THE SHORTEST-WAY WITH THE DISSENTERS: OR, PROPOSALS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH.
SIR Roger L'Estrange tells us a Story in his Col|lection of Fables, of the Cock and the Horses. The Cock was gotten to Roost in the Stable, among the Horses, and there being no Racks, or other Conveniencies for him, it seems, he was forc'd to Page 198 Roost upon the Ground; the Horses jostling about for room and putting the Cock in danger of his Life, he gives them this grave Advice; Pray Gentlefolks let us stand still, for fear we should tread upon one another.
There are some People in the World, who now they are Ʋnpearcht, and reduc'd to an Equality with other People, and under strong and very just Appre|hensions of being further Treated as they deserve, begin, with Aesop's-Cock, to Preach up Peace and U|nion, and the Christian Duties of Moderation, forget|ting, that when they had the Power in their Hands, those Graces were Strangers in their Gates.
It is now near Fourteen Years that the Glory and Peace of the purest and most flourishing Church in the World has been Eclips'd, Buffetted, and Disturb'd, by a sort of Men, who God in his Providence has suffer'd to insult over her, and bring her down; these have been the Days of her Humiliation and Tribulation: She has born with an invincible Patience the Reproach of the Wicked, and God has at last heard her Prayers, and deliver'd her from the Oppression of the Stranger.
And now they find their Day is over, their Power gone, and the Throne of this Nation possest by a Roy|al, English, True, and ever Constant, Member of, and Friend to, the Church of England. Now they find that they are in danger of the Church of England's just Resentments; now they cry out Peace, Ʋnion, Forbear|ance, and Charity, as if the Church had not too long harbour'd her Enemies under her Wing, and nourish'd the Viperous Brood, till they hiss and fly in the Face of the Mother that cherish'd them.
No, Gentlemen, the Time of Mercy is past, your Day of Grace is over; you shou'd have practic'd Peace, and Moderation, and Charity, if you expected any your selves.
We have heard none of this Lesson for Fourteen Years past: We have been huff'd and bully'd with Page 199 your Act of Toleration; you have told us that you are the Church establish'd by Law, as well as others; have set up your Canting-Synagogues at our Church-Doors, and the Church and Members have been load|ed with Reproaches, with Oaths, Associations, Abju|rations, and what not; where has been the Mercy, the forbearance, the Charity, you have shewn to ten|der Consciences of the Church of England, that cou'd not take Oaths as fast you made 'em; that having sworn Allegiance to their lawful and rightful King, cou'd not dlspence with that Oath, their King being still alive, and swear to your new Hodge-podge of a Dutch Govern|ment? These ha' been turn'd out of their Livings, and they and their Families left to starve; their Estates double Tax'd, to carry on a War they had no Hand in, and you got nothing by: What Account can you give of the Multitudes you have forc'd to comply, against their Consciences, with your new sophistical Politicks, who like new Converts in France, Sin because they can't Starve. And now the Tables are turn'd upon you, you must not be Persecuted, 'tis not a Christian Spirit.
You have Butcher'd one King Depos'd another King, and made a mock King of a Third; and yet you cou'd have the Face to expect to be employ'd and trusted by the Fourth; any Body that did not know the Temper of your Party, wou'd stand amaz'd at the Impudence, as well as Fully, to think of it.
Your Management of your Dutch Monarch, whom you reduc'd to a meer King of Cl—s, is enough to give any future Princes such an Idea of your Principles, as to warn them sufficiently from coming into your Clutches; and God be thank'd, the Queen is out of your Hands, knows you, and will have a care of you.
There is no doubt but the supream Authority of a Nation has in its self a Power, and a Right to that Pow|er, to execute the Laws upon any part of that Nation it governs. The execution of the known Laws of the Page 200 Land, and that with a weak and gentle Hand neither was all this phanatical Party of this Land have ever call'd Persecution; this they have magnified to a Height, that the Sufferings of the Hugonots in France were not to be compar'd with—Now to execute the known Laws of a Nation upon those who trans|gress them, after voluntarily consenting to the mak|ing those Laws, can never be call'd Persecution, but Justice. But Justice is always Violence to the Party offending, for every Man is Innocent in his own Eyes. The first execution of the Laws against Dissenters in England, was in the Days of King James the First; and what did it amount to, truly, the worst they suf|fer'd, was at their own request, to let them go to New-England, and erect a new Collony, and give them great Priviledges, Grants, and suitable Powers, keep them under Protection, and defend them against all Invaders, and receive no Taxes or Revenue from them. This was the cruelty of the Church of England, fatal Lenity! 'Twas the ruin of that excellent Prince, King Charles the First. Had King James sent all the Puri|tans in England away to the West-Indies, we had been a national, unmix'd, Church; the Church of England had been kept undivided and entire.
