« PreviousContinue »
O F T H E
Church of England.
i T is with a just Deference to Your great Power and Influence in this Kingdom, that I lay before you the following Comment upon the Laws which regard the Settlement of the Imperial Crown of Great Britain. My Purpose in addressmg these Matters to you, is to conjure you, as Heaven has blessed you with proper Talents and Opportunities, to recommend them, in your Writings and Discourses, to your Fellow-Subjects.
In the Character of Pastors and Teachers, you have an almost ir^esistable Power over us of your Congregations; and by the admirable Institution of our Laws, the Tenths of our Lands, now in your Possession, are destined to become the Property of such others, as shall F 4 by by Learning and Virtue qualifie themselves to succeed you. These Circumstances of Education and Fortune, place the Minds of the People, from Age to Age, under your Direction; As therefore it would be the highest Indiscretion in Ministers of State of this Kingdom, to neglect the Care of being acceptable lo you in their-Administration; so it would be the greatest Impiety in you, to inflame the People committed to your Charge, with Apprehensions of Danger to you and your Constitution, from Men innocent of any such Designs.
Give me Leave, who have in all my Words and Actions, from my Youth upwards, maintained Tm inviolable Respect to you and your Order, to observe to you, that all the Dissatissactions which have been raised in the Minds us the People, owe their Rife to the Cunning of artful Men, who have introduced the Mention of you and your Interest, (which are sacred to all good Men) to cover and sanctify their own Practices upon the Affections of the People, for Ends very different from the Promotion of Religion and Virtue. Give me Leave also to take Notice, That these Suggestions 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 theiVStudy, and yet made Obedience and Governmeaj^he frequent Subjects 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 inadvertently 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 sair 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 Advocate for our Rights and Liberties.
There is one thing which deserves your most serious Consideration. You have bound your selves by the strongest Engagements that Religion can lay upon Men, to support that Succession which is the Subject of the following 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 personally abjured thePretender to this Crown, and that expresly, without any Equivocations or mental Reservations whatsoever, that, is, without any possible Escapes, by which the Subtlety of temporizing Casuists might hope to elude the Force of these solemn Obligations. You know much better than 1 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 Onh before MultiF y tudes tudes of Fellow-Subjects and Fellow-Christians in oar publick Courts of Justice, do not lay the greatest Obligations that can be laid on the Consciences of Men. This 1 am sura of, that if the Body of a Clergy who considerately and voluntarily entered into these Engagements, should be made use of as Instruments and Examples to make the Nation break through them, not only the Succession to our Crown, but the very Essence of our Religion is in Danger. What a Triumph would it furnish to those evil Men among us who are Enemies to Your sacred Order? What Occasion would it administer to Atheists and Unbelievers, 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 Holy Church, which is at present the Glory and Bulwark of the Reformation? How would our present Clergy appear in the Eyes of their Posterity and even to the Successors of their own Order, under a Government introduced and established by a Conduct 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 utmost Deference and Respect, I do not insist upon this Subject to insinuate that there is such a Disposition among your venerable Body, but to lhew how much your own Honour and the Interest of Religion is concerned, that there should be no Cause given for it.