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honor and reputation will be dealt out by a false measure, and fall to their share who are best able or most forward to serve and promote the measures of the intemperate zeal, which
possesses the one or the other part of the division. Thus true honor and virtue are robbed of their natural forces; and the sense of shame and of praise are seduced into the service of a faction ; and so far perverted, as oftentimes to prove motives to actions base and dishonorable.
III. When praise and reproaches are distributed with so little justice, it has another very ill effect in hardening men against reproach, even when they deserve it most. Reproach, when it falls indiscriminately on the best and the worst, loses its proper effect; and bad men will take advantage of the ill judgment of the world in abusing the best, to despise all censure, how justly soever passed on themselves. This will by degrees make men insensible of the pleasure of doing brave and generous actions for the good of their country; they will grow steeled and obdurate in their minds, and with a profligate contempt of the opinion of the world, enter calmly and without remorse into any mischief, to which interest, revenge, or any other mean passion shall invite them.
IV. It is a farther aggravation of this evil to consider that this infamous conduct seldom fails of being successful. When the malignity of intestine division is far spread, it becomes a shelter for all iniquity. Party zeal usurps the place of Christian charity, and covers a multitude of sins. And when once men find that there is so short a way to credit and esteem, they will be tempted, through laziness and a natural depravity, which will be ever ready to lay hold on such encouragement, to decline the honorable and laborious methods of rising to reputation in the world, and to trust their hopes and their fortunes to the merit of their zeal; which hopes seldom fail them. For,
V. As credit and reputation, the natural rewards of virtue, are perverted and misapplied by the blind spirit of division, so are the rewards which the public has provided and destined to the encouragement of true merit, diverted into a wrong channel : the worthiest are often driven into obscurity, and others
called into employments and preferments in which they can do themselves no honor, their country no service.
There is not a place in church or state of so mean a consideration, but that the public has an interest in having it supplied by a proper, and, in proportion to the duty of the office, an able nian.
When this is the case, the work of government is carried on regularly and steadily, and the influences of it are duly communicated and felt in every part; as the blood, which moves from the heart, cherishes and warms the extreme parts of the body, as long as the little vessels which convey it are in due order ; but if these small channels are obstructed, or lose their proper tone, coldness and numbness will ensue, and sometimes greater evils, not to be borne, nor to be cured but by the loss of a limb.
These are the steps by which division corrupts the manners and morality of a nation. And what hopes are there of seeing a people grow great and considerable, who have lost not only the sense of virtue, but even the sense of shame; who call evil good, and good evil; and are prepared to sacrifice their reason, their true interest, the peace and prosperity of their country, to their own and their leaders' resentments ? Can it be expected that men should form themselves by a virtuous and laborious course of life for the service of a country, where real worth and merit are so far out of consideration, that the affections and regards of the people are tied, like the favor of the Roman circus, to the color of the coat which distinguishes their faction?
These general observations, which I have laid before you, might be justified by numberless instances drawn from the history of the late times; but perhaps they may weigh more standing single by themselves, than being coupled with facts, in which the passions of the present age are not unconcerned. And sufficient they are of themselves to warn all honest men how they begin or foment the divisions of their country,
But yet, to do justice to my subject, and the solemn occasion of this day, it is necessary to take one step into the history of former times, and to view the works of division in its utmost rage.
I am sensible how difficult it is to speak of any thing relating to that unhappy time which this day calls to mind, and how hardly truth can be borne on any side; yet shall not this discourage me from bearing my testimony against the unnatural and barbarous treason of this day, and the acts of violence which prepared the way for it: a treason long since condemned by the public voice of the nation, in the most solemn acts of Church and State.
I shall go on therefore to illustrate my subject by some examples which the history of the late times affords, and which will reach to the full extent of the observation of my text, that • a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.'
To put a stop to innovations, to correct the errors or abuses in government, to redress the grievances of the people by the known rules of parliament, is the true and ancient method of preserving the constitution, and transmitting it safe with all its advantages to posterity. But when this wholesome physic came to be administered, as at length it did, by the spirit of faction and division, it was so intemperately given, that the remedy inflamed the distemper; and the unhappy contest, which began about the rights of the king, and the liberties of the people, ended fatally in the destruction of both.
