A DIALOGUE BETWEEN A DISSENTER AND THE OBSERVATOR. CONCERNING The Shortest way with the Dissenters.
PRAY Sir, are you the Author of the Ob|servator?
Suppose it Sir, what then?
Nay, don't be Angry, are you the reputed Author? A. Come off you Taught me in one of your Pa|pers about Mr. F.
And what then?
Why I wanted a little Discourse with you.
If it be Civil, as you say, you are Welcome, but you begin odly.
My Questions may be Blunt, but you are not bound to Answer them, but let that be as you like 'em.
First, Pray who do you reckon is the Author of this Devilish Book, call'd, The Shortest Way?
I shall Answer most of your Questions with a Question, I believe, and begin with you here.
Do you think my Name is Mr. Bellamy, that you take me for an Informer? Read the Gazette, there you have the Man with the Sharp Chin, and a Dutch Nose.
Ay, but Sir, we begin to doubt that is not the true Author, that he has been only made the Tool of Page 220 some other Party, who now they find the World Ex|asperated at it, have slipt out of the Noose, and left him it; we begin to be afraid the thing is a Reality, and there is such a design on foot.
Your Answer, like Parson Jacobs Text, ought to be taken a pieces and Explain'd.
1, If you are not sure he is the Author, you Dissen|ters have done him a great deal of wrong, for you have rail'd at him more than all the rest of the World, and charg'd him with more Crimes than 'tis well possible for one Man to be Guilty of.
2. And yet by supposing him not to be the Author, yon suppose him to be very Honest to his Friends, that he bears all this without discovering them
3. As for your fears of a real design, to put the Shortest way in practice upon you, no Question there are abundance of People in the World, who would be glad there was not one of you left; I believe no Body doubts it.
Pray who do you think they are?
Sir your humble Servant; no Bellamy, I tell you not I Sir: If I were in a Plot with the Devil, I le never Evidence, besides Sir, I have no mind to have my Nose and Chin describ'd, but if you please I'll answer you Negatively, who I believe is not concern'd in it.
That may be some Satisfaction, Sir.
Not the Queen Sir, not the Parliament, not the Council, not the Army, not the Ministers of State, not the Government.
Thou art a safe Man, thou'lt never go to New|gate for Negatives.
No Sir, nor for Positives neither if I can help it; but you have had your Will at Catechising, and I ought to have my turn, let me ask you a few Questions too.
You are welcome.
Pray why are you Dissenters Angry at the Book call'd, The Shortest Way; 'Tis a little Mysterious, Sir, Page 221 that tho the Church Men are Affronted, because 'twas Written against them, and the Dissenters are Affron|ted, because 'tis Wrote against them too, I don't well understand it, one sort must be Fools, that's certain.
I don't care whether I understand it or no, he is a Rogue, a Villain, and I wish the Government had him, if I knew where he was, I'd deliver him up, and abate them the 501.
Spoken like a Dissenter truly, so that I find you are Angry at him, because you don't understand him and the Government because they do.
You are so sharp upon me, I do understand a little too, I understand he meddl'd with that he had nothing to do with, and he is a Man they say who has been the occasion of all this Persecution which is com|ing upon us, by railing at Occasional Conformity.
If he expos'd you for Occasional Conformity, 'tis what you ought to have Rectify'd your selves, that you need not have been expos'd for it; and in that he was your Friend, for had you took the hint, and exploded the Practice, there had been no need of an Act of Parliament to force you to it.
But what had he to do with that?
Nay, what had Mr. How to do to meddle with it afterward, I'll assure you his Name is down in my Pocket-Book, and when any Man in England defends a Cause worse, I'll put his name out, and put t'others Name in: But pray Sir, why do you call this bringing Persecution upon you; do you suppose the Occasional Bill will be a Persecution?
Without doubt it will.
What sort of Persecution can you call it? it can't be a Persecution for Conscience sake.
Why so Sir?
Why pray Sir, suppose one of your Brethren Dissenters, who can go to the Meeting to Day, and to the Church to Morrow; take the Sacrament to Day Page 222 fitting, and to Morrow to get a good place, go to Church and take it kneeling; wipe his Mouth and go home to Dinner, and so to Meeting again; suppose this Gen|tleman should be put up for Sherriff, or Lord Mayor, can this Man pretend Conscience not to Conform? I tell you Sir, Mr. How must make a better Answer to the matter before I can be convinc'd, you may call it Persecution but it can never be for Conscience sake.
