Page images
PDF
EPUB

try, or to bless God for restoring it, they must also move us to do what is in our own Power to preserve it; since in vain do we pray for the Affistance of God in any Case, whilst we neglect to use the Means of helping ourselves, which he has put in our Power.

How much the Preservation of the prefent Establishment depends on the Success of public Councils, every Body knows; and yet should I, by any particular Application, seem to suppose that your Zeal in this Cause wanted a Spur, I might well be thought to be the only Stranger in Israel, and not to bave known the Things which have come to pass in these Days.

What private Men can do, they best know: many are certainly well qualified by their Reputation, their Station, and great Abilities, to promote the Interest of their King and Country; and surely it is every Man's Duty to do what he thinks he lawfully may do, to serve these desirable Ends. And this would be allowed to be a very reasonable Demand, were not the Nation unhappily divided into Factions, which have swallowed up all public Duty, and transferred to themselves that Allegiance which is

due

due only to the Crown. Were there but half the Zeál to serve the Public, which Men daily express for the Interest of their several Parties, there would be but little Encouragement for a second Attempt to disturb our Peace,

It is wonderful to observe, in all Cases, this steady Adherence to Party: those who afcribe it to mere Corruption, and the sordid Ends of private Gain, see but little into the true Cause; there is another Principle more remote from common Obfervation, which has a greater Influence; a Principle in itself more generous, though oftentimes in its Consequences not less pernicious; I mean, the Regard which Men have for their own Credit and Reputation. This is the natural Fruit of the best soil; every good Man has it, and it is the Life of virtuous Actions, when its Views are rightly directed. But where Kingdoms are divided into opposite Factions, the true Standard of Reputation will always be lost, and Men will grow into Esteem, not for their virtuous Actions, but for their Party Merit. Hence it comes to pass, that in civil Disputes, it is as reproachful to deviate from your Leader's Opinion, as it is for a private Soldier to desert his

M 4

General General in the Day of Battle. The Obligations of the public Duty, or of private Opinion, will obtain no Quarter for you ; for such is your Case, that you may with less Hazard of Reproach commit almost any Vice, than venture to be in the right without the Support of a Majority. This Evil is the more to be lamented, because its Infection spreads most easily among the best. Helvidius Priscus lived in the Degeneracy of the Empire, but had all the Virtues of an old Roma!; yet he was observed to be appetentior famæ, quando etiam fapientibus, as the Historian remarks, cupido gloriæ novissima exuitur. But whatever may be said in Excuse for this Passion, in Matters which a willing Casuist may persuade himself to be indifferent; yet surely it is to be highly blamed, when the Prosperity of our King, our Country, and our Religion are at Stake: in such a Time, every Man should run the Hazard of being true to the Public, especially if he cannot desert it without being false to himself.

There is another Evil, not much unlike the former, though of a different Kind, which is owing also to our unhappy Divifions. If, on one side, it may be sometimes

difficult

difficult for Men who have no ill Intention to the Public, to discharge their Duty to it; on the other, there will always be some to rejoice when they do Wrong; though Zeal for the Government never produces a more preposterous Effect, than when it makes Men take Pleasure in the Number, or in the Perverseness of its Enemies. Those who are sincerely and with any Judgment in the Interest of the King, have nothing more to wish, than to see the Hearts of all his Majesty's Subjects united in Obedience and Affection to him; or, if that is not to be obtained, to see as many as can be. But there is a little Kind of Men, who mistaking their party Zeal for Affection to the Government, seem transported when those, whom they have been taught to think their Enemies, do by any Misbehaviour render themselves obnoxious to the present Powers: as they rejoice in such Misbehaviour, so are they apt sometimes to provoke it, and think themfelves never better entitled to plead their own Merit, than when they have urged others to fuch Things, as a wise Man and a Friend to the Government would with all his Care have laboured to prevent. Under these unhappy Circumstances there is more Reason to wish, than there is Ground to hope, for Peace and Unanimity at Home. It is an easy Matter for a few designing Men to fill the People with great, and, at the fame Time, very unjust Apprehensions from their Governors ; though his Majesty, in his great Wisdom and Goodness, took at the very Beginning the properest Step to prevent this Mischief, by declaring that he would always make the Constitution in Church and State the Rule of his Administration. As our Constitution in Church has many Friends, fo to our great Misfortune has it some Enemies; and as it cannot be dissembled, but that the Fears and Jealousies on one Side, fo it will hardly be denied, but that the Hopes and Expectations on the other, have been very unreasonable. And considering how People, in a State of Sufpicion, watch and observe each other, how naturally the Fears of one increase by seeing the Hopes of the other, without knowing or enquiring what Ground or Foundation there is for them; it will be necessary, in order to quiet the angry Spirit that is among us, to suppress these Hopes, as well as to allay those Fears: and I pray God to reduce them both to their proper Bounds, that we

may

« PreviousContinue »