« PreviousContinue »
was condemned by acts of parliament ;
against such as should dare to oppose their most arbitrary, their most wicked designs. I will not make extracts from the common herd of ecclesiastical writers. Tillotson's letter, to lord Russel, when under condemnation for treason, as it was styled, will fully show how much the slavish principle had taken possession of wise and good men under this reign. I will transcribe it at large. It is as follows:
MY LORD, “ I was heartily glad to see your lordship, 'this morning, in that calm and devout temper at receiving the sacrament. But peace of mind, unless it be well grounded, will avail little. And because transient discourse many times hath little effect, for want of time to weigh and consider it; therefore in tender compasšion of your lordships case, and from all the good will that one man can bear to another, I do humbly offer
lordships deliberate thoughts these following considerations concerning the point of resistance, if our religion and rights should be invaded, as your lordship puts the case; concerning which I understánd, by Dr. Burnet, that your 'lordship had once received satisfaction, and am sorry to find a change. First; That the Christian religion doth plainly forbid the resistance of authority. Secondly'; That though our religion be established by law (which your lordship argues as a difference between our case and that of the primitive Christians); yet, in the same law which establishes our religion, it is declared, that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take up arms, &c. Besides that, there is a particular law, declaring the power of the militia to be solely in the king. And this ties the hands of subjects, though the law of na
and censured from the press, and from the
ture and the general rules of scripture had left us at liberty: which, I believe, they do not; because the government and peace of human society could not well subsist upon these terms. Thirdly; Your lordships opinion is contrary to the declared doctrine of all protestant churches. And though some particular persons have thought otherwise; yet they have been contradicted herein, and condemned for it, by the generality of protestants. My end in this is, to convince your lordship, that you are in a very great and dangerous mistake: and being so convinced, that, which was before a sin of ignorance, will appear of a much more heinous nature, as in truth it is, and call for a very particular and deep repentance; which, if your lordship sincerely exercise upon the sight of your error, by a penitent acknowledgment of it to God and men; you will not only obtain forgiveness of God, but prevent a mighty scandal to the reformed religion. I am very loth to give your lordship any disquiet in the distress you are in, which I commiserate from my heart; but am much more concerned, that you do not leave the world in a delusion and false peace, to the hindrance of your eternal happiness. I heartily pray for you; and beseech your lordship to believe, that I am, with the greatest sincerity and compassion in the world,
“ Your lordships, &c.
JOHN TILLOTSON!" This letter, though it contained nothing but the doctrines of the 'times, was very smartly remarked on by Mr. Samuel Johnson; a man who deserved a bishopric
* Birch's Life of Tillotson, p. 109.
pulpit, by the clergy who had hopes of pre
as well, at least, as any who ever obtained one.me “ I ever took it for granted,” says he,“ that government ceases, and is lost, when all the ends of government are destroyed; as they plainly are where the . religion and rights of a kingdom are invaded, for the more surety and security of which rights men at the first entered into society. I speak the language of Fortescue. Who then, in this case, is the friend to government, and would have it live; he that invades, or he that stops such destructive invasion ? Again : Who is it that breaks the peace of human society; he that invades all that mankind have, or they that are only willing to defend their own? I, in my simplicity, thought that the breach of the peace had been with the trespasser. And I thought likewise, that, by the law of England, I might justify the beating of any man that would take away my goods; and that, in so doing I should not break the peace: neither would the law impute it to me, but to the invader. These were my former thoughts: but we must now learn a new lesson. For, it seems, the way to preserve government, is to see it destroyed, and to let tyranuy alone, and to suffer invasion to go on; for, otherwise, though the peace be already broken to pieces, you disturb the peace. But if it were not lawful to advance paradoxes and contradictions to common sense; how could men shew their learning, or wherein would they differ from other men? As for this maxim (the incompatibility of resistance with the government and peace of human society), it is exactly calculated for the use of a perverted government; or of an insolent hedge-constable, that beats a quiet and orderly person for the conservation of the peace, and knocks him down to bid bim stand.
ferment. And lest any chance should be
But, to come closer to the point, is not the invasion of the religion and rights of a people, the highest tyranny that can be conceived? And how then came the English divinity to be such a pimp to tyranny, and to be so deeply concerned for the subsistence and continuance of it without molestation, as to damn all men who would not undergo a severe repentance for being of another opinion; and to urge them to recant their English principles upon the very scaffold? Tho' I think that to be a much more proper place for retracting destructive errors than deliverance of truths. But I can tell all the world how this came to pass ; day teaches and certifies another, and things are cleared up, in time, which were mysteries before. The reason why the clergy were so zealous for tyranny, was, because it was a tyranny on their own side: their own interest and strength to crush all other protestants lay therein, and, according to the Greek and Latin wish to enemies, invasion so applyed was a good thing; and the worse the better. That made them so very liberal of the English rights, and to sacrifice them all at once in a peace-offering to Moloc; and it was a true act of worship, for it signalized their loyalty a."--He that would see how far the slavish principles prevailed; may be satisfied fully by consulting the Oxford decree, which passed, in convocation, July 21, 1683, which condemned some of the plainest and most evident propositions in politics." I wonder,"
“ I wonder," says Harrington," why ministers, of all men, should be perpetually tampering with government: first, because they, as well as others, have it in express charge to submit
a Mr. Samuel Johnson's Works, p. 306.
left for the revival of former principles, so
themselves to the ordinances of men; and, secondly, because these ordinances of men must go' upon
such political principles, as they, of all others (by any thing that can be found in their writings or actions) least understand. Whence you have the suffrage of all nations unto this sense: an ounce of wisdom is worth a pound of clergy: your greatest clerks are not your wisest men: and when some foul absurdity in state is committed, it is common with the French and even the Italians, to call it, Pus de clerc; or, Governo dlu pretea.” But to
- I have said, in the text, that the doctrines ci iberty are essential to the happiness of mankind. Bi this, in the opinion of Mr. Hobbes, is a mere jest; an i founded on an absolute mistake. « The Athenians an i Romans,” says he, “were free; that is, free commonwealths: not that any particular men had the liberty to resist their own representative: but that their representative had the liberty to resist or invade other people. There is written on the turrets of the city of Luca, in great characters, at this day, the word Libertas; yet no mau can thence infer, that a particular man has more liberty or immunity from the service of the commonwealth, than in Constantinople. Whether a commonwealth be monarchical or popular, the freedom is still the same. But it is an easy thing for men to be deceived by the specious name of liberty; and for want of judgment to distinguish, mistake that for their private inheritance and birthright, which is the right of the publique oply. And when the same error is confirmed by the authority of men in reputation for their writings in this subject, it is no wonder if it
Harrington's Oceana, first edition, p. 223.