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TO THE CLERGY
OF THE Church of ENGLAND.
great Power and Influence in this Kingdom, that I lay before you
the following Comment upon the Se Laws which regard the Settle
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-Subje&ts.
In the Character of Pastors and Teachers, you have an almost irresistable 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
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&ion; As therefore it would be the highest Indiscrecion in Ministers of State of this King. dom, to negle& the Care of being acceptable to you in their administration; so it would be the greatest Impiery in you, to infilame the People committed to your Charge, with Ap. prehensions of Danger to you and your Con. ftitution, from Men innocent of any such Defigns.
Give me Leave, who have in all my Words and A&ions, from my Youth upwards, mainrained an inviolable Respect to you and your Order, to observe to you, that all the Diffa. tisfactions which have been raised in the Minds of the People, owe their Rife to the Cunning of artful Men, who have introduced the Menrion of you and your Interest, (which are fa. cred to all good Men) to cover and fan&tify their own Practices upon the Affe&ions 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. *
There Men, from the pompous Ideas of Imperial Greatness, and Submission to absolute Emperors, which they iinbibed 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 cake the further Liberty to say, That if the A&s 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 felves by the Atrongest Engagements that Religion can lay upon Men, to support that Succeffion which is the Subje& 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 perfonally abjured the Pretender to this Crown, and that expresly, with. out any Equivocations or mental Reservations whatsoever, that is, without any poffible El. capes, by which the Subtlety of temporizing Caluifts might hope to elude the Force of these solemn 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 folemn Manner, whether the taking of an Osch before Multi
tudes of Fellow-Subjects and Fellow-Christians in our publick Courts of Justice, do not lay the greatest Obligations that can be 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 Engagements, 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 Effence 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 Holy Church, which is at present the Glory and Bulwark of the Reformation? How would our present Clergy appear in the Eyes of their poHerity and even to the Successors of their own Order, under a Government introduced and established by a Condud so dire&tly 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 infilt upon this Subje&t to insinuate 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.