The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 4/A Preface to Bishop Burnet's Introduction
TO THE THIRD VOLUME OF THE
HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION
By GREGORY MISOSARUM.
In vulgum ambigias, & quarrere conscius arma.
PUBLISHED DEC. 8, 1713.
YOUR care in putting an advertisement in the Examiner, has been of very great use to me. I now send you my preface to the bishop of Sarum's introduction to his third volume, which I desire you to print in such a form, as, in the bookseller's phrase, will make a sixpenny touch; hoping it will give such a publick notice of my design, that it may come into the hands of those who perhaps look not into the bishop's introduction. I desire you will prefix to this a passage out of Virgil, which does so perfectly agree with my present thoughts of his lordship, that I cannot express them better, nor more truly, than those words do.
Your humble servant.
THIS way of publishing introductions to books, that are God knows when to come out, is either wholly new, or so long unpractised, that my small reading cannot trace it. However, we are to suppose that a person of his lordship's great age and experience, would hardly act such a piece of singularity, without some extraordinary motives. I cannot but observe, that his fellow-labourer, the author of the paper called the Englishman, seems, in some of his late performances, to have almost transcribed the notions of the bishop: these notions I take to have been dictated by the same masters, leaving to each writer that peculiar manner of expressing himself, which the poverty of our language forces me to call their style. When the Guardian changed his title, and professed to engage in faction, I was sure the word was given; that grand preparations were making against next session; that all advantages would be taken of the little dissensions reported to be among those in power; and that the Guardian would soon be seconded by some other piqueerers from the same camp. But I will confess my suspicions did not carry me so far, as to conjecture, that this venerable champion would be in such mighty haste to come into the field, and serve in the quality of an enfant perdu, armed only wdth a pocket-pistol, before his great blunderbuss could be got ready, his old rusty breastplate scoured, and his cracked headpiece mended.
I was debating with myself, whether this hint of producing a small pamphlet to give notice of a large folio, was not borrowed from the ceremonial in Spanish romances, where a dwarf is sent out upon the battlements, to signify to all passengers what a mighty giant there is in the castle; or whether the bishop copied this proceeding from the fanfaronmade of monsieur Boufflers, when the earl of Portland and that general had an interview. Several men were appointed, at certain periods, to ride in great haste toward the English camp, and cry out, monseigneur vient, monseigneur vient: then small parties advancing with the same speed, and the same cry; and this foppery held for many hours, until the mareschal himself arrived. So here the bishop (as we find by his dedication to Mr. Churchill the bookseller) has for a long time sent warning of his arrival by advertisements in gazettes; and now his introduction advances to tell us again, monseigneur vient: in the mean time we must gape, and wait, and gaze, the Lord knows how long, and keep our spirits in some reasonable agitation, until his lordship's real self shall think fit to appear, in the habit of a folio.
I have seen the same sort of management at a puppetshow. Some puppets of little or no consequence appeared several times at the window, to allure the boys and the rabble: the trumpeter sounded often, and the doorkeeper cried a hundred times, until he was hoarse, that they were just going to begin; yet, after all, we were forced sometimes to wait an hour before Punch himself in person made his entry.
But why this ceremony among old acquaintance? The world and he have long known one another: let him appoint his hour, and make his visit, without troubling us all day with a succession of messages from his lackeys and pages.
With submission, these little arts of getting off an edition, do ill become any author above the size of Marten the surgeon. My lord tells us that many thousands of the two former parts of his history are in the kingdom; and now he perpetually advertises in the gazette, that he intends to publish the third. This is exactly in the method and style of Marten: "the seventh edition (many thousands of the former editions having been sold off in a small time) of Mr. Marten's book concerning secret diseases," &c.
Does his lordship intend to publish his great volume by subscription, and is this introduction only by way of specimen? I was inclined to think so, because in the prefixed letter to Mr. Churchill, which introduces this introduction, there are some dubious expressions: he says, the advertisements he published were in order to move people to furnish him with materials, which might help him to finish his work with great advantage. If he means half a guinea upon the subscription, and the other half at the delivery, why does he not tell us so in plain terms?
I am wondering how it came to pass, that this diminutive letter to Mr. Churchill, should understand the business of introducing, better than the introduction itself; or why the bishop did not take it into his head to send the former into the world, some months before the latter, which would have been a greater improvement upon the solemnity of the procession?
Since I writ these last lines, I have perused the whole pamphlet, (which I had only dipped in before) and found I have been hunting upon a wrong scent; for the author has, in several parts of his piece, discovered the true motives, which put him upon sending it abroad at this juncture; I shall therefore consider them as they come in my way.
My lord begins his introduction with an account of the reasons, why he was guilty of so many mistakes in the first volume of his History of the Reformation? his excuses are just, rational, and extremely consistent. He says, he wrote in haste, which he confirms by adding, that it lay a year after he wrote it before it was put into the press. At the same time he mentioned a passage extremely to the honour of that pious and excellent prelate, archbishop Sancroft, which demonstrates his grace to have been a person of great sagacity, and almost a prophet. Doctor Burnet, then a private divine, desired admittance to the Cotton library, but was prevented by the archbishop, who told sir John Cotton, that the said doctor was no friend to the prerogative of the crown, or to the constitution of the kingdom. This judgment was the more extraordinary, because the doctor had, not long before published a book in Scotland, with his name prefixed, which carries the regal prerogative higher than any writer of the age: however, the good archbishop lived to see his opinion become universal in the kingdom.
