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Nor is it possible that the ease that should be granted can continue long, when the party in whose favour they are not repealed, may thereby be enabled to turn the point of the sword again upon * Diflenters. * I know Holland is given in objection to this ex..
tent of freedom, where only one persuasion has the government, though the rest their liberty : but they do not consider, first, how much more Holland is under the power of neceflity than we are. Next, that our constitutions differ greatly. For the first, it is plain, in the little compass they live in; the uncertainty and precariousness of the means of their subsistence: that as they are in more danger of drowning, so nearer ruin by any commotion in the state, than other countries are. Trading is their support; this keeps them busy, that makes them rich; and wealth naturally gives them caution of the disorders that may spoil them of it. This makes the governing party wary how they use their power, and the other interests tender. how they resist it;
for upon it, they have reason to fear a publick 3 desolation ; since Holland has not a natural and do
mestick fund to rely upon, or return to, from such national disorders.
The next consideration is as clear and cogent; our conftitutions differ mightily: for though they have the name of a republick, yet in their choice, in order to the legislature, they are much less free than we are: and since the freeholders of all the parties in England may eleet, which in Holland they can no more do than they can be chosen, there is good reason why all may be elected to serve their king and country here, that in Holland cannot be chosen or serve. And if our power to chuse be larger than theirs in Holland, we are certainly then a freer people, and so ought not to be confined, as they are, about whae perfon it is that must be chosen: methinks it bears no Vol. IV, Еe
proportion, and therefore the instance and objection are improper to our purpose.
But it is said by soine, "That there cannot be "two predominant religions; and if the church of • England be not that, Popery, by the king's favour, is like to be so.' It is certain that two predominant religions would be two uppermosts at once, which is nonsense every-where: but as I cannot see what need there is for the church of England to lose her churches or revenues; so while she has them, believe me, she is predominant in the thing of the world that lies nearest her guides. But if I were to speak my inclination, I cannot apprehend the necessity of any predominant religion, understanding the word with penal laws in the tail of it: the mischief of it, in a country of so many powerful interests as this, I can easily understand, having had the opportunity of seeing and feeling it too: and because nothing can keep up the ball of vengeance like such a predominant religion, and that penal laws and tests are the means of the domination, I, for that reason, think them fit to be repealed, and let English mankind say, Amen.
I do not love quibbling; but it is true, to a lamentation, that there is little of the power of religion seen where there is such a predominant one, unless among those it domineers over.
I conclude, they that are so predominant, and they that seek to be so (be they who they will) move by the same spirit and principle; and however differing their pretensions and ends may be, the odds are very little to me, by which it is I must certainly be oppressed.
Dare we then do (for once) as we would be done by, and show the world, we are not religious without justice, nor Christians without charity ; that false self shall not govern us against true self; nor opportunity make us thieves to our neighbours, for God's sake? The end of testing and perfecuting un
der every revolution of government! if this we can find in our hearts to do, and yet as men, and as Christians, as Englishmen, we do but do our duty, let the penal laws and tests be repealed: and in order to it, let us now take those measures of men and things, that may give our wishes and endeavours the best success for the publick good, that our posterity may have more reason to bless our memories for their freedom and security, than for their nature and inheritance.
Such Professors of Truth as are under
any Diffatisfaction about the present Order practised in the Church of CHRIST.
Published in the Year 1692.
| Have, with a deep sense and sorrow, often beheld 1 the distance and diffatisfaction you are under in re. ference to your ancient and faithful brethren, and that fellowship, which, I am sure, was once very dear and valuable with you, and I would have the charity to hope, is what many of you desire still ; and for your fakes that would not willingly think amifs, nor differ, nor divide from those that otherwise you have an esteem for and are in judgment one with, as to the worship and doctrines of truth, I desire to open my mind, both with tenderness and plainness; and if what I say has the voice and matter of peace and love in it, and may be helpful to you, in clofing with your brethren again, I shall greatly rejoice :