« EelmineJätka »
other great man. If you are but sensible of your own real great power, you will wisely choose those, that will, by all just and legal ways, firmly keep, and zealously promote it.
XI. Pray see that you choose sincere protestants; men that do not play the protestant in design, and are indeed disguised papists, ready to pull off their mask, when time serves : you will know such by their laughing at the plot, disgracing the evidence, admiring the traitors' constancy, that were forced to it, or their religion and party were gone beyond an excuse or an equivocation. The contrary, are men that thank God for this discovery, and in their conversation zealously direct themselves in an opposition to the papal interest, which indeed is a combination against good sense, reason, and conscience, and to introduce a blind obedience without (if not against) conviction. And that principle which introduces implicit faith and blind obedience in religion, will also introduce implicit faith and blind obedience in government. So that it is no more the law in the one than in the other, but the will and power of the superior, that shall be the rule and bond of our subjection. This is that fatal mischief popery brings with it to civil society, and for which such societies ought to beware of it, and all those that are friends to it.
XII. Lastly, Among these, be sure to find out, and cast your favour upon, men of large principles, such as will not sacrifice their neighbour's property to the frowardness of their own party in religion : pick out such men, as will inviolably maintain civil rights, for all that will live soberly and civilly under the government.
Christ did not revile those that reviled him, much less did he persecute those that did not revile him. He rebuked his disciples, that would have destroyed those that did not follow and conform to them, saying, “ Ye know not what spirit ye are of: I came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Which made the apostle to say, " That the weapons of their warfare were not carnal, but spiritual.'
This was the ancient protestant principle, and where protestants persecute for religion, they are false to their own profession, and turn papists even in the worse sense, against whom their ancestors did so stoutly exclaim. Read the book of martyrs of all countries in Europe, and you will find I say true : therefore beware also of that popery. Consider, that such partial men do not love England, but a sect; and prefer imposed uniformity, before virtuous and neighbourly unity. This is that disturber of kingdoms and states; and
the good man, and not the opinionative man, be the Christian in the eye of the government, to be sure, while force is used to propagate or destroy faith, and the outward comforts of the widow and fatherless are made a forfeit for the peaceable exercise of their consciences to God, He that sits in heaven, and judgeth righteously, whose eye pities the oppressed and poor of the earth, will with-hold his blessings from us.
Olay to heart the grievous spoils and ruins that have been made upon your harmless neighbours, for near these twenty years, who have only desired to enjoy their consciences to God, according to the best of their understandings, and to eat the bread of honest labour, and to have but a penny for a penny's-worth amongst you. Whose ox or ass have they taken : Whom have they wronged? Or when did any of them offer you violence? Yet sixty pounds have been distrained for twelve; two hundred pounds for sixty pounds, The flocks have been taken out of the fold, the herd from the stall; not a cow left to give milk to the orphan, nor a bed for the widow to lie on; whole barns of corn swept away, and not a penny returned ; and thus bitterly prosecuted even by laws made against papists. And what is all this for, unless their worshipping of God according to their conscience? For they injure no man, nor have they offered the least molestation to the government.
Truly, I must take the liberty to tell you, if you will not endeavour to redress these evils in your choice, I fear God will suffer you to fall into great calamity by those you hate. You are afraid of popery, and yet many of you practise it ; for why do you fear it, but for its compulsion and
persecution ? And will you compel or. persecute yourselves, or choose such as do? If you will, pray let me say, you hate the papists, but not popery. But God defend you from so doing, and direct you to do as you would be done by; that choosing such as love England, her people, and the civil rights, foundations may be laid for that security and tranquillity, which the children unborn may have cause to rise up and bless your names and memories for. Take it in good part; I mean nothing but justice and peace to all; and so conclude myself,
Your honest monitor, and old England's true friend,
GOOD OF ENGLAND:
THAT IS, OUR CIVIL UNION IS OUR CIVIL SAFETY.
HUMBLY DEDICATED TO
The Great Council, the Parliament of England.
Published in the Year 1679.
RELIGION, as it is the noblest end of man's life, so it were the best bond of human society, provided men did not err in the meaning of that excellent word. Scripture interprets it to be “ loving God above all, and our neighbours as ourselves;" but practice teacheth us, that too many merely resolve it into opinion and form; in which, not the text, but the comment, too often prevails: whence it comes to pass, that those bodies of men, who have but one common civil interest, are miserably distracted in favour of their adopted notions, upon which they are impatient to bestow an earthly crown. And this is the reason of that mischief and uncertainty that attend government. No sooner one opinion prevails upon another, (though all hold the text to be sacred) but human society is shaken, and the civil government must receive and suffer a revolution ; insomuch, that when we consider the fury and unnaturalness of some people for religion, (which shows they have none that is true, religion making men most natural as well as divine) we have reason to bewail the misunderstanding, as well as misliving of that venerable word.
