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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D. D., Volume IV: by Jonathan Swift

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"As to this part of their Lordships' complaint, we beg leave to lay
before your Majesty the words of that author, which are these.

"'Nor can we altogether excuse those, who turn the holy Eucharist into
an engine, to advance a state faction, and endeavour to confine the
communion table of our Lord, by their arbitrary enclosures to a party;
religion is thereby debased to serve mean and unworthy purposes.' We
humbly conceive that the author in that passage, makes no mention of the
legislature at all, &c., and we cannot omit on this occasion, to regret
it, as the great unhappiness of this kingdom, that dissenters should now
be disabled from concurring in the defence of it, in any future exigency
and danger, and should have the same infamy put upon them with the Irish

"We therefore humbly hope, that your Majesty shall consider, how little
real grounds there are for those complaints made by their Lordships."

What a mixture of impudence and prevarication is this! That one
dissenting teacher accused to his prince of having censured the
legislature, should presume, backed only by five more of the same
quality and profession, to transcribe the guilty paragraph, and (to
secure his meaning from all possibility of being mistaken,) annex
another to it; wherein, they rail at that very law, for which he in so
audacious a manner censured the Queen and Parliament, and at the same
time should expect to be acquitted by her Majesty, because he had not
mentioned the word "legislature": 'Tis true the word legislature is not
expressed in that paragraph; but let Mr. Boyse[6] say, what other power
but the legislature, could in this sense, "turn the holy Eucharist into
an engine to advance a state faction, or confine offices of trust, or
the communion table of our Lord, by their arbitrary enclosures, to a
party." It is plain he can from his principles intend no others, but the
legislators of the Sacramental Test; though at the same time I freely
own, that this is a vile description of them: For neither have they by
this law, made the Sacramental Test an engine to advance, but rather to
depress a state faction, nor have they made any arbitrary enclosures, of
the communion table of our Lord, since as many as please, may receive
the Sacrament with us in our churches; and those who will not, may
freely, as before, receive it in their separate congregations: Nor in
the last place, is religion hereby debased, to serve mean and unworthy
purposes; nor is it any more than all lawgivers do, by enjoining an oath
of allegiance, and making that a religious test. For an oath is an act
of religious worship as well as the Eucharist.

[Footnote 6: Scott remarks that "Mr. Boyse is here and in other places,
spoken of as alive, which was the case, I presume, when the tract first
appeared in 'The Correspondent.'" The tract, however, was printed in
the periodical in 1733, and Boyse died in 1728. It may be that when Swift
first wrote "The Narrative," Mr. Boyse was alive; in that case its date
must be put down to an earlier year than either 1733 or even 1731. Or it
may be that the style of so referring to Boyse was used for an
argumentative effect, to appeal to any reader who was in sympathy with
Boyse's opinions. [T.S.]]

Upon the whole, is not this an instance of prodigious boldness in Mr.
Boyse, backed with only five dissenting teachers, thus to recriminate
upon the Irish House of Lords (as they were pleased to call them in the
title of their printed address,) and almost to insist with her Majesty,
upon the repeal of a law, which she had stamped with her royal
authority, but a few years before?

The[7] next instance, of the resolution of the dissenters, against this
law, was the attempt made during the government of the Duke of

[Footnote 7: From this paragraph to the end is taken from "The
Correspondent," No. iv. The text as given by Scott is considerably
altered from that which appeared in the periodical. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: From September, 1713, until the Queen's death in 1714.

This attack was by the whole compacted body, of their teachers and
elders, with a formidable engine, called a "representation of
grievances," in which, after they had reviled the Test Act, with the
same odious appellations, and insisted upon the same insolent arguments,
for the repeal thereof, which they had formerly urged to the Queen: They
expressed themselves to his Grace in these words:

"We beg leave to say, that those persons must be inexcusable, and
chargeable, with all the bad consequences that may follow, who in such a
kingdom as this, disable, disgrace, and divide Protestants; a thing that
ought not to be done at any time, or in any place, much less than in
this," &c.

Is it possible to conceive any thing more provoking than this humble
supplication of these remonstrators? Does not this sound like a demand
of the repeal of the Test, at the peril of those, who dare refuse it? Is
it not an application with a hat in one hand, and a sword in the other,
and that too, in the style of a King of Ulster, to a King of Connaught,
--"Repeal the Test, or if you don't........."

But to proceed in this narrative: Notwithstanding the defeat of the
dissenters in England, in their late attempt against the Test, their
brethren in Ireland, are so far from being discouraged, that they seem
now to conceive greater hopes of having it repealed here, than ever.[9]
What grounds they have for these hopes, was a secret to us, and I
presume, to themselves; however private whispers begin now to grow into
general rumours, and their managers proceed with great art and
assiduity, from feeling of pulses, to telling of noses.

[Footnote 9: From this word to the end of this paragraph is omitted by

In order to prepare necessaries, and furnish topics for this attempt,
there was a paper printed upon the opening of last session, and now
republished; entitled, "The Nature and Consequences of the Sacramental
Test considered, with reasons humbly offered for the Repeal

[Footnote 10: This pamphlet was reprinted in London in 1732. See note
prefixed to "The Presbyterians' Plea of Merit" [T.S.]]

It is not my intention, to follow this author, through all the mazes and
windings of his reasoning upon this subject, which (in truth) seem such
incoherent shreds, that it is impossible to tie them together; and
therefore, what I purpose is, to answer such objections to the Test, as
are advanced either by this author, or any other which have any
appearance of reason, or plausibility.

I know it is not prudent to despise an adversary, nor fair to prepossess
readers, before I show this bold and insolent writer, in his proper
figure and dress; and therefore, however I may take him to be a feeble
advocate for the repeal of the Test, in point of reasoning, yet I freely
allow him to be a most resolute champion in point of courage, who has,
with such intrepidity, attacked, not only the first enactors of this
law, but all such, who shall continue it, by giving their negatives to a
repeal. I will in this "Correspondent" only transcribe a few quotations
from this author, to shew the gallantry of this aggressor.

Page the 19th[11] he says: "the truth is the imposition of the Test, and
continuing it in such a state of the kingdom, appears (at first sight,)
so great an absurdity in politics, as can never be accounted for."

[Footnote 11: Page 23 in edition London, 1732. [T.S.]]

Who are these absurd politicians? Who first passed, and secondly
continue the Sacramental Test, in all the preceding attempts of the
Dissenters to repeal it? Are they not the majority of both Houses of

[Footnote 12: Omitted by Scott in his edition, 1824. [T.S.]]

But to strengthen his reflections, page 26,[13] he gives the whole
legislature to understand, that continuing the Test, does not become the
wisdom, and justice of the legislature, under the pretence of its being
for the advantage of the state, when it is really prejudicial to it; and
further tells us, it infringes on the indisputable rights of the

[Footnote 13: Pp. 32-33 in London reprint. Scott places passages here in
quotation marks, the original in "The Correspondent" has no such marks,
nor are the passages quoted verbatim from the pamphlet referred

Page, the 57th,[14] he says, "The gentlemen of the House of Commons, who
framed the bill, to prevent the farther growth of Popery, instead of
approving the Test clause which was inserted, publicly declared their
dislike to it, and their resolution to take the first opportunity of
repealing it, though at that time they unwillingly passed it, rather
than lose a bill they were so fond of. This resolution has not been as
yet fulfilled, for what reasons, our worthy patriots themselves know

[Footnote 14: P. 71 in London reprint [T.S.]]

I should be glad this author would inform us, who, and how many of those
members joined in this resolution, to repeal the Test; or where that
resolution is to be found, which he mentions twice in the same
paragraph; surely not in the books of the House of Commons!

If not, suppose some few gentlemen in the House of Commons, and to be
sure very few they were, who publicly declared their dislike to it, or
entered into any resolution; this, I think, he should have explained,
and not insinuated so gross a reflection on a great majority of the
House of Commons, who first passed this law, and have ever since opposed
all attempts to repeal it; these are the gentleman whom, in sarcasm and
irony, he is pleased to call the "worthy," that is, the unworthy
patriots themselves.

But to mention no more, he concludes his notable piece, with these
remarkable words, pages 62-63.[15]

[Footnote 15: P. 79 of London reprint. [T.S.]]

"Thus it appears, with regard to the Protestant succession, which has
now happily taken place, how reasonable it is to repeal the Sacramental
Test, and that granting that favour to the Dissenters," which, by the
way, cannot be granted but by parliament; "can be disagreeable to none,
who have a just sense of the many blessings we enjoy, by the Protestant
succession, in his Majesty's royal family."

I will not trouble the reader with any more quotations, to the same
purpose, out of this libel, for so I must now call it, but take leave to
make some general observations on those paragraphs I have mentioned.

[Footnote: This paragraph is omitted by Scott. [T.S.]]

I conceive, it will be readily allowed, that in all applications, either
from any body of men, or from any particular subject to the legislature,
or any branch thereof, we are to take the highest encomiums as purely
complimental; if there be the least insinuation of disrespect or
reflection therein, in such cases I say, you are to take the compliments
in the lowest sense, but all the reflections in the highest sense the
expressions can bear; inasmuch as, the first may be presumed matter of
form, the latter must be matter of resentment.

[Footnote: This paragraph is much curtailed by Scott, who combines it
with the next paragraph of the present text. [T.S.]]

