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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. III.: Swift's Writings on Religion and the Church, Vol. I. by Jonathan Swift

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And here, though it makes an odd sound, yet it is necessary to say, that
whoever professes himself a member of the Church of England, ought to
believe a God and his providence, together with revealed religion, and
the divinity of Christ. For beside those many thousands, who (to speak
in the phrase of divines) do practically deny all this by the immorality
of their lives; there is no small number, who in their conversation and
writings directly or by consequence endeavour to overthrow it; yet all
these place themselves in the list of the National Church, though at the
same time (as it is highly reasonable) they are great sticklers for
liberty of conscience.

To enter upon particulars: A Church of England man hath a true
veneration for the scheme established among us of ecclesiastic
government; and though he will not determine whether Episcopacy be of
divine right, he is sure it is most agreeable to primitive institution,
fittest of all others for preserving order and purity, and under its
present regulations best calculated for our civil state: He should
therefore think the abolishment of that order among us would prove a
mighty scandal and corruption to our faith, and manifestly dangerous to
our monarchy; nay, he would defend it by arms against all the powers on
earth, except our own legislature; in which case he would submit as to a
general calamity, a dearth, or a pestilence.

As to rites and ceremonies, and forms of prayer; he allows there might
be some useful alterations, and more, which in the prospect of uniting
Christians might be very supportable, as things declared in their own
nature indifferent; to which he therefore would readily comply, if the
clergy, or, (though this be not so fair a method) if the legislature
should direct: Yet at the same time he cannot altogether blame the
former for their unwillingness to consent to any alteration; which
beside the trouble, and perhaps disgrace, would certainly never produce
the good effects intended by it. The only condition that could make it
prudent and just for the clergy to comply in altering the ceremonial or
any other indifferent part, would be, a firm resolution in the
legislature to interpose by some strict and effectual laws to prevent
the rising and spreading of new sects how plausible soever, for the
future; else there must never be an end: And it would be to act like a
man who should pull down and change the ornaments of his house, in
compliance to every one who was disposed to find fault as he passed by,
which besides the perpetual trouble and expense, would very much damage,
and perhaps in time destroy the building. Sects in a state seem only
tolerated with any reason because they are already spread; and because
it would not be agreeable with so mild a government, or so pure a
religion as ours, to use violent methods against great numbers of
mistaken people, while they do not manifestly endanger the constitution
of either. But the greatest advocates for general liberty of conscience,
will allow that they ought to be checked in their beginnings, if they
will allow them to be an evil at all, or which is the same thing, if
they will only grant, it were better for the peace of the state, that
there should be none. But while the clergy consider the natural temper
of mankind in general, or of our own country in particular, what
assurances can they have, that any compliances they shall make, will
remove the evil of dissension, while the liberty still continues of
professing whatever new opinion we please? Or how can it be imagined
that the body of dissenting teachers, who must be all undone by such a
revolution, will not cast about for some new objections to withhold
their flocks, and draw in fresh proselytes by some further innovations
or refinements?

Upon these reasons he is for tolerating such different forms in
religious worship as are already admitted, but by no means for leaving
it in the power of those who are tolerated, to advance their own models
upon the ruin of what is already established, which it is natural for
all sects to desire, and which they cannot justify by any consistent
principles if they do not endeavour; and yet, which they cannot succeed
in without the utmost danger to the public peace.

To prevent these inconveniences, he thinks it highly just, that all
rewards of trust, profit, or dignity, which the state leaves in the
disposal of the administration, should be given only to those whose
principles direct them to preserve the constitution in all its parts. In
the late affair of Occasional Conformity, the general argument of those
who were against it, was not, to deny it an evil in itself, but that the
remedy proposed was violent, untimely, and improper, which is the Bishop
of Salisbury's opinion in the speech he made and published against the
bill: But, however just their fears or complaints might have been upon
that score, he thinks it a little too gross and precipitate to employ
their writers already in arguments for repealing the sacramental test,
upon no wiser a maxim, than that no man should on the account of
conscience be deprived the liberty of serving his country; a topic which
may be equally applied to admit Papists, Atheists, Mahometans, Heathens,
and Jews. If the Church wants members of its own to employ in the
service of the public; or be so unhappily contrived as to exclude from
its communion such persons who are likeliest to have great abilities, it
is time it should be altered and reduced into some more perfect, or at
least more popular form: But in the meanwhile, it is not altogether
improbable, that when those who dislike the constitution, are so very
zealous in their offers for the service of their country, they are not
wholly unmindful of their party or of themselves.

The Dutch whose practice is so often quoted to prove and celebrate the
great advantages of a general liberty of conscience, have yet a national
religion professed by all who bear office among them: But why should
they be a precedent for us either in religion or government? Our country
differs from theirs, as well in situation, soil, and productions of
nature, as in the genius and complexion of inhabitants. They are a
commonwealth founded on a sudden by a desperate attempt in a desperate
condition, not formed or digested into a regular system by mature
thought and reason, but huddled up under the pressure of sudden
exigencies; calculated for no long duration, and hitherto subsisting by
accident in the midst of contending powers, who cannot yet agree about
sharing it among them. These difficulties do indeed preserve them from
any great corruptions, which their crazy constitution would extremely
subject them to in a long peace. That confluence of people in a
persecuting age, to a place of refuge nearest at hand, put them upon the
necessity of trade, to which they wisely gave all ease and
encouragement: And if we could think fit to imitate them in this last
particular, there would need no more to invite foreigners among us; who
seem to think no further than how to secure their property and
conscience, without projecting any share in that government which gives
them protection, or calling it persecution if it be denied them. But I
speak it for the honour of our administration, that although our sects
are not so numerous as those in Holland, which I presume is not our
fault, and I hope is not our misfortune, we much excel them and all
Christendom besides in our indulgence to tender consciences.[2] One
single compliance with the national form of receiving the sacrament, is
all we require to qualify any sectary among us for the greatest
employments in the state, after which he is at liberty to rejoin his own
assemblies for the rest of his life. Besides, I will suppose any of the
numerous sects in Holland, to have so far prevailed as to have raised a
civil war, destroyed their government and religion, and put their
administrators to death; after which I will suppose the people to have
recovered all again, and to have settled on their old foundation. Then I
would put a query, whether that sect which was the unhappy instrument of
all this confusion, could reasonably expect to be entrusted for the
future with the greatest employments, or indeed to be hardly tolerated
among them?

[Footnote 2: When this was written there was no law against Occasional
Conformity. [Faulkner, 1735.]]

To go on with the sentiments of a Church of England man: He does not see
how that mighty passion for the Church which some men pretend, can well
consist with those indignities and that contempt they bestow on the
persons of the clergy.[3] Tis a strange mark whereby to distinguish High
Churchmen, that they are such who imagine the clergy can never be too
low. He thinks the maxim these gentlemen are so fond of, that they are
for an humble clergy, is a very good one; and so is he, and for an
humble laity too, since humility is a virtue that perhaps equally
benefits and adorns every station of life.

[Footnote 3: "I observed very well with what insolence and haughtiness
some lords of the High-Church party treated, not only their own
chaplains, but all other clergy whatsoever, and thought this was
sufficiently recompensed by their professions of zeal to the church."]

But then, if the scribblers on the other side freely speak the
sentiments of their party, a divine of the Church of England cannot look
for much better quarter thence. You shall observe nothing more frequent
in their weekly papers than a way of affecting to confound the terms of
Clergy and High Church, of applying both indifferently, and then loading
the latter with all the calumny they can invent. They will tell you they
honour a clergyman; but talk, at the same time, as if there were not
three in the kingdom, who could fall in with their definition.[4] After
the like manner they insult the universities, as poisoned fountains, and
corrupters of youth.

[Footnote 4: "I had likewise observed how the Whig lords took a direct
contrary measure, treated the persons of particular clergymen with great
courtesy, but shewed much ill-will and contempt for the order in

Now, it seems clear to me, that the Whigs might easily have procured and
maintained a majority among the clergy, and perhaps in the universities,
if they had not too much encouraged or connived at this intemperance of
speech and virulence of pen, in the worst and most prostitute of their
party; among whom there has been for some years past such a perpetual
clamour against the ambition, the implacable temper, and the
covetousness of the priesthood: Such a cant of High Church, and
persecution, and being priest-ridden; so many reproaches about narrow
principles, or terms of communion: Then such scandalous reflections on
the universities, for infecting the youth of the nation with arbitrary
and Jacobite principles, that it was natural for those, who had the care
of religion and education, to apprehend some general design of altering
the constitution of both. And all this was the more extraordinary,
because it could not easily be forgot, that whatever opposition was made
to the usurpations of King James, proceeded altogether from the Church
of England, and chiefly from the clergy, and one of the universities.
For, if it were of any use to recall matters of fact, what is more
notorious than that prince's applying himself first to the Church of
England? And upon their refusal to fall in with his measures, making the
like advances to the dissenters of all kinds, who readily and almost
universally complied with him, affecting in their numerous addresses and
pamphlets, the style of Our Brethren the Roman Catholics, whose
interests they put on the same foot with their own: And some of
Cromwell's officers took posts in the army raised against the Prince of
Orange.[5] These proceedings of theirs they can only extenuate by urging
the provocations they had met from the Church in King Charles's reign,
which though perhaps excusable upon the score of human infirmity, are
not by any means a plea of merit equal to the constancy and sufferings
of the bishops and clergy, or of the head and fellows of Magdalen
College, that furnished the Prince of Orange's declaration with such
powerful arguments to justify and promote the Revolution.

[Footnote 5: De Foe's "History of Addresses" contains some humbling
instances of the applause with which the sectaries hailed their old
enemy, James II., when they saw him engaged in hostility with the
established Church. [T. S.]]

Therefore a Church of England man abhors the humour of the age in
delighting to fling scandals upon the clergy in general; which besides
the disgrace to the Reformation, and to religion itself, casts an
ignominy upon the kingdom that it does not deserve. We have no better
materials to compound the priesthood of, than the mass of mankind, which
corrupted as it is, those who receive orders must have some vices to
leave behind them when they enter into the Church, and if a few do still
adhere, it is no wonder, but rather a great one that they are no worse.
Therefore he cannot think ambition, or love of power more justly laid to
their charge than to other men, because, that would be to make religion
itself, or at least the best constitution of Church-government,
answerable for the errors and depravity of human nature.

Within these last two hundred years all sorts of temporal power have
been wrested from the clergy, and much of their ecclesiastic, the reason
or justice of which proceeding I shall not examine; but, that the
remedies were a little too violent with respect to their possessions,
the legislature hath lately confessed by the remission of their First
Fruits.[6] Neither do the common libellers deny this, who in their
invectives only tax the Church with an insatiable desire of power and
wealth (equally common to all bodies of men as well as individuals) but
thank God, that the laws have deprived them of both. However, it is
worth observing the justice of parties: The sects among us are apt to
complain, and think it hard usage to be reproached now after fifty years
for overturning the state, for the murder of a king, and the indignity
of a usurpation; yet these very men and their partisans, are continually
reproaching the clergy, and laying to their charge the pride, the
avarice, the luxury, the ignorance, and superstition, of Popish times
for a thousand years past.

[Footnote 6: The first fruits were the first year's income of
ecclesiastical benefices. In the middle ages they were taken by the Pope
as a right; but were handed over to the English crown in 1534. Anne in
1703 gave them back to the Church by letters patent, an act confirmed by
Parliament in 1704. The "Bounty" of Queen Anne, however, did not extend
to Ireland; and one of Swift's missions in London was to obtain this
remission of the first fruits for the Irish clergy also. [T. S.]]

