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There is one short passage more I had like to have omitted, which our author leaves as a sting in the tail of his libel; his words are these, p. 59. “The truth is, no one party of a religious denomination, in Britain, or Ireland, were so united as they (the dissenters), indeed no one but they, in an inviolable attachment to the protestant succession.” To detect the folly of this assertion, I subjoin the following letter, from a person of known integrity, and inviolably attached to the protestant succession as any dissenter in the kingdom; I mean, Mr Warreng, of Warrengstown, then a member of parliament, and commissioner of array in the county of Down, upon the expected invasion of the pretender. This letter was writ in a short time after the array of the militia ; for the truth of which I refer to Mr Warreng himself:
Sir, That I may fulfil your desire, by giving you an account how the dissenters in my neighbourhood behaved themselves, when we were threatened with an invasion of the pretender; be pleased to know, that, upon an alarm given of his being landed near Derry, none were more zealous in setting watch and keeping guard than they, to prevent such disorders as might happen at that time by ill-designing persons passing through and disturbing the peace of the country.
But, when the government thought fit to have the kingdom arrayed, and sent commissioners into these parts, some time after, it appeared that the dissenters had by that time been otherwise instructed; for several, who were so forward before, behaved themselves after a very different manner, some refusing, and others with reluctancy appearing upon
array, to be enlisted, and serve in the militia,
“ This behaviour surprised me so much, that I took occasion to discourse several of them, over whom I thought I had as much influence as any other person, and sound them upon the common argument of having their hands tied by a late act of parliament, &c. Whereupon I took some pains to show the act to them, and wherein they were mistaken. I farther pressed their concurrence with us, in procuring the common peace and security of our country; and though they seemed convinced by what I said, yet I was given to understand, their behaviour was according to the sentiments of some persons, whom they thought themselves obliged to observe, or to be directed by,” &c.
We have been told, in the common newspapers, that all attempts are to be made this session by the presbyterians, and their abettors, for taking off the test; as a kind of preparatory step to make it go
down smoother in England. For, if once their light would so shine, the papists, delighted with the blaze, would all come in and dance about it. This I take to be a prudent method; like that of a discreet physician, who first gives a new medicine to a dog, before he prescribes it to a human creature.
The presbyterians have, ever since the Revolution, directed their learned casuists to employ their pens on this subject, by showing their merits and pretensions, upon which they claim this justice, as founded upon the services they did toward the restoration of king Charles the Second, and at the Revolution under the prince of Orange. Which pleas I take to be the most singular in
their kind, that ever were offered in the face of the sun, against the most glaring lights of truth, and against a continuation of public facts, known to all Europe, for twenty years together. I shall therefore impartially examine the merits and conduct of the presbyterians, upon those two great events; and the pretensions to favour, which they challenge upon them.
Soon after the reformation in the church in England, under Edward the Sixth, upon queen Mary's succeeding to the crown (who restored popery) many protestants fled out of England, to escape the persecution raised against the church, as her brother had left it established. Some of these exiles went to Geneva; which city had received the doctrine of Calvin, and rejected the government of bishops, with many other refinements. These English exiles readily embraced the Geneva system; and having added farther improvements of their own, upon queen Mary's death returned to England; where they preached up their own opinions, inveighing bitterly against episcopacy, and all rites and ceremonies, however innocent and ancient in the church: building upon this foundation, to run as far as possible from popery, even in the most minute and indifferent circumstances. This faction, under the name of puritan, became very turbulent during the whole reign of queen Elizabeth, and were always discouraged by that wise queen, as well as by her two successors. However, their numbers, as well as their insolence and perverseness, so far increased, that soon after the death of king James the First, many instances of their petulancy and scurrility are to be seen in their pamphlets, written for some years after (which was a trade they began in the days of queen Elizabeth), par
ticularly with great rancour against the bishops, the habits, and the ceremonies : such were those scurrilous libels under the title of Martin Marprelate, and several others.. And although the earl of Clarendon tells us, until the year 1640 (as I remember) the kingdom was in a state of perfect peace and happiness, without the least appearance of thought or design toward making any alterations in religion or government; yet I have found, by often rummaging for old books in Little Britain and Duck-lane, a great number of pamphlets printed from the year 1550 to 1640, full of as bold and impious railing expressions against the lawful power of the crown, and the order of bishops, as ever were uttered during the rebellion, or the whole subsequent tyranny of that fanatic anarchy. However, I find it manifest that puritanism did not erect itself into a new, separate species of religion, till some time after the rebellion began : for, in the latter times of king James the First, and the former part of his son, there were several puritan bishops, and many puritan private clergymen; while people went, as their inclinations led them, to hear preachers of each party in the parish churches; for the puritan clergy had received episcopal orders, as well as the rest. But soon after the rebellion broke out, the term puritan gradually dropped, and that of presbyterian succeeded; which sect was in two or three years established in all its forms, by what they called an ordinance of the lords and commons, without consulting the king, who was then at war against his rebels. And from this period the church continued under persecution, until monarchy was restored in the year 1660.
In a year or two after, we began to hear of a new party risen, and growing in the parliament