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who thought themselves well paid to look on and see them feed. But in the mean Time the poor Folk were misera- . bly befoolid, when they were made to believe, that they rendred the Deity more their Friend, or themselves the better Men by stuffing ilte Priest's Guts. For what sig. nifies
, a fat Bullock to God Almighty? But the roguish Priests knew well enough what Use to make of it, when it served them thus to gormandise upon. And truly their Brethren of the holy Tribe have kept up the same Craft and Legerdemain ever since. It is but the same Juggle of the designing Priesthood that upholds all the Superstitions in the World ; that maintains both the Pagods of India, the Mosques of Turky, and provides so comfortable a Maintenance for all the sanctified Gentlemen here in Europe. The plain Dictates of Nature are a thousand Times a better Rule of Life than the foolish Rites prescribed by: these superstitious Coxcombs; that rook the People of their Money by telling them strange Tales, and exhibiting odd Ceremonies for them to gape at. What, can't a Man live and die as becomes a good Man, without Sacrifices and Ave-Maries, and. Sacraments and Abfolutions ? Can't I live as Nature directs, without being plagued and tormented by a Parcel of Creed-contriving, Sin-making Hye pocrites ? For my Part, I grudge those Harpies every Morsel of Bread they eat ; and think that Cheats and Pick-pockets ought to be maintain'd at the Charge of the Nation as well as they. It vexes me to think, that the Generality of People should be such Cullies, to part for easily with so considerable à Part of their Estates, to pay their Priets for Hypocrisy and Lyes; and at the same Time to adore their Holinesses for their Piety and good Service. For my Part, they shall get as little of my Money as ever they can; and I generally tell them their own whenever I meet them. I know two or three of our Neighbours that tamely deliver up their Nose to their Prielt's Fingers; and truly you, Credentires, suffer them to buzze about you like so many Flics; but you have Sense enough to discover the l'ox's Ears through the Sheep's Livery; it is only your gocd Nature that hinders you
from doing any Thing unkind to any one ; but for my Part, I make the Sparks know their Distance, I give them no Quarter when ever they fall in my Way; and that makes them as much scar'd at my Company, as the com, mon People are at their Tales.
Cred. I perceive, Philologus, you have a little transported The Uaresyour self by your own Talk, and have lost your Argu-fonableness ment to rally upon the Clergy. But I must needs tell
t'se Clergy, you, that this Custom
got of exposing the Profession and Persons of the Clergy is one of the worst Qualities I discern in Philologus, and is a great Blemish to those other Gentleman-like Accomplishments which adorn his Character. I shall speak to that Simplicity you would have in Religion, by and by; but in the mean Time, I must beg Leave to speak a Word or two upon this irreli'gious ill-bred Custom of abusing Clergymen, which has lo much obtained among the Gentlemen of this Age. Now this piece of Ill-breeding was not of our own Growth here in England; it was brought, like the rest of our Follies, from France. Our travelling Gentry, who had spent their Time to no Purpose beyond Sea, thought they must bring home something remarkable; and it was generally that little Banter and Drollery, with which the French Gentlemen used to make Sport with their ignorant Friars and Curees. All the Improvement it gained in our Nation was more Malice and more Dulness; for we English are generally a grave sober Nation, and nothing looks fo awkward in us, and is such a Force upon our Tempers, as Drollery ; so that when once we go to imitate Fools, we generally are fuch. And indeed we have imitated the French in this, but miserably fillily; for I think there is no Comparison of our Clergy, and the Generality of their Friars, who are commonly very ignorant and billy, and often-times not only lewd themselves, but Panders to other Men's Debauchery. But generally our Clergy live Lives of Virtue and strict Piety, at lealt few of them are notoriously vitious; their Education is commonly such as gives them Learning, equal at least to the neghbouring Gentlemen ; and considering the remiss Education of the
Gentry under the late Reigns, for the most part superior. There is nothing vile and contemptible in their Profesion, as there is in some which tend to Vanity or Debauchery, or which do denote some vile Servitude and Drudgery; but their Calling is high and noble, the Subject of it God, and the most fublime and divine Truths; and the End which they drive at, is to make Men good and peaceable. Now there is nothing in all this that should render this Order of Men the Subject of Contempt and Drollery ; and Men might, if they please, with as much Advantage, make Sport with Phyficians and Lawyers, as they do with Divines. Give me Leave to say, it is an unmerciful Piece of Barbarity to fall foul upon innocent Men, to abuse their Persons and Profession, when there is no Manner of Provocation given them for it; nay, it is most pitiful Cowardice to give such Usage only to those, who, they know, by the Character of their Profession, must not revenge it, which they dare not offer to those whom they suspect may.. If such a Man believes the Gospel, he offers one of the