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

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My design is to persuade men, that Christian philosophy is in all things
preferable to heathen wisdom; from which, or its professors, I shall
however have no occasion to detract. They were as wise and as good as it
was possible for them under such disadvantages, and would have probably
been infinitely more with such aids as we enjoy: But our lessons are
certainly much better, however our practices may fail short.

The first point I shall mention is that universal defect which was in
all their schemes, that they could not agree about their chief good, or
wherein to place the happiness of mankind, nor had any of them a
tolerable answer upon this difficulty, to satisfy a reasonable person.
For, to say, as the most plausible of them did, that happiness consisted
in virtue, was but vain babbling, and a mere sound of words, to amuse
others and themselves; because they were not agreed what this virtue
was, or wherein it did consist; and likewise, because several among the
best of them taught quite different things, placing happiness in health
or good fortune, in riches or in honour, where all were agreed that
virtue was not, as I shall have occasion to shew, when I speak of their
particular tenets.

The second great defect in the Gentile philosophy was, that it wanted
some suitable reward proportioned to the better part of man, his mind,
as an encouragement for his progress in virtue. The difficulties they
met with upon the score of this default were great, and not to be
accounted for: Bodily goods, being only suitable to bodily wants, are no
rest at all for the mind; and, if they were, yet are they not the proper
fruits of wisdom and virtue, being equally attainable by the ignorant
and wicked. Now, human nature is so constituted, that we can never
pursue anything heartily but upon hopes of a reward. If we run a race,
it is in expectation of a prize, and the greater the prize the faster we
run; for an incorruptible crown, if we understand it and believe it to
be such, more than a corruptible one. But some of the philosophers gave
all this quite another turn, and pretended to refine so far, as to call
virtue its own reward, and worthy to be followed only for itself:
Whereas, if there be anything in this more than the sound of the words,
it is at least too abstracted to become a universal influencing
principle in the world, and therefore could not be of general use.

It was the want of assigning some happiness, proportioned to the soul of
man, that caused many of them, either, on the one hand, to be sour and
morose, supercilious and untreatable; or, on the other, to fall into the
vulgar pursuits of common men, to hunt after greatness and riches, to
make their court, and to serve occasions; as Plato did to the younger
Dionysius, and Aristotle to Alexander the Great. So impossible is it for
a man, who looks no further than the present world, to fix himself long
in a contemplation where the present world has no part: He has no sure
hold, no firm footing; he can never expect to remove the earth he rests
upon, while he has no support beside for his feet, but wants, like
Archimedes, some other place whereon to stand. To talk of bearing pain
and grief, without any sort of present or future hope, cannot be purely
greatness of spirit; there must be a mixture in it of affectation, and
an alloy of pride, or perhaps is wholly counterfeit.

It is true there has been all along in the world a notion of rewards and
punishments in another life; but it seems to have rather served as an
entertainment to poets, or as a terror of children, than a settled
principle, by which men pretended to govern any of their actions. The
last celebrated words of Socrates, a little before his death, do not
seem to reckon or build much upon any such opinion; and Caesar made no
scruple to disown it, and ridicule it in open senate.

_Thirdly_, The greatest and wisest of all their philosophers were never
able to give any satisfaction, to others and themselves, in their
notions of a Deity. They were often extremely gross and absurd in their
conceptions; and those who made the fairest conjectures are such as were
generally allowed by the learned to have seen the system of Moses, if I
may so call it, who was in great reputation at that time in the heathen
world, as we find by Diodonis, Justin, Longinus, and other authors; for
the rest, the wisest among them laid aside all notions after a Deity, as
a disquisition vain and fruitless, which indeed it was, upon unrevealed
principles; and those who ventured to engage too far fell into
incoherence and confusion.

_Fourthly_, Those among them who had the justest conceptions of a Divine
Power, and did also admit a Providence, had no notion at all of entirely
relying and depending upon either; they trusted in themselves for all
things: But, as for a trust or dependence upon God, they would not have
understood the phrase; it made no part of the profane style.

Therefore it was, that, in all issues and events, which they could not
reconcile to their own sentiments of reason and justice, they were quite
disconcerted: They had no retreat; but, upon every blow of adverse
fortune, either affected to be indifferent, or grew sullen and severe,
or else yielded and sunk like other men.

Having now produced certain points, wherein the wisdom and virtue of all
unrevealed philosophy fell short, and was very imperfect; I go on, in
the second place, to shew in several instances, where some of the most
renowned philosophers have been grossly defective in their lessons of

Thales, the founder of the Ionic sect, so celebrated for morality, being
asked how a man might bear ill-fortune with greatest ease, answered, "By
seeing his enemies in a worse condition." An answer truly barbarous,
unworthy of human nature, and which included such consequences as must
destroy all society from the world.

Solon, lamenting the death of a son, one told him, "You lament in vain:"
"Therefore" (said he) "I lament, because it is in vain." This was a
plain confession how imperfect all his philosophy was, and that
something was still wanting. He owned that all his wisdom and morals
were useless, and this upon one of the most frequent accidents in life.
How much better could he have learned to support himself even from
David, by his entire dependence upon God; and that before our Saviour
had advanced the notions of religion to the height and perfection
wherewith He hath instructed His disciples? Plato himself, with all his
refinements, placed happiness in wisdom, health, good fortune, honour,
and riches; and held that they who enjoyed all these were perfectly
happy: Which opinion was indeed unworthy its owner, leaving the wise and
the good man wholly at the mercy of uncertain chance, and to be
miserable without resource.

His scholar, Aristotle, fell more grossly into the same notion; and
plainly affirmed, "That virtue, without the goods of fortune, was not
sufficient for happiness, but that a wise man must be miserable in
poverty and sickness." Nay, Diogenes himself, from whose pride and
singularity one would have looked for other notions, delivered it as his
opinion, "That a poor old man was the most miserable thing in life."

Zeno also and his followers fell into many absurdities, among which
nothing could be greater than that of maintaining all crimes to be
equal, which, instead of making vice hateful, rendered it as a thing
indifferent and familiar to all men.

_Lastly_: Epicurus had no notion of justice but as it was profitable;
and his placing happiness in pleasure, with all the advantages he could
expound it by, was liable to very great exception: For, although he
taught that pleasure did consist in virtue, yet he did not any way fix
or ascertain the boundaries of virtue, as he ought to have done; by
which means he misled his followers into the greatest vices, making
their names to become odious and scandalous, even in the heathen world.

I have produced these few instances from a great many others, to shew
the imperfection of heathen philosophy, wherein I have confined myself
wholly to their morality. And surely we may pronounce upon it in the
words of St James, that "This wisdom descended not from above, but was
earthly and sensual." What if I had produced their absurd notions about
God and the soul? It would then have completed the character given it by
that apostle, and appeared to have been devilish too. But it is easy to
observe, from the nature of these few particulars, that their defects in
morals were purely the flagging and fainting of the mind, for want of a
support by revelation from God.

I proceed therefore, in the third place, to shew the perfection of
Christian wisdom from above, and I shall endeavour to make it appear
from those proper characters and marks of it by the apostle before
mentioned, in the third chapter, and 15th, 16th, and 17th verses.

The words run thus:

"This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual,

"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil

"But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without
partiality, and without hypocrisy."

"The wisdom from above is first pure." This purity of the mind and
spirit is peculiar to the Gospel. Our Saviour says, "Blessed are the
pure in heart, for they shall see God." A mind free from all pollution
of lusts shall have a daily vision of God, whereof unrevealed religion
can form no notion. This it is which keeps us unspotted from the world;
and hereby many have been prevailed upon to live in the practice of all
purity, holiness, and righteousness, far beyond the examples of the most
celebrated philosophers.

It is "peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated." The Christian
doctrine teacheth us all those dispositions that make us affable and
courteous, gentle and kind, without any morose leaven of pride or
vanity, which entered into the composition of most heathen schemes: So
we are taught to be meek and lowly. Our Saviour's last legacy was peace;
and He commands us to forgive our offending brother unto seventy times
seven. Christian wisdom is full of mercy and good works, teaching the
height of all moral virtues, of which the heathens fall infinitely
short. Plato indeed (and it is worth observing) has somewhere a
dialogue, or part of one, about forgiving our enemies, which was perhaps
the highest strain ever reached by man, without divine assistance; yet
how little is that to what our Saviour commands us? "To love them that
hate us; to bless them that curse us; and do good to them that
despitefully use us."

Christian wisdom is "without partiality;" it is not calculated for this
or that nation of people, but the whole race of mankind: Not so the
philosophical schemes, which were narrow and confined, adapted to their
peculiar towns, governments, or sects; but, "in every nation, he that
feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him."

_Lastly_: It is "without hypocrisy:" It appears to be what it really is;
it is all of a piece. By the doctrines of the Gospel we are so far from
being allowed to publish to the world those virtues we have not, that we
are commanded to hide, even from ourselves, those we really have, and
not to let our right hand know what our left hand does; unlike several
branches of the heathen wisdom, which pretended to teach insensibility
and indifference, magnanimity and contempt of life, while, at the same
time, in other parts it belied its own doctrines.

I come now, in the last place, to shew that the great examples of wisdom
and virtue, among the Grecian sages, were produced by personal merit,
and not influenced by the doctrine of any particular sect; whereas, in
Christianity, it is quite the contrary.

The two virtues most celebrated by ancient moralists were Fortitude and
Temperance, as relating to the government of man in his private
capacity, to which their schemes were generally addressed and confined;
and the two instances, wherein those virtues arrived at the greatest
height, were Socrates and Cato. But neither those, nor any other virtues
possessed by these two, were at all owing to any lessons or doctrines of
a sect. For Socrates himself was of none at all; and although Cato was
called a Stoic, it was more from a resemblance of manners in his worst
qualities, than that he avowed himself one of their disciples. The same
may be affirmed of many other great men of antiquity. From whence I
infer, that those who were renowned for virtue among them, were more
obliged to the good natural dispositions of their own minds, than to the
doctrines of any sect they pretended to follow.

On the other side, As the examples of fortitude and patience, among the
primitive Christians, have been infinitely greater and more numerous, so
they were altogether the product of their principles and doctrine; and
were such as the same persons, without those aids, would never have
arrived to. Of this truth most of the apostles, with many thousand
martyrs, are a cloud of witnesses beyond exception. Having therefore
spoken so largely upon the former heads, I shall dwell no longer upon

And, if it should here be objected, Why does not Christianity still
produce the same effects? it is easy to answer, First, That although the
number of pretended Christians be great, yet that of true believers, in
proportion to the other, was never so small; and it is a true lively
faith alone, that by the assistance of God's grace, can influence our

_Secondly_, we may answer, That Christianity itself has very much
suffered by being blended up with Gentile philosophy. The Platonic
system, first taken into religion, was thought to have given matter for
some early heresies in the Church. When disputes began to arise, the
Peripatetic forms were introduced by Scotus, as best fitted for
controversy. And, however this may now have become necessary, it was
surely the author of a litigious vein, which has since occasioned very
pernicious consequences, stopped the progress of Christianity, and been
a great promoter of vice, verifying that sentence given by St James, and
mentioned before, "Where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and
every evil work." This was the fatal stop to the Grecians, in their
progress both of arts and arms: Their wise men were divided under
several sects, and their governments under several commonwealths, all in
opposition to each other; which engaged them in eternal quarrels among
themselves, while they should have been armed against the common enemy.
And I wish we had no other examples from the like causes, less foreign
or ancient than that. Diogenes said Socrates was a madman; the disciples
of Zeno and Epicurus, nay of Plato and Aristotle, were engaged in fierce
disputes about the most insignificant trifles. And, if this be the
present language and practice among us Christians, no wonder that
Christianity does not still produce the same effects which it did at
first, when it was received and embraced in its utmost purity and
perfection. For such a wisdom as this cannot "descend from above," but
must be "earthly, sensual, devilish; full of confusion and every evil
work": Whereas "the wisdom from above, is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without
partiality, and without hypocrisy." This is the true heavenly wisdom,
which Christianity only can boast of, and which the greatest of the
heathen wise men could never arrive at.