Now, if we apply this observation, to what this bold adventurer has
said, with respect to the legislators, of the Sacramental Test; Does he
not directly and plainly charge them with injustice, imprudence, gross
absurdity and Jacobitism? Let the most prejudiced reader that is not
pre-determined against conviction, say, whether this libeller of the
parliament, has not drawn up a high charge against the makers and
continuers of this law.

It is readily allowed, that this has been the old style of these
champions, who have attacked the Test, as in the instances before
mentioned, with this difference, that he descends lower in his charge,
and has been more particular than any of his brethren.

[Footnote: This paragraph is omitted by Scott. [T.S.]]

Notwithstanding my resentment, which to be sure, he does not value, I
would be sorry he should bring upon himself the resentment of those he
has been so free with, and I cannot help advising him, to take all
possible care, and use all effectual means, to conjure the printer,
corrector, and publisher of this libel to secrecy; that however the
author may be suspected, he may not be discovered. Upon the whole, is
not this author, justly to be reputed a defamer, till he produces
instances wherein the conforming nobility and gentry of Ireland, have
shown their disaffection to the succession of the illustrious House of

Did they ever refuse the oath of abjuration, or support any conforming
nonjuring teachers in their congregations? Did ever any conforming
gentlemen, or common people, refuse to be arrayed, when the militia was
raised, upon the invasion of the Pretender? Did any of them ever shew
the least reluctance, or make any exception against their officers,
whether they were Dissenters or Churchmen?

It may be said, that from these insinuations, I would have it
understood, that the dissenters encouraged some of their teachers, who
refused the oath of abjuration; and that even in the article of danger,
when the Pretender made his attempt in Scotland, our northern
Presbyterians shewed great reluctance in taking arms, upon the array of

I freely own it is my intention; and I must affirm both facts to be
true, however they have the assurance to deny it.

What can be more notorious, than the protection, countenance, and
support, which was continued to Riddall, McBride, and McCrackan,[16] who
absolutely refused the oath of abjuration; and yet were continued to
teach in their congregations, after they returned from Scotland, when a
prosecution was directed, and a council in criminal causes, was sent
down to the county of Antrim to prosecute them.

[Footnote 16: Riddall, McBride, and McCrackan were three Presbyterian
clergymen who refused to take the oath of abjuring the Pretender. Of
Riddall and McCrackan little is known; but John McBride (1651?-1718)
(according to the writer in the "Dictionary of National Biography") was
born in Ulster, and graduated at Glasgow. He was a strong advocate of
the Hanoverian succession, but avoided the oath of abjuration, in 1703,
by retiring to Glasgow. He returned to Belfast in 1713, and died there.
His humorous excuse for non-abjuration is recorded by the writer of the
article in the Dictionary, and is worth repeating: "Once upon a time
there was a bearn, that cou'd not be persuaded to bann the de'el because
he did not know but he might soon come into his clutches." [T.S.]]

With respect to the parliament; did ever any House of Commons shew
greater alacrity in raising money, and equipping ships, in defence of
the King, than the last House did upon the expected invasion of the
Pretender? And did ever any parliament give money with greater
unanimity, for the support of the Crown, than the present has done,
whatever the wants of their private families might be? And must a very
great majority of those persons, be branded with the infamous aspersion
of disaffection to the illustrious House of Hanover, should they refuse
to give their voices for the repeal of the Test?

I am fully persuaded that this author, and his fellow-labourers, do not
believe one word of this heavy charge; but their present circumstances
are such, that they must run all hazards.

In many places their congregations are sub-divided, and have chosen an
_Old_ and _New Light_ teacher, and consequently those stipends must
support two, which were enjoyed by one before.[17]

[Footnote 17: This paragraph is omitted by Scott. [T.S.]]

A great number of the nonconforming gentlemen daily leave them, though
they have not made any convert to their persuasion, among the conforming
gentlemen of fortune; many who were nonconformists themselves, and many
men whose parents were elders, or rigid nonconformists, are now constant
communicants, and justices of peace in their several counties; insomuch,
that it is highly probable, should the Test continue twenty years
longer, there would not be a gentleman left to solicit a repeal.

I shall hereafter take occasion to shew, how inconsiderable they are,
for their numbers and fortunes, who can be served or obliged by this
repeal, which number is daily lessening.

The dissenting teachers are sufficiently aware, that the general
conformity of the gentlemen, will be followed, by the conformity of
numbers of the people; and should it not be so, that they will be but
poorly supported by them; that by the continuance of the Test, "their
craft will be in danger to be set at nought," and in all probability,
will end in a general conformity of the Presbyterians to the Established

So that, they have the strongest reasons in the world, to press for the
repeal of the Test; but those reasons, must have equal force for the
continuance of it, with all that wish the peace of the Church and State,
and would not have us torn in pieces, with endless and causeless

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,
page 59th.[18]

[Footnote 18: P. 74 in London reprint. [T.S.]]

"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.


"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 and ready 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 the
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 found them upon the common argument, of having their
hands tied up by a late act of parliament, &c. _Whereupon I took some
pains to shew the act to them, and wherein they were mistaken._ I
further 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 be directed by, &c."

***** ***** ***** ***** *****





Very proper to be read (at this Time) by every Member of the
Established Church.


The text of this tract is based on that of the original broadside,
collated with those given by Faulkner and Scott. In 1733 was also
published a broadside with the title: "Queries upon the Demand of the
Presbyterians to have the Sacramental Test repealed at this Session of
Parliament." These queries seem to be based on those by Swift, though
they are not quite the same.




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 many hundred thousand Scotch Presbyterians, are not full 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 Churchmen: It would not be a necessary point
of prudence, by all proper and lawful means to prevent their further

The great argument given by those whom they call _Low_ Church men, to
justify the large tolerations allowed to Dissenters, hath been; that by
such indulgencies, the rancour 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.


If what the above pamphleteer asserts, that the sectaries, are in equal
numbers with conformists, it doth 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 Scriptures, and the primitive
Church, can really wish in his heart, that all sectaries should be upon
an equal foot with the Churchmen, in the point of civil power and

Whether Episcopacy, which is held by the Church to be a divine and
apostolic institution, be not a fundamental point of religion,
particularly in that essential one of conferring holy orders?

Whether, by necessary consequences, the several expedients among the
sectaries to constitute their teachers, are not absolutely null and

Whether the sectaries will ever agree to accept ordination only from

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 towards 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 II. used all
endeavours to establish their superstition; 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 depose or murder their King, much less to abolish
kingly government; nor was it their interest or inclination to attempt

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 pious Prince had satisfied his
Parliament in every single point to be complained of; the same sectaries
by poisoning 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;
or 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 our 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; is it not manifest, that the persecuting
spirit lieth 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
professeth himself a member of the Church established, although,
perhaps, with little inward regard to any religion (which is too often
the case) if he loveth the peace 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 and
writer; but it is a gross imposition upon common reason, to terrify us
with their strength. For Popery, under the circumstances it lieth in
this kingdom; although it be offensive, and inconvenient enough, from
the consequences it hath 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 exceedeth that
among us, even in proportion to the wealth and extent of each kingdom.
The little that remaineth 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,
or inclinations to rebel. They want every advantage which they formerly
possessed, to follow that 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 towards 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
neighbourhood, are so kind to express for us upon this account; although
the former be further removed from the dangers 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 standeth, 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,[1] 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 an
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.

[Footnote 1: See note, p. 40, referring to the poem:

"The Grunters' request
To take off the Test." [T.S.]]

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
so 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
invasions, especially in our sectaries, who call themselves the truest
Protestants, by virtue of their pretended or real fierceness against

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 government?

Whether in those churches, where the said day is observed, it will fully
answer the intent of the said Act; if the preacher shall commend,
excuse, palliate, or extenuate the murder of that royal Martyr; and lay
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 even 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.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****






Dublin, Printed; London, Re-printed for J. Roberts at the Oxford Arms in
Warwick Lane. 1732. (Price Six-pence.)


The text here given is that of the London reprint of the original
edition, which has been collated with that given by Faulkner (vol. iv.,
1735). In 1790 the tract was reprinted by J. Walters, and it is
evidently from this reprint that Scott obtained his text; for the two
agree in almost every particular.



Whoever writes impartially upon this subject, must do it not only as a
mere secular man, but as one who is altogether indifferent to any
particular system of Christianity. And, I think, in whatever country
that religion predominates, there is one certain form of worship and
ceremony, which is looked upon as the established, and consequently only
the priests of that particular form, are maintained at the public
charge, and all civil employments are bestowed among those who comply
(at least outwardly) with the same establishment.

This method is strictly observed, even by our neighbours the Dutch, who
are confessed to allow the fullest liberty to conscience of any
Christian state; and yet are never known to admit any persons into
religious or civil offices, who do not conform to the legal worship. As
to their military men, they are indeed not so scrupulous, being, by the
nature of their government, under a necessity of hiring foreign troops
of whatever religious denomination, upon every great emergency, and
maintaining no small number in time of peace.

