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have been the continual Authors of War, Famine, and Maffacres; and, in fine, they have been the great Inftruments of driving Virtue, Truth, Peace, Mercy, Plenty, and People, out of the World. Kill all, faid the Abbot Arnold, a Monk militant, to the Army, which being employed by the Church to flaughter the poor pious Albigenfes, had taken the City of Bezeir, and being Laymen, were inclining to have fome Mercy; Kill all, cried this bloody Prieft: God knows his own, and will reward them hereafter. Accordingly Two Hundred Thousand of these conscientious Christians, and Catholics mixed with them, were instantly butcher'd for the Church.
To conclude, our modern Claimers of Church-Authority do but contend for the fame. Power and Advantages, which enabled and prompted these their Brethren to execute fuch numerous and melancholy Mischiefs; and whether they ought to poffefs that Power, and thefe Advantages, or no, I take to be the great Point in Debate between the Bishop of Bangor, and his Adverfaries.
Wednesday, October 26. 1720.
The Folly of the CLERGY's demanding Refpect when their Characters are bad: With the Equity of Univerfal Toleration, and of judg ing for ourselves.
HERE is not a greater Infult upon the Understandings of Mankind, than for Priests to challenge Respect from their Habit, when they have forfeited it by their Behaviour. There is no Sanctity in Garments. A Rofe in a Man's Hat does not inlarge his Piety. Grace is not conveyed by a Piece of Lawn, or Chastity by the wearing of a Girdle. A black Gown has neither more Senfe, nor better Manners, than a black Cloak. Nor is a black Cloak more edifying than a Fuftian Frock; no more than a
Cambrick Bib is an Antidote against Lewdness, or an Atonement for it.
THIS confecrating of Garments, and deriving Veneration from a Suit of Cloaths, is barefaced Prieftcraft. It is teaching the Practice of Idolatry to a Gown and Caffock. If a little fenfelefs Pedant, who is a living Contradi&tion to Virtue, and good Breeding, can but get into Orders, and cover himself with Crape, the first thing which he does, is to overlook and affront all Mankind, and then demand their Reverence. His Surplice is his Citadel, and he claims the Impunity of an Embaffador for being graceless and faucy.
As to the common Defence which is made for their Immoralities; namely, That they are Flesh and Blood as well as other Men; it is a wretched Piece of Sophiftry. If they are not better than others, how are they fit to mend others? And if they cannot leave their Captivity to Sin and Satan, how come they to claim fo near an Alliance with Heaven? If they have God's Commiffion in their Pockets, and yet will engage in another Service, what Name and Treatment do they deferve? We know the Fate of Rebels and Deferters in a LayGovernment. Can Men fucceed to the Apofles with the Qualities and Behaviour of Apoftates?
ftates? How will they reconcile a holy Calling to infamous Lives? A Clergyman who is as bad as an ill Layman, is confequently worse. In a holy Character, there is no Medium between doing Good, and doing Mischief; fince the Influence of Example is ftronger than that of Precept. As the Doctrine and Practice of Piety make up the Profeffion of a Clergyman, he who deferts Truth and Holiness, deferts his Profeffion, and ought to be no longer owned for a Teacher of Religion, but fhunned and hated, as a Foe to Religion and Man kind.
I have great Refpect for the Office of a Clergyman; and for his Perfon, if he deserve it. But if his Doctrine or Practice difgrace his Order; we cannot help contemning the Man. The Clergy are the best or the worst of Men; and as the firft cannot be too much honoured, the latter cannot be too much despised. It is of good Example, and there is equal Reason in it. Why should Virtue and Villainy fare alike? Names do not change Qualities, nor Habits Men. Where is the Equity of Rewards and Punishments, and consequently the Force of all Laws, Human and Divine, if vile Men must be reverenced, and the good can be no more?
IT is but reasonable, that all Men should be judged by their Actions, and reverenced, or fcorned, according to the Goodness or Wickedness of their Lives, without any Regard had to their Titles or Garbs; which fignify no more than a Breath of Wind, or the Bark of a Tree.
THE Clergy have made fuch a terrible and inhuman Use of Power, in all Ages and Coun. tries where they could come at it, that the Laity ought to keep their Nails always pared, and their Wings clipped, in this Particular. Reafon and Liberty are the two greatest Gifts and Bleffings which God has given us, and yet where-ever a prieftly Authority prevails, they muft either fly ur fuffer. They are Enemies to the Craft, and mult expect no Toleration. Darkness and Chains are the surest Pillars of the facerdotal Empire, and it cannot stand without them.
LET us remember Archbishop Laud, who having got the Regal Power out of a weak Prince's Hands, into his own, fet his Face against Truth, Property, Confcience, and Liberty, and trampled them all under Foot for feveral Years together. A Spirit of Cruelty and Dominion governed this Man, and he governed King and People. His Heart was fo