Page images
PDF
EPUB

nor hopes of absolution, and therefore no papists: shall they then lie under the severities intended against papists, who have none of their dispensations or absolutions to deliver them from them? This is (with submission, but in plain terms) to make the case of the kingdom worse: for it destroys those who are not guilty, and whom, I believe, you would not destroy.

Having brought the matter to this, I shall first offer you a new test: next, the ways of taking it, with most aggravation against the party rejecting or breaking it: and lastly, how you may secure yourselves from the papists disguising themselves among protestant dissenters; that so nothing may remain a remora in the way, that shall not be removed, to leave you a plain and even path to peace and safety.

THE NEW TEST.

I A. B. do solemnly and in good conscience, in the sight of God and men, acknowledge and declare, that king Charles the Second is lawful king of this realm, and all the dominions thereunto belonging. And that neither the pope nor see of Rome, nor any else by their authority, have right in any case to depose the king, or dispose of his kingdom, or upon any score whatever to absolve his subjects of their obedience, or to give leave to any of them to plot or conspire the hurt of the king's person, his state or people; and that all such pretences and power are false, pernicious, and damnable.

And 1 do farther sincerely profess, and in good conscience declare, that I do not believe that the pope is Christ's vicar, or Peter's lawful successor, or that he or the see of Rome, severally or jointly, are the rule of faith or judge of controversy, or that they can absolve sins: nor do I believe that there is a purgatory after death; or that saints should be prayed to, or images in any sense be worshipped. Nor do I believe, that there is any transubstantiation in the Lord's supper, or elements of bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever. But I do firmly believe, that the present communion of the Roman Catholic church is both superstitious and idolatrous. And all this I do acknowledge, intend, profess, and declare without any equivocation, or reserved or other sense, than the plain

and usual signification of these words, according to the real intention of the law-makers, and the common acceptation of all true protestants.

This is the test I offer; large in matter, because comprehensive of oaths and test too, yet brief in words.

The next thing is the ways of taking it with most aggravation upon the refusers or violaters of it.

I. That in all cities and great towns, notice be given by the magistrates thereof to the inhabitants of every ward or parish to appear on such a day, be it New-year's-day, or Ash-Wednesday rather (when the pope curses all protestants) at their public hall, or other places of commerce, where the magistrates shall first openly read, subscribe, and seal the test. Then that it be read again by the proper officer of the place to the people, and that those that take it, do audibly pronounce the words after him that reads it; and when they have so done, that they subscribe and seal it. That such subscriptions be registered, and copies of each parish subscription transmitted to the parish, and affixed upon some public place for all that will to see.

2. That in the countries, the parishes of each hundred or rape may be likewise summoned to appear upon the day aforesaid, at the head market-town in the said hundred or rape; and that the justices of the peace within that part of the county shall first read, subscribe, and seal the said test, in view of the people; and then that the people say, subscribe, and seal the test, as is before expressed. Which being done, let the said subscriptions be collected into one volume, and kept in the county-court as a book of record: and that to each parish be transmitted a copy of the said parish subscription, to be affixed upon some public place within the said parish, for all to see.

Lastly, Let this be done annually, that is, upon every New-year's-day, or Ash-Wednesday, as a perpetual testimony of the people's affection to the king and government, and their abhorrence of the practices of Rome.

The abuse of this discrimination should be very penal: for it is a great lie upon a man's own conscience, and a cheat put upon the government: your wisdom can best proportion and direct the punishment; but it can scarcely be too severe, as our business stands.

But as, in case of such hypocrisy, a severe penalty should

be inflicted, so pray let provision be made, that if any person so subscribing, should be afterwards called by the name of jesuit or papist, without very good proof, it should be deemed and punished in open sessions, for a slander and breach of peace; yet so as that the penalty may be remitted at the request of the abused party.

I should think that this business, carefully done, might render needless my answer to the last objection, viz. 'Which way shall we be able to prevent papists from passing for protestant dissenters, that so the security propounded to the government be not baffled by disguise? For no papist can subscribe this, but he will lie in the face of the government and country, and that yearly, and upon record too; which is ten times more than a transient oath, muttered with one word spoken, and another dropt. However, that we may carry it as far as human prudence can go,-I yet offer two expedients:

First, That upon jealousy of any person's being a papist, or popishly inclined, who is known to frequent the assemblies of protestant dissenters, four of that party, of most note and integrity, unto which he pretends to adhere, should be summoned to appear before those justices of the peace unto whom the complaint is made, to testify their knowledge of the person suspected, his education, principles, and manner of life: which way of inspection, as it goes as far as man can reach, so can it scarcely fail; for those persons will not only discover their own hypocrisy if they conceal him, but expose themselves and their friends to ruin. So that to say true, the government has the interest and security of an entire party, for the discovery of every such suspected person.

But if this will not do, then,

6

Secondly, Be you pleased to refer the discrimination of suspected persons to the good old way of the government, that is, The enquiry and judgment of twelve men of the neighbourhood;' to wit, a jury: provided always, that they be such as have taken, or will themselves take, the test; else, that they may be excepted against by the party suspected.

Indeed a good expedient may be made out of both, for the first may be evidence to the last, and I think you will hardly fail of your ends.

I shall conclude with this request, first, to Almighty God, that he would please to make us truly and deeply sensible of his present mercies to us, and to reform our hearts and lives to improve them thankfully. And, secondly, to you,

that we may be loving, humble, and diligent, one to and for another for as from such amendments we may dare promise great and sudden felicity to England, so if looseness in life, and bitterness in religion, be not speedily reprehended and reformed, and the common civil interest maintained entire, God will, I justly fear, repent he has begun to do us good, adjourn the day of our deliverance to that of our repentance and moderation, and overcast these happy dawnings of his favour, by a thick and dismal cloud of confusion and misery which God avert!

These things that I have written, are no wild guesses, or may-be's, but the disease and cure, the danger and safety, of England in treating of which, that God who made the world knows, I have not gratified any private spleen or interest (for I am sorry at the occasion) but singly and conscientiously intended his honour, and the lasting good of England, to which all personal and party considerations ought ever to submit.

Amicus Plato, amicus Aristoteles, sed magis amica veritas, i. e. Anglia.

Your own faithful and most affectionate

PHILANGLUS.

« PreviousContinue »