He thinks it a scandal to government that such an unlimited liberty
should be allowed of publishing books against those doctrines in
religion, wherein all Christians have agreed, much more to connive at
such tracts as reject all revelation, and by their consequences often
deny the very being of a God. Surely 'tis not a sufficient atonement for
the writers, that they profess much loyalty to the present government,
and sprinkle up and down some arguments in favour of the dissenters;
that they dispute as strenuously as they can for liberty of conscience,
and inveigh largely against all ecclesiastics, under the name of High
Church; and, in short, under the shelter of some popular principles in
politics and religion, undermine the foundations of all piety and

As he doth not reckon every schism of that damnable nature which some
would represent, so he is very far from closing with the new opinion of
those who would make it no crime at all, and argue at a wild rate, that
God Almighty is delighted with the variety of faith and worship, as He
is with the varieties of nature. To such absurdities are men carried by
the affectation of freethinking, and removing the prejudices of
education, under which head they have for some time begun to list
morality and religion. It is certain that before the rebellion in 1642,
though the number of Puritans (as they were then called) was as great as
it is with us, and though they affected to follow pastors of that
denomination, yet those pastors had episcopal ordination, possessed
preferments in the Church, and were sometimes promoted to bishoprics
themselves.[7] But, a breach in the general form of worship was in those
days reckoned so dangerous and sinful in itself, and so offensive to
Roman Catholics at home and abroad, and that it was too unpopular to be
attempted; neither, I believe, was the expedient then found out of
maintaining separate pastors out of private purses.

[Footnote 7: In the reign of Elizabeth, and even in that of James, the
Puritans were not, properly speaking, Dissenters; but, on the contrary,
formed a sort of Low Church party in the national establishment.
Archbishop Abbot himself has been considered as a Puritan. [T. S.]]

When a schism is once spread in a nation, there grows at length a
dispute which are the schismatics. Without entering on the arguments,
used by both sides among us, to fix the guilt on each other; 'tis
certain, that, in the sense of the law, the schism lies on that side
which opposes itself to the religion of the state. I leave it among the
divines to dilate upon the danger of schism, as a spiritual evil, but I
would consider it only as a temporal one. And I think it clear that any
great separation from the established worship, though to a new one that
is more pure and perfect, may be an occasion of endangering the public
peace, because it will compose a body always in reserve, prepared to
follow any discontented heads upon the plausible pretext of advancing
true religion, and opposing error, superstition, or idolatry. For this
reason Plato lays it down as a maxim, that, _men ought to worship the
gods according to the laws of the country_, and he introduces Socrates
in his last discourse utterly disowning the crime laid to his charge, of
teaching new divinities or methods of worship. Thus the poor Huguenots
of France were engaged in a civil war, by the specious pretences of
some, who under the guise of religion sacrificed so many thousand lives
to their own ambition and revenge. Thus was the whole body of Puritans
in England drawn to be instruments, or abettors of all manner of
villainy, by the artifices of a few men whose[8] designs from the first
were levelled to destroy the constitution both of religion and
government. And thus, even in Holland itself, where it is pretended that
the variety of sects live so amicably together, and in such perfect
obedience to the magistrate, it is notorious how a turbulent party
joining with the Arminians, did in the memory of our fathers attempt to
destroy the liberty of that republic. So that upon the whole, where
sects are tolerated in a state, 'tis fit they should enjoy a full
liberty of conscience, and every other privilege of freeborn subjects to
which no power is annexed. And to preserve their obedience upon all
emergencies, a government cannot give them too much ease, nor trust them
with too little power.

[Footnote 8: Lord Clarendon's History; but see also Gardiner's "History
of England." [T. S.]]

The clergy are usually charged with a persecuting spirit, which they are
said to discover by an implacable hatred to all dissenters; and this
appears to be more unreasonable, because they suffer less in their
interests by a toleration than any of the conforming laity: For while
the Church remains in its present form, no dissenter can possibly have
any share in its dignities, revenues, or power; whereas, by once
receiving the sacrament, he is rendered capable of the highest
employments in the state. And it is very possible, that a narrow
education, together with a mixture of human infirmity, may help to beget
among some of the clergy in possession such an aversion and contempt for
all innovators, as physicians are apt to have for empirics, or lawyers
for pettifoggers, or merchants for pedlars: But since the number of
sectaries doth not concern the clergy either in point of interest or
conscience, (it being an evil not in their power to remedy) 'tis more
fair and reasonable to suppose their dislike proceeds from the dangers
they apprehend to the peace of the commonwealth, in the ruin whereof
they must expect to be the first and greatest sufferers.

To conclude this section, it must be observed, there is a very good
word, which hath of late suffered much by both parties, and that is,
MODERATION, which the one side very justly disowns, and the other as
unjustly pretends to. Beside what passeth every day in conversation; any
man who reads the papers published by Mr. Lesley[9] and others of his
stamp, must needs conclude, that if this author could make the nation
see his adversaries under the colours he paints them in, we have nothing
else to do, but rise as one man and destroy such wretches from the face
of the earth. On the other side, how shall we excuse the advocates for
moderation? among whom, I could appeal to a hundred papers of universal
approbation by the cause they were writ for, which lay such principles
to the whole body of the Tories, as, if they were true, and believed;
our next business should in prudence be, to erect gibbets in every
parish, and hang them out of the way. But I suppose it is presumed, the
common people understand raillery, or at least, rhetoric, and will not
take hyperboles in too literal a sense; which however in some junctures
might prove a desperate experiment.

[Footnote 9: This was Charles Leslie, the second son of the Bishop of
Clogher (1650-1722). He was educated for the bar, but forsook that, and
entered into holy orders. In his zeal for the established Church he
persecuted the Catholics; but this did not interfere with his adhesion
to Jacobite political principles. He settled in London, and wrote a
weekly paper called "The Rehearsal, or a Review of the Times," in which
he attacked Locke and Hoadly. He did all he could for the cause of the
exiled James, but he gave up the work when he found it hopeless, and
died in Ireland. He wrote many virulent theological works, as well as a
host of political tracts. [T. S.]]

And this is moderation in the modern sense of the word, to which,
speaking impartially, the bigots of both parties are equally entitled.


_The Sentiments of a Church of England Man with respect to Government_.

We look upon it as a very just reproach, though we cannot agree where to
fix it, that there should be so much violence and hatred in religious
matters, among men who agree in all fundamentals, and only differ in
some ceremonies, or at most mere speculative points. Yet is not this
frequently the case between contending parties in a state? For instance:
Do not the generality of Whigs and Tories among us, profess to agree in
the same fundamentals, their loyalty to the Queen, their abjuration of
the Pretender, the settlement of the crown in the protestant line, and a
revolution principle? Their affection to the Church established, with
toleration of dissenters? Nay sometimes they go further, and pass over
into each other's principles; the Whigs become great assertors of the
prerogative, and the Tories of the people's liberty; these crying down
almost the whole set of bishops, and those defending them; so that the
differences fairly stated, would be much of a sort with those in
religion among us, and amount to little more than, _who should take
place_ or _go in and out first_, or _kiss the Queen's hand_; and what
are these but a few court ceremonies? Or, _who should be in the
ministry_? And what is that to the body of the nation, but a mere
speculative point? Yet I think it must be allowed, that no religious
sects ever carried their aversions for each other to greater heights
than our state-parties have done, who the more to inflame their passions
have mixed religious and civil animosities together; borrowing one of
their appellations from the Church, with the addition of High and Low,
how little soever their disputes relate to the term as it is generally

I now proceed to deliver the sentiments of a Church of England man with
respect to government.

He doth not think the Church of England so narrowly calculated, that it
cannot fall in with any regular species of government; nor does he think
any one regular species of government more acceptable to God than
another. The three generally received in the schools have all of them
their several perfections, and are subject to their several
depravations. However, few states are ruined by any defect in their
institution, but generally by the corruption of manners, against which
the best institution is no long security, and without which a very ill
one may subsist and flourish: Whereof there are two pregnant instances
now in Europe. The first is the aristocracy of Venice, which founded
upon the wisest maxims, and digested by a great length of time, hath in
our age admitted so many abuses through the degeneracy of the nobles,
that the period of its duration seems to approach. The other is the
united republics of the States-general, where a vein of temperance,
industry, parsimony, and a public spirit, running through the whole body
of the people, hath preserved an infant commonwealth of an untimely
birth and sickly constitution, for above an hundred years, through so
many dangers and difficulties, as a much more healthy one could never
have struggled against, without those advantages.

Where security of person and property are preserved by laws which none
but the Whole can repeal, there the great ends of government are
provided for whether the administration be in the hands of One, or of
Many. Where any one person or body of men, who do not represent the
Whole, seize into their hands the power in the last resort, there is
properly no longer a government, but what Aristotle and his followers
call the abuse and corruption of one. This distinction excludes
arbitrary power in whatever numbers; which notwithstanding all that
Hobbes, Filmer[10] and others have said to its advantage, I look upon as
a greater evil than anarchy itself; as much as a savage is in a happier
state of life than a slave at the oar.

[Footnote 10: Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679), the English philosopher, and
author of "De Cive" (1642), "Treatise on Human Nature" (1650), "De
Corpore Politico" (1650), "Leviathan" (1651), and other works. Swift is
here combating Hobbes's advocacy for a sovereign power, as vested in a
single person.

Filmer, Sir Robert (died 1647), author of "The Anarchy of a limited and
mixed Monarchy," "Patriarcha," and "The Freeholder's Grand Inquest." In
the "Patriarcha" Filmer attempted to prove that absolute government by a
monarch was a patriarchal institution. Locke replied to this work in his
"Two Treatises on Government." [T.S.]]

It is reckoned ill manners, as well as unreasonable, for men to quarrel
upon difference in opinion; because that is usually supposed to be a
thing which no man can help in himself; which however I do not conceive
to be an universal infallible maxim, except in those cases where the
question is pretty equally disputed among the learned and the wise;
where it is otherwise, a man of tolerable reason, small experience, and
willing to be instructed, may apprehend he is got into a wrong opinion,
though the whole course of his mind and inclination would persuade him
to believe it true: He may be convinced that he is in error though he
does not see where it lies, by the bad effects of it in the common
conduct of his life, and by observing those persons for whose wisdom and
goodness he has the greatest deference, to be of a contrary sentiment.
According to Hobbes's comparison of reasoning with casting up accounts,
whoever finds a mistake in the sum total, must allow himself out,
though, after repeated trials he may not see in which article he has
misreckoned. I will instance in one opinion, which I look upon every man
obliged in conscience to quit, or in prudence to conceal; I mean, that
whoever argues in defence of absolute power in a single person, though
he offers the old plausible plea, that, _it is his opinion, which he
cannot help unless he be convinced_, ought, in all free states to be
treated as the common enemy of mankind. Yet this is laid as a heavy
charge upon the clergy of the two reigns before the Revolution, who
under the terms of Passive Obedience and Non-Resistance are said to have
preached up the unlimited power of the prince, because they found it a
doctrine that pleased the Court, and made way for their preferment. And
I believe there may be truth enough in this accusation, to convince us,
that human frailty will too often interpose itself among persons of the
holiest function. However, it may be offered in excuse for the clergy,
that in the best societies there are some ill members, which a corrupted
court and ministry will industriously find out and introduce. Besides,
it is manifest that the greater number of those who held and preached
this doctrine, were misguided by equivocal terms, and by perfect
ignorance in the principles of government, which they had not made any
part of their study. The question originally put, and as I remember to
have heard it disputed in public schools, was this; _whether under any
pretence whatsoever it may be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate?_
which was held in the negative; and this is certainly the right opinion.
But many of the clergy, and other learned men, deceived by dubious
expression, mistook the object to which passive obedience was due. By
the supreme magistrate is properly understood the legislative power,
which in all government must be absolute and unlimited. But the word
magistrate seeming to denote a single person, and to express the
executive power, it came to pass, that the obedience due to the
legislature was for want of knowing or considering this easy
distinction, misapplied to the administration. Neither is it any wonder,
that the clergy or other well-meaning people should fall into this
error, which deceived Hobbes himself so far, as to be the foundation of
all the political mistakes in his book, where he perpetually confounds
the executive with the legislative power, though all well-instituted
states have ever placed them in different hands, as may be obvious to
those who know anything of Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other republics
of Greece, as well as the greater ones of Carthage and Rome.

