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row fortunes have forced them upon industry and application.
As for the inns of court, unless we suppose them to be much degenerated, they must needs be the worst instituted seminaries in any Christian country; but whether they may be corrected without interposition of the legislature I have not skill enough to determine. However, it is certain that all wise nations have agreed in the necessity of a strict education, which consisted, among other things, in the observance of moral duties, especially justice, temperance, and chastity, as well as the knowledge of arts, and bodily exercises; but all these among us are laughed out of doors.
Without the least intention to offend the clergy, I cannot but think that, through a mistaken notion and practice, they prevent themselves from doing much service, which otherwise might lie in their power, to religion and virtue: I mean, by affecting so much to converse with each other, and caring so little to mingle with the laity. They have their particular clubs, and particular coffee-houses, where they generally appear in clusters: a single divine dares hardly show his person among numbers of fine gentlemen; or if he happens to fall into such company, he is silent and suspicious, in continual apprehension that some pert man of pleasure should break an unmannerly jest and render him ridiculous. Now I take this behaviour of the clergy to be just as reasonable as if the physicians should agree to spend their time in visiting one another, or their several apothecaries, and leave their patients to shift for themselves. In my humble opinion, the clergy's business lies entirely among the laity; neither is there, perhaps, a more effectual way to forward the salvation of men's souls, than for spiritual persons to make themselves as agreeable as they can in the conversations of the world, for which a learned education gives them great advantage, if they would please to improve and apply it. It so happens that the men of pleasure, who never go to church, nor use themselves to read books of devotion, form their ideas of the clergy from a few poor strollers they often observe in the streets, or sneaking out of some person of quality's house, where they are hired by the lady at ten shillings a-month: while those of better figure and parts do seldom appear to correct these notions. And let some reasoners think what they please, it is certain that men must be brought to esteem and love the clergy before they can be persuaded to be in love with religion. No man values the best medicine if administered by a physician whose person he hates or despises. If the clergy were as forward to appear in all companies as other gentlemen, and would a little study the arts of conversation to make themselves agreeable, they might be welcome at every party where there was the least regard for politeness or good sense; and consequently prevent a thousand vicious or profane discourses, as well as actions; neither would men of understanding complain that a clergyman was a constraint upon the company, because they could not speak blasphemy or obscene jests before him. While the people are so jealous of the clergy's ambition, as to abhor all thoughts of the return of ecclesiastical discipline among them, I do not see any other method left for men of that function to take, in order to reform the world, than by using all honest arts to make themselves acceptable to the laity. This, no doubt, is part of that wisdom of the serpent, which the author of Christianity directs, and is the very method used by St. Paul, who became all things to all men to the Jews a Jew, and a Greek to the Greeks.
How to remedy these inconveniences may be a matter of some difficulty, since the clergy seem to be of an opinion that this humour of sequestering themselves is a part of their duty; nay, as I remember they have been told so by some of their bishops in their pastoral
letters, particularly by one [Dr. Burnet] among them of great merit and distinction, who yet in his own practice has all his lifetime taken a course directly contrary. But I am deceived if an awkward shame and fear of ill usage from the laity have not a greater share in this mistaken conduct than their own inclinations: however, if the outward profession of religion and virtue were once in practice and countenance at court as well as among all men in office, or who have any hopes or dependence for preferment, a good treatment of the clergy would be the necessary consequence of such a reformation; and they would soon be wise enough to see their own duty and interest in qualifying themselves for lay conversation when once they were out of fear of being choked by ribaldry or pro
There is one further circumstance upon this occasion which I know not whether it will be very orthodox to mention: the clergy are the only set of men among us who constantly wear a distinct habit from others; the consequence of which (not in reason but in fact) is this, that as long as any scandalous persons appear in that dress, it will continue in some degree a general mark of contempt. Whoever happens to see a scoundrel in a gown reeling home at midnight (a sight neither frequent nor miraculous) is apt to entertain an ill idea of the whole order, and at the same time to be extremely comforted in his own vices. Some remedy might be put to this, if those straggling gentlemen who come up to town to seek their fortunes were fairly dismissed to the West Indies, where there is work enough, and where some better provision should be made for them than I doubt there is at present. Or what if no person were allowed to wear the habit who had not some preferment in the church, or at least some temporal fortune sufficient to keep him out of contempt ? though in my opinion it were infinitely better if all the clergy (except the bishops) were permitted to appear like other men of the graver sort, unless at those seasons when they are doing the business of their function.