Now to God the Father, &c. &c.



[Footnote 1: "I did very lately, as I thought it my duty, preach to the
people under my inspection, upon the subject of Mr. Wood's coin; and
although I never heard that my sermon gave the least offence, as I am
sure none was intended; yet, if it were now printed and published, I
cannot say, I would insure it from the hands of the common hangman; or
my own person from those of a messenger." See "The Drapier's Letters,"
No. VI.

"'I never' (said the Dean in a jocular conversation), 'preached but
twice in my life; and then they were not sermons, but pamphlets.' Being
asked on what subject, he replied, 'They were against Wood's
halfpence.'"--Pilkington's _Memoirs_, vol. i. p. 56.

"The pieces relating to Ireland are those of a public nature; in which
the Dean appears, as usual, in the best light, because they do honour to
his heart as well as to his head; furnishing some additional proofs,
that, though he was very free in his abuse of the inhabitants of that
country, as well natives as foreigners, he had their interest sincerely
at heart, and perfectly understood it. His sermon upon Doing Good,
though peculiarly adapted to Ireland and Wood's designs upon it,
contains perhaps the best motives to patriotism that were ever delivered
within so small a compass."--BURKE.]



"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men."

Nature directs every one of us, and God permits us, to consult our own
private good before the private good of any other person whatsoever. We
are, indeed, commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves, but not as
well as ourselves. The love we have for ourselves is to be the pattern
of that love we ought to have towards our neighbour: But, as the copy
doth not equal the original, so my neighbour cannot think it hard, if I
prefer myself, who am the original, before him, who is only the copy.
Thus, if any matter equally concern the life, the reputation, the profit
of my neighbour, and my own; the law of nature, which is the law of God,
obligeth me to take care of myself first, and afterwards of him. And
this I need not be at much pains in persuading you to; for the want of
self-love, with regard to things of this world, is not among the faults
of mankind. But then, on the other side, if, by a small hurt and loss to
myself, I can procure a great good to my neighbour, in that case his
interest is to be preferred. For example, if I can be sure of saving his
life, without great danger to my own; if I can preserve him from being
undone, without ruining myself, or recover his reputation without
blasting mine; all this I am obliged to do: and, if I sincerely perform
it, I do then obey the command of God, in loving my neighbour as myself.

But, beside this love we owe to every man in his particular capacity
under the title of our neighbour, there is yet a duty of a more large
extensive nature incumbent on us; which is, our love to our neighbour in
his public capacity, as he is a member of that great body the
commonwealth, under the same government with ourselves; and this is
usually called love of the public, and is a duty to which we are more
strictly obliged than even that of loving ourselves; because therein
ourselves are also contained, as well as all our neighbours, in one
great body. This love of the public, or of the commonwealth, or love of
our country, was in ancient times properly known by the name of virtue,
because it was the greatest of all virtues, and was supposed to contain
all virtues in it: And many great examples of this virtue are left us on
record, scarcely to be believed, or even conceived, in such a base,
corrupted, wicked age as this we live in. In those times it was common
for men to sacrifice their lives for the good of their country, although
they had neither hope or belief of future rewards; whereas, in our days,
very few make the least scruple of sacrificing a whole nation, as well
as their own souls, for a little present gain; which often hath been
known to end in their own ruin in this world, as it certainly must in
that to come.

Have we not seen men, for the sake of some petty employment, give up
the very natural rights and liberties of their country, and of mankind,
in the ruin of which themselves must at last be involved? Are not these
corruptions gotten among the meanest of our people, who, for a piece of
money, will give their votes at a venture, for the disposal of their own
lives and fortunes, without considering whether it be to those who are
most likely to betray or defend them? But, if I were to produce only one
instance of a hundred wherein we fail in this duty of loving our
country, it would be an endless labour; and therefore I shall not
attempt it.

But here I would not be misunderstood: By the love of our country I do
not mean loyalty to our king, for that is a duty of another nature; and
a man may be very loyal, in the common sense of the word, without one
grain of public good at his heart. Witness this very kingdom we live in.
I verily believe, that, since the beginning of the world, no nation upon
earth ever shewed (all circumstances considered) such high constant
marks of loyalty in all their actions and behaviour, as we have done:
And, at the same time, no people ever appeared more utterly void of what
is called a public spirit. When I say the people, I mean the bulk or
mass of the people, for I have nothing to do with those in power.

Therefore I shall think my time not ill spent, if I can persuade most or
all of you who hear me, to shew the love you have for your country, by
endeavouring, in your several stations, to do all the public good you
are able. For I am certainly persuaded, that all our misfortunes arise
from no other original cause than that general disregard among us to the
public welfare.

I therefore undertake to shew you three things.

_First_: That there are few people so weak or mean, who have it not
sometimes in their power to be useful to the public.

_Secondly_: That it is often in the power of the meanest among mankind
to do mischief to the public.

And, _Lastly_: That all wilful injuries done to the public are very
great and aggravated sins in the sight of God.

_First_: There are few people so weak or mean, who have it not sometimes
in their power to be useful to the public. Solomon tells us of a poor
wise man who saved a city by his counsel. It hath often happened that a
private soldier, by some unexpected brave attempt, hath been
instrumental in obtaining a great victory. How many obscure men have
been authors of very useful inventions, whereof the world now reaps the
benefit? The very example of honesty and industry in a poor tradesman
will sometimes spread through a neighbourhood, when others see how
successful he is; and thus so many useful members are gained, for which
the whole body of the public is the better. Whoever is blessed with a
true public spirit, God will certainly put it into his way to make use
of that blessing, for the ends it was given him, by some means or other:
And therefore it hath been observed in most ages, that the greatest
actions, for the benefit of the commonwealth, have been performed by the
wisdom or courage, the contrivance or industry, of particular men, and
not of numbers; and that the safety of a kingdom hath often been owing
to those hands from whence it was least expected.

But, _Secondly_: It is often in the power of the meanest among mankind
to do mischief to the public: And hence arise most of those miseries
with which the states and kingdoms of the earth are infested. How many
great princes have been murdered by the meanest ruffians? The weakest
hand can open a flood-gate to drown a country, which a thousand of the
strongest cannot stop. Those who have thrown off all regard for public
good, will often have it in their way to do public evil, and will not
fail to exercise that power whenever they can. The greatest blow given
of late to this kingdom, was by the dishonesty of a few manufacturers;
who, by imposing bad ware at foreign markets, in almost the only traffic
permitted to us, did half ruin that trade; by which this poor unhappy
kingdom now suffers in the midst of sufferings. I speak not here of
persons in high stations, who ought to be free from all reflection, and
are supposed always to intend the welfare of the community: But we now
find by experience, that the meanest instrument may, by the concurrence
of accidents, have it in his power to bring a whole kingdom to the very
brink of destruction, and is, at this present, endeavouring to finish
his work; and hath agents among ourselves, who are contented to see
their own country undone, to be small sharers in that iniquitous gain,
which at last must end in their own ruin as well as ours. I confess, it
was chiefly the consideration of that great danger we are in, which
engaged me to discourse to you on this subject; to exhort you to a love
of your country, and a public spirit, when all you have is at stake; to
prefer the interest of your prince and your fellow-subjects before that
of one destructive impostor, and a few of his adherents.

Perhaps it may be thought by some, that this way of discoursing is not
so proper from the pulpit. But surely, when an open attempt is made, and
far carried on, to make a great kingdom one large poorhouse, to deprive
us of all means to exercise hospitality or charity, to turn our cities
and churches into ruins, to make the country a desert for wild beasts
and robbers, to destroy all arts and sciences, all trades and
manufactures, and the very tillage of the ground, only to enrich one
obscure ill-designing projector, and his followers; it is time for the
pastor to cry out that the wolf is getting into his flock, to warn them
to stand together, and all to consult the common safety. And God be
praised for His infinite goodness in raising such a spirit of union
among us, at least in this point, in the midst of all our former
divisions; which union, if it continue, will, in all probability, defeat
the pernicious design of this pestilent enemy to the nation.

But, from hence, it clearly follows how necessary the love of our
country, or a public spirit, is in every particular man, since the
wicked have so many opportunities of doing public mischief. Every man is
upon his guard for his private advantage; but, where the public is
concerned, he is apt to be negligent, considering himself only as one
among two or three millions, among whom the loss is equally shared, and
thus, he thinks, he can be no great sufferer. Meanwhile the trader, the
farmer, and the shopkeeper, complain of the hardness and deadness of the
times, and wonder whence it comes; while it is, in a great measure,
owing to their own folly, for want of that love of their country, and
public spirit and firm union among themselves, which are so necessary to
the prosperity of every nation.

Another method by which the meanest wicked man, may have it in his power
to injure the public, is false accusation, whereof this kingdom hath
afforded too many examples: Neither is it long since no man, whose
opinions were thought to differ from those in fashion, could safely
converse beyond his nearest friends, for fear of being sworn against, as
a traitor, by those who made a traffic of perjury and subornation; by
which the very peace of the nation was disturbed, and men fled from each
other as they would from a lion or a bear got loose. And, it is very
remarkable, that the pernicious project now in hand to reduce us to
beggary, was forwarded by one of these false accusers, who had been
convicted of endeavouring, by perjury and subornation, to take away the
lives of several innocent persons here among us; and, indeed, there
could not be a more proper instrument for such a work.

Another method by which the meanest people may do injury to the public,
is the spreading of lies and false rumours, thus raising a distrust
among the people of a nation, causing them to mistake their true
interest, and their enemies for their friends: And this hath been
likewise too successful a practice among us, where we have known the
whole kingdom misled by the grossest lies, raised upon occasion to serve
some particular turn. As it hath also happened in the case I lately
mentioned, where one obscure man, by representing our wants where they
were least, and concealing them where they were greatest, had almost
succeeded in a project of utterly ruining this whole kingdom; and may
still succeed, if God doth not continue that public spirit, which He
hath almost miraculously kindled in us upon this occasion.

Thus we see the public is many times, as it were, at the mercy of the
meanest instrument, who can be wicked enough to watch opportunities of
doing it mischief, upon the principles of avarice or malice; which, I am
afraid, are deeply rooted in too many breasts, and against which there
can be no defence, but a firm resolution in all honest men, to be
closely united and active in shewing their love to their country, by
preferring the public interest to their present private advantage. If a
passenger, in a great storm at sea, should hide his goods that they
might not be thrown overboard to lighten the ship, what would be the
consequence? The ship is cast away, and he loses his life and goods

We have heard of men, who, through greediness of gain, have brought
infected goods into a nation, which bred a plague, whereof the owners
and their families perished first. Let those among us consider this and
tremble, whose houses are privately stored with those materials of
beggary and desolation, lately brought over to be scattered like a
pestilence among their countrymen, which may probably first seize upon
themselves and their families, until their houses shall be made a

I shall mention one practice more, by which the meanest instruments
often succeed in doing public mischief; and this is by deceiving us with
plausible arguments, to make us believe that the most ruinous project
they can offer is intended for our good, as it happened in the case so
often mentioned. For the poor ignorant people, allured by the appearing
convenience in their small dealings, did not discover the serpent in the
brass,[2] but were ready, like the Israelites, to offer incense to it;
neither could the wisdom of the nation convince them, until some, of
good intentions, made the cheat so plain to their sight, that those who
run may read. And thus the design was to treat us, in every point, as
the Philistines treated Samson, (I mean when he was betrayed by Delilah)
first to put out our eyes, and then bind us with fetters of brass.

