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TO THE CLERGY
Church of ENGLAND.
great Power and Influence in this
ment of the Imperial Crown of Great Britain, My Purpose in addressing these Matters to you, is to conjure you, as Heaven has blessed you with proper Talents and Opportunities, to recommend them, in your Wri. tings and Discourses, to your Fellow-Subjects.
In the Character of Pastors and Teachers, you have an almost irrefiftable Power over us of your Congregations; and by the admirable Institution of our Laws, the Tenths of our Lands, now in your posseffion, are destined to become the Property of such others, as shall . F4
by Learning and Virtue qualifie themselves to succeed you. These Circumstances of Educa: tion and Fortune, place the Minds of the People, from Age to Age, under your Dire&tion; As therefore it would be the higheft Indiscretion in Ministers of State of this Kingdom, to neglect the Care of being acceptable to you in their Administration; so it would be the greatest Impiety in you, to infilame the People committed to your Charge, with Ap. prehensions of Danger to you and your Conftitution, from Men innocent of any such Defigns.
Give me Leave, who have in all my Words and Actions, from my Youth upwards, maintained an inviolable Respect to you and your Order, to observe to you, that all the Diffatisfactions which have been raised in the Minds of the People, owe their Rise to the Cunning of artful Men, who have introduced the Men. tion of you and your Interest, (which are sacred to all good Men) to cover and fan&ify their own Practices upon the Affe&tions of the People, for Ends very different from the Promotion of Religion and Virtue. Give me Leave also to take Notice, That these Sugge. ftions have been favoured by some few unwary Men in holy Orders, who have made the Constitution of their own Country a very little Part of their Study, and yet made Obedience and Government the frequent Subje&s of their Discourses. .
These Men, from the pompous Ideas of Imperial Greatness, and Submission to absolute Emperors, which they imbibed in their earlier Years, have from Time to Time inadvertent. ly uttered Notions of Power and Obedience abhorrent from the Laws of this their native Country.
I will take the further Liberty to say, That if the Acts of Parliament mentioned in the following Treatise had been from Time to Time put in a fair and clear Light, and been carefully recommended to the Perusal of young Gentlemen in Colleges, with a Preference to all other Civil Institutions whatsoever; this Kingdom had not been in its present Condition, but the Constitution would have had, in every Member the Universities have sent into the World ever since the Revolution, an Ad. vocate for our Rights and Liberties.
There is one thing which deserves your molt serious Consideration. You have bound your selves by the strongest Engagements that Religion can lay upon Men, to support that Succession which is the Subje& of the follow. ing Papers; you have tied down your Souls by an Oath to maintain it as it is settled in the House of Hanover; nay, you have gone much further than is usual in Cases of this Nature, as you have perfonally abjured the Pre. tender to this Crown, and that exprefly, with. out any Equivocations or mental Reservations whatsoever, that is, without any poffible Ercapes, by which the Subtlety of temporizing Casuists might hope to elude the Force of these folemn Obligations. You know much better than I do, whether the calling God to witness to the Sincerity of our intentions in these Cases, whether the swearing upon the holy Evangelists, in the most solemn Manner, whether the taking of an Oath before Multi
tudes tudes of Fellow-Subjects and Fellow-Chrifti. ans in our publick Courts of Justice, do not lay the greatest Obligations that can he laid on the Consciences of Men. This I am sure of, that if the Body of a Clergy who confiderately and voluntarily entered into these En. gagements, should be made use of as Instru. ments and Examples to make the Nation break through them, not only the Succeffion to our Crown, but the very Essence of our Religion is in Danger. What a Triumph would it fur: nish to those evil Men among us who are E. nemies to Your sacred Order? What Occasion would it administer to Atheists and Unbe. lievers, to say that Christianity is nothing else but an outward Show and Pretence among the most knowing of its Professors? What could we afterwards object to Jesuits? What would be the Scandal brought upon our Ho. ly Church, which is at present the Glory and Bulwark of the Reformation? How would our present Clergy appear in the Eyes of their po. fterity and even to the Successors of their own Order, under a Government introduced and established by a Condu& so directly opposite to all the Rules of Honour and Precepts of Christianity?
As I always speak and think of your holy Order with the utmolt Deference and Respect, I do not inlift upon this Subject to infinuate that there is such a Disposition among your venerable Body, but to shew how much your own Honour and the Interest of Religion is concerned, that there should be no Cause given for it.
Under Under Colour of a Zcal towards you, Men may sometimes act not only with Impunity but Popularity, what would render thein, with. out that Hypocrisie, insufferably odious to their Fellow. Subjects.
Under this Pretence Men may presume to practise such Arts for the Destruction and Dila honour of their Country, as it would be impious to make use of even for its Glory and Safety: Men may do in the highest Prosperity, what it would not be excusable to attempt un. der the lowest Necessity!
The Laws of our Country, the Powers of the Legislature, the Faith of Nations, and the Honour of God, may be too weak Confiderations to bear up against the popular tho? groundless Cry of the Church. This farál Prepossession may melter Men in railing the French Name and Roman Catholick Interest in Great Britain, and consequently in all Europe.
It behoves you therefore, Gentlemen, to consider, whether the Cry of the Church's Danger may not ar length become a Truth: And as you are Men of Sense and Men of Honour, to exert your selves in undeceiving the Multitude, whenever their affectionate Concern for you may prove fatal to themselves.
You are surrounded by a learned, wealthy, and knowing Gentry, who can diftinguish your Merit, and do Honour to your Charaders. They know with what Firmness as Englismen, with what Self-Denial as Prelates, with what Charity as Christians, the Lords the Bishops, Fathers of the Church, have behaved themselves in the Publick Cause: They know what Con. . tumelies the rest of the Clergy have undergone,