« PreviousContinue »
has done more good than all his sophisms have do mischief. These are some of the reflections which I Price's religious argument has drawn from my pen, ai which I doubt not but some of our governors ha already made by the help of that wisdom which promp them to improve our former calamities, and to stud what may promote our happiness in Church and State.
I am, &c.,
A Scriptural Plea for the revolted Colonies, with some
Hints concerning a Christian Method of bringing about a lasting Reconciliation between them and the Mother Country. The King and Parliament hum. bly addressed on the Subject.
CHRISTIANS are, in a special manner, debtors to all mankind. I owe love to all my fellow-subjects, as well as loyalty to the King, and duty to the parliament ; and my love to our American Colonies, as well as my regard for equity, obliges me to say what can reasonably be said on their behalf; that prejudice, on both sides, may give place to Christian forbearance and conciliatory kindness.
I hope, Sir, you are by this time convinced that the American revolt is absolutely unjustifiable; and that the King and parliament have an indubitable right proportionably to tax the Colonists, as well as the English ; although the Colonists are not directly and adequately represented in parliament, any more than multitudes of Britons who live abroad, and millions who reside in Great Britain. And now, Sir, I candidly allow, that although the Colonists cannot without ab. surdity insist on an equal representation, yet they may
tumbly request to be particularly represented in the British legislature; and that, although strict justice does not oblige Great Britain to grant them such a request; yet parental wisdom, and brotherly conde. seansion, require her to grant something to the notion, that a direct representation in parliament is inseparably connected with civil liberty. This notion, I confess, is irrational, unscriptural, and unconstitutional. But it is a prevailing notion, and if we look at it in one point of view, it seems to wear the badge of British liberty, and therefore bas some claim to the indulgence of Britons.
Permit me to illustrate my meaning by a scriptural simile. Through a strong national prejudice, the Jews, who had embraced Christianity, fancied, that no man could be a true Christian without being circumcised; and they supported their assertion by God's positive command to the father of the faithful-a command this, which Christ had not expressly repealed, and to which he and his disciples had religiously submitted. The apostles saw, that the christianized Jews were under à capital mistake. — Nevertheless, in condescension to human weakness and national prejudice, they allowed them to circumcise their children: And Paul himself, though he detested their error, yielded to them so far as to have his convert Timothy circumcised. I grant that a direct and adequate representation in Parliament is no more essential to British liberty, than circumcision to true Christianity. But, as the Governors of the Chris. tian Church made some concessions to Jewish weakness, might not also the Governors of the British Empire make some to American prejudice; especially considering that it will be as difficult for them peaceably to rule the Americans without such an act of condescension, as it would have been for the Apostles to govern the Jews, without the above-mentioned complaisance ?
Besides, in some cases, constitutional and unconstitu. tional taxation may border so nearly upon each other, that the most judicious politicians will be as much at a
guard against the very appearances of irreligion and immorality, as to leave Doctor Price, so far as in them lies, no room to injure our cause by arguments taken from our want of devotion, and of a strict regard to sound morals. What we owe to God, to ourselves, and to the Colonists, calls upon us to remove whatever may give any just offence to those who seek occasion to reflect upon
?The Colonists narrowly watch us—Let their keen inspection make us diligently watch ourselves.
