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clarations of indulgence were issued forth,
gion, which is only tollerated, are generally more serviceable to their country than those who are of the established religion : for being shut out from all honours, and having no way to distinguish themselves but by their opulence and wealth; they are naturally led to obtain those advantages by their labour, and so to embrace the most painful employments in the society. Besides, as all religions contain precepts useful to society; the more zealously they are observed, the better. Now what can be more likely to animate that zeal, than the multiplicity of religions? They are so many rivals that never spare one another's failings. The jealousy descends even to every private member: every one stands upon his guard, and is fearful of doing any thing that may bring a scandal
scandal upon his sect, and expose it to the contempt and unforgiving censures of its adversaries. Accordingly, it has always been observed, that a new sect in a state is the surest means of correcting all the abuses of the old. It is in vain to say that it is the prince's interest not to allow of variety of religions in his kingdom. Though all the sects in the world were to get together in it, he would not be at all prejudiced by.it: for there is not one but what prescribes, obedience, and preaches up submission. I confess, histories are full of religious
But do not let us take the thing wrong: it was not the diversity of religions that occasioned these wars; it was the untollerating spirit of that which thought she had the power in her hands. It was that spirit of proselytism which the Jews caught of the Egyptians; and which from them was communicated, like an epidemical infection, both to the Mahometans and Christians. In a word, it was the spirit of en
by the crown ", by virtue of a dispensing
thusiasm; which, in its progress, can be looked upon as nothing else but a total eclipse of human reason. For, in short, tho' there was nothing of inhumanity in forcing the consciences of others; tho' it occasioned none of those ill effects which spring up from it by thousands ; a man must be a fool to offer at it. He that would have me change my religion, does it, no doubt, because he would not change his own if he were to be forced to it: so that he wonders I will not do a thing, which, perhaps, he would not do himself for the empire of the universea.”
14 Declarations of indulgence were issued by the crown-and bills of comprehension framed for the approbation of parliament.] The Act of Uniformity raised great clamours ; and drew down many reproaches on the king. The declaration of Breda, and after-promises of ease and liberty to tender consciences, made by him, were brought to remembrance, and contrasted with that rigorous law. To silence and satisfy, in some measure, the sufferers; a declaration was published by his majesty, by the advice of his privy-council, dated Dec. 26, 1662; in which, after taking notice of the censures passed on his conduct in this and other matters, and endeavouring to vindicate himself, he proceeds to say, “We romember well the very words of our promises from Breda :member well the confirmations we have made of them sinoe, upon several occasions, in parliament; and as all these things are still fresh in our memory, so we are still firm in our resolution of performing them to the full. But it must not be wondered at (since that
- we re
Montesquieu's Persian Letters, vol. II p. 39. 12mo. Lond. 1736.
power claimed by it, and bills of compre
liament to which those promises were made, in relation to an act, never thought fit to offer us any to that purpose", that, being so zealous as we are (and, by the grace of God, shall ever be), for the maintenance of the true protestant religion, finding it so shaken (not to say overthrown) as we did, we should give its establishment the precedency before matters of indulgence to dissenters from it. But that once done (as we hope it is sufficiently by the bill of uniformity), we are glad to lay hold on this occasion to renew unto all our subjects, concerned in those promises of indulgence by a true tenderness of conscience, this assurance : That as, in the first place, we have been zealous to settle the uniformity of the church of England, in discipline, ceremony, and government, and shall ever constantly maintain it: so, as for what concerns the penalties upon those who (living peaceably) do not conform thereunto, through scruple and tenderness of misguided conscience; but, modestly and without scan. dal, perform their devotions in their own way: we shall make it our special care, so far as in us lies, without invading the freedom of parliament, to incline their wisdom, at this approaching sessions, to concur with us in making some such act, for that purpose, as may enable us to exercise, with a more universal satisfaction, that power of dispensing which we conceive to be inherent in us. Nor can we doubt of their chearful co-operating with us in a thing wherein we do conceive ourselves so far engaged, both in honour, and in what we owe to the peace of our dominions, which we profess we can never think secure whilst there shall
* See the quotation from the Journals, at the end of vol. IV. note 45.
hension were projected, by the friends of
be a colour left to the malicious and disaffected to inflame the minds of so many multitudes upon the score of conscience, with despair of ever obtaining any effect of our promises for their ease.As we shall always according to justice retain, so we think it may become us to avow to the world, a due sense we have of the greatest part of our Roman catholick subjects of this kingdom having deserved well from our royal father of blessed inemory, and from us, and even from the protestant religion itself, in adhering to us, with their lives and fortunes, for the maintenance of our crown, in the religion established, against those who, under the name of zealous protestants, employed both fire and sword to overthrow them both. We shall with as much freedom profess unto the world, that it is not in our intention to exclude our Roman catholick subjects, who have so demeaned themselves, from all share in the benefit of such an act, as, in pursuance of our promises, the wisdom of our parliament shall think fit to offer unto us, for the ease of tender consciences. It might appear no less than injustice, that those who deserved well, and continued so to do, should be denied some part of that mercy which we have obliged ourself to afford to ten times the number of such who have not done so."- - They are cautioned, however, against the presumption to hope for a toleration of their profession. But the house of commons on their meeting, averse to all methods of lenity, in an address to the king, declaring it to be their opinion, “ that it is in no sort adviseable that there be any indulgence to such persons as presume to dissent from the Act of
* Kennet's Register, p. 850.
moderation and humanity, for the appro
Uniformity ?,” his majesty acquiesced, and persecution was more triumphant. After the banishment of Clarendon, the great promoter of the barbarous laws on account of religion; Shaftesbury, Clifford, and Buckingham, who, together with Arlington and Lauderdale, made up what was called the cabal, took the lead. These men, though for the most part unprincipled and abandoned, had sense enough to see the iniquity of the laws in being, and the folly of executing thein. By their instigation another declaration was published, March 15, 167}, in which, after mention being made of the fruitlessness of twelve years' rigour, his majesty declares it to be his will and pleasure, “ that the execution of all and all manner of penal laws, in matters ecclesiastical, against whatsoever sort of non-conformists or recusants, be immediately suspended; and that allowance would be granted of a sufficient number of places, in all parts of the kingdom, for the use of such as do not conform to the church of England, to meet and assemble in, in order to their public worship and devotion.” The recusants of the Roman catholic religion were, however, excepted; to whom no places of public worship were allowed, but only an indulgence in the common exemption from the execution of the penal laws, and the exercise of their worship in their private houses only.
An indulgence likewise was issued out in Scotland, Sept. 5, 1672.—Mr. Locke tells us," the bishops took so great an offence at this declaration, that they gave the alarm of popery through the whole nation; and, by their emissaries, the clergy (who, by the contexture and subordination of their government, and
a Journal, 27 Feb, 1662.