Persecution is Persecution, let it be for what sake it will, every man ought to be at liberty.
Ay that is true, I am for Liberty for every man to serve God as is most agreeable to his Consci|ence: But this is not serving God at all: besides Sir, I could easily make it appear, this Act is for your Ad|vantage, if you were a sort of People to be convinc'd.
Pray, how Sir?
Why Sir, it will purge you of all your half in half Professors. That's one thing; then it will put all those Gentlemen into a capacity of being in pla|ces and Parliaments, who tho' by this Act they are se|parated from you, and rejoin'd to the Church because they can conform, will still be friends to your Interest in all Publick Concerns; and therefore had I been to word the Bill so as to have done most harm, it shou'd have excluded all that ever were Dissenters, and have forc'd you to continue so, and not have ac|cepted your return to the Church without a public Repentance.
Well, well, you may perswade us 'tis for our advantage, but we don't like it, and therefore we hate him for medling with it; for what had he to do with it?
About as much as you and I have to do with him, if a man meddles with what does not concern him, that's his Fault, and if we who really have no|thing to do with him, meddle with him, that is our Fault, let the Government alone with him, have you nothing else to talk no?
Why all the Town has talkt of him as well as we.
Yes, and reckon'd up all his Faults, all the sins that ever he committed in his Life, and abundance more; be the man who he will, and what he will, I don't see but the best of us would be loth all the Faults we have should be reckon'd up and writ in our Fore|heads, as his are.
Oh, he has been a most wicked Wretch.
You force a man to be an Advocate for One he has no kindness for; a wicked wretch you say; why has he been a Thief, a Murderer?
No no, I don't mean that way.
What has he been Clipper or Coyner?
No no, nor that neither.
Has he been a Whoremaster or a Drunkard, or a Swearer?
No, I can't say so neither, but he broke and can't pay his Debts.
If you had said he had broke and won't pay his Debts, you had said more to the purpose.
But I must do one piece of Justice to the man, tho' I love him no better than you do, that is this: That meeting a Gentleman in a Coffee-House, where I and every body else was railing at him, the Gentleman took us up with this short Speech.
Gentlemen, said, he, I know this D' Foe as well as any of you, and I was one of his Creditors, and I Compounded with him, and discharg'd him fully; and several Years afterward he sent for me, and tho' he was clearly discharg'd he paid me all the Remainder of his Debt Voluntarily, and of his own accord: And he told me, that as fast as God should enable him, he Intended to do so with every Body; when he had done, he desired me to set my Hand to a Paper to ac|knowledge it, which I readily did, and found a great many Names to the Paper, before me, and I think my Page 224 self bound to own it, tho' I am no Friend to the Book he has wrote, no more than you. What do you think of this Story?
Think of it, I don't belive it!
I can't help that, nor I care not whether you do or no, but I assure you after I heard it, I never rail'd at him any more.
Ay, but I'll rail at him for all that.
You Dissenters are in something like Case with the Pharisees; when the Question was put to them by our Saviour about Johns Baptism; whether it was from Heaven or of Men. If a Man should ask you of the Shortest Way, was it wrote for you or against you? If you should say for us, you would be askt why then are you so mad with the Author? And if you should say against you, the People would laugh at you; for all Men but you see into it, and that a Dissenter wrote it; you must say therefore, we cannot tell, and con|sequently, that you rail at the Author for you can't tell what.
But we don't count him a Dissenter.
He has all the Marks of a Dissenter upon him, but want of Brains.
Why are we so empty of Brains pray?
There is reason for it, God has given you Equi|valents.
I don't understand you.
That's a further Testimony of your being a Dissenter; why if you will have it, take it, I say, God Almighty would have seem'd unkind to you, if he had not given you a great deal of Grace? For he has given you but little Wit.
Well, I hope they'll take him still, I should be glad to see him hang'd for it, I am sure he deserves it, I heard one met him a little while ago, wou'd I had been there.
