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even of themfelves, acknowledged the treafons of the reft to have deserved it. After this, fresh attempts followed; the Spanish invafion, and the Irish rebellion, both excited and bleffed by the Pope: befides endeavours to raise infurrections here; in which Garnet, the fuperior of the English Jefuits, was deeply concerned: to whom, as himself owned, orders were fent by the Pope, forbidding all Catholics to admit any person for King, on the Queen's death, however near in blood, unless he would swear to promote their cause to the utmost of his power. But failing of fuccefs, he procured a pardon from King James for all his paft treafons, and then immediately proceeded to commit new ones.
For in the first year of that monarch's reign was the execrable defign of this day formed, though accidents deferred its execution. He, in the mean time, permitted no feverity against papists, excepting two priests who fuffered for a treafonable plot; fpoke favourably of them to his Parliament, ho-* noured feveral of them with access to his perfon, with knighthood; with regards, that made fome of his proteftant subjects jealous. Yet did not all this hinder the confpirators from purfuing fteadily the moft fhocking defign, that ever entered into the heart of man. A fmall fcruple indeed fome of them had; that a few of their own communion must have died with the reft. But this was foon removed by their confeffors; and the holy facrament made the bond of fo horrid an impiety. Measures were concerted for an infurrection at home, for an invafion from abroad to fupport it: Prayers offered up, both here and at Rome, for the fuccefs of their enterprize; which a good providence discovered, but a few hours before it was to have been executed. Then they broke out into a desperate attempt of an open rebellion, in which fome of them perished; fome, that were taken, gloried in their defign to the last; others indeed condemned themselves; and a great part of their communion condemn them now, as is the ufual fate of unfuccessful treafons. Yet Garnet, who was executed for it, and owned himself privy to it, paffes amongst them for a faint and martyr. Tefmond, another Jefuit concerned in it, escaping to Rome, was made Penitentiary to the Pope; who himself, as one of the same order affirms, was acquainted with the defign, and had proper bulls ready to iffue on the fuccefs of it.
After this discovery, alarming as it was, the most moderate counfels were taken; and an oath formed, to diftinguish the better fort of them from the reft; in which they were only to engage, that notwithstanding any bull or difpenfation from the. Pope, they would bear true faith and allegiance to the King. Many amongst them took this; but immediately what they had done was condemned at Rome: Blackwell, their Archpriest here, was deprived of his dignity, for being one of them; and all catholics were commanded abfolutely to fuffer death, if need were, rather than take the oath.
In the reign of King Charles the First, the fame prohibition was repeated: and the Irish maffacre of fo many thoufand proteftants, in cold blood, gave a new proof of popish treachery and inhumanity. With a very ill grace did they pretend, after this, to diftinguish themselves for good fubjects in the two next reigns: when to pass over the popish plot in the former, the conduct of the latter too fully fhowed, at what point all this boafted loyalty was aimed. They had perverted that unhappy prince, King James the Second, to an enthufiaftic zeal for their faith, and of confequence for restoring it here. In vain did he take the moft folemn oaths to maintain our religion and liberties. He could not prevail on himself to put on the appearance of keeping them, even for a few years: but invaded the whole conftitution with fuch hafty Reps to its ruin, that our fathers beheld popery rufhing inftantly upon them, armed with all the terrors of arbitrary power; and, besides the ancient instances of its barbarity, they had a dreadful fresh one juft before their eyes, in the miserable banishment of their brethren, the French proteftants, contrary to all faith, to all pity. But, juft when every thing, which they feared, was beginning to fall on them in Ireland; then it pleased God to endear to us a fecond time this day, by the landing of our great deliverer; who fucceeded to the throne, left vacant; and from whom is derived to us, we hope, a perpetual fecurity in our prefent happy establish
Moved by this recital of the dreadful evils, which religious intolerance hath committed and attempted; some perhaps may. accuse religion itself, as hurtful to fociety. And undoubtedly falfe notions of it may be detrimental, and sometimes even pernicious. But fo many falfe notions of parental affection, conjugal
conjugal tendernefs, gratitude, every motive to action. Yet this was never thought an argument against the principles themfelves. And if any thing be fitted to do good and no harm on earth, true religion certainly is. Natural religion is univerfally acknowledged to be mild and humano. Chriftianity indeed fome have done their utmoft to pervert. But let either the bittereft zealot, or the moft bigotted infidel, fhow, if they can, one instance, in which the gospel gives the least pretence for pious cruelty. Every where it breathes mildnefs, patience, forbearance: enjoins Chriftians, of ever so dif ferent opinions, to receive one another in mutual charity: and even, of those who are no Chriftians, it permits us not to judge hardly; much less to use them unmercifully. If then fome, who profefs this faith, will act in defiance to it, let them bear their condemnation. But to charge their guilt on Chrif tianity, would be like cenfuring the legal conftitution of any government, becaufe they, who rebel against it, behave unjuf tifiably. For indeed the spirit of perfecution is rebellion against Christ, under pretence of a commiffion from him: it is the Man of Sin, fitting as God in the temple of God *. And where it is not designed impiety, it is the groffeft ignorance, both of the attributes of our Maker, and the precepts of our Redeemer, as the words of the text exprefsly declare: These things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor And the remedy for this evil is, not cafting off the regard, which we owe to God, but establishing juft and worthy notions of his fervice in the minds of men: which, in proportion as they prevail, will banish enthufiafm and superstition from off the earth: whereas, if true religion be once loft, every abfurd opinion, as well as mischievous practice, may fpring up in its ftead. If atheism could take place, it must vifibly be the ruin of fociety. But it cannot. There is an irresistible bent in the human mind to reverence an invisible power and if men are not directed to do it in a right manner, they will do it in a wrong. Therefore the certain confequence of abandoning true piety, is becoming a prey to falfe. And accordingly the emiffaries of the Church of Rome have never been either more active, or more successful, than since, the aftonishing increase of profaneness, and indifference to re
I Theff. ii. 3,
ligion, amongst us, have given them so unguarded an opening for the re-establishing their ancient dominion.