To requite the Lenity of the Father, they take up Arms against the Son; Conquer, Pursue, Take, Im|prison, and at last put to Death, the Anointed of God, and Destroy the very Being and Nature of Govern|ment, setting up a fordid Impostor, who had neither Title to Govern, nor Understanding to Manage, but supplied that want with Power, bloody and desperate Councils and Craft, without Conscience.
Had not King James the First withheld the full ex|ecution of the Laws; had he given them strict Justice he had clear'd the Nation of them, and the Consequen|ces had been plain; his Son had never been Murther'd by them, nor the Monarchy overwhelm'd; 'twas tooPage 201much Mercy shewn them was the ruin of his Posterity, and the ruin of the Nations Peace. One would think the Dissenters should not have the Face to believe that we are to be wheedl'd and canted into Peace and Tolera|tion, when they know that they have once requited us with a civil War, and once with an intollerable and unrighteous Persecution for our former Civility.
Nay to encourage us to be easie with them, 'tls ap|parent that they never had the Upper-hand of the Church, but they treated Her with all the Severity; with all the Reproach and Contempt as was possible: What Peace, and what Mercy did they shew the Loy|al Gentry of the Church of England in the Time of their Triumphant Commonwealth? How did they put all the Gentry of England to Ransom, whether they were Actually in Arms for the King or not, ma|king People compound for their Estates, and starve their Families? How did they treat the Clergy of the Church of England, sequester'd the Ministers, de|vour'd the Patrimony of the Church, and divided the Spoil, by sharing the Church-Lands among their Sol|diers, and turning her Clergy out to starve? just such Measure as they have meted, shou'd be measur'd them again.
Charity and Love is the known Doctrine of the Church of England, and 'tis plain She has put it in Practice towards the Dissenters, even beyond what they ought, till She has been wanting to Her Self, and in effect, unkind to own Sons; particularly, in the too much Lenity of King James the First, mention|ed before; had he so Rooted the Puritans from the Face of the Land, which he had an Opportunity early to ha' done, they had not had the Power to vex the Church, as since they have done.
IN the Days of King Charles the Second, how did the Church reward their Bloody Doings with Lenity and Mercy, except the Barbarous Regicides of the preten|dedPage 202Court of Justice: not a Soul suffer'd for all the Blood in an Unnatural War: King Charles came in all Mercy and Love, cherish'd them, prefer'd them, employ'd them, withheld the Rigour of the Law, and oftentimes, even against the Advice of his Par|liament, gave them Liberty of Conscience; and how did they requite him wich the villainous Contrivance to Depose and Murther him and his Successor at the Rye-Plot.
KING James, as if Mercy was the inherent Quality of the Family, began his Reign with unusual Favour to them: Nor could their joining with the Duke of Monmouth against him move him to do himself Ju|stice upon them; but that mistaken Prince thought to win them by Gentleness and Love, Poclaim'd an Uni|versal Liberty to them, and rather discountenanc'd the Church of England than them; how they requited him all the World knows.
THE late Reign is too fresh in the Memory of all the World to need a Comment; how under Pretence of joining with the Church in redressing some Grie|vances, they pusht Things to that Extremity, in Con|junction wirh some mistaken Gentlemen, as to De|pose the late King, as if the Grievance of the Nation cou'd not have been redress'd but by the absolute Ruin of the Prince: Here's an instance of their Temper, their Peace, and Charity. To what height they car|ried themselves during the Reign of a King of their own; how they crope into all Places of Trust and Profit; how they Insinuated into the Favour of the King, and were at first prefer'd to the highest Places in the Nation; how they engross'd the Ministry, and above all, how pitifully they Manag'd, is too plain to need any Remarks.
BUT particularly their Mercy and Charity, the Spirit of Union, they tell us so much of, has been re|markable in Scotland, if any Man wou'd see the Spirit Page 203 of a Dissenter, let him look into Scotland: there they made entire Conquest of the Church, trampled down the Sacred Orders, and supprest the Episcopal Go|vernment, with an absolute, and as they suppose ir|retrievable Victory, tho' 'tis possible, they may find themselves Mistaken: Now 'twou'd be a very proper Question to ask their Impudent Advocate, the Observa|tor, Pray how much Mercy and Favour did the Mem|bers of the Episcopal Church find in Scotland, from the Scotch Presbyterian Government; and I shall un|dertake for the Church of England, that the Dissenters shall still receive as much here, tho' they deserve but little.
