תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

fcny Minister should be se unhappy ats to be pushed by an Opposition, to reconcile any contradictory Speeches or Measures, which ftiaJl be maliciously laid to hi* Charge, he shaH, in every such Case, apply himself to our Office, for a Writ of Reconciliation of the asorefeid Cantradiclion; which being signed and sealed by the Majority of our Commissioners, and duly stamped in such manner as the Law shall direct, shall from that Time be deemed a legal Protection, and be effectually pleaded in Bar, to any malicious, retrospective Inquiries into any contradictory Speeches-, Affirmations, Declarations, Promises\ ox Practices of the said Minister, on whose Generosity we shall depend for such a valuable Compenfation, as his particular Circumstances may require and admit, and our seasonable and necessary ^Assistance may be reasonably thought to deserve.

You see, Dear Sir, a rough and impersect Draught of my general Scheme, which I intirely submit to your Correction- I shall only add a Word or two, r» To shew its Excellency and Usefulness, and how much more reasonable it is than that of our Adversaries. 2. To give a sew general Hints to all our Friends, which may be usesul in the Prosecution of our great Design.

The Excellency of our general Scheme appears in this, that it is reasonable, regular, and consistent: Our Foundation is laid upon good Terra firma, where our Settlement lies, the Interests and Enjoyments of which are the Objects of all our Senses, which Senses (as the Believers themselves acknowledge) are * infallible: And therefore, whilst we give up ourselves to the J)ir

• Senses non possunt falli.

E 2 rection rection of our Senses, we are under the Direction of sive or fix infallible Guides. And what can any reasonable Man desire more to keep him in the right Way? The Perceptions of these infallible Guides are so vivid and strong, their Light so glaring, their Evidence so irresiftable, that all Mankind are agreed to call it Common Sense; and the Inserences, Conclusions, and Deductions, drawn from them, is called Reason; for all Men agree, that Reason presupposes and depends upon Common Sense, and cannot subsist without it. So far we are fase under infallible Direction; and here our Guides advise us to sit down and enjoy ourselves, and make the most of the present; but if we be restless and uneasy, and want to be making further Discoveries, they refuse to go with us, and leave us to grope out our Way by ourselves, through Darkness and Uncertainty; which we think to be a bold and dangerous Adventure, and therefore are resolved to know when we are well, and run no Hazard in Pursuit of Uncertainties.

• But the Believing Scheme is the direct contrary to all this: No visible Foundation; no infallible Direction; all is Fiction, Chimera, and Romance; their Structure is like a Cone, or a Pyramid inverted, the Base of which is at an invisible and infinite Distance above the Clouds, and its Vertex terminating in some little indivisible Point of brute Matter: So that, instead of the regular and natural Ascent from the Bottom to the Top, their Progression is from the Top to the Bottom, like those bold Adventurers, who fly down a Rope from the Top of a Church-Steeple; or, like wanton Girls that crawl down Stairs with their Heads foremost, to the manisest Hazard of their Noses, if not of their Necks. In short, the one is infallibly fase and certain, so far as it goes: The other is full of Terror, Uncertainty, and Danger. It is therefore the Interest of Mankind to know when they are well, to keep in the fase Way, to run no Hazard in Pursuit of invisible fairy Treasures, but thankfully to enjoy the numberless Pleasures that are ready provided to their Hands; and to convince and persuade the silly credulous Part of our Species to do the fame, is the highest Act of Benevolence to our Fellow-Creatures. And as this is principally intended for the Benesit of the next Age, there being very little Hope of making more Converts in this, our first and great Concern must be to prevent the fatal Impressions of Prejudice and Superstition that may be made upon the Minds of the growing Generation. For this End, we must exert all our Interest and Power to discourage and suppress the numberless Charity and Grammar Schools, erected in all Parts of these Kingdoms. The Minds of Children are tender and flexible, apt to receive and retain any Impressions that may be made upon them, by the Afsection or Authority of their Teachers and Governors, and when these are applied to flatter their natural Vanity, under Pretence of informing their Understanding, no Wonder they are easily admitted, and with great Difficulty, if ever erased out of their Minds. Here, forsooth, they are taught fine Lesions of the Dignity of human Nature, and the glorious Prerogatives of immortal Souls; they are told, that the great Difference between Man and Man, does not depend upon the Distinctions of Birth or Fortune, but upon the imaginary Excellencies of superior Knowledge," Probity, Piety, and a Sense of Religion; that therefore a

E 3 pious pious Beggar is better than an ungodly Squire % and that a poor believing Labourer is more excellent in the Sight of God than an unbelieving Lord; and that -whatever Figure they may either of them make, whatever Fortune either of them may meet with here, in the next World all mail be set right; that the humble, faithsul, persevering Christian, shall there enjoy an eternal State of unspeakable Happinese, whilst their ungodly Superiors shall be doomed to endlefe Misery and Despair. These fine Notions, so agreeable to the natural Vanity of Mankind, tend to destroy all that necessary Subordination, on which the Peace and Order of Society is known to depend. This spirits up the lower Part of Mankind to renounce that reasonable Dependance and Subjection, which they naturally owe to their Superiors in Birth and Fortune, and makes them forget that they were intended for nothing higher than to be Vassals and Beasts of Burden to their Betters, whose Will and Pleasure ought to be the sole Rule and Measure of their religious, moral, political, and social Conduct. No wonder, theresore, they are so tenacious of those religious Principles, which seem to raise them from their original Obscurity, and set them upon a level with the best Part of Mankind. This is a bad Story, but this is not the worst. Our Universities are the Bane and Pest of the Nation; there the fond indigested Principles of the Nurse, the.Grand-mother, the School-dame, and the Parson, are formed into Systems, and so deeply riveted in the Heads and Hearts of the young People, that not one in a thouland has the Courage to contradict or oppose them. Here they are quickly taught •flic. Art of Wrangling, by which tbey pretend to justify

these these ridiculous Systems, and even to act offensively against the prevailing Principles and Practices of the polite World, and especially if they get into holy Orders (as they call them) and a Cure of Souls, they grow faucy and unsupportable to People of Taste and Figure; insomuch that I have known a mere Country Parson, who hardly knew the Difference betwixt a Pointer and a Setting-dog, pretend to he as wise as a Jujtice of the Quorum, or even as the Lord os the Asa-, nor.— And further, to shew their irreconcilable Aversion to our Principles and Society, they have erected in each University a Protestant Inquisition., in which they pretend to judge, censure, and punish such of their Members as have Sense and Courage enough to oppose their Systems of Religion *»d Orthodoxy, and write or speak of our Side of the Question: Witness the outragjous Persecution of a sew honest, inquisitive, penetrating Gentlemen, about seven Years ago, at Trinity College in Oxford, and the late barbarous Ufage of some of our Friends, this very Year at Cambridge.- When we justly charge all this upon die Ignorance, the Pride, the persecuting Spirit of Priests, Who, as John Dryden observes, are in all Religions, the fame stupid, insolent, domineering Tyrants, whenever they are trusted with Powers they immediately insult us with a long Bead-roll of illustrious Names, Iuch as Bacon, Boyle, Pascal, Grotius, Clarendon? Nelson, Lode, Addison, Newton, Cheyne, .&£. who, though Laymen, yet believed as heartily, and wrote as learnedly, in Defence of their Superstition, as any Priest of them all.— Ay, and a very good Reason may be given for it; they had all been bred up in the fame dull Way, had sucked in the (ame early Preju£ 4. dices

« הקודםהמשך »