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adjudg’d to be guarded by a Statute of Preniunire, against so much as a-bare Cenfure, and the Laws of a Christian Kingdom are construed to be a Protetion for Atheists; when an Audacious Coward is every where cry'd up as a inost celebrated Autbor, for writing against the Inimortality of the Soul, levelling Markind with the rest of the Brutes, if it do not make him worfe; what can an honest Man expect from confronting fuch Cattle, but (if he escape worse usage) to be made a May-game and a Laughing-stock, or at least to meet with Contempt and Neglect?
(2.) But since these Defiers of Heaven, and Debauchers of Mankind, are fo fecurely posted under the Safeguard of their mighty Patrons, I shall leave both the one and the other to the Judgment of the righteous God, who doubtless in his good time will vindicate his own Cause in such manner, as he in his infinite Wisdom knows to be most for his Glory. But though I leave thefe, yet (though I expect no thank for it) I shall enquire after another fort of Men, and examine, Whether Religion be not as effectually betrayed by fome, who make strong Pretensions to it, and would seem to have a mighty Zeal for it. Man is in Nature so much Animal Religiofum, that the Atheift can never prevail; the sense of a Deity hath taken fuch firm pollellion of Man's Breast, that he is stricken with horrour at Atheistical Expreifions, and it will return at times even upon the worst of Men, and such who have made it most their business to eradicate it; fo that it is not to be thought, that the Atheist does or can always believe bimfelf: And therefore in my apprehenfion, though perhaps it may seem trange to fome others, the most dangerous and fatal Enemies to true Cbristianity are such as pretend to it, but really undermine, corrupt and debauch it in its Principles
and Praftices; the Shaft that pierceth to its Heart must be plumed with its own Fathers. When the Powers of Earth and Hell bent all their Forces against it, and the Rage of Heatlen Emperor's made use of all Arts and Cruelties to destroy it, though it suffered in its Professors, it flourished in its Purity; the Fire of Persecution rather refin'd than burt it; and it daily got ground in spite of all the Malice and Machinations of its Eneinies : So true prov'd that Saying, Sanguis Martyrum eft Semen Ecclefie. But when all this would not do, and Christianity became a glorious Conqueror over all these Difficulties and Dangers, the Devil found a way to raise a War in its own Bowels, which hath done it iñore mischief than all its other Enemies put together. For when the Professors of the Christian Religion became Hereticks and Schifmaticks, or through Ease and Wantonness grew loose in their Lives and Principles, then it was soon driven out of divers Countries, and forc'd to wander froin Place to Place, till at this day it fcarce any where finds any sure and quiet footing. There was once in tliis Iland a Church as well conitituted, and as near the Primitive Pattern, as perhaps any in the whole Christian World; but through the Pride and Discontent of fome, Petulancy and Weakness of others, and Industry of the Romanists, strange and destructive Opinions were spread up and down in all places; and furious pernicicus Sects arose, who in time grew to tut ftrength, that with the Rebel Presbyter in thé Van they durft openly oppose the Church, crying, Down with it, down with iï even to the Ground; and they were as good as their word. For they thought they had left neither Root nor Branch of it, and the Land was over-run with such variety of Sects and monstrous Opinions, that foine of them!elves stood amazed to see it
such a Sink of Sin, and sadly complained of it. But when thefe Men had wearied themselves with their own Wickedness, it pleased God, beyond all Mens expectations, to raise this Church as it were from the dead, to make it a Comfort and Support to others, and to become once more the Envy and Terror of the Romanists, who before insulted as having got an absolute Conquest over it. One would think fuch a Deliverance and Blessing were to be prized, and with thankfulness to God, care taken to preserve it; at least, that in the fame Age, and whilft many of the Perfons, who saw and felt the former Desolations, are still living, the Floodgates should not be opened, that she might be swallowed up, and the Land overwlielmed with a Deluge of cankered Opinions, Heresies, and all manner of impious Principles and Practices; but it looks as if it were her De
ftiny to suffer Persecutions and Trials; for all the [ Settaries are now let loose upon her; and it were
well if some of her Sons, or such as ought to be her Sons, did not conspire with them to betray their own Mother; and how shall she be able to stand against Enemies without, and Traytors within ? It must be confess’d, that Villany in this Age is more refined, their Politicks more neat, and the Proceedings and Pretences at least of some of them more smooth ; but it is the old Ganie which is playing again, only the methods are changed:
Before they were for downright knocking her o’tho - Head, but now she is to be hugg’d to Death.
