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REMARKS UPON A BOOK INTITULED
"THE RIGHTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, &c."
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1708, BUT LEFT UNFINISHED.
Dr. Matthew Tindal, of whom a short account has already been given (see note, p. 9), issued his "Rights of the Christian Church" in 1706. In 1707 it had already gone through three editions. The full title of the work is: "The Rights of the Christian Church asserted, against the Romish and all other Priests, who claim an independent Power over it: with a Preface concerning the Government of the Church of England, as by law established." Ostensibly the book was an attack on the Roman Catholic Church, but the attack was so cleverly veiled that it included in its criticisms the Church of England also; and must take its place among the works of the deistical writers of the time who aimed at subverting the foundations of the relationships between the Church and the State. According to Dr. Hicks, who wrote several works in reply to Tindal's book, Tindal told a gentleman, who found him at work on it, that "he was writing a book which would make the clergy mad." If so, he did not fall short of his intention; for not only the clergy, but even learned laymen became "mad." In addition to Dr. Hicks of Oxford, the Church of England found champions in Dr. William Wotton, Samuel Hill, Conyers-Place, Mr. Oldisworth, and Swift. Swift delayed the preparation of the materials for his reply, or else he found other matters to occupy his time--the Sacheverel business came on soon after, and the Tindal controversy lost interest in this more immediate and more important affair. So that Swift's criticism remained unfinished, and was only published when his editors came to search among his papers. In 1710 Tindal's work was ordered, by a vote of the House of Commons, to be publicly burned by the hangman. The grand jury of Middlesex were presented that the author, printer, and publisher of "The Rights of the Christian Church" to be dangerous and disaffected persons, and promoters of sedition and profaneness; and this charge was grounded on the following extracts. I take these from Scott's note, and I find that the page references are to the second edition of Tindal's work issued in 1706.
"The church is a private society, and no more power belonging to it than to other private companies and clubs, and, consequently, all the right anyone has to be an ecclesiastical officer, and the power he is entrusted with, depends on the consent of the parties concerned, and is no greater than they can bestow." Preface, p. xxx.
"The Scriptures nowhere make the receiving the Lord's Supper from the hands of a priest necessary." p. 104.
"The remembrance of Christ's sufferings a mere grace-cup delivered to be handed about." p. 105.
"Among Christians, one no more than another can be reckoned a priest from Scripture"--"And the clerk has as good a title to the priesthood as the parson ... Every one, as well as the minister, rightly consecrateth the elements to himself ... Anything farther than this, may rather be called Conjuration than Consecration." p. 108.
"The absurdities of bishops being by divine appointment, governors of the Christian Church, and no others are capable of being of that number, who derive not their right by an uninterrupted succession of bishops in the Catholic Church." p. 313.
"The supreme powers had no way to escape the heavier oppressions, and more insupportable usurpations of their own clergy, than by submitting to the Pope's milder yoke and gentler authority." p. 255.
"One grand cause of mistake is, not considering when God acts as governor of the universe, and when as prince of a particular nation. The Jews, when they came out of the land of bondage, were under no settled government, till God was pleased to offer himself to be their king, to which all the people expressly consented ... God's laws bound no nation, except those that agreed to the Horeb contract." p. 151.
"Not only an independent power of excommunication, but of ordination in the clergy, is inconsistent with the magistrate's right to protect the commonwealth." p. 87.
"Priests, no better than spiritual make-baits, baraters, boute-feux, and incendiaries, and who make churches serve to worse purposes than bear gardens." p. 118.
"It is a grand mistake to suppose the magistrate's power extends to indifferent things ... Men have liberty as they please, and a right ... to form what clubs, companies, or meetings, they think fit, either for business or pleasure, which the magistrate ... cannot hinder, without manifest injustice." p. 15.
"God ... interposed not among the Jews, until they had chosen him for their king." p. 312.
For a full account of Tindal and his work, see the "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Matthew Tindal, with a History of the Controversies wherein he was engaged," published in 1733. The text of the present reprint of Swift's "Remarks" is based on that given in "Works," vol. vii. of the 4to edition of 1764. It has also been collated with the 8vo edition of same date (vol. xiii.) and with that of 1762 (vol. xiii.).
* * * * * * *
REMARKS UPON A BOOK INTITULED
"THE RIGHTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, &c."
Before I enter upon a particular examination of this treatise, it will be convenient to do two things:
First, To give some account of the author, together with the motives, that might probably engage him in such a work. And,
Secondly, to discover the nature and tendency in general, of the work itself.
The first of these, although it hath been objected against, seems highly reasonable, especially in books that instil pernicious principles. For, although a book is not intrinsically much better or worse, according to the stature or complexion of the author, yet, when it happens to make a noise, we are apt, and curious, as in other noises, to look about from whence it cometh. But however, there is something more in the matter.
If a theological subject be well handled by a layman, it is better received than if it came from a divine; and that for reasons obvious enough, which, although of little weight in themselves, will ever have a great deal with mankind.
But, when books are written with ill intentions, to advance dangerous opinions, or destroy foundations; it may be then of real use to know from what quarter they come, and go a good way towards their confutation. For instance, if any man should write a book against the lawfulness of punishing felony with death; and, upon enquiry, the author should be found in Newgate under condemnation for robbing a house; his arguments would not very unjustly lose much of their force, from the circumstances he lay under. So, when Milton writ his book of divorces, it was presently rejected as an occasional treatise; because every body knew, he had a shrew for his wife. Neither can there be any reason imagined, why he might not, after he was blind, have writ another upon the danger and inconvenience of eyes. But, it is a piece of logic which will hardly pass on the world; that because one man hath a sore nose, therefore all the town should put plasters upon theirs. So, if this treatise about the rights of the church should prove to be the work of a man steady in his principles, of exact morals, and profound learning, a true lover of his country, and a hater of Christianity, as what he really believes to be a cheat upon mankind, whom he would undeceive purely for their good; it might be apt to check unwary men, even of good dispositions towards religion. But if it be found the production of a man soured with age and misfortunes, together with the consciousness of past miscarriages; of one, who, in hopes of preferment, was reconciled to the Popish religion; of one wholly prostitute in life and principles, and only an enemy to religion, because it condemns them: In this case, and this last I find is the universal opinion, he is like to have few proselytes, beside those, who, from a sense of their vicious lives, require to be perpetually supplied by such amusements as this; which serve to flatter their wishes, and debase their understandings.
[Footnote 1: Dr. Matthew Tindal became a convert to the Romish religion during the reign of James II. What share interest had in his conversion may be easily imagined; but it is uncertain whether it was the disappointment of his expectations, or conviction, that, in 1687, induced him to reconcile himself to the Church of England, and become a decided favourer of those doctrines which produced the Revolution. He often sat as a judge in the Court of Delegates, but did not practise much as an advocate in Doctor's Commons. His chief means of support was a pension from government of £200. Tindal died in 1733, three years after publication of his grand deistical work, "Christianity as Old as the Creation." His effects, amounting to £2,000 and upwards, were appropriated by the noted Eustace Budgell, to the prejudice of the heir at law, under a will attended with circumstances of great suspicion. [T. S.]]
I know there are some who would fain have it, that this discourse was written by a club of freethinkers, among whom the supposed author only came in for a share. But, sure, we cannot judge so meanly of any party, without affronting the dignity of mankind. If this be so, and if here be the product of all their quotas and contributions, we must needs allow, that freethinking is a most confined and limited talent. It is true indeed, the whole discourse seemeth to be a motley, inconsistent composition, made up of various shreds of equal fineness, although of different colours. It is a bundle of incoherent maxims and assertions, that frequently destroy one another. But still there is the same flatness of thought and style; the same weak advances towards wit and raillery; the same petulancy and pertness of spirit; the same train of superficial reading; the same thread of threadbare quotations: the same affectation of forming general rules upon false and scanty premises. And, lastly, the same rapid venom sprinkled over the whole; which, like the dying impotent bite of a trodden benumbed snake, may be nauseous and offensive, but cannot be very dangerous.
And, indeed, I am so far from thinking this libel to be born of several fathers, that it hath been the wonder of several others, as well as myself; how it was possible for any man, who appeareth to have gone the common circle of academical education; who hath taken so universal a liberty, and hath so entirely laid aside all regards, not only of Christianity, but common truth and justice; one who is dead to all sense of shame, and seemeth to be past the getting or losing a reputation, should, with so many advantages, and upon so unlimited a subject, come out with so poor, so jejune a production. Should we pity or be amazed at so perverse a talent, which, instead of qualifying an author to give a new turn to old matter, disposeth him quite contrary to talk in an old beaten trivial manner upon topics wholly new. To make so many sallies into pedantry without a call, upon a subject the most alien, and in the very moments he is declaiming against it, and in an age too, where it is so violently exploded, especially among those readers he proposeth to entertain.
[Footnote 2: See note, p. 9, where it will be seen that Tindal was an Oxford man. [T.S.]]
I know it will be said, that this is only to talk in the common style of an answerer; but I have not so little policy. If there were any hope of reputation or merit from such victory, I should be apt like others to cry up the courage and conduct of an enemy. Whereas to detect the weakness, the malice, the sophistry, the falsehood, the ignorance of such a writer, requireth little more than to rank his perfections in such an order, and place them in such a light, that the commonest reader may form a judgment of them.
It may still be a wonder how so heavy a book, written upon a subject in appearance so little instructive or diverting, should survive to three editions, and consequently find a better reception than is usual with such bulky spiritless volumes; and this, in an age that pretendeth so soon to be nauseated with what is tedious and dull. To which I can only return, that, as burning a book by the common hangman, is a known expedient to make it sell; so, to write a book that deserveth such treatment, is another: And a third, perhaps as effectual as either, is to ply an insipid, worthless tract with grave and learned answers, as Dr. Hickes, Dr. Potter, and Mr. Wotton have done. Design and performances, however commendable, have glanced a reputation upon the piece; which oweth its life to the strength of those hands and weapons, that were raised to destroy it; like flinging a mountain upon a worm, which, instead of being bruised, by the advantage of its littleness, lodgeth under it unhurt.
