Sivut kuvina
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These are the cooler methods of their crime,
But their hot zealots think ’tis loss of time;
On utmost bounds of loyalty they stand,
And grin and whet like a Croatian band,
That waits impatient for the last command.
Thus outlaws open villany maintain,
They steal not, but in squadrons scour the plain;
And if their power the passengers subdue,
The most have right, the wrong is in the few. 245
Such impious axioms foolishly they show,
For in some soils republics will not grow:
Our temperate isle will no extremes sustain
Of popular sway or arbitrary reign;
But slides between them both into the best,
Secure in freedom, in a monarch blest :
And though the climate, vex'd with various winds,
Works through our yielding bodies on our minds.
The wholesome tempest purges what it breeds,
To recommend the calmness that succeeds.

But thou, the pander of the people's hearts,
O crooked soul, and serpentine in arts,
Whose blandishments a loyal land have whor'd,
And broke the bonds she plighted to her lord ;
What curses on thy blasted name will fall! 260
Which age to age their legacy shall call; [all.
For all must curse the woes that must descend on
Religion thou hast none; thy Mercury
Has pass'd thro' every sect, or theirs thro' thee.
But what thou givest, that venom still remains ;
And the pox'd nation feels thee in their brains.

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What else inspires the tongues and swells the breasts
Of all thy bellowing renegado priests,
That preach up thee for God; dispense thy laws;
And with thy stum ferment their fainting cause?
Fresh fumes of madness raise; and toil and sweat
To make the formidable cripple great. [power
Yet should thy crimes succeed, should lawless
Compass those ends thy greedy hopes devour,
Thy canting friends thy mortal foes would be,
Thy God and theirs will never long agree;
For thine (if thou hast any) must be one
That lets the world and human-kind alone :
A jolly god, that passes hours too well
To promise heaven, or threaten us with hell.
That unconcern'd can at rebellion sit,
And wink at crimes he did himself commit.
A tyrant theirs; the heaven their priesthood paints
A conventicle of glooiny sullen saints ;
A heaven like Bedlam, slovenly and sad ;
Foredoom'd for souls, with false religion mad.

Without a vision poets can foreshow
What all but fools by common sense may know:
If true succession from our isle should fail,
And crowds profane with impious arms prevail,
Not thou, nor those thy factious arts engage,
Shall reap that harvest of rebellious rage,
With which thou flatterest thy decrepid age.
The swelling poison of the several sects,
Which, wanting vent, the nation's health infects
Shall burst its bag; and, fighting out their way

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POEMS OF DRYDEN.

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The various venoms on each other prey.
The presbyter, puff'd up with spiritual pride,
Shall on the necks of the lewd nobles ride:
His brethren damn, the civil power defy :
And parcel out republic prelacy.
But short shall be his reign : his rigid yoke
And tyrant power will puny sects provoke;
And frogs and toads, and all the tadpole train,
Will croak to heaven for help from this devouring

crane.

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The cut-throat sword and clamorous gown shall jar,
In sharing their ill-gotten spoils of war :
Chiefs shall be grudg'd the part which they pretend;
Lords envy lords, and friends with

every

friend About their impious merit shall contend. The surly commons shall respect deny, And justle peerage out with property. . Their general either shall his trust betray, And force the crowd to arbitrary sway; Or they, suspecting his ambitious aim, In hate of kings shall cast anew the frame; And thrust out Collatine that bore their name.

Thus inborn broils the factions would engage,
Or wars of exild heirs, or foreign rage,
Till halting vengeance overtook our age :
And our wild labours wearied into rest,
Reclin'd us on a rightful monarch's breast.

Pudet hæc opprobria, vobis
Et dici potuisse, et non potuisse refelli.

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RELIGIO LAICI;

OR, A LAYMAN'S FAITH.

THE PREFACE.

A POEM with so bold a title, and a name prefixed from which
the handling of so serious a subject would not be expected,
may reasonably oblige the author to say somewhat in defence,
both of himself and of his undertaking. In the first place, if
it be objected to me that being a layman, I ought not to have
concerned myself with speculations, which belong to the pro-
fession of divinity, I could answer, that perhaps laymen,
with equal advantages of parts and knowledge, are not the
most incompetent judges of sacred things; but in the due
sense of my own weakness and want of learning I plead not
this; I pretend not to make myself a judge of faith in others,
but only to make a confession of my own. I lay no unhal-
lowed hand upon the ark, but wait on it with the reverence
that becomes me at a distance. In the next place I will in-
genuously confess, that the helps I have used in this small
treatise were many of them taken from the works of our own
reverend divines of the Church of England; so that the wea-
pons with which I combat irreligion are already consecrated ;
though I suppose they may be taken down as lawfully as the
sword of Goliah was by David, when they are to be employed
for the common cause against the enemies of piety. I intend
not by this to entitle them to any of my errors, which yet, I
hope, are only those of charity to mankind; and such as my
own charity has caused me to commit, that of others may
more easily excuse. Being naturally inclined to scepticism 70 26 CM.
in philosophy, I have no reason to impose my opinions in a
'subject which is above it; but whatever they are, I submit
them with all reverence to my mother Church, accounting he bec
them no further mine, than as they are authorised, or at least

Turut ane hins

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uncondemned by her. And, indeed, to secure myself on this side, I have used the necessary precaution of showing this paper before it was published to a judicious and learned friend, a man indefatigably zealous in the service of the Church and State ; and whose writings have highly deserved of both. He was pleased to approve the body of the discourse,

and I hope he is more my friend than to do it out of complaisance: it is true he had too good a taste to like it all; and amongst some other faults recommended to my second view, what I have written perhaps too boldly on St. Athanasius, which he advised me wholly to omit. I am sensible enough that I had done more prudently to have followed his opinion : but then I could not have satisfied myself that I had done honestly not to have written what was my own. It has always been my thought, that heathens who never did, nor without miracle could, hear of the name of Christ, were yet in a possibility of salvation. Neither will it enter easily into my belief, that before the coming of our Saviour, the whole world, excepting only the Jewish nation, should lie under the inevitable necessity of everlasting punishment, for want of that revelation, which was confined to so small a spot of ground as that of Palestine. Among the sons of Noah we read of one only who was accursed ; and if a blessing in the ripeness of time was reserved for Japhet (of whose progeny we are) it seems unaccountable to me, why so many generations of the same offspring, as preceded our Saviour in the flesh, should be all involved in one common condemnation, and yet that their posterity should be entitled to the hopes of salvation : as if a bill of exclusion had passed only on the fathers, which debarred not the sons from their succession, Or that so many ages had been delivered over to hell, and so many reserved for heaven, and that the devil had the first choice, and God the next. Truly I am apt to think, that the revealed religion which was taught by Noah to all his sons might continue for some ages in the whole posterity. That afterwards it was included wholly in the family of Sem is manifest; but when the progenies of Cham and Japhet swarmed into colonies, and those colonies were subdivided into many others, in process of time their descendants lost by little and little the primitive and purer rites of divine worship, retaining only the notion of one deity; to which succeeding generations added others : for men took their degrees in those ages from conquerors to gods. Revelation being thus eclipsed to almost all mankind, the light of nature as the next in dignity was substituted : and that is it which St.

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