Page images
PDF
EPUB

Their Guides and Governors lock up from them the Scripture, which is the Book of Knowledge: They teach them, that Ignorance is the Mother of Devotion : They banish Liberty, they brow-beat Reason, they persecute Tru:h. In consequence of all which, the deluded Votaries of the Romish Church are as ignorant as the Mahometans, as great Slaves, greater Idolaters, and greater Persecutors; that is, in Barbarity they exceed the Turks, who in Barbarity exceed most others.

HERE, in England, why are we free, why Protestants; but because we are guided by Reafon, and judge for ourselves? And none amongst us complain of the Liberty of the Press, or the Growth of Free-Thinking, but those who would found a Dominion upon Stupidity and Persecution. Vile and woeful is that Cause, which must be supported by Ignorance and Misery! And yet there are those in Great Britain, who, though they wear a holy and venerable Livery, yet have the Boldness and Blasphemy to chriften that impious Cause, the Cause of God, and of his Church.

To conclude, Scripture, and Reason, wichout which Scripture can have no Effect, are the only Tests of every Falfhood and Imposture, and every Superstition. Suppose, for Example, a Reverend Doctor is touch'd with an odd Zeal for Bowing to the East; be ought to convince my Reason, that Bowing to the Eaft is injoined, in Scripture, before he injoins me to bow also. If he say, that it is injoined by the Authority of the Church, he then must satisfy my Reason, that the Scripture teaches the Church to teach her Members to make Bows. If he answer, that neither does the Scripture teach to bow to the East, but that the Church thinks Bowing decent and edifying; be must then prove, by rational Evidence, that what every Church thinks decenç is a Dury. If he reply, that this is only true of the one Orthodox Church; then he must prove, that his Church is the sole Orthodox Church, according to the Rules of the Gospel. And if the Doctor cannot do this to my Satiffaction, then there will be an End of his Arguinent for his Ecclefiaftical Bowings.

As we judge from Scripture, what is Orthodoxy; so we must judge from Reason, what is Scripture,

G:

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

NUMBER XXXVI.

Wednesday, September 21. 1720.

Of the Peace of the Church.

[ocr errors]

T is a shameful Infult upon our Una

derstandings, that of fanctifying the
1

most wicked Purposes, and most
cruel Actions, with the most honest

and innocent Names; and yet noe.
thing is more frequently practised. Thus the
worthy Name of RULER shall be prostituted and
pronounced aloud, to palliate, and even to justify,
the Barbarities of a TYRANT, and that peace
able Word Obedience shall be forced to signify
an unmanly and unnatural Patience of Servis
tude. Laws, which were intended to protect
and encourage good Men, and to restrain and
punish ill ones, are often perverted into dead-
ly Instruments in the Hands of Robbers and
Usurpers, against the Virtuous and the Harm-

lels;

less; and the Means of Preservation are turned into Engines of Destruction. The Lord's Anointed, a Phrase which at first signified only a : Man approved and chosen by God himself to be the Ruler of his people, has been fiace : wrested to mean an over-growa Plunderer, who chose himself to be a Deftroyer of God's ; People.

THESE are some Instances of the Abuse of Words in civil Life. In Religion, the Abuse has been, if possible, ftill greater; of which I : have given already many Proofs, and shall .con-tinue to give more in the Course of these Papers. I shall at present confine myself to a Phrase, which is indeed a very good one, but which I bave never known applied to a good Purpose in my Time, nor at any Time before; I mean chat : of the Peace of the Church.

By the Peace of the Church, when it is taken in a rational and warrantable Sense, I take to be meant no more than this, namely, That any Number of People, who have agreed among themselves upon Terms of religious Communion, shall quietly enjoy the facred Pria vilege of meeting together to worship God; , and whoever disturbs them, let his Title or Pretensions be what they will, is a Breaker of the Peace of the Church. Or if any other So

B6

ciety

ciety greater than the former, and of longer Standing, think fit to be provoked at this religious Indulgence, and call it a Breach of the Peace of the Church, they bring home the Charge upon themselves, who, by breaking the Peace of the Church, mean only the nat submitting to their own proud Spirit, which finds Peace only in the Exercise of successful Tyranny. Or if the smaller Society should ufurp Dominion over the Thoughts of its own Members, and demand of them a Belief contrary to the Light of their Minds, or a Behaviour contrary to the Dictates and Conviction of their Consciences; they justify the Claims of the greater Society, over themselves, and leave themselves without Excuse for having left it.

A MAN, who leaves the Communion of any particular. Church, does no more break the Peace of that Church, than a Man, who leaves the Realm, breaks the Peace of the Realm; or than a Man breaks the Peace of a Family, who, whilst the rest dine upon Flesh, does himself dine separately upon Fish. But he does evidently break the Peace of the Church, who would by Violence keep any one in that Church; .forasmuch as, by so doing, he violates Conscience, which is the Seat and Centre of 'Re

ligion,

« PreviousContinue »