There is one abuse in this town which wonderfully contributes to the promotion of vice; that such men are often put into the commission of the peace, whose interest it is that virtue should be utterly banished from among us; who maintain or at least enrich themselves by encouraging the grossest immoralities; to whom all the bawds of the ward pay contribution for shelter and protection from the laws. Thus these worthy magistrates, instead of lessening enormities, are the occasion of just twice as much debauchery as there would be without them. For those infamous women are forced upon doubling their work and industry to answer double charges of paying the justice and supporting themselves; like thieves who escape the gallows and are let out to steal in order to discharge the gaoler's fees.
It is not to be questioned but the queen and ministry might easily redress this abominable grievance by enlarging the number of justices of the peace; by endeavouring to choose men of virtuous principles; by admitting none who have not considerable fortunes; perhaps by receiving into the number some of the most eminent clergy: than by forcing all of them, upon severe penalties, to act when there is occasion, and not permitting any who are offered to refuse the commission; but in these two last cases, which are very material, I doubt there will be need of the legislature.
The reformation of the stage is entirely in the power of the queen; and in the consequences it has upon the minds of the younger people, does very well deserve the strictest care. Besides the indecent and profane passages; besides the perpetual turning into ridicule the very function of the priesthood, with other irregularities,
in most modern comedies, which have been often objected to them; it is worth observing the distributive justice of the authors, which is constantly applied to the punishment of virtue and the reward of vice; directly opposite to the rules of their best critics, as well as to the practice of dramatic poets, in all other ages and countries. For example, a country squire, who is represented with no other vice but that of being a clown and having the provincial accent upon his tongue, which is neither a fault nor in his power to remedy, must be condemned to marry a cast wench or a cracked chambermaid. On the other side, a rakehell of the town, whose character is set off with no other accomplishment but excessive prodigality, profaneness, intemperance, and lust, is rewarded with a lady of great fortune to repair his own, which his vices had almost ruined. And as in a tragedy the hero is represented to have obtained many victories in order to raise his cha|racter in the minds of the spectators; so the hero of a comedy is represented to have been victorious in all his intrigues for the same reason. I do not remember that our English poets ever suffered a criminal amour to succeed upon the stage till the reign of king Charles II. Ever since that time the alderman is made a cuckold, the deluded virgin is debauched, and adultery and fornication are supposed to be committed behind the scenes as part of the action. These and many more corruptions of the theatre, peculiar to our age and nation, need continue no longer than while the court is content to connive at or neglect them. Surely a pension would not be ill employed on some men of wit, learning, and virtue, who might have power to strike out every offensive or unbecoming passage from plays already written, as well as those that may be offered to the stage for the future. By which, and other wise regulations, the theatre might become a very innocent and useful diversion, instead of being a scandal and reproach to our religion and country.
The proposals I have hitherto made for the advancement of religion and morality are such as come within reach of the administration; such as a pious active prince, with a steady resolution, might soon bring to effect. Neither am I aware of any objections to be raised against what I have advanced; unless it should be thought that making religion a necessary step to interest and favour might increase hypocrisy among us; and I readily believe it would. But if one in twenty should be brought over to true piety by this or the like methods, and the other nineteen be only hypocrites, the advantage would still be great. Besides, hypocrisy is much more eligible than open infidelity and vice; it wears the livery of religion; it acknowledges her, authority and is cautious of giving scandal. Nay, a long continued disguise is too great a constraint upon human nature, especially an English disposition: men would leave off their vices out of mere weariness rather than undergo the toil and hazard, and perhaps the expense, of practising them perpetually in private. And I believe it is often with religion as it is with love; which by much dissembling, at last grows real.
All other projects to this great end have proved hitherto ineffectual. Laws against immorality have not been executed, and proclamations occasionally issued out to enforce them are wholly unregarded, as things of form. Religious societies, though begun with excellent intention, and by persons of true piety, are said, I know not whether truly or not, to have dwindled into factious clubs, and grown a trade to enrich little knavish informers of the meanest rank, such as common constables, and broken shopkeepers.
