« PreviousContinue »
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 Advocate for our Rights and Liberties.
There is one thing which deserves your molt serious Consideration, You have bound your felves by the strongest Engagements that Religion can lay upon Men, to support chat Succeffion which is the Subje&t 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 personally abjured the Pretender to this Crown, and that exprefly, with out any Equivocations or mental Reservations whatsoever, that is, without any possible ECcapes, 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 thefe Cases, whether the swearing upon the holy Evangelists in the most folemn Manner, whether the taking of an Oath before Multi
tudes of Fellow-Subje&ts 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 inftru. ments and Examples to make the Nation break through them, not only the Succession 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 facred Order? What Occafion 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 Conduct 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 Resped, I do not infilt upon this Subject to insinuate that there is such a Disposition among your venerable Body, but to sew how much your own Honour and the Interest of Religion is concerned, that there should be no Cause given for it.
Under Colour of a Zeal towards you, Men may sometimes act not only with Impunity but Popularity, what would render them, with. out that Hypocrisie, insufferably odious to their Fellow. Subjects.
Under this Pretence Men may presume to practise such Arts for the Deftruätion and Dif. 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 Neceflity!
The Laws of our Country, the Powers of the Legislature, the Faith of Nations, and the Honour of God, may be too weak Confide. rations to bear up against the popular, tho' groundless Cry of the Church. This fatal Preposlefon may shelter Men in raising 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 at 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 distinguish your Merit, and do Honour to your Characters. They know with what Firmness as Englishmen, with what Self-Denial as Prelates, with what Charity as Chriftians, the Lords the Bishops, Father's of the Church, have behaved themselves in the Publick Cause: They know what Cona tumelies the rest of the Clergy bave undergone,
what Discountenance they have laboured under, what Prejudice they have suffered in their Mi. nistry, who have adhered to the Cause of Truth: But it is certain that the Face of things is now too melancholy to bear any longer false Appearances; and common Danger has united Men, who not long ago were artfully inflamed against each other, into some Regard of their common Safety.
When the World is in this Temper, those of our Pastors, whose exemplary Lives and charitable Dispositions both adorn and advance our holy Religion, will be the Objects of our Love and Admiration, and those who pursue the Gratifications of Pride, Ambition, and Avarice, under the sacred Character of Clergy. men, will not fail to be our Contempt and Derifiop.
Noife and Wrath cannot always pass for Zeal; and if we see but little of the publick Spirit of Englishmen or the Charity of Chriftians in others, it is certain we can feel but little of the Pleafure of Love and Gratitude, and but faint Emotions of Respe&t and Ve. Deration in our felves.
It will be an Adion worthy the Ministers of the Church of England, to distinguish them. selves for the Love of their Country; and as we have a Religion that wants no Affistance from Artifice or Enlargement of Secular Power, but is well supported by the Wisdom and Pie. ty of its Preachers, and its own native Truth, to let Mankind see that we have a Clergy who are of the People, obedient to the fame Laws, and zealous not only of the Supremacy and Prerogative of our Princes, but of the Liber.
ties of their Fellow-Subje&s: This will enake us who are Your Flock burn with Joy to fee, and with Zealto imitate your Lives and A&ions. It cannot be expected but that there will be, in so great a Body, light, superficial, vain, and ambitious Men, who being untouched with the sublime Force of the Gospel, will think it their Interest to infinuate Jealousies between the Clergy and Laity, in Hopes to derive from their Order a Veneration which they know they cannot deserve from their Virtue. But while the most worthy, confpicuous, learned, and powerful of your sacred Function are moved by the noble and generous Incentives of doing Good to the Souls of Men, we will not doubt of seeing by your Ministry the Love of our Country, due Re. gard for our Laws and Liberties, and Resent. ment for the Abuse of Truth, revive in the Hearts of Men. And as there are no Inftru. ments under Heaven fo capable of this great Work, that God would make you such to this divided Nation, is the hearty Prayer of,
Your moft Dutiful,
and most Obedient
RICHARD STEEL E.