Besides, it is to be considered that when these doctrines began to be
preached among us, the kingdom had not quite worn out the memory of that
unhappy rebellion, under the consequences of which it had groaned almost
twenty years. And a weak prince in conjunction with a succession of most
prostitute ministers, began again to dispose the people to new attempts,
which it was, no doubt, the clergy's duty to endeavour to prevent, if
some of them had not for want of knowledge in temporal affairs, and
others perhaps from a worse principle, proceeded upon a topic that
strictly followed would enslave all mankind.

Among other theological arguments made use of in those times, in praise
of monarchy, and justification of absolute obedience to a prince, there
seemed to be one of a singular nature: It was urged that Heaven was
governed by a monarch, who had none to control his power, but was
absolutely obeyed: Then it followed, that earthly governments were the
more perfect, the nearer they imitated the government in Heaven. All
which I look upon as the strongest argument against despotic power that
ever was offered; since no reason can possibly be assigned why it is
best for the world that God Almighty hath such a power, which doth not
directly prove that no mortal man should ever have the like.

But though a Church of England man thinks every species of government
equally lawful, he does not think them equally expedient; or for every
country indifferently. There may be something in the climate, naturally
disposing men toward one sort of obedience, as is manifest all over
Asia, where we never read of any commonwealth, except some small ones on
the western coasts established by the Greeks. There may be a great deal
in the situation of a country, and in the present genius of the people.
It hath been observed, that the temperate climates usually run into
moderate governments, and the extremes into despotic power. 'Tis a
remark of Hobbes, that the youth of England are corrupted in their
principles of government, by reading the authors of Greece and Rome who
writ under commonwealths. But it might have been more fairly offered for
the honour of liberty, that while the rest of the known world was
overrun with the arbitrary government of single persons; arts and
sciences took their rise, and flourished only in those few small
territories were the people were free. And though learning may continue
after liberty is lost, as it did in Rome, for a while, upon the
foundations laid under the commonwealth, and the particular patronage of
some emperors; yet it hardly ever began under a tyranny in any nation:
Because slavery is of all things the greatest clog and obstacle to
speculation. And indeed, arbitrary power is but the first natural step
from anarchy or the savage life; the adjusting of power and freedom
being an effect and consequence of maturer thinking: And this is nowhere
so duly regulated as in a limited monarchy: Because I believe it may
pass for a maxim in state, that the administration cannot be placed in
too few hands, nor the legislature in too many. Now in this material
point, the constitution of the English government far exceeds all others
at this time on the earth, to which the present establishment of the
Church doth so happily agree, that I think, whoever is an enemy to
either, must of necessity be so to both.

He thinks, as our monarchy is constituted, a hereditary right is much to
be preferred before election. Because the government here, especially by
some late amendments, is so regularly disposed in all its parts, that it
almost executes itself. And therefore upon the death of a prince among
us, the administration goes on without any rub or interruption. For the
same reasons we have little to apprehend from the weakness or fury of
our monarchs, who have such wise councils to guide the first, and laws
to restrain the other. And therefore this hereditary right should be
kept so sacred, as never to break the succession, unless where the
preserving of it may endanger the constitution; which is not from any
intrinsic merit, or unalienable right in a particular family, but to
avoid the consequences that usually attend the ambition of competitors,
to which elective kingdoms are exposed; and which is the only obstacle
to hinder them from arriving at the greatest perfection that government
can possibly reach. Hence appears the absurdity of that distinction
between a king _de facto_, and one _de jure_, with respect to us. For
every limited monarch is a king _de jure_, because he governs by the
consent of the whole, which is authority sufficient to abolish all
precedent right. If a king come in by conquest, he is no longer a
limited monarch, if he afterward consent to limitations, he becomes
immediately king _de jure_ for the same reason.

The great advocates for succession, who affirm it ought not to be
violated upon any regard or consideration whatsoever, do insist much
upon one argument that seems to carry little weight. They would have it,
that a crown is a prince's birthright, and ought at least to be as well
secured to him and his posterity as the inheritance of any private man:
In short, that he has the same title to his kingdom which every
individual has to his property. Now the consequence of this doctrine
must be, that as a man may find several ways to waste, misspend, or
abuse his patrimony, without being answerable to the laws; so a king may
in like manner do what he will with his own, that is, he may squander
and misapply his revenues, and even alienate the crown, without being
called to an account by his subjects. They allow such a prince to be
guilty indeed of much folly and wickedness, but for those he is to
answer to God, as every private man must do that is guilty of
mismanagement in his own concerns. Now the folly of this reasoning will
best appear, by applying it in a parallel case. Should any man argue,
that a physician is supposed to understand his own art best; that the
law protects and encourages his profession; and therefore although he
should manifestly prescribe poison to all his patients, whereof they
should immediately die, he cannot be justly punished, but is answerable
only to God: Or should the same be offered in behalf of a divine, who
would preach against religion and moral duties; in either of these two
cases everybody would find out the sophistry, and presently answer, that
although common men are not exactly skilled in the composition or
application of medicines, or in prescribing the limits of duty; yet the
difference between poisons and remedies is easily known by their
effects, and common reason soon distinguishes between virtue and vice:
And it must be necessary to forbid both these the further practice of
their professions, because their crimes are not purely personal to the
physician or the divine, but destructive to the public. All which is
infinitely stronger in respect to a prince, with whose good or ill
conduct the happiness or misery of a whole nation is included; whereas
it is of small consequence to the public, farther than examples, how any
private person manages his property.

But granting that the right of a lineal successor to a crown were upon
the same foot with the property of a subject, still It may at any time
be transferred by the legislative power, as other properties frequently
are. The supreme power in a state can do no wrong, because whatever that
doth, is the action of all; and when the lawyers apply this maxim to the
king, they must understand it only in that sense as he is administrator
of the supreme power, otherwise it is not universally true, but may be
controlled in several instances easy to produce.

And these are the topics we must proceed upon to justify our exclusion
of the young Pretender in France; that of his suspected birth being
merely popular, and therefore not made use of as I remember, since the
Revolution in any speech, vote, or proclamation where there was occasion
to mention him.

As to the abdication of King James, which the advocates on that side
look upon to have been forcible and unjust, and consequently void in
itself, I think a man may observe every article of the English Church,
without being in much pain about it. 'Tis not unlikely that all doors
were laid open for his departure, and perhaps not without the privity of
the Prince of Orange, as reasonably concluding that the kingdom might be
settled in his absence: But to affirm he had any cause to apprehend the
same treatment with his father, is an improbable scandal flung upon the
nation by a few bigotted French scribblers, or the invidious assertion
of a ruined party at home, in the bitterness of their souls: Not one
material circumstance agreeing with those in 1648; and the greatest part
of the nation having preserved the utmost horror for that ignominious
murder: But whether his removal were caused by his own fears or other
men's artifices, 'tis manifest to me, that supposing the throne to be
vacant, which was the foot they went upon, the body of the people were
thereupon left at liberty, to choose what form of government they
pleased, by themselves or their representatives.

The only difficulty of any weight against the proceedings at the
Revolution, is an obvious objection, to which the writers upon that
subject have not yet given a direct or sufficient answer, as if they
were in pain at some consequences which they apprehend those of the
contrary opinion might draw from it, I will repeat this objection as it
was offered me some time ago, with all its advantages, by a very pious,
learned, and worthy gentleman[11] of the nonjuring party.

[Footnote 11: Mr. Nelson, author of "The Feasts and Fasts of the Church
of England."]

The force of his argument turned upon this; that the laws made by the
supreme power, cannot otherwise than by the supreme power be annulled:
That this consisting in England of a King, Lords, and Commons, whereof
each have a negative voice, no two of them can repeal or enact a law
without consent of the third; much less may any one of them be entirely
excluded from its part of the legislature by a vote of the other two.
That all these maxims were openly violated at the Revolution; where an
assembly of the nobles and people, not summoned by the king's writ
(which was an essential part of the constitution) and consequently no
lawful meeting, did merely upon their own authority, declare the king to
have abdicated, the throne vacant, and gave the crown by a vote to a
nephew, when there were three children to inherit; though by the
fundamental laws of the realm the next heir is immediately to succeed.
Neither does it appear how a prince's abdication can make any other sort
of vacancy in the throne, than would be caused by his death, since he
cannot abdicate for his children (who claim their right of succession by
act of parliament) otherwise than by his own consent in form to a bill
from the two houses.

And this is the difficulty that seems chiefly to stick with the most
reasonable of those, who from a mere scruple of conscience refuse to
join with us upon the revolution principle; but for the rest, are I
believe as far from loving arbitrary government, as any others can be,
who are born under a free constitution, and are allowed to have the
least share of common good sense.

In this objection there are two questions included: First, whether upon
the foot of our constitution, as it stood in the reign of the late King
James, a king of England may be deposed? The second is, whether the
people of England convened by their own authority, after the king had
withdrawn himself in the manner he did, had power to alter the

As for the first; it is a point I shall not presume to determine, and
shall therefore only say, that to any man who holds the negative, I
would demand the liberty of putting the case as strongly as I please. I
will suppose a prince limited by laws like ours, yet running into a
thousand caprices of cruelty like Nero or Caligula. I will suppose him
to murder his mother and his wife, to commit incest, to ravish matrons,
to blow up the senate, and burn his metropolis, openly to renounce God
and Christ, and worship the devil. These and the like exorbitances are
in the power of a single person to commit without the advice of a
ministry, or assistance of an army. And if such a king as I have
described, cannot be deposed but by his own consent in parliament, I do
not well see how he can be resisted, or what can be meant by a limited
monarchy; or what signifies the people's consent in making and repealing
laws, if the person who administers hath no tie but conscience, and is
answerable to none but God. I desire no stronger proof that an opinion
must be false, than to find very great absurdities annexed to it; and
there cannot be greater than in the present case: For it is not a bare
speculation that kings may run into such enormities as are
above-mentioned; the practice may be proved by examples not only drawn
from the first Caesars or later emperors, but many modern princes of
Europe; such as Peter the Cruel, Philip the Second of Spain, John
Basilovitz[12] of Muscovy, and in our own nation, King John, Richard the
Third, and Henry the Eighth. But there cannot be equal absurdities
supposed in maintaining the contrary opinion; because it is certain,
that princes have it in their power to keep a majority on their side, by
any tolerable administration; till provoked by continual oppressions, no
man indeed can then answer where the madness of the people will stop.

[Footnote 12: Peter the Cruel is Pedro of Castile. Ivan Basilovitz was
the first emperor of Russia who assumed the title of Czar. He was born
in 1529, and died in 1584.]

As to the second part of the objection; whether the people of England
convened by their own authority, upon King James's precipitate
departure, had power to alter the succession?