And that some effectual attempt should be made toward such a reformation, is perhaps more necessary than people commonly apprehend; because the ruin of a state is generally preceded by a universal degeneracy
of manners and contempt of religion; which is entirely our case at present.
Diis te minorem, quod geris, imperas a HoR. Neither is this a matter to be deferred till a more convenient time of peace and leisure; because a reformation in men's faith and morals is the best natural, as well as religious, means to bring the war to a good conclusion. For, if men in trust performed their duty for conscience sake, affairs would not suffer through fraud, falsehood, and neglect, as they now perpetually do. And if they believed a God, and his providence, and acted accordingly, they might reasonably hope for his divine assistance in so just a cause as ours.
Nor could the majesty of the English crown appear, upon any occasion, in a greater lustre, either to foreigners or subjects, than by an administration which, producing such great effects, would discover so much power. And power being the natural appetite of princes, a limited monarch cannot so well gratify it in anything, as a strict execution of the laws.
Besides, all parties would be obliged to close with so good a work as this, for their own reputation: neither is any expedient more likely to unite them. For the most violent party men I have ever observed are such as, in the conduct of their lives, have discovered least sense of religion or morality; and when all such are laid aside, at least those among them as shall be found incorrigible, it will be a matter perhaps of no great difficulty to reconcile the rest.
The many corruptions at present in every branch of business are almost inconceivable. I have heard it
computed by skilful persons, that of 6,000,000l. raised every year for the service of the public, one-third, at least, is sunk and intercepted through the several statements classes and subordinations of artful men in office, before the remainder is applied to the proper uses. how... This is an accidental ill effect of our freedom. And while such men are in trust, who have no check from within, nor any views but toward their interest, there is no other fence against them, but the certainty of being hanged upon the first discovery, by the arbitrary will of an unlimited monarch, or his vizier. Among us, the only danger to be apprehended is the loss of an employment; and that danger is to be cluded a thousand ways. Besides, when fraud is great, it furnishes weapons to defend itself: and at worst, if the crimes be so flagrant, that a man is laid aside out of perfect shame (which rarely happens), he retires loaded with the spoils of the nation; et fruitur diis iratis. I could name a commission, where several persons, out of a salary of 500., without other visible revenues, have always lived at the rate of 2000., and laid out 40,000l. or 50,000. upon purchases of lands or annuities. A hundred other instances of the same kind might easily be produced. What remedy, therefore, can be found against such grievances, in a constitution like ours, but to bring religion into countenance, and encourage those who, from the hope of future reward, and dread of future punishment, will be moved to act with justice and integrity?
This is not to be accomplished any other way than by introducing religion as much as possible to be the turn and fashion of the age, which only lies in the power of the administration; the prince with utmost strictness regulating the court, the ministry, and other persons in great employment; and these, by their example and authority, reforming all who have dependence on them.
It is certain that a reformation, successfully carried on in this great town, would in time spread itself over the whole kingdom; since most of the considerable a "That you the power Divine obey,
Boundless on earth extend your sway."-FRANCIS.
youth pass here that season of their lives wherein the strongest impressions are made, in order to improve their education or advance their fortunes, and those among them who return into their several counties are sure to be followed and imitated as the greatest patterns of wit and good breeding.
And if things were once in this train, that is, if virtue and religion were established as the necessary titles to reputation and preferment; and if vice and infidelity were not only laden with infamy, but made the infallible ruin of all men's pretensions, our duty, by becoming our interest, would take root in our natures, and mix with the very genius of our people, so that it would not be easy for the example of one wicked prince to bring us back to our former corruptions.
I have confined myself (as it is before observed) to those methods for the advancement of piety which are in the power of a prince, limited like ours, by a strict execution of the laws already in force. And this is enough for a project that comes without any name or recommendation, I doubt a great deal more than will suddenly be reduced into practice. Though if any disposition should appear toward so good a work, it is certain that the assistance of the legislative power would be necessary to make it more complete. I will instance only a few particulars :-
In order to reform the vices of this town, which, as we have said, has so mighty an influence on the whole kingdom, it would be very instrumental to have a law made that all taverns and alehouses should be obliged to dismiss their company by twelve at night, and shut up their doors; and that no woman should be suffered to enter any tavern or alehouse upon any pretence whatsoever. It is easy to conceive what a number of ill consequences such a law would prevent; the mischiefs of quarrels, and lewdness, and thefts, and midnight brawls, the diseases of intemperance and venery, and a thousand other evils needless to mention. Nor would it be amiss if the masters of those public houses were obliged, upon the severest penalties, to give only a proportioned quantity of drink to every company; and when he found his guests disordered with excess, to refuse them any more.