Alone do you mean Sir, or to have help'd the other?
Any how, so I could but have taken him.
Ay, and they say 'twas one of your own Party too, and one that wou'd fain have got the 50l. but that he drew upon him, Frighted him out of his Wits and made him down of his Knees and Swear that if ever he met him again, he should shut his eyes till he was half a mile off him.
I don't think he's such a fighting Fellow.
Do you know him?
No not I.
So I thought by your Charity and good Nature; I know him not neither, but the man has the Govern|ment upon his Back already, and if they take him they'l avenge your Quarrel for you. Let him alone, 'tis In|generous, as I said before in print, to triumph over a Man in his Affliction: 'Twas but a little while ago he wrote a Book that pleas'd you, and then you cry'd him up as much as now you cry him down.
What Book pray?
Why the New Test of Church of England Loy|alty.
Did he write that Book?
I told you I was no Informer, go ask Mr. Bel|lamy;
Why truly that was a good thing, I lik'd it fully. 'Twas well done, but this cursed Shortest-way is the Devil, he must be turn'd Rogue now, what ever he was then.
Why, this 'tis to oblige a Dissenter, if you serve them a hundred times 'tis well, but once get your Head in the Pillory for them, and they'l be the first to palt you with rotten Eggs; what can't you set down one good thing and one bad, and ballance with him: You under|stand Accompts well enough; but you Dissenters, are like a Shop-keeper I knew, who having Traded 20 Year with a Gentleman, and serv'd all his Family and gotten a great deal of Money by him, at last the poor Page 226 Gentleman fell to decay, and owing him 40s. the Shop-keeper abus'd him, and call'd him all the Knaves and Rogues for cheating him of 40s.
No, no, this has spoilt all.
Well, but we'll go back further with you There's the Reformation of Manners, and the True-born English-man there he pleas'd you for certain, for he is for reforming your Magistrates.
I don't understand them, I am for Reformati|on as much as any Body.
But what say you to the Legion Paper?
Ay that was a good thing indeed.
Well, but if he had been taken in doing that, wou'd you not have call'd him as many Rogues then as you do now?
No indeed, shou'd I not?
But I don't find you call him one Rogue the less for it now, and that's hard.
Well, But you see he denies it, and challenges you to prove it.
Ay, deny it, I told you he was no Fool, indeed I am not glad I Printed it, for tho' it is charged upon him by common Fame, I am not for hanging Men upon suppositions as you do.
Well, you do well, and I think 'tis a little hard; the man is gone, and tho' he has done ill, he might mean no harm, and so let him alone, I reckon you won't be long before you follow him.
And when I am gone, you'll call me as many Rogues as you do him, won't you?
No, it may be I shan't, but I can tell you of some that do already.
It's all one to me, common Fame like a com|mon Strumpet, jilts every Body, but methinks Slander and Reproach, out of the Mouth of a Dissenter comes with some more than common ill savour.
They think they have good reason for it upon you.
And I think not, pray what are their good Reasons?
For abusing your Friends?
My Friends, prithee who are they? I know but very few I have, and I am very sure I never abus'd them.
They all agree you would not be permitted to write so long, but the Party would have ruffled you before now, only you court them and please them by a Side-Wind, with your railing at King William's Friends sometimes.
King William's Enemies you mean; look, Sir, I have as much Veneration for the Memory of King William as any of you, and do but once prove them to be King William's Friends, and I'll own all you say, and recant all I have wrote.
It's easie to prove they were his Friends.
Pray Sir, don't you Tax me with abusing King William, and abuse him your self, I have prov'd suffici|ently they were the Nations Enemies: Now if you can prove the Nations Enemies were K. William's Friends, you'll make a fine spot of Work on't indeed.
The Nations Enemies! That is, because being in great places, they got as much Money as they could, and so would you do, and so have all the Favourites that ever were or will be.
When ever Favourites did, do or shall get Mo|ney by rapine or injustice, and oppression of the Sub|ject, they were and will be the Nations Enemies and their Soveraigns too.
But what have you to do with it? 'Tis none of your Business.
'Tis every Mans business to discover mischief, fraud and ill design, as much as every Man who first spies Fire, has a duty upon him to raise the Neigh|bours: I am a Subject, and am Cheated among the rest.