In answer to this, I think it is manifest from the practice of the
wisest nations, and who seem to have had the truest notions of freedom,
that when a prince was laid aside for mal-administration, the nobles and
people, if they thought it necessary for the public weal, did resume the
administration of the supreme power (the power itself having been always
in them) and did not only alter the succession, but often the very form
of government too; because they believed there was no natural right in
one man to govern another, but that all was by institution, force, or
consent. Thus, the cities of Greece, when they drove out their
tyrannical kings, either chose others from a new family, or abolished
the kingly government, and became free states. Thus the Romans upon the
expulsion of Tarquin found it inconvenient for them to be subject any
longer to the pride, the lust, the cruelty and arbitrary will of single
persons, and therefore by general consent entirely altered the whole
frame of their government. Nor do I find the proceedings of either, in
this point, to have been condemned by any historian of the succeeding

But a great deal hath been already said by other writers upon this
invidious and beaten subject; therefore I shall let it fall, though the
point is commonly mistaken, especially by the lawyers; who of all others
seem least to understand the nature of government in general; like
under-workmen, who are expert enough at making a single wheel in a
clock, but are utterly ignorant how to adjust the several parts, or
regulate the movements.

To return therefore from this digression: It is a Church of England
man's opinion, that the freedom of a nation consists in an absolute
unlimited legislative power, wherein the whole body of the people are
fairly represented, and in an executive duly limited; because on this
side likewise there may be dangerous degrees, and a very ill extreme.
For when two parties in a state are pretty equal in power, pretensions,
merit, and virtue, (for these two last are with relation to parties and
a court, quite different things) it hath been the opinion of the best
writers upon government, that a prince ought not in any sort to be under
the guidance or influence of either, because he declines by this means
from his office of presiding over the whole, to be the head of a party;
which besides the indignity, renders him answerable for all public
mismanagements and the consequences of them; and in whatever state this
happens, there must either be a weakness in the prince or ministry, or
else the former is too much restrained by the legislature.[1]

[Footnote 1: This is as given in the "Miscellanies" (1711). Scott and
Faulkner print "by the nobles, or those who represent the people." [T.

To conclude: A Church of England man may with prudence and a good
conscience approve the professed principles of one party more than the
other, according as he thinks they best promote the good of Church and
State; but he will never be swayed by passion or interest, to advance an
opinion merely because it is that of the party he most approves; which
one single principle he looks upon as the root of all our civil
animosities. To enter into a party as into an order of friars with so
resigned an obedience to superiors, is very unsuitable both with the
civil and religious liberties we so zealously assert. Thus the
understandings of a whole senate are often enslaved by three or four
leaders on each side; who instead of intending the public weal, have
their hearts wholly set upon ways and means how to get or to keep
employments. But to speak more at large, how has this spirit of faction
mingled itself with the mass of the people, changed their nature and
manners, and the very genius of the nation; broke all the laws of
charity, neighbourhood, alliance and hospitality; destroyed all ties of
friendship, and divided families against themselves! And no wonder it
should be so, when in order to find out the character of a person,
instead of inquiring whether he be a man of virtue, honour, piety, wit,
good sense, or learning; the modern question is only, whether he be a
Whig or a Tory, under which terms all good and ill qualities are

Now, because it is a point of difficulty to choose an exact middle
between two ill extremes, it may be worth enquiring in the present case,
which of these, a wise and good man would rather seem to avoid: Taking
therefore their own good and ill characters with due abatements and
allowances for partiality and passion; I should think that in order to
preserve the constitution entire in Church and State, whoever has a true
value for both, would be sure to avoid the extremes of Whig for the sake
of the former, and the extremes of Tory on account of the latter.

I have now said all that I could think convenient upon so nice a
subject, and find I have the ambition common with other reasoners, to
wish at least that both parties may think me in the right, which would
be of some use to those who have any virtue left, but are blindly drawn
into the extravagancies of either, upon false representations, to serve
the ambition or malice of designing men, without any prospect of their
own. But if that is not to be hoped for, my next wish should be, that
both might think me in the wrong; which I would understand as an ample
justification of myself, and a sure ground to believe, that I have
proceeded at least with impartiality, and perhaps with truth.

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








Dr. Matthew Tindal, of whom a short account has already been given (see
note, p. 9), issued his "Rights of the Christian Church" in 1706. In
1707 it had already gone through three editions. The full title of the
work is: "The Rights of the Christian Church asserted, against the
Romish and all other Priests, who claim an independent Power over it:
with a Preface concerning the Government of the Church of England, as by
law established." Ostensibly the book was an attack on the Roman
Catholic Church, but the attack was so cleverly veiled that it included
in its criticisms the Church of England also; and must take its place
among the works of the deistical writers of the time who aimed at
subverting the foundations of the relationships between the Church and
the State. According to Dr. Hicks, who wrote several works in reply to
Tindal's book, Tindal told a gentleman, who found him at work on it,
that "he was writing a book which would make the clergy mad." If so, he
did not fall short of his intention; for not only the clergy, but even
learned laymen became "mad." In addition to Dr. Hicks of Oxford, the
Church of England found champions in Dr. William Wotton, Samuel Hill,
Conyers-Place, Mr. Oldisworth, and Swift. Swift delayed the preparation
of the materials for his reply, or else he found other matters to occupy
his time--the Sacheverel business came on soon after, and the Tindal
controversy lost interest in this more immediate and more important
affair. So that Swift's criticism remained unfinished, and was only
published when his editors came to search among his papers. In 1710
Tindal's work was ordered, by a vote of the House of Commons, to be
publicly burned by the hangman. The grand jury of Middlesex were
presented that the author, printer, and publisher of "The Rights of the
Christian Church" to be dangerous and disaffected persons, and promoters
of sedition and profaneness; and this charge was grounded on the
following extracts. I take these from Scott's note, and I find that the
page references are to the second edition of Tindal's work issued in

"The church is a private society, and no more power belonging to it than
to other private companies and clubs, and, consequently, all the right
anyone has to be an ecclesiastical officer, and the power he is
entrusted with, depends on the consent of the parties concerned, and is
no greater than they can bestow." Preface, p. xxx.

"The Scriptures nowhere make the receiving the Lord's Supper from the
hands of a priest necessary." p. 104.

"The remembrance of Christ's sufferings a mere grace-cup delivered to be
handed about." p. 105.

"Among Christians, one no more than another can be reckoned a priest
from Scripture"--"And the clerk has as good a title to the priesthood as
the parson ... Every one, as well as the minister, rightly consecrateth
the elements to himself ... Anything farther than this, may rather be
called Conjuration than Consecration." p. 108.

"The absurdities of bishops being by divine appointment, governors of
the Christian Church, and no others are capable of being of that number,
who derive not their right by an uninterrupted succession of bishops in
the Catholic Church." p. 313.

"The supreme powers had no way to escape the heavier oppressions, and
more insupportable usurpations of their own clergy, than by submitting
to the Pope's milder yoke and gentler authority." p. 255.

"One grand cause of mistake is, not considering when God acts as
governor of the universe, and when as prince of a particular nation. The
Jews, when they came out of the land of bondage, were under no settled
government, till God was pleased to offer himself to be their king, to
which all the people expressly consented ... God's laws bound no nation,
except those that agreed to the Horeb contract." p. 151.

"Not only an independent power of excommunication, but of ordination in
the clergy, is inconsistent with the magistrate's right to protect the
commonwealth." p. 87.

"Priests, no better than spiritual make-baits, baraters, boute-feux, and
incendiaries, and who make churches serve to worse purposes than bear
gardens." p. 118.

"It is a grand mistake to suppose the magistrate's power extends to
indifferent things ... Men have liberty as they please, and a right ...
to form what clubs, companies, or meetings, they think fit, either for
business or pleasure, which the magistrate ... cannot hinder, without
manifest injustice." p. 15.

"God ... interposed not among the Jews, until they had chosen him for
their king." p. 312.

For a full account of Tindal and his work, see the "Memoirs of the Life
and Writings of Matthew Tindal, with a History of the Controversies
wherein he was engaged," published in 1733. The text of the present
reprint of Swift's "Remarks" is based on that given in "Works," vol.
vii. of the 4to edition of 1764. It has also been collated with the 8vo
edition of same date (vol. xiii.) and with that of 1762 (vol. xiii.).

[T. S.]

CHURCH, &c."

Before I enter upon a particular examination of this treatise, it will
be convenient to do two things:

_First_, To give some account of the author, together with the motives,
that might probably engage him in such a work. And,

_Secondly_, to discover the nature and tendency in general, of the work

The first of these, although it hath been objected against, seems highly
reasonable, especially in books that instil pernicious principles. For,
although a book is not intrinsically much better or worse, according to
the stature or complexion of the author, yet, when it happens to make a
noise, we are apt, and curious, as in other noises, to look about from
whence it cometh. But however, there is something more in the matter.

If a theological subject be well handled by a layman, it is better
received than if it came from a divine; and that for reasons obvious
enough, which, although of little weight in themselves, will ever have a
great deal with mankind.

But, when books are written with ill intentions, to advance dangerous
opinions, or destroy foundations; it may be then of real use to know
from what quarter they come, and go a good way towards their
confutation. For instance, if any man should write a book against the
lawfulness of punishing felony with death; and, upon enquiry, the author
should be found in Newgate under condemnation for robbing a house; his
arguments would not very unjustly lose much of their force, from the
circumstances he lay under. So, when Milton writ his book of divorces,
it was presently rejected as an occasional treatise; because every body
knew, he had a shrew for his wife. Neither can there be any reason
imagined, why he might not, after he was blind, have writ another upon
the danger and inconvenience of eyes. But, it is a piece of logic which
will hardly pass on the world; that because one man hath a sore nose,
therefore all the town should put plasters upon theirs. So, if this
treatise about the rights of the church should prove to be the work of a
man steady in his principles, of exact morals, and profound learning, a
true lover of his country, and a hater of Christianity, as what he
really believes to be a cheat upon mankind, whom he would undeceive
purely for their good; it might be apt to check unwary men, even of good
dispositions towards religion. But if it be found the production of a
man soured with age and misfortunes, together with the consciousness of
past miscarriages; of one, who, in hopes of preferment, was reconciled
to the Popish religion;[1] of one wholly prostitute in life and
principles, and only an enemy to religion, because it condemns them: In
this case, and this last I find is the universal opinion, he is like to
have few proselytes, beside those, who, from a sense of their vicious
lives, require to be perpetually supplied by such amusements as this;
which serve to flatter their wishes, and debase their understandings.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Matthew Tindal became a convert to the Romish religion
during the reign of James II. What share interest had in his conversion
may be easily imagined; but it is uncertain whether it was the
disappointment of his expectations, or conviction, that, in 1687,
induced him to reconcile himself to the Church of England, and become a
decided favourer of those doctrines which produced the Revolution. He
often sat as a judge in the Court of Delegates, but did not practise
much as an advocate in Doctor's Commons. His chief means of support was
a pension from government of L200. Tindal died in 1733, three years
after publication of his grand deistical work, "Christianity as Old as
the Creation." His effects, amounting to L2,000 and upwards, were
appropriated by the noted Eustace Budgell, to the prejudice of the heir
at law, under a will attended with circumstances of great suspicion. [T.

I know there are some who would fain have it, that this discourse was
written by a club of freethinkers, among whom the supposed author only
came in for a share. But, sure, we cannot judge so meanly of any party,
without affronting the dignity of mankind. If this be so, and if here be
the product of all their quotas and contributions, we must needs allow,
that freethinking is a most confined and limited talent. It is true
indeed, the whole discourse seemeth to be a motley, inconsistent
composition, made up of various shreds of equal fineness, although of
different colours. It is a bundle of incoherent maxims and assertions,
that frequently destroy one another. But still there is the same
flatness of thought and style; the same weak advances towards wit and
raillery; the same petulancy and pertness of spirit; the same train of
superficial reading; the same thread of threadbare quotations: the same
affectation of forming general rules upon false and scanty premises.
And, lastly, the same rapid venom sprinkled over the whole; which, like
the dying impotent bite of a trodden benumbed snake, may be nauseous and
offensive, but cannot be very dangerous.

