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whole System of Spiritual Government, established in all Christian Nations, and of Apoftolick Institution ; concluding the Tragedy, with the Murder of the King in cold Blood, and upon mature Deliberation ; at the same Time changing the Monarchy to a Commonwealth.
The Catholicks of Ireland, in the great Rebellion, lost their Estates for fighting in Defence of their King. The Schismaticks, who cut off the Father's Head, forced the Son to fly for his Life, and overturned the whole ancient Frame of Government, Religious and Civil ; obtained Grants of those very Estates which the Catholicks loft in Defence of the ancient Constitution, many of which Estates are, at this Day, pofseffed by the Posterity of those Schismaticks: And thus they gained by the Rebellion, what the Catholicks loft by their Loyalty.
We allow the Catholicks to be Brethren of the Dissenters; some People, indeed, (which we cannot allow) would have them to be our Children, because we both diffent from the Church established, and both agree in abolishing this persecuting Sacramental Test ; by which negative Discouragement we are both rendered incapable of Civil and Military Employments. However, we cannot but wonder at the bold Familiarity of these Schismaticks, in calling the Members of the National Church their Brethren and Fellow-Protestants. It is true, that all these Sects (except the Catholicks) are
Brethren to each other in Faction, Ignorance, Iniquity, Perverseness, Pride, and (if we except the Quakers) in Rebellion. But, how the Churchmen can be styled their Fellow Proteftants, we cannot comprehend. Because, when the whole Babel of Sectaries joined against the Church, the King, and the Nobility, for twenty Years, in a MATCH ÀT FOOT-BALL; where the Proverb expressly telleth us, that All are Fellows; while the three Kingdoms were toffed to and fro; the Churches, Cities; and Royal Palaces, shattered to Pieces; by their Balls, their Buffets; and their Kicks; the Victors would allow no more FELLOWS AT FoorBALL; but murdered, sequestered, plundered, deprived, banished to the Plantations, or énNaved all their Opposers who had lost the Game.
It is faid the World is governed by Opinion ; and Politicians assure us, that all Power is founded thereupon: Wherefore, as all human Creatures are fond to Distraction of their own Opinions; and so much the more, as those Opinions are absurd, ridiculous, or of little Moment; it must follow, that they are equally fond of Power. But no Opinions are maintained with so much Obstinacy, as those in Religion, especially by such Zealots who never bore the least Regard to Religion, Conscience; Honour, Justice, Truth, Mercy, or common Morality, farther than in outward Appearance, under the Mask of Hypocrisy, to promote their diabolical Designs. And, therefore, Bishop
Burnet; Burnet, one of their Oracles, telleth us honeftly, that the Saints, of those Fanatick Times, pronounced themselves above Morality, which they reckoned among beggarly Elements; but the Meaning of those two last Words, thus applied, we confess to be above our Understanding
Among those Kingdoms and States which first embraced the Reformation, England appeareth to have received it in the most regular Way; where it was introduced, in a peaceable Manner, by the supreme Power of a King, and the three Estates in Parliament; to which, as the highest legislative Authority, all Subjects are bound passively to submit. Neither was there much Blood shed on fo great a Change of Religion. But a considerable Number of Lords, and other Persons of Quality, through the Kingdom, still continued in their old Faith, and were, notwithstanding their Difference in Religion, employed in Offices, Civil, as well as Military, more or less, in every Reign, until the Test Act, in the Time of King Charles II. However, from the Time of the Reformation, the Number of Catholicks gradually and considerably lefsened : So that in the Reign of King Charles I. England became, in a great Degree, a Protestant Kingdom, without taking the Sectaries into the Number ; the Legality whereof, with respect to human Laws, the Catholicks never disputed ; but the Puritans, and other Schismaticks, without the least Pretence to any
fuch Authority, by an open Rebellion, destroyed that legal Reformation, as we observed before, murdered their King, and changed the Monarchy into a Republick. It is therefore not to be wondered at, if the Catholicks, in such a Babel of Religions, chose to adhere to their own Faith left them by their Ancestors, rather than seek for a better among a Rabble of hypocritical, rebellious, deluding Knaves, or deluded Enthusiasts. We
repeat once more, that if a national Re. ligion be changed, by the supreme Legislative Power, we cannot dispute the human Legality of such a Change. But, we humbly conceive, that if any considerable Party of Men, which differeth from an Establishment, either old or new, can deserve Liberty of Conscience, it ought to consist of those, who, for want of Conviction, or of a right Understanding the Merits of each Cause, conceive themselves bound, in Conscience, to adhere to the Religion of their Ancestors ; because they are, of all others, least likely to be Authors of Innovations, either in Church or State.
On the other Side: If the Reformation of Religion be founded upon Rebellion against the King, without whose Consent, by the Nature of our Constitution, no Law can pass.
If this Reformation be introduced by only one of the three Estates, I mean the Commons, and not by one half even of those Commons; and this by the Assistance of a Rebel Army: Again, if this Reformation were carried on by the Exclusion of Nobles, both Lay and Spiritual, (who constitute the two other Parts of the three Estates) by the Murder of their King, and by abolishing the whole System of Government; the Catholicks cannot see, why the Succeffors of those Schismaticks, who are universally accused by all Parties, except themselves, and a few infamous Abettors, for ftill retaining the same Principles, in Religion and Government, under which their Predecessors acted, should pretend to a better Share of Civil or Military Trust, Profit and Power, than the Catholické, who, during all that period of twenty Years, were continually persecuted with the utmost Severity, merely on account of their Loyalty, and constant Adherence to Kingly Power.'
We now come to those Arguments for repealing the Sacramental Test, which equally affect the Catholicks, and their Brethren the Diffenters.
First : We agree with our Fellow-Diffenters, that * Persecution, merely for Conscience
. Sake, is against the Genius of the Gospel. And so likewise is any Law for depriving Men of their natural and civil Rights which they claim as Men. We are also ready enough to allow, that the smallest negative Discouragements, for Uniformity's Sake, are so many Persecutions. Because, it cannot be denied, that the Scratch of a Pin is in some Degree a real Wound, as
much * Vide Reasons for the Repeal of the Sacramental Test.