(3.) I shall not concern my self with the mad furious Zealots, though poslibly they are the Men who moft plainly and truly speak their Minds, and rafhly discover the others real Purposes; for the present most dangerous Eneinies of the Church, I take to be those, who would give her a quieting Pill, and lay her in a found Sleep, whilst they cut
her Throat with a Feather ; who pretend to en large her Borders, whilst they intend to tear out her Bowels; who with fine healing comprehensive Designs, would swallow her up in Confusion, tl;at they inight erect their own Idols upon her Ruins. For they are of several sorts, and eveni contrary Persuasions, yet like Sampson's Foxes tyed Tail to Tail closely carry their several Firebrands, and can agree well enough to burn the standing Corn, and destroy all that is wholfomly and well established. These smooth Religious Politico's take several methods, as may belt lut with their particular designs ; one comes abroad with an Esay for Catholick Communion, a noble and generous Undertaking, had it been pursued with equal Sincerity and Prudence : But when you come to examine thé Matter, the Man's whole business is to carry us back into Egypt, and reconcile us to the Pope. Another deals yet more warily, and leaves his Book at Gentlemen's and other Houses, where he thinks it may find entertainment, or liave some effect but with this care and precaution, that after so many Days liberty to peruse it, either the Book or the Set-price shall be return’d to him who first delivered it. I have not been thought worthy to be trusted with this ambulatory Piece, but am told by a good Hand, That in Title it pretends to Answer the Arian and Socinian Tenets, but that the Performance is quite contrary; for it sets them forth fully, and with all advantage ; but then either anfwers them weakly, or plainly pleads for them; and thus betrays the prime Articles of the Christian Faith: And I suppose the design of this worthy Author may be, with Servettus, to reconcile us to the Turk, These Men, whether conscious to themselves of their own deceitful Designs, or apprehensive that Matters were not
yet ripe for their purpose, conceal themselves from publick Knowledge, though no industry is wanting to spread their Books. But then comes another, who, well-back'd with his Party, and of no mean assurance in himself, with open Face lends a friendly lift to the Church, but in another manner: For he hath a Trick to make us all one, by jumbling us all together, and yet dividing us at the same time: He hath found out a way to heal all our Schisms, not by renouncing and forsaking them, but hy such a contrivance, tha; there shall be no room for such a Sin as Scbifm. Now Sacrilege was long since struck out of the Catalogue of English Sins, and this worthy Man is sending Schisin packing after it; and if we can from time to time thus drop one Sin after another, we may in time become a very innocent People; though I fear no Body will then believe it but our felves.
(4.) I am very sensible, that this learned Man is a Pesson of great Reputation, of a long esta, blished Authority, and little less than an Oracle among his Party, and therefore what he writes will be swallowed by thein without chewing; and they will as certainly despise, and without farther Examination condemnany Man who shall dare to oppose hiin. For generally, it is not what is written, but who writes, that is now regarded But seeing there are yet fome left, who like those Noble Bereans, will search whether things be fo; and because this Author, who is a Man of great Abilities, hath wrote in as seducing a way as most of our late Underiiners, to prevent what in me lies farther Infection and Mischief, I fhall be so bold as to examine hiş Performance.
(5.). The first thing which occurs, is the Title, which carrics along with it so specious a Pretence, that it ought not to be pass'd by, It runs thus; Afhort History of Schism; for the promoting of Chris