The contest about civil rights was rendered exceedingly hot and fierce, by having all the disputes and quarrels in religious matters, under which the nation had long suffered, incorporated with it. By this means conscience was called in to animate and inflame the popular resentments. The effect was soon felt: the church of England, which had long been the glory and the bulwark of the Reformation, fell the first sacrifice; and many who had served long and faithfully, at her altars, were driven out to seek their bread in desolatè places. What came in the room of the church so destroyed, time would fail me, should I pretend to account; so many and so various were the forms of religion which arose out of the imaginations of men set free from government.
The bishops of those days were generally inclined to save and support the crown. The consequence drawn from thence was, that episcopacy itself was a usurpation. My meaning is not, that this argument was ever used in the form of logic to
convince any man's judgment; but it influenced the affections of thousands, and prevailed so far as to exclude the bishops not only from this house, where they had sat from the earliest foundation of the monarchy; but from their churches also, where they had been received and reverenced as rulers and governors, for as many ages as can be counted from the days of the apostles.
But why do I mention the exclusion of the bishops from the House of Lords, when so much more fatal a blow was given to the liberties and constitution of England, by declaring the House of Lords itself to be useless, and excluding the peerage from a share in the legislature; a right derived to them through a long series of ancestors from time immemorial.
The nobility were not free from the infection of those times; and yet to their honor be it remembered, that the execrable fact of this day could not be carried into execution so long as the peerage of England had any influence in the government. But when once they were removed, and this last support of the sinking crown taken away, the crown and the head that wore it fell a victim to the rage of desperate and merciless
It is said, (and the partiality I have for the honor of my country makes me willingly repeat it,) that few, very few in comparison, were wicked enough and bold enough to dip their hands in royal blood. But then how fatal to kingdoms is the spirit of faction and division, which could in the course of a few years
throw all the powers of the kingdom into the hands of a few desperate men, and enable them to trample under foot the crowns and the heads of princes, the rights and honors of the ancient nobility, the liberties and properties of a free people, and to tear up the very foundations of our once bappy and envied constitution !
Could these acts of violence, and the causes which produced them, be suffered to lie quiet in history as so many marks to point out to us the rocks and shelves on which our fathers made shipwreck, we their sons might be the wiser and the better for their calamities. But if we permit their passions and resentments to descend on us; if we keep the old quarrels alive by mutual reproaches and invectives, what else are we doing but nursing up the embers of that fire which once consumed these
kingdoms, and which may again burst out into a destroying flame ? But I forbear, and will forbode no evil to my country.
The application of what has been said is so natural and obvious, that were it pardonable to omit it on this occasion, I should hardly mention it.
There is no pleasure in viewing the follies and distractions of former times; nor is there any advantage, unless it is in order to grow better and wiser by the example which history sets
In the present case we have the experience, which cost the nation dear, to warn both rulers and subjects how carefully they should avoid all occasions of division. The true way to do it is, for each side to maintain its own rights without encroaching on those of the other; for the constitution must suffer whenever the rights of the crown or the liberties of the people are invaded. And though every Briton is to be commended if he is fond, and may be indulged when he is over fond (if such a case can be) of the liberties of his country; yet he ought always, to remember, that as the people have their liberties, so the king has his rights, which are derived from the same constitution and the same law under which the people claim their liberties : and indeed the people have an interest and inheritance in the rights of the crown, which are so many trusts lodged in the hands of the prince for the defence and protection of the people, and to enable him the better to carry on the necessary works of government.
To conclude: as we have a prince on the throne under whose government, though some have complained, yet none have suffered in the least of their rights by any act of power; who has shown himself not only careful, but even jealous for the liberties of his people ; let us in return yield him that share in our hearts and affections which is so justly due to him, and is a recompense the easiest for good subjects to pay, and yet the most valuable that a good prince can receive.