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elfe, in Virtue of Mens general Difpofition to Religion, either under one or feveral Forms, according as the Civil Magiftrates of the World are more or lefs perfuaded, that they themselves are to dictate (or to dictate after a Prieft) Religion to their Subjects.
THE noify Outcry therefore of the Danger of Religion from Atheism or Irreligion, is a mere Chimera of the High Priests; which, in all Likelihood, they start, to put Men on a falfe Scent, and to difguife and carry on their own Defigns of Power and Wealth: For while People are alarmed with the Fears of Atheism, they are difpofed to fall into all the pretended Measures of the Prieft to fupprefs it, and to become zealous for him, who never fails to make ufe of the Panic or Madnefs of the People (which is his Opportunity) to establish Doctrines and Practices for his own Advantage i which at his Suggestion they falfly fuppofe to be most oppofite to Atkeifm, and to be the best Means to fupprefs it.
BUT the conftant Danger, and the great and only Concern which we ought to have, is, left under the Colour and Name of Religion, or the Worship of Gol, we have not only Falfhood and Superftition put upon us, but the most deteftable and wicked Practices introduced; fuch
fuch as tend to the Deftruction of all Peace, both public and private; all Virtue, Learning, and whatever is praiseworthy among Men: This is practical Atkeifm: This is the Atheism to be dreaded and feared: This is the Atheism whereof we are in Danger: This is the worst Confequence we have to fear from Speculative Atheism; for no Man can fay worse of speculative Atheism, than that it leads neceffarily to all Immorality: And in fine, this Atheism the Priest has, in most Places of the World, introduced as Religion, to the utter Overthrow of true Religion (which confifts chiefly, if not folely, in fuch Particulars as are for the Good of Society); for by making Men wicked out of Confcience, and upon a Principle of Religion, he as effectually destroys true Religion, as if he introduced fpeculative Atheism. What is it to a Believer in Chrift, whe.her he be perfecuted for his Religion by a Papist, who does it religiously, and upon a Principle of Confcience; or by an Atheist, who does it either to protect himself, or to get Credit in the World, or to fhare with the Prieft, in the Advantages arifing from Perfecution? Do Men fuffer lefs by a Civil or Foreign War, begun by Zealots, on a Principle of Religion, to promote Religion; than if begun by AtheE 3 ifts,
ifts, for the fake of Ambition, Glory, Power, Rpine, or Murder? Are the Feuds, Animofities, and Paffions, ftirred up by Priests on account of Religion, fewer, and less disturbing of the public Peace, than those of Men left to the Conduct of Atheistical Principles ! Is it not equal to Husbands to be wronged by Atheists, who need no Pardon, as by Popih Priests, who can pardon one another or by High- Church Men, who, notwithstanding fuch Actions, can be countenanced by the Prieft, and merit greatly with him on account of their Zeal for the Church, that is, the Priest? Nay, is not the Danger of Cuckoldom equal from a Popib Prieft, (who, by his Power of Confeffing and Abfolving the Woman, has fo glorious an Opportunity) as from an Atheist ? And would our High Priests, if they could get the Nation to be perfuaded, that they have the fame Power of Confeffing and Abfolving, (as they have of late been attempting to do in their Books and Sermons) be lefs Cuckold-makers than Popifb Priests and Atheists ?
COULD an Atheist be a greater Calum niator than Dr. Se? Could an Atheist, who thinks no Deference due to a Bifhop, bave lefs Regard for the Honour of a Chri
Atian Bishop than Dr. Se, who pretends to think Bishops have Divine Authority? Could an Atheist, after he had been convicted of Calumny, and forced to confefs, that his Evidence for the Calumny failed him, be more hardened in Villainy, than to make no Satisfaction to, and ask no Pardon of, the Perfon injured; but perfit in fuppofing, that Time will discover his Charge to be true? Could a Set of Atheists have patronized Calumny more, than to have called that Doctor to be the Head of their Society? And might they not, with equal Regard to Virtue and Religion, have chofen a Highwayman, or a Pick-pocket, who gives his Money for the Augmentation of poor Livings? Has a modern Bishop more Satisfaction in being thus attacked by a High-Church Priest, supported and abetted by others, or is the Society less disturbed by fuch Proceedings, than if fuch Priests were all Atheists?
LASTLY, Is it not equally deftructive of Liberty and Property, for Ecclesiastics to use religious Cheats and Tricks to get Money from the People, towards railing and maintaining a needlefs Army of Black-coats, to live lazily in Monafteries, and other Religious Houses; as for Atheists to ufe any civil Tricks to mainE 4 tain
ain a needlefs ftanding Army of Red-coats, tor by their Arts to plunder the Public for any of their other Purposes?
THE Defign therefore of fome followng Papers fhall be to fhew, how the HighChurch Jacobite Clergy promote true Atheism and Irreligion: That the Laity may be put on the true Scent of Atheism: That they may have a juft Dread of the true Atheism: That they may cease to be Atheists, or Worshippers of the Priest, and cease to receive Religion on his Authority; and that they may return to God and Chrift, the fole Authors of all true Religion.