You Cheated, why what have you to lose?
Why, my Liberty, which you said but now, every Man had a Right to, and my Money when I have it; what's that to you, how little, or much I have, and how do you know how much I may have hereafter.
Nay, they say you get Money by Railing, and so you may soon be Rich.
Then I Rail for something, and you get none, and yet you Rail; Pray who has the best Excuse for it?
He that has the best Reason for it, not he that gets the most Money by it.
I believe if you could get Money by Railing, you would count it the best Reason in the World.
Because you are so willing to Rail at any Body, when you know not for what, nor why, and charge People with Crimes they never Committed; of all your Christian Duties, you make the least use of your Charity.
Why, since you put so hard, I can tell the time when you abus'd King William himself, as openly as you durst speak it, or any body dare Print, particu|larly in a Poem of yours, call'd the Foreigners.
How do you prove 'twas mine?
Nay, they say 'twas yours, you were the Re|puted Author, as you said in another case.
I tell you, there's no People in the World so forward to Condemn a Man upon hear say, as the Dis|senters, when they have a Mind to slander a Man, they take every thing upon trust, 'tis their Shortest Way.
These Scribling People are always medling with things they have nothing to do with; what have you to do with Kings and Favourites, or that t'other Fellow with the Shortest Way: You Pamphleteers are always Quacking with the State.
Come let's turn the Tables, now it's my Play, what have you to do with Acts of Parliaments; you Page 229 Dissenters are always thrusting in your Oar too; what have you to do to talk of Persecution and Acts against Occasional Conformity, you are Mountebanking with the State too in every Coffee-House, Pray med|dle with your own Business.
We shall have to do with it, when we feel it.
I am perswaded if you were put to it severely, few of you would stay to feel it, at least few of your Wealthy Members, few of Mr. Hows Mind, few of such Dissenters as go from Meeting to Church, and can back-stroke and fore-stroke, Communicate on both sides.
I wish they may not, but we are afraid 'twill not only be a Persecution, but a very long one.
Why then you are beholding to the Author we talkt of, for you see he is for putting you out of your Pain, but I am of a different Opinion from you in se|veral of your darkest thoughts about Persecution.
Pray what is your Opinion?
1. I am of Opinion that if your Enemies were true Masters of Politicks, they would not Persecute you at all, I take you to be a declining Party, Tolera|tion will be your Ruin; and if God in Mercy to you don't send a Persecution among you, you are lost, you will all dwindle back into the Church again; your old stock of Ministers dye off, your Owens, Mantons, Char|nocks, Clarksons, Baxters, and Bates's are gone; and Pray what can you name out of the new Generation of your Leyden Doctors fit to succeed them.
2. The Occasional Bill at once carries off your Wealthy Members, who are the support of your Cler|gy, and as Mr. William's very well observed at Salters-Hall, If the Rich ones forsake you, the Party will be weaken'd so as to make you fear the Dissolution of the whole. Indeed the Gentleman was in the right, if the Wealthy Mem|bers quit the Congregations, 'twill make poor work for the Ministers, and they like other People Gene|rally do their Work best where they have best Wages.
I thought you had Lov'd the Dissenters better than to abuse them at this rate.
I don't abuse them, I wish them clear of all their Hypocrites, and that there were none among them but what were Dissenters for meer Conscience: If that were so, 'twould make their Enemies at Peace with them, they'd never be Persecuted; the Govern|ment would Cherish them, and be as tender of them as they would desire. But to be plain with you, 'tis your own Pride, and Pushing at great things has made you Obnoxious, and withall your discovering by an Alter|nate double fac'd Conscience, that while you pretend to Dissent, and to have tender Consciences, you can nevertheless Conform, if you please; this makes your Enemies suspect your Honesty, and apprehend more trick and design in you, than I hope they need. Nay, this gives your Enemies such advantage against you, as you can never Answer.
I do not think any Man ought to be confin'd by Laws and Acts of Parliaments about his Religion.