The bishop goes on, for many pages, with an account of certain facts relating to the publishing of his two former volumes of the reformation; the great success of that work, and the adversaries who appeared against it. These are matters out of the way of my reading; only I observe that poor Mr. Henry Wharton, who has deserved so well of the commonwealth of learning, and who gave himself the trouble of detecting some hundreds of the bishop's mistakes, meets with very ill quarter from his lordship; upon which, I cannot avoid mentioning a peculiar method which this prelate takes to revenge himself upon those who presume to differ from him in print. The bishop of Rochester happened some years ago to be of this number. My lord of Sarum, in his reply, ventured to tell the world, that the gentleman who had writ against him, meaning Dr. Atterbury, was one upon whom he had conferred great obligations; which was a very generous christian contrivance of charging his adversary with ingratitude. But it seems the truth happened to be on the other side, which the doctor made appear in such a manner as would have silenced his lordship for ever, if he had not been writing proof. Poor Mr. Wharton, in his grave, is charged with the same accusation, but with circumstances the most aggravating that malice, and something else could invent: and which I will no more believe than five hundred passages in a certain book of travels. See the character he gives of a divine and a scholar, who shortened his life in the service of God and the church. Mr. Wharton desired me to intercede with Tillotson for a prebend of Canterbury. I did so, but Wharton would not believe it; said he would be revenged, and so writ against me. Soon after, he was convinced I had spoke for him; said he was set on to do what he did, and if I would procure any thing for him, he would discover every thing to me. What a spirit of candour, charity and good nature, generosity and truth, shines through this story, told of a most excellent and pious divine, twenty years after his death without one single voucher!
Come we now to the reasons, which moved his lordship to set about this work at this time. He could delay it no longer, because the reasons of his engaging in it at first, seemed to return upon him. He was then frightened with the danger of a popish successor in view, and the dreadful apprehensions of the power of France. England has forgot these dangers, and yet is nearer to them than ever, and therefore he is resolved to awaken them with his third volume; but, in the mean time, sends this introduction to let them know they are asleep. He then goes on in describing the condition of the kingdom, after such a manner, as if destruction hung over us by a single hair; as if the pope, the Devil, the pretender and France, were just at our doors.
When the bishop published his history, there was a popish plot on foot: the duke of York, a known papist, was presumptive heir to the crown: the house of commons would not hear of any expedient for securing their religion under a popish prince, nor would the king, or lords, consent to a bill of exclusion; the French king was in the height of his grandeur, and the vigour of his age. At this day the presumptive heir, with that whole illustrious family, are protestants; the popish pretender excluded for ever by several acts of parliament; and every person in the smallest employment, as well as the members of both houses, obliged to abjure him. The French king is at the lowest ebb of life; his armies have been conquered, and his towns won from him for ten years together; and his kingdom is in danger of being torn by divisions during a long minority. Are these cases parallel? or are we now in more danger of France and popery than we were thirty years ago? what can be the motive for advancing such false, such detestable assertions? what conclusions would his lordship draw from such premises as these? if injurious appellations were of any advantage to a cause, (as the style of our adversaries would make us believe) what appellations would those deserve, who thus endeavour to sow the seeds of sedition, and are impatient to see the fruits? But, saith he, the deaf adder stoppeth her ears, let the charmer charm never so wisely. True my lord, there are indeed too many adders in this nation's bosom; adders in all shapes, and in all habits, whom neither the queen nor parliament can charm to loyalty, truth, religion, or honour.
Among other instances produced by him of the dismal condition we are in, he offers one which could not easily be guessed. It is this, that the little factious pamphlets written about the end of king Charles II's reign lie dead in shops, are looked on as waste paper, and turned to pasteboard. How many are there of his lordship's writings, which could otherwise never have been of any real service to the publick? has he indeed so mean an opinion of our taste, to send us at this time of day into all the corners of Holbourn, Duck-lane, and Moorfields, in quest after the factious trash published in those days by Julian Johnson, Hickeringil, Dr. Oates, and himself?
His lordship taking it for a postulatum, that the queen and ministry, both houses of parliament, and a vast majority of the landed gentlemen throughout England, are running headlong into popery, lays hold on the occasion to describe the cruelties in queen Mary's reign: an inquisition setting up faggots in Smithfield, and executions all over the kingdom. Here is that, says he, which those that look toward a popish successor, must look for. And he insinuates through his whole pamphlet, that all who are not of his party look toward a popish successor. These he divides into two parts, the tory laity, and the tory clergy. He tells the former: although they have no religion at all, but resolve to change with every wind and tide: yet they ought to have compassion on their countrymen and kindred. Then he applies himself to the tory clergy, assures them, that the fires revived in Smithfield, and all over the nation, will have no amiable view, but least of all to them; who, if they have any principles at all, must be turned out of their livings, leave their families, be hunted from place to place into parts beyond the seas, and meet with that contempt with which they treated foreigners, who took sanctuary among us.
This requires a recapitulation, with some remarks. First, I do affirm, that in every hundred of professed atheist, deists, and socinians in the kingdom, ninety-nine at least are staunch thoroughpaced whigs, entirely agreeing with his lordship in politicks and discipline; and therefore will venture all the fires of Hell, rather than singe one hair of their beards in Smithfield. Secondly, I do likewise affirm, that those whom we usually understand by the appellation of tory or high church clergy, were the greatest sticklers against the exorbitant proceedings of king James the Second, the best writers against popery, and the most exemplary sufferers for the established religion. Thirdly, I do pronounce it to be a most false and infamous scandal upon the nation in general, and on the clergy in particular, to reproach them for treating foreigners with haughtiness and contempt. The French hugonots are many thousand witnesses to the contrary; and I wish they deserved the thousandth part of the good treatment they have received.
Lastly, I observe, that the author of a paper called the Englishman, has run into the same cant, gravely advising the whole body of the clergy not to bring in popery; because that will put them under a necessity of parting with their wives, or losing their livings.
The bulk of the kingdom, both clergy and laity, happen to differ extremely from this prelate, in many principles both of politicks and religion. Now I ask, whether, if any man of them had signed his name to a system of atheism, or popery, he could have argued with them otherwise than he does? or, if I should write a grave letter to his lordship with the same advice, taking it for granted that he was half an atheist and half a papist, and conjuring him by all he held dear to have compassion upon all those who believed a God; not to revive the fires in Smithfield; that he must either forfeit his bishoprick, or not marry a fourth wife; I ask, whether he would not think I intended him the highest injury and affront?
But as to the tory laity, he gives them up in a lump for abandoned atheists: they are a set of men so impiously corrupted in the point of religion, that no scene of cruelty can fright them from leaping into it, [popery] and perhaps acting such a part in it as may he assigned them. He therefore despairs of influencing them by any topicks drawn from religion or compassion, and advances the consideration of interest, as the only powerful argument to persuade them against popery.
What he offers upon this head is so very amazing from a christian, a clergyman, and a prelate of the church of England, that I must, in my own imagination, strip him of those three capacities, and put him among the number of that set of men he mentions in the paragraph before; or else it will be impossible to shape out an answer.
