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* that there is such a Disposition among yoor 'Venerable Body, but tp Ihew how much your 'own Honour and the Interest of Religion is

* concerned, that there (hould be no Cause gi

* Ven for it. ... .

_, h would be very unfair to separate my Words, and to pronounce a Meaning in them, which I have not exprefsed, when that which I have expressed is a positive Dental of having entertained any such Meaning.

Sir, I am afraid that those who stir up this Accusation against me, only make use of the Name of the Clergy to give it a more popular Turn, and to take off the Odium from themselves, by the Use of such Venerable Names. But I hope this Accusation will be thought to proceed from the real Cause of it; and if any Hardship should fall upon me, as I know there cannot, whilst I have the Honour and Happiness to be heard before this House, that it will rather be imputed to the Resentments of an angry Minister, than of an injured Clergy.

Sir, If I can arrogate to my self any little Merit from the Writings which I havepublished, it is chiefly this; That I have personally opposed such Authors as have endeavoured to ridicule Religion, and those Holy Professors of it. I have received several Approbations in Publick and in Private, from Men in Holy Orders, for my concurring with them, to the best of my poor Abilities, in the Advancement of Morality, and in beating down that unreasonable Humour which had prevailed with so many Writers to expose their Persons and Profession to the Derision of foolish and wicked Men. I must beg leave, on this Head, toproduce some out of innumerable Passages which

speak

speak with the utmost Deference and Respect. of theft Holy Calling in general, and of some, particular Persons in it, for whom, I believe, most of the Gentemen of this House have » very great and just Esteem. "1 shall first cite one or two very short Passages out of a Book called, The Guardian, which has been mentioned in this House; and which was published not long since, she first of which Passages is rathe 13th, 14th, and rrth Pages of the 1st Volume, in the following Terms

* I am diverted from the Account I was gf-. 4 ving the Town of my particular Concerns, 4 by casting my Eyeupon aTrea

* rise, which 1 could not over- Written by Mr. 4 look without an inexcusable Steele himself.

* Negligence, and want of Con

* cern for all the Civil as well as Religious In4 terests of Mankmd. This Piece has for its 4 Title, A Discourse os Free-Thinking, occasioned 4 by the Rise and Growth of a Se8 called Free4 Thinkers. The Author very methodically

* enters upon his Argument, and says, by Free4 Thinking I mean the Use of the Understand4 ing, in endeavouring to find out the Mean4 ing of any Proposition whatsoever, in consi4 dering the Nature of the Evidence for or a* 4 gainst, and in judging of it according to the

* seeming Force or Weakness of the Evidence.

* As soon as he delivered this Definition, from

* which one would expect he did not design to 4 mew a' particular Inclination for or against 4 any thing, before he had considered it; he 4 gives up all Title to the Character of a Freo

* Thinker, with the most apparent Prejudice * against a Body of Men, whom of all o'thers a good Man would be most careful not

[graphic]

* 'io violate, I mean Men in holy Orders. Per4 sons who have devoted themselves to the Ser4 vice of God are venerable to all who fear 4 him; and it is a certain Characteristick of a

* dissolute ungovern'd Mind, to rail or speak

* disrespectfully of them in general. It is cer

* tain that in so great a Crowd of Men, some 4 will intrude who are of Tempers very unbe

* coming their Function. But because Ambition

* and Avarice are sometimes lodged in that 4 Bosom, which ought to be the Dwelling of 4 Sanctity and Devotion, must this unreafon4 able Author villisie the whole Order? He has 4 not taken the least Care to disguise his being "an Enemy to the Persons against whom he 4 writes, nor any where granted, that the la4 stitution of religious Men to serve at the Altar, and instruct such who are not as wife

4 as himself, is at all necessary or desirable; but 4 proceeds without the least Apology to nnder

* mine their Credit, and frustrate their Labours. 4 Whatever Clergymen, in Disputes against

* each other, have unguardedly uttered, is here^ 4 recorded in such a Manner as to affect R'eli-~ 4 gion it self, by wresting Concessions to its

* Disadvantage from-its own Teachers . If this

* be true, as sure any Man that reads the Di

* scourse must allow it is; and if Religion is

* the strongest Tye of Human Society; in what

* Manner are we to treat this our common E

* nemy.? • ., . » , I shall cite another Passage, Sis, which is

taken out us the Z4fth and 246th Pages of the Second Volume of the same Work, and contains the following Words:

i Bot

* But if to inform the Understanding, and s regulate the Will, is the most lasting and

• diffusive Benefit, there will not

« be found so useful and excel- most rim

* lent an Institution as that of fontble- *»i *• 1 the Christian Priesthood, whieh

* is now become the Scorn of cfcixr « fools *n P"*1' "* That a numerous Order of TM5,fT'kaJ i Men should be consecrated to ^S'Sf.fZ « the Study of the most sublime ^ Bartlett" « and beneficial Truths, with a

« Design to propagate them by their Discourses 'and Writings, to inform their Fellow Crea

• tures of the Being and Attributes of the Deity, « to possess their Minds with the Sense of a t future State, and not only to explain the Na

♦ ture of every Virtue and Moral Duty, but 'likewise to perswade Mankind to the Pra'ctice of them by the most powerful and en

'gaging Motives, is a thing so excellent and « necessary to the Well being of the World,

* that no Body but a Modern Free-Thinker

• could have the Forehead or Folly to turn it 'into Ridicule.

• The Light in which these Points should be

• exposed to the View of one who is prejudiced 'against the Names Religion, Church, Priest, 'and the like, is, to consider the Clergy as so

• many Philosophers, the Churches as Schools,

• and their Sermons as Lectures for the Inr

* formation and improvement of the Audience,

• How would the Heart of Socratet or Tulty

* have rejoyced, had they lived in a 'Natioa

* where the Law had made Provision for Phi. ,

* Josophers to read Lectures of Philosophy eve

* ry seventh Day in several Thousand of Schools

< erected at the publick Charge thronghont the

* whole Country, at which Lectures all Ranks

* and Sexes without Distinction were obliged to

* be present for their general Improvement?

* And what wicked Wretches would they think

* those Men, who should endeavour to defeat

* the Purpose of so Divine an Institution?

It ever was my Sentiment, before I could have formed to my self any Views of such Engagements as those I have since fallen into, that Respect to Clergymen and their Prosperity are essential to the Good of Society. Give me Leave, Mr. Speaker, on this Occasion* to read to you a Passage out of a little Tract called The Christian Hero; the j8thPage, speaking of the Enemies to the Christian Name, and Persons who envied the Clergy, runs thus:

* But alas! its State is as much Militant as 'ever; for there are earthly and narrow Souls 'as deeply scandall'd at the Prosperity the Pro"fessors and Teachers ofthis Sacred Faith en,' joy, and object to them the Miseries andNe'ceffities of the Primitive Believers. Light 'and superficial Men! not seeing that Riches

* is a much more dangerous Dispensation than « that of Poverty. This we oppose as a

* Foe, that we run to as a Friend; and an E

< nemy does his Business more successfully in

* an Embrace than a Blow. But since the Ne

* cessaries, Conveniences, and Honours of

* Life which the Clergy enjoy, are so great an

* Offence to their Delpisers, they are the more

* engaged to hold them dear; for they who 'envy a Man what he has, would certainly

* scorn him without it. When therefore they

i are

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