[Footnote 3: George Hickes, D.D. (1642-1715), born at Newsham, Yorks, and educated at Oxford. He visited Scotland with his patron, the Duke of Lauderdale, in 1677, and was presented by the St. Andrews University with the degree of LL.D. Became Dean of Worcester in 1683, but lost that office at the Revolution, for not taking the oaths. The nonjuring prelates, in 1693, consecrated him Bishop of Thetford. Dr. Hickes was a profound scholar, and well versed in northern literature. Among his works may be named, "Institutiones Grammaticae Anglo-Saxonicae et Maeso-Gothicae," "Antiquae Literaturae Septentrionalis Thesaurus."
John Potter, D.D. (1674-1747), born at Wakefield, and educated at Oxford. In 1707 he published a "Discourse on Church Government," and eight years later became Bishop of Oxford. On the death of Wake, in 1737, he was appointed to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. [T.S.]]
But neither is this all. For the subject, as unpromising as it seemeth at first view, is no less than that of Lucretius, to free men's minds from the bondage of religion; and this not by little hints and by piecemeal, after the manner of those little atheistical tracts that steal into the world, but in a thorough wholesale manner; by making religion, church, Christianity, with all their concomitants, a perfect contrivance of the civil power. It is an imputation often charged on this sort of men, that, by their invectives against religion, they can possibly propose no other end than that of fortifying themselves and others against the reproaches of a vicious life; it being necessary for men of libertine practices to embrace libertine principles, or else they cannot act in consistence with any reason, or preserve any peace of mind. Whether such authors have this design, (whereof I think they have never gone about to acquit themselves) thus much is certain; that no other use is made of such writings: Neither did I ever hear this author's book justified by any person, either Whig or Tory, except such who are of that profligate character. And, I believe, whoever examineth it, will be of the same opinion; although indeed such wretches are so numerous, that it seemeth rather surprising, why the book hath had no more editions, than why it should have so many.
Having thus endeavoured to satisfy the curious with some account of this author's character, let us examine what might probably be the motives to engage him in such a work. I shall say nothing of the principal, which is a sum of money; because that is not a mark to distinguish him from any other trader with the press. I will say nothing of revenge and malice, from resentment of the indignities and contempt he hath undergone for his crime of apostasy. To this passion he has thought fit to sacrifice order, propriety, discretion, and common sense, as may be seen in every page of his book: But, I am deceived, if there were not a third motive as powerful as the other two; and that is, vanity. About the latter end of King James's reign he had almost finished a learned discourse in defence of the Church of Rome, and to justify his conversion: All which, upon the Revolution, was quite out of season. Having thus prostituted his reputation, and at once ruined his hopes, he had no course left, but to shew his spite against religion in general; the false pretensions to which, had proved so destructive to his credit and fortune: And, at the same time, loth to employ the speculations of so many years to no purpose; by an easy turn, the same arguments he had made use of to advance Popery, were full as properly levelled by him against Christianity itself; like the image, which, while it was new and handsome, was worshipped for a saint, and when it came to be old and broken, was still good enough to make a tolerable devil. And, therefore every reader will observe, that the arguments for Popery are much the strongest of any in his book, as I shall further remark when I find them in my way.
There is one circumstance in his title-page, which I take to be not amiss, where he calleth his book, "Part the First." This is a project to fright away answerers, and make the poor advocates for religion believe, he still keepeth further vengeance in petto. It must be allowed, he hath not wholly lost time, while he was of the Romish communion. This very trick he learned from his old father, the Pope; whose custom it is to lift up his hand, and threaten to fulminate, when he never meant to shoot his bolts; because the princes of Christendom had learned the secret to avoid or despise them. Dr. Hickes knew this very well, and therefore, in his answer to this "Book of Rights," where a second part is threatened, like a rash person he desperately crieth, "Let it come." But I, who have not too much phlegm to provoke angry wits of his standard, must tell the author, that the doctor plays the wag, as if he were sure, it were all grimace. For my part, I declare, if he writeth a second part, I will not write another answer; or, if I do, it shall be published, before the other part cometh out.
[Footnote 4: Tindal did, however, attempt to maintain his ground against his numerous opponents, in "A Defence of the Rights of the Christian Church, against a late Visitation Sermon, 8vo. 1707;" and also in "A Second Defence of the Rights of the Christian Church considered, in two late Indictments against a Bookseller and His Servant, for selling one of the said Books, 1707." [T. S.]]
There may have been another motive, although it be hardly credible, both for publishing this work, and threatening a second part: It is not soon conceived how far the sense of a man's vanity will transport him. This man must have somewhere heard, that dangerous enemies have been often bribed to silence with money or preferment: And, therefore, to shew how formidable he is, he hath published his first essay; and, in hopes of hire to be quiet, hath frighted us with his design of another. What must the clergy do in these unhappy circumstances? If they should bestow this man bread enough to stop his mouth, it will but open those of a hundred more, who are every whit as well qualified to rail as he. And truly, when I compare the former enemies to Christianity, such as Socinus, Hobbes, and Spinosa, with such of their successors, as Toland, Asgil, Coward, Gildon, this author of the "Rights," and some others; the church appeareth to me like the sick old lion in the fable, who, after having his person outraged by the bull, the elephant, the horse, and the bear, took nothing so much to heart, as to find himself at last insulted by the spurn of an ass.
[Footnote 5: Laelius Socinus (1525-1562), born at Siena. He studied at Bologna, and in 1546 became a member of a secret freethinking society in Venice. The society, however, was broken up, and Socinus left Italy for Switzerland and Poland. He died at Zurich. His papers were published by his nephew, Faustus Socinus, who founded a sect on the tenets they taught.]
[Footnote 6: Benedict or Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), born at Amsterdam, of a Portuguese Jewish family. He was excommunicated by his people for atheism. He retired to the Hague and took to making lenses, and the study of philosophy. His "Ethics" and "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus" constitute a system of philosophy which has had no little influence on modern thought. See Pollock's "Spinoza."]
[Footnote 7: Charles Gildon (1665-1723-4) was educated at Douay. He printed a book called "The Deist's Manual." For accounts of Coward, Toland, and Asgil, see note, p. 9.] I will now add a few words to give the reader some general notion of the nature and tendency of the work itself.
I think I may assert, without the least partiality, that it is a treatise wholly devoid of wit or learning, under the most violent and weak endeavours and pretences to both. That it is replenished throughout with bold, rude, improbable falsehoods, and gross misinterpretations; and supported by the most impudent sophistry and false logic I have anywhere observed. To this he hath added a paltry, traditional cant of "priestrid" and "priestcraft," without reason or pretext as he applyeth it. And when he raileth at those doctrines in Popery (which no Protestant was ever supposed to believe) he leads the reader, however, by the hand, to make applications against the English clergy, and then he never faileth to triumph, as if he had made a very shrewd and notable stroke. And because the court and kingdom seemeth disposed to moderation with regard to Dissenters, more perhaps than is agreeable to the hot unreasonable temper of some mistaken men among us; therefore under the shelter of that popular opinion, he ridiculeth all that is sound in religion, even Christianity itself, under the names of Jacobite, Tackers, High Church, and other terms of factious jargon. All which, if it were to be first rased from his book (as just so much of nothing to the purpose) how little would remain to give the trouble of an answer! To which let me add, that the spirit or genius, which animates the whole, is plainly perceived to be nothing else but the abortive malice of an old neglected man, who hath long lain under the extremes of obloquy, poverty and contempt; that have soured his temper, and made him fearless. But where is the merit of being bold, to a man that is secure of impunity to his person, and is past apprehension of anything else? He that hath neither reputation nor bread hath very little to lose, and hath therefore as little to fear. And, as it is usually said, "Whoever values not his own life, is master of another man's;" so there is something like it in reputation: He that is wholly lost to all regards of truth or modesty, may scatter so much calumny and scandal, that some part may perhaps be taken up before it fall to the ground; because the ill talent of the world is such, that those who will be at pains enough to inform themselves in a malicious story, will take none at all to be undeceived, nay, will be apt with some reluctance to admit a favourable truth.
[Footnote 8: Tindal was not an old man at the time Swift wrote, certainly not older than was Swift himself. [T. S.]]
To expostulate, therefore, with this author for doing mischief to religion, is to strew his bed with roses; he will reply in triumph, that this was his design; and I am loth to mortify him, by asserting he hath done none at all. For I never yet saw so poor an atheistical scribble, which would not serve as a twig for sinking libertines to catch at. It must be allowed in their behalf, that the faith of Christians is not as a grain of mustard seed in comparison of theirs, which can remove such mountains of absurdities, and submit with so entire a resignation to such apostles. If these men had any share of that reason they pretend to, they would retire into Christianity, merely to give it ease. And therefore men can never be confirmed in such doctrines, until they are confirmed in their vices; which last, as we have already observed, is the principal design of this and all other writers against revealed religion.
I am now opening the book which I propose to examine. An employment, as it is entirely new to me, so it is that to which, of all others, I have naturally the greatest antipathy. And, indeed, who can dwell upon a tedious piece of insipid thinking, and false reasoning, so long as I am likely to do, without sharing the infection?
But, before I plunge into the depths of the book itself, I must be forced to wade through the shallows of a long preface.
This preface, large as we see it, is only made up of such supernumerary arguments against an independent power in the church, as he could not, without nauseous repetition, scatter into the body of his book: And it is detached, like a forlorn hope, to blunt the enemy's sword that intendeth to attack him. Now, I think, it will be easy to prove, that the opinion of imperium in imperio, in the sense he chargeth it upon the clergy of England, is what no one divine of any reputation, and very few at all, did ever maintain; and, that their universal sentiment in this matter is such as few Protestants did ever dispute. But, if the author of the "Regale," or two or three more obscure writers, have carried any points further than Scripture and reason will allow, (which is more than I know, or shall trouble myself to enquire) the clergy of England is no more answerable for those, than the laity is for all the folly and impertinence of this treatise. And, therefore, that people may not be amused, or think this man is somewhat, that he hath advanced or defended any oppressed truths, or overthrown any growing dangerous errors, I will set in as clear a light as I can, what I conceive to be held by the established clergy and all reasonable Protestants in this matter.