It may be I think so too; but Men ought to be Honest to their own Principles, whether there were Laws or no; and if I see a Man pretend he can't Con|form, and upon occasion I find he can, it makes me sus|pect his Honesty, and if I once think a Man a Knave, I am not to blame to fence my self against him by Laws: I tell you an Act of Parliament to keep you Honest, can never be call'd Persecution.
Ay, if there was no more in it.
If there be any more in it, I wish there was not, I'm sure I know not what is in it, and I believe you don't neither; Pray have you seen the Bill?
No not I, but I hear 'tis a very Terrible Bill.
True to the old way still, always to Judge before you Hear. Indeed I forgot to ask you, but on my Conscience I don't believe you ever read the Book of the Shortest way; Come, be Honest.
Read it, why the very Out-side of that is enough for any Man to read; I thank God I spend my time better.
I think you ought to spend your time better too, than to give your Verdict upon any thing before you read it.
You are a strange Man, why every body says 'tis a horrible Book, and not fit to be read, but what's that to this Act of Parliament?
Why thus much 'tis, that you cry out Persecu|tion from this Act of Parliament, and there's not a word of Persecution in it.
I think 'tis Persecution, if I must not be at Li|berty to Worship God as I think fit.
Still you are without Book, why you may be a Dissenter all the days of your Life, and go to Meet|ings as long as you live, and never be troubled by this Act.
I can't imagine what you mean, why I must Pay, God knows what, if I am seen at a Meeting.
Ay, Sir, that's after you have strain'd your Conscience from the Meeting to the Church; after you have bob'd your Religion to be Sheriff of London, or the like; and then want to go back again; but if you, to keep your Conscience, can be content to be without these gay things call'd Places, you may be a Dissenter to the end of the Chapter: So that this will only be a Persecution for Honour sake, not for Con|science sake, and never fall upon you neither, till you bring it upon your self.
Well, I hope it won't pass for all that.
I hope so too, but if it don't, it must be the Lords doing, and it will be marvellous in our Eyes.
The House of Lords you mean, I suppose.
I must mean as you will have me, let it be how it will, but if I hope it will not pass, it's from diffe|rent reasons with you.
Pray, your reasons?
Because I am against (and ever shall be) Im|posing any Religious Ordinance or part of Worship as a Qualification for any Temporal Employment. Let the Princes be at full liberty to employ who, or what sort of their Subjects they see Cause. 2. Such impositions are a Bait to People to Banter their Consciences, and to comply with that for a Preferment, which otherwise they wou'd not, and so seem to lead them into Temptation: But I don't know the Contents of the Bill, therefore I'll say no more.
And I wou'd not have it pass, because I take it to be a Foundation of Persecution; 'tis but pulling down the Toleration next, and then we are all undone.
You Faithless and Perverse Generation! Has not the QUEEN promis'd to maintain your To|leration? Besides, what's that to the Bill?
Why shou'd not we be afraid of it, as well as some of the Church-Party have the confidence to hope it? Nay, to condemn the Toleration as Anti|christian, and threaten us with the having it over|thrown.
Why these are for the Shortest way; you ought to rail at them as much as you do at the Man with the hook Nose, and sharp Chin, and more too; and no doubt but if you would turn Informer, you might hook their Noses into the Gazett too, to be sure the Government would not allow of it; they would ne|ver suffer the QUEEN to be so affronted.
I don't know how 'tis, such things are suf|fer'd daily. I heard our Parson t'other day say at a Publick Dinner 'twou'd never be well with England till some Course was taken to reconcile all Dissen|ters to the Church, Longest way, or Sherrest, 'twas all one to him; he said he hop'd to see the Church Page 233 flourish without them; and a great deal more, and worse than this.
That was a topping high-flying Gentleman indeed, and why did you not acquaint the Govern|ment with it?
What do you think I am an Informer? My Name is not Bellamy any more than yours, but pray why do you make so strange of it? Don't we hear daily People expressing their high flying hopes that a Par|liament in Scotland will restore Episcopacy there, and yet has not the Queen given Her word, and publish|ed it in our Gazett, that she will maintain the Pres|byterian Government there.
Has she so? Then tho' they have the impu|dence to hope, you ought not to have the ignorance to fear it. The QUEEN gave her Word to maintain it! be not slow of Heart to believe. She has taken up the famous Motto of Q. Elizabeth, Semper Eadem, and can you so much as doubt she will deface it, for a few Scotch Bishops.