And, indeed, I am so far from thinking this libel to be born of several
fathers, that it hath been the wonder of several others, as well as
myself; how it was possible for any man, who appeareth to have gone the
common circle of academical education;[2] who hath taken so universal a
liberty, and hath so entirely laid aside all regards, not only of
Christianity, but common truth and justice; one who is dead to all sense
of shame, and seemeth to be past the getting or losing a reputation,
should, with so many advantages, and upon so unlimited a subject, come
out with so poor, so jejune a production. Should we pity or be amazed at
so perverse a talent, which, instead of qualifying an author to give a
new turn to old matter, disposeth him quite contrary to talk in an old
beaten trivial manner upon topics wholly new. To make so many sallies
into pedantry without a call, upon a subject the most alien, and in the
very moments he is declaiming against it, and in an age too, where it is
so violently exploded, especially among those readers he proposeth to

[Footnote 2: See note, p. 9, where it will be seen that Tindal was an
Oxford man. [T.S.]]

I know it will be said, that this is only to talk in the common style of
an answerer; but I have not so little policy. If there were any hope of
reputation or merit from such victory, I should be apt like others to
cry up the courage and conduct of an enemy. Whereas to detect the
weakness, the malice, the sophistry, the falsehood, the ignorance of
such a writer, requireth little more than to rank his perfections in
such an order, and place them in such a light, that the commonest reader
may form a judgment of them.

It may still be a wonder how so heavy a book, written upon a subject in
appearance so little instructive or diverting, should survive to three
editions, and consequently find a better reception than is usual with
such bulky spiritless volumes; and this, in an age that pretendeth so
soon to be nauseated with what is tedious and dull. To which I can only
return, that, as burning a book by the common hangman, is a known
expedient to make it sell; so, to write a book that deserveth such
treatment, is another: And a third, perhaps as effectual as either, is
to ply an insipid, worthless tract with grave and learned answers, as
Dr. Hickes, Dr. Potter,[3] and Mr. Wotton have done. Design and
performances, however commendable, have glanced a reputation upon the
piece; which oweth its life to the strength of those hands and weapons,
that were raised to destroy it; like flinging a mountain upon a worm,
which, instead of being bruised, by the advantage of its littleness,
lodgeth under it unhurt.

[Footnote 3: George Hickes, D.D. (1642-1715), born at Newsham, Yorks,
and educated at Oxford. He visited Scotland with his patron, the Duke of
Lauderdale, in 1677, and was presented by the St. Andrews University
with the degree of LL.D. Became Dean of Worcester in 1683, but lost that
office at the Revolution, for not taking the oaths. The nonjuring
prelates, in 1693, consecrated him Bishop of Thetford. Dr. Hickes was a
profound scholar, and well versed in northern literature. Among his
works may be named, "Institutiones Grammaticae Anglo-Saxonicae et
Maeso-Gothicae," "Antiquae Literaturae Septentrionalis Thesaurus."

John Potter, D.D. (1674-1747), born at Wakefield, and educated at
Oxford. In 1707 he published a "Discourse on Church Government," and
eight years later became Bishop of Oxford. On the death of Wake, in
1737, he was appointed to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. [T.S.]]

But neither is this all. For the subject, as unpromising as it seemeth
at first view, is no less than that of Lucretius, to free men's minds
from the bondage of religion; and this not by little hints and by
piecemeal, after the manner of those little atheistical tracts that
steal into the world, but in a thorough wholesale manner; by making
religion, church, Christianity, with all their concomitants, a perfect
contrivance of the civil power. It is an imputation often charged on
this sort of men, that, by their invectives against religion, they can
possibly propose no other end than that of fortifying themselves and
others against the reproaches of a vicious life; it being necessary for
men of libertine practices to embrace libertine principles, or else they
cannot act in consistence with any reason, or preserve any peace of
mind. Whether such authors have this design, (whereof I think they have
never gone about to acquit themselves) thus much is certain; that no
other use is made of such writings: Neither did I ever hear this
author's book justified by any person, either Whig or Tory, except such
who are of that profligate character. And, I believe, whoever examineth
it, will be of the same opinion; although indeed such wretches are so
numerous, that it seemeth rather surprising, why the book hath had no
more editions, than why it should have so many.

Having thus endeavoured to satisfy the curious with some account of this
author's character, let us examine what might probably be the motives to
engage him in such a work. I shall say nothing of the principal, which
is a sum of money; because that is not a mark to distinguish him from
any other trader with the press. I will say nothing of revenge and
malice, from resentment of the indignities and contempt he hath
undergone for his crime of apostasy. To this passion he has thought fit
to sacrifice order, propriety, discretion, and common sense, as may be
seen in every page of his book: But, I am deceived, if there were not a
third motive as powerful as the other two; and that is, vanity. About
the latter end of King James's reign he had almost finished a learned
discourse in defence of the Church of Rome, and to justify his
conversion: All which, upon the Revolution, was quite out of season.
Having thus prostituted his reputation, and at once ruined his hopes, he
had no course left, but to shew his spite against religion in general;
the false pretensions to which, had proved so destructive to his credit
and fortune: And, at the same time, loth to employ the speculations of
so many years to no purpose; by an easy turn, the same arguments he had
made use of to advance Popery, were full as properly levelled by him
against Christianity itself; like the image, which, while it was new and
handsome, was worshipped for a saint, and when it came to be old and
broken, was still good enough to make a tolerable devil. And, therefore
every reader will observe, that the arguments for Popery are much the
strongest of any in his book, as I shall further remark when I find them
in my way.

There is one circumstance in his title-page, which I take to be not
amiss, where he calleth his book, "Part the First." This is a project to
fright away answerers, and make the poor advocates for religion believe,
he still keepeth further vengeance in _petto_. It must be allowed, he
hath not wholly lost time, while he was of the Romish communion. This
very trick he learned from his old father, the Pope; whose custom it is
to lift up his hand, and threaten to fulminate, when he never meant to
shoot his bolts; because the princes of Christendom had learned the
secret to avoid or despise them. Dr. Hickes knew this very well, and
therefore, in his answer to this "Book of Rights," where a second part
is threatened, like a rash person he desperately crieth, "Let it come."
But I, who have not too much phlegm to provoke angry wits of his
standard, must tell the author, that the doctor plays the wag, as if he
were sure, it were all grimace. For my part, I declare, if he writeth a
second part, I will not write another answer; or, if I do, it shall be
published, before the other part cometh out.[4]

[Footnote 4: Tindal did, however, attempt to maintain his ground against
his numerous opponents, in "A Defence of the Rights of the Christian
Church, against a late Visitation Sermon, 8vo. 1707;" and also in "A
Second Defence of the Rights of the Christian Church considered, in two
late Indictments against a Bookseller and His Servant, for selling one
of the said Books, 1707." [T. S.]]

There may have been another motive, although it be hardly credible, both
for publishing this work, and threatening a second part: It is not soon
conceived how far the sense of a man's vanity will transport him. This
man must have somewhere heard, that dangerous enemies have been often
bribed to silence with money or preferment: And, therefore, to shew how
formidable he is, he hath published his first essay; and, in hopes of
hire to be quiet, hath frighted us with his design of another. What must
the clergy do in these unhappy circumstances? If they should bestow this
man bread enough to stop his mouth, it will but open those of a hundred
more, who are every whit as well qualified to rail as he. And truly,
when I compare the former enemies to Christianity, such as Socinus,[5]
Hobbes, and Spinosa,[6] with such of their successors, as Toland, Asgil,
Coward, Gildon,[7] this author of the "Rights," and some others; the
church appeareth to me like the sick old lion in the fable, who, after
having his person outraged by the bull, the elephant, the horse, and the
bear, took nothing so much to heart, as to find himself at last insulted
by the spurn of an ass.

[Footnote 5: Laelius Socinus (1525-1562), born at Siena. He studied at
Bologna, and in 1546 became a member of a secret freethinking society in
Venice. The society, however, was broken up, and Socinus left Italy for
Switzerland and Poland. He died at Zurich. His papers were published by
his nephew, Faustus Socinus, who founded a sect on the tenets they

[Footnote 6: Benedict or Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), born at Amsterdam,
of a Portuguese Jewish family. He was excommunicated by his people for
atheism. He retired to the Hague and took to making lenses, and the
study of philosophy. His "Ethics" and "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus"
constitute a system of philosophy which has had no little influence on
modern thought. See Pollock's "Spinoza."]

[Footnote 7: Charles Gildon (1665-1723-4) was educated at Douay. He
printed a book called "The Deist's Manual." For accounts of Coward,
Toland, and Asgil, see note, p. 9.] I will now add a few words to give
the reader some general notion of the nature and tendency of the work

I think I may assert, without the least partiality, that it is a
treatise wholly devoid of wit or learning, under the most violent and
weak endeavours and pretences to both. That it is replenished throughout
with bold, rude, improbable falsehoods, and gross misinterpretations;
and supported by the most impudent sophistry and false logic I have
anywhere observed. To this he hath added a paltry, traditional cant of
"priestrid" and "priestcraft," without reason or pretext as he applyeth
it. And when he raileth at those doctrines in Popery (which no
Protestant was ever supposed to believe) he leads the reader, however,
by the hand, to make applications against the English clergy, and then
he never faileth to triumph, as if he had made a very shrewd and notable
stroke. And because the court and kingdom seemeth disposed to moderation
with regard to Dissenters, more perhaps than is agreeable to the hot
unreasonable temper of some mistaken men among us; therefore under the
shelter of that popular opinion, he ridiculeth all that is sound in
religion, even Christianity itself, under the names of Jacobite,
Tackers, High Church, and other terms of factious jargon. All which, if
it were to be first rased from his book (as just so much of nothing to
the purpose) how little would remain to give the trouble of an answer!
To which let me add, that the spirit or genius, which animates the
whole, is plainly perceived to be nothing else but the abortive malice
of an old neglected man,[8] who hath long lain under the extremes of
obloquy, poverty and contempt; that have soured his temper, and made him
fearless. But where is the merit of being bold, to a man that is secure
of impunity to his person, and is past apprehension of anything else? He
that hath neither reputation nor bread hath very little to lose, and
hath therefore as little to fear. And, as it is usually said, "Whoever
values not his own life, is master of another man's;" so there is
something like it in reputation: He that is wholly lost to all regards
of truth or modesty, may scatter so much calumny and scandal, that some
part may perhaps be taken up before it fall to the ground; because the
ill talent of the world is such, that those who will be at pains enough
to inform themselves in a malicious story, will take none at all to be
undeceived, nay, will be apt with some reluctance to admit a favourable

[Footnote 8: Tindal was not an old man at the time Swift wrote,
certainly not older than was Swift himself. [T. S.]]

To expostulate, therefore, with this author for doing mischief to
religion, is to strew his bed with roses; he will reply in triumph, that
this was his design; and I am loth to mortify him, by asserting he hath
done none at all. For I never yet saw so poor an atheistical scribble,
which would not serve as a twig for sinking libertines to catch at. It
must be allowed in their behalf, that the faith of Christians is not as
a grain of mustard seed in comparison of theirs, which can remove such
mountains of absurdities, and submit with so entire a resignation to
such apostles. If these men had any share of that reason they pretend
to, they would retire into Christianity, merely to give it ease. And
therefore men can never be confirmed in such doctrines, until they are
confirmed in their vices; which last, as we have already observed, is
the principal design of this and all other writers against revealed

I am now opening the book which I propose to examine. An employment, as
it is entirely new to me, so it is that to which, of all others, I have
naturally the greatest antipathy. And, indeed, who can dwell upon a
tedious piece of insipid thinking, and false reasoning, so long as I am
likely to do, without sharing the infection?

But, before I plunge into the depths of the book itself, I must be
forced to wade through the shallows of a long preface.