Everybody knows and allows, that in all government there is an absolute, unlimited, legislative power, which is originally in the body of the people, although, by custom, conquest, usurpation, or other accidents, sometimes fallen into the hands of one or a few. This in England is placed in the three estates (otherwise called the two Houses of Parliament) in conjunction with the King. And whatever they please to enact or to repeal in the settled forms, whether it be ecclesiastical or civil, immediately becometh law or nullity. Their decrees may be against equity, truth, reason and religion, but they are not against law; because law is the will of the supreme legislature, and that is, themselves. And there is no manner of doubt, but the same authority, whenever it pleaseth, may abolish Christianity, and set up the Jewish, Mahometan, or heathen religion. In short, they may do anything within the compass of human power. And, therefore, who will dispute that the same law, which deprived the church not only of lands, misapplied to superstitious uses, but even the tithes and glebes, (the ancient and necessary support of parish priests) may take away all the rest, whenever the lawgivers please, and make the priesthood as primitive, as this writer, or others of his stamp, can desire.
But as the supreme power can certainly do ten thousand things more than it ought, so there are several things which some people may think it can do, although it really cannot. For, it unfortunately happens, that edicts which cannot be executed, will not alter the nature of things. So, if a king and parliament should please to enact, that a woman who hath been a month married, is virgo intacta, would that actually restore her to her primitive state? If the supreme power should resolve a corporal of dragoons to be a doctor of divinity, law or physic, few, I believe, would trust their souls, fortunes, or bodies to his direction; because that power is neither fit to judge or teach those qualifications which are absolutely necessary to the several professions. Put the case that walking on the slack rope were the only talent required by act of parliament for making a man a bishop; no doubt, when a man had done his feat of activity in form, he might sit in the House of Lords, put on his robes and his rochet, go down to his palace, receive and spend his rents; but it requireth very little Christianity to believe this tumbler to be one whit more a bishop than he was before; because the law of God hath otherwise decreed; which law, although a nation may refuse to receive it, cannot alter in its own nature.
And here lies the mistake of this superficial man, who is not able to distinguish between what the civil power can hinder, and what it can do. "If the parliament can annul ecclesiastical laws, they must be able to make them, since no greater power is required for one than the other." See pref., p. viii. This consequence he repeateth above twenty times, and always in the wrong. He affecteth to form a few words into the shape and size of a maxim, then trieth it by his ear, and, according as he likes the sound or cadence, pronounceth it true. Cannot I stand over a man with a great pole, and hinder him from making a watch, although I am not able to make one myself. If I have strength enough to knock a man on the head, doth it follow I can raise him to life again? The parliament may condemn all the Greek and Roman authors; can it therefore create new ones in their stead? They may make laws, indeed, and call them canon and ecclesiastical laws, and oblige all men to observe them under pain of high treason. And so may I, who love as well as any man to have in my own family the power in the last resort, take a turnip, then tie a string to it, and call it a watch, and turn away all my servants, if they refuse to call it so too.
For my own part, I must confess that this opinion of the independent power of the Church, or imperium in imperio, wherewith this writer raiseth such a dust, is what I never imagined to be of any consequence, never once heard disputed among divines, nor remember to have read, otherwise than as a scheme in one or two authors of middle rank, but with very little weight laid on it. And I dare believe, there is hardly one divine in ten that ever once thought of this matter. Yet to see a large swelling volume written only to encounter this doctrine, what could one think less than that the whole body of the clergy were perpetually tiring the press and the pulpit with nothing else?
I remember some years ago, a virtuoso writ a small tract about worms, proved them to be in more places than was generally observed, and made some discoveries by glasses. This having met with some reception, presently the poor man's head was full of nothing but worms; all we eat and drink, all the whole consistence of human bodies, and those of every other animal, the very air we breathe, in short, all nature throughout was nothing but worms: And, by that system, he solved all difficulties, and from thence all causes in philosophy. Thus it hath fared with our author, and his independent power. The attack against occasional conformity, the scarcity of coffee, the invasion of Scotland, the loss of kerseys and narrow cloths, the death of King William, the author's turning Papist for preferment, the loss of the battle of Almanza, with ten thousand other misfortunes, are all owing to this imperium in imperio.
It will be therefore necessary to set this matter in a clear light, by enquiring whether the clergy have any power independent of the civil, and of what nature it is.
Whenever the Christian religion was embraced by the civil power in any nation, there is no doubt but the magistrates and senates were fully instructed in the rudiments of it. Besides, the Christians were so numerous, and their worship so open before the conversion of princes, that their discipline, as well as doctrine, could not be a secret: They saw plainly a subordination of ecclesiastics, bishops, priests, and deacons: That these had certain powers and employments different from the laity: That the bishops were consecrated, and set apart for that office by those of their own order: That the presbyters and deacons were differently set apart, always by the bishops: That none but the ecclesiastics presumed to pray or preach in places set apart for God's worship, or to administer the Lord's Supper: That all questions relating either to discipline or doctrine, were determined in ecclesiastical conventions. These and the like doctrines and practices, being most of them directly proved, and the rest by very fair consequences deduced from the words of our Saviour and His apostles, were certainly received as a divine law by every prince or state which admitted the Christian religion: and, consequently, what they could not justly alter afterwards, any more than the common laws of nature. And, therefore, although the supreme power can hinder the clergy or Church from making any new canons, or executing the old; from consecrating bishops, or refuse those that they do consecrate; or, in short, from performing any ecclesiastical office, as they may from eating, drinking, and sleeping; yet they cannot themselves perform those offices, which are assigned to the clergy by our Saviour and His apostles; or, if they do, it is not according to the divine institution, and, consequently, null and void. Our Saviour telleth us, "His kingdom is not of this world;" and therefore, to be sure, the world is not of His kingdom, nor can ever please Him by interfering in the administration of it, since He hath appointed ministers of His own, and hath empowered and instructed them for that purpose: So that, I believe, the clergy, who, as he sayeth, are good at distinguishing, would think it reasonable to distinguish between their power, and the liberty of exercising this power. The former they claim immediately from Christ, and the latter from the permission, connivance, or authority of the civil government; with which the clergy's power, according to the solution I have given, cannot possibly interfere.
But this writer, setting up to form a system upon stale, scanty topics, and a narrow circle of thought, falleth into a thousand absurdities. And for a further help, he hath a talent of rattling out phrases, which seem to have sense, but have none at all: the usual fate of those who are ignorant of the force and compass of words, without which it is impossible for a man to write either pertinently or intelligibly upon the most obvious subjects.
So, in the beginning of his preface, page iv, he says, "The Church of England being established by acts of parliament, is a perfect creature of the civil power; I mean the polity and discipline of it, and it is that which maketh all the contention; for as to the doctrines expressed in the articles, I do not find high church to be in any manner of pain; but they who lay claim to most orthodoxy can distinguish themselves out of them." It is observable in this author, that his style is naturally harsh and ungrateful to the ear, and his expressions mean and trivial; but whenever he goeth about to polish a period, you may be certain of some gross defect in propriety or meaning: So the lines just quoted seem to run easily over the tongue: and, upon examination, they are perfect nonsense and blunder: To speak in his own borrowed phrase, what is contained in the idea of established? Surely, not existence. Doth establishment give being to a thing? He might have said the same thing of Christianity in general, or the existence of God, since both are confirmed by acts of parliament. But, the best is behind: for, in the next line, having named the church half a dozen times before, he now says, he meaneth only "the polity and discipline of it": As if, having spoke in praise of the art of physic, a man should explain himself, that he meant only the institution of a college of physicians into a president and fellows. And it will appear, that this author, however versed in the practice, hath grossly transgressed the rules of nonsense, (whose property it is neither to affirm nor deny) since every visible assertion gathered from those few lines is absolutely false: For where was the necessity of excepting the doctrines expressed in the articles, since these are equally creatures of the civil power, having been established by acts of parliament as well as the others. But the Church of England is no creature of the civil power, either as to its polity or doctrines. The fundamentals of both were deduced from Christ and His apostles, and the instructions of the purest and earliest ages, and were received as such by those princes or states who embraced Christianity, whatever prudential additions have been made to the former by human laws, which alone can be justly altered or annulled by them.
What I have already said, would, I think, be a sufficient answer to his whole preface, and indeed to the greatest part of his book, which is wholly turned upon battering down a sort of independent power in the clergy; which few or none of them ever claimed or defended. But there being certain peculiarities in this preface, that very much set off the wit, the learning, the raillery, reasoning and sincerity of the author; I shall take notice of some of them, as I pass.
But here, I hope, it will not be expected, that I should bestow remarks upon every passage in this book, that is liable to exception for ignorance, falsehood, dulness, or malice. Where he is so insipid, that nothing can be struck out for the reader's entertainment, I shall observe Horace's rule:
"Quae desperes tractata nitescere posse, relinquas."
Upon which account I shall say nothing of that great instance of his candour and judgment in relation to Dr. Stillingfleet, who (happening to lie under his displeasure upon the fatal test of imperium in imperio) is High Church and Jacobite, took the oaths of allegiance to save him from the gallows, and subscribed the articles only to keep his preferment: Whereas the character of that prelate is universally known to have been directly the reverse of what this writer gives him.
[Footnote 9: Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699), educated at Cambridge, wrote in 1659 his "Irenicum, or Weapon Salve for the Church's Wounds." He also published a "Rational Account of the Protestant Religion" in 1664. He occupied successively the important clerical offices of Prebendary of St. Paul's, Archdeaconry of London, Deanery of St. Paul's, and Bishopric of Worcester. The later years of his life were occupied in a controversy with Locke on that writer's "Essay on the Human Understanding." [T. S.]]
[Footnote 10: Page v, he quotes Bishop Stillingfleet's "Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity," where the bishop says, that a man might be very right in the belief of an article, though mistaken in the explication of it. Upon which Tindal observes: "These men treat the articles, as they do the oath of allegiance, which, they say, obliges them not actually to assist the government, but to do nothing against it; that is, nothing that would bring 'em to the gallows." [Note in edition 1764, 4to.]]
