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RELATING TO THE SACRAMENTAL TEST, 1732.
Query. WHETHER hatred and violence between parties in a state, be not more inflamed by different views of interest, than by the greater or lesser differences between them, either in religion or government.
Whether it be any part of the question at this time, which of the two religions is worse, popery or fanaticism; or not rather, which of the two (having both the same good-will) is in the hopefullest condition to ruin the church?
Whether the sectaries, whenever they come to prevail, will not ruin the church as infallibly and effectually as the papists?
Whether the prevailing sectaries could allow liberty of conscience to dissenters, without belying all their former practice, and almost all their former writings? Whether
hundred thousand Scotch presbyterians are not fully as virulent against the episcopal church, as they are against the papists; or as they would have us think the papists are against them?
Whether the Dutch, who are most distinguished for allowing liberty of conscience, do ever admit any persons, who profess a different scheme of worship from their own, into civil employments, although they may be forced by the nature of their government to receive mercenary troops of all religions?
Whether the dissenters ever pretended, until of late years, to desire more than a bare toleration ?
Whether, if it be true, what a sorry pamphleteer asserts, who lately writ for repealing the test, that the dissenters in this kingdom are equally numerous with the churchimen, it would not be a necessary point of prudence, by all proper and lawful nieans, to prevent their farther increase?
The great argument given, by those whom they call low churchinen, to justify the large tolerations allowed to dissenters, has been; that, by such ine dulgencies, the rançour of those sectaries would gradually wear off, many of them would come over to us, and their parties, in a little time, crumble to nothing
Query, Whether, if what the above pamphle, teer asserts, that the sectaries are equal in num, bers with conformists, be true, it does not clearly follow, that those repeated tolerations have operated directly contrary, to what those low-church politicians pretended to foresee and expect?
Whether any clergyman, however dignified or distinguished, if he think his own profession most agreeable to Holy Scripture and the primitive church, can really wish in his heart, that all sec: taries should be upon an equal foot with the churchmen, in the point of civil power and em: ployments ?
Whether episcopacy, which is held by the church to be a divine and apostolical institution, be not a fundamental point of religion, particularly in that essential one of conferring hoiy orders ?
Whether, by necessary consequences, the seve
ral expedients among the sectaries to constitute their teachers, are not absolutely null and void ?
Whether the sectaries will ever agree to accept ordination only from bishops ?
Whether the bishops and clergy will be content to give up episcopacy, as a point indifferent, without which the church can well subsist?
Whether that great tenderness toward sectaries, which now so much prevails, be chiefly owing to the fears of popery, or to that spirit of atheism, deism, scepticism, and universal immorality, which all good men so much lament?
Granting popery to have many more errors in religion, than any one branch of the sectaries, let us examine the actions of both, as they have each affected the peace of these kingdoms, with allowance for the short time which the sectaries had to act in, who are in a manner but of yesterday. The papists, in the time of king James the Second, used all endeavours to establish their supersti, tion, wherein they failed by the united power of English church protestants, with the prince of Orange's assistance. But it cannot be asserted, that these bigotted papists had the least design to oppose or murder their king, much less to abolish kingly government; nor was it their interest or inclination to attempt either.
On the other side, the puritans, who had almost from the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign been a perpetual thorn in the church's side, joining with the Scotch enthusiasts, in the time of king Charles the First, were the principal cause of the Irish rebellion and massacre, by distressing that prince, and making it impossible for him to send over timely succours. And after that prince had satisfied his parliament in every single point to be complained of, the same sectaries, by poi
soning the minds and affections of the people, with the most false and wicked representations of their king, were able, in the compass of a few years, to embroil the three nations in a bloody rebellion, at the expense of many thousand lives; to turn the kingly power into anarchy; to murder their prince in the face of the world; and (in their own style) to destroy the church root and branch.
The account therefore stands thus. The papists aimed at one pernicious act, which was to destroy the protestant religion; wherein by God's mercy, and the assistance of our glorious king William, they absolutely failed. The sectaries attempted the three most infernal actions that could possibly enter into the hearts of men forsaken by God; which were, the murder of a most pious king, the destruction of the monarchy, and the extirpation of the church; and succeeded in them all.
Upon which I put the following queries; Whether any of those sectaries have ever yet, in a solemn public manner, renounced any one of those principles upon which their predecessors then acted?
Whether, considering the cruel persecutions of the episcopal church during the course of that horrid rebellion, and the consequences of it until the happy restoration, it is not manifest, that the persecuting spirit lies so equally divided between the papists and the sectaries, that a feather would turn the balance on either side ?
And therefore, lastly, Whether any person of common understanding, who professes himself a member of the church established, although perhaps with little inward regard to any religion (which is too often the case) if he loves the peace