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Romanlfts; but I would fain know of her, if following their example will convert them, or fecure her? Does fhe hope to keep them out by the weapons that have failed in their hands, or can fhe honourably cenfure perfecution in them, and yet ufe it herfelf?
'But fhe is extremely fcandaled and feared at the 'feverity upon Proteftants in France.' It is certainly very ill; but do not the laws fhe is fo fond of, point at the fame work, conformity, or ruin? And do not we know, that in fome places, and upon fome parties, her magiftrates have plowed as deep furrows, efpecially within thefe fix and twenty years? Hufbands feparated from their wives, parents from their children; the widow's bed and the orphan's milk made a prize for religion; houfes ftript, barns and fields fwept clean, prilbns crowded, without regard to fex or age, and fome of both forts dungeoned to death, and all for religion. If fhe fays, 'They were peevifh 'men, bigots, or moved by private intereft,' fhe ftill made the laws; and fays no more for herfelf than the French fay for their king, which yet fhe refufes to take for an anfwer. Perhaps I could parallel fome of the fevereft paffages in that kingdom out of the actions of fome members of the church of England in cool blood, that are even yet for continuing the penal laws upon their plundered neighbours; fo that this reflection of hers upon France, is more popular than juft from her. But I befeech her to look upon a country four times bigger than France, Germany I mean, and fhe will there fee both religions practifed with great eafe and amity; yet of this we muft not hear one word: I hope it is not for fear of imitating it. However, it is difingenuous to object the mifchiefs of Popery to a general eafe, when we fee it is the way to prevent them. This is put, in the name of Popery, to keep all to herfelf, as well from Proteftant DifTenters, as Roman Catholicks. How Chriftian, how equal, how fafe, that narrow method is, becomes her well to confider, and methinks fhe ought not to be long about it.
I know fhe flatters herfelf, and others too believe, fliers a bulwark againft Popery; and with that, withot;t any farther fecurity to other Proteftants, wipes her mouth of all old fcores, and makes her prefent court for affiftance. But when that word bulwark is examined, I fear it appears to mean no more than this, 'That fhe would keep out Popery for that reafon, for which fhe apprehends Popery would turn her out,' viz. 'Temporal intereft. But may I without offence afk her, when fhe kept perfecution out? Or if fhe keeps out Popery for any body's lake but her own? Nay, if it be not to hold the power fhe has in her hands, that fhe would frighten other parties (now fhe has done her worft) with what mifchief Popery would do them when it has power? But to fpeak freely, can fhc be a bulwark in the cafe, that has been bringing the worjt part of Popery in, thefe fix and twenty years, if perfecution be fo, as fhe fays it is? This would be called canting to the world in others. But I hear fhe begins to fee her fault, is heartily forry for it, and promifes to do fo no more: and why may not Popery be as wife, that has alfo burnt her ringers with the fame work? Their praying for eafe by law, looks as if they chofe that, rather than power, for fecurity; and if fo, why may not the Papifts live, as well as fhe reign? I am none of their advocate, I am no Papift; but I would bejuft and merciful too. However, I muft tell her, that keeping the laws on foot by which fhe did the mifchief, is none of the plaineft evidences of her repentance: they that can believe it, have little reafon to quarrel at the unaccountablenefs of tranfubftantiation. It is unjuft in Popery to invade her privileges; and can it be juft in her to provoke it by denying a Chriftian liberty? Or can fhe expect what fhe will not give? Or not do as fhe would be done by, becaufe fhe fears others will not obferve the fame rule to her? Is not this "doing evil that good may come of it," and that uncertain too, againft an exprefs command, as well as common charity? But to fpeak freely, whether we regard the circumftances of the king, the re
ligion of his children, the inequality of the number and ftrength of thofe of each of their communions, we mu ft conclude, that the averfion of the church of England to this intreated liberty cannot reafonably be thought to come from the fear fhe has of the prevalency of Popery, but the lofs of that power the law gives her to domineer over all DifTenters. And is not this a rare motive for a Chriftian church to continue penal laws for religion? If her piety be not able to maintain her upon equal terms, methinks her having fo much the whip-hand and ftart of all others, fhould fatisfy her ambition, and quiet her fears; for it is pofllble for her to keep the churches, if the laws were abolifhed; all the difference is, fhe could not force; fhe might perfuade and convince what fhe could; and pray, is not that enough for a true church, without gaols, whips, halters, and gibbets? O what corruption is this that has prevailed over men of fuch pretenfions to light and confcience, that they do not, or will not, fee nor feel their own principles one remove from tbemfehes; but facrifice the nobleft part of the reformation to ambition, and compel men to truckle their tender confciences to the grandeur and dominion of their doctors 1
But becaufe the fons of the church of England keep, at this time, fuch a ftir in her favour, and fix her excellency in her oppofition to Popery, it is worth while to confider a little farther, if really the moil feared and difagreeable part of Popery, in her own opinion, does not belong to her; and if it does, fhould we not be in a fine condition, to be in love with our fetters, and to court our mifery?