But before he can attempt to ruin this damnable opinion of two independent powers, he telleth us; page vi., "It will be necessary to shew what is contained in the idea of government" Now, it is to be understood, that this refined way of speaking was introduced by Mr. Locke; after whom the author limpeth as fast as he is able. All the former philosophers in the world, from the age of Socrates to ours, would have ignorantly put the question, Quid est imperium? But now it seemeth we must vary our phrase; and, since our modern improvement of human understanding, instead of desiring a philosopher to describe or define a mouse-trap, or tell me what it is; I must gravely ask, what is contained in the idea of a mouse-trap? But then to observe how deeply this new way of putting questions to a man's self, maketh him enter into the nature of things; his present business is to show us, what is contained in the idea of government. The company knoweth nothing of the matter, and would gladly be instructed; which he doth in the following words, p. 5.
"It would be in vain for one intelligent being to pretend to set rules to the actions of another, if he had it not in his power to reward the compliance with, or punish the deviations from, his rules by some good, or evil, which is not the natural consequence of those actions; since the forbidding men to do or forbear an action on the account of that convenience or inconvenience which attendeth it, whether he who forbids it will or no, can be no more than advice."
I shall not often draw such long quotations as this, which I could not forbear to offer as a specimen of the propriety and perspicuity of this author's style. And, indeed, what a light breaketh out upon us all, as soon as we have read these words! How thoroughly are we instructed in the whole nature of government? What mighty truths are here discovered; and how clearly conveyed to our understandings? And therefore let us melt this refined jargon into the old style for the improvement of such, who are not enough conversant in the new.
If the author were one who used to talk like one of us, he would have spoke in this manner: "I think it necessary to give a full and perfect definition of government, such as will shew the nature and all the properties of it; and my definition is thus: One man will never cure another of stealing horses, merely by minding him of the pains he hath taken, the cold he hath got, and the shoe-leather he hath lost in stealing that horse; nay, to warn him, that the horse may kick or fling him, or cost him more than he is worth in hay and oats, can be no more than advice. For the gallows is not the natural effect of robbing on the highway, as heat is of fire: and therefore, if you will govern a man, you must find out some other way of punishment, than what he will inflict upon himself."
Or, if this will not do, let us try it in another case (which I instanced before) and in his own terms. Suppose he had thought it necessary (and I think it was as much so as the other) to shew us what is contained in the idea of a mousetrap, he must have proceeded in these terms. "It would be in vain for an intelligent being, to set rules for hindering a mouse from eating his cheese, unless he can inflict upon that mouse some punishment, which, is not the natural consequence of eating the cheese. For, to tell her, it may lie heavy on her stomach; that she will grow too big to get back into her hole, and the like, can be no more than advice: therefore, we must find out some way of punishing her, which hath more inconveniences than she will ever suffer by the mere eating of cheese." After this, who is so slow of understanding, as not to have in his mind a full and complete idea of a mouse-trap? Well.--The Free thinkers may talk what they please of pedantry, and cant, and jargon of schoolmen, and insignificant terms in the writings of the clergy, if ever the most perplexed and perplexing follower of Aristotle from Scotus to Suarez could be a match for this author.
[Footnote 11: Duns Scotus flourished in the thirteenth century. He studied at Oxford and Paris, and his learning and acumen in reasoning earned for him the title The Subtle Doctor. He died at Cologne in 1308. He was a strong upholder of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. His works are published in twelve volumes folio.
Francis Suarez (1548-1617) was a Spanish Jesuit who wrote a work by command of the Pope against the English Reformation. He published some very able religio-philosophical treatises, from the Roman Catholic point of view; but, indeed, his writings altogether were enormous, so far as their number are concerned. [T. S.]]
But the strength of his arguments is equal to the clearness of his definitions. For, having most ignorantly divided government into three parts, whereof the first contains the other two; he attempteth to prove that the clergy possess none of these by a divine right. And he argueth thus, p. vii. "As to a legislative power, if that belongs to the clergy by a divine right, it must be when they are assembled in convocation: but the 25 Hen. VIII. c. 19 is a bar to any such divine right, because that act makes it no less than a praemunire for them, so much so as to meet without the king's writ, &c." So that the force of his argument lieth here; if the clergy had a divine right, it is taken away by the 25th of Henry the Eighth. And as ridiculous as this argument is, the preface and book are founded upon it.
Another argument against the legislative power in the clergy of England, is, p. viii. that Tacitus telleth us; that in great affairs, the Germans consulted the whole body of the people. "De minoribus rebus principes consultant, de majoribus omnes: Ita tamen, ut ea quoque, quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur."--Tacitus de Moribus et Populis Germaniae. Upon which Tindal observeth thus: "De majoribus omnes, was a fundamental amongst our ancestors long before they arrived in Great Britain, and matters of religion were ever reckoned among their majora." (See Pref. p. viii. and ix.) Now it is plain, that our ancestors, the Saxons, came from Germany: It is likewise plain, that religion was always reckoned by the heathens among their majora: And it is plain, the whole body of the people could not be the clergy, and therefore, the clergy of England have no legislative power.
Thirdly, p. ix. They have no legislative power, because Mr. Washington, in his "Observations on the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Kings of England," sheweth, from "undeniable authorities, that in the time of William the Conqueror, and several of his successors, there were no laws enacted concerning religion, but by the great council of the kingdom." I hope, likewise, Mr. Washington observeth that this great council of the kingdom, as appeareth by undeniable authorities, was sometimes entirely composed of bishops and clergy, and called the parliament, and often consulted upon affairs of state, as well as church, as it is agreed by twenty writers of three ages; and if Mr. Washington says otherwise, he is an author just fit to be quoted by beaux.
Fourthly,--But it is endless to pursue this matter any further; in that, it is plain, the clergy have no divine right to make laws; because Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth, with their parliaments will not allow it them. Now, without examining what divine right the clergy have, or how far it extendeth; is it any sort of proof that I have no right, because a stronger power will not let me exercise it? Or doth all, that this author says through his preface, or book itself, offer any other sort of argument but this, or what he deduces the same way?
But his arguments and definitions are yet more supportable than the grossness of historical remarks, which are scattered so plentifully in his book, that it would be tedious to enumerate, or to shew the fraud and ignorance of them. I beg the reader's leave to take notice of one here just in my way; and, the rather, because I design for the future to let hundreds of them pass without further notice. "When," says he, p. x. "by the abolishing of the Pope's power, things were brought back to their ancient channel, the parliament's right in making ecclesiastical laws revived of course." What can possibly be meant by this "ancient channel?" Why, the channel that things ran in before the Pope had any power in England: that is to say, before Austin the monk converted England, before which time, it seems, the parliament had a right to make ecclesiastical laws. And what parliament could this be? Why, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons met at Westminster.
I cannot here forbear reproving the folly and pedantry of some lawyers, whose opinions this poor creature blindly followeth, and rendereth yet more absurd by his comments. The knowledge of our constitution can be only attained by consulting the earliest English histories, of which those gentlemen seem utterly ignorant, further than a quotation or an index. They would fain derive our government as now constituted, from antiquity: And, because they have seen Tacitus quoted for his majoribus omnes; and have read of the Goths' military institution in their progresses and conquests, they presently dream of a parliament. Had their reading reached so far, they might have deduced it much more fairly from Aristotle and Polybius, who both distinctly name the composition of rex, seniores, et populus; and the latter, as I remember particularly, with the highest approbation. The princes, in the Saxon Heptarchy, did indeed call their nobles sometimes together upon weighty affairs, as most other princes of the world have done in all ages. But they made war and peace, and raised money by their own authority: They gave or mended laws by their charters, and they raised armies by their tenures. Besides, some of those kingdoms fell in by conquests, before England was reduced under one head, and therefore could pretend no rights, but by the concessions of the conqueror.
Further, which is more material, upon the admission of Christianity, great quantities of land were acquired by the clergy, so that the great council of the nation was often entirely of churchmen, and ever a considerable part. But, our present constitution is an artificial thing, not fairly to be traced, in my opinion, beyond Henry I. Since which time it hath in every age admitted several alterations; and differeth now as much, even from what it was then, as almost any two species of government described by Aristotle. And, it would be much more reasonable to affirm, that the government of Rome continued the same under Justinian, as it was in the time of Scipio, because the senate and consuls still remained, although the power of both had been several hundred years transferred to the emperors.
REMARKS ON THE PREFACE.
[Footnote 12: References to Tindal's book, and remarks upon it, which the author left thus indigested, being hints for himself to use in answering the said book.]
Page iv, v. "If men of opposite sentiments can subscribe the same articles, they are as much at liberty as if there were none." May not a man subscribe the whole articles, because he differs from another in the explication of one? How many oaths are prescribed, that men may differ in the explication of some part of them? Instance, &c.
Page vi. "Idea of Government." A canting pedantic way, learned from Locke; and how prettily he sheweth it. Instance--
Page vii, "25 Hen. VIII. c. 19 is a bar to any such divine right [of a legislative power in the clergy.]" Absurd to argue against the clergy's divine right, because of the statute of Henry VIII. How doth that destroy divine right? The sottish way of arguing; from what the parliament can do; from their power, &c.
Page viii. "If the parliament did not think they had a plenitude of power in this matter, they would not have damned all the canons of 1640." What doth he mean? A grave divine could not answer all his playhouse and Alsatia cant, &c. He hath read Hudibras, and many plays.
[Footnote 13: Or Whitefriars, then a place of asylum, and frequented by sharpers, of whose gibberish there are several specimens in Shadwell's comedy, "The Squire of Alsatia." [T. S.]]
Ibid. "If the parliament can annul ecclesiastical laws, they must be able to make them." Distinguish, and shew the silliness, &c.
Ibid. All that he saith against the discipline, he might say the same against the doctrine, nay, against the belief of a God, viz. That the legislature might forbid it. The Church formeth and contriveth canons; and the civil power, which is compulsive, confirms them.
Page ix. "There were no laws enacted but by the great council of the kingdom." And that was very often, chiefly, only bishops.
Ibid. "Laws settled by parliament to punish the clergy." What laws were those?
Page x. "The people are bound to no laws but of their own choosing." It is fraudulent; for they may consent to what others choose, and so people often do.
Page xiv. paragraph 6. "The clergy are not supposed to have any divine legislature, because that must be superior to all worldly power; and then the clergy might as well forbid the parliament to meet but when and where they please, &c." No such consequence at all. They have a power exclusive from all others. Ordained to act as clergy, but not govern in civil affairs; nor act without leave of the civil power.