His lordship, in order to dissuade the tories from their design of bringing in popery, tells them, how valuable a part of the whole soil of England the abbey lands, the estates of the bishops, of the cathedrals, and the tithes are: how difficult such a resumption would be to many families; yet all these must be thrown up; for sacrilege, in the church of Rome, is a mortal sin. I desire it may be observed, what a jumble here is made of ecclesiastical revenues, as if they were all upon the same foot, were alienated with equal justice, and the clergy had no more reason to complain of the one than the other; whereas the four branches mentioned by him are of very different consideration. If I might venture to guess the opinion of the clergy upon this matter, I believe they could wish that some small part of the abbey lands had been applied to the augmentation of poor bishopricks; and a very few acres to serve for glebes in those parishes where there are none; after which, I think they would not repine that the laity should possess the rest. If the estates of some bishops and cathedrals were exorbitant before the reformation, I believe the present clergy's wishes reach no farther, than that some reasonable temper had been used, instead of paring them to the quick. But as to the tithes, without examining whether they be of divine institution, I conceive there is hardly one of that sacred order in England, and very few even among the laity who love the church, who will not allow the misapplying of those revenues to secular persons, to have been at first a most flagrant act of injustice and oppression; although, at the same time, God forbid they should be restored any other way than by gradual purchase, by the consent of those who are now the lawful possessors, or by the piety and generosity of such worthy spirits as this nation sometimes produces. The bishop knows very well, that the application of tithes to the maintenance of monasteries, was a scandalous usurpation, even in popish times: that the monks usually sent out some of their fraternity to supply the cures; and that when the monasteries were granted away by Henry VIII, the parishes were left destitute, or very meanly provided, of any maintenance for a pastor. So that in many places the whole ecclesiastical dues, even to mortuaries, Easter-offerings, and the like, are in lay hands, and the incumbent lies wholly at the mercy of his patron for his daily bread. By these means, there are several hundred parishes in England under twenty pounds a year, and many under ten. I take his lordship's bishoprick to be worth near 2500l. annual income; and I will engage, at half a year's warning, to find him above a hundred beneficed clergymen, who have not so much among them all to support themselves and their families: most of them orthodox, of good life and conversation; as loth to see the fires kindled in Smithheld as his lordship; and at least as ready to face them under a popish persecution. But nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches, as to conceive how others can be in want. How can the neighbouring vicar feel cold or hunger, while my lord is seated by a good fire, in the warmest room of his palace, with a dozen dishes before him? I remember one other prelate much of the same stamp, who, when his clergy would mention their wishes that some act of parliament might be thought of for the good of the church, would say, "Gentlemen, we are very well as we are; if they would let us alone, we should ask no more."
Sacrilege, (says my lord) in the church of Rome, is a mortal sin; and is it only so in the church of Rome? or is it but a venial sin in the church of England? Our litany calls fornication a deadly sin; and I would appeal to his lordship for fifty years past, whether he thought that or sacrilege the deadliest? To make light of such a sin, at the same moment that he is frightening us from an idolatrous religion, should seem not very consistent. "Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?"
To smooth the way for the return of popery in queen Mary's time, the grantees were confirmed by the pope in the possession of the abbey lands. But the bishop tells us, that this confirmation was fraudulent and invalid. I shall believe it to be so, although I happen to read it in his lordship's history. But he adds, that although the confirmation had been good, the priests would have got their land again by these two methods: frst, the statute of mortmain was repealed for twenty years; in which time, no doubt, they reckoned they would recover the best part of what they had lost; beside that engaging the clergy to renew no leases was a thing entirely in their own power; and this in forty years time would raise their revenues to be about ten times their present value. These two expedients for increasing the revenues of the church, he represents as pernicious designs, fit only to be practised in times of popery, and such as the laity ought never to consent to: whence, and from what he said before about tithes, his lordship has freely declared his opinion, that the clergy are rich enough, and that the least addition to their subsistence would be a step toward popery. Now it happens, that the two only methods, which could be thought on, with any probability of success, toward some reasonable augmentation of ecclesiastical revenues, are here rejected by a bishop, as a means for introducing popery, and the nation publickly warned against them: whereas the continuance of the statute of mortmain in full force, after the church had been so terribly stripped, appeared to her majesty and the kingdom a very unnecessary hardship; upon which account it was at several times relaxed by the legislature. Now, as the relaxation of that statute is manifestly one of the reasons which gives the bishop those terrible apprehensions of popery coming on us; so, I conceive, another ground of his fears, is, the remission of the first-fruits and tenths. But where the inclination to popery lay, whether in her majesty who proposed this benefaction, the parliament which confirmed, or the clergy who accepted it, his lordship has not thought fit to determine.
The other popish expedient for augmenting church-revenues, is, engaging the clergy to renew no leases. Several of the most eminent clergymen have assured me, that nothing has been more wished for by good men, than a law to prevent bishops, at least, from setting leases for lives. I could name ten bishopricks in England, whose revenues one with another do not amount to 600 pounds a year for each: and if his lordship's, for instance, would be above ten times the value when the lives are expired, I should think the overplus would not be ill disposed, toward an augmentation of such as are now shamefully poor. But I do assert, that such an expedient was not always thought popish and dangerous by this right reverend historian. I have had the honour formerly to converse with him; and he has told me several years ago, that he lamented extremely the power which bishops had of letting leases for lives; whereby, as he said, they were utterly deprived of raising their revenues, whatever alterations might happen in the value of money by length of time. I think the reproach of betraying private conversation, will not upon this account be laid to my charge. Neither do I believe he would have changed his opinion upon any score, but to take up another more agreeable to the maxims of his party, that the least addition of property to the church, is one step toward popery.