[Footnote 2: "Brass" may be read "Wood's halfpence." [T.S.]]

I proceed to the last thing I proposed, which was to shew you that all
wilful injuries done to the public, are very great and aggravated sins
in the sight of God.

_First:_ It is apparent from Scripture, and most agreeable to reason,
that the safety and welfare of nations are under the most peculiar care
of God's providence. Thus He promised Abraham to save Sodom, if only ten
righteous men could be found in it. Thus the reason which God gave to
Jonas for not destroying Nineveh was, because there were six score
thousand men in that city.

All government is from God, Who is the God of order, and therefore
whoever attempts to breed confusion or disturbance among a people, doth
his utmost to take the government of the world out of God's hands, and
to put it into the hands of the Devil, who is the author of confusion.
By which it is plain, that no crime, how heinous soever, committed
against particular persons, can equal the guilt of him who does injury
to the public.

_Secondly_: All offenders against their country lie under this grievous
difficulty, that it is next to impossible to obtain a pardon, or make
restitution. The bulk of mankind are very quick at resenting injuries,
and very slow in forgiving them: And how shall one man be able to obtain
the pardon of millions, or repair the injuries he hath done to millions?
How shall those, who, by a most destructive fraud, got the whole wealth
of our neighbouring kingdom into their hands, be ever able to make a
recompence? How will the authors and promoters of that villainous
project, for the ruin of this poor country, be able to account with us
for the injuries they have already done, although they should no farther
succeed? The deplorable case of such wretches, must entirely be left to
the unfathomable mercies of God: For those who know the least in
religion are not ignorant that, without our utmost endeavours to make
restitution to the person injured, and to obtain his pardon, added to a
sincere repentance, there is no hope of salvation given in the Gospel.

_Lastly_: All offences against our own country have this aggravation,
that they are ungrateful and unnatural. It is to our country we owe
those laws which protect us in our lives, our liberties, our properties,
and our religion. Our country produced us into the world, and continues
to nourish us so, that it is usually called our mother; and there have
been examples of great magistrates, who have put their own children to
death for endeavouring to betray their country, as if they had attempted
the life of their natural parent.

Thus I have briefly shewn you how terrible a sin it is to be an enemy to
our country, in order to incite you to the contrary virtue, which at
this juncture is so highly necessary, when every man's endeavour will be
of use. We have hitherto been just able to support ourselves under many
hardships; but now the axe is laid to the root of the tree, and nothing
but a firm union among us can prevent our utter undoing. This we are
obliged to, in duty to our gracious King, as well as to ourselves. Let
us therefore preserve that public spirit, which God hath raised in us
for our own temporal interest For, if this wicked project should
succeed, which it cannot do but by our own folly; if we sell ourselves
for nought; the merchant, the shopkeeper, the artificer, must fly to the
desert with their miserable families, there to starve or live upon
rapine, or at least exchange their country for one more hospitable than
that where they were born.

Thus much I thought it my duty to say to you, who are under my care, to
warn you against those temporal evils, which may draw the worst of
spiritual evils after them; such as heart-burnings, murmurings,
discontents, and all manner of wickedness which a desperate condition of
life may tempt men to.

I am sensible that what I have now said will not go very far, being
confined to this assembly; but I hope it may stir up others of my
brethren to exhort their several congregations, after a more effectual
manner, to shew their love for their country on this important occasion.
And this, I am sure, cannot be called meddling in affairs of state.

I pray God protect his Most Gracious Majesty, and this kingdom, long
under his government, and defend us from all ruinous projectors,
deceivers, suborners, perjurers, false accusers, and oppressors; from
the virulence of party and faction; and unite us in loyalty to our King,
love to our country, and charity to each other.

And this we beg for Jesus Christ His sake: To Whom, &c.



GENESIS, XLIX. 5, 6, 7.

"Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their

"O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine
honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in
their self-will they digged down a wall.

"Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was
cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."

I know very well, that the Church hath been often censured for keeping
holy this day of humiliation, in memory of that excellent king and
blessed martyr, Charles I., who rather chose to die on a scaffold, than
betray the religion and liberties of his people, wherewith God and the
laws had entrusted him. But, at the same time, it is manifest that those
who make such censures are either people without any religion at all, or
who derive their principles, and perhaps their birth, from the abettors
of those who contrived the murder of that prince, and have not yet shewn
the world that their opinions are changed. It is alleged, that the
observation of this day hath served to continue and increase the
animosity and enmity among our countrymen, and to disunite Protestants;
that a law was made, upon the restoration of the Martyr's son, for a
general pardon and oblivion, forbidding all reproaches upon that
occasion; and, since none are now alive who were actors or instruments
in that tragedy, it is thought hard and uncharitable to keep up the
memory of it for all generations.

Now, because I conceive most of you to be ignorant in many particulars
concerning that horrid murder, and the rebellion which preceded it; I

_First_, relate to you so much of the story as may be sufficient for
your information:

_Secondly_, I will tell you the consequences which this bloody deed had
upon these kingdoms:

And, _Lastly_, I will shew you to what good uses this solemn day of
humiliation may be applied.

As to the first: In the reign of this prince, Charles the Martyr, the
power and prerogative of the king were much greater than they are in our
times, and so had been for at least seven hundred years before; And the
best princes we ever had, carried their power much farther than the
blessed Martyr offered to do in the most blameable part of his reign.
But, the lands of the Crown having been prodigally bestowed to
favourites, in the preceding reigns, the succeeding kings could not
support themselves without taxes raised by Parliament; which put them
under a necessity of frequently calling those assemblies: And, the crown
lands being gotten into the hands of the nobility and gentry, beside the
possessions of which the Church had been robbed by King Henry the
Eighth, power, which always follows property, grew to lean to the side
of the people, by whom even the just rights of the Crown were often

But further: Upon the cruel persecution raised against the Protestants,
under Queen Mary, among great numbers who fled the kingdom to seek for
shelter, several went and resided at Geneva, which is a commonwealth,
governed without a king, and where the religion, contrived by Calvin, is
without the order of bishops. When the Protestant faith was restored by
Queen Elizabeth, those who fled to Geneva returned among the rest home
to England, and were grown so fond of the government and religion of the
place they had left, that they used all possible endeavours to introduce
both into their own country; at the same time continually preaching and
railing against ceremonies and distinct habits of the clergy, taxing
whatever they disliked, as a remnant of Popery, and continued extremely
troublesome to the Church and state, under that great Queen, as well as
her successor King James I. These people called themselves Puritans, as
pretending to a purer faith than those of the Church established. And
these were the founders of our Dissenters. They did not think it
sufficient to leave all the errors of Popery, but threw off many
laudable and edifying institutions of the primitive Church, and, at
last, even the government of bishops; which, having been ordained by the
apostles themselves, had continued without interruption, in all
Christian churches, for above fifteen hundred years. And all this they
did, not because those things were evil, but because they were kept by
the Papists. From thence they proceeded, by degrees, to quarrel with the
kingly government; because, as I have already said, the city of Geneva,
to which their fathers had flown for refuge, was a commonwealth, or
government of the people.

These Puritans, about the middle of the Martyr's reign, were grown to a
considerable faction in the kingdom, and in the Lower House of
Parliament. They filled the public with the most false and bitter libels
against the bishops and the clergy, accusing chiefly the very best among
them of Popery; and, at the same time, the House of Commons grew so
insolent and uneasy to the King, that they refused to furnish him with
necessary supplies for the support of his family, unless upon such
conditions as he could not submit to without forfeiting his conscience
and honour, and even his coronation oath. And, in such an extremity, he
was forced upon a practice, no way justifiable, of raising money; for
which, however, he had the opinion of the judges on his side; for,
wicked judges there were in those times as well as in ours. There were
likewise many complaints, and sometimes justly, made against the
proceedings of a certain court, called the Star-chamber, a judicature of
great antiquity, but had suffered some corruptions, for which, however,
the King was nowise answerable, I cannot recollect any more subjects of
complaint with the least ground of reason, nor is it needful to
recollect them, because this gracious King did, upon the first
application, redress all grievances by an act of Parliament, and put it
out of his power to do any hardships for the future. But that wicked
faction in the House of Commons, not content with all those marks of his
justice and condescension, urged still for more; and joining with a
factious party from Scotland, who had the same fancies in religion,
forced him to pass an act for cutting off the head of his best and chief
minister; and, at the same time, compelled him, by tumults and
threatenings of a packed rabble, poisoned with the same doctrines, to
pass another law, by which it should not be in his power to dissolve
that Parliament without their own consent. Thus, by the greatest
weakness and infatuation that ever possessed any man's spirit, this
Prince did in effect sign his own destruction. For the House of Commons,
having the reins in their own hands, drove on furiously; sent him every
day some unreasonable demand, and when he refused to grant it, made use
of their own power, and declared that an ordinance of both Houses,
without the King's consent, should be obeyed as a law, contrary to all
reason and equity, as well as to the fundamental constitution of the

About this time the rebellion in Ireland broke out, wherein his
Parliament refused to assist him; nor would accept his offer to come
hither in person to subdue those rebels. These, and a thousand other
barbarities, forced the King to summon his loyal subjects to his
standard in his own defence. Meanwhile the English Parliament, instead
of helping the poor Protestants here, seized on the very army that his
Majesty was sending over for our relief, and turned them against their
own Sovereign. The rebellion in England continued for four or five
years: At last the King was forced to fly in disguise to the Scots, who
sold him to the rebels. And these Puritans had the impudent cruelty to
try his sacred person in a mock court of justice, and cut off his head;
which he might have saved, if he would have yielded to betray the
constitution in Church and state.

In this whole proceeding, Simeon and Levi were brethren; the wicked
insinuations of those fanatical preachers stirring up the cruelty of the
soldiers, who, by force of arms, excluded from the house every member of
Parliament, whom they apprehended to bear the least inclination towards
an agreement with the King, suffering only those to enter who thirsted
chiefly for his blood; and this is the very account given by their own
writers: From whence it is clear that this Prince was, in all respects,
a real martyr for the true religion and the liberty of the people. That
odious Parliament had first turned the bishops out of the House of
Lords; in a few years after, they murdered their King; then immediately
abolished the whole House of Lords; and so, at last, obtained their
wishes, of having a government of the people, and a new religion, both
after the manner of Geneva, without a king, a bishop, or a nobleman; and
this they blasphemously called "The kingdom of Christ and his saints."

This is enough for your information on the first head: I shall therefore
proceed to the second, wherein I will shew you the miserable
consequences which that abominable rebellion and murder produced in
these nations.

_First:_ The Irish rebellion was wholly owing to that wicked English
Parliament. For the leaders in the Irish Popish massacre would never
have dared to stir a finger, if they had not been encouraged by that
rebellious spirit in the English House of Commons, which they very well
knew must disable the King from sending any supplies to his Protestant
subjects here; and, therefore, we may truly say that the English
Parliament held the King's hands, while the Irish Papists here were
cutting our grandfathers' throats.

