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Wednesday, November 9. 1720.
Of High-Church ATHEISM. Part 2.
Proceed, as I promised in my last,
I mean Practical Atheism.
I. AND first, I will begin with Perjury, or Falfe Swearing.
I WILL venture to lay it down as a Truth in Politics, that Oaths (or fomething equivalent to them) are, on many Occafions, neceffary in Government and that Peace among Neighbours, Punishment of Rogues, and the Settlement of Property, depend upon them. In the next Place, I will lay down as religious Truths, that an Oath is a folemn Act, both of natural
and revealed Religion; that Oaths to a Government are to be kept; that there is no greater Irreligion, no greater Affront to God, no greater Infincerity and Injuftice to Man, than Perjury and no Point of Religion, upon which the Honour of God, and the Welfare of Mankind, are more highly concerned, than in keeping Oaths that Oaths of Allegiance to a Government intend Loyalty; that Oaths are to be taken in the Sense of the Imposers that the Heart is to concur with the Lips in repeating them; that Men are to have no mental Referves in taking Oaths; and that they must not design to break them, nor take them with Design to repent of them.
AND yet, on this Head, Atheists cannot be guilty of greater Irreligion, than fome of our High-Church Men, (under the Conduct of our High-Church Priefts) who fometimes are not for reftraining our Kings by their CoronationOaths; and at other times, are not for retraining the People by their Oaths of Allegiance; that is, they are at one time for breaking Oaths, by contending for unlimited Power, and unlimited Obedience; and at another time for breaking Oaths, by retrenching the Autho rity of the Prince, and Allegiance of the Subject. Under this Reign, they are for the lat
ter Perjury; as appears by their open Rebellions; their irreverent Difcourfes of the Perfon, and Family, of his Majefty; their Endeavours to alienate from him the Hearts of his
Subjects; and infpiring the People with Difaffection to his Government; their inventing and reporting defamatory Stories, to blemish his Character, and weaken his Authority; their rejoicing at any public Distractions; their taking Sides with the Frenck, Turks, Swedes Spaniards, and Muscovites, whenever any of these Nations are in Measures contrary to the Interest of his Majefty; and laftly, by the ridiculing and cracking Jefts upon the 'State-Oaths, and citing, as a Sort of Scripture, these Verfes of Hudibras:
He that impofes an Oath, makes it,
AND thefe Things are done by them, not after an Atheistical Manner, not under the Appearance of attacking and ridiculing Religion and Virtue, the Joys of Heaven, and the Fears of Hell; but almoft as if Slander and Calumny, Treason and Sedition, were Articles of their Church, which they were in Duty obliged to E 6 Perform
perform. They pretend all the while to be religious Men, good Churchmen; concerned for the Church's Safety; Enemies of falfe Religion, and particularly of Presbyterianism; and zealous for the Orthodox Faith, contained in St. ATHANASIUS's Creed. And though the High-Church Priests have not as yet writ ten any Books to defend this Manner of taking and keeping Oaths; yet they take a Method no less effectual to recommend it: They not only do not bear their Teftimony against this open Wickedness, this open practical Atheism, (as is their Duty) but are active themfelves in the fame Practices, and countenance the Guilty, by the Credit and Applause which they give them; and by the Distinction which they shew towards them, recommending them as good Churchmen, and reviling others, principally, for being faithful to the Oaths which they have taken to the Government. All which is more effectual to promote Perjury, than direct dogmatizing in Behalf of it; for this fly Way gets them the Applaufe of many, and prevents the Clamour of others against them; who would be generally detested, notwithstanding the Devotion of the People towards them, if they openly defended Perjury.
Now, pray, what is the Difference between thefe High-Church Men and Atheists? Can Atheists be less bound by Oaths? Can Atheists be worfe Subjects? Are not Atheists deteftable, because it is fuppofed, that they cannot be bound by Oaths? And are others lefs deteftable, whom Oaths do not bind? Can any thing be faid worse of Atheists, than what Mr. LESLEY fays, (in his Answer to King's State of the Proteftants in Ireland) that the Parlia ment cannot make an Oath, which the Clergy will not take? Had not King GEORGE Reafon to apprehend as much Mischief from his Swearing Religious Factious ---- Rebel--Church-Subjects, as he could have from Swearing-Rebel-Atheists! Was the Cafe of the Dif fenters, and other good Subjects, who were plundered before the Rebellion for their Loyalty, or fuffered in the Rebellion, better for receiving fuch Ufage from the Hands of HighChurchmen, than from Atheists? They are plainly as bad as Atheists can ever be supposed to be; worse than Atheists, acting by the Principles of Eafe and Self-prefervation, which may be fuppofed to be the moft general Principles of Action in Atheists, and, in fine, worse than any profligate Libertines that I ever met with in Italy itfelf, that Seat of High