greatest Injuries to Religion, by exposing the Ministers of it, and lessening their Credit, whereby they are less able to reform the Lives of wicked Men; and doth withal foolishly give the Lye to his Faith, by ridiculing and affronting the Officers of that holy Institution, which by his Baptism and Communion he has declared the greatest Veneration for. And truly a Man may as well pretend to bear a great Respect to the Government, when he is always exposing and traducing the King and his subordinate Magistrates, as to pretend an Esteem to Christianity, and to be always railing at its Ministers. This is a Practice so shameful among Christians, that would render them an Opprobry to Infidels, in seeing them so disgracing the Dispensers of those Doctrines and Mysteries they hope to be saved by. Nay, to speak more particularly, neither will the known Faults of some, or many Clergy-men, excuse this Custom; because, tho some are faulty, there are others who conscientiously perform their Duty in all Re/pects; and therefore to involve all under the fame Imputation is Iliameful Injustice. Bur
besides, besides, the Faults of a Clergy-man are of fo tender a Nature, and are of so nigh a Concern to Christianity, chat for the Credit of Religion all good Men will be very cautious of divulging them; and therefore where-ever we find Men forward to pick up and relate Stories of this Nature, 'tis a certain Sign they are no Friends to the established Religion, and is usually a Sign that they are no good Likers of the common Christianity. And truly, Philologus, I must own that the Gentlemen of your Senciments have taken very proper Methods by vilifying the Clergy to propagate your Opinions, for this one Reason; because it may easily be observed, that the greatest Number of Atheists and Deifts, in this Nation, is made up of fuch, as have formerly, before they declared for Infidelity, been the greatest Railers against their Parsons. I will not determine whether this comes to pass by the Judgment of God, or the natural Tendency of the Thing ; but this is certain, as far as my Observation can reach, that the chiefest of the Body of these Infidels is made out of the Antimonarchical and Rebellious Party of the late Reigns, and the Republicans in this ; Men that are grown sowrand peevish at the Miscarriage of their Designs, and exasperated against the Clergy for their Opposition to their Pra&tices; and fo have resolved at last to be revenged upon Religion in Spight to its Ministers. But I'll warrant you by that Smile, Philologus
, you imagine that the Compliance of the Clergy with the last Reigns, and at last with the present Government, is the true Reason of the Growth of Infidelity now. I shall leave the Gentlemen of that Order to justify their own Actions, who know their own Conscience best. But thus much I will say, that if the Clergy of the Church of England had not complied with the Government, we had had, by this time, such a Medly and Confusion in Rcligion, as would have made a great many Men have nauseated all. For nothing can be fo great a Cause of Infidelity as the unlimited License of fanatical Zcal and Enthusiasm; and for one Atheist or Deift we have now, we should have had twenty then. And it may be we had been in as bad a Condition, if the Clergy L 4
had not vigorously opposed the rebellious Principles and Practices of those dangerous Phanàticks, and their Abettors, who were going to overthrow a lawful Government, and an orthodox Church. So that I am so far from con. demning the Practice of the Clergy of the Church of England in these last Reigns, that I highly approve it, both as being very uniform, and of a Piece with its self, and very consonant to Reason and Law. For by the same Reason they comply with this Government which is established by Law; they refused to comply with the illegal Demands of King James, who was acting against Law; and yet to their utmost opposed the unlawful Seditions, and at last Rebellion of factious People, who were for adyancing the Title of a lawless Heir, who had no Pretence to the Crown by any Law in the World, in Opposition to two successive Princes, who had undoubted Right to, and yere in actual Possession of it; and to the Injury of all the lawful Branches of it. So much I have thought fic to say, concerning the Abuses which are frequently giyen to Clergy-men, by Men that have not cast off all Regard to Christianity, but are willing to lay hold on any Pretence to fall foul upon them, and to wreek their Spleen. But farther, as to Gentlemen of your Persuasion, who look upon our Religion to be a Fable, and think you can have no Tie upon you from thạt; yet methinks Civility and common Justice, which you pretend to be the greateft Advocates for, Mould restrain you from abusing any one, especially those who are used to bespeak you with all Civility and Respect. And as for their Dues which you make a Sport in defrauding them of, you know, by Law, they have as good a Title to them as you have to your Eftate; and your Copy-holders might, with the same Justice, detain your Quit-Rents, as you do their Tithes. And if Religion be only a politick Contrivance of State, jf the Law think fit to direct it fo; the Clergy by instructing Men to be virtuous and religious, and by that means keeping Men peaceable at Home, have as good a Plea for the Tenth of our Estates, as the Soldiers have now for the Fifth, for fighting against our Enemies abroad.