_Secondly:_ That murderous Puritan Parliament, when they had all in
their own power, could not agree upon any one method of settling a form
either of religion or civil government; but changed every day from
schism to schism, from heresy to heresy, and from one faction to
another: From whence arose that wild confusion, still continuing in our
several ways of serving God, and those absurd notions of civil power,
which have so often torn us with factions more than any other nation in

_Thirdly:_ To this rebellion and murder have been owing the rise and
progress of atheism among us. For, men observing what numberless
villainies of all kinds were committed during twenty years, under
pretence of zeal and the reformation of God's Church, were easily
tempted to doubt that all religion was a mere imposture: And the same
spirit of infidelity, so far spread among us at this present, is nothing
but the fruit of the seeds sown by those rebellious hypocritical saints.

_Fourthly:_ The old virtue and loyalty, and generous spirit of the
English nation, were wholly corrupted by the power, the doctrine, and
the example of those wicked people. Many of the ancient nobility were
killed, and their families extinct, in defence of their Prince and
country, or murdered by the merciless courts of justice. Some of the
worst among them favoured, or complied with the reigning iniquities, and
not a few of the new set created, when the Martyr's son was restored,
were such who had drunk too deep of the bad principles then prevailing.

_Fifthly:_ The children of the murdered Prince were forced to fly, for
the safety of their lives, to foreign countries; where one of them at
least, I mean King James II., was seduced to Popery; which ended in the
loss of his kingdoms, the misery and desolation of this country, and a
long and expensive war abroad. Our deliverance was owing to the valour
and conduct of the late King; and, therefore, we ought to remember him
with gratitude, but not mingled with blasphemy or idolatry. It was happy
that his interests and ours were the same: And God gave him greater
success than our sins deserved. But, as a house thrown down by a storm,
is seldom rebuilt without some change in the foundation; so it hath
happened, that, since the late Revolution, men have sat much looser in
the true fundamentals both of religion and government, and factions have
been more violent, treacherous, and malicious than ever, men running
naturally from one extreme into another; and, for private ends, taking
up those very opinions professed by the leaders in that rebellion, which
carried the blessed Martyr to the scaffold.

_Sixthly:_ Another consequence of this horrid rebellion and murder was
the destroying or defacing of such vast number of God's houses. "In
their self-will they digged down a wall." If a stranger should now
travel in England, and observe the churches in his way, he could not
otherwise conclude, than that some vast army of Turks or heathens had
been sent on purpose to ruin and blot out all marks of Christianity.
They spared neither the statues of saints, nor ancient prelates, nor
kings, nor benefactors; broke down the tombs and monuments of men famous
in their generations, seized the vessels of silver set apart for the
holiest use, tore down the most innocent ornaments both within and
without, made the houses of prayer dens of thieves, or stables for
cattle. These were the mildest effects of Puritan zeal, and devotion for
Christ; and this was what themselves affected to call a thorough
reformation. In this kingdom those ravages were not so easily seen; for
the people here being too poor to raise such noble temples, the mean
ones we had were not defaced, but totally destroyed.

Upon the whole, it is certain, that although God might have found out
many other ways to have punished a sinful people, without permitting
this rebellion and murder, yet as the course of the world hath run ever
since, we need seek for no other causes, of all the public evils we have
hitherto suffered, or may suffer for the future, by the misconduct of
princes, or wickedness of the people.

I go on now upon the third head, to shew you to what good uses this
solemn day of humiliation may be applied.

_First_: It may be an instruction to princes themselves, to be careful
in the choice of those who are their advisers in matters of law. All the
judges of England, except one or two, advised the King, that he might
legally raise money upon the subjects for building of ships without
consent of Parliament; which, as it was the greatest oversight of his
reign, so it proved the principal foundation of all his misfortunes.
Princes may likewise learn from hence, not to sacrifice a faithful
servant to the rage of a faction, nor to trust any body of men with a
greater share of power than the laws of the land have appointed them,
much less to deposit it in their hands until they shall please to
restore it.

_Secondly_: By bringing to mind the tragedy of this day, and the
consequences that have arisen from it, we shall be convinced how
necessary it is for those in power to curb, in season, all such unruly
spirits as desire to introduce new doctrines and discipline in the
Church, or new forms of government in the state. Those wicked Puritans
began, in Queen Elizabeth's time, to quarrel only with surplices and
other habits, with the ring in matrimony, the cross in baptism, and the
like; thence they went on to further matters of higher importance, and,
at last, they must needs have the whole government of the Church
dissolved. This great work they compassed, first, by depriving the
bishops of their seats in Parliament, then they abolished the whole
order; and, at last, which was their original design, they seized on all
the Church-lands, and divided the spoil among themselves; and, like
Jeroboam, made priests of the very dregs of the people. This was their
way of reforming the Church. As to the civil government, you have
already heard how they modelled it upon the murder of their King, and
discarding the nobility. Yet, clearly to shew what a Babel they had
built, after twelve years' trial and twenty several sorts of government;
the nation grown weary of their tyranny, was forced to call in the son
of him whom those reformers had sacrificed. And thus were Simeon and
Levi divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel.

_Thirdly_: Although the successors of these Puritans, I mean our present
Dissenters, do not think fit to observe this day of humiliation; yet,
since it would be very proper in them, upon some occasions, to renounce
in a public manner those principles upon which their predecessors acted;
and it will be more prudent in them to do so, because those very
Puritans, of whom ours are followers, found by experience, that after
they had overturned the Church and state, murdered their King, and were
projecting what they called a kingdom of the saints, they were cheated
of the power and possessions they only panted after, by an upstart sect
of religion that grew out of their own bowels, who subjected them to one
tyrant, while they were endeavouring to set up a thousand.

_Fourthly_: Those who profess to be followers of our Church established,
and yet presume in discourse to justify or excuse that rebellion, and
murder of the King, ought to consider, how utterly contrary all such
opinions are to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, as well as to
the articles of our Church, and to the preaching and practice of its
true professors for above a hundred years. Of late times, indeed, and I
speak it with grief of heart, we have heard even sermons of a strange
nature; although reason would make one think it a very unaccountable way
of procuring favour under a monarchy, by palliating and lessening the
guilt of those who murdered the best of kings in cold blood, and, for a
time, destroyed the very monarchy itself. Pray God, we may never more
hear such doctrine from the pulpit, nor have it scattered about in
print, to poison the people!

_Fifthly:_ Some general knowledge of this horrid rebellion and murder,
with the consequences they had upon these nations, may be a warning to
our people not to believe a lie, and to mistrust those deluding spirits,
who, under pretence of a purer and more reformed religion, would lead
them from their duty to God and the laws. Politicians may say what they
please, but it is no hard thing at all for the meanest person, who hath
common understanding, to know whether he be well or ill governed. If he
be freely allowed to follow his trade and calling; if he be secure in
his property, and hath the benefit of the law to defend himself against
injustice and oppression; if his religion be different from that of his
country, and the government think fit to tolerate it, (which he may be
very secure of, let it be what it will;) he ought to be fully satisfied,
and give no offence, by writing or discourse, to the worship
established, as the dissenting preachers are too apt to do. But, if he
hath any new visions of his own, it is his duty to be quiet, and possess
them in silence, without disturbing the community by a furious zeal for
making proselytes. This was the folly and madness of those ancient
puritan fanatics: They must needs overturn heaven and earth, violate all
the laws of God and man, make their country a field of blood, to
propagate whatever wild or wicked opinions came into their heads,
declaring all their absurdities and blasphemies to proceed from the Holy

To conclude this head. In answer to that objection of keeping up
animosity and hatred between Protestants, by the observation of this
day; if there be any sect or sort of people among us, who profess the
same principles in religion and government which those puritan rebels
put in practice, I think it is the interest of all those who love the
Church and King, to keep up as strong a party against them as possible,
until they shall, in a body, renounce all those wicked opinions upon
which their predecessors acted, to the disgrace of Christianity, and the
perpetual infamy of the English nation.

When we accuse the Papists of the horrid doctrine, "that no faith ought
to be kept with heretics," they deny it to a man; and yet we justly
think it dangerous to trust them, because we know their actions have
been sometimes suitable to that opinion. But the followers of those who
beheaded the Martyr have not yet renounced their principles; and, till
they do, they may be justly suspected. Neither will the bare name of
Protestants set them right. For surely Christ requires more from us than
a profession of hating Popery, which a Turk or an atheist may do as well
as a Protestant.

If an enslaved people should recover their liberty from a tyrannical
power of any sort, who could blame them for commemorating their
deliverance by a day of joy and thanksgiving? And doth not the
destruction of a Church, a King, and three kingdoms, by the artifices,
hypocrisy, and cruelty of a wicked race of soldiers and preachers, and
other sons of Belial, equally require a solemn time of humiliation?
Especially since the consequences of that bloody scene still continue,
as I have already shewn, in their effects upon us.

Thus I have done with the three heads I proposed to discourse on. But
before I conclude, I must give a caution to those who hear me, that they
may not think I am pleading for absolute unlimited power in any one man.
It is true, all power is from God, and, as the apostle says, "the powers
that be are ordained of God;" but this is in the same sense that all we
have is from God, our food and raiment, and whatever possessions we hold
by lawful means. Nothing can be meant in those, or any other words of
Scripture, to justify tyrannical power, or the savage cruelties of those
heathen emperors who lived in the time of the apostles. And so St Paul
concludes, "The powers that be are ordained of God:" For what? Why, "for
the punishment of evil doers, and the praise, the reward, of them that
do well." There is no more inward value in the greatest emperor, than in
the meanest of his subjects: His body is composed of the same substance,
the same parts, and with the same or greater, infirmities: His education
is generally worse, by flattery, and idleness, and luxury, and those
evil dispositions that early power is apt to give. It is therefore
against common sense, that his private personal interest, or pleasure,
should be put in the balance with the safety of millions, every one of
which is his equal by nature, equal in the sight of God, equally capable
of salvation; and it is for their sakes, not his own, that he is
entrusted with the government over them. He hath as high trust as can
safely be reposed in one man, and, if he discharge it as he ought, he
deserves all the honour and duty that a mortal may be allowed to
receive. His personal failings we have nothing to do with, and errors in
government are to be imputed to his ministers in the state. To what
height those errors may be suffered to proceed, is not the business of
this day, or this place, or of my function, to determine. When
oppressions grow too great and universal to be borne, nature or
necessity may find a remedy. But, if a private person reasonably expects
pardon, upon his amendment, for all faults that are not capital, it
would be a hard condition indeed, not to give the same allowance to a
prince, who must see with other men's eyes, and hear with other men's
ears, which are often wilfully blind and deaf. Such was the condition of
the Martyr, and is so, in some degree, of all other princes. Yet this we
may justly say in defence of the common people, in all civilized
nations, that it must be a very bad government indeed, where the body of
the subjects will not rather choose to live in peace and obedience, than
take up arms on pretence of faults in the administration, unless where
the vulgar are deluded by false preachers to grow fond of new visions
and fancies in religion; which, managed by dexterous men, for sinister
ends of malice, envy, or ambition, have often made whole nations run
mad. This was exactly the case in the whole progress of that great
rebellion, and the murder of King Charles I. But the late Revolution
under the Prince of Orange was occasioned by a proceeding directly
contrary, the oppression and injustice there beginning from the throne:
For that unhappy prince, King James II., did not only invade our laws
and liberties, but would have forced a false religion upon his subjects,
for which he was deservedly rejected, since there could be no other
remedy found, or at least agreed on. But, under the blessed Martyr, the
deluded people would have forced many false religions, not only on their
fellow-subjects, but even upon their sovereign himself, and at the same
time invaded all his undoubted rights; and, because he would not comply,
raised a horrid rebellion, wherein, by the permission of God, they
prevailed, and put their sovereign to death, like a common criminal, in
the face of the world.