This caution therefore of making one established faith, seems to be
universal, and founded upon the strongest reasons; the mistaken, or
affected zeal of obstinacy, and enthusiasm, having produced such a
number of horrible, destructive events, throughout all Christendom. For,
whoever begins to think the national worship is wrong, in any important
article of practice or belief, will, if he be serious, naturally have a
zeal to make as many proselytes as he can, and a nation may possibly
have an hundred different sects with their leaders; every one of which
hath an equal right to plead; they must "obey God rather than man," must
"cry aloud and spare not," must "lift up their voice like a trumpet"

This was the very case of England, during the fanatic times. And against
all this, there seems to be no defence, but that of supporting one
established form of doctrine and discipline; leaving the rest to a bare
liberty of conscience, but without any maintenance or encouragement from
the public.

Wherever this national religion grows so corrupt, or is thought to do so
by a very great majority of learned[1] people, joined to the governing
party, whether prince or senate, or both, it ought to be changed,
provided the work might be done without blood or tumults.[2] Yet,
whenever such a change shall be made, some other establishment must
succeed (although for the worse), allowing all deviations that would
break the union to be only tolerated. In this sense, those who affirm,
that every law, which is contrary to the law of God, is void in itself,
seem to be mistaken. For, many laws in Popish kingdoms and states, many
more among the Turks, and perhaps not a few in other countries, are
directly against the divine laws; and yet, God knows, are very far from
being void in the executive parts.

[Footnote 1: Scott has "landed." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Scott has "confusion." [T.S.]]

Thus, for instance, if the three estates of Parliament in England
(whereof the lords spiritual[3] are one) should agree, and obtain the
royal assent to abolish Episcopacy, together with the liturgy, and the
whole frame of the English church, as "burthensome, dangerous, and
contrary to Holy Scripture"; and that Presbytery, Anabaptism, Quakerism,
Independency,[4] or any other subdivided sect among us, should be
established in its place; without question, all peaceable subjects ought
passively to submit, and the predominant sect must become the religion
established, the public maintaining no other teachers, nor admitting any
persons of a different religious profession, into civil offices; at
least, if their intention be to preserve the nation in peace.

[Footnote 3: Scott inserts here the words: "who represent the Church."

[Footnote 4: Scott inserts here "Muggletonianism, Brownism, Familism."

Supposing then, that the present system of religion were abolished; and
Presbytery, which stands much the fairest, with its synods and classes,
and all its forms and ceremonies, essential or circumstantial, were
erected into the national worship: Their teachers, and no others, could
have any legal claim to be supported at the public charge, whether by
stipends or tithes; and only the rest of the same faith to be capable of
civil employments.

If there be any true reasoning in what I have laid down, it should seem,
that the project now in agitation for repealing the Test Act, and yet
leaving the name of an establishment to the present national church, is
altogether inconsistent, and may admit of consequences, which those, who
are the most indifferent to any religion at all, are possibly not aware

I presume, whenever the Test shall be repealed, which obliges all men,
who enter into office under the Crown, to receive the sacrament
according to the rites of the Church of Ireland, the way to employments
will immediately be left open to all dissenters, (except Papists) whose
consciences can suffer them to take the common oaths in such cases
prescribed, after which they are qualified to fill any lay station in
this kingdom, from that of chief governor, to an exciseman.

Thus of the three judges on each bench, the first may be a Presbyterian,
the second a Free-will Baptist, and the third a Churchman; the Lord
Chancellor may be an Independent; the revenues may be managed by seven
commissioners of as many different sects; and the like of all other
employments. Not to mention the strong probability, that the lawfulness
of taking oaths may be _revealed_ to the Quakers, who then will stand
upon as good a foot for preferment, as any other loyal subject. It is
easy[5] to imagine, under such a motley administration of affairs, what
a clashing there will be of interests and inclinations, what puttings
and haulings backwards and forwards, what a zeal and bias in each
religionist, to advance his own tribe, and depress the others. For, I
suppose nothing will be readier granted, than that how indifferent
soever most men are in faith and morals, yet whether out of artifice,
natural complexion, or love of contradiction, none are more obstinate in
maintaining their own opinions, and worrying all who differ from them,
than those who publicly shew the least sense, either of religion or
common honesty.

[Footnote 5: Scott has "obvious." [T.S.]]

As to the latter, Bishop Burnet tells us, that the Presbyterians, in the
fanatic times, professed themselves to be above morality; which, as we
find in some of their writings, was numbered among the "beggarly
elements"; and accordingly at this day, no scruples of conscience with
regard to conformity, are in any trade or calling, inconsistent with the
greatest fraud, oppression, perjury, or any other vice.

This brings to my memory a passage in Montaigne, of a common prostitute,
who, in the storming of a town, when a soldier came up to her chamber,
and offered violence to her chastity, rather chose to venture her neck,
by leaping out of the window, than suffer a rape; yet still continued
her trade of lewdness, whilst she had any customers left.[6]

[Footnote 6: The passage referred to by Swift is to be found in the
first chapter of the second book of Florio's translation of Montaigne's
"Essays"--"Of the Inconstancie of our Actions." [T.S.]]

I confess, that in my private judgment, an unlimited permission of all
sects whatsoever (except Papists) to enjoy employments, would be less
pernicious to the public, than a fair struggle between two contenders;
because in the former case, such a jumble of principles, might possibly
have the effect of contrary poisons mingled together, which a strong
constitution might perhaps be able for some time to survive.

But however, I shall take the other, and more probable supposition, that
this battle for employments, is to be fought only between the
Presbyterians, and those of the church _yet_ established. I shall not
enter into the merits of either side, by examining which of the two is
the better spiritual economy, or which is most suited to the civil
constitution: But the question turns upon this point: When the
Presbyterians shall have got their share of employments (which, must be
one full half, or else they cannot look upon themselves as fairly dealt
with) I ask, whether they ought not by their own principles, and by the
strictest rules of conscience, to use the utmost of their skill, power,
and influence, in order to reduce the whole kingdom to an uniformity in
religion, both as to doctrine and discipline, most agreeable to the word
of God. Wherein, if they can succeed without blood (as, under the
present disposition of things, it is very possible they may) it is to be
hoped they will at last be satisfied: Only I would warn them of a few
difficulties. The first is for compromising that important controversy
about the _Old Light_ and the _New_;[7] which otherwise may, after this
establishment, split them as wide as Papist and Protestant, Whig and
Tory, or Churchmen and Dissenters; and consequently the work will be to
begin again. For in religious quarrels, it is of little moment how few
or small the differences are, especially when the dispute is only about
power. Thus the jealous Presbyterians of the north, are more alienated
from the established clergy, than from the Romish priests; taxing the
former with idolatrous worship, as disguised Papists, ceremony-mongers,
and many other terms of arts, and this for a very powerful reason,
because the clergy stand in their way, which the Popish priests do not.
Thus I am assured, that the quarrel between _Old_ and _New Light men_,
is managed with more rage and rancour, than any other dispute of the
highest importance; and this because it serves to lessen or increase
their several congregations, from whom they receive their contributions.

[Footnote 7: See "The Correspondent," Nos. 1 and 2, 1733, and note
prefixed to present reprint of "Narrative of Several Attempts for the
Repeal of the Sacramental Test" [T.S.]]

Another difficulty which may embarrass the Presbyterians after their
establishment, will be how to adjust their claim of the kirk's
independency on the civil power, with the constitution of this monarchy;
a point so delicate, that it hath often filled the heads of great
patriots with dangerous notions of the church-clergy, without the least
ground of suspicion.

As to the Presbyterians allowing liberty of conscience to those of
Episcopal principles, when their own kirk is predominant, their writers
are so universally agreed in the negative, as well as their practice
during Oliver's reign, that I believe no reasonable Churchman, (who must
then be a dissenter) will expect it.

I shall here take notice, that in the division of employments among the
Presbyterians, after this approaching repeal of the Test Act, supposing
them, in proper time, to have an equal share, I compute the odds will be
three or four to one on their side, in any further scheme they may have
towards making their religion national. For I reckon, all those
gentlemen sent over from England, whatever religion they profess, or
have been educated in, to be of that party: Since it is no mark of
prudence, for any persons to oppose the current of a nation, where they
are in some sort only sojourners, unless they have it in direction.

If there be any maxim in politics, not to be controlled, it must be the
following: That those whose private interest is united with the interest
of their country, supposing them to be of equal understanding with the
rest of their neighbours, will heartily wish, that the nation should
thrive. Out of these are indubitably excepted all persons who are sent
from another kingdom, to be employed in places of profit or power;
because they can possibly bear no affection to the place where they
sojourn, even for life; their sole business being to advance themselves,
by following the advice of their principals. I except, likewise, those
persons who are taken into offices, although natives of the land,
because they are greater gainers while they keep their offices, than
they could possibly be by mending the miserable condition of their

I except, Thirdly, all hopers, who, by balancing accounts with
themselves, turn the scale on the same side; because the strong
expectation of a good certain salary, will outweigh the loss by bad
rents, received out of lands in moneyless times.

If my lords, the bishops, who, I hear, are now employed in a scheme for
regulating the conduct and maintenance of the inferior clergy, shall in
their wisdom and piety, and love of the church, consent to this repeal
of the Test, I have not the least doubt, that the whole reverend body
will cheerfully submit to their spiritual fathers, of whose paternal
tenderness for their welfare, they have already found so many amazing

I am not, therefore, under the least concern about the clergy on this
account. They will (_for some time_) be no great sufferers by this
repeal; because I cannot recollect among all our sects, any one that
gives latitude enough to take the oaths required at an institution to a
church-living; and, until that bar shall be removed, the present
Episcopal clergy are safe for two years. Although it may be thought
somewhat unequal, that in the northern parts, where there may be three
Dissenters to one Churchman, the whole revenue should be engrossed by
one who hath so small a part of the cure.

