« EdellinenJatka »
« of a prince is in the multitude of his people,” but experience teaches, that plenty of people is the riches and strength of a wise and good government; as that is, where vice is corrected, and virtue encourage ed, and all taken in and secured in civils, that have the same civil interest with the government. ,
But as the good and interest of the whole is the rise and end of government, so must it suppose that the whole (which takes in all parties) concurs in seeking the good of the government; for the reason of the government will not suffer it to protect those that are enemies to its constitution and safety; for so it would admit of something dangerous to the society; for the security of which, government was at first inftituted.
It will follow, that those that own another temporad power superior to the government they properly belong to, make themselves subjects not of the government they are born under, but to that authority which they avow to be superior to the government of their own country, and confequently men of another interest; because it is their interest to pursue the advantages of that power they acknowledge to be sovereign : but those that own, embrace and obey the government of their own country as their temporal fupreme authority, and whose interest is one and the same with that of their own proper government, ought to be valued and protected by that government.
• The principle thus far lies general: I will now bring it to our own case: · ENGLAND is a country populous and Proteftant; and though under some difsents within itself, yet the civil interest is the same, and in some sense the religious too. For, first, all English Protestants, whether conformists or nonconformists, agree in this, that they only owe allegiance and subjection unto the civil government of England, and offer any security in their power to give of their truth in this matter. And, in the next place, they do not only consequentially difclaim the Pope's supremacy, and all adhesion to
foreign foreign authority under any pretence, but therewith deny and oppose the Romish religion, as it stands degenerated from scripture, and the first and purest ages of the church; which makes up a great negative union.
And it cannot be unknown to men read in the reafons of the reformation, that a protestation made by the German reformers against the imperial ediets of Charles the fifth, imposing Romih traditions, gave beginning to the word Protestant.
In short, It is the interest of the ruling or church- Protestants of England, that the Pope should have no : claim or power in England. It is also the interest of e che Diffenting-Protestants, that the Pope should have
no claim or power here in England, because they are fubject to the same mischiefs and sufferings in their civil and religious rights that the church-Protestants are liable to : if then both are like to lose by Pope and foreign authority, their interest must needs be one
against Pope and foreign authority; and if they have ; but one interest, it will follow, that the church-Pro
teftant cannot prejudice the disenting-Protestant, but
he must weaken and destroy his own interest. . The civil interest of English Protestants being thus
the same, and their religious interest too, so far as concerns á negative to the usurpation and error of Rome; I do humbly ask, if it be the interest of the government to expose those to misery, that have no other civil interest than that of the government? Or if it be just or equal, that the weaker should be pro
secuted by the more powerful Protestants, whose in: cereft is positively the same in civils, and in religion
negatively? One would think it were reasonable that they should not suffer by Protestants, who, if Popery have a day, are likely to suffer with them, and that upon the same principles. Experience tells us, that the wiseft architects say their foundations broad and ftrong, and raise their squares and structure by the most exact rules of art, that the fabrick may be secure against the violence of storms; but if people must be
destroyed by those of the same interest, truly that in. terest will stand but totteringly, and every breach of opposition will be ready to shake it.
It was the inconfutable answer Christ made to the blasphemers of that power by which he wrought miracles; “A kingdom divided against itself cannot « stand :" What he said then, let me on another occafion say now, "an interest divided against itself must « fall.'"
I know some men will take fire at this, and by crying · The church, the CHURCH,' hope to silence all arguments of this nature: but they must excuse me, if I pay no manner of regard to their zeal, and hold their devotion both ignorant and dangerous at this time. It is not the way to fill the church, to destroy the people. A church without people is a contradiction ; especially when the scripture tells us, that it is the people that make the church.