Therefore, those who seem to think they cannot otherwise justify the
late Revolution, and the change of the succession, than by lessening the
guilt of the Puritans, do certainly put the greatest affront imaginable
upon the present powers, by supposing any relation, or resemblance,
between that rebellion and the late Revolution; and, consequently, that
the present establishment is to be defended by the same arguments which
those usurpers made use of, who, to obtain their tyranny, trampled under
foot all the laws of both God and man.

One great design of my discourse was to give you warning against running
into either extreme of two bad opinions, with relation to obedience. As
kings are called gods upon earth, so some would allow them an equal
power with God, over all laws and ordinances; and that the liberty, and
property, and life, and religion of the subject, depended wholly upon
the breath of the prince; which, however, I hope was never meant by
those who pleaded for passive obedience. And this opinion hath not been
confined to that party which was first charged with it, but hath
sometimes gone over to the other, to serve many an evil turn of interest
or ambition, who have been as ready to enlarge prerogative, where they
could find their own account, as the highest maintainers of it.

On the other side, some look upon kings as answerable for every mistake
or omission in government, and bound to comply with the most
unreasonable demands of an unquiet faction; which was the case of those
who persecuted the blessed Martyr of this day from his throne to the

Between these two extremes, it is easy, from what hath been said, to
choose a middle; to be good and loyal subjects, yet, according to your
power, faithful assertors of your religion and liberties; to avoid all
broachers and preachers of newfangled doctrines in the Church; to be
strict observers of the laws, which cannot be justly taken from you
without your own consent: In short, "to obey God and the King, and
meddle not with those who are given to change."

Which that you may all do, &c.



"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content"

The holy Scripture is full of expressions to set forth the miserable
condition of man during the whole progress of his life; his weakness,
pride, and vanity; his unmeasurable desires, and perpetual
disappointments; the prevalency of his passions, and the corruptions of
his reason; his deluding hopes, and his real, as well as imaginary,
fears; his natural and artificial wants; his cares and anxieties; the
diseases of his body, and the diseases of his mind; the shortness of his
life; his dread of a future state, with his carelessness to prepare for
it: And the wise men of all ages have made the same reflections.

But all these are general calamities, from which none are excepted; and
being without remedy, it is vain to bewail them. The great question,
long debated in the world, is, whether the rich or the poor are the
least miserable of the two? It is certain, that no rich man ever desired
to be poor, and that most, if not all, poor men, desire to be rich;
whence it may be argued, that, in all appearance, the advantage lieth on
the side of wealth, because both parties agree in preferring it before
poverty. But this reasoning will be found to be false: For, I lay it
down as a certain truth, that God Almighty hath placed all men upon an
equal foot, with respect to their happiness in this world, and the
capacity of attaining their salvation in the next; or, at least, if
there be any difference, it is not to the advantage of the rich and the
mighty. Now, since a great part of those who usually make up our
congregations, are not of considerable station, and many among them of
the lower sort, and since the meaner people are generally and justly
charged with the sin of repining and murmuring at their own condition,
to which, however, their betters axe sufficiently subject (although,
perhaps, for shame, not always so loud in their complaints) I thought it
might be useful to reason upon this point in as plain a manner as I can.
I shall therefore shew, first, that the poor enjoy many temporal
blessings, which are not common to the rich and the great: And,
likewise, that the rich and the great are subject to many temporal
evils, which are not common to the poor.

But here I would not be misunderstood; perhaps there is not a word more
abused than that of the poor, or wherein the world is more generally
mistaken. Among the number of those who beg in our streets, or are
half-starved at home, or languish in prison for debt, there is hardly
one in a hundred who doth not owe his misfortunes to his own laziness,
or drunkenness, or worse vices.

To these he owes those very diseases which often disable him from
getting his bread. Such wretches are deservedly unhappy: They can only
blame themselves; and when we are commanded to have pity on the poor,
these are not understood to be of the number.

It is true, indeed, that sometimes honest, endeavouring men are reduced
to extreme want, even to the begging of alms, by losses, by accidents,
by diseases, and old age, without any fault of their own: But these are
very few in comparison of the other; nor would their support be any
sensible burthen to the public, if the charity of well-disposed persons
were not intercepted by those common strollers, who are most
importunate, and who least deserve it. These, indeed, are properly and
justly called the poor, whom it should be our study to find out and
distinguish, by making them partake, of our superfluity and abundance.

But neither have these anything to do with my present subject; For, by
the poor, I only intend the honest, industrious artificer, the meaner
sort of tradesmen, and the labouring man, who getteth his bread by the
sweat of his brows, in town or country, and who make the bulk of mankind
among us.

_First_: I shall therefore shew, first, that the poor (in the sense I
understand the word) do enjoy many temporal blessings, which are not
common to the rich and great; and likewise, that the rich and great are
subject to many temporal evils, which are not common to the poor.

_Secondly_: From the arguments offered to prove the foregoing head, I
shall draw some observations that may be useful for your practice.

I. As to the first: Health, we know, is generally allowed to be the best
of all earthly possessions, because it is that, without which we can
have no satisfaction in any of the rest. For riches are of no use, if
sickness taketh from us the ability of enjoying them, and power and
greatness are then only a burthen. Now, if we would look for health, it
must be in the humble habitation of the labouring man, or industrious
artificer, who earn their bread by the sweat of their brows, and usually
live to a good old age, with a great degree of strength and vigour.

The refreshment of the body by sleep is another great happiness of the
meaner sort. Their rest is not disturbed by the fear of thieves and
robbers, nor is it interrupted by surfeits of intemperance. Labour and
plain food supply the want of quieting draughts; and the wise man
telleth us, that the sleep of the labouring man is sweet. As to
children, which are certainly accounted of as a blessing, even to the
poor, where industry is not wanting; they are an assistance to honest
parents, instead of being a burthen; they are healthy and strong, and
fit for labour; neither is the father in fear, lest his heir should be
ruined by an unequal match: Nor is he solicitous about his rising in the
world, farther than to be able to get his bread.

The poorer sort are not the objects of general hatred or envy; they have
no twinges of ambition, nor trouble themselves with party quarrels, or
state divisions. The idle rabble, who follow their ambitious leaders in
such cases, do not fall within my description of the poorer sort; for,
it is plain, I mean only the honest industrious poor in town or
country, who are safest in times of public disturbance, in perilous
seasons, and public revolutions, if they will be quiet, and do their
business; for artificers and husbandmen are necessary in all
governments: But in such seasons, the rich are the public mark, because
they are oftentimes of no use, but to be plundered; like some sort of
birds, who are good for nothing, but their feathers; and so fall a prey
to the strongest side.

Let us proceed, on the other side to examine the disadvantages which the
rich and the great lie under, with respect to the happiness of the
present life.

First, then; While health, as we have said, is the general portion of
the lower sort, the gout, the dropsy, the stone, the cholic, and all
other diseases, are continually haunting the palaces of the rich and the
great, as the natural attendants upon laziness and luxury. Neither does
the rich man eat his sumptuous fare with half the appetite and relish,
that even the beggars do the crumbs which fall from his table: But, on
the contrary, he is full of loathing and disgust, or at best of
indifference, in the midst of plenty. Thus their intemperance shortens
their lives, without pleasing their appetites.

Business, fear, guilt, design, anguish, and vexation are continually
buzzing about the curtains of the rich and the powerful, and will hardly
suffer them to close their eyes, unless when they are dosed with the
fumes of strong liquors.

It is a great mistake to imagine that the rich want but few things;
their wants are more numerous, more craving, and urgent, than those of
poorer men: For these endeavour only at the necessaries of life, which
make them happy, and they think no farther: But the desire of power and
wealth is endless, and therefore impossible to be satisfied with any

If riches were so great a blessing as they are commonly thought, they
would at least have this advantage, to give their owners cheerful hearts
and countenances; they would often stir them up to express their
thankfulness to God, and discover their satisfaction to the world. But,
in fact, the contrary to all this is true. For where are there more
cloudy brows, more melancholy hearts, or more ingratitude to their great
Benefactor, than among those who abound in wealth? And, indeed, it is
natural that it should be so, because those men, who covet things that
are hard to be got, must be hard to please; whereas a small thing maketh
a poor man happy, and great losses cannot befall him.

It is likewise worth considering, how few among the rich have procured
their wealth by just measures; how many owe their fortunes to the sins
of their parents, how many more to their own? If men's titles were to be
tried before a true court of conscience, where false swearing, and a
thousand vile artifices, (that are well known, and can hardly be avoided
in human courts of justice) would avail nothing; how many would be
ejected with infamy and disgrace? How many grow considerable by breach
of trust, by bribery and corruption? How many have sold their religion,
with the rights and liberties of themselves and others, for power and

And, it is a mistake to think, that the most hardened sinner, who oweth
his possessions or titles to any such wicked arts of thieving, can have
true peace of mind, under the reproaches of a guilty conscience, and
amid the cries of ruined widows and orphans.

I know not one real advantage that the rich have over the poor, except
the power of doing good to others. But this is an advantage which God
hath not given wicked men the grace to make use of. The wealth acquired
by evil means was never employed to good ends; for that would be to
divide the kingdom of Satan against itself. Whatever hath been gained by
fraud, avarice, oppression, and the like, must be preserved and
increased by the same methods.

I shall add but one thing more upon this head, which I hope will
convince you, that God (whose thoughts are not as our thoughts) never
intended riches or power to be necessary for the happiness of mankind in
this life; because it is certain, that there is not one single good
quality of the mind absolutely necessary to obtain them, where men are
resolved to be rich at any rate; neither honour, justice, temperance,
wisdom, religion, truth, or learning; for a slight acquaintance of the
world will inform us, that there have been many instances of men, in all
ages, who have arrived at great possessions and great dignities, by
cunning, fraud, or flattery, without any of these, or any other virtues
that can be named. Now, if riches and greatness were such blessings,
that good men without them could not have their share of happiness in
this life; how cometh it to pass, that God should suffer them to be
often dealt to the worst, and most profligate of mankind; that they
should be generally procured by the most abominable means, and applied
to the basest and most wicked uses? This ought not to be conceived of a
just, a merciful, a wise, and Almighty Being. We must therefore
conclude, that wealth and power are in their own nature, at best, but
things indifferent, and that a good man may be equally happy without
them, provided that he hath a sufficiency of the common blessings of
human life to answer all the reasonable and virtuous demands of nature,
which his industry will provide, and sobriety will prevent his wanting.
Agur's prayer, with the reasons of his wish, are full to this purpose:
"Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food convenient for
me; lest I be full and deny thee, and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or, lest I
be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

From what hath been said, I shall, in the second place, offer some
considerations, that may be useful for your practice.

And here I shall apply myself chiefly to those of the lower sort, for
whose comfort and satisfaction this discourse is principally intended.
For, having observed the great sin of those, who do not abound in
wealth, to be that of murmuring and repining, that God hath dealt his
blessings unequally to the sons of men, I thought it would be of great
use to remove out of your minds so false and wicked an opinion, by
shewing that your condition is really happier than most of you imagine.