It is true, indeed, that this disadvantage, which the Dissenters at
present lie under, of a disability to receive church-preferments, will
be easily remedied by the repeal of the Test. For the dissenting
teachers are under no incapacity of accepting civil and military
employments, wherein they agree perfectly with the Popish clergy, among
whom great cardinals and prelates have been commanders of armies, chief
ministers, knights of many orders, ambassadors, secretaries of state,
and in most high offices under the Crown, although they assert the
indelible character, which no sectaries among us did ever assume. But,
that many, both Presbyterians and Independents, commanders, as well as
private soldiers, were professed preachers in the time of their
dominion, is allowed by all. Cromwell himself was a preacher, and hath
left us one of his sermons in print[8]: So was Col. Howard, Sir George
Downing,[9] and several others whose names are on record. I can,
therefore, see no reason why a painful Presbyterian teacher, as soon as
the Test shall be repealed, may not be privileged, to hold along with
his spiritual office and stipend, a commission in the army, or the civil
list _in commendam_: For, as I take it, the Church of England is the
only body of Christians, which, in effect, disqualifies those who are
employed to preach its doctrine, from sharing in the civil power,
further than as senators; which, however, was an institution[10] begun
in times of Popery, many hundred years before the Reformation, and woven
with the very institution of this limited monarchy.

[Footnote 8: Scott inserts here the words: "exactly in the same style
and manner with those of our modern Presbyterian teachers." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: Sir George Downing (1623?-1684) born in England, completed
his education at Harvard, Mass., U.S.A. In 1650, we hear of him
as scout-master general of Cromwell's army in Scotland. He wrote many of
the letters in "Mercurius Politicus." Distinguished himself principally
as Cromwell's ambassador in France and Holland. Through Thomas Howard,
however, he obtained an opportunity while legate in Holland for the Rump
Parliament, for ingratiating himself in Charles II.'s favour. This
Howard was brother to the Earl of Suffolk. As a consequence of this
favour, Downing was made a baronet at the Restoration; and although a
man of undoubted ability, his character has come down to us by no means
free from taint. Many of his despatches are quoted by Clarendon in that
writer's great history. Downing also wrote: "A Reply to the Remarks of
the Deputies of the States-General upon Sir G. Downing's Memorial,"
1665,; and "Discourses vindicating his Royal Master from a Libel," 1672.

[Footnote 10: Scott has, instead of "which, however, was an
institution," the words, "yet this was a privilege." [T.S.]]

There is indeed another method, by which the stipends of dissenting
teachers may be raised, and the farmer much relieved; If it should be
thought proper to reward a people so deserving, and so loyal by their
principles. Every bishop, upon the vacancy of a church-living, can
sequester the profits for the use of the next incumbent. Upon a lapse of
half a year, the donation falls to the archbishop, and after a full year
to the Crown, during pleasure; therefore it would be no hardship for any
clergyman alive, if, in those parts of Ireland, where the number of
sectaries much exceed that of the conformists, the profits, when
sequestered, might be applied to the support of the dissenting teacher,
who hath so many souls to take care of, whereby the poor tenants would
be much relieved in these hard times, and in a better condition to pay
their rents.

But there is another difficulty in this matter, against which a remedy
doth not so readily occur. For, supposing the Test Act repealed, and the
Dissenters in consequence fully qualified for all secular employments,
the question may still be put, whether those of Ireland will be often
the persons on whom they shall be bestowed; because it is imagined,
there may be another _seminary_[11] in view, _more numerous_ and _more
needy_, as well as _more meriting_, and more easily contented with such
low offices, as some nearer neighbours hardly think it worth stirring
from their chimney-sides to obtain. And, I am told, it is the common
practice of those who are skilled in the management of bees, that when
they see a foreign swarm at some distance, approaching with an intention
to plunder their hives, these artists have a trick to divert them into
some neighbouring apiary, there to make what havoc they please. This I
should not have hinted, if I had not known it already, to have gotten
ground in many suspecting heads: For it is the peculiar talent of this
nation, to see dangers afar off: To all which I can only say, that our
native Presbyterians, must, by pains and industry, raise such a fund of
_merit_, as will answer to a birth six degrees more to the north. If
they cannot arrive at this perfection, as several of the established
church have compassed by indefatigable pains, I do not well see how
their affairs will much mend by repealing the Test; for, to be qualified
by law for[12] an employment, and yet to be disqualified in fact, as it
will much increase the mortification, so it will withdraw the pity of
many among their well-wishers, and utterly deprive them of that merit,
they have so long made of being a loyal, true Protestant people,
persecuted only for religion.

[Footnote 11: Scotland.]

[Footnote 12: Scott has "to accept." [T.S.]]

If this happen to be their case, they must wait maturity of time, till
they can by prudent, gentle steps make their faith become the religion
established in the nation, after which, I do not in the least doubt,
their taking the most effectual methods to secure their power against
those who must then be Dissenters in their turn, whereof, if we may form
a future opinion from present times, and the disposition of Dissenters,
who love to make a thorough reformation, the number and qualities will
be very inconsiderable.

Thus I have with the utmost sincerity, after long thinking, given my
judgment upon this arduous affair; but with the utmost deference and
submission to public wisdom and power.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****






In the 4to edition of Swift's works (1755) is given the following note:

"The author having before examined 'The Presbyterians' Plea of Merit'
with respect to their own principles and practices, has in this tract
put them in the balance against Papists."

In a reprint of this tract in the second volume of "Political Tracts," 2
vols. 8vo, 1738, London, is the following "Advertisement"--neither
Scott, Faulkner, nor Hawkesworth give this. Probably it appeared in the
first edition; but as I have not been able to come across this, I am not

"In the years 1732, and 1733, an attempt was made for repealing the Test
Act in Ireland, introductory of a like attempt in England. The various
arguments for it were answered in every shape; but no way more
effectually than by examining what pretence the Presbyterians had to
share in all the privileges of government, either from their own
principles and behaviour, or compared with those of other sectaries.
Under the former head they were fully silenced by our author in 'The
Presbyterians' Plea of Merit Impartially Examined'. They are now put in
the balance with Papists, whom though they have sometimes styled their
brethren in adversity, yet when placed in competition, they will hate as
brethren likewise. But let them here dispute the preference, and then put
in their claim to be part of the establishment." "The arguments
pretended to be urged by the Roman Catholics, in this tract," says Monck
Mason, "consist partly of true statements and partly of ironical
allusions, which are combined together into such a trellis work, as to
render it almost unassailable."

The text here given is that from the 4to edition (1755) of Swift's
Works, collated with that in the second volume of "Political Tracts"
above referred to.


Humbly offered to the PARLIAMENT of IRELAND
_For Repealing the_

Drawn partly from Arguments as they are
Catholics, and partly from Arguments
common to them with their Brethren the


It is well known, that the first conquerors of this kingdom were English
Catholics, subjects to English Catholic kings, from whom, by their
valour and success, they obtained large portions of land given them as a
reward for their many victories over the Irish: To which merit our
brethren the Dissenters of any denomination whatsoever, have not the
least pretensions.

It is confessed, that the posterity of those first victorious Catholics
were often forced to rise in their own defence, against new colonies
from England, who treated them like mere native Irish, with innumerable
oppressions; depriving them of their lands, and driving them by force of
arms into the most desolate parts of the kingdom. Till in the next
generation, the children of these tyrants were used in the same manner
by new English adventurers, which practice continued for many centuries.
But it is agreed on all hands, that no insurrections were ever made,
except after great oppressions by fresh invaders. Whereas all the
rebellions of Puritans, Presbyterians, Independents, and other
sectaries, constantly began before any provocations were given, except
that they were not suffered to change the government in Church and
State, and seize both into their own hands; which, however, at last they
did, with the murder of their King and of many thousands of his best

The Catholics were always defenders of monarchy, as constituted in these
kingdoms. Whereas our brethren the Dissenters were always republicans,
both in principle and practice. It is well known that all the Catholics
of these kingdoms, both priests and laity, are true Whigs in the best
and most proper sense of the word; bearing as well in their hearts, as
in their outward profession, an entire loyalty to the royal house of
Hanover in the person and posterity of George II. against the Pretender
and all his adherents. To which they think themselves bound in gratitude
as well as conscience, by the lenity wherewith they have been treated
since the death of Queen Anne, so different from what they suffered in
the four last years of that Princess, during the administration of that
_wicked_ minister, the Earl of Oxford.

The Catholics of this kingdom humbly hope, that they have at least as
fair a title as any of their brother Dissenters, to the appelation of
Protestants. They have always protested against the selling, dethroning,
or murdering their Kings: Against the usurpations and avarice of the
court of Rome: Against Deism, Atheism, Socinianism, Quakerism,
Muggletonianism, Fanaticism, Brownism, as well as against all Jews,
Turks, Infidels, and Heretics. Whereas the title of Protestants assumed
by the whole herd of Dissenters (except ourselves) dependeth entirely
upon their protesting against archbishops, bishops, deans, and chapters,
with their revenues; and the whole hierarchy. Which are the very
expressions used in The Solemn League and Covenant,[1] where the word
Popery is only mentioned _ad invidiam_; because the Catholics agree with
the Episcopal church in those fundamentals.