I believe there is hardly a nation in Christendom where all kind of fraud is practised in so unmeasurable a degree as with us. The lawyer, the tradesman, the mechanic, have found so many arts to deceive in their several callings, that they far outgrow the common prudence of mankind, which is in no sort able to fence against them. Neither could the legislature in anything inore consult the public good, than by providing some effectual remedy against this evil, which, in several cases, deserves greater punishment than many crimes that are capital among us. The vintner who, by mixing poison with his wines, destroys more lives than any one disease in the bill of mortality; the lawyer, who persuades you to a purchase which he knows is mortgaged for more than the worth, to the ruin of you and your family; the goldsmith or scrivener, who takes all your fortune to dispose of, when he has beforehand resolved to break the following day, do surely deserve the gallows much better than the wretch who is carried thither for stealing a horse.
It cannot easily be answered to God or man why a law is not made for limiting the press; at least so far as to prevent the publishing of such pernicious books as, under pretence of freethinking, endeavour to overthrow those tenets in religion which have been held inviolable, almost in all ages, by every sect that pretend to be Christian; and cannot, therefore, with any colour of reason, be called points in controversy, or matters of speculation, as some would pretend. The doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the
immortality of the soul, and even the truth of all revelation, are daily exploded and denied in books openly printed; though it is to be supposed neither party will avow such principles, or own the supporting of them to be any way necessary to their service.
It would be endless to set down every corruption or defect which requires a remedy from the legislative power. Senates are likely to have little regard for any proposals that come from without doors; though, under a due sense of my own inabilities, I am fully convinced that the unbiassed thoughts of an honest and wise man, employed on the good of his country, may be better digested than the results of a multitude, where faction and interest too often prevail; as a single guide may direct the way better than five hundred, who have contrary views, or look asquint, or shut their eyes.
I shall therefore mention but one more particular, which I think the parliament ought to take under consideration; whether it be not a shame to our country, and a scandal to Christianity, that in many towns, where there is a prodigious increase in the number of nouses and inhabitants, so little care should be taken for the building of churches, that five parts in six of the people are absolutely hindered from hearing divine service? particularly here in London, where a single minister, with one or two sorry curates, has the care sometimes of above twenty thousand souls incumbent on him; a neglect of religion so ignominious, in my opinion, that it can hardly be equalled in any civilised age or country.
But, to leave these airy imaginations of introducing new laws for the amendment of mankind, what I principally insist on is, a due execution of the old, which lies wholly in the crown, and in the authority thence derived: I return, therefore, to my former assertion, that if stations of power, trust, profit, and honour, were constantly made the rewards of virtue and piety, such an administration must needs have a mighty influence on the faith and morals of the whole kingdom: and men of great abilities would then endeavour to excel in the duties of a religious life, in order to qualify themselves for public service. I may possibly be wrong in some of the means I prescribe towards this end; but that is no material objection against the design itself. Let those who are at the helm contrive it better, which, perhaps, they may easily do. Everybody will agree that the disease is manifest, as well as dangerous; that some remedy is necessary, and that none yet applied has been effectual; which is a sufficient excuse for any man who wishes well to his country to offer his thoughts, when he can have no other end in view but the public good. The present queen is a princess of as many aud great virtues as ever filled a throne: how would it brighten her character to the present and after ages, if she would exert her utmost authority to instil some share of those virtues into her people, which they are too degenerate to learn only from her example! and, be it spoke with all the veneration possible for so excellent a sovereign, her best endeavours in this weighty affair are a most important part of her duty, as well as of her interest and her honour.
But it must be confessed that, as things are now, every man thinks he has laid in a sufficient stock of merit, and may pretend to any employment, provided he has been loud and frequent in declaring himself hearty for the government. It is true, he is a man of pleasure, and a freethinker; that is, in other words, he is profligate in his morals, and a despiser of religion; but in point of party, he is one to be confided in; he is an assertor of liberty and property; he rattles it out against popery and arbitrary power, and priestcraft and a The first hint for procuring a fund for building fifty new churches in London.
high church. It is enough he is a person fully qualified for any employment, in the court or the navy, the law or the revenue; where he will be sure to leave no arts untried, of bribery, fraud, injustice, oppression, that he can practise with any hope of impunity. No wonder such men are true to a government where liberty runs high, where property, however attained, is so well secured, and where the administration is at least so gentle it is impossible they could choose any other constitution without changing to their loss.
