Page images
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]



HE nation is in too high a ferment, for me to expect either fair war, or even fo much as fair quarter, from a reader of the oppofite party. All men are engaged either on this fide or that; and though confcience is the common word, which is given by both, yet if a writer fall among enemies, and cannot give the marks of their confcience, he is knocked down before the reasons of his own are heard. A preface, therefore, which is but a befpeaking of favour, is altogether ufelefs. What I defire the reader should know concerning me, he will find in the body of the poem, if he have but the patience to perufe it. Only this advertisement let him take before-hand, which relates to the merits of the caufe. No general characters of parties (call them either fects or churches) can be fo fully and exactly drawn, as to comprehend all the several members of them; at least all fuch as are received under that denomination. For example; there are fome of the church by law established, who envy not liberty of confcience to diffenters; as being well fatisfyed that; according to their own principles they ought not to perfecute them. Yet thefe by reafon of their fewness, I could not diftinguifh from the numbers of the reft, with whom they are embodied in one common name. On the other fide, there are many of our fects, and B 2


[ocr errors]

more indeed than I could reasonably have hoped, who have withdrawn themselves from the communion of the Panther, and embraced this gracious indulgence of his majefty in point of toleration. But neither to the one nor the other of these is this fatire any way intended: it is aimed only at the refractory and disobedient on either fide. For thofe, who are come over to the royal party, are confequently fuppofed to be out of gun-fhot. Our phyficians have observed, that, in process of time, fome difeafes have abated of their virulence, and have in a manner worn out their malignity, fo as to be no longer mortal: and why may not I suppose the fame concerning fome of thofe, who have formerly been enemies to kingly government, as well as Catholic religion? I hope they have now another notion of both, as having found, by comfortable experience, that the doctrine of perfecution is far from being an article of our faith.

It is not for any private man to cenfure the proceedings of a foreign prince: but, without fufpicion of flattery, I may praise our own, who has taken contrary measures, and those more fuitable to the spirit of Chritianity. Some of the diffenters in their addreffes to his majefty, have faid, "That he has restored God to "his empire over confcience." I confess, I dare not ftretch the figure to fo great a boldness: but I may fafely fay, that confcience is the royalty and prerogative of every private man. He is abfolute in his own breast, and accountable to no earthly power for that which paffes only betwixt God and him. Those who are driven into the fold are, generally speaking, rather made hypocrites than converts.

« PreviousContinue »