Page xxv. "The parliament suspected the love of power natural to churchmen." Truly, so is the love of pudding, and most other things desirable in this life; and in that they are like the laity, as in all other things that are not good. And, therefore, they are held not in esteem for what they are like in, but for their virtues. The true way to abuse them with effect, is to tell us some faults of theirs, that other men have not, or not so much of as they, &c. Might not any man speak full as bad of senates, diets, and parliaments, as he can do about councils; and as bad of princes, as he does of bishops?
Page xxxi. "They might as well have made Cardinals Campegi and de Chinuchii, Bishops of Salisbury and Worcester, as have enacted that their several sees and bishoprics were utterly void." No. The legislature might determine who should not be a bishop there, but not make a bishop.
Ibid. "Were not a great number deprived by parliament upon the Restoration?" Does he mean presbyters? What signifies that?
Ibid. "Have they not trusted this power with our princes?" Why, aye. But that argueth not right, but power. Have they not cut off a king's head, &c. The Church must do the best they can, if not what they would.
Page xxxvi. "If tithes and first-fruits are paid to spiritual persons as such, the king or queen is the most spiritual person, &c." As if the first-fruits, &c. were paid to the king, as tithes to a spiritual person.
Page xliii. "King Charles II. thought fit that the bishops in Scotland should hold their bishoprics during will and pleasure; I do not find that the High Church complained of this as an encroachment, &c." No; but as a pernicious counsel of Lord Loch.
[Footnote 14: Scott thinks this refers to Lord Lauderdale. [T.S.]]
Page xliv. "The common law judges have a power to determine, whether a man has a legal right to the sacrament." They pretend it, but what we complain of as most abominable hardship, &c.
Page xlv. "Giving men thus blindly to the devil, is an extraordinary piece of complaisance to a lay chancellor." He is something in the right; and therefore it is a pity there are any; and I hope the Church will provide against it. But if the sentence be just, it is not the person, but the contempt. And, if the author attacketh a man on the highway, and taketh but twopence, he shall be sent to the gallows, more terrible to him than the devil, for his contempt of the law, &c. Therefore he need not complain of being sent to hell.
Page xliv. Mr. Leslie may carry things too far, as it is natural, because the other extreme is so great. But what he says of the king's losses, since the Church lands were given away, is too great a truth, &c.
Page lxxvi. "To which I have nothing to plead, except the zeal I have for the Church of England." You will see some pages further, what he meaneth by the Church; but it is not fair not to begin with telling us what is contained in the idea of a Church, &c.
Page lxxxiii. "They will not be angry with me for thinking better of the Church than they do, &c." No, but they will differ from you; because the worse the Queen is pleased, you think her better. I believe the Church will not concern themselves much about your opinion of them, &c.
Page lxxxiv. "But the Popish, Eastern, Presbyterian and Jacobite clergy, &c." This is like a general pardon, with such exceptions as make it useless, if we compute it, &c.
Page lxxxvii. "Misapplying of the word church, &c." This is cavilling. No doubt his project is for exempting the people: But that is not what in common speech we usually mean by the Church. Besides, who doth not know that distinction?
Ibid. "Constantly apply the same ideas to them." This is, in old English, meaning the same thing.
Page lxxxix. "Demonstrates I could have no design but the promoting of truth, &c." Yes, several designs, as money, spleen, atheism, &c. What? will any man think truth was his design, and not money and malice? Doth he expect the House will go into a committee for a bill to bring things to his scheme, to confound everything, &c.
Some deny Tindal to be the author, and produce stories of his dulness and stupidity. But what is there in all this book, that the dullest man in England might not write, if he were angry and bold enough, and had no regard to truth?
REMARKS UPON THE BOOK, &c.
Page 4. "Whether Lewis XIV. has such a power over Philip V?" He speaketh here of the unlimited, uncontrollable authority of fathers. A very foolish question; and his discourse hitherto, of government, weak and trivial, and liable to objections.
Ibid. "Whom he is to consider not as his own, but the Almighty's workmanship." A very likely consideration for the Ideas of the state of nature. A very wrong deduction of paternal government; but that is nothing to the dispute, &c.
Page 12. "And as such might justly be punished by every one in the state of nature." False; he doth not seem to understand the state of nature, although he hath borrowed it from Hobbes, &c.
Page 14. "Merely speculative points, and other indifferent things, &c." And why are speculative opinions so insignificant? Do not men proceed in their practice according to their speculations? So, if the author were a chancellor and one of his speculations were, that the poorer the clergy the better; would not that be of great use, if a cause came before him of tithes or Church lands?
Ibid. "Which can only be known by examining whether men had any power in the state of nature over their own, or others' actions in these matters." No, that is a wrong method, unless where religion hath not been revealed; in natural religion.
Ibid. "Nothing at first sight can be more obvious, than that in all religious matters, none could make over the right of judging for himself, since that would cause his religion to be absolutely at the disposal of another." At his rate of arguing (I think I do not misrepresent him, and I believe he will not deny the consequence) a man may profess Heathenism, Mahometism, &c. and gain as many proselytes as he can; and they may have their assemblies, and the magistrate ought to protect them, provided they do not disturb the state: And they may enjoy all secular preferments, be lords chancellors, judges, &c. But there are some opinions in several religions, which, although they do not directly make men rebel, yet lead to it. Instance some. Nay we might have temples for idols, &c. A thousand such absurdities follow from his general notions, and ill-digested schemes. And we see in the Old Testament, that kings were reckoned good or ill, as they suffered or hindered image-worship and idolatry, &c. which was limiting conscience.
Page 15. "Men may form what clubs, companies, or meetings they think fit, &c, which the magistrate, as long as the public sustains no damage, cannot hinder, &c." This is false; although the public sustain no damage, they will forbid clubs, where they think danger may happen.
Page 16. "The magistrate is as much obliged to protect them in the way they choose of worshipping Him, as in any other indifferent matter."--Page 17. "The magistrate to treat all his subjects alike, how much soever they differ from him or one another in these matters." This shews, that although they be Turks, Jews, or Heathens, it is so. But we are sure Christianity is the only true religion, &c. and therefore it should be the magistrate's chief care to propagate it; and that God should be worshipped in that that those who are the teachers think most proper, &c.
Page 18. "So that persecution is the most comprehensive of all crimes, &c." But he hath not told us what is concluded in the idea of persecution. State it right.
Ibid. "But here it may be demanded, If a man's conscience make him do such acts, &c." This doth not answer the above objection: For, if the public be not disturbed with atheistical principles preached, nor immoralities, all is well. So that still, men may be Jews, Turks, &c.
Page 22. "The same reason which obliges them to make statutes of mortmain, and other laws, against the people's giving estates to the clergy, will equally hold for their taking them away when given." A great security for property! Will this hold to any other society in the state, as merchants, &c. or only to ecclesiastics? A pretty project: Forming general schemes requires a deeper head than this man's.
Ibid. "But the good of the society being the only reason of the magistrate's having any power over men's properties, I cannot see why he should deprive his subjects of any part thereof, for the maintenance of such opinions as have no tendency that way, &c." Here is a paragraph (vide also infra) which has a great deal in it. The meaning is, that no man ought to pay tithes, who doth not believe what the minister preacheth. But how came they by this property? When they purchased the land, they paid only for so much; and the tithes were exempted. It is an older title than any man's estate is, and if it were taken away to-morrow, it could not without a new law belong to the owners of the other nine parts, any more than impropriations do.
Ibid. "For the maintenance of such opinions, as no ways contribute to the public good," By such opinions as the public receive no advantage by, he must mean Christianity.
Page 23. "Who by reason of such articles are divided into different sects." A pretty cause of sects! &c.
Page 24. "So the same reason as often as it occurs, will oblige him to leave that Church." This is an excuse for his turning Papist.
Ibid. "Unless you suppose churches like traps, easy to admit one; but when once he is in, there he must always stick, either for the pleasure or profit of the trap-setters." Remark his wit.
Page 29. "Nothing can be more absurd than maintaining there must be two independent powers in the same society." This is abominably absurd; shew it.
Page 33. "The whole hierarchy as built on it, must necessarily fall to the ground, and great will be the fall of this spiritual Babylon." I will do him justice, and take notice, when he is witty, &c.
Page 36. "For if there may be two such [independent powers] in every society on earth, why may there not be more than one in heaven?" A delicate consequence.
Page 37. "Without having the less, he could not have the greater, in which that is contained." Sophistical; instance wherein.
Page 42. "Some since, subtler than the Jews, have managed commutations more to their own advantage, by enriching themselves, and beggaring, if Fame be not a liar, many an honest dissenter." It is fair to produce witnesses, is she a liar or not? The report is almost impossible. Commutations were contrived for roguish registers and proctors, and lay chancellors, but not for the clergy.
Page 43. "Kings and people, who (as the Indians do the Devil) adored the Pope out of fear." I am in doubt, whether I shall allow that for wit or no, &c. Look you, in these cases, preface it thus: If one may use an old saying.
Page 44. "One reason why the clergy make what they call schism, to be so heinous a sin." There it is now; because he hath changed churches, he ridiculeth schism; as Milton wrote for divorces, because he had an ill wife. For ten pages on, we must give the true answer, that makes all these arguments of no use.
Page 60. "It possibly will be said, I have all this while been doing these gentlemen a great deal of wrong." To do him justice, he sets forth the objections of his adversaries with great strength, and much to their advantage. No doubt those are the very objections we would offer.
Page 68. "Their executioner." He is fond of this word in many places, yet there is nothing in it further than it is the name for the hangman, &c.
Page 69. "Since they exclude both from having anything in the ordering of Church matters." Another part of his scheme: For by this the people ought to execute ecclesiastical offices without distinction, for he brings the other opinion as an absurd one.
Page 72, "They claim a judicial power, and, by virtue of it the government of the Church, and thereby (pardon the expression) become traitors both to God and man." Who doth he desire to pardon him? or is this meant of the English clergy? So it seemeth. Doth he desire them to pardon him? They do it as Christians. Doth he desire the government to do it? But then how can they make examples? He says, the clergy do so, &c. so he means all.