I am sorry for my fears, I beg Her Majesties Pardon, there are so many Turns and Windings in Law and State matters, that we know not what to say to things.
Say! Why a promise is a promise, and you may depend upon it, she has never broke her Word with us yet.
Aye, but what if the Parliament should do it?
Nay, if the Parliament does it, we do it our selves.
Very good, so that we may be undone, and the Toleration Bill taken away; and yet the QUEEN be as good as Her Word still.
Yes Sir, so you may, whenever an Act of Par|liament Page 234 becomes so without the Royal Assent, and when do you think that can be.
Why then these High-Flying Church-Men are very impudent Fellows, to suggest such things of the QUEEN, and to bully us with overturning the Toleration, and put us in such fears of what they will do to us, when it can never be done without the QEEN's acting so directly against Her Royal-Promise.
Well, and what then?
Why I think they ought to be us'd as they us'd the Author of the Shortest Way, Gazetted and a Reward for the Discoverer.
Or as you have us'd him rather, viz. Rail at them, for being of your own side: you Dissenters are rare Fellows for Punishments, if God should have no more Mercy on you, than you shew to all Men that offend you, we should have Plagues, Pestilence, and Famine every Year upon us; so now you are come about again, these High-Flying Churchmen have Bul|ly'd you with the fears of losing your Toleration, come confess.
And made you distrrst the QUEEN's Ve|racity.
Yes, GOD and the QUEEN forgive us.
And have Terrifi'd you with what things they'll do when they have pull'd down your Antichri|stian Toleration, have they not?
And so you thought the Shortest Way was Wrote to make a beginning with you, and to set the Dragoons of the Church upon your Backs; did you not?
'Tis very true.
And continued of the same mind like an Ig|noramus, tho' you heard 'twas Wrote by one of your own Party.
Indeed I did.
Now pray, after so much patience as I have had with you, have a little with me; and if I can, I'le set you right in your Thoughts of these things.
There are a sort of People among the Dissenters who can either Dissent or Conform, as they find their Inclinations or Interest rather directs them, these by their Wealth and Interest have always put themselves into good places, and qualifi'd themselves for that purpose, by taking the Sacrament: Of these People, even the most moderate Church Men have an ill Opi|nion, and truly so have Two Thirds of your own Friends, for it looks as if they were Men of no Prin|ciples at all.
Against these Men the Act against Occasional Confor|mity is principally design'd, and if there was nothing else in the Bill, I believe no good Man would be a|gainst it.
Concerning these things, Two sorts of People have been very grosly mistaken, and upon their Mistakes have proceeded to Act very Foolishly.
First, The high Flying Church Party begun to think, all was a going their own way, and that the Govern|ment would fall in with them, and do your business for you, and away they run with the Notion, and Preach you down, and Print you down, and Talk you down like Mad Men; there is Sermon upon Sermon, Pamphlet upon Pamphlet: One says you are all Rogues and Hypocrites, another says you are Enemies to the Government, one Flies at the Toleration, and tells the World 'tis Destructive to the Nations Happiness, and the Politicians must pull it down; another says 'tis Antichristian, and we cannot be true Sons of the Church of England, if we don't pull it down; others like hare-brain'd Huntsmen that over run the Hounds roar you down with full Cry, till they run themselves out of Breath; others are for having you depriv'd of Page 236 Voices in Elections of Parliaments, in hopes of Ar|riving to that Blessed Day, when they shall have a Parliament of their own Mind; and thus they Run before they are Sent, and without Reflecting upon their ill grounded Zeal, without examining any Au|thorities, other than their Passions, without regard to good manners, taking no Notice of the Preamble of the Act of Parliament, which Declares against Perse|cution, or the Honour and Sacred Promise of Her MAJESTY, given to make Her Subjects easie, they blow up the Fire of Persecution and Destruction, whe|ther the Government will or no.