_First:_ Therefore, it hath been always agreed in the world, that the
present happiness of mankind consisted in the ease of our body and the
quiet of our mind; but, from what has been already said, it plainly
appears, that neither wealth nor power do in any sort contribute to
either of these two blessings. If, on the contrary, by multiplying our
desires, they increase our discontents; if they destroy our health, gall
us with painful diseases, and shorten our life; if they expose us to
hatred, to envy, to censure, to a thousand temptations, it is not easy
to see why a wise man should make them his choice, for their own sake,
although it were in his power. Would any of you, who are in health and
strength of body, with moderate food and raiment earned by your own
labour, rather choose to be in the rich man's bed, under the torture of
the gout, unable to take your natural rest, or natural nourishment, with
the additional load of a guilty conscience, reproaching you for
injustice, oppressions, covetousness, and fraud? No; but you would take
the riches and power, and leave behind the inconveniences that attend
them; and so would every man living. But that is more than our share,
and God never intended this world for such a place of rest as we would
make it; for the Scripture assureth us that it was only designed as a
place of trial. Nothing is more frequent, than a man to wish himself in
another's condition; yet he seldom doth it without some reserve: He
would not be so old; he would not be so sickly; he would not be so
cruel; he would not be so insolent; he would not be so vicious; he would
not be so oppressive, so griping, and so on. From whence it is plain,
that, in their own judgment, men are not so unequally dealt with, as
they would at first sight imagine: For, if I would not change my
condition with another man, without any exception or reservation at all,
I am, in reality, more happy than he.

_Secondly_: You of the meaner sort are subject to fewer temptations than
the rich; and therefore your vices are more unpardonable. Labour
subdueth your appetites to be satisfied with common things; the business
of your several callings filleth up your whole time; so that idleness,
which is the bane and destruction of virtue, doth not lead you into the
neighbourhood of sin: Your passions are cooler, by not being inflamed
with excess, and therefore the gate and the way that lead to life are
not so straight and so narrow to you, as to those who live among all the
allurements to wickedness. To serve God with the best of your care and
understanding, and to be just and true in your dealings, is the short
sum of your duty, and will be the more strictly required of you, because
nothing lieth in the way to divert you from it.

_Thirdly_: It is plain from what I have said, that you of the lower rank
have no just reason to complain of your condition: Because, as you
plainly see, it affordeth you so many advantages, and freeth you from so
many vexations, so many distempers both of body and mind, which pursue
and torment the rich and powerful.

_Fourthly_: You are to remember and apply, that the poorest person is
not excused from doing good to others, and even relieving the wants of
his distressed neighbour, according to his abilities; and if you perform
your duty in this point, you far outdo the greatest liberalities of the
rich, and will accordingly be accepted of by God, and get your reward:
For it is our Saviour's own doctrine, when the widow gave her two mites.
The rich give out of their abundance; that is to say, what they give,
they do not feel it in their way of living: But the poor man, who giveth
out of his little stock, must spare it from the necessary food and
raiment of himself and his family. And, therefore, our Saviour adds,
"That the widow gave more than all who went before her; for she gave all
she had, even all her living;" and so went home utterly unprovided to
supply her necessities.

_Lastly_: As it appeareth from what hath been said, that you in the
lower rank have, in reality, a greater share of happiness, your work of
salvation is easier, by your being liable to fewer temptations; and as
your reward in Heaven is much more certain than it is to the rich, if
you seriously perform your duty, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven; so
your neglect of it will be less excusable, will meet with fewer
allowances from God, and will be punished with double stripes: For the
most unknowing among you cannot plead ignorance of what you have been so
early taught, I hope, so often instructed in, and which is so easy to be
understood, I mean the art of leading a life agreeable to the plain and
positive laws of God. Perhaps you may think you lie under one
disadvantage, which the great and rich have not; that idleness will
certainly reduce you to beggary; whereas those who abound in wealth lie
under no necessity either of labour or temperance to keep enough to live
on. But this is indeed one part of your happiness, that the lowness of
your condition, in a manner, forceth you to what is pleasing to God, and
necessary for your daily support. Thus your duty and interest are always
the same.

To conclude: Since our blessed Lord, instead of a rich and honourable
station in this world, was pleased to choose his lot among men of the
lower condition; let not those, on whom the bounty of Providence hath
bestowed wealth and honours, despise the men who are placed in a humble
and inferior station; but rather, with their utmost power, by their
countenance, by their protection, by just payment of their honest
labour, encourage their daily endeavours for the support of themselves
and their families. On the other hand, let the poor labour to provide
things honest in the sight of all men; and so, with diligence in their
several employments, live soberly, righteously, and godlily in this
present world, that they may obtain that glorious reward promised in the
Gospel to the poor, I mean the kingdom of Heaven.

Now, to God the Father, &c,


[Footnote 1: This is not very properly styled a sermon; but, considered
as a political dissertation, it has great merit, and it is highly worthy
of the subject, and the author. Most of the circumstances here founded
upon, as the causes of national distress, are the subject of separate
disquisitions in those political writings connected with Ireland. But
they are here summed up, and brought into one view; and the opinions
expressed form a sort of index to the Dean's tenets upon the state of
that country. [S.]]


"That there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is the people that
is in such a case."

It is a very melancholy reflection, that such a country as ours, which
is capable of producing all things necessary, and most things convenient
for life, sufficient for the support of four times the number of its
inhabitants, should yet lie under the heaviest load of misery and want,
our streets crowded with beggars, so many of our lower sort of
tradesmen, labourers, and artificers, not able to find clothes and food
for their families.

I think it may therefore be of some use to lay before you the chief
causes of this wretched condition we are in, and then it will be easier
to assign what remedies are in our power toward removing, at least, some
part of these evils.

For it is ever to be lamented, that we lie under many disadvantages, not
by our own faults, which are peculiar to ourselves, and which no other
nation under heaven hath any reason to complain of.

I shall, therefore, first mention some causes of our miseries,--which I
doubt are not to be remedied, until God shall put it in the hearts of
those who are stronger to allow us the common rights and privileges of
brethren, fellow-subjects, and even of mankind. The first cause of our
misery is the intolerable hardships we lie under in every branch of our
trade, by which we are become as hewers of wood, and drawers of water,
to our rigorous neighbours.

The second cause of our miserable state is the folly, the vanity, and
ingratitude of those vast numbers, who think themselves too good to live
in the country which gave them birth, and still gives them bread; and
rather choose to pass their days, and consume their wealth, and draw out
the very vitals of their mother kingdom, among those who heartily
despise them.

These I have but lightly touched on, because I fear they are not to be
redressed, and, besides, I am very sensible how ready some people are to
take offence at the honest truth; and, for that reason, I shall omit
several other grievances, under which we are long likely to groan.

I shall therefore go on to relate some other causes of this nation's
poverty, by which, if they continue much longer, it must infallibly sink
to utter ruin.

The first is, that monstrous pride and vanity in both sexes, especially
the weaker sex, who, in the midst of poverty, are suffered to run into
all kind of expense and extravagance in dress, and particularly priding
themselves to wear nothing but what cometh from abroad, disdaining the
growth or manufacture of their own country, in those articles where they
can be better served at home with half the expense; and this is grown to
such a height, that they will carry the whole yearly rent of a good
estate at once on their body. And, as there is in that sex a spirit of
envy, by which they cannot endure to see others in a better habit than
themselves, so those, whose fortunes can hardly support their families
in the necessaries of life, will needs vie with the richest and greatest
amongst us, to the ruin of themselves and their posterity.

Neither are the men less guilty of this pernicious folly, who, in
imitation of a gaudiness and foppery of dress, introduced of late years
into our neighbouring kingdom, (as fools are apt to imitate only the
defects of their betters,) cannot find materials in their own country
worthy to adorn their bodies of clay, while their minds are naked of
every valuable quality.

Thus our tradesmen and shopkeepers, who deal in home goods, are left in
a starving condition, and only those encouraged who ruin the kingdom by
importing among us foreign vanities.

Another cause of our low condition is our great luxury, the chief
support of which is the materials of it brought to the nation in
exchange for the few valuable things left us, whereby so many thousand
families want the very necessaries of life.

_Thirdly_, In most parts of this kingdom the natives are from their
infancy so given up to idleness and sloth, that they often choose to beg
or steal, rather than support themselves with their own labour; they
marry without the least view or thought of being able to make any
provision for their families; and whereas, in all industrious nations,
children are looked on as a help to their parents; with us, for want of
being early trained to work, they are an intolerable burthen at home,
and a grievous charge upon the public, as appeareth from the vast number
of ragged and naked children in town and country, led about by strolling
women, trained up in ignorance and all manner of vice.

_Lastly_, A great cause of this nation's misery, is that Egyptian
bondage of cruel, oppressing, covetous landlords, expecting that all who
live under them should make bricks without straw, who grieve and envy
when they see a tenant of their own in a whole coat, or able to afford
one comfortable meal in a month, by which the spirits of the people are
broken, and made for slavery; the farmers and cottagers, almost through
the whole kingdom, being to all intents and purposes as real beggars as
any of those to whom we give our charity in the streets. And these cruel
landlords are every day unpeopling their kingdom, by forbidding their
miserable tenants to till the earth, against common reason and justice,
and contrary to the practice and prudence of all other nations, by which
numberless families have been forced either to leave the kingdom, or
stroll about, and increase the number of our thieves and beggars.

Such, and much worse, is our condition at present, if I had leisure or
liberty to lay it before you; and, therefore, the next thing which might
be considered is, whether there may be any probable remedy found, at the
least against some part of these evils; for most of them are wholly

But this being too large a subject to be now handled, and the intent of
my discourse confining me to give some directions concerning the poor of
this city, I shall keep myself within those limits. It is indeed in the
power of the lawgivers to found a school in every parish of the kingdom,
for teaching the meaner and poorer sort of children to speak and read
the English tongue, and to provide a reasonable maintenance for the
teachers. This would, in time, abolish that part of barbarity and
ignorance, for which our natives are so despised by all foreigners: this
would bring them to think and act according to the rules of reason, by
which a spirit of industry, and thrift, and honesty would be introduced
among them. And, indeed, considering how small a tax would suffice for
such a work, it is a public scandal that such a thing should never have
been endeavoured, or, perhaps, so much as thought on.

To supply the want of such a law, several pious persons, in many parts
of this kingdom, have been prevailed on, by the great endeavours and
good example set them by the clergy, to erect charity-schools in several
parishes, to which very often the richest parishioners contribute the
least. In those schools, children are, or ought to be, trained up to
read and write, and cast accounts; and these children should, if
possible, be of honest parents, gone to decay through age, sickness, or
other unavoidable calamity, by the hand of God; not the brood of wicked
strollers; for it is by no means reasonable, that the charity of
well-inclined people should be applied to encourage the lewdness of
those profligate, abandoned women, who crowd our streets with their
borrowed or spurious issue.

In those hospitals which have good foundations and rents to support
them, whereof, to the scandal of Christianity, there are very few in
this kingdom; I say, in such hospitals, the children maintained ought to
be only of decayed citizens, and freemen, and be bred up to good trades.
But in these small-parish charity-schools which have no support, but the
casual goodwill of charitable people, I do altogether disapprove the
custom of putting the children 'prentice, except to the very meanest
trades; otherwise the poor honest citizen, who is just able to bring up
his child, and pay a small sum of money with him to a good master, is
wholly defeated, and the bastard issue, perhaps, of some beggar
preferred before him. And hence we come to be so overstocked with
'prentices and journeymen, more than our discouraged country can employ;
and, I fear, the greatest part of our thieves, pickpockets, and other
vagabonds are of this number.

