« PreviousContinue »
disagreeable to none who have a just sense of the many blessings we enjoy by the Protestant succession in his majesty's royal family.”
I conceive it will be readily allowed, that in all applications from any body of men, or particular subjects to the legislature, the highest encomiums are to be looked upon as purely complimental; but that the least insinuation of disrespect ought to be considered in the strictest sense the expression can bear. Now, if we apply this observation to what this bold adventurer has said with respect to the legislators of the Sacramental Test, does he not directly and plainly charge them with injustice, imprudence, gross absurdity, and Jacobitism? Let the most prejudiced reader that is not predetermined against conviction, say, whether this libeller of the parliament has not drawn up a high charge against the makers and continuers of this law.
Notwithstanding my resentment, which to be sure he does not value, I would be sorry he should bring upon himself the resentment of those he has been so free with. Is not this author justly to be reputed a defamer till he produces instances wherein the conforming nobility and gentry of Ireland have shown their disaffection to the succession of the illustrious house of Hanover?
Did they ever refuse the oath of abjuration, or support any conforming nonjuring teachers in their congregations ? Did ever any conforming gentlemen or common people refuse to be arrayed when the militia was raised upon the invasion of the pretender ? Did any of them ever show the least reluctance, or make any exception against their officers, whether they were dissenters or churchmen?
It may be said that, from these insinuations, I would have it understood that the dissenters encouraged some of their teachers who refused the oath of abjuration; and that, even in the article of danger, when the pretender made au attempt in Scotland, our northern Presbyterians showed great reluctance in taking arms upon the array of the militia.
I freely own it is my intention, and I must affirm both facts to be true; however they have the assurance to deny it.
What can be more notorious than the protection, countenance, and support which was continued to Riddall, M.Bride, and M.Crackan, who absolutely refused the oath of abjuration, and yet were continued to teach in their congregations after they returned from Scotland, when a prosecution was directed, and a council in criminal causes was sent down to the county of Antrim to prosecute
them? With respect to the parliament; did ever any house of conmons show greater alacrity in raising money, and equipping ships in defence of the king than the last house did upon the expected invasion of the pretender? And did ever any parliament give money with greater unanimity for the support of the crown than the present has done, whatever the wants of their private families might be? And must a very great majority of those persons be branded with the infamous aspersion of disaffection to the illustrious house of Hanover, should they refuse to give their voices for the repeal of the Test?
I am fully persuaded that this author and his fellow-laborers do not believe one word of this heavy charge; but their present circumstances are such that they must run all hazards.
A great number of the nonconforming gentlemen daily leave them. Many men, whose fathers were elders, or rigid nonconformists, are now constant communicants and justices of peace in their several counties; insomuch that it is highly probable, should the Test continue twenty years longer, that there would not be a gentleman left to solicit a repeal.
I shall hereafter take occasion to show how inconsiderable they are, for their numbers and fortunes, who can be served or obliged by this repeal, which number is daily lessening. The dissenting teachers are sufficiently aware, that the general conformity of the gentlemen will be followed by the conformity of numbers of the people; and should it not be so, that they will be but poorly supported by them; that by the continuance of the Test their craft will be in danger to be set at nought, and in all probability will end in a general conformity of the Presbyterians to the established church. So that they have the strongest reasons in the world to press repeal of the Test; but those reasons must have equal force for the continuance of it, with all that wish the peace of the church and state, and would not have us torn in pieces with endless and causeless divisions
There is one short passage more I had like to have omitted, which our author leaves as a sting in the tail of his libel; his words are -these, p. 59.—“The truth is, no one party of a religious denomination, in Britain or Ireland, were so united as they, (the dissenters,) indeed no one but they, in an inviolable attachment to the Protestant succession.” To detect the folly of this assertion, I subjoin the following letter from a person of known integrity, and as invio
lably attached to the Protestant succession as any dissenter in the kingdom, I mean Mr. Warreng, of Warrengstown, then a member of parliament, and commissioner of array in the county of Down upon the expected invasion of the pretender. This letter was writ in a short time after the array of the militia; for the truth of which I refer to Mr. Warreng himself:
“Sir, that I may fulfil your desire, by giving you an account how the dissenters in my neighborhood behaved themselves when we were threatened with an invasion of the pretender, be pleased to know that upon an alarm given of his being landed near Derry, none were more zealous in setting watch and keeping guard than they, to prevent such disorders as might happen at that time by illdesigning persons passing through and disturbing the peace of the country
“ But when the government thought fit to have the kingdom arrayed, and sent commissioners into these parts, some time after, it appeared that the dissenters had by that time been otherwise instructed; for several who were so forward before, behaved themselves after in a very different manner, some refusing, and others with reluctancy appearing upon the array, to be enlisted and serve in the militia.
