Sivut kuvina
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Humbly submitted to the King, and his Great COUNCIL.'

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

I TAVING of late time observed the heat, averfion, M and fcorn with which fome men have treated all thoughts of ease to Church-diffenters, I confess I had a more than ordinary curiosity to examine the grounds those gentlemen went upon : for I could not tell how to think moderation should be a vice, where Chrifo tianity was a virtue, when the great Doctor of that religion commands, that “our moderation be known « unto all men;" and why? « for the Lord is at « hand;" and what to do, but to judge our rancour, and retaliate and punith our bitterness of spirit. And, to say true, it is a severe reflection we draw upon our. felves, that though Pagan emperors could endure the addresses of primitive Chriftians, and Christian Cæfars


receive the apologies of infidels for indulgence, yet it should be thought, of some men, an offence to seek it, or have it of a Christian prince, whose interest I dare say it is, and who himself so lately wanted it : but the consideration of the reason of this offence will increase our admiration; for they tell us, “It is dan• gerous to the prince to suffer it,' while the prince is himself a Dissenter : this difficulty is beyond all skill to remove, that it should be against the interest of a dissenting prince to indulge dissent. For though it will be granted there are Diffenters on differing principles from those of the prince, yet they are still Diffenters; and diffent being the prince's interest, it will naturally follow, that those Dissenters are in the interest of the prince, whether they think on it or no.

Interest will not lie: men embarked in the fame ves. fel, seek the safety of the whole in their own, whatever other differences they may have. And self-safety is the highest worldly security a prince can have ; for though all parties would rejoice their own principles prevailed, yet every one is more solicitous about its own safety, than the others verity. Wherefore it cannot be unwise, by the security of all, to make it the interest as well as duty of all, to advance that of the publick.

Angry things, then, set aside, as matters now are, what is best to be done? This I take to be the wife man's question, as to consider and answer it will be his business, moderation is a Christian duty, and it has ever been the prudent man's practice. For those go-, vernments that have used it in their conduct, have fucceeded beft in all ages. 'I remember it is made in Livy the wisdom of the Romans, that they relaxed their hand to the Privernates, and thereby made them most faithful to their interest. And it prevailed so much with the Petilians, that they would endure any extremity from Hannibal, rather than desert their friendship, even then when the Romans discharged their fidelity, and sent them the despair of knowing they could not relieve them. So


did one act of humanity overcome the Falisci above arms: which confirms that noble saying of Seneca, Mitius imperanti melius paretur ; the mildest conduct is best obeyed : a truth celebrated by Grotius and Campanella ; practised, doubtless, by the bravest princes : for Cyrus exceeded, when he built the Jews a temple, and himself no Jew: ALEXANDER astonished the princes of his train with the profound veneration he paid the high priest of that people : and AUGUSTUS was so far from suppressing the Jewish worship, that he sent betacombs to Jerusalem to increase their devotion. Moderation filled the reigns of the most renowned Casars : and story says, they were Neros and Caligulas that loved cruelty.

But others tell us that Diffenters are mostly antimonarchical, and so not to be indulged; and that the agreement of the church of England and Rome in monarchy and hierarchy, with their nearness in other things, should oblige her to grant the Roman Catholicks a special ease, exclusive of the other Diffenters. But, with the leave of those worthy gentlemen, I would say, nobody is against that which is for him: and that the aversion apprehended to be in some against the monarchy, rather comes from interest than principle: for governments were never destroyed by the interests they preserve.

In the next place, it is as plain that there is a fundamental difference between those churches in religion and interest. In religion, it appears by a comparison of the thirty-nine articles with the doctrine of the council of Trent. In interest they differ fundamentally, because our church is in the actual possession of the churches and livings that the other church claims. What better mixture then can these two churches make than that of iron and clay? Nor do I think it well judged, or wisé, in any that pretend to be fons of the church of England, to seek an accommodation from the topick of affinity, since it is that some of her Disfenters have always objected, and she as conftantly denied to be true. VOL. IV.

I sayo

I say, this way of reconciling or indulging Roman Catholicks stumbles far greater numbers of people of nearer creeds, and gives the church of England the lie. But suppose the trick took, and they only of all Diflenters had indulgence, yet, their paucity considered, I am sure, a pair of Sir Kenelm Digby's breeches would sit with as good a grace upon the late lord Rochester's dwarf. Upon the whole matter, let men have ease, and they will keep it; for those that might plot to get it, would not plot to lose it. Men love the bridge they need and pass : and that prince who has his people' fast by interest, holds them by the strongest human tie; for other courses have failed as often as they have been tried. Let us then once try a true liberty: never did the circumstances of any kingdom lie more open and fair to so bleffed an accoinmodation than we do at this time. · But we are told, « The king has promised to maintain the church of England!' I grant it: but if the church of England claims the king's promise of proteation, her Diffenters cannot forget that of his clemency: and as they were both great, and admirably distinguished, so by no means are they inconsistent or impracticable.

Will not his justice let him be wanting in the one? And can his greatness of mind let him leave the other behind him in the storm, unpitied and unhelped ? Pardon me; we have not to do with an insensible prince, but one that has been touched with our infirmities : more than any body fit to judge our cause, by the share he once had in it. Who should give ease like the prince that has wanted it? To suffer for his own conscience, looked great; but to deliver other mens were glorious. It is a sort of paying the vows of his adversity, and it cannot therefore be done by any one else with so much justice and example. .

Far be it from me to solicit any thing in diminution of the just rights of the church of England: let her rest protected where she is. But I hope none will be thought to intend her wrong, for refusing to under


« EdellinenJatka »