Still how unjust foever it may be to think hardly of Christianity on their account, yet at least these corrupters of it, perhaps we may think, cannot well be abhorred too much, or treated too feverely. But God forbid, that we should imitate, however provoked, what we condemn; or charge on every particular papist, what we cannot but charge on popery in general. Many of them doubtlefs are well-meaning perfons, from whom both the principles, and the practices above men tioned, are concealed, as much as ever they can, by artful difguifes, or bold denials; and who think in their confcienčes, that nothing fhould induce them to commit the crimes, of which their forefathers have been accufed. Yet notwithstanding, were that authority, in which they profefs an im plicit faith, to command their affistance in ever so wicked an enterprize, at a critical juncture; on what grounds the most 'unwilling of them all could refuse, one doth not fee. In the mean while indeed they may be much better perfons, than their religion, did they know the depths of it, would allow them to be. And even amongst the worst of them, great numbers may be entitled to our Saviour's plea for his crucifiers: Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do *. But fuch ignorant zeal, though it alleviates their guilt, increases the danger from them: and they must allow communities of à different faith, to defend themfelves against that Danger moft watchfully.
Ours hath done it by penal ftatutes, terrible in appearance, but extorted by the neceffity of the times; and so entirely fufpended, as that neceffity leffened, that they, who have every where broke through all laws, divine and human, to deftroy the proteffant religion, without fparing it in a fingle inftance, where they could fupprefs it with fafety, have long enjoyed unmolefted the exercife of their own, notwithtanding fo many legal provifions to the contrary, notwithItanding their numerous attempts against former government, notwithstanding their general refufal to own and give fecurity to the prefent. God forbid, that we fhould envy them this indulgence; God grant, they may learn to imitate our mild
* Luke xxiii. 34.
nefs! Of that indeed there is little hope. Yet ftill let us continue to act, as Chriftians ought; and add to the public lenity of our superiors, every prudent instance of kind behaviour in private life; never indeed affecting or entering into dangerous intimacies with them, but never giving needlefs provocation, even to the worft; much less grieving the betterminded, by upbraiding remembrances of past things. Let us in every other refpect abfolutely forget all, that they have done or attempted; only not forget due thankfulness to God, that they have not fucceeded hitherto; and due precaution that they may not fucceed hereafter; either by open force, or such private arts of increasing the number of 'their proselytes, as may enable them to use force when they will. For the spirit of that church, though ftudioufly concealed, is ftill the fame. Not one of the vilest actions, done to serve įt, have they ever by public authority condemned, liberal as they are of condemnations in other cafes; not one of the most extravagant claims, made in favour of it, have they ever difowned. And they cannot disown with common modefty, though they force themselves to do it fometimes, that they hold all promises and oaths to be void, which they make to the prejudice of their religion or church: for it is the exprefs language of their infallible guides, their Popes and their councils. It is very true, their practices of late have not been so enormous, as formerly: the temper of mankind is milder; their influences on the princes of the earth is less; and they have the wisdom not to threaten, while they cannot strike. But remember, our days have known the bloody executions of Thorn, and the merciless banishments of Saltzburg; the inquifition of Spain fubfifts in its full force; the imprisonments, the confiscations, the enflaving, the murdering of our proteftant brethren in France, have been revived within these few years with the bittereft fury, though entirely unprovoked. And if we will truft thofe, who continue to fhow, by such marks, what they are; our folly will deserve every thing, which we can fuffer.
Now what have we to fecure us from all the errors, and all the cruelties, of this moft corrupt and tyrannical church? Not one thing, under God, but the support of the government, which we now enjoy; and have feen attacked by a for