You are the next sort of People, who are mistaken, for being Naturally a little Hypish, as the Beaus call it, troubled with the Spleen, and Hypocondriack Va|pours, this Cloud of Raillery so darken'd your Un|derstanding, that you presently take these People and the QUEEN, these People and the Government, these People and the Parliament, to be all of a mind; and the QUEEN having displac't all your Friends, as 'tis but just, That all Princes should employ who they please: And the Parliament falling on your Occasional Conformers, and this Book of the Shortest way coming out altogether, the high Church Party Thundred at you from the Press and the Pulpit: Away you run with the Notion that you are all to be blown up, that all these Things aim'd at your Destruction, and that Fire and Faggot was at the Door.
But the Government is steady, and the QUEEN still has maintained her Motto, the Parliament steers in the middle way, going about to restrain, but not to destroy you; and taking no notice either of the heat of one party, or Folly of the other, they hold the Ballance of your Liberty between your exorbitant License, and the other party's unchristian Fury; and in my opinion, thus far are you safe.
But then why has not the Government thought Page 237 fit to disown the Zeal of these High-flyers, by punish|ment, and make Examples of some of them?
I told you, the Dissenters were all for Punish|ments and Examples, for the same reason that they have not punished you for supecting the QUEEN's Honesty to her word, charging the Parliament with going about to persecute you, and the like; for this reason, because they are more merciful than both par|ties deserve.
'Twould have convinc'd us very plainly of two very significant Things. First, That there is such a Design, and then that the Authors of it receiv'd no Countenance from Court.
Good Manners and Common Justice ought to have convinc'd you of the last, and your Author of the Shortest way, to his Cost, open'd your Eyes in the first, if you had not wilfully shut them against the Light.
1. Good Manners would inform you, not to doubt the Word of your Prince, 'till you had some reason from Her MAJESTY her self.
2. Common Justice commands us to suppose every Person just and honest, till something appears to the contrary; and it is a very unchristian, uncharitable way of teaching the QUEEN, That because some of the high Church-men have had the Indiscretion, with|out her Authority, to swagger you out of your Sen|ses; therefore you must suppose her Promise broken, and her Word of no value.
The Author of the Shortest way comes with a Lan|thorn for you, and he sums up all the black Things this high Party had publish'd, into one General, and if you had any Eyes, you might learn two Things from which he is like to pay dear enough for teaching you.
First, From the general abhorrence Mankind shew|ed of the Book, you might learn that the destruction of our Party is a Cruelty not to be found in the Eng|lish Nature.
Page 238Secondly, From the Out-cry made against it by that Party in particular, you might learn who they were that were toucht in the Book, and where the design against them lay.
As to the Quarrel you Dissenters have at the Book, That's a Mystery no Man can Unriddle but your selves. 'Tis like Mr. Mead's Wheel within a Wheel, and a further Testimony to the World that you are a most unaccountable People, whose ways are past finding out.
So that you would go about to perswade me the Book was writ of our side.
First, Sir, 'tis hard to know what side you are of, and
Secondly, Sir, I know you too well to go about to perswade you to any thing, whose peculiar Talent is to be unperswadeable; but if you will please to answer me a few Questions you may perhaps perswade your self of something or other.
Why are the high Church-men angry with him, while at the same time they openly declare 'tis the only way to deal with you, and what they would feign be at?
Truely you puzzle me a little there.
They are angry, because they take the Book as the Author meant it, and you, because you take it as he wrote it, they as he meant, viz. to expose them, and tho' they are heartily willing to do you a Kindness that way, and have shewn their good Will by their words, yet knowing they wanted Power to Execute it, and being conscious to themselves that the Government was not of their Opinion; they are enrag'd to have all their designs laid open in Minature, and an Abridg|ment communicated to the World in true Billingsgate.
There may be some truth in this, but Pray why then is the Government so angry with him? I believe I have puzzled you now.
No, no, the Government may have Reasons to be Angry that You nor I know not of, nor have no|thing to do with: But what if I should suppose,
That the Government not thinking any Person could be so Barbarous to harbour such a Villainous Design as the Book suggests; are displeas'd at it as an affront done to the Church of England to Father Prin|ciples of Cruelty and Destruction upon her Members, which they are not guilty off.
I say, if I suppose this to be a Reason, I believe you cannot suppose a better.
I confess, I begin to have better Thoughts of the Government than I had.
I'm glad of that.
