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the greatest Power could be sufficient to introduce the worst Religion. By all which Steps, through these several Reigns, it plainly appears, that the utmost Desire of the Court of Rome is to have a Popith Prince on this Throne; they reckon their Work done, if once they obtain this Point: give them but a Popish Prince to their Heart, they will soon instruct him what to do with Vows and Promises, and Coronation-Oaths; and in such a Case the People likewise would be instructed to know their own Interest, when it was too late to help themselves.
When James the First came to the Crown, surrounded by an hopeful Issue of Protestant Princes, the Cause of Popery was at the last Gasp: they saw their Downfall if this Family stood, in which there was a Prospect of a long Succession of Protestant Heirs. A desperate Case requires desperate Remedies; here was no Room for Art and Management, and therefore Violence was now first used, and the horrid Plot of the Fifth of November was contrived, which, had it took Effect, would have rid them not only of a Protestant King, but of their greatest Fear, the Protestant Heirs.. ; By what Methods they afterwards diftressed the King, and laid the Foundation of that Ruin which broke out in his Son's Time, to the Destruction of this Church and Nation, and one of the best Princes it ever had, would be tedious to relate. Nor need I say much of the succeeding Reigns, which so nearly resemble the former, that from the Restoration to our prefent gracious King, the Cafe seems to be much the same as it was from the Reformation to James the First. King Charles the Second had no Ilfue; and if he was not himself a Papist, his Successor was, in whose Time this Church and Nation were brought to the Brink of Ruin: and though he had been saved from a Bill of Exclusion by the Interests and Loyalty of the Church, yet no sooner was he on the Throne, but he imprisoned her Bishops, dispensed with her Laws, and broke down all the Fences that were raised for her Security ; in which Confusion she had utterly perished, had not the Providence of God rescued her by the Means of a Protestant Prince, happily allied to the Crown of England by Marriage, and by Birth. In his and his Successor's Time, the Eyes of the Popish Faction were upon the Pretender to the Crown, and all their Hopes cen
tered in him. As long as there was any Prospect of defeating the Protestant Succefsion, they kept themselves within Bounds, and were contented to work by Policy, and not by Force: but no sooner did they see a King of the reformed Communion, with a numerous Issue mounted on the Throne, but they threw off the Mask ; as they did in the like Case of James the First, attempted directly his Destruction and Ruin. And will not all this teach us wherein our true Interest does consist ? Fas est et ab hofste doceri: if we cannot judge for ourselves, let us learn of our Enemies to know wherein to place our Security. The two greatest Efforts of Popery to bring Ruin upon this Church and Nation by Force and Violence, have been, one at this Time, the other in fames the First's Reign; and their great Provocation was, to see a Succession of Protestant Princes likely to be established among us. As this is their Fear, so is it our Security. And if we consider the Circumstances of Times past, the doubtful Condition we have often been in, when our Happiness has depended on one single Life, we shall have Reason to think that Providence has both wisely and mercifully provided for our Safety at this Time. When the Family of James the First was partly corrupted with Popery, and near being extinguished for want of Heirs, how providentially did God preserve one Branch free from the Infection, from which the present royal Family is descended! And yet, to come to that which is the melancholy Part of the Application, how insensi. ble do we seem to be of this Blessing! What Rebellions, what Tumults and Riots have we seen in the short Compass of this Reign! as if the People had forgot not only the Care of their King, but of their Country, their Religion, and themselves : as if the Fears of Popery were all vain; as if Superstition and Idolatry, and the very Terrors of an Inquisition, were the mere Delusions of a fick Mind. These are the Blessings which some are contending for ; these will be the Rewards of their pious Undertaking to set up a Popish Prince over these Kingdoms.
It is an easier Matter to kindle the Fires of Popery and Persecution, than it will be to extinguish them. Should the Wilhes of some take place, and a Popish Prince prevail over us; and should he not be so good as they vainly expect he will, where will
they go next for Protection ? What Prince or Family in Europe is left, to which they may fly for Succour? The Protestant Religion has its last Support ; if it fails now, there is no other Refuge; and should it be onde loft in England, it will dwindle every where else ; Popery will over-run all like a Torrent, and we shall return to a worse Darkness, than that from which we came out. If therefore we have any Sense of Loyalty to our present gracious King; if we have not quite forgot that Obedience upon which we have so long valued ourselves; if we have any Concern for our Religion and the Welfare of our Souls, which depends on it; if we have any natural Affection for our Country, our Friends, our Families, or ourselves ; let us Thew it by a cheerful and steady Obedience to the Prince whom God has set over us. All these Motives plead not so much for him as for ourselves: for if ever Obedience to their Prince was the true Interest of a People, now is the Time it is fo.
The second Observation I made to you, was, that notwithstanding the hopeless Prospect of hụman Affairs, the Text affords Ground of Dependence on God.