But since it is so hard to disabuse men of their wrong apprehensions of religion, and the true nature and life of it, and consequently as yet too early in the day to fix such a religion upon which mankind will readily agree as a common basis for civil society, we must recur to some lower, but true principle, for the present, and I think there will be no difficulty of succeeding.
It is this, "That civil interest is the foundation and end of civil government; and where it is not maintained intire, the government must needs decline.' The word interest has a good and bad acceptation: when it is taken in an ill sense, it signifies a pursuit of advantage without regard to truth or justice ; which I mean not : the good signification of the word, and which I mean, is 'a legal endeavour to keep rights, or augment honest profits,' whether it be in a private person or a society. By government, I understand a just and equal constitution, where might is not right, but laws rule, and not the wills or power of men; for that were plain tyranny.
This government must have a supreme authority in itself to determine, and not be superseded or controuled by any other power; for then it would not be a government, but a subjection ; which is a plain contradiction.
Having thus explained the terms of the principle I have laid down, I repeat it, viz. ' That civil interest is the foundation and end of civil government, and prove it thus : the good of the whole is the rise and end of government : but the good of the whole must needs be the interest of the whole, and consequently the interest of the whole is the reason and end of government. None can stumble at the word good; for every man may easily and safely interpret that to himself, since he must needs believe, it is good for him to be preserved in an undisturbed possession of his civil rights, according to the free and just laws of the land; and the construction he makes for himself will serve his neighbour, and so the whole society.
But as the good of the people is properly the civil interest of the people, and that the reason and end of government; so is the maintenance of that civil interest intire, the preservation of government. For where people are sure of their own, and are protected from violence or injury, they cheerfully yield their obedience, and pay their contribution to the support of that government. But, on the contrary, where men are insecure of their civil rights, nay, where they are daily violated, and themselves in danger of ruin, and that for no sin committed against the nature of civil interest, (to preserve which, government was instituted) we ought to suppose their affections will fag, that they will grow deadhearted, and that what they pay or do, may go against the grain : and, to say true, such unkindness is ready to tempt them to believe they should not of right contribute to the maintenance of such governments, as yield them no security or civil protection. Which unhappy flaw in the civil interest, proves an untoward crack in the government; men not being cordially devoted to the prosperity of that government that is exercised in their destruction; and how far that fraction upon the common interest of the people may affect the government I cannot tell, but to be sure it is insecure to any government, to have the people (its strength) divided, as they will be, where their interest is so disjointed by the government; one protected, the other exposed. Wherefore, wise governments have ever taken care to preserve their people, as knowing they do thereby preserve their own interest, and that how numerous their people, so large their interest. For not only Solomon has told us, “ that the honour of a prince is in the multitude of his people,” but experience teaches, that plenty of people is the riches and strength of a wise and good government; as that is, where vice is corrected, and virtue encouraged, and all taken in and secured in civils, that have the same civil interest with the government.
But as the good and interest of the whole is the rise and end of government, so must it suppose that the whole (which takes in all parties) concurs in seeking the good of the government; for the reason of the government will not suffer it to protect those that are enemies to its constitution and safety; for so it would admit of something dangerous to the society; for the security of which, government was at first instituted.
It will follow, that those that own another temporal power superior to the government they properly belong to, make themselves subjects not of the government they are born under, but to that authority which they avow to be superior to the government of their own country, and consequently men of another interest; because it is their interest to pursue the advantages of that power they acknowledge to be sovereign : but those that own, embrace and obey the government of their own country as their temporal supreme authority, and whose interest is one and the same with that of their own proper government, ought to be valued and protected by that government.
The principle thus far lies general : I will now bring it to our own case :
England is a country populous and protestant; and though under some dissents within itself, yet the civil interest is the same, and in some sense the religious too. For, first, all English protestants, whether conformists or nonconformists, agree in this, that they only owe allegiance and subjection unto the civil government of England, and offer any security in their power to give of their truth in this matter. And, in the next place, they do not only consequentially disclaim the pope's supremacy, and all adhesion to foreign authority under any pretence, but therewith deny and oppose the Romish religion, as it stands degenerated