I begin to hope they won't Persecute us now, and as for Occasional Conformity, what care I? I shall never be Lord Mayor or Common Councilman; If I am call'd to it, 'tis time enough to come off then.
God Almighty is wonderfully beholden to you, when he calls you from a middle State to a good place, you'll take it for granted He calls you from the Meet|ing to the Church, and you'll be sure to come. But I tell you, you ought to be so far from the fear of a Persecution, that if you have any respect to your Par|ty, you ought to pray for a Persecution upon them, or ye are all undone.
Why, thou art mad, thou art for the Shortest Way.
No, no, I an't for such Persecution neither, but I told you my mind before, I am sure you haue recei|ved more damage in your Interest as Dissenters, and more weakned your Reputation as well as your Num|ber, since the late Tolleration, than ever your Enemies did for you by all the Penal Laws, Informers, Fines, and Prisons of the last Persecution.
Well, but here's another danger upon us that we han't talk of yet, and fear it will come upon us too.
Pray what's that?
We are affraid that this restless Party will overthrow our Settlement, for they do not stick to talk that way.
We affraid, who do you mean by we? Are not the Church of England as much concern'd in the Settlement as you and more too, as they are the ma|jor part of the Nation? And We (if you will give me leave to talk your way) We Protestants fear no|thing for our Settlement, and for this, I'll give you a Quotation from the Man with the hook Nose, and sharp Chin, it may be you won't like it because of the Author, but his words are these, The Settlement of the Crown (says he) is the Basis of our Religion, Laws and Liberties. This is the solid Bottom on which we all stand, and of which, with Respect to Civil Right, may be said Other Foundation can no Man lay than that which is laid. 'Tis the Rock on which we are all Built; and that Stone of which, according to the Scripture, it may without Prophaneness be said, Whosoever it falls upon, he will be broken to pieces, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to Powder.
'Tis the last thing the People of England will part with after all their Estates, Wives and Children, Churches and Houses are destroyed.
'Tis the Pledge of the Divine Goodness to the Nation, which they purchas'd at the expence of 50 Millions of Mo|ney, and the Blood of above 100000 Englishmen in eleven Years War.
'Twas one of the great things King William did for us, and the Treasure God and His Majesty left in our Hands in trust for our Posterity; which if we part with, our Chil|dren will curse our Memory, and digg us out of our Graves.
'Tis a thing so Sacred the dissolving of it cannot be mention'd without a Crime, nor so much as intended with|out being Guilty of Treason in the most intense degree.
Page 241'Tis the Solid Prop, upon which stands Her present Ma|jesties Throne, and the right and just Title She has to Go|vern us.
'Tis like the two Pillars in the House of Dagon whoever pulls them down will, like Sampson be Buried in the Ruins, and pull the whole Nation upon their Heads.
I Fear nothing for this Settlement; the Parliament of England are the Trustees for the seeing it forth coming to the People of England, and a Parliament of England will never betray their trust.
The Parliament will not, and all the rest of Humane Power dare not attempt to dissolve it, no Weapon form'd against it can prosper.
Is this done by our Shortest Way Man?
The very same.
Well, I shall love him the better for it: But there's one thing more still, what say you to the Prince of Wales? If ever he comes again you'll be Hang'd, that's for certain.
And if ever we let him come we ought all to be Hang'd, I can do no better than refer you to the same Author.
The Act of Settlement (says he) and the Prince of Wales are the two Bucketts, keep one but up and the other must be down, and put the one down, and the other comes up of Course: There can be no pretence made to alter or dispose the Settlement, but the bringing in the Prince of Wales; therefore whoever they are that mention it, we ought to sup|pose they wou'd be so understood.
So that you are of Opinion we are in no dan|ger of our Settlement.
Indeed I am of the Opinion your Fears both of the Prince of Wales, and of altering the Settlement, and of Persecution, are all groundless and equally so. I would only advise the Dissenters to be honest to their own Principles; if they can conform they ought to do it, if they cannot, no body forces them; let them Page 242 dissent, and not for the desire of preferment bring such a Scandal upon their integrity, as if they were Men of no Principles. 'Tis scandalous to the very Name of a Dissenter, and injurious to all the rest of that Body who are honest and conscientious.