In a small Treatise of the Sufferings of the Episco|pal Clergy in Scotland, 'twill appear what Usage they met with, how they not only lost their Living, but in several Places, were plunder'd and abus'd in their Per|sons; the Ministers that cou'd not Conform, turn'd out with numerous Families, and no Maintenance, and hardly Charity enough left to relieve them with a bit of Bread; and the Cruelties of the Parties are innu|merable, and not to be attempted in this short Piece.
And now to prevent the distant Cloud which they perceiv'd to hang over their Heads from England; with a true Presbyterian Policy, they put in for a Ʋnion of Nations, that England might unite their Church with the Kirk of Scotland, and their Presbyterian Mem|bers sit in our House of Commons, and their Assem|bly of Scotch canting Long Cloaks in our Convocati|on, what might have been if our Phanatick, Whiggish States-men continu'd, God only knows, but we hope we are out of fear of that now.
'Tis alled'd by some of the Faction, and they began to Bully us with it; that if we won't Unite with them, they will not settle the Crown with us again, but when Her Majesty Dies, will chuse a King for them|selves.
Page 204 If they won't, we must make them, and 'tis not the first time we have let them know that we are able. The Crowns of these Kingdoms have not so far dis|owned the Right of Succession, but they may retrieve it again, and if Scotland thinks to come off from a Suc|cessive to an Elective State of Government, England has not promised not to assist the Right Heir, and put them into Possession, without any regard to their ri|diculous Settlements.
THESE are the Gentlemen, these their ways of treating the Church, both at home and abroad. Now let us examine the Reasons they pretend to give, why we shou'd be favourable to them, why we should con|tinue and tolerate them among us.
First, THEY are very Numerous, they say, They are a great Part of the Nation, and we cannot Suppress them.
To this may be answer'd, 1. THEY are not so Numerous as the Protestants in France, and yet the French King effectually clear'd the Nation of them at once, and we don't find he Misses them at Home.
But I am not of the Opinion they are so Numerous as is pretended, their Party is more Numerous than their Persons, and those mistaken People of the Church who are misled and deluded by their wheedling Ar|tifices, to join with them, make their Party the great|ter; but those will open their Eyes, when the Govern|ment shall set heartily about the Work, and come off from them, as some Animals, which they say, always desert a House when 'tis likely to fall.
2dly. The more Numerous, the more Dangerous and therefore the more Need to Suppress them; and God has suffer'd us to bear them as Goads in our Sides, for not utterly extinguishing them long ago.
3dly. If we are to allow them, only because we Page 205 cannot Suppress them, then it ought to be try'd whe|ther we can or no; and I am of Opinion 'tis easie to be done, and cou'd prescribe Ways and Means, if it were proper, but I doubt not the Government will find effectual Methods for the rooting the Contagion from the Face of this Land.
ANOTHER Argument they use, which is this, That 'tis a Time of War, and we have need to Unite against the common Enemy.
WE answer, This common Enemy had been no E|nemy, if they had not made him so; he was quiet, in peace, and no way disturb'd, or encroach'd upon us, and we know no reason we had to quarrel with him.
But further, We make no question but we are able to deal with this common Enemy without their help; but why must we unite with them, because of the E|nemy? Will they go over to the Enemy, if we do not prevent it by a Union with them?—We are ve|ry well contented they shou'd, and make no question we shall be ready to deal with them and the common Enemy too, and better without them than with them.
Besides, if we have a common Enemy, there is the more need to be secure against our private Enemies; if there is one common Enemy, we have the less need to have an Enemy in our Bowels.
'Twas a great Argument some People used against Suppressing the Old Money, that 'twas a Time of War, and 'twas too great a Risque for the Nation to run, if we shou'd not master it, we shou'd be undone: and yet the Sequel prov'd the Hazard was not so great, but it might be master'd, and the Success was answer|able. The Suppressing the Dissenters is not a harder Work, nor a Work of less Necessity to the Publick: we can never enjoy a settled uninterrupted Union and Tranquility in this Nation, till the Spirit of Whig|gisme, Faction, and Schism is melted down like the Old-Money.
