Page images
PDF
EPUB

been as silent to thy letter, as I use to be to the idle

and malicious shams of the times : but as the laws r of friendship are sacred, with those that value that rrelation, so I confess this to be a principal one with r me, not to deny a friend the satisfaction he desires,

when it may be done without offence to a good con<science.

"The business chiefly inlifted upon, is my POPERY, " and endeavours to promote it. I do say then, and

that with all sincerity, that I am not only no Jesuit, but no Papist. And, which is more, I never had "any temptation upon me to be it, either from doubts

in my own mind about the way I profess, or from the discourses or writings of any of that religion. And, in the presence of Almighty God, I do declare, that the king did never once, directly or in

directly, attack me, or tempt me, upon that sub"ject, the many years that I have had the advantage

of a free access to him; so unjust, as well as fordidly « false, are all those stories of the town.

· The only reason, that I can apprehend, they have (to repute me a Roman Catholick, is, my frequens « going to WHITEHALL, a place no more forbid to

me than to the rest of the world, who, it seems, find o much fairer quarter. I have almost continually had ( one business or other there for our friends, whom I ever served with a steady solicitation, through all times, since I was of their communion. I had also a great many personal good offices to do, upon a prin

ciple of charity, for people of all persuasions, think<ing it a duty to improve the little interest I had for " the good of those that needed it, especially the • poor. I might add something of my own affairs "too; though I must own (if I may without vanity)

that they have ever had the least share of my thoughts (or pains, or else they would not have still depended ' as they yet do.

. But because some people are so unjust, as to render instances for my Popery, (or rather hypocrisy, for so it would be in me) it is fit I contradict them

ras cas particularly as they accuse me. I say then som * lemnly, that I am so far from having been bred at <ST. OMER's, and having received orders at ROME, (that I never was at either place, nor do I know any • body there; nor had I ever a correspondency with

any body in those places; which is another story in( vented against me. And as for my officiating in the • king's chapel, or any other, it is so ridiculous, as ( well as untrue, that besides that nobody can do it o but a priest, and that I have been married to a wo• man of some condition above sixteen years, which "no priest can be, by any dispensation whatever; I • have not so much as looked into any chapel of the

Roman religion, and consequently not the king's, (though a common curiosity warrants it daily to peo(ple of all persuasions.

And once for all, I do say, that I am a Protestant - Dissenter, and to that degree fuch, that I challenge " the most celebrated Protestant of the English church, I or any other, on that head, be he layman or clergy< man, in publick or in private. For I would have į such people know, it is not impoffible for a true - Protestant Dissenter to be dutiful, thankful, and ser< viceable to the KING, though he be of the Roman < Catholick Communion. We hold not our property or < protection from him by our persuasion; and therefore chis persuasion should not be the measure of our alslegiance.' I am sorry to see so many that seem fond c of the reformed religion, by their disaffection to him < recommend it so ill. Whatever practices of Roman

Catholicks we might reasonably object against, (and

no doubt but such there are) yet he has disclaimed « and reprehended those ill things by his declared ( opinion against PERSECUTION, by the ease in which che actually indulges all Disfenters; and by the con<firmation he offers in parliament, for the security of

the Protestant. religion and liberty of conscience.

And in his honour, as well as in my own defence, I I am obliged in conscience to say, that he has ever < declared to me, it was his opinion; and on' all occa

s fions,

i fions, when duke, he never refused me the repeated

proofs of it, as often as I had any poor sufferers for o conscience-fake to solicit his help for.

. But some may be apt to say, “ Why not any body r else as well as I? Why must I have the preferable o access to other Disfenters, if not a Papist?” i i answer, I know not that it is so. But this I know,

that I have made it my province and business; I I have followed and pressed it; I took it for my cal

ling and station, and have kept it above thefe sixteen years; and, which is more, (if I may say it without

vanity or reproach) wholly at my own CHARGES too. ..To this let me add the relation my father had to this .. king's service, his particular favour in getting me

released out of the Tower of London in 1669, my

father's humble request to him, upon his death-bed, " to protect me from the inconveniences and troubles my persuasion might expose me to, and his friendly

promise to do it, and exact performance of it, from " the moment I addressed myself to him: I say, when