“ This behavior surprised me so much, that I took occasion to discourse several of them, over whom I thought I had as much influence as any other person, and sound them upon the common argument of having their hands tied by a late act of parliament, &c. Whereupon I took some pains to show the act to them, and wherein they were mistaken. I further pressed their concurrence with us in procuring the common peace and security of our country; and though they seemed convinced by what I said, yet I was given to understand their behavior was according to the sentiments of some persons whom they thought themselves obliged to observe, or to be directed by,” &c.
THE PRESBYTERIANS PLEA OE MERIT
ros IN ORDER TO TAKE OFF THE TEST, IMPARTIALLY EXAMINED,
We have been told in the common newspapers, that all attempts are to be made this session by the Presbyterians and their abettors for taking off the Test; as a kind of preparatory step to make it go down smoother in England. For if once their light would so shine, the Papists, delighted with the blaze, would all come in and dance about it. This I take to be a prudent method ; like that of a discreet physician, who first gives a new medicine to a dog before he prescribes it to a human creature.
The Presbyterians have, ever since the Revolution, directed their learned casuists to employ their pens on this subject, by showing their merits and pretensions upon which they claim this justice, as
the services they did toward the restoration of king Charles II., and at the Revolution under the prince of Orange. Which pleas I take to be the most singular in their kind that ever were offered in the face of the sun, against the most glaring lights of truth, and against a continuation of public facts known to all Europe for twenty years together. I shall, therefore, impartially examine the merits and conduct of the Presbyterians upon those two great events; and the pretensions to favor which they challenge
Soon after the reformation in the church in England, under Edward VI., upon Queen Mary's succocding to the crown (who restored Popery,) many Protestants fled out of England to escape
persecution raised against the church, as her brother had left it established. Some of these exiles went to Geneva; which city had received the doctrine of Calvin, and rejected the government of bishops, with many other refinements. These English exiles readily embraced the Geneva system; and having added further improvements of their own, upon queen Mary's death returned to England, where they preaehed up their own opinions, inveighing bitterly against episcopacy, and all rites and ceremonies, however innocent and ancient in the church; building upon this foundation, to run as far as possible from Popery, even in the most minute and indifferent circumstances. This faction, under the name of Puritan, became very turbulent during the whole reign of queen Elizabeth, and were always discouraged by that wise queen, as well as by her two successors. However, their numbers, as well as their insolence and perverseness, so far increased that, soon after the death of king James I., many instances of their petulancy and scurrility are to be seen in their pamphlets, written for some years after, (which was a trade they began in the days of queen Elizabeth,) particularly with great rancor against the bishops, the habits, and the ceremonies : such were those scurrilous libels under the title of Martin Marprelate, and several others. And although the earl of Clarendon tells us, until the year 1640 (as I remember) the kingdom was in a state of perfect peace and happiness, without the least appearance of thought or design toward making any alterations in religion or government, yet I have found, by often rummaging for old books in Little Britain and Duck Lane, a great number of pamphlets, printed from the year 1630 to 1640, full of as bold and impious railing expressions against the lawful power of the crown, and the order of bishops, as ever were utterod during the Rebellion, or the whole subsequent tyranny of that fanatic anarchy. However, I find it manifest that puritanism did not erect itself into a new separate species of religion, till some time after the rebellion began; for, in the latter times of king James I., and the former part of his son, there were several Puritan bishops and many Puritan private clergymen; while people went, as their inclinations led them, to hear preachers of each party in the parish churches; for the Puritan clergy had received episcopal orders as well as the rest. But soon after the rebellion broke out, the term Puritan gradually dropped, and that of Presbyterian succeeded; which sect was, in two or three years, established in all its forms by what they called an ordinance of the lords and commons, without consulting the king, who was then at war against his rebels. And from this period the church continued under persecution, until monarchy was restored in the
In a year or two after we began to hear of a new party risen, and growing in the parliament as well as the army, under the name of Independent: it spread indeed somewhat more in the latter, but not equal with the Presbyterians either in weight or number, until the very
time the king was murdered. When the king, who was then a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, had made his last concessions for a peace to the commissioners of the parliament who attended him there, upon their return to Lon