And it is not without an appearance of reason that some good and wise men are apprehensive, that the greatest sticklers for persecuting Protestant Dissenters, in favour of the church of England, are men addicted and devoted to the church of Rome, or at least ani. mated by such as are; who, despairing of doing any great feats, if known, hide themselves under these pretences; but the meaning of it is to debilitate the Protestant cause in general, by exciting the church of England to destroy all other Protestant interests in these kingdoms, that fo noching may remain for Popery to conflict with, but the few zealous abertors of that church.
And that this may not look disingenuous, or like a trick of mine, I will enforce it by a demonstration. It is plain fact, that the church of Rome hath, ever since the reformation, practised the restoration of her religion and power in these kingdoms. It is as evident, that religion is with her a word for civil interest ; that is, that she may have the rule over men, both body and soul. For it is government she aims at, to have
the reins of power in her hand, to give law, and wield the sceptre.
To do this, she must either have a greater interest than the Protestants that are now in possession, or else divide their interest, and so weaken them by themselves, and make them instruments to her ends. That her own force is inconsiderable, is clear: she has nothing within doors to give her hope, but the discord of Protestants. It follows then, that she must of necessity beftir herself, and use her arts to inflame the reckoning among Protestants, and carry their dissents about religious matters to a division in the civil interest. And it is the more to be feared, because whatever she has been to others, she has been ever true to herself.
If this then be the only domestick expedient left her, we are sure she will use it; and if so, it must needs be of great importance with all Protestants to let fall their private animosities, and take all possible care that their diffents about faith or worship, (which regard the other world) divide not their affection and judgment about the common and civil interest of their country; because if that be kept intire, it equally frustrates the designs of Rome, as if you were of one religion. For since, as I said before, religion, with the great men of that church, is nothing else but a softer word for civil empire, preserve you but your civil interest from fraction, and you are, in that sense, of one religion too ; and that such an one, as you need not fear the temptation of Smithfield, if you will but be true to it.
This being the case, I would take leave to ask the zealous gentlemen of the English church, If çonfor
mity to the fashion of their worship be dearer to them " than England's interest and the cause of Proteftancy ?' If their love to church-government be greater, than to the church and her religion, and to their country and her laws ? Or, lastly, Whether in case they are sincere in their allegations for the church, (which, I confefs ingenuously, I am apt to suspect) it is to be supposed that the present church-men (conformists I
mean) mean) are better able of themselves to secure Proteftan. cy, and our civil interest, against the attempts of Rome, than in conjunétion with the civil interest of all Protestant Dilsenter's? If they say, "Yes;' I would have them at the same time, for the same reason, to give it under their hands, that it is a standing rule in arithmetick, that ONE is more than SIX, and that hitherto we have been all mistaken in the art of numbers.
Being brought to this pitch, I conceive they must say, that they had rather deliver up their church to the power and designs of Popery, than suffer Dissenters to live freely among them, though Protestants, of one negative religion, and of the same civil interest; or else hasten to break those bonds that are laid upon dissenters of truly tender (and by experience) of peaceable consciences; and by law establish the free exercise of their worship to Almighty God, that the fears, jealousies, disaffection, and distraction, that now affect the one common interest of Protestants, may be re, moved; for it seems impossible to preserve a distinet interest from both. But to which of these they may incline, I must not determine; and yet, I hope, they will not be of the mind of a late monk of Cullen, who in his publick exercise exhorted the civil magistrates to chuse to have their city poor and catholick, that is Popib, rather than great and opulent by the admission of trading Hereticks : but if they should, may our magistrates have at least their prudence; for the Culleners gave him the hearing, but were as true to their interest, as the monk to his superstition.
Under favour, the civil government is greatly concerned to discountenance such bigotry; for it thins the people, lessens trade, creates jealousies, and endangers the peace and wealth of the whole. And, with fubmiffion, of what should the civil magistrate be more tender, than of suffering the civil interest of a great people to be disturbed and narrowed for the humour of any one party of them? For since the civil interest lies as large, as the people of that interest, the
ak to his'ng but prudencaould, 'n