Let us especially take care neither to embezzle, nor misapply the national income. But, as faithful guar. dians and stewards of the money raised for the necessary expences of the government, let us (as many as are entrusted with the collecting or expending of that consecrated treasure) shew ourselves to be disinterested, thrifty, and invariably just. Nothing can render our doctrine of taxation odious to conscientious people, but a needless rigour in the collecting, and a wanton profu. sion in the spending of the public revenue. I know that uneasy men, intent upon sedition and revolt, are apt to say whatever can palliate their crime. The least mis. demeanor of individuals, let it be ever so much hid from, or disapproved of by our governors, will always appear to such men a sufficient reason to pour floods of reproach upon the administration. Thus, if we may com depend upon the St. James's Chronicle, Doctor Franklin, a member of the American Congress, insi. nuates, that the government is made detestable by gou te vernors, who, when they have crammed their coffers, and made themselves so odious to the people, that they can no longer remain among them with safety to their persons, Oberty are recalled, and rewarded with pensions: That the produce of the taxes is not applied to the defence of the provinces, and the better support of government; but bestowed where it is not necessary, in augmenting tertin salaries or pensions; and that a board of officers composed of the most indiscreet, ill-bred, and insolent men that can be found, live in open, grating luxury upon the sweat and blood of the industrious, whom they worry with groundless and expensive prosecutions,
2 ibay at
em de 17
the sou sof men Rot W
before arbitrary revenue-judges.”-I hope, for the honour of the administration, that prejudice guided Dr. Franklin's pen, when it dropt these invidious hints. should we have given them any just ground of complaint, it becomes us to remove it with all speed : Setting our seal to the noble maxim, which Dr. Price advances after Lord Chatham, Rectitude is dignity. Oppression only is meanness; and Justice, honour.
• Righteousness exalteth a nation,' says the wise man, ' but sin is a reproach to any people, and may prove the ruin of the most powerful empire. Violence brought on the deluge. Luxury overthrew Sodom. Cruel usage of the Israelites destroyed Egypt. Complete wickedsas caused the extirpation of the Canaanites. Imperiousness, and an abuse of the power of taxation, rent a tribes from the kingdom of Judah. Pride sunk Babylon. Nineveh and Jerusalem, by timely repentance, once reversed their awful doom ; but returning to heir former sins, they shared at last the fate of all the states, which have filled up the measure of their iniqui23.–And have we taken so few strides towards that saful period, as to render national repentance needless - this day of trouble ? By fomenting contentions and iars among the natives of Africa, in order to buy the rsoners whom they take from each other ; have not me of our countrymen turned Africa into a field of
od ? Do not the sighs of myriads of innocent nepes, unjustly transported from their native country to 2 British dominions, call night and day for vengeance son us; whilst their groans upbraid the hypocritical ends of liberty, who buy, and sell, and whip their Low men as if they were brutes; and absurdly comin that they are enslaved, when it is they themselves, o deal in the liberties and bodies of men, as graziers
in the liberties and bodies of oxen? and is what I beg leave to call our Nabob-trade in East, more consistent with humanity, than our Slave. de in the South and West? Who can tell how many riads of men have been cut off in the East Indies
tion, covetousness, and cruelty of some of our countrymen? And if no vindictive notice has been taken of these barbarous and bloody scenes, has not the nation made them in some degree her own ? And does not that innocent blood, the price of which has been im. ported with impunity, and now circulates through the kingdom to feed our luxury-does not all that blood, I say, speak louder for vengeance against us, than the blood of Abel did against his murderous brother? “ The justice of the nation,” says Doctor Price, slept over these enormities ; Will the justice of heaven sleep?"- No: but it still patiently waits for our refor. mation; nor will it, I hope, wait in vain ; but if it does, the suspended blow will in the end descend with redoubled force, and strike us with aggravated ruin. For God will be avenged on all impenitent nations : He has one rule for them and for individuals ; • Except they repent,' says Christ himself, they shall all likewise perish.'
Let our devotion be improved by the American controversy, as well as our morals.
Instead of “ scoffing at religion,” as Doctor Price says we do, let us honour the piety of the Colonists. So far at least, as their reli. gious professions are consistent, sincere, and scriptural, let them provoke us to a rational concern for the glory of God, and our eternal interests. Were we to contend with our American Colonies for supremacy in virtue and devotion, how noble would be the strife! How worthy of a Protestant kingdom, and a mother-country! And does not political wisdom, as well as brotherly love, require us to do something in order to root up the inveterate prejudices against us and our church? Have we forgotten, that many of the first Colonists crossed the Atlantic for conscience' sake: Seeking in the woods of America, some, a shelter against our once persecuting hierarchy; and others, a refuge from our epidemical profaneness? And does not their offspring look upon us in the same odious light, in which Doctor Price places us? Do they not abhor or despise us, as impious, im.
“ enervated by luxury ;' men, with whom