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and loose People impofe on themselves, and endeavour to seduce others; there is none more frequently urged, than that the current Abfurdities and Superftitions taught by Priests, and the Priests Hypocrify and Villainies, are sufficient Reasons to make all Religion be deemed a Cheat, and Priefts of all Religions to be deemed the fame. The Poet fays, in the Perfon of a Libertine,

We know their holy Jugglings,

Things that would startle Faith, and make us deem,

Not This, or That, but all Religions falfe.

THIS indeed is pitiful Reasoning, and ought to be extended no farther than to thofe Doctrines and Priefts, against whom the Objections lie. But fo it is Men reafon; and Experience will prove, that 'tis the High-Church Prieft, and his Proceedings, which make the Atheist. But before I proceed to that Experience, I will fay this in Behalf of this Argument for Atheism, that the Evil apparent in the World (which fome urge as an Argument against the Exiftence of a Deity) feems to me most visible in the Actions of Priefts, who do, in my Opinion, create the greatest Disorder among Men.

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THE late Bishop of Sarum tells us, in his Travels, "That a Man of Quality at Rome, "and an eminent Churchman, faid to him, "That it was a horrible Scandal to the whole "Chriftian World, and made one doubt of "the Truth of the Chriftian Religion, to fee

more Oppreffion and Cruelty in their Ter"ritories, than was to be found even in Tür

key. He fays, fome Phyficians in Naples "are brought under the Scandal of Atheism:: «And it is certain, that in Italy Men of search"ing Understandings, who have no other "Idea of the Chriftian Religion, but that "which they fee received among them, are « very naturally tempted to disbelieve it quite; «for they believing it all alike in grofs, with "out Distinction, and finding fuch notorious "Cheats as appear in many Parts of their Re"ligion, are, upon that, induced to disbe"lieve the Whole." And it is an Obfervation of Dr. GEDDES, that there are more People of no Religion in Italy, than in all the World befides (Tracts, Vol. 3.). England is alfo faid, by our High-Church Priests, to abound with Atheists, no less than Italy. But if there be fuch People. among us, they are intirely owing to the Conduct of fome of our Priefts, who, I will be fo bold as to affirm, are as im

pudent

pudent in their Pretences to Power and Authority, as the Italian Priefts dare to be. This, though at first Sight it may feem matter of Admiration, that they fhould be fo in fuch an enlightened Country as England, where so many understand right Reasoning, and true Chriftianity; yet is natural enough, if it be confidered, that it is the laft Struggle of Priests for Popery and Slavery: They contend for the

oft ridiculous Things, as neceffary to Salvation; and by their Prevarications about Oaths, and Shiftings about Doctrines, according to their Intereft, difpofe Men to make the fame Inference, as the Men of Quality, and Men of Searching Understandings, do in Italy. And fome among us may, perhaps, make that Atheistical Inference, confidering how the Nation had been managed in the High-Church Reign of King CHARLES the Second, when the Defign, according to the late Bishop of Sarum, Seemed to be to make us first Atheists, that we might more easily be Papifts.

DR. HICKES tells us, that the Practices of the Swearing Clergy, fince the Revolution, who had preached Paffive Obedience before, ❝ have "tempted loofe and unprincipled Men to turn "Atheists; and that thofe Clergy have fet cc open the Flood-Gates to that Deluge of. "Atheism

"Atheism and Impiety, that now overflow the "Nation." And he cites another Author with Approbation, for faying, "This Change "has made many fober Men fceptical, and « gone farther towards eradicating all the No"C tions of a Deity, than all the Labours of "Mr. HOBBES. I have been ready to fu"fpect, that Religion itself was a Cheat; and "others, of my own Knowledge, have the "fame Temptations to queftion Religion "felf."

MR. Lefley fays, "The Carriage of the "Clergy in the Revolution, has given greater "Occafion to the ENEMIES OF THE LORD

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TO BLASPHEME, and turned more Men "from the Church of England, to the Church "of Rome, and EVEN TO ATHEISM; has "overturned, ruined, divided, and dishonour"ed our Church more, than if that Perfecution, which fome feared or pretended, had fallen upon them. He fays, The Clergy "banter and mock God to his Face; and "that Atheism is a fmaller Sin than this, fince "it is better to have no God at all, than to "fet up one, to laugh at him; and that the

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greatest Danger to which we are now ex"pofed, by the Defect of fo many of our "Clergy, is a Contempt of all Religion,

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" which is now fpread over the Land, in a "Manner unheard of in former Ages."

LASTLY, The late Bishop of Sarum tells us, "That fince his Converfation with Wil"mot Earl of Rochester, he had had many "Occafions to difcourfe with People tainted " with wicked Principles: And, fays he, I do ❝ affirm, that the greatest Prejudice those Per"fons have at Religion, at the Clergy, and at "the public Worship of God, is this, That "they fay they fee Clergymen take Oaths, " and use all Prayers, both ordinary and extraordinary, for the Government; and yet " in their Actings and Difcourfes, and of late "in their Sermons, they fhew visibly, that "they look another Way; from whence they "conclude, that they are a mercenary Sort of "People, without Confcience."

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2. ATHEISM being, in my Opinion, a most unnatural Thing, and a Crime, which, for its Madness, as well as Guilt, ought to fhut a Man out of civil Society, I am not disposed to lay it to any Man's Charge, though a vicious Perfön; much lefs to any fober Man's, without his open Profeffion of it, or an evident Proof of it upon him. But if, confiftently with Charity, we may suspect any Men of Atheism, who deny themselves to be Atheists, we may cer

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