The bishop goes on with much earnestness and prolixity to prove, that the pope's confirmation of the church lands to those who held them by king Henry's donation, was null and fraudulent; which is a point that I believe no protestant in England would give threepence to have his choice whether it should be true or false: it might indeed serve as a passage in his history, among a thousand other instances, to detect the knavery of the court of Rome: but I ask, where could be the use of it in this Introduction? or why all this haste in publishing it at this juncture; and so out of all method apart, and before the work itself? He gives his reasons in very plain terms: we are now, it seems, in more danger of popery than toward the end of king Charles the Second's reign. That set of men (the tories) is so impiously corrupted in the point of religion, that no scene of cruelly can frighten them from leaping into it, and perhaps fom acting such a part in it as may he assigned them. He doubts whether the high church clergy have any principles; and therefore will be ready to turn off their wives, and look on the fires kindled in Smithfield as an amiable view. These are the facts he all along takes for granted, and argues accordingly. Therefore, in despair of dissuading the nobility and gentry of the land from introducing popery by any motives of honour, religion, alliance, or mercy, be assures them, That the pope has not duly confirmed their titles to the church lands in their possession; which therefore must be infallibly restored, as soon as that religion is established among us.
Thus, in his lordship's opinion, there is nothing wanting to make the majority of the kingdom, both for number, quality, and possession, immediately embrace popery, except a firm bull from the pope to secure the abbey and other church lands and tithes to the present proprietors and their heirs: if this only difficulty could now be adjusted, the pretender would be restored next session, the two houses reconciled to the church of Rome against Easter term, and the fires lighted in Smithfield by Midsummer. Such horrible calumnies against a nation are not the less injurious to decency, good nature, truth, honour, and religion, because they may be vented with safety; and I will appeal to any reader of common understanding, whether this be not the most natural and necessary deduction from the passages I have cited and referred to.
Yet all this is but friendly dealing, in comparison with what he affords the clergy upon the same article. He supposes that whole reverend body, who differ from him in principles of church or state, so far from disliking popery upon the abovementioned motives of perjury, quitting their wives, or burning their relations; that the hopes of enjoying the abbey lands would soon bear down all such considerations, and be an effectual incitement to their perversion: and so he goes gravely on, as with the only argument which he thinks can have any force, to assure them that the parochial priests in Roman catholick countries are much poorer than in ours; the several orders of regulars, and the magnificence of their church, devouring all their treasure; and by consequence, their hopes are vain of expecting to he richer after the introduction of popery.
But, after all, his lordship despairs that even this argument will have any force with our abominable clergy, because, to use his own words, They are an insensible and degenerate race, who are thinking of nothing but their present advantages; and, so that they may now support a luxurious and brutal course of irregular and voluptuous practices, they are easily hired to betray their religion, to sell their country, and give up that liberty and those properties, which are the present felicities and glories of this nation.
He seems to reckon all these evils as matters fully determined on, and therefore falls into the last usual form of despair, by threatening the authors of these miseries with lasting infamy, and the curses of posterity upon perfidious betrayers of their trust.
Let me turn this paragraph into vulgar language, for the use of the poor; and strictly adhere to the sense of the words. I believe it may be faithfully translated in the following manner: "The bulk of the clergy, and one third of the bishops, are stupid sons of whores, who think of nothing but getting money as soon as they can; if they may but procure enough to supply them in gluttony, drunkenness, and whoring, they are ready to turn traitors to God and their country, and make their fellow subjects slaves." The rest of the period about threatening infamy, and the curses of posterity upon such dogs and villains, may stand as it does in the bishop's own phrase; and so make the paragraph all of a piece.
I will engage, on the other side, to paraphrase all the rogues and rascals in the Englishman, so as to bring them up exactly to his lordship's style: but, for my own part, I much prefer the plain Billingsgate way of calling names, because it expresses our meaning full as well, and would save abundance of time, which is lost by circumlocution: so, for instance, John Dunton, who is retained on the same side with the bishop, calls my lord treasurer and lord Bolingbroke traitors, whoremongers, and jacobites; which three words cost our right reverend author thrice as many lines to define them; and I hope his lordship does not think there is any difference in point of morality, whether a man calls me traitor in one word, or says, I am one hired to betray my religion, and sell my country.
I am not surprised to see the bishop mention with contempt all convocations of the clergy; for Toland, Asgill, Monmouth, Collins, Tindal, and others of the fraternity, talk the very same language. His lordship confesses he is not inclined to expect much from the assemblies of clergymen. There lies the misfortune; for if he, and some more of his order, would correct their inclinations, a great deal of good might be expected from such assemblies; as much as they are now cramped by that submission, which a corrupt clergy brought upon their innocent successors. He will not deny that his copiousness in these matters is, in his own opinion, one of the meanest parts of his new work. I will agree with him, unless he happens to be more copious in any thing else. However, it is not easy to conceive, why he should be so copious upon a subject he so much despises, unless it were to gratify his talent of railing at the clergy, in the number of whom he disdains to be reckoned, because he is a bishop; for it is a style I observed some prelates have fallen into of late years, to talk of clergymen, as if themselves were not of the number. You will read in many of their speeches at Dr. Sacheverell's trial, expressions to this or the like effect: "my lords, if clergymen be suffered," &c. wherein they seem to have reason: and I am pretty confident, that a great majority of the clergy were heartily inclined to disown any relation they had to the managers in lawn. However, it was a confounding argument against presbytery, that those prelates who are most suspected to lean that way, treated their inferiour brethren with haughtiness, rigour, and contempt; although, to say the truth, nothing better could be hoped for; because I believe it may pass for a universal rule, that in every diocese governed by bishops of the whig species, the clergy (especially the poorer sort) are under double discipline; and the laity left to themselves. The opinion of sir Thomas Moore, which he produces to prove the ill consequences, or insignificancy of convocations, advances no such thing; but says, "If the clergy assembled often, and might act as other assemblies of clergy in Christendom, much good might have come; but the misfortune lay in their long disuse, and that in his own, and a good part of his father's time, they never came together, except at the command of the prince."
I suppose his lordship thinks there is some original impediment in the study of divinity, or secret incapacity in a gown and cassock without lawn, which disqualifies all inferiour clergymen, from debating upon subjects of doctrine or discipline in the church. It is a famous saying of his, that he looks upon every layman, to be an honest man, until he is by experience convinced to the contrary; and on every clergyman, as a knave, until he finds him to he an honest man. What opinion then must we have of a lower house of convocation; where, I am confident, he will hardly find three persons that ever convinced him of their honesty, or will ever be at the pains to do it? Nay, I am afraid they would think such a conviction might be no very advantageous bargain, to gain the character of an honest man with his lordship, and lose it with the rest of world.
