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If it be a crime of the highest consequence, both against the peace and welfare of the nation, the glory of God, the good of the Church, and the happiness of the soul, let us rank it among capital offences, and let it receive a punishment in proportion to it.
We hang men for trifles, and banish them for things not worth naming, but an offence against God and the Church, against the welfare of the world and the dignity of religion, shall be bought off for five shillings! This is such a shame to a Christian Government that it is with regret I transmit it to posterity.
If men sin against God, affront His ordinances, rebel against His Church, and disobey the precepts of their superiors, let them suffer as such capital crimes deserve. So will religion flourish, and this divided nation be once again united.
It is high time for the friends of the Church of England to think of building up and establishing her in such a manner that she may be no more invaded by foreigners, nor divided by factions, schisms, and error.
If this could be done by gentle and easy methods, I should be glad; but the wound is corroded, the vitals begin to mortify, and nothing but amputation of members can complete the cure; all the ways of tenderness and compassion, all persuasive arguments, have been made use of in vain.
The humour of the Dissenters has so increased among the people, that they hold the Church in defiance, and the house of God is an abomination among them. Nay, they have brought up their posterity in such prepossessed aversions to our holy religion, that the ignorant mob think we are all idolaters and worshippers of Baal, and account it a sin to come within the walls of our churches.
The primitive Christians were not more shy of a heathen temple, or of meat offered to idols, nor the Jews of swine's flesh, than some of our Dissenters are of the Church, and the divine service solemnised therein.
This obstinacy must be rooted out with the profession of it. While the generation are left at liberty daily to affront God Almighty, and dishonour His holy worship, we are wanting in our duty to God and our mother the Church of England.
How can we answer it to God, to the Church, and to our posterity, to leave them entangled with fanaticism, error, and obstinacy, in the bowels of the nation—to leave them an enemy in their streets, that in time may involve them in the same crimes and endanger the utter extirpation of religion in the nation.
What is the difference betwixt this and being subjected to the power of the Church of Rome, from whence we have reformed? If one be an extreme on one hand, and one on another, it is equally destructive to the truth to have errors settled among us, let them be of what nature they will.
Both are enemies of our Church and of our peace, and why should it not be as criminal to admit an enthusiast as a Jesuit? Why should the papist, with his seven sacraments, be worse than the Quaker with no sacraments at all? Why should religious houses be more intolerable than meetinghouses ? Alas, the Church of England! What with popery on one hand, and schismatics on the other, how has she been crucified between two thieves !
Now let us crucify the thieves. Let her foundations be established upon the destruction of her enemies, the doors of mercy being always open to the returning part of the deluded people. Let the obstinate be ruled with the rod of iron.
Let all true sons of so holy and oppressed a mother, exasperated by her afflictions, harden their hearts against those who have oppressed her.
And may God Almighty put it into the hearts of all the friends of truth to lift up a standard against pride and Antichrist, that the posterity of the sons of error may be rooted out from the face of this land forever.
George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
Beginning a Play with a Whisper
BAYES, JOHNSON, and SMITH. Bayes. Now, sir, because I'll do nothing here that ever was done before, instead of beginning with a scene that discovers something of the plot, I begin this play with a whisper.
Smith. Umph! very new indeed.
Enter GENTLEMAN-USHER and PHYSICIAN.
Phys. Sir, by your habit I should guess you to be the Gentleman-usher of this sumptuous place.
Ush. And by your gait and fashion I should almost suspect you rule the healths of both our noble kings, under the notion of Physician.
Phys. You hit my function right.
Bayes. Why, sir, the gentleman-usher and physician of the two kings of Brentford.
Johns. But pray, then, how comes it to pass that they know one another no better?
Bayes. Pooh! that's for the better carrying on of the plot.
Johns. Very well.
Bayes. No, sir, you must know they had been talking of this a pretty while without.
Smith. Where-in the tyring-room?
Phys. Sir, to conclude, the place you fill has more than amply exacted the talents of a wary pilot; and all these threat'ning storms, which, like impregnate clouds, hover o'er our heads, will—when they once are grasped but by the eye of reason-melt into fruitful showers of blessings on the people.
Bayes. Pray mark that allegory. Is not that good?
Johns. Yes, that grasping of a storm with the eye is admirable.
Phys. But yet some rumours great are stirring; and if Lorenzo should prove false—which none but the great gods can tell—you then perhaps would find that
Ush. Then, sir, most certain 'twill in time appear,
Bayes. Now the other whispers.