Page images

" that some people have conceived of his intentions ' in reference to religion. Their jealousy is, that his

aim has been to settle Popery in this nation, not only in a fair and secure liberty, but even in a predominating superiority over all other professions :

and from hence the inference follows, that whosoever ? has any part in the councils of this reign, must needs

be popishly affected: but that to have so great a ' part in them, as you are said to have had, can hap

pen to none but an absolute papist. That is the direct charge; but that is not enough, your post is

too considerable for a Papist of an ordinary form, ' and therefore you must be a Jesuit: nay, to confirm « that suggestion, it must be accompanied with all " the circumstances that may best give it an air of

probability; as that you have been bred at St.

Omer's, in the Jesuit's college; that you have taken corders at Rome, and there obtained a dispensation to ( marry; and that you have since that frequently offi( ciated as a priest, in the celebration of the mass at < Whitehall, St. James's, and other places. And this • being admitted, nothing can be too black to be cast

upon you. Whatsoever is thought amiss either in ( church or state, though never lo contrary to your radvice, is boldly attributed to it, and if other proofs o fail, the scripture itself must be brought in to con< firm, « That whosoever offends in one point” ! (in a (point especially so essential as that of our too much

affected uniformity) « is guilty of the breach of all « our laws." Thus the charge of popery draws after « it a tail like the et cetera oath, and, by endless inruendoes, prejudicates you as guilty of whatever ma< lice can invent, or folly believe: but that charge I therefore being removed, the inferences that are

drawn from it will vanish, and your reputation will < return to its former brightness.

Now that I may the more effectually persuade you to apply some remedy to this disease, I beseech you, • Sir, suffer me to lay before you some of its pernicious consequences. 'It is not a triling matter for a


[ocr errors]



r person raised, as you are, above the common level, mes to lie under the prejudice of so general a mistake,

rin so important a matter. The general and the long many s prevalency of any opinion gives it a strength, espe

scially among the vulgar, that is not easily shaken, * And as it happens that you have also enemies of an higher rank, who will be ready to improve such po. pular mistakes, by all sorts of malicious artifices, it must be taken for granted that those errors will be

thereby still more confirmed, and the inconveniences s that may arise from thence no less increased. This, < Sir, I assure you, is a melancholy prospect to your

friends; for we know you have such enemies. The design of so universal a liberty of conscience as your principles have led you to promote, has offended many of those whose interest is to cross it: I need

not tell you how many and how powerful they are : ' nor can I tell you either how far, or by what ways

and means, they may endeavour to execute their revenge. But this, however, I must needs tell you, s that in your present circumstances, there is sufficient

ground for so much jealousy, at least, as ought to excite you to use the precaution of some publick vindication. This the tenderness of friendship prompts your friends to desire of you; and this the just sense of your honour, which true religion does not ex. tinguish, requires you to execute.

"Pardon, I intreat you, Sir, the earnestness of these ? expressions; nay, suffer me, without offence, to ex(postulate with you yet a little farther. I am fear? ful left these personal considerations should not have their due weight with you, and therefore I cannot

omit to reflect also upon some more general conse? quences of your particular reproach. I have said it ? already, that the king, his honour, his government, ? and even the peace and settlement of this whole na{tion, either are, or have been, concerned in this

matter: your reputation, as you are said to have ? meddled in publick affairs, has been of publick, ? concernment." The promoting a general liberty of

o con

• conscience having been your particular province; the raspersion of popery and jesuitisin, that has been cast

upon you, has reflected upon his MAJESTY, for hav!

ing made use, in that affair, of so disguised a per<fonage as you are supposed to have been. It has

weakened the force of all your endeavours, obstructed their effect, and contributed greatly to disappoint < this poor nation of that inestimable happiness, and

secure establishment, which I am persuaded you de

signed, and which all good and wise men agree, that ra just and inviolable liberty of conscience would « infallibly produce. I heartily wish this consideration • had been sooner laid to heart, and that some de (monstrative evidence of your sincerity in the pro"fession you make, had accompanied all your endeaIvours for liberty.

