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and welfare of his country, can, after cool thinking, rejoice to see a power placed again in the hands of so restless, so ambitious, and so merciless a faction, to act over all the same parts a second time?
Whether the candour of that expression, so frequent of late in sermons and pamphlets, of the strength and number of the papists in Ireland, can be justified? for, as to their number, however great, it is always magnified in proportion to the zeal or politics of the speaker or writer: but it is a gross imposition upon common reason, to terrify us with their strength. For popery, under the circumstances it lies in this kingdom, although it be offensive and inconvenient enough from the consequences it has to increase the rapine, sloth, and ignorance, as well as poverty of the natives, is not properly dangerous in that sense, as some would have us take it; because it is universally hated by every party of a different religious profession. It is the contempt of the wise ; the best topic for clamours of designing men ; but the real terror only of fools. The landed popish interest in England far exceeds that among us, even in proportion to the wealth and extent of each kingdom. The little that remains here is daily dropping into protestant hands, by purchase or descent; and that affected complaint of counterfeit converts, will fall with the cause of it in half a generation, unless it be raised or kept alive as a continual fund of merit and eloquence. The papists are wholly disarmed: they have neither courage, leaders, money, nor inclinations to rebel : they want every advantage which they formerly possessed, to follow their trade; and wherein, even with those advantages, they always miscarried : they appear very easy and satisfied under that connivance, which they enjoyed during the whole last reign ; nor ever scrupled to reproach another party, under which they pretend to have suffered so much severity.
Upon these considerations, I must confess to have suspended much of my pity toward the great dreaders of popery; many of whom appear to be hale, strong, active, young men; who, as I am told, eat, drink, and sleep heartily; and are very cheerful (as they have exceeding good reason) upon all other subjects. However, I cannot too much commend the generous concern which our neighbours, and others who come from the same peighbourhood, are so kind to express for us upon this account; although the former be farther removed from the danger of popery, by twenty leagues of salt water ; but this, I fear, is a digression.
When an artificial report was raised here many years ago, of an intended invasion by the pretender (which blew over after it had done its office) the dissenters argued, in their talk and in their pamphlets, after this manner, applying themselves to those of the church: “Gentlemen, if the pretender had landed, as the law now stands we durst not assist you; and therefore, unless you take off the test, whenever you shall happen to be invaded in earnest, if we are desired to take
up arms in your defence, our answer shall be, Pray, gentlemen, fight your own battles; we will lie by quietly ; conquer your enemies by yourselves, if you can; we will not do your drudgery.” This way of reasoning I have heard from several of their chiefs and abettors, in a hundred conversations; and have read it in twenty pamphlets : and I am confident it will be offered again, if the project should fail to take off the test.
Upon which piece of oratory and reasoning I form the following query : Whether, in case of an invasion from the pretender (which is not quite 30 probable as from the grand signior) the dissenters can, with prudence and safety, offer the same plea; except they shall have made a previous stipulation with the invaders ? And whether the full freedom of their religion and trade, their lives, properties, wives and children, are not, and have not always been reckoned, sufficient motives for repelling invasion ; especially in our sectaries, who call themselves the truest protestants, by virtue of their pretended or real fierceness against popery?
Whether omitting or neglecting to celebrate the day of the martyrdom of the blessed king Charles the First, enjoined by act of parliament, can be justly reckoned a particular and distinguishing mark of good affection to the present
Whether, in those churches where the said day is observed, it will fully answer the intent of the sad act, if the preacher shall commend, excuse, palliate, or extenuate the murder of that royal martyr; and place the guilt of that horrid rebellion, with all its consequences, the following usurpations, the entire destruction of the church, the cruel and continual persecutions of those who could be discovered to profess its doctrines, with the ensuing Babel of fanaticism, to the account of that blessed king; who, by granting the petition of right, and passing every bill that could be asked for the security of the subject, had, by the confession of those wicked men before the war began, left them nothing more to demand ?
Whether such a preacher as I have named (whereof there have been more than one, not
many years past, even in the presence of viceroys) who takes that course as a means for promotion, may not be thought to step a little out of the common road, in a monarchy, where the descendants of that most blessed martyr have reigned to this day?
I ground the reason of making these queries on the title of the act; to which I refer the reader,
SOME FEW THOUGHTS
CONCERNING THE REPEAL OF THE TEST.
Those of either side who have written upon this subject of the test, in making or answering objections, seem to fail, by not pressing sufficiently the chief point, upon which the controversy turns. The arguments used by those who write for the church, are very good in their kind; but will have little force under the present corruptions of mankind, because the authors treat this subject tanquam in republicà Platonis, et non in fæce Řomuli.
It must be confessed, that, considering how few employments of any consequence fall to the share of those English who are born in this kingdom, and those few very dearly purchased, at the expense of conscience, liberty, and all regard for the public good, they are not worth contending for: and if nothing but profit were in the case, it would hardly cost me one sigh, when I should see those few scraps thrown among every species of fanatics, to scuffle for among themselves.
And this will infallibly be the case, after repealing the test. For every subdivision of sect will, with equal justice, pretend to have a share; and, as it is usual with sharers, will never think they have enough, while any pretender is left unprovided. I shall not except the quakers; because, when the passage is once let open for sects