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people must be preserved, in order to preserve that common intereft. Other notions ever did divide and weaken empire, and in the end they have rarely missed to pull the old house about their ears, who have governed themselves by such disproportionable measures : by all means, interest the affections of the people in the prosperity of the government, by making the government a SECURITY to their particular rights and properties.
I ask, "If more custom comes not to the king, and s more trade to the kingdom, by encouraging the slabour and traffick of an Episcopalian, Presbyterian, (Independent, Quaker and Anabaptist, than by an Epifscopalian only? If this be true, why should the rest be rendered incapable of trade, yea, of living? What schism or heresy is there in the labour and commerce of the Anabaptift, Quaker, Independent and Presbyterian, more than in the labour and traffick of the Episcopalian?
I beseech you give me leave : is there ever a churchman in England, that in distress would refuse the courtesy of one of these Dissenters? If one of them should happen to fall into a pond or ditch, would he deny to be helped out by a Disenter's hand? Is it to be fup. posed, he would in such a pickle be stomachful, and chuse to lie there, and be smothered or drowned, rather than owe aid to the good-will of a poor fanatick? Or if his house were on fire, may we think that he would have it rather burnt to the ground, than acknowledge its preservation to a non-conformist? Would not the aèt be orthodox, whatever were the man? So in case of being sick, imprisoned, beser, benighted, out of the way, far from kindred or acquaintance, with an hundred other cases, that may happen daily, can we think that such men would ask questions for conscience sake, or charge schism upon the relief given them? No, no; self will always be true to its interest, let fuperftition mutter what it will,
But since the industry, rents, and taxes of the Diffenters are as current as their neighbours, who loses by such narrowness more than England, than the government and the magiftracy? for till it be the interest of the farmer to destroy his flock, to starve the horse he rides, and the cow that gives him milk, it cannot be the interest of England to let a great part of her sober and useful inhabitants be destroyed about things that concern another world. And it is to be hoped, that the wisdom and charity of our governors will better guide them, both to their own real interest, and their people's preservation, which are inseparable; that so they may not starve them for religion, that are as willing as able to work for the good of king and country.
I beseech you, let nature speak; who is so much a better friend to human society, than false or froward opinion, that she often rectifies the mistakes of a prejudiced education; so that we may say, how kind, how gentle, how helpful does she teach us to be to each other, till that make-bate OPINION (fally called religion) begins the jangle, and foments to hatred.
All the productions of nature are by love; and shall religion propagate by force? If we consider the poor ben, she will teach us humanity. Nature does not only learn her to hatch, but to be tender over, her feeble chickens, that they may not be a prey to the kite. All the feeds and plants that grow for the use and nourishment of man, are produced by the kind and warm influences of the fun. Nothing but kindness keeps up buman race : men and women do not beget children in fpite, but affe&tion. It is wonderful to think by what friendly and gentle ways nature produces and matures the creatures of the world, and that religion should teach us to be froward and cruel, is lamentable: this were to make her the enemy, instead of the restorer, of, nature. But, I think, we may without offence say, that since true religion gives men greater mildness and goodness than they had before, that religion which teaches them less, must needs be false. What shall we say then, but that even nature is a truer guide to peace, and better informs us to preserve civil interest, than falfe religion, and consequently, that we ought to be
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true to the natural and just principles of fociety, and not suffer one of them to be violated for humour or opinion,
Let us go together as far as our way lies, and preserve our unity in those principles which maintain our civil society. This is our common and our just interest; all Protestant Dissenters agree in this; and it is both wise and righteous to admit no fraction upon this pact, no violence upon this concord. For the consequence of permitting any thing to break in upon the principles of human society, that is foreign to the nature of it, will distract and weaken that society.
We know, that in all plantations the wisdom of planters is well aware of this : and let us but confider, that the same ways that plant countries, must be kept to for preserving the plantation, else it will quickly be depopulated.
That country which is false to its first principles of government, and mistakes or divides its common and popular interest, must unavoidably decay. And let me fay, that had there been this freedom granted eighteen years ago, Proteftancy had been too potent for the enemies of it; nor had there been those divifions 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: fo 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 forts 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
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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 formidable for the attempt.
But there is a twofold mistake that I think fit to re. move. 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 mens ruin: whereas they that dissent, are at a Ne plus ultra on the behalf of the English government, as well as them. selves. They neither acknowledge, nor submit to any other authority. They hold the one common civil bead; 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 ProteItants and their Disfenters is purely religious, and mostly about church-government, and some forms of worfhip, apprehended to be not so pure and apoftolical 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 cafe 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, Protestants 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 persecutors for reli. gion, 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 fo great distance, and that provifion 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 farther 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 · Englisomen and Protestants, those that have no other i civil interest than that which is purely English, and I who sincerely profess and embrace the same protelstation, for which the ancient reformers were stiled « Protestants; or, for the sake of humour or base ends, • disown them, and expose them and their families to I utter misery?
I would hope better of our great church-mens cha. rity 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 shew themselves deserted of God; and then how long it will be before they will be seen and left of all fober men, let them judge. For, to speak freely, after all this light that is now in the world, no ignoranca can excuse such