But what do I say, or what do I wish for? I con( fess that I am now ftruck with astonishment at that ( abundant evidence which I know you have constantly ? given, of the opposition of your principles to those < of the Romish church, and at the little regard there

has been had to it. If an open profession of the < direEtest opposition against Popery, that has ever apspeared in the world, since Popery was first distin

guished from common Christianity, would serve the ( turn, this cannot be denied to all those of that so

CIETY, with which you are joined in the duties of c religious worship. If to have maintained the prin<ciples of that fociety, by frequent and fervent dif

courses, by many elaborate writings, by suffering • ignominy, imprisonment, and other manifold disad( vantages in defence thereof, can be admitted as any

proof of your sincere adherence thereunto; this, it " is evident to the world, you have done already: nay

farther, if to have enquired as far as was possible for « you, into the particular stories that have been framed

against you, and to have fought all means of reçtifying the mistakes upon which they were grounded, could in any measure avail to the settling a true character of you in mens judgments ; this also I know

. ..? you

c. you have done. For I have seen under the hand of r'a * reverend dean of our English church, a full, s'acknowledgment of satisfaction received from you, is in a suspicion he had entertained upon one of those « stories, and to which his report had procured too.

great credit. And though I know you are averse to. the publishing of his letter without his express leavé, r and perhaps may not now think fit to ask it;; yet. I, 6 am so thoroughly assured of his sincerity and can« dour, that I cannot doubt but he has already vindi"cated you in that matter, and will (according to s his promise) be still ready to do it upon all occassions. Nay I have seen also your justification from r another calumny of common fame, about your hav

ing kidnapped one who had formerly been a MONK, rout of your American province, to deliver him here « into the hands of his enemies; I say, I have seen

your justification from that story under that person's s own hand: and his return to Pennsylvania, where he

now resides, may be an irrefragable confutation of rit, to any that will take the pains to enquire there( into.

Really it afflicts me very much to consider that all s this does not suffice. If I had not that particular

respect for you which I sincerely profess; yet I could not but be much affected, that any man who had so (deservedly acquired so fair a reputation as you have

formerly had, whose integrity and veracity had al(ways been reputed spotless, and whose charity had been continually exercised in serving others, at the dear' expence of his time, his strength, and his eftate, without any other recompence than what results < from the consciousness of doing good; I say, I could not but be much affected, to see any such person fall innocently and undeservedly under such unjust reproaches as you have done. It is an hard case; and I think no man, that has any bowels of huo manity, can reflect upon it, without great relent


* Dr. Tillotson.

Since therefore it is so; and that something re( mains yet to be done, something more express, and r especially more publick, than has yet been done for r your vindication, I beg of you, dear Sir, by all the

tender efficacy that friend{hip, either mine, or that

of your friends and relations together, can have up! on yoy; by the due regard which humanity, and Feven Christianity, obliges you to have to your repu• tation; by the duty you owe unto the king; by ? your love to the land of your nativity; and by the • cause of universal religion and eternal truth; let not

the scandal of insincerity, that I have hinted at, lie « any longer upon you; but let the sense of all these i obligations persuade you to gratify your friends and < relations, and to serve your king, your country, and ( your religion, by such a publick vindication of your " honour, as your own prudence, upon thefe suggerstions, will now shew you to be most necessary, and

most expedient. I am, with unfeigned and most re<spectful affection,

Honoured Sir,

- Your most humble, and 4 London, O&tober the

most obedient Servant, • 20th, 1688.'

W. Penn's Answer to the foregoing Letter. .WORTHY FRIEND,

IT is now above twenty years, I thank God, that T: I have not been very solicitous what the world thought of me. For since I had the knowledge of ( religion from a PRINCIPLE in MYSELF, the first and main point with me has been, to approve myself in the sight of God, through patience and well-doing :

so that the world has not had weight enough with & me, to suffer its good opinion to raise me, or its ill s opinion to deject me. And if that had been the I only motive or consideration, and not the desire of ( a good friend, in the name of many others, I had

{ been

« PreviousContinue »