In the famous concordate that was made between Francis I of France, and pope Leo X, the bishop tells us, that the king and pope came to a bargain, by which they divided the liberties of the Gallican church between them, and indeed quite enslaved it. He intends in the third part of his history, which he is going to publish, to open this whole matter to the world. In the mean time he mentions some ill consequences to the Gallican church from that concordate, which are worthy to be observed: the church of France became a slave; and this change in their constitution put an end not only to national, but even to provincial synods in that kingdom. The assemblies of the clergy there meet now only to give subsidies, &c. and he says, our nation may see by that proceeding, what it is to deliver up the essential liberties of a free constitution to a court.
All I can gather from this matter is, that our king Henry made a better bargain than his contemporary Francis, who divided the liberties of the church between himself and the pope, while the king of England seized them all to himself. But how comes he to number the want of synods in the Gallican church among the grievances of that concordate, and as a mark of their slavery, since he reckons all convocations of the clergy in England to be useless and dangerous? Or what difference in point of liberty was there, between the Gallican church under Francis, and the English under Harry? For the latter was as much a papist as the former, unless in the point of obedience to the see of Rome; and in every quality of a good man, or a good prince, (except personal courage, wherein both were equal) the French monarch had the advantage, by as many degrees as is possible for one man to have over another.
Henry VIII had no manner of intention to change religion in his kingdom; he continued to persecute and burn protestants, after he had cast off the pope's supremacy; and I suppose this seizure of ecclesiastical revenues (which Francis never attempted) cannot be reckoned as a mark of the church's liberty. By the quotation the bishop sets down to show the slavery of the French church, he represents it as a grievance, that bishops are not now elected there as formerly, but wholly appointed by the prince; and that those made by the court; have been ordinarily the chief advancers of schisms, heresies, and oppressions of the church. He cites another passage from a Greek writer, and plainly insinuates, that it is justly applicable to her majesty's reign: princes choose such men to that charge (of a bishop) who may be their slaves, and in all things obsequious to what they prescribe, and may lie at their feet, and have not so much as a thought contrary to their commands.
These are very singular passages for his lordship to set down, in order to show the dismal consequences of the French concordate, by the slavery of the Gallican church, compared with the freedom of ours. I shall not enter into a long dispute, whether it were better for religion, that bishops should be chosen by the clergy, or people, or both together: I believe our author would give his vote for the second, (which however would not have been of much advantage to himself, and some others that I could name) but I ask, whether bishops are any more elected in England than in France? And the want of synods are, in his own opinion, rather a blessing than a grievance, unless he will affirm that more good can be expected from a popish synod, than an English convocation. Did the French clergy ever receive a greater blow to their liberties, than the submission made to Henry the Eighth; or so great a one, as the seizure of their lands? The reformation owed nothing to the good intentions of king Henry: he was only an instrument of it (as the logicians speak) by accident; nor does he appear, throughout his whole reign, to have had any other views than those of gratifying his insatiable love of power, cruelty, oppression, and other irregular appetites. But this kingdom, as well as many other parts of Europe, was, at that time, generally weary of the corruptions and impositions of the Roman court and church; and disposed to receive those doctrines which Luther and his followers had universally spread. Cranmer the archbishop, Cromwell, and others of the court, did secretly embrace the reformation; and the king's abrogating the pope's supremacy, made the people in general run into the new doctrine with greater freedom, because they hoped to be supported in it by the authority and example of their prince; who disappointed them so far, that he made no other step than rejecting the pope's supremacy, as a clog upon his own power and passions; but retained every corruption besides, and became a cruel persecutor, as well of those who denied his own supremacy, as of all others who professed any protestant doctrine. Neither has any thing disgusted me more in reading the histories of those times, than to see one of the worst princes of any age or country, celebrated as an instrument in that glorious work of the reformation.
The bishop, having gone over all the matters that properly fall within his introduction, proceeds to expostulate with several sorts of people: first, with protestants who are no christians, such as atheists, deists, freethinkers, and the like enemies to Christianity: but these he treats with the tenderness of a friend, because they are all of them of sound whig principles in church and state. How ever to do him justice, he lightly touches some old topicks for the truth of the Gospel: and concludes, by wishing that the freethinkers would consider well, if (Anglice, whether) they think it possible to bring a nation to be without any religion at all; and what the consequences of that may prove; and in case they allow the negative, he gives it clearly for Christianity.
Secondly, he applies himself (if I take his meaning right) to christian papists, who have a taste of liberty; and desires them to compare the absurdity of their own religion, with the reasonableness of the reformed: against which, as good luck would have it, I have nothing to object.
Thirdly, he is somewhat rough against his own party, who, having tasted the sweets of protestant liberty, can look back so tamely on popery coming on them; it looks as if they were bewitched, or that the devil were in them, to be so negligent. It is not enough that they resolve not to turn papists themselves; they ought to awaken all about them, even the most ignorant and stupid to apprehend their danger, and to exert themselves with their utmost industry to guard against it, and to resist it. If, after all their endeavours to prevent it, the corrupition of the age, and the art and power of our enemies, prove too hard for us; then, and not until then, we must submit to the will of God, and be silent; and prepare ourselves for all the extremity of suffering and of misery, with a great deal more of the same strain.
With due submission to the profound sagacity of this prelate, who can smell popery at five hundred miles distance, better than fanaticism just under his nose, I take leave to tell him, that this reproof to his friends for want of zeal and clamour against popery, slavery, and the pretender, is what they have not deserved. Are the pamphlets and papers daily published by the sublime authors of his party, full of any thing else? are not the queen, the ministers, the majority of lords and commons, loudly taxed in print, with this charge against them at full length? is it not the perpetual echo of every whig coffeehouse and club? have they not quartered popery and the pretender upon the peace and treaty of commerce; upon the possessing, and quieting, and keeping, and demolishing of Dunkirk: have they not clamoured, because the pretender continued in France, and because he left it? have they not reported that the town swarmed with many thousand papists; when, upon search, there were never found so few of that religion in it before? if a clergyman preaches obedience to the higher powers, is he not immediately traduced as a papist? can mortal man do more? To deal plainly, my lord, your friends are not strong enough yet to make an insurrection, and it is unreasonable to expect one from them, until their neighbours be ready.