Page 74. "I would gladly know what they mean by giving the Holy Ghost." Explain what is really meant by giving the Holy Ghost, like a king empowering an ambassador.
[Footnote 15: See Hooker's "Eccl. Pol.," book v. § 77.]
Page 76. "The Popish clergy make very bold with the Three Persons of the Trinity." Why then, don't mix them, but we see whom this glanceth on most. As to the Congé d'Élire, and Nolo episcopari, not so absurd; and, if omitted, why changed.
Page 78. "But not to digress"--Pray, doth he call scurrility upon the clergy, a digression? The apology needless, &c.
Ibid. "A clergyman, it is said, is God's ambassador." But you know an ambassador may have a secretary, &c.
Ibid. "Call their pulpit speeches, the word of God." That is a mistake.
Page 79. "Such persons to represent Him." Are not they that own His power, fitter to represent Him than others? Would the author be a fitter person?
Ibid. "Puffed up with intolerable pride and insolence." Not at all; for where is the pride to be employed by a prince, whom so few own, and whose being is disputed by such as this author?
Ibid. "Perhaps from a poor servitor, &c. to be a prime minister in God's kingdom." That is right. God taketh notice of the difference between poor servitors, &c. Extremely foolish--shew it. The argument lieth strongly against the apostles, poor fishermen; and St. Paul, a tentmaker. So gross and idle!
Page 80. "The formality of laying hand over head on a man." A pun; but an old one. I remember, when Swan made that pun first, he was severely checked for it.
[Footnote 16: Captain Swan was a celebrated low humorist and punster who frequented Will's Coffee-house when it was the fashionable resort of men of wit and pleasure. [T. S.]]
Ibid. "What more is required to give one a right, &c." Here shew, what power is in the church, and what in the state to make priests.
Page 85. "To bring men into, and not turn them out of the ordinary way of salvation." Yes; but as one rotten sheep doth mischief--and do you think it reasonable, that such a one as this author, should converse with Christians, and weak ones.
Page 86. See his fine account of spiritual punishment.
Page 87. "The clergy affirm, that if they had not the power to exclude men from the Church, its unity could not be preserved." So to expel an ill member from a college, would be to divide the college; as in All-Souls, &c. Apply it to him.
[Footnote 17: Tindal was a fellow of All Souls College. [T. S.]]
Page 88. "I cannot see but it is contrary to the rules of charity, to exclude men from the Church, &c." All this turns upon the falsest reasoning in the world. So, if a man be imprisoned for stealing a horse, he is hindered from other duties: And, you might argue, that a man who doth ill, ought to be more diligent in minding other duties, and not to be debarred from them. It is for contumacy and rebellion against that power in the church, which the law hath confirmed. So a man is outlawed for a trifle, upon contumacy.
Page 92. "Obliging all by penal laws to receive the sacrament." This is false.
Page 93. "The want of which means can only harden a man in his impenitence." It is for his being hardened that he is excluded. Suppose a son robbeth his father on the highway, and his father will not see him till he restoreth the money and owneth his fault. It is hard to deny him paying his duty in other things, &c. How absurd this!
Page 95. "And that only they had a right to give it." Another part of his scheme, that the people have a right to give the sacrament. See more of it, pp. 135 and 137.
Page 96. "Made familiar to such practices by the heathen priests." Well; and this shews the necessity of it for peace' sake. A silly objection of this and other enemies to religion, to think to disgrace it by applying heathenism, which only concerns the political part wherein they were as wise as others, and might give rules. Instance in some, &c.
Page 98. "How differently from this do the great pretenders to primitive practice act, &c." This is a remarkable passage. Doth he condemn or allow this mysterious way? It seems the first--and therefore these words are a little turned, but infallibly stood in the first draught as a great argument for Popery.
Page 100. "They dress them up in a sanbenito." So, now we are to answer for the inquisition. One thing is, that he makes the fathers guilty of asserting most of the corruptions about the power of priests.
Page 104. "Some priests assume to themselves an arbitrary power of excluding men from the Lord's Supper." His scheme; that any body may administer the sacraments, women or children, &c.
Page 108. "One no more than another can be reckoned a priest." See his scheme. Here he disgraces what the law enacts, about the manner of consecrating, &c.
Page 118. "Churches serve to worse purposes than bear-gardens." This from Hudibras.
Page 119. "In the time of that wise heathen Ammianus Marcellinus." Here he runs down all Christianity in general.
[Footnote 18: Ammianus Marcellinus (died c. 390) wrote a history of Rome in thirty-one books, of which Gibbon thought rather highly. The history may be taken as a continuation of Tacitus and Suetonius. [T. S.]]
Page 120. "I shall, in the following part of my discourse, shew that this doctrine is so far from serving the ends of religion, that, 1. It prevents the spreading of the gospel, &c." This independent power in the church is like the worms; being the cause of all diseases.
Page 124. "How easily could the Roman emperors have destroyed the Church?" Just as if he had said; how easily could Herod kill Christ whilst a child, &c.
Page 125. "The people were set against bishops by reason of their tyranny." Wrong. For the bishops were no tyrants: Their power was swallowed up by the Popes, and the people desired they should have more. It were the regulars that tyrannized and formed priestcraft. He is ignorant.
Page 139. "He is not bound by the laws of Christ to leave his friends in order to be baptized, &c." This directly against the Gospel.--One would think him an emissary, by his preaching schism.
Page 142. "Then will the communion of saints be practicable, to which the principles of all parties, the occasional conformists only excepted, stand in direct opposition, &c." So that all are wrong but they. The Scripture is fully against schism. Tindal promoteth it and placeth in it all the present and future happiness of man.
Page 144. All he has hitherto said on this matter, with a very little turn, were arguments for Popery: For, it is certain, that religion had share in very few wars for many hundred years before the Reformation, because they were all of a mind. It is the ambition of rebels, preaching upon the discontents of sectaries, that they are not supreme, which hath caused wars for religion. He is mistaken altogether. His little narrow understanding and want of learning.
Page 145. "Though some say the high-fliers' lives might serve for a very good rule, if men would act quite contrary to them," Is he one of those some? Beside the new turn of wit, &c. all the clergy in England come under his notion of high-fliers, as he states it.
Page 147. "None of them (Churchmen) could be brought to acknowledge it lawful upon any account whatever, to exclude the Duke of York." This account false in fact.
Ibid. "And the body-politic, whether ecclesiastical or civil, must be dealt with after the same manner, as the body-natural." What, because it is called a body, and is a simile, must it hold in all circumstances?
Page 148. "We find all wise legislators have had regard to the tempers, inclinations, and prejudices, &c." This paragraph false.--It was directly contrary in several, as Lycurgus, &c.
Page 152. "All the skill of the prelatists is not able to discover the least distinction between bishop and presbyter." Yet, God knows, this hath been done many a time.
Page 158. "The Epistle to the Philippians is directed to the bishops and deacons, I mean in due order after the people, viz, to the saints with their bishops and deacons." I hope he would argue from another place, that the people precede the king, because of these words: "Ye shall be destroyed both you and your king."
Page 167. "The Pope and other great Church dons." I suppose, he meaneth bishops: But I wish, he would explain himself, and not be so very witty in the midst of an argument; it is like two mediums; not fair in disputing.
Page 168. "Clemens Romanus blames the people not for assuming a power, but for making a wrong use of it, &c." His great error all along is, that he doth not distinguish between a power, and a liberty of exercising that power, &c. I would appeal to any man, whether the clergy have not too little power, since a book like this, that unsettleth foundations and would destroy all, goes unpunished, &c.
Page 171. "By this or some such method the bishops obtained their power over their fellow presbyters, and both over the people. The whole tenor of the Gospel directly contrary to it." Then it is not an allowable means: This carries it so far as to spoil his own system; it is a sin to have bishops as we have them.
Page 172. "The preservation of peace and unity, and not any divine right, was the reason of establishing a superiority of one of the presbyters over the rest. Otherwise there would, as they say, have been as many schismatics as Presbyters. No great compliment to the clergy of those days." Why so? It is the natural effect of a worse independency, which he keepeth such a clatter about; an independency of churches on each other, which must naturally create schism.
Page 183. "How could the Christians have asserted the disinterestedness of those who first preached the Gospel, particularly their having a right to the tenth part." Yes, that would have passed easy enough; for they could not imagine teachers could live on air; and their heathen priests were much more unreasonable.
Page 184. "Men's suffering for such opinions is not sufficient to support the weight of them." This is a glance against Christianity. State the case of converting infidels; the converters are supposed few; the bulk of the priests must be of the converted country. It is their own people therefore they maintain. What project or end can a few converters propose? they can leave no power to their families, &c. State this, I say, at length, and give it a true turn. Princes give corporations power to purchase lands.
Page 187. "That it became an easy prey to the barbarous nations." Ignorance in Tindal. The empire long declined before Christianity was introduced. This a wrong cause, if ever there was one.
Page 190, "It is the clergy's interest to have religion corrupted." Quite the contrary; prove it. How is it the interest of the English clergy to corrupt religion? The more justice and piety the people have, the better it is for them; for that would prevent the penury of farmers, and the oppression of exacting covetous landlords, &c. That which hath corrupted religion, is the liberty unlimited of professing all opinions. Do not lawyers render law intricate by their speculations, &c. And physicians, &c.
Page 209. "The spirit and temper of the clergy, &c." What does this man think the clergy are made of? Answer generally to what he says against councils in the ten pages before. Suppose I should bring quotations in their praise.
Page 211. "As the clergy, though few in comparison of the laity, were the inventors of corruptions." His scheme is, that the fewer and poorer the clergy the better, and the contrary among the laity. A noble principle; and delicate consequences from it.
Page 207. "Men are not always condemned for the sake of opinions, but opinions sometimes for the sake of men." And so, he hopes, that if his opinions are condemned, people will think, it is a spite against him, as having been always scandalous.
Page 210. "The meanest layman as good a judge as the greatest priest, for the meanest man is as much interested in the truth of religion as the greatest priest." As if one should say, the meanest sick man hath as much interest in health as a physician, therefore is as good a judge of physic as a physician, &c.
