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Lawers; who of all others feem leaft to underftand the Nature of Government in general like Under-workmen, who are expert enough, at making a fingle Wheel in a Clock, but are utterly ignorant how to adjust the feveral Parts, or regulate the Movement.
To return therefore from this Digrefion; It is a Church of England-Man's Opinion, that the Freedom of a Nation confifts in an abfolute Unlimited Legislative Power, wherein the whole Body of the People are fairly reprefented, and in an Execu tive Duly limited; because on this fide likewife. there may be dangerous Degrees, and a very ill Extream. For when two Parties in a State are pretty equal in Power, Pretenfions, Merit, and Virtue, (for thefe two laft are, with relation to Parties and a Court, quite different Things) it hath been the Opinion of the best Writers upon Government, that a Prince ought not in any. fort to be under the Guidance or Influence of either, because he declines by this means from his Office of prefiding over the Whole, to be the Head of a Party which befides the Indignity, renders him anfwerable for all Publick Mifmanagements, and the Confequences of them; And in whatever State this happens, there muft either be a Weakness in the Prince or Miniftry, or elfe the former is too much reftrained by the Legislature.
To conclude; A Church of England-Man may with Prudence and a good Confcience approve the profeffed Principles of one Party more than the other, according as he thinks they beft promote the Good of Church and State; but he will never be fway'd by Paffion or Intereft to advance an Opinion meerly because it is That
of the Party he most approves ; which one fingle Principle, he looks upon as the Root of all our Civil Animofities. To enter into a Party as into an Order of Fryars, with fo refigned an Obe dience to Superiors, is very unfuitable both with the Civil and Religious Liberties we fo zealoufly affert. Thus the Understandings of a whole Senate are often enflaved by three or four Leaders on each Side, who instead of intending the Publick Weal, have their Hearts wholy fet upon Ways and Means how to get, or to keep Employments. But to fpeak more at large, how has this Spirit of Faction mingled it felf in with the Mafs of the People, changed their Natures and Manners, and the very Genius of the Nation; broke all the Laws of Charity, Neighbourhood, Alliance and Hofpitality, deftroy'd all Ties of Friendship, and divided Families against themselves; and no wonder it fhould be fo, when in order to find out the Character of a Perfon, inftead of enquiring whether he be a Man of Virtue, Honour, Piety, Wit, good Senfe, or Learning; the modern Question is on ly, Whether he be a Whig or a Tory? under which Terms all good and ill Qualities are included.
Now, because it is a Point of Difficulty to: chufe an exact Middle between two ill Extreams, it may be worth enquiring in the prefent Cafe, which of thefe a wife and a good Man would rather feem to avoid: Taking therefore their own good and ill Characters with due Abatements and Allowances for Partiality and Paffion, I fhould think that in order to preferve the Conftitution entire in Church and State, who ever has a true Value for both, would be fure to avoid the Extreams of Whig for the fake of the
former, and the Extreams of Tory on account of the latter.
I have now faid all I could think convenient upon fo nice a Subject, and find I have the Ambition common with other
at leaft that both Parties Reafoners, to wish
may think me in the right, which would be of fome ufe to thofe who have any Virtue left, but are blindly drawn into the Extravagancies of either, upon falfe Repre fentations, to ferve the Ambition or Malice of defigning Men without any Prospect of their own. But if that is not to be hoped for, my next Wifh fhould be, that both might think me in which I would understand as an amwrong; ple Juftification of my felf, and a fure Ground to believe, that I have proceeded at least with Impartiality, and perhaps with Truth.
May, as things now ftand, be attended with fome Inconveniencies, and perhaps not produce thofe many good Effects propofed there by.
Written in the Year, 1708.
Aм very fenfible what a Weakness and-Prefumption it is, to reafon against the general Humour and Difpofition of the World. I remember it was with great Juftice, and a due Regard to the Freedom both of the Publick and the Prefs, forbidden upon feveral Penalties to Write, or Difcourfe, or lay Wagers against the even before it was confirmed by Parliament, because that was look'd upon as a
Defign to oppofe the Current of the People, which befides the Folly of it, is a manifeft Breach of the Fundamental Law, that makes this Majority of Opinion the Voice of God. In like manner, and for the very fame Reasons, it may perhaps be neither fafe nor prudent to argue against the Abolishing of Chriftianity; at a Juncture when all Parties feem fo unanimoufly determined upon the Point, as we cannot but allow from their Actions, their Difcourfes, and their Writings. However, I know not how, whether from the Affectation of Singularity, or the Perverseness of Human Nature, but fo it unhappily falls out, that I cannot be entirely of this Opinion. Nay, though I were fure an Order were iffued out for my immediate Profecution by the Attorney-General, I fhould ftill confefs, that in the prefent Pofture of our Affairs at home or abroad, I do not yet fee the ab folute neceffity of extirpating the Chriftian Res ligion from among us.
THIS perhaps may appear too great a Paradox even for our wife and paradoxical Age to endure; therefore I fhall handle it with all Tenderness, and with the utmoft Deference to that great and profound Majority, which is of another Sentiment.
AND yet the Curious may please to obferve, how much the Genius of a Nation is liable to alter in half an Age. I have heard it affirmed for certain by fome very old People, that the contrary Opinion was even in their Memories as much in Vogue as the other is now; and that a Pro ject for the Abolishing of Chriftianity would then have appeared as fingular, and been thought as abfurd, as it would be at this time to write or difcourfe in its Defence.