Page 206 To talk of the Difficulty, is to Frighten our selves with Chimaeras and Notions of a Powerful Party, which are indeed a Party without Power; Difficulties often appear greater at a distance, than when they are search'd into with Judgment, and distinguish'd from the Vapours and Shadows that attend them.
We are not to be frightned with it; this Age is wiser than that, by all our own Experience, and theirs too; King Charles the First, had early supprest this Party, if he had took more deliberate Measures. In short, 'tis not worth arguing, to talk of their Arms, their Monmouths, and Shafts•urys, and Argiles are gone, their Dutch-Sanctuary is at an end, Heaven has made way for their Destruction, and if we do not close with the Divine occasion, we are to blame our selves, and may remember that we had once an opportunity to serve the Church of England, by extirpating her im|placable Enemies, and having let slip the Minute that Heaven presented, may experimentally Complain, Post est Occasio Calva.
Here are some popular Objections in the way.
As First, THE Queen has promis'd them, to continue them in their Tolerated Liberty; and has told us She will be a Religious Observer of Her Word.
WHAT Her Majesty will do we cannot help, but what, as the Head of the Church, She ought to do, is another Case: Her Majesty has promised to Protect and Defend the Church of England, and if She cannot effectually do that without the Destruction of the Dissenters, She must of course dispence with one Pro|mise to comply with another. But to answer this Cavil more effectually: Her Majesty did never promise to Maintain the Toleration, to the Destruction of the Church; but it is upon supposition that it may be com|patible Page 207 with the well being and safety of the Church ch which She had declar'd She would take especial Care of: Now if these two Interests clash, 'tis plain Her Majesties Intentions are to Upholds, Protect, De|fend, and Establish the Church, and this we conceive is impossible.
Perhaps it may be said, THAT the Church is in no immediate danger from the Dissenters, and therefore 'tis time enough: But this is a weak Answer.
For first, IF a Danger be real, the Distance of it is no Argument against, but rather a Spur to quicken us to prevention, lest it be too late hereafter.
And 2dly, Here is the Opportunity, and the only one perhaps that ever the Church had to secure her self, and destroy her Enemies.
The Representatives of the Nation have now an Opportunity, the Time is come which all good Men ha' wish'd for, that the Gentlemen of England may serve the Church of England; now they are protected and encouraged by a Church of England Queen.
What will ye do for your Sister in the Day that She shall be spoken for?
If ever you will establish the best Christian Church in the World.
If ever you will suppress the Spirit of Enthusiosm.
If ever you will free the Nation from the viperous Brood that have so long suck'd the Blood of their Mother.
If ever you will leave your Posterity free from Faction and Rebellion, this is the time.
This is the time to pull up this Heretical Weed of Sedition, that has so long disturb'd the Peace of our Church, and poisoned the good Corn.
Page 208 BUT, says another Hot and Cold Objector, this is re|newing Fire and Faggot, reviving the Act De Heret. Comburendo: This will be Cruelty in its Nature, and Barbarous to all the World.
I answer, 'TIS Cruelty to kill a Snake or a Toad in cold Blood, but the Poyson of their Nature makes it a Charity to our Neighbours, to destroy those Creatures, not for any personal Injury receiv'd, but for prevention; not for the Evil they have done, but the Evil they may do.
Serpents, Toads, Vipers, &c. are noxious to the Bo|dy, and poison the sensative Life; these poyson the Soul, corrupt our Posterity, ensnare our Children, destroy the Vitals of our Happiness, our future Filicity, and contaminate the whole Mass.
Shall any Law be given to such wild Creatures? Some Beasts are for Sport, and the Huntsmen give them advantages of Ground; but some are knock'd on the Head by all possible ways of Violence and Sur|prize.
I do not prescribe Fire and Faggot, but as Scipio said of Carthage, Delenda est Carthago, They are to be Rooted out of this Nation, is ever we will Live in Peace, serve God, or enjoy our own: As for the Man|ner, I leave it to those Hands who have a Right to execute God's Justice on the Nations and the Church's Enemies,
BUT if we must be frighted from this Justice un|der the specious Pretences, and odious Sense of Cru|elty, nothing will be effected: 'Twill be more Bar|barous to our own Children, and dear Posterity, when they shall reproach their Fathers, as we do ours, and tell us,
HOW just will such Reflections be, when our Po|sterity shall fall under the merciless Clntches of this uncharitable Generation, when our Church shall be swallow'd up in Schism, Faction, Enthusiasm, and Con|fusion; when our Government shall be devolv'd up|on Foreigners, and our Monarchy dwindled into a Republick.