[Footnote 1: A solemn league and covenant entered into between the
Scots and English fanatics, in the rebellion against King Charles I.,
1643, by which they solemnly engaged, among other things, "To endeavour
the extirpation of prelacy, that is, church government by archbishops,
bishops, deans, archdeacons, and all other episcopal officers,
depending on that hierarchy." [H.]]

Although the Catholics cannot deny, that in the great rebellion against
King Charles I. more soldiers of their religion were in the Parliament
army than in His Majesty's troops; and that many Jesuits and friars went
about in the disguise of Presbyterian and Independent ministers, to
preach up rebellion; as the best historians of those times inform us;
yet the bulk of Catholics in both kingdoms preserved their loyalty

The Catholics have some reason to think it a little hard, when their
enemies will not please to distinguish between the rebellious riot
committed by that brutal ruffian, Sir Phelim O'Neal[2] with his
tumultuous crew of rabble; and the forces raised afterwards by the
Catholic lords and gentlemen of the English pale, in defence of the King
after the English rebellion began. It is well known, that His Majesty's
affairs were in great distraction some time before, by an invasion of
the covenanting, Scottish, kirk rebels, and by the base terms the King
was forced to accept, that they might be kept in quiet, at a juncture
when he was every hour threatened at home by that fanatic party, which
soon after set all in a flame. And, if the Catholic army in Ireland
fought for their King against the forces sent over by the Parliament,
then in actual rebellion against him, what person of loyal principles
can be so partial to deny, that they did their duty, by joining with the
Marquis of Ormonde, and other commanders, who bore their commissions
from the King? For which, great numbers of them lost their lives, and
forfeited their estates; a great part of the latter being now possessed
by many descendants from those very men who had drawn their swords in
the service of that rebellious Parliament which cut off his head, and
destroyed monarchy. And what is more amazing, although the same persons,
when the Irish were entirely subdued, continued in power under the Rump;
were chief confidants, and faithful subjects to Cromwell, yet being wise
enough to foresee a restoration, they seized the forts and castles here,
out of the hands of their old brethren in rebellion, for the service of
the King; just saving the tide, and putting in a stock of merit,
sufficient not only to preserve the lands which the Catholics lost by
their loyalty; but likewise to preserve their civil and military
employments, or be higher advanced.

[Footnote 2: Sir Phelim O'Neill (1604?-1683) one of the most
picturesque characters of Irish history. For his share in the rebellion
of 1641 he was expelled from the Irish House of Commons. The rebellion
was an attempt to assist Charles as against the Parliament, and O'Neill
forged a commission, purporting to come from the King, authorizing the
Irish to rise in his favour. The Scottish settlers in Ulster, on whom
O'Neill relied for aid disappointed him, and he thereupon set to work to
reduce all their towns. The famous siege of Drogheda was one of the many
incidents of his campaign. He joined forces with his kinsman, Owen Roe
O'Neill, but a jealous difference on his part urged Sir Phelim to
support Ormonde, in 1640, in that general's endeavours for a peace. Sir
Phelim, however, was not included in the benefit of the Articles of
Kilkenny, and a price was placed on his head. He was betrayed by Philip
Roe McHugh O'Neill, brought to Dublin, and executed as a traitor.

Those insurrections wherewith the Catholics are charged from the
beginning of the seventeenth century to the great English rebellion,
were occasioned by many oppressions they lay under. They had no
intention to introduce a new religion, but to enjoy the liberty of
preserving the old; the very same which their ancestors professed from
the time that Christianity was first introduced into this island, which
was by Catholics; but whether mingled with corruptions, as some pretend,
doth not belong to the question. They had no design to change the
government; they never attempted to fight against, to imprison, to
betray, to sell, to bring to a trial, or to murder their King. The
schismatics acted by a spirit directly contrary; they united in a Solemn
League and Covenant, to alter the whole system of spiritual government,
established in all Christian nations, and of apostolic institution;
concluding the tragedy with the murder of the King in cold blood, and
upon mature deliberation; at the same time changing the monarchy into a

The Catholics of Ireland, in the great rebellion, lost their estates for
fighting in defence of their King. The schismatics, 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 Catholics lost in defence of the ancient
constitution, many of which estates are at this day possessed by the
posterity of those schismatics: And thus, they gained by their rebellion
what the Catholics lost by their loyalty.[3]

[Footnote 3: This paragraph is omitted in edition of 1743, but it is
printed in that of 1755. [T.S.]]

We allow the Catholics to be brethren of the Dissenters; some people,
indeed, (which we cannot allow) would have them to be our children,
because _we_ both dissent 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 schismatics, in calling the members of the National Church their
brethren and fellow Protestants. It is true, that all these sects
(except the Catholics) 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
Protestants, 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 at football; where the proverb expressly tells
us, that _all are fellows_; while the three kingdoms were tossed to and
fro, the churches, and cities, and royal palaces shattered to pieces by
their balls, their buffets, and their kicks; the victors would allow no
more _fellows at football_: But murdered, sequestered, plundered,
deprived, banished to the plantations, or enslaved all their opposers
who had lost the game.

It is said 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, one of their oracles,
tells us honestly, that the _saints_ of those fanatic 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 appears to have received it in the most regular way; where it
was introduced in a peaceable manner, by the supreme power of a King,[4]
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 so 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 Catholics gradually and considerably lessened. 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 Catholics never disputed: But
the Puritans, and other schismatics, without the least pretence to any
such authority, by an open rebellion, destroyed that legal Reformation,
as we observed before, murdered their King, and changed the monarchy
into a republic. It is therefore not to be wondered at, if the
Catholics, in such a Babel of religions, chose to adhere to their own
faith left to them by their ancestors, rather than seek for a better
among a rabble of hypocritical, rebellious, deluding knaves, or deluded

[Footnote 4: Henry VIII [H.]]

We repeat once more, that if a national religion 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 differs 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 t'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 rebellious 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 Catholics cannot see why the successors of those
schismatics, who are universally accused by all parties except
themselves, and a few infamous abettors, for still 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 Catholics, who during all that period of
twenty years, were continually persecuted with 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 Catholics, and their brethren the Dissenters.

_First_, We agree with our fellow Dissenters; that "persecution merely
for conscience' sake, is against the genius of the Gospel."[5] 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 as a stab through the heart. In
like manner, an incapacity by law for any man to be made a judge, a
colonel, or justice of the peace, "merely on a point of conscience, is a
negative discouragement," and consequently a real persecution: For, in
this case, the author of the pamphlet quoted in the margin[6] puts a
very pertinent and powerful question: That, "If God be the sole lord of
the conscience, why should the rights of conscience be subject to human
jurisdiction?" Now to apply this to the Catholics: The belief of
transubstantiation "is a matter purely of religion and conscience, which
doth not affect the political interest of society as such. Therefore,
Why should the rights of conscience, whereof God is the sole lord, be
subject to human jurisdiction?" And why should God be deprived of this
right over a Catholic's conscience any more than over that of any other

[Footnote 5: _Vid_. Reasons for the Repeal of the Sacramental Test.
[Note in edit. 1738.]]

[Footnote 6: _Idem_.]

And whereas another author among our brethren the Dissenters, hath very
justly complained, that by this persecuting Test Act, great numbers of
true Protestants have been forced to leave the kingdom, and fly to the
plantations, rather than stay here branded with an incapacity for civil
and military employments; we do affirm, that the Catholics can bring
many more instances of the same kind; some thousands of their religion
have been forced by the Sacramental Test, to retire into other
countries, rather than live here under the incapacity of wearing swords,
sitting in Parliament, and getting that share of power and profit which
belongs to them as fellow Christians, whereof they are deprived "merely
upon account of conscience, which would not allow them to take the
sacrament after the manner prescribed in the liturgy." Hence it clearly
follows in the words of the same author,[7] "That if we Catholics are
uncapable of employments, we are punished for our dissent, that is, for
our conscience, which wholly turns upon political considerations."

[Footnote 7: See "Reasons against the Test." [Note in edit. 1738.]]

The Catholics are willing to acknowledge the King's supremacy, whenever
their brethren the Dissenters shall please to shew them the example.

Further, The Catholics, whenever their religion shall come to be the
national established faith, are willing to undergo the same test offered
by the author already quoted. His words are these: "To end this debate,
by putting it upon a foot which I hope will appear to every impartial
person a fair and equitable one; We Catholics propose, with submission
to the proper judges, that effectual security be taken against
persecution, by obliging all who are admitted into places of power and
trust, whatever their religious profession be, in the most solemn manner
to disclaim persecuting principles." It is hoped the public will take
notice of these words; "Whatever their religious profession be;" which
plainly include the Catholics; and for which we return thanks to our
dissenting brethren.

And, whereas it is objected by those of the established Church, that if
the schismatics and fanatics were once put into a capacity of possessing
civil and military employments; they would never be at ease till they
had raised their own way of worship into the national religion through
all His Majesty's dominions, equal with the true orthodox Scottish kirk;
which when they had once brought to pass, they would no more allow
liberty of conscience to Episcopal Dissenters, than they did in the time
of the great English rebellion, and in the succeeding fanatic anarchy
till the King was restored. There is another very learned schismatical
pamphleteer,[8] who in answer to a malignant libel, called, _The
Presbyterians' Plea of Merit, &c_., clearly wipes off this aspersion; by
assuring all Episcopal Protestants of the present Church, upon his own
word, and to his own knowledge, that our brethren the Dissenters will
never offer at such an attempt. In like manner, the Catholics when
legally required, will openly declare upon their words and honours,
that, as soon as their negative discouragements and their persecution
shall be removed by repealing the Sacramental Test, they will leave it
entirely to the merits of the cause, whether the kingdom shall think fit
to make their faith the established religion or not.