My lord, I have a little seriousness at heart upon this point, where your lordship affects to show so much. When you can prove, that one single word has ever dropped from any minister of state, in publick or private, in favour of the pretender, or his cause; when you can make it appear that in the course of this administration, since the queen thought fit to change her servants, there has one step been made toward weakening the Hanover title, or giving the least countenance to any other whatsoever; then and not until then, go dry your chaff and stubble, give fire to the zeal of your faction, and reproach them with lukewarmness.
Pourthly, the bishop applies himself to the tories in general; taking it for granted, after his charitable manner, that they are all ready prepared to introduce popery. He puts an excuse into their mouths, by which they would endeavour to justify their change of religion: popery is not what it was before the reformation: things are now much mended, and farther corrections might be expected, if we would enter into a treaty with them: in particular, they see the errour of proceeding severely with hereticks; so that there is no reason to apprehend the returns of such cruelties, as were practised an age and a half ago.
This he assures us is a plea offered by the tories in defence of themselves, for going about at this juncture to establish the popish religion among us: what argument does he bring to prove the fact itself?
Quibus indiciis, quo teste, probavit?
Nil horum: verbosa et grandis epistola venit.
Nothing but this tedious introduction, wherein he supposes it all along as a thing granted. That there might be a perfect union in the whole christian church, is a blessing which every good man wishes, but no reasonable man can hope. That the more polite Roman catholicks have, in several places, given up some of their superstitious fopperies particularly concerning legends, relicks, and the like, is what no body denies. But the material points in difference between us and them, are universally retained and asserted, in all their controversial writings. And if his lordship really thinks that every man who differs from him, under the name of a tory, in some church and state opinions, is ready to believe transubstantiation, Purgatory, the infallibility of pope or councils, to worship saints and angels, and the like; I can only pray God to enlighten his understanding, or graft in his heart the first principles of charity; a virtue which some people ought not by any means wholly to renounce, because it covers a multitude of sins.
Fifthly, the bishop applies himself to his own party in both houses of parliament, whom he exhorts to guard their religion and liberty against all danger, at what distance soever it may appear. If they are absent and remiss on critical occasions; that is to say, if they do not attend close next sessions, to vote upon all occasions whatever, against the proceedings of the queen and her ministry, or if any views of advantage to themselves prevail on them: in other words, if any of them vote for the bill of commerce, in hopes of a place or a pension, a title, or a garter; God may work a deliverance for us another way, (that is to say, by inviting the Dutch) but they and their families, i. e. those who are negligent or revolters, shall perish; by which is meant they shall be hanged, as well as the present ministry and their abettors, as soon as we recover our power; because they let in idolatry, superstition, and tyranny; because they stood by and suffered the peace to be made, the bill of commerce to pass, and Dunkirk to lie undemolished longer than we expected, without raising a rebellion.
His last application is to the tory clergy, a parcel of blind, ignorant, dumb, sleeping, greedy, drunken dogs. A pretty artful episcopal method is this, of calling his brethren as many injurious names as he pleases. It is but quoting a text of Scripture, where the characters of evil men are described, and the thing is done: and at the same time the appearances of piety and devotion preserved. I would engage, with the help of a good Concordance, and the liberty of perverting holy writ, to find out as many injurious appellations, as the Englishman throws out in any of his politick papers, and apply them to those persons who call good evil, and evil good; to those who cry without cause, Every man to his tent, O Israel! and to those who curse the queen in their hearts!
These decent words, he tells us, make up a lively description of such pastors as will not study controversy, nor know the depths of Satan. He means, I suppose, the controversy between us and the papists; for as to the freethinkers and dissenters of every denomination, they are some of the best friends to the cause. Now I have been told, there is a body of that kind of controversy published by the London divines, which is not to be matched in the world. I believe likewise, there is a good number of the clergy at present thoroughly versed in that study; after which, I cannot but give my judgment, that it would be a very idle thing for pastors in general to busy themselves much in disputes against popery; it being a dry heavy employment of the mind at best, especially when (God be thanked) there is so little occasion for it, in the generality of parishes throughout the kingdom, and must be daily less and less, by the just severity of the laws, and the utter aversion of our people from that idolatrous superstition.
If I might be so bold as to name those who have the honour to be of his lordship's party, I would venture to tell him, that pastors have much more occasion to study controversies against the several classes of freethinkers and dissenters: the former (I beg his lordship's pardon for saying so) being a little worse than papists, and both of them more dangerous at present to our constitution both in church and state. Not that I think presbytery so corrupt a system of christian religion as popery; I believe it is not above one third as bad: but I think the presbyterians, and their clans of other fanaticks, or freethinkers and atheists that dangle after them, are as well inclined to pull down the present establishment of monarchy and religion, as any set of papists in Christendom; and therefore, that our danger, as things now stand, is infinitely greater from our protestant enemies; because they are much more able to ruin us, and full as willing. There is no doubt but that presbytery and a commonwealth, are less formidable evils than popery, slavery, and the pretender; for, if the fanaticks were in power, I should be in more apprehension of being starved, than burned. But, there are probably in England forty dissenters of all kinds, including their brethren the freethinkers, for one papist; and allowing one papist to be as terrible as three dissenters, it will appear by arithmetick, that we are thirteen times and one third, more in danger of being ruined by the latter, than the former.
The other qualification necessary for all pastors, if they will not be blind, ignorant, greedy, drunken dogs, &c. is to know the depths of Satan. This is harder than the former; that a poor gentleman ought not to be parson, vicar, or curate of a parish, except he be cunninger than the devil. I am afraid it will be difficult to remedy this defect, for one manifest reason, because whoever had only half the cunning of the devil, would never take up with a vicarage of ten pounds a year to live on at his ease, as my lord expresses it; but seek out for some better livelihood. His lordship is of a nation very much distinguished for that quality of cunning, (although they have a great many better) and I think he was never accused for wanting his share. However, upon a trial of skill, I would venture to lay six to four on the devil's side, who must be allowed to be at least the older practitioner. Telling truth shames him, and resistance makes him fly; but to attempt outwitting him, is to fight him at his own weapon, and consequently no cunning at all. Another thing I would observe is, that a man may be in the depths of Satan, without knowing them all; and such a man may be so far in Satan's depths, as to be out of his own. One of the depths of Satan is, to counterfeit an angel of light. Another, I believe, is, to stir up the people against their governors by false suggestions of danger. A third is, to be a prompter to false brethren, and to send wolves about in sheep's clothing. Sometimes he sends jesuits about England in the habit and cant of fanaticks; at other times, he has fanatick missionaries in the habits of ———. I shall mention but one more of Satan's depths; for I confess I know not the hundredth part of them; and that is, to employ his emissaries in crying out against remote imaginary dangers, by which we may be taken off from defending ourselves against those, which are really just at our elbows.