This preface, large as we see it, is only made up of such supernumerary
arguments against an independent power in the church, as he could not,
without nauseous repetition, scatter into the body of his book: And it
is detached, like a forlorn hope, to blunt the enemy's sword that
intendeth to attack him. Now, I think, it will be easy to prove, that
the opinion of _imperium in imperio_, in the sense he chargeth it upon
the clergy of England, is what no one divine of any reputation, and very
few at all, did ever maintain; and, that their universal sentiment in
this matter is such as few Protestants did ever dispute. But, if the
author of the "Regale," or two or three more obscure writers, have
carried any points further than Scripture and reason will allow, (which
is more than I know, or shall trouble myself to enquire) the clergy of
England is no more answerable for those, than the laity is for all the
folly and impertinence of this treatise. And, therefore, that people may
not be amused, or think this man is somewhat, that he hath advanced or
defended any oppressed truths, or overthrown any growing dangerous
errors, I will set in as clear a light as I can, what I conceive to be
held by the established clergy and all reasonable Protestants in this

Everybody knows and allows, that in all government there is an absolute,
unlimited, legislative power, which is originally in the body of the
people, although, by custom, conquest, usurpation, or other accidents,
sometimes fallen into the hands of one or a few. This in England is
placed in the three estates (otherwise called the two Houses of
Parliament) in conjunction with the King. And whatever they please to
enact or to repeal in the settled forms, whether it be ecclesiastical or
civil, immediately becometh law or nullity. Their decrees may be against
equity, truth, reason and religion, but they are not against law;
because law is the will of the supreme legislature, and that is,
themselves. And there is no manner of doubt, but the same authority,
whenever it pleaseth, may abolish Christianity, and set up the Jewish,
Mahometan, or heathen religion. In short, they may do anything within
the compass of human power. And, therefore, who will dispute that the
same law, which deprived the church not only of lands, misapplied to
superstitious uses, but even the tithes and glebes, (the ancient and
necessary support of parish priests) may take away all the rest,
whenever the lawgivers please, and make the priesthood as primitive, as
this writer, or others of his stamp, can desire.

But as the supreme power can certainly do ten thousand things more than
it ought, so there are several things which some people may think it can
do, although it really cannot. For, it unfortunately happens, that
edicts which cannot be executed, will not alter the nature of things.
So, if a king and parliament should please to enact, that a woman who
hath been a month married, is _virgo intacta_, would that actually
restore her to her primitive state? If the supreme power should resolve
a corporal of dragoons to be a doctor of divinity, law or physic, few, I
believe, would trust their souls, fortunes, or bodies to his direction;
because that power is neither fit to judge or teach those qualifications
which are absolutely necessary to the several professions. Put the case
that walking on the slack rope were the only talent required by act of
parliament for making a man a bishop; no doubt, when a man had done his
feat of activity in form, he might sit in the House of Lords, put on his
robes and his rochet, go down to his palace, receive and spend his
rents; but it requireth very little Christianity to believe this tumbler
to be one whit more a bishop than he was before; because the law of God
hath otherwise decreed; which law, although a nation may refuse to
receive it, cannot alter in its own nature.

And here lies the mistake of this superficial man, who is not able to
distinguish between what the civil power can hinder, and what it can do.
"If the parliament can annul ecclesiastical laws, they must be able to
make them, since no greater power is required for one than the other."
See pref., p. viii. This consequence he repeateth above twenty times,
and always in the wrong. He affecteth to form a few words into the shape
and size of a maxim, then trieth it by his ear, and, according as he
likes the sound or cadence, pronounceth it true. Cannot I stand over a
man with a great pole, and hinder him from making a watch, although I am
not able to make one myself. If I have strength enough to knock a man on
the head, doth it follow I can raise him to life again? The parliament
may condemn all the Greek and Roman authors; can it therefore create new
ones in their stead? They may make laws, indeed, and call them canon and
ecclesiastical laws, and oblige all men to observe them under pain of
high treason. And so may I, who love as well as any man to have in my
own family the power in the last resort, take a turnip, then tie a
string to it, and call it a watch, and turn away all my servants, if
they refuse to call it so too.

For my own part, I must confess that this opinion of the independent
power of the Church, or _imperium in imperio_, wherewith this writer
raiseth such a dust, is what I never imagined to be of any consequence,
never once heard disputed among divines, nor remember to have read,
otherwise than as a scheme in one or two authors of middle rank, but
with very little weight laid on it. And I dare believe, there is hardly
one divine in ten that ever once thought of this matter. Yet to see a
large swelling volume written only to encounter this doctrine, what
could one think less than that the whole body of the clergy were
perpetually tiring the press and the pulpit with nothing else?

I remember some years ago, a virtuoso writ a small tract about worms,
proved them to be in more places than was generally observed, and made
some discoveries by glasses. This having met with some reception,
presently the poor man's head was full of nothing but worms; all we eat
and drink, all the whole consistence of human bodies, and those of every
other animal, the very air we breathe, in short, all nature throughout
was nothing but worms: And, by that system, he solved all difficulties,
and from thence all causes in philosophy. Thus it hath fared with our
author, and his independent power. The attack against occasional
conformity, the scarcity of coffee, the invasion of Scotland, the loss
of kerseys and narrow cloths, the death of King William, the author's
turning Papist for preferment, the loss of the battle of Almanza, with
ten thousand other misfortunes, are all owing to this _imperium in

It will be therefore necessary to set this matter in a clear light, by
enquiring whether the clergy have any power independent of the civil,
and of what nature it is.

Whenever the Christian religion was embraced by the civil power in any
nation, there is no doubt but the magistrates and senates were fully
instructed in the rudiments of it. Besides, the Christians were so
numerous, and their worship so open before the conversion of princes,
that their discipline, as well as doctrine, could not be a secret: They
saw plainly a subordination of ecclesiastics, bishops, priests, and
deacons: That these had certain powers and employments different from
the laity: That the bishops were consecrated, and set apart for that
office by those of their own order: That the presbyters and deacons were
differently set apart, always by the bishops: That none but the
ecclesiastics presumed to pray or preach in places set apart for God's
worship, or to administer the Lord's Supper: That all questions relating
either to discipline or doctrine, were determined in ecclesiastical
conventions. These and the like doctrines and practices, being most of
them directly proved, and the rest by very fair consequences deduced
from the words of our Saviour and His apostles, were certainly received
as a divine law by every prince or state which admitted the Christian
religion: and, consequently, what they could not justly alter
afterwards, any more than the common laws of nature. And, therefore,
although the supreme power can hinder the clergy or Church from making
any new canons, or executing the old; from consecrating bishops, or
refuse those that they do consecrate; or, in short, from performing any
ecclesiastical office, as they may from eating, drinking, and sleeping;
yet they cannot themselves perform those offices, which are assigned to
the clergy by our Saviour and His apostles; or, if they do, it is not
according to the divine institution, and, consequently, null and void.
Our Saviour telleth us, "His kingdom is not of this world;" and
therefore, to be sure, the world is not of His kingdom, nor can ever
please Him by interfering in the administration of it, since He hath
appointed ministers of His own, and hath empowered and instructed them
for that purpose: So that, I believe, the clergy, who, as he sayeth, are
good at distinguishing, would think it reasonable to distinguish between
their power, and the liberty of exercising this power. The former they
claim immediately from Christ, and the latter from the permission,
connivance, or authority of the civil government; with which the
clergy's power, according to the solution I have given, cannot possibly

But this writer, setting up to form a system upon stale, scanty topics,
and a narrow circle of thought, falleth into a thousand absurdities. And
for a further help, he hath a talent of rattling out phrases, which seem
to have sense, but have none at all: the usual fate of those who are
ignorant of the force and compass of words, without which it is
impossible for a man to write either pertinently or intelligibly upon
the most obvious subjects.

So, in the beginning of his preface, page iv, he says, "The Church of
England being established by acts of parliament, is a perfect creature
of the civil power; I mean the polity and discipline of it, and it is
that which maketh all the contention; for as to the doctrines expressed
in the articles, I do not find high church to be in any manner of pain;
but they who lay claim to most orthodoxy can distinguish themselves out
of them." It is observable in this author, that his style is naturally
harsh and ungrateful to the ear, and his expressions mean and trivial;
but whenever he goeth about to polish a period, you may be certain of
some gross defect in propriety or meaning: So the lines just quoted seem
to run easily over the tongue: and, upon examination, they are perfect
nonsense and blunder: To speak in his own borrowed phrase, what is
contained in the idea of established? Surely, not existence. Doth
establishment give being to a thing? He might have said the same thing
of Christianity in general, or the existence of God, since both are
confirmed by acts of parliament. But, the best is behind: for, in the
next line, having named the church half a dozen times before, he now
says, he meaneth only "the polity and discipline of it": As if, having
spoke in praise of the art of physic, a man should explain himself, that
he meant only the institution of a college of physicians into a
president and fellows. And it will appear, that this author, however
versed in the practice, hath grossly transgressed the rules of nonsense,
(whose property it is neither to affirm nor deny) since every visible
assertion gathered from those few lines is absolutely false: For where
was the necessity of excepting the doctrines expressed in the articles,
since these are equally creatures of the civil power, having been
established by acts of parliament as well as the others. But the Church
of England is no creature of the civil power, either as to its polity or
doctrines. The fundamentals of both were deduced from Christ and His
apostles, and the instructions of the purest and earliest ages, and were
received as such by those princes or states who embraced Christianity,
whatever prudential additions have been made to the former by human
laws, which alone can be justly altered or annulled by them.

What I have already said, would, I think, be a sufficient answer to his
whole preface, and indeed to the greatest part of his book, which is
wholly turned upon battering down a sort of independent power in the
clergy; which few or none of them ever claimed or defended. But there
being certain peculiarities in this preface, that very much set off the
wit, the learning, the raillery, reasoning and sincerity of the author;
I shall take notice of some of them, as I pass.

But here, I hope, it will not be expected, that I should bestow remarks
upon every passage in this book, that is liable to exception for
ignorance, falsehood, dulness, or malice. Where he is so insipid, that
nothing can be struck out for the reader's entertainment, I shall
observe Horace's rule:

"Quae desperes tractata nitescere posse, relinquas."

Upon which account I shall say nothing of that great instance of his
candour and judgment in relation to Dr. Stillingfleet,[9] who (happening
to lie under his displeasure upon the fatal test of _imperium in
imperio_) is High Church and Jacobite, took the oaths of allegiance to
save him from the gallows,[10] and subscribed the articles only to keep
his preferment: Whereas the character of that prelate is universally
known to have been directly the reverse of what this writer gives him.

[Footnote 9: Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699), educated at Cambridge,
wrote in 1659 his "Irenicum, or Weapon Salve for the Church's Wounds."
He also published a "Rational Account of the Protestant Religion" in
1664. He occupied successively the important clerical offices of
Prebendary of St. Paul's, Archdeaconry of London, Deanery of St. Paul's,
and Bishopric of Worcester. The later years of his life were occupied in
a controversy with Locke on that writer's "Essay on the Human
Understanding." [T. S.]]

[Footnote 10: Page v, he quotes Bishop Stillingfleet's "Vindication of
the Doctrine of the Trinity," where the bishop says, that a man might be
very right in the belief of an article, though mistaken in the
explication of it. Upon which Tindal observes: "These men treat the
articles, as they do the oath of allegiance, which, they say, obliges
them not actually to assist the government, but to do nothing against
it; that is, nothing that would bring 'em to the gallows." [Note in
edition 1764, 4to.]]