[Footnote 8: "Vindication of the Protestant Dissenters." This pamphlet
has been mentioned in the note prefixed to "The Presbyterians' Plea of
Merit." It was written as a reply to that tract, and to the

And again, Whereas our Presbyterian brethren in many of their pamphlets,
take much offence, that the great rebellion in England, the murder of
the King, with the entire change of religion and government, are
perpetually objected against them both in and out of season, by our
common enemy, the present conformists: We do declare in the defence of
our said brethren, that the reproach aforesaid is _an old worn-out
threadbare cant_, which they always disdained to answer: And I very well
remember, that, having once told a certain conformist, how much I
wondered to hear him and his tribe, dwelling perpetually on so beaten a
subject; he was pleased to divert the discourse with a foolish story,
which I cannot forbear telling to his disgrace. He said, there was a
clergyman in Yorkshire, who for fifteen years together preached every
Sunday against drunkenness: Whereat the parishioners being much
offended, complained to the archbishop; who having sent for the
clergyman, and severely reprimanded him, the minister had no better an
answer, than by confessing the fact; adding, that all the parish were
drunkards; that he desired to reclaim them from one vice before he would
begin upon another; and, since they still continued to be as great
drunkards as before, he resolved to go on, except his Grace would please
to forbid him.

We are very sensible how heavy an accusation lieth upon the Catholics of
Ireland; that some years before King Charles II. was restored, when
theirs and the King's forces were entirely reduced, and the kingdom
declared by the Rump to be settled; after all His Majesty's generals
were forced to fly to France, or other countries, the heads of the said
Catholics who remained here in an enslaved condition, joined to send an
invitation to the Duke of Lorrain; engaging, upon his appearing here
with his forces, to deliver up the whole island to his power, and
declare him their sovereign; which, after the Restoration, was proved
against them by Dean Boyle, since primate, who produced the very
original instrument at the board. The Catholics freely acknowledge the
fact to be true; and, at the same time appeal to all the world, whether
a wiser, a better, a more honourable, or a more justifiable project
could have been thought of. They were then reduced to slavery and
beggary by the English rebels, many thousands of them murdered, the rest
deprived of their estates, and driven to live on a small pittance in the
wilds of Connaught; at a time when either the Rump or Cromwell
absolutely governed the three kingdoms. And the question will turn upon
this, Whether the Catholics, deprived of all their possessions, governed
with a rod of iron, and in utter despair of ever seeing the monarchy
restored, for the preservation of which they had suffered so much, were
to be blamed for calling in a foreign prince of their own religion, who
had a considerable army to support them; rather than submit to so
infamous an usurper as Cromwell, or such a bloody and ignominious
conventicle as the Rump. And I have often heard, not only our friends
the Dissenters, but even our common enemy the Conformists, who are
conversant in the history of those times, freely confess, that
considering the miserable situation the Irish were then in, they could
not have thought of a braver or more virtuous attempt; by which they
might have been instruments of restoring the lawful monarch, at least to
the recovery of England and Scotland, from those betrayers, and sellers,
and murderers of his royal father.

To conclude, Whereas the last quoted author complains very heavily and
frequently of a _brand_ that lies upon them, it is a great mistake: For
the first original brand hath been long taken off. Only we confess, the
scar will probably remain and be visible for ever to those who know the
principles by which they acted, and until those principles shall be
openly renounced; else it must continue to all generations, like the
mark set upon Cain, which some authors say descended to all his
posterity: Or like the Roman nose and Austrian lip, or like the long bag
of flesh hanging down from the gills of the people in Piedmont. But as
for any brands fixed on schismatics for several years past, they have
been all made with cold iron; like thieves, who by the benefit of the
clergy are condemned to be only burned in the hand; but escape the pain
and the mark, by being in fee with the jailor. Which advantage the
schismatical teachers will never want, who, as we are assured, and of
which there is a very fresh instance, have the souls, and bodies, and
purses of the people a hundred times more at their mercy, than the
Catholic priests could ever pretend to.

Therefore, upon the whole, the Catholics do humbly petition (without the
least insinuation of threatening) that upon this favourable juncture
their incapacity for civil and military employments may be wholly taken
off, for the very same reasons (besides others more cogent) that are now
offered by their brethren the Dissenters.

_And your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c_.[9]

Dublin, Nov. 1733.

[Footnote 9: In this controversy the author was again victorious, for
the Test was not repealed. [H.]]

***** ***** ***** ***** *****



[Footnote 1: The text is that of the quarto edition (1765) of Swift's
Works. [T.S.]]

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 republica,
Platonis, et non in faece Romuli_.

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 all sects to
partake in public emoluments, it is very probable the lawfulness of
taking oaths, and wearing carnal weapons,[2] may be revealed to the
brotherhood; which thought, I confess, was first put into my head by one
of the shrewdest Quakers in this kingdom.[3]

[Footnote 2: The Quakers were more likely to admit this relaxation of
their peculiar tenets, as, upon their first appearance as a sect, they
did not by any means profess the principle of non-resistance, which they
afterwards adopted. [S.]]

[Footnote 3: The Quaker hinted at by Dr. Swift was Mr. George Rooke, a
linen-draper. In a letter to Mr. Pope, Aug. 30, 1716, Dr. Swift says,
"There is a young ingenious Quaker in this town, who writes verses to
his mistress, not very correct, but in a strain purely what a poetical
Quaker should do, commending her look and habit, &c. It gave me a hint,
that a set of Quaker pastorals might succeed, if our friend Gay would
fancy it; and I think it a fruitful subject: pray hear what he
says."--Accordingly Gay wrote "The Espousal, a sober Eclogue, between
two of the People called Quakers." [S.]]

***** ***** ***** ***** *****



[Footnote 1: "This Tract is from a rare broadside copy. It appears to be
written by the Dean, and the arguments correspond with those he uses
elsewhere" So says Scott; but Monck Mason considers this tract no more
the work of Swift than several others he mentions. See note prefixed to
"The Presbyterians' Plea of Merit." [T.S.]]


Because the Presbyterians are people of such great interest in this
kingdom, that there are not above ten of their persuasion in the House
of Commons, and but one in the House of Lords; though they are not
obliged to take the sacrament in the Established Church to qualify them
to be members of either House.

2. Because those of the Established Church of this kingdom are so
disaffected to the King, that not one of them worth mentioning, except
the late Duke of Ormond,[2] has been concerned in the rebellion; and
that our Parliament, though there be so few Presbyterians, has, upon all
occasions, proved its loyalty to King George, and has readily agreed to
and enacted what might support his government.

[Footnote 2: James Butler, Duke of Ormond (1610-1688), was
lieutenant-general of the army of Ireland during the rebellion of 1641.
After his defeat of General Preston, in 1643, he was appointed
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; but retired to France on the fall of the
Stuart dynasty. The execution of Charles caused Ormond to land again in
Ireland for the purpose of rousing that country in favour of the royal
cause; but he forsook it on the landing of Cromwell. At the Restoration
he came over with Charles, and was raised, for his services, to the
dukedom. He was, however, deprived of his lord-lieutenancy for his
friendship for the exiled Clarendon. He had a narrow escape for his life
from the plots of Colonel Blood, whom he forgave at the request of the
King. In 1682 he was rewarded by being promoted to an English dukedom.

3. Because very few of the Presbyterians have lost an employment worth
L20 per annum, for not qualifying themselves according to the Test Act;
nor will they accept of a militia commission, though they do of one in
the army.

4. Because, if they are not in the militia and other places of trust,
the Pretender and his adherents will destroy us; when he has no one to
support him but the King of Spain; when King George is at a good
understanding with Sweden, Prussia, and Denmark; and when he has made
the best alliances in Christendom. When the Emperor, King of Great
Britain, the French King, the King of Sardinia, are all in the quadruple
alliance against the Spaniard, his upstart cardinal,[3] and the
Pretender; when bloody plots against Great Britain and France are blown
up; when the Spanish fleet is quite dispersed; when the French army is
overrunning Spain; and when the rebels in Scotland are cut off.

[Footnote 3: Cardinal Julius Alberoni (1664-1752), born at Parma,
obtained the favour, when a humble parish priest, of the Duke of
Vendome, by informing that general of the whereabouts of some corn, which
the country folk had hidden. He followed the Duke to Spain, and
was successful in bringing about the marriage between the Princess of
Parma and Philip V. For this service he was made Prime Minister of
Spain, a cardinal, and Archbishop of Valencia. He entered heartily into
Philip's designs for recovering Spain's lost territory, and showed
even more boldness than his royal master in their execution. His
reduction of Sardinia precipitated the alliance between England, France,
Holland, and afterwards, Austria. Spain, with Alberoni as its guiding
spirit, supported the Jacobite cause to harass England, and conquered
Sicily. But at Messina the Spanish fleet was destroyed by the English,
and in the north of Spain the forces of Philip were repulsed by the
French. In the end, Spain gave way, and Alberoni was dismissed to retire
to Rome, and to be safely lodged in the Jesuits' College there. On his
release he returned to his native town, but died at Rome. [T.S.]]