But his lordship draws toward a conclusion, and bids us look about, to consider the danger we are in before it is too late; for he assures us, we are already going into some of the worst parts of popery; like the man, who was so much in haste for his new coat, that he put it on the wrong side out. Auricular confession, priestly absolution, and the sacrifice of the mass, have made great progress in England, and nobody has observed it: several other popish points are carried higher with us, than by the priests themselves: and somebody, it seems, had the impudence to propose a union with the Gallican church. I have indeed heard that Mr. Lesley published a discourse to that purpose, which I have never seen; nor do I perceive the evil in proposing a union between any two churches in Christendom. Without doubt Mr. Lesley is most unhappily misled in his politicks; but if he be the author of the late tract against popery, he has given the world such a proof of his soundness in religion, as many a bishop ought to be proud of. I never saw the gentleman in my life: I know he is the son of a great and excellent prelate, who, upon several accounts, was one of the most extraordinary men of his age. Mr. Lesley has written many useful discourses upon several subjects, and has so well deserved of the christian religion, and the church of England in particular, that to accuse him of impudence for proposing a union in two very different faiths, is a style which I hope few will imitate. I detest Mr. Lesley's political principles, as much as his lordship can do, for his heart; but I verily believe he acts from a mistaken conscience, and therefore I distinguish between the principles and the person. However it is some mortification to me, when I see an avowed nonjuror, contribute more to the confounding of popery, than could ever be done by a hundred thousand such introductions as this.
His lordship ends with discovering a small ray of comfort. God be thanked, there are many among us that stand upon the watch-tower, and that give faithful warning; that stand in the breach, and make themselves a wall for their church and country; that cry to God day and night, and lie in the dust mourning before him, to avert those judgments that seem to hasten toward us. They search into the mystery of iniquity that is working among us, and acquaint themselves with that mass of corruption that is in popery. He prays, That the number of these may increase, and that he may be of that number, ready either to die in peace, or to seal that doctrine he has been preaching above fifty years, with his blood. This being his last paragraph, I have made bold to transcribe the most important parts of it. His design is to end after the manner of orators, with leaving the strongest impression possible upon the minds of his hearers. A great breach is made, the mystery of popish iniquity is working among us; may God avert those judgments that are hastening toward us; I am an old man, a preacher above fifty years, and I now expect and am ready to die a martyr for the doctrines I have preached. What an amiable idea does he here leave upon our minds, of her majesty, and her government! He has been poring so long upon Fox's book of martyrs, that he imagines himself living in the reign of queen Mary, and is resolved to set up for a knight errant against popery. Upon the supposition of his being in earnest, (which I am sure he is not) it would require but a very little more heat of imagination, to make a history of such a knight's adventures. What would he say to behold the fires kindled in Smithfield, and all over the town, on the seventeenth of November; to behold the pope born in triumph on the shoulders of the people, with a cardinal on the one side, and the pretender on the other? He would never believe it was queen Elizabeth's day, but that of her persecuting sister: in short, how easily might a windmill be taken for the whore of Babylon, and a puppetshow for a popish procession?
But enthusiasm is none of his lordship's faculty: I am inclined to believe, he might be melancholy enough, when he writ this introduction; the despair, at his age, of seeing a faction restored, to which he has sacrificed so great a part of his life: the little success he can hope for, in case he should resume those high church principles, in defence of which he first employed his pen: no visible expectation of removing to Farnham or Lambeth: and lastly, the misfortune of being hated by every one, who either wears the habit, or values the profession of a clergyman. No wonder such a spirit, in such a situation, is provoked beyond the regards of truth, decency, religion, or self conviction. To do him justice, he seems to have nothing else left, but to cry out halters, gibbets, faggots, inquisition, popery, slavery, and the pretender. But, in the mean time, he little considers what a world of mischief he does to his cause. It is very convenient for the present designs of that faction, to spread the opinion of our immediate danger from popery and the pretender. His directors therefore ought, in my humble opinion, to have employed his lordship in publishing a book, wherein he should have affirmed by the most solemn asseverations, that all things were safe and well; for the world has contracted so strong a habit of believing him backward, that I am confident nine parts in ten of those who have read or heard of his introduction, have slept in greater security ever since. It is like the melancholy tone of a watchman at midnight, who thumps with his pole as if some thief were breaking in; but you know by the noise, that the door is fast.
However, he thanks God there are many among us who stand in the breach: I believe they may; it is a breach of their own making, and they design to come forward, and storm and plunder, if they be not driven back. They make themselves a wall for their church and country. A south wall I suppose, for all the best fruit of the church and country to be nailed on. Let us examine this metaphor. The wall of our church and country, is built of those who love the constitution in both: our domestick enemies undermine some parts of the wall, and place themselves in the breach, and then they cry, we are the wall. We do not like such patchwork; they build with untempered mortar; nor can they ever cement with us, till they get better materials and better workmen. God keep us from having our breaches made up with such rubbish. They stand upon the watch-tower! they are indeed pragmatical enough to do so; but who assigned them that post, to give us false intelligence, to alarm us with false dangers, and send us to defend one gate, while their accomplices are breaking in at another? They cry to God day and night to avert the judgment of popery, which seems to hasten toward us. Then I affirm, they are hypocrites by day, and filthy dreamers by night: when they cry unto him, he will not hear them; for they cry against the plainest dictates of their own conscience, reason, and belief.
But, lastly, they lie in the dust mourning before him. Hang me if I believe that, unless it be figuratively spoken. But suppose it to be true, why do they lie in the dust? Because they love to raise it. For what do they mourn? Why, for power, wealth, and places. There let the enemies of the Queen, and monarchy, and the church, lie and mourn, and lick the dust like serpents, till they are truly sensible of their ingratitude, falsehood, disobedience, slander, blasphemy, sedition, and every evil work.