Therefore, in order to make these parish charity-schools of great and
universal use, I agree with the opinion of many wise persons, that a new
turn should be given to this whole matter.

I think there is no complaint more just than what we find in almost
every family, of the folly and ignorance, the fraud and knavery, the
idleness and viciousness, the wasteful squandering temper of servants,
who are, indeed, become one of the many public grievances of the
kingdom; whereof, I believe, there are few masters that now hear me who
are not convinced by their own experience. And I am not very confident,
that more families, of all degrees, have been ruined by the corruptions
of servants, than by all other causes put together. Neither is this to
be wondered at, when we consider from what nurseries so many of them are
received into our houses. The first is the tribe of wicked boys,
wherewith most corners of this town are pestered, who haunt public
doors. These, having been born of beggars, and bred to pilfer as soon as
they can go or speak, as years come on, are employed in the lowest
offices to get themselves bread, are practised in all manner of
villainy, and when they are grown up, if they are not entertained in a
gang of thieves, are forced to seek for a service. The other nursery is
the barbarous and desert part of the country, from whence such lads come
up hither to seek their fortunes, who are bred up from the dunghill in
idleness, ignorance, lying, and thieving. From these two nurseries, I
say, a great number of our servants come to us, sufficient to corrupt
all the rest. Thus, the whole race of servants in this kingdom have
gotten so ill a reputation, that some persons from England, come over
hither into great stations, are said to have absolutely refused
admitting any servant born among us into their families. Neither can
they be justly blamed; for although it is not impossible to find an
honest native fit for a good service, yet the inquiry is too
troublesome, and the hazard too great for a stranger to attempt.

If we consider the many misfortunes that befall private families, it
will be found that servants are the causes and instruments of them all:
Are our goods embezzled, wasted and destroyed? Is our house burnt down
to the ground? It is by the sloth, the drunkenness or the villainy of
servants. Are we robbed and murdered in our beds? It is by confederacy
with our servants. Are we engaged in quarrels and misunderstandings with
our neighbours? These were all begun and inflamed by the false,
malicious tongues of our servants. Are the secrets of our families
betrayed, and evil repute spread of us? Our servants were the authors.
Do false accusers rise up against us (an evil too frequent in this
country)? They have been tampering with our servants. Do our children
discover folly, malice, pride, cruelty, revenge, undutifulness in their
words and actions? Are they seduced to lewdness or scandalous marriages?
It is all by our servants. Nay, the very mistakes, follies, blunders,
and absurdities of those in our service, are able to ruffle and
discompose the mildest nature, and are often of such consequence, as to
put whole families into confusion.

Since therefore not only our domestic peace and quiet, and the welfare
of our children, but even the very safety of our lives, reputations, and
fortunes have so great a dependence upon the choice of our servants, I
think it would well become the wisdom of the nation to make some
provision in so important an affair. But in the meantime, and, perhaps,
to better purpose, it were to be wished, that the children of both
sexes, entertained in the parish charity-schools, were bred up in such a
manner as would give them a teachable disposition, and qualify them to
learn whatever is required in any sort of service. For instance, they
should be taught to read and write, to know somewhat in casting
accounts, to understand the principles of religion, to practise
cleanliness, to get a spirit of honesty, industry, and thrift, and be
severely punished for every neglect in any of these particulars. For, it
is the misfortune of mankind, that if they are not used to be taught in
their early childhood, whereby to acquire what I call a teachable
disposition, they cannot, without great difficulty, learn the easiest
thing in the course of their lives, but are always awkward and unhandy;
their minds, as well as bodies, for want of early practice, growing
stiff and unmanageable, as we observe in the sort of gentlemen, who,
kept from school by the indulgence of their parents but a few years, are
never able to recover the time they have lost, and grow up in ignorance
and all manner of vice, whereof we have too many examples all over the
nation. But to return to what I was saying: If these charity children
were trained up in the manner I mentioned, and then bound apprentices in
the families of gentlemen and citizens, (for which a late law giveth
great encouragement) being accustomed from their first entrance to be
always learning some useful thing, [they] would learn, in a month, more
than another, without those advantages, can do in a year; and, in the
meantime, be very useful in a family, as far as their age and strength
would allow. And when such children come to years of discretion, they
will probably be a useful example to their fellow-servants, at least
they will prove a strong check upon the rest; for, I suppose, everybody
will allow, that one good, honest, diligent servant in a house may
prevent abundance of mischief in the family.

These are the reasons for which I urge this matter so strongly, and I
hope those who listen to me will consider them.

I shall now say something about that great number of poor, who, under
the name of common beggars, infest our streets, and fill our ears with
their continual cries, and craving importunity. This I shall venture to
call an unnecessary evil, brought upon us for the gross neglect, and
want of proper management, in those whose duty it is to prevent it. But
before I proceed farther, let me humbly presume to vindicate the justice
and mercy of God and His dealings with mankind. Upon this particular He
hath not dealt so hardly with His creatures as some would imagine, when
they see so many miserable objects ready to perish for want: For it
would infallibly be found, upon strict enquiry, that there is hardly one
in twenty of those miserable objects who do not owe their present
poverty to their own faults, to their present sloth and negligence, to
their indiscreet marriage without the least prospect of supporting a
family, to their foolish expensiveness, to their drunkenness, and other
vices, by which they have squandered their gettings, and contracted
diseases in their old age. And, to speak freely, is it any way
reasonable or just, that those who have denied themselves many lawful
satisfactions and conveniences of life, from a principle of conscience,
as well as prudence, that they might not be a burthen to the public,
should be charged with supporting others, who have brought themselves to
less than a morsel of bread by their idleness, extravagance, and vice?
Yet such, and no other, are far the greatest number not only in those
who beg in our streets, but even of what we call poor decayed
housekeepers, whom we are apt to pity as real objects of charity, and
distinguish them from common beggars, although, in truth, they both owe
their undoing to the same causes; only the former is either too nicely
bred to endure walking half naked in the streets, or too proud to own
their wants. For the artificer or other tradesman, who pleadeth he is
grown too old to work or look after business, and therefore expecteth
assistance as a decayed housekeeper; may we not ask him, why he did not
take care, in his youth and strength of days, to make some provision
against old age, when he saw so many examples before him of people
undone by their idleness and vicious extravagance? And to go a little
higher; whence cometh it that so many citizens and shopkeepers, of the
most creditable trade, who once made a good figure, go to decay by their
expensive pride and vanity, affecting to educate and dress their
children above their abilities, or the state of life they ought to

However, since the best of us have too many infirmities to answer for,
we ought not to be severe upon those of others; and therefore if our
brother, through grief, or sickness, or other incapacity, is not in a
condition to preserve his being, we ought to support him to the best of
our power, without reflecting over seriously on the causes that brought
him to his misery. But in order to this, and to turn our charity into
its proper channel, we ought to consider who and where those objects
are, whom it is chiefly incumbent upon us to support.

By the ancient law of this realm, still in force, every parish is
obliged to maintain its own poor, which although some may think to be
not very equal, because many parishes are very rich, and have few poor
among them, and others the contrary; yet, I think, may be justly
defended: For as to remote country parishes in the desert part of the
kingdom, the necessaries of life are there so cheap, that the infirm
poor may be provided for with little burden to the inhabitants. But in
what I am going to say, I shall confine myself only to this city, where
we are overrun not only with our own poor, but with a far greater number
from every part of the nation. Now, I say, this evil of being encumbered
with so many foreign beggars, who have not the least title to our
charity, and whom it is impossible for us to support, may be easily
remedied, if the government of this city, in conjunction with the clergy
and parish officers, would think it worth their care; and I am sure few
things deserve it better. For, if every parish would take a list of
those begging poor which properly belong to it, and compel each of them
to wear a badge, marked and numbered, so as to be seen and known by all
they meet, and confine them to beg within the limits of their own
parish, severely punishing them when they offend, and driving out all
interlopers from other parishes, we could then make a computation of
their numbers; and the strollers from the country being driven away, the
remainder would not be too many for the charity of those who pass by to
maintain; neither would any beggar, although confined to his own parish,
be hindered from receiving the charity of the whole town; because, in
this case, those well-disposed persons who walk the streets will give
their charity to such whom they think proper objects, wherever they meet
them, provided they are found in their own parishes, and wearing their
badges of distinction. And, as to those parishes which bordered upon the
skirts and suburbs of the town, where country strollers are used to
harbour themselves, they must be forced to go back to their homes, when
they find nobody to relieve them, because they want that mark which only
gives them licence to beg. Upon this point, it were to be wished, that
inferior parish officers had better encouragement given them to perform
their duty in driving away all beggars who do not belong to the parish,
instead of conniving at them, as it is said they do for some small
contribution: For the whole city would save much more by ridding
themselves of many hundred beggars, than they would lose by giving
parish officers a reasonable support.

It should seem a strange, unaccountable thing, that those who have
probably been reduced to want by riot, lewdness, and idleness, although
they have assurance enough to beg alms publicly from all they meet,
should yet be too proud to wear the parish badge, which would turn so
much to their own advantage, by ridding them of such great numbers, who
now intercept the greatest part of what belongeth to them: Yet it is
certain, that there are very many who publicly declare they will never
wear those badges, and many others who either hide or throw them away:
But the remedy for this is very short, easy, and just, by trying them
like vagabonds and sturdy beggars, and forcibly driving them out of the

Therefore, as soon as this expedient of wearing badges shall be put in
practice, I do earnestly exhort all those who hear me, never to give
their alms to any public beggar who doth not fully comply with this
order, by which our number of poor will be so reduced, that it will be
much easier to provide for the rest. Our shop-doors will be no longer
crowded with so many thieves and pickpockets, in beggars' habits, nor
our streets so dangerous to those who are forced to walk in the night.

Thus I have, with great freedom, delivered my thoughts upon this
subject, which so nearly concerneth us. It is certainly a bad scheme, to
any Christian country, which God hath blessed with fruitfulness, and
where the people enjoy the just rights and privileges of mankind, that
there should be any beggars at all. But, alas! among us, where the whole
nation itself is almost reduced to beggary by the disadvantages we lie
under, and the hardships we are forced to bear; the laziness, ignorance,
thoughtlessness, squandering temper, slavish nature, and uncleanly
manner of living in the poor Popish natives, together with the cruel
oppressions of their landlords, who delight to see their vassals in the
dust; I say, that, in such a nation, how can we otherwise expect than to
be over-run with objects of misery and want? Therefore, there can be no
other method to free this city from so intolerable a grievance, than by
endeavouring, as far as in us lies, that the burthen may be more equally
divided, by contributing to maintain our own poor, and forcing the
strollers and vagabonds to return to their several homes in the country,
there to smite the conscience of those oppressors, who first stripped
them of all their substance.

I might here, if the time would permit, offer many arguments to persuade
to works of charity; but you hear them so often from the pulpit, that I
am willing to hope you may not now want them. Besides, my present design
was only to shew where your alms would be best bestowed, to the honour
of God, your own ease and advantage, the service of your country, and
the benefit of the poor. I desire you will all weigh and consider what I
have spoken, and, according to your several stations and abilities,
endeavour to put it in practice; and God give you good success. To Whom,
with the Son and Holy Ghost, be all honour, &c.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.



