« PreviousContinue »
Lawers; who of all others seem least to understand the Nature of Government in general: like Under-workmen, who are expert enough at. making a single Wheel in a Clock, but are utterly ignorant how to adjust the several Parts, or regulate the Movement.
To return therefore from this Digrefion; It is a Church of England- Man's Opinion, that the Freedom of a Nation consists in an absolute Unlimited Legislative Power, wherein the whole Body of the People are fairly, represented, and in an Execu, tive Duly limited; because on this fide likewise there may be dangerous Degrees, and a very ill Extream. For 'when two Parties in a State are pretty equal in Power, Pretensions, Merit, and Virtue, ( for these two laft are, with relation to Parties and a Court, quite different Things.), it hath been the Opinion of the best Writers upon Governinent; that a Prince ought not in any fort to be under the Guidance or Influence of either, because he declines by this means from his Office of prefiding over the whole, to be the Head of a Party; which besides the Indignity, Tenders him answerable for all Publick Mifmanagements, and the Consequences of them; And in whatever State this happens, there must either be a Weakness in the Prince or Ministry, or else the former is too much restrained by the Legislature.
To conclude; A Church of England-Man may with Prudence and a good Conscience approve, the profeffed Principles of one Party more than the other, according as he thinks they best promote the Good of Church and State; but he will never be sway'd by Paffion or Interest to advance an Opinion meerly because it is That
of the Party he most approves į which one single Principle, he looks upon as the Root of all our Civil Animofities. To enter into a Party as into an Order of Frgars, with so resigned an Obe. dience to Superiors, is very unsuitable both with the Civil and Religious Liberties we fo zealousiy affert. Thus the Understandings of a whole Senate are often enslaved by three or four Leaders on each side, who instead of intending the Publick Weal, have their Hearts wholy set up on Ways and Means how to get, or to keep Employments. But to speak more at large, how has this Spirit of Faction mingled it felf in with the Mass of the People, changed their Natures and Manners, and the very Genius of the Na. tion; broke all the Laws of Charity, Neighbourhood, Alliance and Hospitality, deftroy'd all Ties of Friendship, and divided Families a. gainst themselves; and no wonder it should be fo, when in order to find out the Character of a Person, inftead of enquiring whether he be a Man of Virtue, Honour, Piety, Wit, good Sense, or Learning; the modern Question is on ly, Whether he be a Wbig or a Tory?
under which Terms all good and ill Qualities are included.
Now, because it is a Point of Difficulty to chuse an exact Middle between two ill Extreams, it may be worth enquiring in the present Case, which of these a wife and a good Man would rather seem to avoid: Taking therefore their own good and ill Characters with due_Abatemients and Allowances for Partiality and Paffion, I Thould think that in order to preserve the Constitution entire in Church and State, who ever has a true Value for both, would be sure to avoid the Extreams of Whip for the sake of the
former, and the Extreams of Tory on account of the latter.
I have now said all I could think convenient upon so nice a Subjeđ, and find I have the Ambition common with other Reasoners, to wish at least that both Parties may think me in the right, which would be of some use to thofe who have any Virtue left, but are blindly drawn into the Extravagancies of either, upon false Repre. sentations, to serve the Ambition or Malice of defigning Men without any Prospect of their own.
But if that is not to be hoped for, my next : Wish should be, that both might think me in
the wrong ; which I would understand as an ama ple Justification of my felf, and a sure Ground to believe, that I have proceeded at least with Imparciality, and perhaps with Truth.
To prove, That the
Abolishing of Christianity
May, as things now stand, be attended with
me Inconveniencies, and perhaps not produce those many good Effects proposed there by.
Written in the Year, 1708.
Am very sensible what a Weakness and-Presumption it is, to reason against the general Humour and Disposition of the World,
I remember it was with great Justice, and a due Regard to the Freedom both of the Publick and the Press, forbidden upon several Penalties to Write, or Discourse, or lay Wagers 2gainst the
even before it was confirmed by Parliament, because that was look'd upon as a
Defign to oppose the Current of the People, which befides the Folly of it, is a manifeft Breach of the Fundamental "Law, that makes this Majority of Opinion the Voice of God. In like manner, and for the very fame Reasons, it may perhaps be neither fafé nor prudent to argue against the Abolishing of Chriftianity; at à Juncture when all Parties seem fo unanimously determined upon the Point, 'as we cannot but allow from their A&tions, their Discourses, and their Writings. However, I know not how, whether from the Affectation of Singularity, or the Perverseness of Human Nature, but to it unhappily falls out, that I cannot be entirely of this Opinion. Nay, though I were fure an Order were issued out for my immediate Pro secution by the Attorney-General, I should fill confess, that in the present Pofture of our Affairs at home or abroad, I do not yet see the ab: folute necessity of extirpating the Chriftian Ren ligion from among us.
This perhaps may appear too great a Paradox even for our wise and paradoxical Age to endure; therefore I shall handle it with 11 Tenderness, and with the utmost Deference to that great and profound Majority, which is of another Sentiment.
viens AND yet the Curious may please to observe, how much the Genius of a Nation is liable to alter in half an Age. I have heard it affirmed for certain by some very old People, that the contrary Opinion was even in their Memories as much in Vogue as the other is now; and that a Pro ject for the Abolishing of Cbriftianity would then have appeared as fingular, and been thought as abfurd, as it would be at this time to write or discourse in its Defence.