I cannot find in my heart to conclude, without offering his lordship a little humble advice, upon some certain points.
First, I would advise him, if it be not too late in his life, to endeavour a little at mending his style, which is mighty defective in the circumstances of grammar, propriety, politeness, and smoothness. I fancied at first it might be owing to the prevalence of his passion, as people sputter out nonsense for haste, when they are in a rage. And indeed I believe this piece before me, has received some additional imperfections from that occasion. But whoever has heard his sermons, or read his other tracts, will find him very unhappy in the choice and disposition of his words, and for want of variety, repeating them, especially the particles, in a manner very grating to an English ear. But I confine myself to this introduction, as his last work, where, endeavouring at rhetorical flowers, he gives us only bunches of thistles; of which I could present the reader with a plentiful crop; but I refer him to every page and line of the pamphlet itself.
Secondly, I would most humbly advise his lordship to examine a little into the nature of truth, and sometimes to hear what she says. I shall produce two instances among a hundred. When he asserts, that we are now in more danger of popery, than toward the end of king Charles the Second's reign; and gives the broadest hints that the Queen, the ministry, the parliament, and the clergy, are just going to introduce it; I desire to know whether he really thinks truth is of his side, or whether he be not sure she is against him? If the latter, then truth and he will be found in two different stories; and which are we to believe? Again, when he gravely advises the tories not to light the fires in Smithfield, and goes on in twenty places, already quoted, as if the bargain was made for popery and slavery to enter; I ask again whether he has rightly considered the nature of truth? I desire to put a parallel case. Suppose his lordship should take it into his fancy to write and publish a letter to any gentleman, of no infamous character for his religion or morals; and there advise him, with great earnestness, not to rob or fire churches, ravish his daughter, or murder his father; show him the sin and the danger of these enormities; that if he flattered himself he could escape in disguise, or bribe his jury, he was grievously mistaken; that he must in all probability forfeit his goods and chattels, die an ignominious death, and be cursed by posterity: would not such a gentleman justly think himself highly injured, although his lordship did not affirm, that the said gentleman had picklocks or combustibles ready; that he had attempted his daughter, and drawn his sword against his father in order to stab him? whereas, in the other case, this writer affirms over and over, that all attempts for introducing popery and slavery are already made, the whole business concerted, and that little less than a miracle can prevent our ruin.
Thirdly, I could heartily wish his lordship would not undertake to charge the opinions of one or two, and those probably nonjurors, upon the whole body of the nation, that differs from him. Mr. Lesley writ a proposal for a union with the Gallican church: somebody else has carried the necessity of priesthood in the point of baptism, farther than popery: a third has asserted the independency of the church on the state, and in many things arraigned the supremacy of the crown; then he speaks in a dubious insinuating way, as if some other popish tenets had been already advanced: and at last concludes in this affected strain of despondency; What will all these things end in? And on what design are they driven?Alas, it is too visible! it is as clear as the sun, that these authors are encouraged by the ministry, with a design to bring in popery; and in popery all these things will end.
I never was so uncharitable as to believe, that the whole party, of which his lordship professes himself a member, had a real formed design of establishing atheism among us. The reason why the whigs have taken the atheists or freethinkers into their body, is, because they wholly agree in their political scheme, and differ very little in church power and discipline. However, I could turn the argument against his lordship with very great advantage, by quoting passages from fifty pamphlets wholly made up of whiggism and atheism, and then conclude, what will all these things end in? And on what design are they driven? Alas, it is too visible!
Lastly, I would beg his lordship not to be so exceedingly outrageous upon the memory of the dead; because it is highly probable, that in a very short time, he will be one of the number. He has in plain words, given Mr. Wharton the character of a most malicious revengeful, treacherous, lying, mercenary villain. To which I shall only say, that the direct reverse of this amiable description is what appears from the works of that most learned divine, and from the accounts given me by those, who knew him much better than the bishop seems to have done. I meddle not with the moral part of his treatment. God Almighty forgive his lordship this manner of revenging himself; and then there will be but little consequence from an accusation, which the dead cannot feel, and which none of the living will believe.
- The bishop's introduction is prefaced with a letter to his bookseller, of which this is a burlesque.
- This preface may seem to us, at this distance, wholly personal. But the reader must consider Dr. Burnet, not as a bishop, but a ministerial writer. It was observed by another of his answerers [Speculum Sarisburianum], "That the frequent and hasty repetitions of such prefaces and introductions, no less than three new ones in about one year's time, beside an old serviceable one republished concerning persecution — are preludes to other practical things, beside pastoral cares, sermons, and histories."
- Mr. Steele.
- Enfant perdu, one of the forlorn hope; the forlorn hope is a number of men selected for any desperate enterprise, or appointed for the first onset in a battle.
- Fanfaronnade, vain ostentation.
- My lord is ooming, my lord is coming.
- It is somewhat remarkable to see the progress of this story. In the first edition of this introduction, is should seem "he was prevented by the archbishop," &c. When the introduction was reprinted a year after with the history, It stands: A great prelate had been before hand, and possessed him sir John Cotton] against me — That unless the archbishop of Canterbury would recommend me — he desired to be excused — The bishop of Worcester [Dr. W. Lloyd.] could not prevail on the archbishop to interpose." This is somewhat less than preventing: unless the archbishop be meant by the great prelate which is not very probable, 1. Because in the preface to this very third volume, p. 4, he says, "It was by archbishop Bancroft's order he had the free use of every thing that lay in the Lambeth library." 2. Because the author of Speculum Sarisburianum, p. 6. tells us, "His access to the library was owing solely to the recommendation of archbishop Sancroft, as I have been informed (says the author) by some of the family." 3. Because bishop Burnet in his History of his Own Times, vol. I, p. 396, says it was, "Dolben, bishop of Rochester [at the instigation of the duke of Lauderdale], that diverted sir John Cotton from suffering him to search his library."
- Dr. Atterbury.
- Burnet's Travels.
- The Case stated.
- This should be in the plural, 'faculties;' — 'But enthusiasm is none (or not one) of his lordship's faculties.'