5. The test clause should be repealed, because it is a defence against
the reformation the Presbyterians long since promised the churches of
England and Ireland, viz. "We, noblemen, barons, knights, gentlemen,
citizens, burgesses, ministers of the Gospel, commons of all sorts in
the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, &c.[4] each one of us
for himself, with our hands lifted up to the most high God, do swear,
first, That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the
grace of God, endeavour, in our several places and callings, the
preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in
doctrine, worship, discipline, and government. Secondly, That we shall
in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of
Popery, Prelacy; that is, church-government by archbishops, their
chancellors, and commissaries, deans, deacons, and chapters,
archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical officers depending on that

[Footnote 4: _Vide_ "Confession of Faith," pp. 304, 305.]

6. Because the Presbyterian Church-Government may be independent of the
state. The Lord Jesus is King and Head of his Church;[5] hath therein
appointed a government in the hands of church-officers, distinct from
the civil magistrate. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of
ministers to consult and advise with about matters of religion; so, if
magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ of
themselves, by virtue of their office, or they with other fit persons,
upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such

[Footnote 5: "Confession of Faith," p. 87.]

[Footnote 6: _Ibid_., pp. 88, 89.]

7. Because they have not the free use of their religion, when they
disdain a toleration.

8. Because they have so much charity for Episcopacy, as to account it
iniquitous. The address of the General Assembly to the Duke of
Queensbury in the late reign says, that to tolerate the Episcopal clergy
in Scotland would be to establish iniquity by a law.

9. Because repealing the test clause will probably disoblige ten of his
Majesty's good subjects, for one it can oblige.

10. Because, if the test clause be repealed, the Presbyterians may with
the better grace get into employments, and the easier worm out those of
the Established Church.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****


The following Form of Prayer, which Dr. Swift constantly used in the
pulpit before his sermon, is copied from his own handwriting:

"Almighty and most merciful God! forgive us all our sins. Give us grace
heartily to repent them, and to lead new lives. Graft in our hearts a
true love and veneration for thy holy name and word. Make thy pastors
burning and shining lights, able to convince gainsayers, and to save
others and themselves. Bless this congregation here met together in thy
name; grant them to hear and receive thy holy word, to the salvation of
their own souls. Lastly, we desire to return thee praise and
thanksgiving for all thy mercies bestowed upon us; but chiefly for the
Fountain of them all, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name and words we
further call upon thee, saying, 'Our Father,' &c."


These twelve sermons are what have been handed down to us of a bundle of
thirty-five which Swift, some years before his death, gave to Dr.
Sheridan. Swift had no great opinion of them himself, if we may judge
from what he said to his friend when he offered him the bundle. "You may
have them if you please; they may be of use to you, they never were of
any to me." There is not much in any of them of that quality which
characterizes the average sermon. For the artifices of rhetoric which
are usually employed to move hearers Swift had no small contempt. He
aimed to convince the mind by plain statements of common-sense views. He
had no faith in a conviction brought about under the stress of emotional
excitement. His sermons exactly answer to the advice he gave a young
clergyman--"First tell the people what is their duty, and then convince
them that it is so." In the note to his reprint of these sermons Sir
Walter Scott has very admirably summed up their qualities.

"The Sermons of Swift," says Scott, "have none of that thunder which
appals, or that resistless and winning softness which melts, the hearts
of an audience. He can never have enjoyed the triumph of uniting
hundreds in one ardent sentiment of love, of terror, or of devotion. His
reasoning, however powerful, and indeed unanswerable, convinces the
understanding, but is never addressed to the heart; and, indeed, from his
instructions to a young clergyman, he seems hardly to have considered
pathos as a legitimate ingredient in an English sermon. Occasionally,
too, Swift's misanthropic habits break out even from the pulpit; nor is
he altogether able to suppress his disdain of those fellow mortals, on
whose behalf was accomplished the great work of redemption. With such
unamiable feelings towards his hearers, the preacher might indeed
command their respect, but could never excite their sympathy. It may be
feared that his Sermons were less popular from another cause, imputable
more to the congregation than to the pastor. Swift spared not the vices
of rich or poor; and, disdaining to amuse the imaginations of his
audience with discussion of dark points of divinity, or warm them by a
flow of sentimental devotion, he rushes at once to the point of moral
depravity, and upbraids them with their favourite and predominant vices
in a tone of stern reproof, bordering upon reproach. In short, he tears
the bandages from their wounds, like the hasty surgeon of a crowded
hospital, and applies the incision knife and caustic with salutary, but
rough and untamed severity. But, alas! the mind must be already
victorious over the worst of its evil propensities, that can profit by
this harsh medicine. There is a principle of opposition in our nature,
which mans itself with obstinacy even against avowed truth, when it
approaches our feelings in a harsh and insulting manner. And Swift was
probably sensible, that his discourses, owing to these various causes,
did not produce the powerful effects most grateful to the feelings of
the preacher, because they reflect back to him those of the audience.

"But although the Sermons of Swift are deficient in eloquence, and were
lightly esteemed by their author, they must not be undervalued by the
modern reader. They exhibit, in an eminent degree, that powerful grasp
of intellect which distinguished the author above all his
contemporaries. In no religious discourses can be found more sound good
sense, more happy and forcible views of the immediate subject. The
reasoning is not only irresistible, but managed in a mode so simple
and clear, that its force is obvious to the most ordinary capacity. Upon
all subjects of morality, the preacher maintains the character of a rigid
and inflexible monitor; neither admitting apology for that which is
wrong, nor softening the difficulty of adhering to that which is right; a
stern stoicism of doctrine, that may fail in finding many converts, but
leads to excellence in the few manly minds who dare to embrace it. In
treating the doctrinal points of belief, (as in his Sermon upon the
Trinity,) Swift systematically refuses to quit the high and pre-eminent
ground which the defender of Christianity is entitled to occupy, or to
submit to the test of human reason, mysteries which are placed, by their
very nature, far beyond our finite capacities. Swift considered, that, in
religion, as in profane science, there must be certain ultimate laws
which are to be received as fundamental truths, although we are
incapable of defining or analysing their nature; and he censures those
divines, who, in presumptuous confidence of their own logical
powers, enter into controversy upon such mysteries of faith, without
considering that they give thereby the most undue advantage to the
infidel. Our author wisely and consistently declared reason an
incompetent judge of doctrines, of which God had declared the fact,
concealing from man the manner. He contended, that he who, upon the
whole, receives the Christian religion as of divine inspiration, must be
contented to depend upon God's truth, and his holy word, and receive
with humble faith the mysteries which are too high for comprehension.
Above all, Swift points out, with his usual forcible precision, the
mischievous tendency of those investigations which, while they assail
one fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion, shake and endanger
the whole fabric, destroy the settled faith of thousands, pervert and
mislead the genius of the learned and acute, destroy and confound the
religious principles of the simple and ignorant."

In 1744, Faulkner printed three sermons as a single volume; these were
"On Mutual Subjection," "On Conscience," and "On the Trinity." The other
sermons appeared in the various editions issued by Nichols and others.
The text here given is that of the volume of 1744, of Hawkesworth and



I PETER, V. 5.

"--Yea, all of you be subject one to another."

The Apostle having in many parts of this epistle given directions to
Christians concerning the duty of subjection or obedience to superiors;
in the several instances of the subject to his prince, the child to his
parent, the servant to his master, the wife to her husband, and the
younger to the elder; doth here, in the words of my text, sum up the
whole, by advancing a point of doctrine, which at first may appear a
little extraordinary: "Yea, all of you," saith he, "be subject one to
another." For it should seem, that two persons cannot properly be said
to be subject to each other, and that subjection is only due from
inferiors to those above them: yet St Paul hath several passages to the
same purpose. For he exhorts the Romans, "in honour to prefer one
another:"[1] and the Philippians, "that in lowliness of mind they should
each esteem other better than themselves;"[2] and the Ephesians, "that
they should submit themselves one to another in the fear of the
Lord."[3] Here we find these two great apostles recommending to all
Christians this duty of mutual subjection. For we may observe by St
Peter, that having mentioned the several relations which men bear to
each other, as governor and subject, master and servant, and the rest
which I have already repeated, he maketh no exception, but sums up the
whole with commanding "all to be subject one to another." From whence we
may conclude, that this subjection due from all men to all men, is
something more than the compliment of course, when our betters are
pleased to tell us they are our humble servants, but understand us to be
their slaves.

[Footnote 1: Rom. xii. 10.]

[Footnote 2: Philip. ii. 3.]

[Footnote 3: Ephes. v. 21.]

I know very well, that some of those who explain this text, apply it to
humility, to the duties of charity, to private exhortations, and to
bearing with each other's infirmities: And it is probable, the apostle
may have had a regard to all these: But however, many learned men agree,
that there is something more understood, and so the words in their plain
natural meaning must import; as you will observe yourselves, if you read
them with the beginning of the verse, which is thus: "Likewise ye
younger submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you be subject one
to another." So, that upon the whole, there must be some kind of
subjection due from every man to every man, which cannot be made void by
any power, pre-eminence, or authority whatsoever. Now, what sort of
subjection this is, and how it ought to be paid, shall be the subject of
my present discourse.