'Twou'd be more rational for us, if we must spare this Generation, to summon our own to a general Massacre, and as we have brought them into the World Free, send them out so, and not betray them to Destruction by our supine Negligence, and then cry it is Mercy.
Moses was a Merciful Meek Man, and yet with what Fury did he run thro' the Camp, and cut the Camp, and cut the Throats of Three and thirty thou|sand of his dear Israelites, that were fallen into Idola|try; what was the reason? 'Twas Mercy to the rest, to make these Examples, to prevent the Destructi|on of the whole Army.
How many Millions of future Souls we save from Infection and Delusion, if the present Race of poison'd Spirits were purg'd from the Face of the Land.
'TIS vain to trifle in this matter, the light foolish handling of them by Mulcts, Fines, &c. 'tis their Glo|ry and their Advantage, if the Gallows instead of the Counter, and the Gallies instead of the Fines, were the Reward of going to a Conventicle, to preach or hear, there wou'd not be so many Sufferers, the Spi|rit of Martyrdom is over; they that will go to Church Page 210 to be chosen Sheriffs and Mayors, would go to forty Churches rather than be Hang'd.
If one severe Law were made, and punctually ex|ecuted, that who ever was found at a Conventicle, shou'd be Banish'd the Nation, and the Preacher be Hang'd, we shou'd soon see an end of the Tale, they wou'd all come to Church; and one Age wou'd make us all One again.
TO talk of 5s. a Month for not coming to the Sa|crament, and 1s. per Week for not coming to Church this is such a way of converting People as never was known, this is selling them a Liberty to transgress for so much Money: If it be not a Crime, why don't we give them full Licence? And if it be, no Price ought to compound for the committing it, for that is selling a Liberty to People to sin against God and the Government.
If it be a Crime of the highest Consequence both a|gainst the Peace and Welfare of the Nation, the Glo|ry of God, the Good of the Church, and the Happi|ness of the Soul, let us rank it among capital Offences, and let it receive a Punishment in proportion to it.
We Hang Men for Trifles, and Banish them for things not worth naming, but an Offence against God and the Church, against the Welfare of the World, and the Dignity of Religion, shall be bought off for 5s. this is such a shame to a Christian Government, that 'tis with regret I transmit it to Posterity.
IF Men sin against God, affront his Ordinances, re|bel against his Church, and disobey the Precepts of their Superiors, let them suffer as such capital Crimes deserve, so will Religion flourish, and this divided Nation be once again united.
And yet the Title of Barbarous and Cruel will soon be taken off from this Law too. I am not supposing that all the Dissenters in England shou'd be Hang'd or Banish'd, but as in cases of Rebellions and Insurrecti|ons, Page 211 if a few of the Ring-leaders suffer, the Multitude are dismist, so a few obstinate People being made Ex|amples, there's no doubt but the Severity of the Law would find a stop in the Compliance of the Multitude.
To make the reasonableness of this matter out of question, and more unanswerably plain, let us exa|mine for what it is that this Nation is divided into Parties and Factions, and let us see how they can justi|fie a Separation, or we of the Church of England can justifie our bearing the Insults and Inconveniencies of the Party.
ONE of their leading Pastors, and a Man of as much Learning as most among them in his An|swer to a Pamphlet, entituled, An Enquiry into the Oc|casional Conformity, hath these Words, P. 27. Do the Religion of the Church and the Meeting-bouses make two Religions? Wherein do they differ? The Substance of the same Religion is common to them both; and the Modes and Accidents are the things in which only they differ P. 28. Thirty nine Articles are given us for the summary of our Religion, Thirty six contain the Substance of it, wherein we agree; Three the additional Appendices, about which we have some differences.
Now, if as by their own acknowledgment, the Church of England is a true Church, and the Diffe|rence between them is only in a few Modes and Acci|dents, why should we expect that they will suffer Gal|lies, corporeal Punishment and Banishment for these Trifles; There is no question but they will be wiser, even their own Principles won't bear them out in it, they will certainly comply with the Laws, and with Reason, and tho' at the first, Severity may seem hard, the next Age will feel nothing of it, the Contagion will be rooted out, the Disease being cur'd, there will be no need of the Operation, but if they should ven|ture to transgress, and fall into the Pit, all the World must condemn their Obstinacy, as being without ground from their own Principles.
Page 212 Thus the Pretence of Cruelty will be taken off, and the Party actually supprest, and the Disquiets they have so often brought upon the Nation, prevented.
