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opened, and see Popish books publicly advertised, they are to be informed that our ancestors, whose wisdom and firmness have transmitted to us those religious and civil liberties which we, nosv enjoy, had very different conceptions of this matter; and had they acted with that coldness, indifference, and stupidity, which seems to have seized the present age, we had now been sunk into the most abject state of misery and slavery, under an arbitrary prince and Popish government.
It was the opinion of our brave, wife, circumspect, and cautious ancestors, that an open toleration of the Popish religion is inconsistent with the safety of a free people, and a Protestant Government. It was thought by them that every convert to Popery, was by principle an enemy to the constitution of this country; and as it was supposed that the Roman Catholic religion promoted rebellion against the state, there was a very severe law made to prevent'the propagation of it. Such was the state of things in the reign of the great Elizabeth; and Popery having, notwithstanding such restriction, gained ground in the reign of James the second, though the encouragement it then received from the state, was not equal to what it has now obtained, tained, the nation was alarmed; and the noble and resolute stand which the Protestants then made against the advances of Popery, produced the Revolution.
In the reign of William the Third, the state was thought to be in danger from the encroachments of Rome; to prevent which, the act of parliament was made, which is now, in the most material parts, repealed, and several Protestants being of opinion, that this repeal will, in its consequences, act as an open toleration of the Popish religion, they are filled with the most painful apprehensions: they think, that liberty, which they value more than their lives, and which they would piously transmit to their children, to be in danger: they are full of the most alarming fears, that chains are forging at the anvil of Rome for the rising 'generation: they fear, that the Papists are undermining our happy constitution :' they fee the purple power of Rome advancing, by hasty strides, to overspread this once happy nation: they shudder at the thought of darkness and , ignorance, misery and slavery, spreading their sable wings over this highly favoured isle: their souls are pained for their rights and liberties as men; and their hearts tremble for the ark of God.
Inspired Inspired with such sentiments, and under the influence of such reasonable and well grounded fears, they think it a duty which they owe to themselves, their posterity, their religion, and their God, to unite as one man, and take every possible, loyal, ,and constitutional measure, to stop the progress.of that foul-deceiving and all-enslaving superstition which threatens to overspread this land. It is to be hoped, that an attempt, so just and reasonable, will be crowned with success; but should it fail, through the supinenese or groundless prejudices of those who ought to stand first in this cause, the members of this Association will enjoy the satisfaction of a selfapproving mind, conscious of having done its duty; while those who' meanly desert the Protestant cause, and tamely suffer the encroachments of Rome, may fee their error when it is too late, and be filled with bitterness and remorse at a conduct so mean and despicable, and so unworthy their profession.
Whatever such persons may think of themselves and their conduct, and however they, may dress themselves up in the splendid robes of candour and moderation, they are to be informed that their conduct is highly criminal, and may be attended with the most deplorable consequences; as, by their neglecting glecting to appear on this great occasion, they give our rulers reason to conclude, that it is the fense of the nation that Popery should be tolerated.
It is sincerely to be lamented that Protestants in general, are not more apprehensive of the danger. Have they forgot the reign of bloody queen Mary? Have they forgot the fires in Smithfield, a,nd can they behold the place without emotion where their fathers died? Will it ever be believed in future times, that persons of eminent and distinguished rank among the Protestants, and persons of high and exalted religious characters, refused to petition against Popery ; and let it overspread our nation without opposition? Will it be believed that Englishmen were so far degenerated from the noble spirit of their ancestors, as tamely to bow the neck to the yoke of Rome? "Tell it not in '* Galh, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; "lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice; "lest the daughters of the uncircumcised "triumph."
It is not to be wondered at that the Papists, either openly or in disguise, take every method to prevent the just and reasonable view of the Protestant association, and therefore represent them as factious, seditious, and enemies
mies to toleration. These charges, and every other which the malice of our enemies, or the groundless fears and prejudices of our mistaken friends shall hereafter exhibit, will be separately and distinctly considered in the course of these letters; and such an account given of the views of the Protestant Association, and the line of conduct which they have pursued, and intend to pursue, in order to accomplish the great end for which they associate, as will, I hope, obviate every objection, remove every scruple, and excite the Protestants to join hand in hand, and unite as one man, in that cause, in which their present and future welfare is so. nearly concerned, by