That part of Popery which the church of England with moft fuccefs objects againft, is her violence. This is that only fhe can pretend to fear: her doRruus fhe partly profefTes, or thinks fhe can eafily refute. Nobody counts her doctors conjurers for their tranfubftanliation; or dangerous to the ftate for their beads, or their purgatory: but forcing others to their faith, or ruining them for refufing it, is Che terrible thing we Vol. IV. ° B b are, are taught by her to apprehend. Now granting this to be the cafe, in reference to the Roman religion, where it is in the chair, I afk, if the church of England, with her better doctrines, has not been guilty of this impiety; and for that caufe more blameable than the church fhe oppofes fo much. If we look into her acts of (late, we find them many and bitter, againft all forts of Diflenters. There is nigh twenty laws made, and yet in force, to conftrain conformity; and they have been executed too, as far and as often as fhe thought it fit for her intereft to let them. Some have been hanged, many banijhed, more imprifoned, and fome to death; and abundance impovert/bed; and all this merely for religion: though, by a bafe and barbarous ufe of words, it has been called treafon, fedition, routs, and riots; the worf t of aggravations; fince they are not contented to make people unhappy for their difTent, but rob them of all they had left, their innocency. This has been her ftate-act, to coin guilt, and make men dangerous, to have her ends upon them. But that way of palliating perfecution, by rendering a thing that it is not, and punifhing men for crimes they never committed, fhews but little confcience in the projectors. The church of England cries out againft tranfubftantiation, becaufe of the invifibility of the change. She does not fee Chrift there, and therefore he is not there; and yet her fons do the fame thing. For though all the tokens of a riot are as invifible in a diflenters meeting, as that in the tranfubftantiation, yet it muft be a riot without any more to doi the Englifh of which is, 'It is a riot to pray 'to God in the humbleft and peaceablelt manner in
* a conventicle.'
I know it is faid, 1 The blood died in the foregoing
* reign, and the plots of the Papifts againft queen 'Elizabeth, drew thofe laws from the church of Eng'land.' But this was no reafon why jhe fhould do ill becaufe they had done fo: befides, it may be anfwered, that that religion having fo long intermixed itfelf with worldly power, it gave way to take the
revenges revenges of it. And certainly the great men of the church of England endeavouring to intercept queen Mary, by proclaiming the lady Jane Gray, and the apprehenfion the Papifts had of the better title of Mary, queen of Scots, together with a long pofleffion, were fcurvy temptations to kindle ill defigns againft that extraordinary queen. But though nothing can excufe and lefs juftify thofe cruel proceedings, yet if there were any reafon for the laws, it is plainly removed, for the interefts are joined, and have been fince king James the firft came to the crown. However, it is certain there were laws enough, or they might have had them, to punifh all civil enormities, without the necefiuy of making any againft them as Papifts. And fo the civil government had ftood upon its own legs, and vices only againft it had been punifhable by it. In fhort, it was the falfeft ftep that was made in all that great queen's reign, and the moft difhonourable to the principles of the firft reformers-; and therefore I know no better reafon why it fhould be continued, than that which made the cardinal, in the hiftory of the council of Trent, oppofe the reformation at Rome; 'That though it was true that they 'were in the wrong, yet the admitting of it approved 1 the judgment of their enemies, and fo good-night to 'infallibility.' Let not this be the practice of the church of England, and the rather, becaufe fhe does not pretend to it: but let her reflect, that fhe has loft her king from her religion, and they that have got him, naturally hope for eafe for theirs by him; that it is the end they laboured, and the great ufe they have for him; and I would fain wonder that fhe never faw it before; but whether fhe did or no, why fhould fhe begrudge it, at leaft refufe it now? fince it is plain, that there is nothing we efteem dangerous in Popery, that other laws are not fufficient to fecure us from: have we not enough of them? Let her think of more, and do the beft fhe can to difcover plotters, punifh traitors, fupprefs the feditious, and keep the peace better, than thofe we have can enable us to do.