Fidelity to a present establishment is indeed the principal means to defend it from a foreign enemy, but without other qualifications, will not prevent corruptions from within; and states are more often ruined by these than the other.
To conclude whether the proposals I have offered toward a reformation be such as are most prudent and convenient may probably be a question, but it is none at all whether some reformation be absolutely necessary; because the nature of things is such that if abuses be not remedied they will certainly increase, nor ever stop till they end in the subversion of a commonwealth. As there must always of necessity be some corruptions, so, in a well-instituted state the executive power will be always contending against them by reducing things (as Machiavel speaks) to their first principles, never letting abuses grow inveterate or multiply so far that it will be hard to find remedies, and perhaps impossible to apply them. As he that would keep his house in repair must attend every little breach or flaw, and supply it immediately, else time alone will bring all to ruin,-how much more the common accidents of storms and rain? He must live in perpetual danger of his house falling about his ears, and will find it cheaper to throw it quite down and build it again from the ground, perhaps upon a new foundation, or at least in a new form, which may neither be so safe nor so convenient as the old. 7e6.1865:
REMARKS UPON A BOOK
" THE RIGHTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH." &c., Written in the year 1708, but left unfinished.ə
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 has 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
To understand the merits of this controversy it is necessary to premise that Dr. Matthew Tindal, born about 1637, became a commoner of Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1652, and was finally elected fellow of All Soul's in 1676. In the reign of
James II. he declared himself a Roman Catholic, but afterwards renounced that religion. He distinguished himself by two works: first, "The Rights of the Christian Church Asserted," in 1706. This book made some noise, and met with many answers; among others it exercised the pen of Dr. Swift in these judicious remarks. Dr. Tindal published a " Defence" in the year 1705, which, with the book itself, the house of commons ordered to be burnt by the hangman, March 25th. 1710. The other work was " Christianity as Old as the Creation." published in 1730. He left a second volume of that work in manuscript, the publication of which was prevented by bishop Gibson. He was indisputably a man of great reasoning powers, and very sufficient learning; and Christians might have wished, with reason, that he had employed his talents to a better purpose.
other noises, to look about from whence it comes. 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 toward their confutation. For instance, if any man should write a book against the lawfulness of punishing felony with death, and upon inquiry 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 everybody 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 has 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 toward 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 likely 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 under. standings.
I know there are some who would fain have it that
this discourse was written by a club of freethinkers, share: but sure we cannot judge so meanly of any among whom the supposed author only came in for a 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 seems 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 toward wit and raillery, the same petulancy and pertness of spirit, the same train of superficial reading, the same thread bare quotation, the same affectation of forming general rules upon false and scanty premises; and, lastly, the same vapid 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 has been the wonder of several others, as well as myself, how it was possible for any man who appears to have gone the common circle of academical education; who has taken so universal a liberty, and has 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 seems to be past the getting or losing of 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 matters, disposes 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 proposes to entertain ?
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, requires 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 pretends 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 deserves 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. Such performances, however commendable, have glanced a reputation upon the piece, which owes 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, lodges under it unhurt.
But neither is this all. For the subject, as unpromising as it seems 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 examines it will be of the same opinion; although, indeed, such wretches are so numerous, that it seems rather surprising why the book has 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 dis
tinguish him from any other trader with the press. I will say nothing of revenge and malice, from resentment of the indignities and contempt he has undergone for his crime of apostacy. 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 recourse left but to show 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, loath 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 calls his book "Part the First." This is a project to fright away answerers, and make the poor advocates for religion believe he still keeps further vengeance in petto. It must be allowed, he has 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 cries, "Let it come." "But I, who have 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 writes a second part, I will not write another answer; or if I do, it shall be published before the other part comes out.
There may have been another motive, although it be hardly credible, both for publishing this work and threatening a second part: it is 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 show how formidable he is, he has published his first essay, and in hopes of hire to be quiet, has 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 appears 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.
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,