But before he can attempt to ruin this damnable opinion of two
independent powers, he telleth us; page vi., "It will be necessary to
shew what is contained in the idea of government" Now, it is to be
understood, that this refined way of speaking was introduced by Mr.
Locke; after whom the author limpeth as fast as he is able. All the
former philosophers in the world, from the age of Socrates to ours,
would have ignorantly put the question, _Quid est imperium_? But now it
seemeth we must vary our phrase; and, since our modern improvement of
human understanding, instead of desiring a philosopher to describe or
define a mouse-trap, or tell me what it is; I must gravely ask, what is
contained in the idea of a mouse-trap? But then to observe how deeply
this new way of putting questions to a man's self, maketh him enter into
the nature of things; his present business is to show us, what is
contained in the idea of government. The company knoweth nothing of the
matter, and would gladly be instructed; which he doth in the following
words, p. 5.

"It would be in vain for one intelligent being to pretend to set rules
to the actions of another, if he had it not in his power to reward the
compliance with, or punish the deviations from, his rules by some good,
or evil, which is not the natural consequence of those actions; since
the forbidding men to do or forbear an action on the account of that
convenience or inconvenience which attendeth it, whether he who forbids
it will or no, can be no more than advice."

I shall not often draw such long quotations as this, which I could not
forbear to offer as a specimen of the propriety and perspicuity of this
author's style. And, indeed, what a light breaketh out upon us all, as
soon as we have read these words! How thoroughly are we instructed in
the whole nature of government? What mighty truths are here discovered;
and how clearly conveyed to our understandings? And therefore let us
melt this refined jargon into the old style for the improvement of such,
who are not enough conversant in the new.

If the author were one who used to talk like one of us, he would have
spoke in this manner: "I think it necessary to give a full and perfect
definition of government, such as will shew the nature and all the
properties of it; and my definition is thus: One man will never cure
another of stealing horses, merely by minding him of the pains he hath
taken, the cold he hath got, and the shoe-leather he hath lost in
stealing that horse; nay, to warn him, that the horse may kick or fling
him, or cost him more than he is worth in hay and oats, can be no more
than advice. For the gallows is not the natural effect of robbing on the
highway, as heat is of fire: and therefore, if you will govern a man,
you must find out some other way of punishment, than what he will
inflict upon himself."

Or, if this will not do, let us try it in another case (which I
instanced before) and in his own terms. Suppose he had thought it
necessary (and I think it was as much so as the other) to shew us what
is contained in the idea of a mousetrap, he must have proceeded in these
terms. "It would be in vain for an intelligent being, to set rules for
hindering a mouse from eating his cheese, unless he can inflict upon
that mouse some punishment, which, is not the natural consequence of
eating the cheese. For, to tell her, it may lie heavy on her stomach;
that she will grow too big to get back into her hole, and the like, can
be no more than advice: therefore, we must find out some way of
punishing her, which hath more inconveniences than she will ever suffer
by the mere eating of cheese." After this, who is so slow of
understanding, as not to have in his mind a full and complete idea of a
mouse-trap? Well.--The Free thinkers may talk what they please of
pedantry, and cant, and jargon of schoolmen, and insignificant terms in
the writings of the clergy, if ever the most perplexed and perplexing
follower of Aristotle from Scotus to Suarez[11] could be a match for
this author.

[Footnote 11: Duns Scotus flourished in the thirteenth century. He
studied at Oxford and Paris, and his learning and acumen in reasoning
earned for him the title _The Subtle Doctor_. He died at Cologne in
1308. He was a strong upholder of the doctrine of the Immaculate
Conception. His works are published in twelve volumes folio.

Francis Suarez (1548-1617) was a Spanish Jesuit who wrote a work by
command of the Pope against the English Reformation. He published some
very able religio-philosophical treatises, from the Roman Catholic point
of view; but, indeed, his writings altogether were enormous, so far as
their number are concerned. [T. S.]]

But the strength of his arguments is equal to the clearness of his
definitions. For, having most ignorantly divided government into three
parts, whereof the first contains the other two; he attempteth to prove
that the clergy possess none of these by a divine right. And he argueth
thus, p. vii. "As to a legislative power, if that belongs to the clergy
by a divine right, it must be when they are assembled in convocation:
but the 25 Hen. VIII. c. 19 is a bar to any such divine right, because
that act makes it no less than a _praemunire_ for them, so much so as to
meet without the king's writ, &c." So that the force of his argument
lieth here; if the clergy had a divine right, it is taken away by the
25th of Henry the Eighth. And as ridiculous as this argument is, the
preface and book are founded upon it.

Another argument against the legislative power in the clergy of England,
is, p. viii. that Tacitus telleth us; that in great affairs, the Germans
consulted the whole body of the people. "_De minoribus rebus principes
consultant, de majoribus omnes: Ita tamen, ut ea quoque, quorum penes
plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur."--Tacitus de Moribus
et Populis Germaniae_. Upon which Tindal observeth thus: "_De majoribus
omnes_, was a fundamental amongst our ancestors long before they arrived
in Great Britain, and matters of religion were ever reckoned among their
_majora_." (See Pref. p. viii. and ix.) Now it is plain, that our
ancestors, the Saxons, came from Germany: It is likewise plain, that
religion was always reckoned by the heathens among their _majora_: And
it is plain, the whole body of the people could not be the clergy, and
therefore, the clergy of England have no legislative power.

_Thirdly_, p. ix. They have no legislative power, because Mr.
Washington, in his "Observations on the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of
the Kings of England," sheweth, from "undeniable authorities, that in
the time of William the Conqueror, and several of his successors, there
were no laws enacted concerning religion, but by the great council of
the kingdom." I hope, likewise, Mr. Washington observeth that this great
council of the kingdom, as appeareth by undeniable authorities, was
sometimes entirely composed of bishops and clergy, and called the
parliament, and often consulted upon affairs of state, as well as
church, as it is agreed by twenty writers of three ages; and if Mr.
Washington says otherwise, he is an author just fit to be quoted by

_Fourthly_,--But it is endless to pursue this matter any further; in
that, it is plain, the clergy have no divine right to make laws; because
Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth, with their parliaments will
not allow it them. Now, without examining what divine right the clergy
have, or how far it extendeth; is it any sort of proof that I have no
right, because a stronger power will not let me exercise it? Or doth
all, that this author says through his preface, or book itself, offer
any other sort of argument but this, or what he deduces the same way?

But his arguments and definitions are yet more supportable than the
grossness of historical remarks, which are scattered so plentifully in
his book, that it would be tedious to enumerate, or to shew the fraud
and ignorance of them. I beg the reader's leave to take notice of one
here just in my way; and, the rather, because I design for the future to
let hundreds of them pass without further notice. "When," says he, p. x.
"by the abolishing of the Pope's power, things were brought back to
their ancient channel, the parliament's right in making ecclesiastical
laws revived of course." What can possibly be meant by this "ancient
channel?" Why, the channel that things ran in before the Pope had any
power in England: that is to say, before Austin the monk converted
England, before which time, it seems, the parliament had a right to make
ecclesiastical laws. And what parliament could this be? Why, the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons met at Westminster.

I cannot here forbear reproving the folly and pedantry of some lawyers,
whose opinions this poor creature blindly followeth, and rendereth yet
more absurd by his comments. The knowledge of our constitution can be
only attained by consulting the earliest English histories, of which
those gentlemen seem utterly ignorant, further than a quotation or an
index. They would fain derive our government as now constituted, from
antiquity: And, because they have seen Tacitus quoted for his _majoribus
omnes_; and have read of the Goths' military institution in their
progresses and conquests, they presently dream of a parliament. Had
their reading reached so far, they might have deduced it much more
fairly from Aristotle and Polybius, who both distinctly name the
composition of _rex, seniores, et populus_; and the latter, as I
remember particularly, with the highest approbation. The princes, in the
Saxon Heptarchy, did indeed call their nobles sometimes together upon
weighty affairs, as most other princes of the world have done in all
ages. But they made war and peace, and raised money by their own
authority: They gave or mended laws by their charters, and they raised
armies by their tenures. Besides, some of those kingdoms fell in by
conquests, before England was reduced under one head, and therefore
could pretend no rights, but by the concessions of the conqueror.

Further, which is more material, upon the admission of Christianity,
great quantities of land were acquired by the clergy, so that the great
council of the nation was often entirely of churchmen, and ever a
considerable part. But, our present constitution is an artificial thing,
not fairly to be traced, in my opinion, beyond Henry I. Since which time
it hath in every age admitted several alterations; and differeth now as
much, even from what it was then, as almost any two species of
government described by Aristotle. And, it would be much more reasonable
to affirm, that the government of Rome continued the same under
Justinian, as it was in the time of Scipio, because the senate and
consuls still remained, although the power of both had been several
hundred years transferred to the emperors.


[Footnote 12: References to Tindal's book, and remarks upon it, which
the author left thus indigested, being hints for himself to use in
answering the said book.]

Page iv, v. "If men of opposite sentiments can subscribe the same
articles, they are as much at liberty as if there were none." May not a
man subscribe the whole articles, because he differs from another in the
explication of one? How many oaths are prescribed, that men may differ
in the explication of some part of them? Instance, &c.

Page vi. "Idea of Government." A canting pedantic way, learned from
Locke; and how prettily he sheweth it. Instance--

Page vii, "25 Hen. VIII. c. 19 is a bar to any such divine right [of a
legislative power in the clergy.]" Absurd to argue against the clergy's
divine right, because of the statute of Henry VIII. How doth that
destroy divine right? The sottish way of arguing; from what the
parliament can do; from their power, &c.

Page viii. "If the parliament did not think they had a plenitude of
power in this matter, they would not have damned all the canons of
1640." What doth he mean? A grave divine could not answer all his
playhouse and Alsatia[13] cant, &c. He hath read Hudibras, and many

[Footnote 13: Or Whitefriars, then a place of asylum, and frequented by
sharpers, of whose gibberish there are several specimens in Shadwell's
comedy, "The Squire of Alsatia." [T. S.]]

_Ibid_. "If the parliament can annul ecclesiastical laws, they must be
able to make them." Distinguish, and shew the silliness, &c.

_Ibid_. All that he saith against the discipline, he might say the same
against the doctrine, nay, against the belief of a God, _viz_. That the
legislature might forbid it. The Church formeth and contriveth canons;
and the civil power, which is compulsive, confirms them.

Page ix. "There were no laws enacted but by the great council of the
kingdom." And that was very often, chiefly, only bishops.

_Ibid_. "Laws settled by parliament to punish the clergy." What laws
were those?

Page x. "The people are bound to no laws but of their own choosing." It
is fraudulent; for they may consent to what others choose, and so people
often do.

Page xiv. paragraph 6. "The clergy are not supposed to have any divine
legislature, because that must be superior to all worldly power; and
then the clergy might as well forbid the parliament to meet but when and
where they please, &c." No such consequence at all. They have a power
exclusive from all others. Ordained to act as clergy, but not govern in
civil affairs; nor act without leave of the civil power.

Page xxv. "The parliament suspected the love of power natural to
churchmen." Truly, so is the love of pudding, and most other things
desirable in this life; and in that they are like the laity, as in all
other things that are not good. And, therefore, they are held not in
esteem for what they are like in, but for their virtues. The true way to
abuse them with effect, is to tell us some faults of theirs, that other
men have not, or not so much of as they, &c. Might not any man speak
full as bad of senates, diets, and parliaments, as he can do about
councils; and as bad of princes, as he does of bishops?

Page xxxi. "They might as well have made Cardinals Campegi and de
Chinuchii, Bishops of Salisbury and Worcester, as have enacted that
their several sees and bishoprics were utterly void." No. The
legislature might determine who should not be a bishop there, but not
make a bishop.

_Ibid_. "Were not a great number deprived by parliament upon the
Restoration?" Does he mean presbyters? What signifies that?

_Ibid_. "Have they not trusted this power with our princes?" Why, aye.
But that argueth not right, but power. Have they not cut off a king's
head, &c. The Church must do the best they can, if not what they would.

