A brief Explanation of a late Pamphlet, Entituled, The Shortest Way with the Dissenters.
THE Author professes he thought, when he wrote the Book, he shou'd never need to come to an Explication, and wonders to find there should be any reason for it.
If any Man take the Pains seriously to reflect upon the Contents, the Nature of the Thing, and the Man|ner of the Stile, it seems Impossible to imagine it should pass for any thing but an Irony.
That it is free from any Seditious design, either of stirring up the Dissenters to any Evil Practice by way of prevention; much less of animating others to their Destruction, will be plain, I think, to any Man that understands the present Constitution of England, and the Nature of our Government.
But since Ignorance, or Prejudice has led most Men to a hasty Censure of the Book, and several poor Peo|ple are like to come under the Displeasure of the Go|vernment for it, in Justice to those who are in danger to suffer for it; in Humble submission to the Parlia|ment and Council, who may be offended at it; and in Courtesie to all mistaken People, who it seems have not Penetrated into the real design: The Author presents the World with the Native Genuine Meaning and De|sign of the Paper, which he hopes may allay the An|ger of the Government, or at least satisfie the minds of such as imagine a design to Enflame and Divide us.
The Paper, without the least retrospect to, or con|cern in the Publick Bills in Parliament, now depen|ding; or any other Proceedings of either House, or of the Government relating to the Dissenters, whose Page 216 Occasional Conformity the Author has constantly op|posed, has its immediate Original from the Virulent Spirits of some Men who have thought fit to express themselves to the same Effect, in their Printed Books, tho' not in Words so plain, and at length, and by an Irony not Unusual; stands as a fair answer to several Books Published in this Liberty of the Press; which, if they had been handed to the Government with the same temper as this has, wou'd no question ha' found the same Treatment.
The Sermon Preach'd at Oxford, the New Association, the Poetical Observator, with numberless others; have said the same thing, in terms very little darker, and this Book stands fair to let those Gentlemen know that what they design can no farther take with Mankind than as their real meaning stands disguis'd by Artifice of words; but that when the Persecution and De|struction of the Dissenters, the very thing they drive at, is put into plain English, the whole Nation will start at the Notion, and Condemn the Author to be Hang'd for his Impudence.
The Author humbly hopes he shall find no harder Treatment for plain English without Design, than those Gentlemen for their Plain Design in Duller and Darker English.
Any Gentlemen who have Patience to peruse the Author of the New Association, will find Gallows, Galleys, Persecution and Destruction of the Dissenters are directly pointed at, as fairly intended, and de|sign'd as in this shortest way, as, had it been real, can be pretended; there is as much Virulence against a Union with Scotland, against King WILLIAM's Government, and against the Line of Hannover there is as much Noise and Pains taken in Mr. S—s Sermon to blacken the Dissenters, and thereby to qualifie them for the Abhorrence of all Mankind, as is possible.
Page 217 The meaning then of this Paper is in short to tell these Gentlemen,
1. That 'tis Nonsence to go round about, and tell us of the Crimes of the Dissenters, to prepare the World to believe they are not fit to Live in a Humane Society, that they are Enemies to the Government, and Law, to the QUEEN, and the Publick Peace, and the like; the shortest way, and the soonest, wou'd be to tell us plainly that they wou'd have them all hang'd, Banish'd and Destroyed.
2. But withal to acquaint those Gentlemen who fancy the time is come to bring it to pass, that they are mistaken, for that when the thing they mean, is put into plain English, the whole Nation replies with the Assyrian Captain, Is thy Servant a Dog, that he shou'd do these things? The Gentlemen are mistaken in every partlcular, it will not go down, the QUEEN, the Council, the Parliament are all Offended, to have it so much as suggested, that such a thing was possible to come into their Minds; and not a Man, but a Learn|ed Mercer, not far from the Corner of Fanchurch-street, has been found to approve it.
Thus a poor Author has ventur'd to have all Man|kind call him Villain and Traytor to his Country and Friends, for making other Peoples thoughts speak in his Words.
From this Declaration of his real design, he humbly hopes the Lords of Her Majesties Council, or the House of Parliament, will be no longer offended, and that the poor People in trouble on this Account shall be Pardoned or Excused.
He also desires that all men who have taken Offence at the Book, mistaking the Authors design; will suf|fer themselves to think again, and withhold their Censure till they find themselves qualified to make a Venture like this for the good of their Native Coun|trey.
Page 218 As to Expressions which seem to reflect upon Per|sons or Nations; he declares them to be only the Cant of the Nonjuring Party Expos'd, and thinks it very ne|cessary to let the World know that 'tis their usual Language with which they Treat the Late KING, the Scotch Ʋnion, and the Line of Hannover.
'Tis hard, after all, that this should not be percei|ved by all the Town, that not one man can see it, ei|ther Churchman or Dissenter.
That not the Dissenters themselves can see that this was the only way to satisfy them, that whatever the Parliament might think fit to do to restrain Occasion|al Communion, Persecution and Destruction was ne|ver in their intention, and that therefore they ha' no|thing to do but to be quiet and easie.
For any thing in the manner of the Paper which may offend either the Government, Parliament, or private Persons, the Author humbly begs their Par|don, and protesting the Honesty of his intention, resolves, if the poor People now in Trouble may be excused, to throw himself upon the Favour of the Government rather than others shall be ruin'd for his mistakes.