« EdellinenJatka »
zeal; nor will wise men believe it to be any thing more than a trick to weaken Protestancy, that her des clared enemy may with less hazard gain the chàir. And there is not so much reason to fear profeffed Roman-Catholicks, 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 fanatick 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 inisery; and, of them, such as are in masquerade, and wear the guise of friends, are most dangerous. But some men are purblind, they can fee 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 fome 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 Diflenting 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 magic
strate'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, Thould 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 fo tarnished the cause of Proteftancy, 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, impofition and perfecution. In short; it is the very interest of the church of England, to preserve the civil interest intire, 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 s among Dissenters : some will give a security to the s 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 r of such Diffenters? And so, in tolerating Protestant - Dissenters to fortify Protestancy, in reality Popery I will be hereby sheltered incognito
I answer, first, That such oaths are little or no fecurity 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 publick transactions, have men adhered to their oaths, but their interest. He that is a knave, was never made honeft by an oath: nor is it an oath, but honefty, that keeps honeft 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 cornes 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 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 wears 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 recure it ; but all having agreed to the laws 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 Catholicks, (pray diftinguish); and those very persons, whoever they be, of Protestant Dissenters, I dare fay they will very cheerfully promise their allegiance on the same penalties, and fubscribe any renunciation of pope and foreign authority, which the art of man can pen: nor should it be hard for you to believe they fhould 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 Aatly denies the religion, but the oaths only the pope's fupremacy, which even some of themselves pretend to reject. Therefore those that can fincerely subscribe the declaration cannot be Papifts.
If it be yet objected, “That Papifts may have difs penfations to fubfcribe the teft, or a pardon, when
should subscribed it be hard for the art of me
" they have done it ;' I answer, they may as well have dispensations to take the oaths, or pardons when they bave taken them; and these last six months prove as much. There is no fence against this fail. At this rate they may as well be Protestants, as Protestant-DifSenters; ministers or bishops in churches, as speakers or preachers in meeting-houses: this objection only shews the weakness of both oaths and declarations for the purpose intended ; and not that they can hide them selves 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 Diflenters 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 ab. folved 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, nor hopes of abfolution, 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? This is (with fubmiffion, but in plain terms) to make the case of the kingdom worse; for it destroys those who
FOR THE 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 Papists disguising themselves amongst ProtestantDissenters; 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 TES T.
I A. B. do solemnly and in good conscience, in the I 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 fee 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 ftate or people, and that all such pretences and power are false, pernicious, and damnable.
And I do farther sincerely profess, and in good con
science declare, that I do not believe that the pope is Christ's vicar, or Peter's lawful successor, or that he or the fee of Rome, severally or jointly, are the rule of faith or judge of controversy, or that they caii absolve sins: nor do I believe that there is a purgatory after death; or that faints 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-Catholick
or that fainnat there is a
Nor do 1. or images