Page xxxvi. "If tithes and first-fruits are paid to spiritual persons as
such, the king or queen is the most spiritual person, &c." As if the
first-fruits, &c. were paid to the king, as tithes to a spiritual

Page xliii. "King Charles II. thought fit that the bishops in Scotland
should hold their bishoprics during will and pleasure; I do not find
that the High Church complained of this as an encroachment, &c." No; but
as a pernicious counsel of Lord Loch.[14]

[Footnote 14: Scott thinks this refers to Lord Lauderdale. [T.S.]]

Page xliv. "The common law judges have a power to determine, whether a
man has a legal right to the sacrament." They pretend it, but what we
complain of as most abominable hardship, &c.

Page xlv. "Giving men thus blindly to the devil, is an extraordinary
piece of complaisance to a lay chancellor." He is something in the
right; and therefore it is a pity there are any; and I hope the Church
will provide against it. But if the sentence be just, it is not the
person, but the contempt. And, if the author attacketh a man on the
highway, and taketh but twopence, he shall be sent to the gallows, more
terrible to him than the devil, for his contempt of the law, &c.
Therefore he need not complain of being sent to hell.

Page xliv. Mr. Leslie may carry things too far, as it is natural,
because the other extreme is so great. But what he says of the king's
losses, since the Church lands were given away, is too great a truth,

Page lxxvi. "To which I have nothing to plead, except the zeal I have
for the Church of England." You will see some pages further, what he
meaneth by the Church; but it is not fair not to begin with telling us
what is contained in the idea of a Church, &c.

Page lxxxiii. "They will not be angry with me for thinking better of the
Church than they do, &c." No, but they will differ from you; because the
worse the Queen is pleased, you think her better. I believe the Church
will not concern themselves much about your opinion of them, &c.

Page lxxxiv. "But the Popish, Eastern, Presbyterian and Jacobite clergy,
&c." This is like a general pardon, with such exceptions as make it
useless, if we compute it, &c.

Page lxxxvii. "Misapplying of the word church, &c." This is cavilling.
No doubt his project is for exempting the people: But that is not what
in common speech we usually mean by the Church. Besides, who doth not
know that distinction?

_Ibid_. "Constantly apply the same ideas to them." This is, in old
English, meaning the same thing.

Page lxxxix. "Demonstrates I could have no design but the promoting of
truth, &c." Yes, several designs, as money, spleen, atheism, &c. What?
will any man think truth was his design, and not money and malice? Doth
he expect the House will go into a committee for a bill to bring things
to his scheme, to confound everything, &c.

Some deny Tindal to be the author, and produce stories of his dulness
and stupidity. But what is there in all this book, that the dullest man
in England might not write, if he were angry and bold enough, and had no
regard to truth?


Page 4. "Whether Lewis XIV. has such a power over Philip V?" He speaketh
here of the unlimited, uncontrollable authority of fathers. A very
foolish question; and his discourse hitherto, of government, weak and
trivial, and liable to objections.

_Ibid_. "Whom he is to consider not as his own, but the Almighty's
workmanship." A very likely consideration for the Ideas of the state of
nature. A very wrong deduction of paternal government; but that is
nothing to the dispute, &c.

Page 12. "And as such might justly be punished by every one in the state
of nature." False; he doth not seem to understand the state of nature,
although he hath borrowed it from Hobbes, &c.

Page 14. "Merely speculative points, and other indifferent things, &c."
And why are speculative opinions so insignificant? Do not men proceed in
their practice according to their speculations? So, if the author were a
chancellor and one of his speculations were, that the poorer the clergy
the better; would not that be of great use, if a cause came before him
of tithes or Church lands?

_Ibid_. "Which can only be known by examining whether men had any power
in the state of nature over their own, or others' actions in these
matters." No, that is a wrong method, unless where religion hath not
been revealed; in natural religion.

_Ibid_. "Nothing at first sight can be more obvious, than that in all
religious matters, none could make over the right of judging for
himself, since that would cause his religion to be absolutely at the
disposal of another." At his rate of arguing (I think I do not
misrepresent him, and I believe he will not deny the consequence) a man
may profess Heathenism, Mahometism, &c. and gain as many proselytes as
he can; and they may have their assemblies, and the magistrate ought to
protect them, provided they do not disturb the state: And they may enjoy
all secular preferments, be lords chancellors, judges, &c. But there are
some opinions in several religions, which, although they do not directly
make men rebel, yet lead to it. Instance some. Nay we might have temples
for idols, &c. A thousand such absurdities follow from his general
notions, and ill-digested schemes. And we see in the Old Testament, that
kings were reckoned good or ill, as they suffered or hindered
image-worship and idolatry, &c. which was limiting conscience.

Page 15. "Men may form what clubs, companies, or meetings they think
fit, &c, which the magistrate, as long as the public sustains no damage,
cannot hinder, &c." This is false; although the public sustain no
damage, they will forbid clubs, where they think danger may happen.

Page 16. "The magistrate is as much obliged to protect them in the way
they choose of worshipping Him, as in any other indifferent
matter."--Page 17. "The magistrate to treat all his subjects alike, how
much soever they differ from him or one another in these matters." This
shews, that although they be Turks, Jews, or Heathens, it is so. But we
are sure Christianity is the only true religion, &c. and therefore it
should be the magistrate's chief care to propagate it; and that God
should be worshipped in that that those who are the teachers think most
proper, &c.

Page 18. "So that persecution is the most comprehensive of all crimes,
&c." But he hath not told us what is concluded in the idea of
persecution. State it right.

_Ibid_. "But here it may be demanded, If a man's conscience make him do
such acts, &c." This doth not answer the above objection: For, if the
public be not disturbed with atheistical principles preached, nor
immoralities, all is well. So that still, men may be Jews, Turks, &c.

Page 22. "The same reason which obliges them to make statutes of
mortmain, and other laws, against the people's giving estates to the
clergy, will equally hold for their taking them away when given." A
great security for property! Will this hold to any other society in the
state, as merchants, &c. or only to ecclesiastics? A pretty project:
Forming general schemes requires a deeper head than this man's.

_Ibid_. "But the good of the society being the only reason of the
magistrate's having any power over men's properties, I cannot see why he
should deprive his subjects of any part thereof, for the maintenance of
such opinions as have no tendency that way, &c." Here is a paragraph
(_vide_ also _infra_) which has a great deal in it. The meaning is, that
no man ought to pay tithes, who doth not believe what the minister
preacheth. But how came they by this property? When they purchased the
land, they paid only for so much; and the tithes were exempted. It is an
older title than any man's estate is, and if it were taken away
to-morrow, it could not without a new law belong to the owners of the
other nine parts, any more than impropriations do.

_Ibid_. "For the maintenance of such opinions, as no ways contribute to
the public good," By such opinions as the public receive no advantage
by, he must mean Christianity.

Page 23. "Who by reason of such articles are divided into different
sects." A pretty cause of sects! &c.

Page 24. "So the same reason as often as it occurs, will oblige him to
leave that Church." This is an excuse for his turning Papist.

_Ibid_. "Unless you suppose churches like traps, easy to admit one; but
when once he is in, there he must always stick, either for the pleasure
or profit of the trap-setters." Remark his wit.

Page 29. "Nothing can be more absurd than maintaining there must be two
independent powers in the same society." This is abominably absurd; shew

Page 33. "The whole hierarchy as built on it, must necessarily fall to
the ground, and great will be the fall of this spiritual Babylon." I
will do him justice, and take notice, when he is witty, &c.

Page 36. "For if there may be two such [independent powers] in every
society on earth, why may there not be more than one in heaven?" A
delicate consequence.

Page 37. "Without having the less, he could not have the greater, in
which that is contained." Sophistical; instance wherein.

Page 42. "Some since, subtler than the Jews, have managed commutations
more to their own advantage, by enriching themselves, and beggaring, if
Fame be not a liar, many an honest dissenter." It is fair to produce
witnesses, is she a liar or not? The report is almost impossible.
Commutations were contrived for roguish registers and proctors, and lay
chancellors, but not for the clergy.

Page 43. "Kings and people, who (as the Indians do the Devil) adored the
Pope out of fear." I am in doubt, whether I shall allow that for wit or
no, &c. Look you, in these cases, preface it thus: If one may use an old

Page 44. "One reason why the clergy make what they call schism, to be so
heinous a sin." There it is now; because he hath changed churches, he
ridiculeth schism; as Milton wrote for divorces, because he had an ill
wife. For ten pages on, we must give the true answer, that makes all
these arguments of no use.

Page 60. "It possibly will be said, I have all this while been doing
these gentlemen a great deal of wrong." To do him justice, he sets forth
the objections of his adversaries with great strength, and much to their
advantage. No doubt those are the very objections we would offer.

Page 68. "Their executioner." He is fond of this word in many places,
yet there is nothing in it further than it is the name for the hangman,

Page 69. "Since they exclude both from having anything in the ordering
of Church matters." Another part of his scheme: For by this the people
ought to execute ecclesiastical offices without distinction, for he
brings the other opinion as an absurd one.

Page 72, "They claim a judicial power, and, by virtue of it the
government of the Church, and thereby (pardon the expression) become
traitors both to God and man." Who doth he desire to pardon him? or is
this meant of the English clergy? So it seemeth. Doth he desire them to
pardon him? They do it as Christians. Doth he desire the government to
do it? But then how can they make examples? He says, the clergy do so,
&c. so he means all.

Page 74. "I would gladly know what they mean by giving the Holy Ghost."
Explain what is really meant by giving the Holy Ghost, like a king
empowering an ambassador.[15]

[Footnote 15: See Hooker's "Eccl. Pol.," book v. Sec. 77.]

Page 76. "The Popish clergy make very bold with the Three Persons of the
Trinity." Why then, don't mix them, but we see whom this glanceth on
most. As to the _Conge d'Elire_, and _Nolo episcopari_, not so absurd;
and, if omitted, why changed.

Page 78. "But not to digress"--Pray, doth he call scurrility upon the
clergy, a digression? The apology needless, &c.

_Ibid_. "A clergyman, it is said, is God's ambassador." But you know an
ambassador may have a secretary, &c.

_Ibid_. "Call their pulpit speeches, the word of God." That is a

Page 79. "Such persons to represent Him." Are not they that own His
power, fitter to represent Him than others? Would the author be a fitter

_Ibid_. "Puffed up with intolerable pride and insolence." Not at all;
for where is the pride to be employed by a prince, whom so few own, and
whose being is disputed by such as this author?

_Ibid_. "Perhaps from a poor servitor, &c. to be a prime minister in
God's kingdom." That is right. God taketh notice of the difference
between poor servitors, &c. Extremely foolish--shew it. The argument
lieth strongly against the apostles, poor fishermen; and St. Paul, a
tentmaker. So gross and idle!

Page 80. "The formality of laying hand over head on a man." A pun; but
an old one. I remember, when Swan[16] made that pun first, he was
severely checked for it.

[Footnote 16: Captain Swan was a celebrated low humorist and punster who
frequented Will's Coffee-house when it was the fashionable resort of men
of wit and pleasure. [T. S.]]

_Ibid_. "What more is required to give one a right, &c." Here shew, what
power is in the church, and what in the state to make priests.

Page 85. "To bring men into, and not turn them out of the ordinary way
of salvation." Yes; but as one rotten sheep doth mischief--and do you
think it reasonable, that such a one as this author, should converse
with Christians, and weak ones.

Page 86. See his fine account of spiritual punishment.

Page 87. "The clergy affirm, that if they had not the power to exclude
men from the Church, its unity could not be preserved." So to expel an
ill member from a college, would be to divide the college; as in
All-Souls, &c. Apply it to him.[17]

[Footnote 17: Tindal was a fellow of All Souls College. [T. S.]]

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