Ibid. "Had synods been composed of laymen, none of those corruptions which tend to advance the interest of the clergy, &c." True, but the part the laity had in reforming, was little more than plundering. He should understand, that the nature of things is this, that the clergy are made of men, and, without some encouragement, they will not have the best, but the worst.
Page 215. "They who gave estates to, rather than they who took them from, the clergy, were guilty of sacrilege." Then the people are the Church, and the clergy not; another part of his scheme.
Page 219. "The clergy, as they subsisted by the alms of the people, &c." This he would have still. Shew the folly of it. Not possible to shew any civilized nation ever did it Who would be clergymen then? The absurdity appears by putting the case, that none were to be statesmen, lawyers, or physicians, but who were to subsist by alms.
Page 222. "These subtle clergymen work their designs, who lately cut out such a tacking job for them, &c." He is mistaken--Everybody was for the bill almost: though not for the tack. The Bishop of Sarum was for it, as appears by his speech against it. But it seems, the tacking is owing to metaphysical speculations. I wonder whether is most perplexed, this author in his style, or the writings of our divines. In the judgment of all people our divines have carried practical preaching and writing to the greatest perfection it ever arrived to; which shews, that we may affirm in general, our clergy is excellent, although this or that man be faulty. As if an army be constantly victorious, regular, &c. we may say, it is an excellent victorious army: But Tindal; to disparage it, would say, such a serjeant ran away; such an ensign hid himself in a ditch; nay, one colonel turned his back, therefore, it is a corrupt, cowardly army, &c.
Page 224. "They were as apprehensive of the works of Aristotle, as some men are of the works of a late philosopher, which, they are afraid, will let too much light into the world." Yet just such, another; only a commentator on Aristotle. People are likely to improve their understanding much with Locke; It is not his "Human Understanding," but other works that people dislike, although in that there are some dangerous tenets, as that of [no] innate ideas.
Page 226. "Could they, like the popish priests, add to this a restraint on the press, their business would be done." So it ought: For example, to hinder his book, because it is written to justify the vices and infidelity of the age. There can be no other design in it. For, is this a way or manner to do good? Railing doth but provoke. The opinion of the whole parliament is, the clergy are too poor.
Ibid. "When some nations could be no longer kept from prying into learning, this miserable gibberish of the schools was contrived." We have exploded schoolmen as much as he, and in some people's opinion too much, since the liberty of embracing any opinion is allowed. They following Aristotle, who is doubtless the greatest master of arguing in the world: But it hath been a fashion of late years to explode Aristotle, and therefore this man hath fallen into it like others, for that reason, without understanding him. Aristotle's poetry, rhetoric, and politics, are admirable, and therefore, it is likely, so are his logics.
Page 230. "In these freer countries, as the clergy have less power, so religion is better understood, and more useful and excellent discourses are made on that subject, &c." Not generally. Holland not very famous, Spain hath been, and France is. But it requireth more knowledge, than his, to form general rules, which people strain (when ignorant) to false deductions to make them out.
Page 232. Chap. VII. "That this hypothesis of an independent power in any set of clergymen, makes all reformation unlawful, except where those who have this power, do consent." The title of this chapter, A Truism.
Page 234. "If God has not placed mankind in respect to civil matters under an absolute power, but has permitted them in every society to act as they judge best for their own safety, &c." Bad parallels; bad politics; want of due distinction between teaching and government. The people may know when they are governed well, but not be wiser than their instructors. Shew the difference.
Ibid. "If God has allowed the civil society these privileges can we suppose He hath less kindness for His church, &c." Here they are distinguished, then, here it makes for him. It is a sort of turn of expression, which is scarce with him, and he contradicts himself to follow it.
Page 235. "This cursed hypothesis had, perhaps, never been thought on with relation to civils, had not the clergy (who have an inexhaustible magazine of oppressive doctrines) contrived first in ecclesiasticals, &c." The seventh paragraph furious and false. Were there no tyrants before the clergy, &c.?
Page 236. "Therefore in order to serve them, though I expect little thanks, &c." And, why so? Will they not, as you say, follow their interest? I thought you said so. He has three or four sprightly turns of this kind, that look, as if he thought he had done wonders, and had put all the clergy in a ferment. Whereas, I do assure him, there are but two things wonderful in his book: First, how any man in a Christian country could have the boldness and wickedness to write it: And, how any government would neglect punishing the author of it, if not as an enemy of religion, yet a profligate trumpeter of sedition. These are hard words, got by reading his book.
Ibid. "The light of nature as well as the Gospel, obliges people to judge of themselves, &c. to avoid false prophets, seducers, &c." The legislature can turn out a priest, and appoint another ready-made, but not make one; as you discharge a physician, and may take a farrier; but he is no physician, unless made as he ought to be.
Ibid. "Since no more power is required for the one than the other." That is, I dislike my physician, and can turn him off, therefore I can make any man a physician, &c. "Cujus est destruere, &c." Jest on it: Therefore because he lays schemes for destroying the Church, we must employ him to raise it again. See, what danger lies in applying maxims at random. So, because it is the soldiers' business to knock men on the head, it is theirs likewise to raise them to life, &c.
Page 237. "It can belong only to the people to appoint their own ecclesiastical officers." This word "people" is so delicious in him, that I cannot tell what is included in the idea of the "people." Doth he mean the rabble or the legislature, &c. In this sense it may be true, that the legislature giveth leave to the bishops to appoint, and they appoint themselves, I mean, the executive power appoints, &c. He sheweth his ignorance in government. As to High Church he carrieth it a prodigious way, and includeth, in the idea of it, more than others will allow.
Page 239 "Though it be customary to admit none to the ministry who are not approved by the bishops or priests, &c." One of his principles to expose.
Ibid "If every one has not an inherent right to choose his own guide, then a man must be either of the religion of his guide, or, &c." That would make delicate work in a nation. What would become of all our churches? They must dwindle into conventicles. Show what would be the consequence of this scheme in several points. This great reformer, if his projects were reduced to practice, how many thousand sects, and consequently tumults, &c. Men must be governed in speculation, at least not suffered to vent them, because opinions tend to actions, which are most governed by opinions, &c. If those who write for the church writ no better, they would succeed but scurvily. But to see whether he be a good writer, let us see when he hath published his second part.
Page 253 "An excellent author in his preface to the Account of Denmark." This man judgeth and writeth much of a level. Molesworth's preface full of stale profligate topics. That author wrote his book in spite to a nation, as this doth to religion, and both perhaps on poor personal piques.
[Footnote 19: This was Robert, Viscount Molesworth (1656-1725), who was born in Dublin, and educated at Trinity College there. He was ambassador at Copenhagen, but had to resign on account of a dispute with the Danish king. The "Account of Denmark," which he wrote on his return, was answered by Dr. King. [T. S.]]
Ibid "By which means, and not by any difference in speculative matters, they are more rich and populous." As if ever anybody thought that a difference in speculative opinions made men richer or poorer, for example, &c.
Page 258 "Play the Devil for God's sake." If this is meant for wit, I would be glad to observe it, but in such cases I first look whether there be common sense, &c.
Page 261 "Christendom has been the scene of perpetual wars, massacres, &c." He doth not consider that most religious wars have been caused by schisms, when the dissenting parties were ready to join with any ambitious discontented man. The national religion always desireth peace, even in her notions, for its interests.
Page 270. "Some have taken the liberty to compare a high church priest in politics to a monkey in a glass-shop, where, as he can do no good, so he never fails of doing mischief enough." That is his modesty, it is his own simile, and it rather fits a man that does so and so, (meaning himself.) Besides the comparison is foolish: So it is with men, as with stags.
Page 276. "Their interest obliges them directly to promote tyranny." The matter is, that Christianity is the fault, which spoils the priests, for they were like other men, before they were priests. Among the Romans, priests did not do so; for they had the greatest power during the republic. I wonder he did not prove they spoiled Nero.
Page 277. "No princes have been more insupportable and done greater violence to the commonwealth than those the clergy have honoured for saints and martyrs." For example in our country, the princes most celebrated by our clergy are, &c. &c. &c. And the quarrels since the Conquest were nothing at all of the clergy, but purely of families, &c. wherein the clergy only joined like other men.
Page 279. "After the Reformation,I desire to know whether the conduct of the clergy was anyways altered for the better, &c." Monstrous misrepresentation. Does this man's spirit of declaiming let him forget all truth of fact, as here, &c.? Shew it. Or doth he flatter himself, a time will come in future ages, that men will believe it on his word? In short, between declaiming, between misrepresenting, and falseness, and charging Popish things, and independency huddled together, his whole book is employed.
[Footnote 20: "Reformation" in 4to and 8vo editions, but Tindal's word is "Restoration." [T.S.]]
Set forth at large the necessity of union in religion, and the disadvantage of the contrary, and answer the contrary in Holland, where they have no religion, and are the worst constituted government in the world to last. It is ignorance of causes and appearances which makes shallow people judge so much to their advantage. They are governed by the administration and almost legislature of Holland through advantage of property; nor are they fit to be set in balance with a noble kingdom, &c. like a man that gets a hundred pounds a year by hard labour, and one that has it in land.
Page 280. "It may be worth enquiring, whether the difference between the several sects in England, &c." A noble notion started, that union in the Church must enslave the kingdom: reflect on it. This man hath somewhere heard, that it is a point of wit to advance paradoxes, and the bolder the better. But the wit lies in maintaining them, which he neglecteth, and formeth imaginary conclusions from them, as if they were true and uncontested.
He adds, "That in the best constituted Church, the greatest good which, can be expected of the ecclesiastics, is from their divisions." This is a maxim deduced from a gradation of false suppositions. If a man should turn the tables, and argue that all the debauchery, atheism, licentiousness, &c. of the times, were owing to the poverty of the clergy, &c. what would he say? There have been more wars of religion since the ruin of the clergy, than before, in England. All the civil wars before were from other causes.
Page 283. "Prayers are made in the loyal university of Oxford, to continue the throne free from the contagion of schism. See Mather's sermon on the 29th of May, 1705." Thus he ridicules the university while he is eating their bread. The whole university comes with the most loyal addresses, yet that goes for nothing. If one indiscreet man drops an indiscreet word, all must answer for it.
