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over to an Indifferency or detestable Neutrality : But that Authority should be wrought over to shew kindness to such a Combination against it self, or that any should propose it to the old, Cavaliers to give leave to their old Persecutors to believe themselves under the Oath of God, to bring 'every one of them to condign punishment, is a thing which may justly raise all mens wonder.
I confess indeed, that by the last Bill of Comprehension it was provi, ded (and so perhaps it may in this) That no man should dare to say that the Covenant doth oblige under such a Penalty, bic. But it is much to be doubted that such a Provision may not be sufficient ; for let us consider this one thing : Those Persons, concerning whom our present Debate is, are such as are to be entrusted to be Guides of Consciences, and if this Renunciation be once taken off, then they have Liberty enough to işlift upon the Obligation of the Covenant amongst their Confidents, without coming within the
N3 danger danger of the Law. Let us remember that the Holy League in France was taken by above half the Kingdom, before the King did ever fo much as hear of it... · But, to make this Matter plain, 1 fhall propose a Case very like it in our own Kingdom. Suppose that any man out of the great Tenderness which he pretends to have for the Consciences of Men, should propose that the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy should be by Act of Parliament taken away, upon this very pretence, That Oaths are not to be mul. tiplied but upon great neceffiy; that the Consciences of Men are nice and tender things, and ought not to be disquieted by being pried into; and disputable Points of Goveroment are not fit matters to be put into an Oath: Ought not fucha Person to be looked upon with a very jealous Eye, as being ill affected to his Majesties Perron, his Crown and Dignity? He bimself and all his Favourers will, no doubt, reply, no; because he doth at the same time offer a Security in it
felf self as Good and more fit to be taken, and that is this, That it shall be very punishable for any man to fay, That our Soveraign Lord King Charles is not lawful and rightful King of these Realms, &c., and that the Pope bath any Power on Authority to depose ibe King, &c. He, I say, who should propose this Alteration, ought in all reason to be looked upon as a better Subject to the Pope than to the King. And so likewise, and for the same Reason, those, who with so great Eagerness and Importunity have fo often endeavoured the taking away the Renunciation of the Covenant, ought to be very much suspected, test they have in their Eye something which is of much higher Confideration with them, than either the Settlement of the Church or the safety of his Majesty. "It now remains that I consider the great Objections which are urged a.' gainst all which is already said, which are these, That Comprehension, say
of the great Numbers who do desire it: Secondly, in respect of their great Merit, they being Persons in whom doth consist a great part of the Sobriety, Industry, Frugality and Wisdom of the Nation, and particularly the Presbyterians have deserved well of His Majesty. Thirdly, it is very adviseable to grant a Liberty at this time to these Persons by reason of the great assistance which they are able to afford us against Popery ; and Fourthly,that if a Liberty be not given, it will be a very great Inconvenience to Trade. Fifthly, Toleration of several Forms of Religion, is a thing which we may fee a good effect of among our Neighbours in France and Holland: Lastly, Civil Penalties are of no use in Reli.' gion, but only to make Hypocrites. To all which pretences I return this..
First, that the Numbers of these men.. are not in any degree fo great as they do pretend ; It is indeed one of their great and old Arts to make all the shew they can possibly, and to boast : ' of those Numbers which they caonot... thew ; one who is as well acquainted
with the Muster Rolls of these Parties as any man, doth plead for an lodulgence by this very Argument, i hat they are not so considerable as that any danger needed to be feared from them. Peace-offering , p. 8. What are we that Publick Disturbance should be feared froni us , nec pondera rerum nec momenta sumus ; by what way or means, were we never fo defirous, could we contribute any thing thereunto? what Defigns are we capable of? dc. So that it seems this is an Argument which they can either use or Jay afide, as occalion offers it felt : They cao cither wheedle Authority into pity and forbearance upon the account that they are so inconsiderable, as that no danger can poflibly be feared from then: ; Or otherwise they can Hectour Au." thority, as being so considerable, as that there is no danger so great, but if they are disobliged, it may reasonas bly be feared from them.
In the second Place, is it any wonder that thefe men do appear in some Numbers, considering how easily many honest well-meaning Persons may