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Mr. Chillingworth moft judiciously obferves He that would ufurp an abfolute Lordship " and Tyranny over any People, need not put

himself to the Trouble and Difficulty of "abrogating and difannulling the Laws made "to maintain the common Liberty, or of "locking them up in an unknown Tongue from "the People; for he may compass his own "Defign as well, if he can get the Power and "Authority to interpret them as he pleases, "if he can rule his People by his Laws, and

his Laws by his Lawyers. Nay, the more "expedite, and therefore the more likely way <to be successful, is to gain the Opinion and "Efteem of the public and authorized In"terpreter of them." For by this Means he preffes the Laws into his Service, to advance his Defigns, and can, in Accommodation to the Opinion which Men have of the Excellency of the Laws contained in the Scriptures, with a fort of Grace, put a Crown on their Head, and a Reed in their Hands, and bow before them, and cry, Hail, King of the Jews! and pretend a great deal of Esteem, Respect, and Reverence to them, while he is in a more effectual manner misleading the People about their Meaning, than if he destroyed the Scriptures them

felves,

felves, or lock'd them up in an unknown Tongue from the People.

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NUMBER XXXVIII.

Wednesday October 5. 1720.

C.

Of Penance and Religious
Revellings.

HAVE, in two former Papers, confider'd the Nature, Ufe, and Confequences of Religious Faftings. I fhall, in this, inquire a little into the Merits of Penance, and the Devotion of Feftivals; a Couple of potent Engines in the Hands of Churchmen.

Joy and Sorrow proceeding, as they do, from certain Caufes, which neceffarily produce them the one troubles the Imagination, and the other delights it, whether we will or no. They are different Names given to different Operations of the Animal Spirits, which bring

to God Almighty no voluntary Worship, and confequently no Worship at all. The farge Disorder in the Blood or Nerves, which difcovers itself in Sighs and Groans, would in a greater Degree, bring forth Rage and Convulfions, which are not the Symptoms of a Gofpel-Spirit, but rather the Marks of Spirits difpoffeffed in the Gofpel. People under Trouble, or in the Spleen, are too apt to mistake their bodily or mental Disorders for the Workings of Divine Grace; as if the wife and mild Spirit of God delighted to play childish and mischievous Pranks with weak and unhappy Men, by filling them with wild Freaks, or cruel Agonies. I doubt there are few of thefe Sort of People, who can give a Reason why the great God fhould be better pleased with a forrowful Heart, than an aching Head.

IF God Almighty be pleased with our afflicting ourselves, he must be pleased beft when we afflict ourselves moft; and a greater Degree of Suffering must beget a greater Portion of his Favour: And consequently, the cutting ourfelves with Knives, as did the Priests of BAAL, must be more acceptable to him, than the bare whipping ourselves with Rods, as do the Priests of ROME, &c. By the fame Rule, if the endangering of one's Life be well-pleafing to him,

the

the deftroying of one's Life must be more pleafing to him; and Defpair and Self-Murder are more grateful Inftances of Duty and Devotion to the God of Mercy, than barely being afraid of him, and barely making our Lives miferable. The pious Confequence of all which must be, that the Bleffed and Beneficent God, who is the Giver of all Good, is the Author of all Evil, and all Mifery; and the Maker and Preserver of Mankind, who is the Father of Mercies, is alfo the Destroyer of Mankind, and the Father of Cruelties:

NOR is this Reafoning fo ftrange, or thefe Conclufions fo unnatural, as fome may ignorantly imagine; fince the Priests, who, for the godly Ends of Dominion and Gain, were the firft Inventors of Sacrifices and Penances, have frequently proceeded fo far in their inhuman and diabolical Craft, as to butcher Men to appease their Deity. And indeed, when once you had taken their Word for the divine Will, you renounced all Right and Pretence to judge for yourself, or to difpute any Measure of Devotion which they had thought fit to prescribe. Thus, for Example, if the Priests told you, that their God graciously longed for a Bonfire, and had, in his divine Goodnefs, appointed you to be the principal Faggot; as averfe as your C 4 carnal

carnal Spirit might be to this great Honour, yet you could not decline it, without the terrible Imputation of Difobedience, or Apoftafy, and probably of Atheism: For, having given the Priest the Property of your Body, your Thoughts, and your Behaviour, you were become ALL the Priest's.

THE Duty of Penance is, according to certain Churchmen, a very neceffary Duty: But there is another Duty quite oppofite to it, yet very neceffary alfo; and that is, the Business and Duty of Festivals. These two may indeed feem Contradictions to each other, and to the Eye of unfanctified Reason are fo; but where they are injoined by Church-Authority, it is our Duty to think them orthodox and confiftent, and so to be merry or melancholy, and to weep or laugh, juft as Mother-Church COMMANDS us, in Defiance of our Constitutions, and our Understandings. We are to mourn on Good-Friday, because on that Day our Saviour died; though, if he had not, we could not have been faved: And we are to take our Belly full of Meat and Mirth on Eafter-Sunday, because Chrift rofe on that Day from the Dead; though it was impoffible for him to have continued there..

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