As God hath contrived all the works of nature to be useful, and in some
manner a support to each other, by which the whole frame of the world
under his providence is preserved and kept up; so, among mankind, our
particular stations are appointed to each of us by God Almighty, wherein
we are obliged to act, as far as our power reacheth, toward the good of
the whole community. And he who doth not perform that part assigned him,
toward advancing the benefit of the whole, in proportion to his
opportunities and abilities, is not only a useless, but a very
mischievous member of the public: Because he taketh his share of the
profit, and yet leaves his share of the burden to be borne by others,
which is the true principal cause of most miseries and misfortunes in
life. For, a wise man who doth not assist with his counsels, a great man
with his protection, a rich man with his bounty and charity, and a poor
man with his labour, are perfect nuisances in a commonwealth. Neither is
any condition of life more honourable in the sight of God than another;
otherwise he would be a respecter of persons, which he assureth us he is
not: For he hath proposed the same salvation to all men, and hath only
placed them in different ways or stations to work it out. Princes are
born with no more advantages of strength or wisdom than other men; and,
by an unhappy education, are usually more defective in both than
thousands of their subjects. They depend for every necessary of life
upon the meanest of their people: Besides, obedience and subjection were
never enjoined by God to humour the passions, lusts, and vanities of
those who demand them from us; but we are commanded to obey our
governors, because disobedience would breed seditions in the state. Thus
servants are directed to obey their masters, children their parents, and
wives their husbands; not from any respect of persons in God, but
because otherwise there would be nothing but confusion in private
families. This matter will be clearly explained, by considering the
comparison which St Paul maketh between the Church of Christ and the
body of man: For the same resemblance will hold, not only to families
and kingdoms, but to the whole corporation of mankind. "The eye," saith
he,[4] "cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the
head to the feet, I have no need of thee. Nay, much more, those members
of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And whether one
member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be
honoured, all the members rejoice with it." The case is directly the
same among mankind. The prince cannot say to the merchant, I have no
need of thee; nor the merchant to the labourer, I have no need of thee.
Nay, much more those members, &c. For the poor are generally more
necessary members of the commonwealth than the rich: Which clearly
shews, that God never intented such possessions for the sake and service
of those to whom he lends them: but because he hath assigned every man
his particular station to be useful in life; and this for the reason
given by the apostle, "that there should be no schism in the body."[5]

[Footnote 4: 1 Corin. xii. 21, 23, 26.]

[Footnote 5: 1 Corin. xii. 25.]

From hence may partly be gathered the nature of that subjection which we
all owe to one another. God Almighty hath been pleased to put us into an
imperfect state, where we have perpetual occasion of each other's
assistance. There is none so low, as not to be in a capacity of
assisting the highest; nor so high, as not to want the assistance of the

It plainly appears from what hath been said, that no one human creature
is more worthy than another in the sight of God; farther, than according
to the goodness or holiness of their lives; and, that power, wealth, and
the like outward advantages, are so far from being the marks of God's
approving or preferring those on whom they are bestowed, that, on the
contrary, he is pleased to suffer them to be almost engrossed by those
who have least title to his favour. Now, according to this equality
wherein God hath placed all mankind, with relation himself, you will
observe, that in all the relations between man and man, there is a
mutual dependence, whereby the one cannot subsist without the other.
Thus, no man can be a prince without subjects, nor a master without
servants, nor a father without children. And this both explains and
confirms the doctrine of the text: For, where there is a mutual
dependence, there must be a mutual duty, and consequently a mutual
subjection. For instance, the subject must only obey his prince, because
God commands it, human laws require it, and the safety of the public
maketh it necessary: (For the same reasons we must obey all that are in
authority, and submit ourselves, not only to the good and gentle, but
also to the froward, whether they rule according to our liking or no.)
On the other side, in those countries that pretend to freedom, princes
are subject to those laws which their people have chosen; they are bound
to protect their subjects in liberty, property, and religion; to receive
their petitions, and redress their grievances: So, that the best prince
is, in the opinion of wisemen, only the greatest servant of the nation;
not only a servant to the public in general, but in some sort to every man
in it. In the like manner, a servant owes obedience, and diligence and
faithfulness to his master, from whom, at the same time, he hath a just
demand for protection, and maintenance, and gentle treatment. Nay, even
the poor beggar hath a just demand of an alms from the rich man, who is
guilty of fraud, injustice, and oppression, if he doth not afford relief
according to his abilities.

But this subjection we all owe one another is nowhere more necessary
than in the common conversations of life; for without it there could be
no society among men. If the learned would not sometimes submit to the
ignorant, the wise to the simple, the gentle to the froward, the old to
the weaknesses of the young, there would be nothing but everlasting
variance in the world. This our Saviour himself confirmed by his own
example; for he appeared in the form of a servant, and washed his
disciples' feet, adding those memorable words: "Ye call me Lord and
Master, and ye say well, for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master
wash your feet, how much more ought ye to wash one another's feet?"
Under which expression of washing the feet, is included all that
subjection, assistance, love, and duty, which every good Christian ought
to pay his brother, in whatever station God hath placed him. For the
greatest prince and the meanest slave, are not, by infinite degrees so
distant, as our Saviour and those disciples whose feet he vouchsafed to

And, although this doctrine of subjecting ourselves to one another may
seem to grate upon the pride and vanity of mankind, and may therefore be
hard to be digested by those who value themselves upon their greatness
or their wealth; yet, it is really no more than what most men practise
upon other occasions. For, if our neighbour who is our inferior comes to
see us, we rise to receive him, we place him above us, and respect him
as if he were better than ourselves; and this is thought both decent and
necessary, and is usually called good manners. Now the duty required by
the apostle, is only that we should enlarge our minds, and that what we
thus practice in the common course of life, we should imitate in all our
actions and proceedings whatsoever; since our Saviour tells us, that
every man is our neighbour, and since we are so ready in the point of
civility, to yield to others in our own houses, where only we have any
title to govern.

Having thus shewn you what sort of subjection it is which all men owe
one to another, and in what manner it ought to be paid, I shall now draw
some observations from what hath been said.

And _first_: A thorough practice of this duty of subjecting ourselves to
the wants and infirmities of each other, would utterly extinguish in us
the vice of pride. For, if God hath pleased to entrust me with a talent,
not for my own sake, but for the service of others, and at the same time
hath left me full of wants and necessities which others must supply; I
can then have no cause to set any extraordinary value upon myself, or to
despise my brother, because he hath not the same talents which were lent
to me. His being may probably be as useful to the public as mine; and,
therefore, by the rules of right reason, I am in no sort preferable to

_Secondly_: It is very manifest, from what hath been said, that no man
ought to look upon the advantages of life, such as riches, honour,
power, and the like, as his property, but merely as a trust, which God
hath deposited with him, to be employed for the use of his brethren; and
God will certainly punish the breach of that trust, although the laws of
man will not, or rather indeed cannot; because the trust was conferred
only by God, who hath not left it to any power on earth to decide
infallibly whether a man maketh a good use of his talents or no, or to
punish him where he fails. And therefore God seems to have more
particularly taken this matter into his own hands, and will most
certainly reward or punish us in proportion to our good or ill
performance in it. Now, although the advantages which one man possesseth
more than another, may in some sense be called his property with respect
to other men, yet with respect to God they are, as I said, only a trust:
which will plainly appear from hence. If a man doth not use those
advantages to the good of the public, or the benefit of his neighbour,
it is certain he doth not deserve them; and consequently, that God never
intended them for a blessing to him; and on the other side, whoever doth
employ his talents as he ought, will find by his own experience, that
they were chiefly lent him for the service of others: for to the service
of others he will certainly employ them.

_Thirdly_: If we could all be brought to practise this duty of
subjecting ourselves to each other, it would very much contribute to the
general happiness of mankind: for this would root out envy and malice
from the heart of man; because you cannot envy your neighbour's
strength, if he maketh use of it to defend your life, or carry your
burden; you cannot envy his wisdom, if he gives you good counsel; nor
his riches, if he supplieth you in your wants; nor his greatness, if he
employs it to your protection. The miseries of life are not properly
owing to the unequal distribution of things; but God Almighty, the great
King of Heaven, is treated like the kings of the earth; who, although
perhaps intending well themselves, have often most abominable ministers
and stewards; and those generally the vilest, to whom they entrust the
most talents. But here is the difference, that the princes of this world
see by other men's eyes, but God sees all things; and therefore whenever
he permits his blessings to be dealt among those who are unworthy, we
may certainly conclude that he intends them only as a punishment to an
evil world, as well as to the owners. It were well, if those would
consider this, whose riches serve them only as a spur to avarice, or as
an instrument to their lusts; whose wisdom is only of this world, to put
false colours upon things, to call good evil, and evil good, against the
conviction of their own consciences; and lastly, who employ their power
and favour in acts of oppression or injustice, in misrepresenting
persons and things, or in countenancing the wicked to the ruin of the

_Fourthly_: The practice of this duty of being subject to one another,
would make us rest contented in the several stations of life wherein God
hath thought fit to place us; because it would in the best and easiest
manner bring us back as it were to that early state of the Gospel when
Christians had all things in common. For, if the poor found the rich
disposed to supply their wants; if the ignorant found the wise ready to
instruct and direct them; or if the weak might always find protection
from the mighty; they could none of them with the least pretence of
justice lament their own condition.

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