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Upon the whole, if it shall be thought for the benefit of church and state, that Christianity be abolished ; I conceive, however, it may be more convenient to defer the execution to a time of peace; and not venture, in this conjuncture, to disoblige our allies; who, as it falls out, are all Christians; and many of them, by the prejudices of their education, fo bigotted, as to place a fort of pride in the appellation. If, upon being re: jected by them, we are to trust, to an alliance with the Turk, we shall find ourselves much deceived; for, as he is too remote, and generally engaged in war with the Persian Emperor, fo his people would be more fcandalized at our infidelity, than our Christian neighbours. For, the Turks are not only strict observers of religious worship, but, what is worse, believe a God; which is more than is required of us, even while we preserve the name of Christians.
To conclude: Whatever fome may think of the great advantages to trade by this favourite scheme, I do very much apprehend, that, in six months time after the act is passed for the extirpation of the gospel, the Bank and East-India stock may fall, at least, one per cent. And since that is fifty times more than ever the wisdom of our age thought fit to venture for the preservation of Christianity, there is no reason we fhould be at so great a loss, merely for the sake of destroying it.
A Project for the ADVANCEMENT of
RELIGION, and the REFORMATION of MANNERS*
By a PERSON of QUALITY.
Written in the year 1709.
To the Countess of BERKELEYI.
MY intention, in prefixing your Ladyship’s name,
is not, after the common form, to desire your protection of the foHowing papers ; which I take to be a very unreasonable request; fince, by being inscribed to your Ladyship, though without your knowledge, and from a concealed hand, you cannot recommend them without some suspicion of partiality. My real design is, I confefs, the very fame I have often detelted in most dedications, that of publishing your praises to the world ; not upon the subject of your noble birth, for I know others as noble, or of the greatness of your fortune, for I know others far greater; or of that beautiful race, (the images of their parents,) which calls you mother ; for even this may perhaps have been equalled in fome other age or country. Besides, none of these advantages do derive any accomplishments to the owners, but serve, at best, only to adorn what they really possess. What I intend, is your piety, truth, good sense, and good nature, affability, and charity; wherein I wish your Ladyship had many equals, or any superiors; and I wish I could say, I knew them too; for then your Ladyship might have had a chance to escape this address. In the mean time, I think it highly necessary, for the interest of virtue and religion, that the whole kingdom should be informed in some parts of your character: for instance, That the easiest and politest conversation, joined with the truest piety, may be observed in your Ladyship, in as great perfection as they were ever seen apart in any other person : That, by your prudence and management, under several disadvantages, you have preserved the lustre of that most noble family into which you are graffed, and which the unmeasurable profusion of ancestors, for many generations, had too much eclipsed : Then, how happily you perform every office of life, to which Providence hath called you ; in the education of those two incomparable daughters, whose conduct is so universally admired ; in every duty of a prudent, complying, affectionate wife ; in that care which defcends to the meanest of your domeftics; and, lastly, in that endless bounty to the poor, and discretion where to distribute it. I insist on my opinion, that it is of importance for the public, to know this, and a great deal more of your Ladyship; yet, whoever goes about to inform them, shall, instead of finding credit, perhaps be censured for a flatterer. To avoid fo usual a reproach, I declare this to be no dedication, but merely an introduction to a proposal for the advancement of religion and morals, by tracing, however imperfectly, some few lineaments in the character of a Lady, who hath spent all her life. in the practice and promotion of both.
which * The author appears in earnest throughout this whole treatise; and the dedication, or introduction, is in a strain of serious panegyric, which the Lady, to whom it is addressed, undoubtedly deserved. But, as the pamphlet is of the satirical kind, I am apt to imagine, that the Dean put a violence upon himself, in chusing to appear candidly serious, rather than to smile, under his usual mask of gravity. Methinks, upon these occasions, 1 perceive him writing in shackleş. Orrery.
In the Projet, &c. Dr. Swift appears in the character of a great inspired prophet. He crieth aloud, he spareth not, he lifteth up his voice like a trumpet, lsa. lviii. 1. He rebuketh all ranks of men, for their depravițies and corruptions, their profaneness, their blafphemy and irreligion. His discourse he addresseth unto his sovereign, and, beyond all contradiction, proveth it to be an important duty incumbent on all princes, to encourage and to enforce morals and religion, by exerting their utmost authority. He then applieth himself to the legislature, conjuring them to forward so noble a design, and to provide remedies against that torrent of iniquity, which, if not vigorously opposed, would cere tainly increase, and never stop in its career, until it fubverted the constitution. And, finally, he declares, in the prophetic style and spirit, that a reformation of manners, and turning unto God, are the best natural, as well as religious means, to bring the war to an happy conclusion. Swift.
Į This excellent Lady, was Elizabeth, the daughter of Baptist Noel, Viscount Campden, and lister to Edward Earl of Gainsborough. Hawkef:
Mong all the schemes offered to the public
in this projecting age, I have observed, with some displeasure, that there have never been any for the improvement of religion and morals: which, besides the piety of the design, from the consequence of such a reformation in a future life, would be the best natural means for advancing the public felicity of the state, as well as the present happiness of every individual. For as much as faith and morality are declined among us, I am altogether confident, they might, in a short time, and with no very great trouble, be raised to as high a perfection as numbers are capable of receiving. Indeed the method is so easy and obvious, and some present opportunities so good, that, in order to have this project reduced to practice, there seems to want nothing more than to put those in mind, who, by their honour, duty, and interest, are chiefly concerned.
But because it is idle to propose remedies, before we are assured of the disease, or to be in fear, till we are convinced of the danger ; I shall first shew, in general, that the nation is extremely corrupted in religion and morals; and then I will offer a short scheme for the reformation of both.
(As to the first, I know it is reckoned but a form of speech, when divines complain of the wickedness of the age. However, I believe, upon a fair comparison with other times and countries, it would be found an undoubted truth.
For, first, to deliver nothing but plain matter of fact, without exaggeration or satire, I suppose it will be granted, that hardly one in an hundred among our people of quality or gentry, appears to act by any principle of religion ; that great numbers of them do entirely discard it, and are ready to own their disbelief of all revelation, in ordinary discourse. Nor is the case much better