advantage, or to avoid loss and punishment but the question is, what real benefit or security comes thereby to the government? It is certain they have often insnared a good man, but never caught one knave yet: we ought not to put so great a value upon oaths, as to render the security of our government so low and hazardous.

God's providence, and the wisdom of our ancestors, have found out a better test for us to rest upon, and that is, our common interest, and the laws of the land duly executed: these are the security of our government.

For example: A man swears he will not plot, yet plots: pray what security is this oath to the government? But though it is evident that this be no security, that law which hangs him for plotting, is an unquestionable one. So that it is not for wise governors, by swearing men to the government, to think to secure it; but all having agreed to the Taws by which they are to be governed, let any man break them at his peril. Wherefore good laws, and a just execution of them, and not oaths, are the natural and real security of a government.

But next: Though some may scruple the oaths, it is not for the sake of the matter so much as form; which, you know, is not the case of Roman Catholics; (pray distinguish); and those very persons, whoever they be, of protestant dissenters, I dare say they will very cheerfully promise their allegiance on the same penalties, and subscribe any renun

ciation of pope and foreign authority, which the art of man can pen: nor should it be hard for you to believe they should subscribe what they have always lived.

To that part of the objection which mentions the danger of papists concealing themselves under the character of protestant dissenters; under favour I say it is most reasonable to believe, that those who will deny their faith upon record, (as those that subscribe your declaration do) will swallow the oaths too: for the declaration flatly denies the religion, but the oaths only the pope's supremacy, which even some of themselves pretend to reject. Therefore those that can sincerely subscribe the declaration cannot be papists.


If it be yet objected, That papists may have dispensa-. tions to subscribe the test, or a pardon, when they have done it;' I answer, they may as well have dispensations to take the oaths, or pardons when they have taken them; and these last six months prove as much. There is no fence against this flail. At this rate they may as well be protestants, as protestant dissenters; ministers or bishops in churches, as speakers or preachers in meeting-houses: this objection only shows the weakness of both oaths and declarations for the purpose intended; and not that they can hide themselves more under one people than another. For they that can have a dispensation or pardon for one act, can have it for another; especially when the matter of the declaration is of a more general weight to them, than that of the oath all which confirms my former judgment of the insecurity of such oaths to any government.

Give me leave then upon this to ask you, if you will bring a certain ruin upon any protestant dissenters for the sake of such an uncertain security to yourselves? For this is the question: I beseech you to weigh it as becomes wise and good men: shall they be reprobated for tenderly refusing, what, being performed, cannot save or secure you?

Consider, you have no reason to believe, but those that are allowed to subscribe the declaration, or that will be pardoned when they have done it, may be allowed to take the oaths, or will be pardoned or absolved when they have taken them but you are certain, on the other side, that the imposing of the oaths will be a great snare to many protestant dissenters, that love the government, and renounce both pope and popery: they will be ruined; which, to me, is of the nature of an argument for those people: for their not taking the oaths proves plainly, they have no dispensations,

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