THEIR Numbers, and their Wealth, makes them Haughty, and that 'tis so far from being an Argument to perswade us to forbear them, that 'tis a Warning to us, without any more delay, to reconcile them to the Unity of the Church, or remove them from us.
AT present, Heaven be prais'd, they are not so Formidable as they have been, and 'tis our own fault if ever we suffer them to be so; Providence, and the Church of England, seems to join in this particular, that now the Destroyers of the Nations Peace may be overturn'd, and to this end the present Opportu|nity seems to be put into our Hands.
To this end Her present Majesty seems reserv'd to enjoy the Crown, that the Ecclesiastick as well as Civil Rights of the Nation may be restor'd by her Hand.
To this end the Face of Affairs have receiv'd such a Turn in the process of a few Months, as never has been before; the leading Men of the Nation, the u|niversal cry of the People, the unanimous Request of the Clergy, agree in this, that the Deliverance of our Church is at Hand.
For this end has Providence given us such a Parlia|ment, such a Convocation, such a Gentry, and such a Queen as we never had before.
AND what may be the Consequences of a Neglect of such Opportunities? The Succession of the Crown has but a dark Prospect, another Dutch Turn may make the Hopes of it ridiculous, and the Practice im|possible: Be the House of our future Princes never so well inclin'd, they will be Foreigners; and many Years will be spent in suiting the Genius of Strang|ers to this Crown, and the Interests of the Nation; and how many Ages it may be before the EnglishPage 213 Throne be fill'd with so much Zeal and Candour, so much Tenderness, and hearty Affection to the Church, as we see it now cover'd with, who can imagine.
'Tis high time then for the Friends of the Church of England, to think of Building up, and Establishing her, in such a manner, that She may be no more Inva|ded by Foreigners, nor Divided by Factions, Schisms, and Error.
IF this cou'd be done by gentle and easie Methods, I shou'd be glad, but the Wound is corroded, the Vitals begin to mortifie, and nothing but Amputation of Members can compleat the Cure; all the ways of Tenderness and Compassion, all perswasive Argu|ments have been made use of in vain.
THE Humour of the Dissenters has so encreas'd a|mong the People, that they hold the Church in Defi|ance, and the House of God is an Abomination among them: Nay, they have brought up their Posterity in such prepossest Aversions to our Holy Religion, that the ignorant Mob think we are all Idolaters, and Wor|shippers of Baal; and account it a Sin to come with|in the Walls of our Churches.
The primitive Christians were not more shie of a Heathen-Temple, or of Meat offer'd to Idols, nor the Jews of Swine's Flesh, than some of our Dissenters are of the Church, and the Divine Service solemnized therein.
THIS Obstinacy must be rooted out with the Pro|fession of it, while the Generation are left at liberty daily to affront God Almighty, and dishonour his Ho|ly Worship, we are wanting in our Duty to God, and our Mother the Church of England.
How can we answer it to God, to the Church, and to our Posterity, to leave them entangled with Fana|ticism, Error, and Obstinacy, in the Bowels of the Na|tion; to leave them an Enemy in their Streets, that in time may involve them in the same Crimes, and en|danger Page 214 the utter Extirpation of Religion in the Nation.
WHAT's the Difference betwixt this, and being subjected to the Power of the Church of Rome, from whence we have reform'd? If one be an extream on one Hand, and one on another, 'tis equally Destructive to the Truth, to have Errors settled among us, let them be of what Nature they will.
Both are Enemies of our Church, and of our Peace, and why shou'd it not be as Criminal to admit an En|thusiast as a Jesuit? Why shou'd the Papist with his Seven Sacraments be worse than the Quaker with no Sacraments at all? Why should Religious-houses be more intollerable than Meeting-houses—Alas the Church of England? What with Popery on one Hand, and Schismaticks on the other; how has She been Crucified between two Thieves.
Now let us Crucifie the Thieves. Let her Foundati|ons be Establish'd upon the Destruction of Her Ene|mies: The Doors of Mercy being always open to the returning Part of the deluded People: Let the Ob|stinate be rul'd with the Rod of Iron.
Let all true Sons of so Holy and Oppressed a Mother, exasperated by her Afflictions, harden their Hearts against those who have Oppress'd Her.
And may God Almighty put it into the Hearts of all the Friends of Truth, to lift up a Standard against Pride and Antichrist, that the Posterity of the Sons of Error may be rooted out from the Face of this Land for ever—.
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.