"And there sat in a window a certain young man, named _Eutychus_, being
fallen into a deep sleep; and as _Paul_ was long preaching, he sunk down
with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead."

I have chosen these words with design, if possible, to disturb some part
in this audience of half an hour's sleep, for the convenience and
exercise whereof this place, at this season of the day, is very much

There is indeed one mortal disadvantage to which all preaching is
subject; that those who, by the wickedness of their lives, stand in
greatest need, have usually the smallest share; for either they are
absent upon the account of idleness, or spleen, or hatred to religion,
or in order to doze away the intemperance of the week; or, if they do
come, they are sure to employ their minds rather any other way, than
regarding or attending to the business of the place.

The accident which happened to this young man in the text, hath not been
sufficient to discourage his successors: But because the preachers now
in the world, however they may exceed St Paul in the art of setting men
to sleep, do extremely fall short of him in the working of miracles;
therefore men are become so cautious as to choose more safe and
convenient stations and postures for taking their repose, without hazard
of their persons; and, upon the whole matter, choose rather to trust
their destruction to a miracle, than their safety. However, this being
not the only way by which the lukewarm Christians and scorners of the
age discover their neglect and contempt of preaching, I shall enter
expressly into consideration of this matter, and order my discourse in
the following method:

_First:_ I shall produce several instances to shew the great neglect of
preaching now amongst us.

_Secondly:_ I shall reckon up some of the usual quarrels men have
against preaching.

_Thirdly:_ I shall set forth the great evil of this neglect and contempt
of preaching, and discover the real causes from whence it proceedeth.

_Lastly:_ I shall offer some remedies against this great and spreading

_First:_ I shall produce certain instances to shew the great neglect of
preaching now among us.

These may be reduced under two heads. First, men's absence from the
service of the Church; and secondly, their misbehaviour when they are

The first instance of men's neglect, is in their frequent absence from
the church.

There is no excuse so trivial, that will not pass upon some men's
consciences to excuse their attendance at the public worship of God.
Some are so unfortunate as to be always indisposed on the Lord's day,
and think nothing so unwholesome as the air of a church. Others have
their affairs so oddly contrived, as to be always unluckily prevented by
business. With some it is a great mark of wit, and deep understanding,
to stay at home on Sundays. Others again discover strange fits of
laziness, that seize them, particularly on that day, and confine them to
their beds. Others are absent out of mere contempt of religion. And,
lastly, there are not a few who look upon it as a day of rest, and
therefore claim the privilege of their cattle, to keep the Sabbath by
eating, drinking, and sleeping, after the toil and labour of the week.
Now in all this the worst circumstance is, that these persons are such
whose companies are most required, and who stand most in need of a

_Secondly:_ Men's great neglect and contempt of preaching, appear by
their misbehaviour when at church.

If the audience were to be ranked under several heads according to their
behaviour, when the word of God is delivered, how small a number would
appear of those who receive it as they ought? How much of the seed then
sown would be found to fall by the way-side, upon stony ground or among
thorns? And how little good ground would there be to take it? A preacher
cannot look round from the pulpit, without observing, that some are in a
perpetual whisper, and, by their air and gesture, give occasion to
suspect, that they are in those very minutes defaming their neighbour.
Others have their eyes and imagination constantly engaged in such a
circle of objects, perhaps to gratify the most unwarrantable desires,
that they never once attend to the business of the place; the sound of
the preacher's words doth not so much as once interrupt them. Some have
their minds wandering among idle, worldly, or vicious thoughts. Some lie
at catch to ridicule whatever they hear, and with much wit and humour
provide a stock of laughter, by furnishing themselves from the pulpit.
But, of all misbehaviour, none is comparable to that of those who come
here to sleep; opium is not so stupefying to many persons as an
afternoon sermon. Perpetual custom hath so brought it about, that the
words, of whatever preacher, become only a sort of uniform sound at a
distance, than which nothing is more effectual to lull the senses. For,
that it is the very sound of the sermon which bindeth up their
faculties, is manifest from hence, because they all awake so very
regularly as soon as it ceaseth, and with much devotion receive the
blessing, dozed and besotted with indecencies I am ashamed to repeat.

I proceed, _Secondly_, to reckon up some of the usual quarrels men have
against preaching, and to shew the unreasonableness of them.

Such unwarrantable demeanour as I have described, among Christians, in
the house of God, in a solemn assembly, while their faith and duty are
explained and delivered, have put those who are guilty upon inventing
some excuses to extenuate their fault: This they do by turning the blame
either upon the particular preacher, or upon preaching in general.
First, they object against the particular preacher; his manner, his
delivery, his voice are disagreeable, his style and expression are flat
and low; sometimes improper and absurd; the matter is heavy, trivial and
insipid; sometimes despicable, and perfectly ridiculous; or else, on the
other side, he runs up into unintelligible speculation, empty notions,
and abstracted flights, all clad in words above usual understandings.

Secondly, They object against preaching in general; it is a perfect road
of talk; they know already whatever can be said; they have heard the
same an hundred times over. They quarrel that preachers do not relieve
an old beaten subject with wit and invention; and that now the art is
lost of moving men's passions, so common among the ancient orators of
Greece and Rome. These, and the like objections, are frequently in the
mouths of men who despise the "foolishness of preaching." But let us
examine the reasonableness of them.

The doctrine delivered by all preachers is the same: "So we preach, and
so ye believe:" But the manner of delivering is suited to the skill and
abilities of each, which differ in preachers just as in the rest of
mankind. However, in personal dislikes of a particular preacher, are
these men sure they are always in the right? Do they consider how mixed
a thing is every audience, whose taste and judgment differ, perhaps,
every day, not only from each other, but themselves? And how to
calculate a discourse, that shall exactly suit them all, is beyond the
force and reach of human reason, knowledge, or invention. Wit and
eloquence are shining qualities, that God hath imparted, in great
degrees, to very few, nor any more to be expected, in the generality of
any rank among men, than riches and honour. But further: If preaching in
general be all old and beaten, and that they are already so well
acquainted with it, more shame and guilt to them who so little edify by
it. But these men, whose ears are so delicate as not to endure a plain
discourse of religion, who expect a constant supply of wit and eloquence
on a subject handled so many thousand times; what will they say when we
turn the objection upon themselves, who, with all the rude and profane
liberty of discourse they take, upon so many thousand subjects, are so
dull as to furnish nothing but tedious repetitions, and little paltry,
nauseous common-places, so vulgar, so worn, or so obvious, as, upon any
other occasion, but that of advancing vice, would be hooted off the
stage? Nor, lastly, are preachers justly blamed for neglecting human
oratory to move the passions, which is not the business of a Christian
orator, whose office it is only to work upon faith and reason. All other
eloquence hath been a perfect cheat, to stir up men's passions against
truth and justice, for the service of a faction, to put false colours
upon things, and by an amusement of agreeable words, make the worse
reason appear to be the better. This is certainly not to be allowed in
Christian eloquence, and, therefore, St Paul took quite the other
course; he "came not with excellency of words, or enticing speech of
men's wisdom, but in plain evidence of the Spirit and power." And
perhaps it was for that reason the young man Eutychus, used to the
Grecian eloquence, grew tired and fell so fast asleep.

I go on, _Thirdly_, to set forth the great evil of this neglect and
scorn of preaching, and to discover the real causes from whence it

I think it is obvious,[1] that this neglect of preaching hath very much
occasioned the great decay of religion among us. To this may be imputed
no small part of that contempt some men bestow on the clergy; for,
whoever talketh without being regarded, is sure to be despised. To this
we owe, in a great measure, the spreading of atheism and infidelity
among us; for religion, like all other things, is soonest put out of
countenance by being ridiculed. The scorn of preaching might perhaps
have been at first introduced by men of nice ears and refined taste; but
it is now become a spreading evil, through all degrees, and both sexes;
for, since sleeping, talking, and laughing are qualities sufficient to
furnish out a critic, the meanest and most ignorant have set up a title,
and succeeded in it as well as their betters. Thus are the last efforts
of reforming mankind rendered wholly useless: "How shall they hear,"
saith the apostle, "without a preacher?" But, if they have a preacher,
and make it a point of wit or breeding not to hear him, what remedy is
left? To this neglect of preaching, we may also entirely impute that
gross ignorance among us in the very principles of religion, which it is
amazing to find in persons who very much value their own knowledge and
understanding in other things; yet, it is a visible, inexcusable
ignorance, even in the meanest among us, considering the many advantages
they have of learning their duty. And it hath been the great
encouragement to all manner of vice: For, in vain we preach down sin to
a people, "whose hearts are waxed gross, whose ears are dull of hearing,
and whose eyes are closed." Therefore Christ Himself, in His discourses,
frequently rouseth up the attention of the multitude, and of His
disciples themselves, with this expression, "He that hath ears to hear,
let him hear." But, among all neglects of preaching, none is so fatal as
that of sleeping in the house of God; a scorner may listen to truth and
reason, and in time grow serious; an unbeliever may feel the pangs of a
guilty conscience; one whose thoughts or eyes wander among other
objects, may, by a lucky word, be called back to attention: But the
sleeper shuts up all avenues to his soul: He is "like the deaf adder,
that hearkeneth not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so
wisely." And, we may preach with as good success to the grave that is
under his feet.

[Footnote 1: Hawkesworth (Swift's "Works," vol. xiii., 1762) inserts
here "to believe." [T.S.]]

But the great evil of this neglect will further yet appear, from
considering the real causes whence it proceedeth; whereof the first, I
take to be, an evil conscience. Many men come to church to save or gain
a reputation; or because they will not be singular, but comply with an
established custom; yet, all the while, they are loaded with the guilt
of old rooted sins. These men can expect to hear of nothing but terrors
and threatenings, their sins laid open in true colours, and eternal
misery the reward of them; therefore, no wonder they stop their ears,
and divert their thoughts, and seek any amusement rather than stir the
hell within them.

Another cause of this neglect is, a heart set upon worldly things. Men
whose minds are much enslaved to earthly affairs all the week, cannot
disengage or break the chain of their thoughts so suddenly, as to apply
to a discourse that is wholly foreign to what they have most at heart.
Tell a usurer of charity, and mercy, and restitution, you talk to the
deaf; his heart and soul, with all his senses, are got among his bags,
or he is gravely asleep, and dreaming of a mortgage. Tell a man of
business, that the cares of the world choke the good seed; that we must
not encumber ourselves with much serving; that the salvation of his soul
is the one thing necessary: You see, indeed, the shape of a man before
you, but his faculties are all gone off among clients and papers,
thinking how to defend a bad cause, or find flaws in a good one; or, he
weareth out the time in drowsy nods.

A third cause of the great neglect and scorn of preaching, ariseth from
the practice of men who set up to decry and disparage religion; these,
being zealous to promote infidelity and vice, learn a rote of buffoonery
that serveth all occasions, and refutes the strongest arguments for
piety and good manners. These have a set of ridicule calculated for all
sermons, and all preachers, and can be extreme witty as often as they
please upon the same fund.

Let me now, in the last place, offer some remedies against this great

It will be one remedy against the contempt of preaching, rightly to
consider the end for which it was designed. There are many who place
abundance of merit in going to church, although it be with no other
prospect but that of being well entertained, wherein if they happen to
fail, they return wholly disappointed. Hence it is become an impertinent
vein among people of all sorts to hunt after what they call a good
sermon, as if it were a matter of pastime and diversion. Our business,

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