Page 286. "By allowing all, who hold no opinions prejudicial to the state, and contribute equally with their fellow-subjects to its support, equal privileges in it." But who denies that of the dissenters? The Calvinist scheme, one would not think, proper for monarchy. Therefore, they fall in with the Scotch, Geneva, and Holland; and when they had strength here, they pulled down the monarchy. But I will tell an opinion they hold prejudicial to the state in his opinion; and that is, that they are against toleration, of which, if I do not shew him ten times more instances from their greatest writers, than he can do of passive obedience among the clergy, I have done.
"Does not justice demand, that they who alike contribute to the burden, should alike receive the advantage?" Here is another of his maxims closely put without considering what exceptions may be made. The Papists have contributed doubly (being so taxed) therefore by this rule they ought to have double advantage. Protection in property, leave to trade and purchase, &c. are enough for a government to give. Employments in a state are a reward for those who entirely agree with it, &c. For example, a man, who upon all occasions declared his opinion of a commonwealth to be preferable to a monarchy, would not be a fit man to have employments; let him enjoy his opinion, but not be in a capacity of reducing it to practice, &c.
Page 287. "There can be no alteration in the established mode of Church discipline, which is not made in a legal way." Oh, but there are several methods to compass this legal way, by cunning, faction, industry. The common people, he knows, may be wrought upon by priests; these may influence the faction, and so compass a very pernicious law, and in a legal way ruin the state; as King Charles I. began to be ruined in a legal way, by passing bills, &c.
Page 288. "As everything is persecution, which puts a man in a worse condition than his neighbours." It is hard to think sometimes whether this man is hired to write for or against dissenters and the sects. This is their opinion, although they will not own it so roundly. Let this be brought to practice: Make a quaker lord chancellor, who thinketh paying tithes unlawful. And bring other instances to shew that several employments affect the Church.
Ibid. "Great advantage which both Church and state have got by the kindness already shewn to dissenters." Let them then be thankful for that. We humour children for their good sometimes, but too much may hurt. Observe that this 64th paragraph just contradicts the former. For, if we have advantage by kindness shewn dissenters, then there is no necessity of banishment, or death.
Page 290. "Christ never designed the holy Sacrament should be prostituted to serve a party. And that people should be bribed by a place to receive unworthily." Why, the business is, to be sure, that those who are employed are of the national church; and the way to know it is by receiving the sacrament, which all men ought to do in their own church; and if not, are hardly fit for an office; and if they have those moral qualifications he mentioneth, joined to religion, no fear of receiving unworthily. And for this there might be a remedy: To take an oath, that they are of the same principles, &c. for that is the end of receiving; and that it might be no bribe, the bill against occasional conformity would prevent entirely.
Ibid. "Preferring men not for their capacity, but their zeal to the Church." The misfortune is, that if we prefer dissenters to great posts, they will have an inclination to make themselves the national church, and so there will be perpetual struggling; which case may be dangerous to the state. For men are naturally wishing to get over others to their own opinion: Witness this writer, who hath published as singular and absurd notions as possible, yet hath a mighty zeal to bring us over to them, &c.
Page 292. Here are two pages of scurrilous faction, with a deal of reflections on great persons. Under the notion of High-Churchmen, he runs down all uniformity and church government. Here is the whole Lower House of Convocation, which represents the body of the clergy and both universities, treated with rudeness by an obscure, corrupt member, while he is eating their bread.
Page 294. "The reason why the middle sort of people retain so much of their ancient virtue &c. is because no such pernicious notions are the ingredients of their education; which 'tis a sign are infinitely absurd, when so many of the gentry and nobility can, notwithstanding their prepossession, get clear of them." Now the very same argument lies against religion, morality, honour, and honesty, which are, it seems, but prejudices of education, and too many get clear of them. The middle sort of people have other things to mind than the factions of the age. He always assigneth many causes, and sometimes with reason, since he maketh imaginary effects. He quarrels at power being lodged in the clergy: When there is no reasonable Protestant, clergy, or laity, who will not readily own the inconveniences by too great power and wealth, in any one body of men, ecclesiastics, or seculars: But on that account to weed up the wheat with the tares; to banish all religion, because it is capable of being corrupted; to give unbounded licence to all sects, &c.--And if heresies had not been used with some violence in the primitive age, we should have had, instead of true religion, the most corrupt one in the world.
Page 316. "The Dutch, and the rest of our presbyterian allies, &c." The Dutch will hardly thank him for this appellation. The French Huguenots, and Geneva Protestants themselves, and others, have lamented the want of episcopacy, and approved ours, &c. In this and the next paragraph, the author introduceth the arguments he formerly used, when he turned papist in King James's time; and loth to lose them, he gives them a new turn; and they are the strongest In his book, at least have most artifice.
Page 333. "'Tis plain, all the power the bishops have, is derived from the people, &c." In general the distinction lies here. The permissive power of exercising jurisdiction, lies in the people, or legislature, or administrator of a kingdom; but not of making him a bishop. As a physician that commenceth abroad, may be suffered to practise in London or be hindered; but they have not the power of creating him a doctor, which is peculiar to a university. This is some allusion; but the thing is plain, as it seemeth to me, and wanteth no subterfuge, &c.
Page 338. "A journeyman bishop to ordain for him." Doth any man think, that writing at this rate, does the author's cause any service? Is it his wit or his spleen that he cannot govern?
Page 364. "Can any have a right to an office without having a right to do those things in which the office consists?" I answer, the ordination is valid. But a man may prudentially forbid to do some things. As a clergyman may marry without licence or banns; the marriage is good; yet he is punishable for it.
Page 368. "A choice made by persons who have no right to choose, is an error of the first concoction." That battered simile again; this is hard. I wish the physicians had kept that a secret, it lieth so ready for him to be witty with.
Page 370. "If prescription can make mere nullities to become good and valid, the laity may be capable of all manner of ecclesiastical power, &c." There is a difference; for here the same way is kept, although there might be breaches; but it is quite otherwise, if you alter the whole method from what it was at first. We see bishops: There always were bishops: It is the old way still. So a family is still held the same, although we are not sure of the purity of every one of the race.
Page 380. "It is said, That every nation is not a complete body politic within itself as to ecclesiasticals. But the whole church, say they, composes such a body, and Christ is the head of it. But Christ's headship makes Christians no more one body politic with respect to ecclesiasticals than to civils." Here we must shew the reason and necessity of the Church being a corporation all over the world: To avoid heresies, and preserve fundamentals, and hinder corrupting of Scripture, &c. But there are no such necessities in government, to be the same everywhere, &c. It is something like the colleges in a university; they all are independent, yet, joined, are one body. So a general council consisteth of many persons independent of one another, &c.
However there is such a thing as jus gentium, &c. And he that is doctor of physic, or law, is so in any university of Europe, like the Respublica Literaria. Nor to me does there seem anything contradicting, or improper in this notion of the Catholic Church; and for want of such a communion, religion is so much corrupted, and would be more, if there were [not] more communion in this than in civils. It is of no import to mankind how nations are governed; but the preserving the purity of religion is best held up by endeavouring to make it one body over the world. Something like as there is in trade. So to be able to communicate with all Christians we come among, is at least to be wished and aimed at as much as we can.
Page 384. "In a word, if the bishops are not supreme, &c." Here he reassumeth his arguments for Popery, that there cannot be a body politic of the Church through the whole world, without a visible head to have recourse to. These were formerly writ to advance Popery, and now to put an absurdity upon the hypothesis of a Catholic Church. As they say in Ireland, in King James's time, they built mass-houses, which we make very good barns of.
Page 388. "Bishops are, under a premunire obliged to confirm and consecrate the person named in the congé d'Élire." This perhaps is complained of. He is permitted to do it. We allow the legislature may hinder if they please; as they may turn out Christianity, if they think fit.
Page 389. "It is the magistrate who empowers them to do more for other bishops than they can for themselves, since they cannot appoint their own successors." Yes they could, if the magistrate would let them. Here is an endless splutter, and a parcel of perplexed distinctions upon no occasion. All that the clergy pretend to, is a right of qualifying men for the ministry, something like what a university doth with degrees. This power they claim from God, and that the civil power cannot do it as pleasing to God without them; but they may choose whether they will suffer it or no. A religion cannot be crammed down a nation's throat against their will; but when they receive a religion, it is supposed they receive as their converters give it; and, upon that foot, they cannot justly mingle their own methods, that contradict that religion, &c.
Page 390. "With us the bishops act only ministerially and by virtue of the regal commission, by which the prince firmly enjoins and commands them to proceed in choosing, confirming, and consecrating, &c." Suppose we held it unlawful to do so: How can we help it? but does that make it rightful, if it be not so? Suppose the author lived in a heathen country, where a law would be made to call Christianity idolatrous; would that be a topic for him to prove it so by, &c.? And why do the clergy incur a pre-munire;--To frighten them--Because the law understandeth, that, if they refuse, the chosen cannot be a bishop: But, if the clergy had an order to do it otherwise than they have prescribed, they ought and would incur an hundred rather.
Page 402. "I believe the Catholic Church, &c." Here he ridicules the Apostles' Creed.--Another part of his scheme.--By what he says in these pages, it is certain, his design is either to run down Christianity, or set up Popery; the latter it is more charitable to think, and, from his past life, highly probable.
Page 405. "That which gave the Papists so great advantage was, clergymen's talking so very inconsistent with themselves, &c." State the difference here between our separation from Rome, and the dissenters from us, and shew the falseness of what he sayeth. I wish he would tell us what he leaveth for a clergyman to do, if he may not instruct the people in religion, and if they should not receive his instructions.
Page 411. "The restraint of the press a badge of Popery." Why is that a badge of Popery? Why not restrain the press to those who would confound religion, as in civil matters? But this toucheth himself. He would starve, perhaps, &c, Let him get some honester livelihood then. It is plain, all his arguments against constraint, &c. favour the papists as much as dissenters; for both have opinions that may affect the peace of the state.
Page 413. "Since this discourse, &c." And must we have another volume on this one subject of independency? Or, is it to fright us? I am not of Dr. Hickes's mind, Qu'il venge. I pity the readers, and the clergy that must answer it, be it ever so insipid. Reflect on his sarcastic conclusion, &c.
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