all this is considered, any body, that has the least - pretence to good-nature, gratitude, or generosity,

must needs know how to interpret my access to the king. Perhaps some will be ready to say, « This is « not all, nor is this yet a fault, but that I have been “ an adviser in other matters disgustful to the king«dom, and which tend to the overthrow of the Pro" testant religion, and the liberties of the people.” "A likely thing indeed, that a Protestant Disenter,

who from fifteen years old has been (at times) a sufferèr in his father's family, in the university, and by

the government, for being so, should design the - destruction of the Protestant religion. This is just as I probable as it is true, that I died a fefuit six years ago in America. Will men still suffer such stuff to pass upon them? Is any thing more foolish, as well as false, than that because I am often at WHITEHALL, " therefore I must be the' AUTHOR of all that is done i there, that does not please abroad? But supposing

' some such things to have been done, pray tell me,

<if I am bound to oppose any thing that I am not o called to do? I never was a member of council, ca

binet, or committee, where the affairs of the king« dom are transacted. I have had no office, or trust,

and consequently, nothing can be said to be done <by me; nor, for that reason, could I lie under any

test or obligation to discover my opinion of publick < acts of state ; and therefore neither can any such acts,

ñor my silence about them, in justice be made my o crime. Volunteers are blanks and cyphers in all

governments. And unless calling at Whitehall once ca day, upon many occasions, or my not being turned o out of nothing (for that no office is) be the evi• dence of my complying in disagreeable things, I « know not what else can, with any truth, be alledged

against me. However, one thing I know, that I I have every where most religiously observed, and o endeavoured in conversation with persons of all ( ranks and opinions, to allay heats, and moderate ( extremities, even in the politicks. It is below me

to be more particular; but I am sure it has been my < endeavour, that if we could not all meet upon a re

ligious bottom, at least we might upon a civil one, " the good of England; which is the common interest < of king and people: that he might be great by juf< tice, and we free by obedience; distinguishing "rightly on the one hand, between duty and savery; (and on the other, between liberty and licentious. s ness.

But, alas, I am not without my apprehensions of - the cause of this behaviour towards me, and in this . I perceive we agree; I mean my constant zeal for an simpartial liberty of conscience. But if that be it, is the cause is too good to be in pain about. I ever r understood that to be the natural right of all men;

and that he that had a religion without it, his reli

gion was none of his own. For what is not the re<ligion of a man's choice, is the religion of him that

imposes it: so that liberty of conscience is the first step to have a religion. This is no new opinion with me. I have writ many apologies within the

last twenty years to defend it, and that impartially. " Yet I have as constantly declared, that bounds ought I to be set to this freedom, and that morality was the (Best; and that as often as that was violated, under "a pretence of conscience, it was fit the civil power • should take place. Nor did I ever once think of promoting any sort of liberty of conscience for any body, which did not preserve the coMMON PROTESTANCY of the kingdom, and the ANCIENT RIGHTS of the government. For, to say truth, the one cannot be maintained without the other. "Upon the whole matter, I must say, I love EngLAND; I ever did so; and that I am not in her debt. "I never valued time, money, or kindred, to serve "her and do her good. No party could ever biass me "to her prejudice, nor any personal interest oblige me in her wrong. For I always abhorred discounting private favours at the publick cost.

- Would I have made my market of the fears and jealousies of the people, when this king came to the

crown, I had put twenty thousand pounds into my I pocket, and an hundred thousand into my province;

for mighty numbers of people were then upon the wing: but I waved it all; hoped for better times; expected the effects of the king's word for liberty of conscience, and happiness by it; and till I saw my friends, with the kingdom, delivered from the

legal bondage which penal laws for religion had < subjected them to, I could with no satisfaction think

of leaving England; though much to my prejudice beyond sea, and at my great expence here; having, in all this time, never had either office or pension, and always refusing the rewards or gratuities of those I have been able to oblige. "If therefore an universal charity, if the asserting an impartial liberty of conscience, if doing to others as one would be done by, and an open avowing and steady practising of these things, in all times, to all parties, will justly lay a man under the reflection of Vol. I. Н

being

« PreviousContinue »