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what we ought to be. And the present ftate of things calls loudly upon us, to correct our mistakes, to fupply our deficiences, and do all we are able for the honour of God, and the happiness of mankind.
If we can be unconcerned now, we have neither piety nor common prudence in us. And if we are concerned in earnest, we shall be very defirous, both to avoid all wrong methods of fhewing it, and to make use of all right ones.
Complaining of our fuperiors for thofe evils, which perhaps they cannot prevent; or complaining of them with difrefpet, for what we may apprehend they could prevent, would both be undutiful and imprudent conduct: would give our adverfaries joy, and do our caufe harm. Indeed to beg earnestly of God, that he would direct the hearts of those, who prefide over the public welfare; and humbly to represent to them, on all fit occafions, the declining ftate of religion, the importance and the means of preferving it; these things are unquestionable duties. But then we must always approve ourselves, at the fame time, confcientiously loyal both in word and deed; reafonable in our expectations; fincerely grateful for the protection, which we are affured of enjoying; and duly fenfible, that every thing of value to us, in this world, depends on the fupport of that government, under which we now live. We cannot be good men, if we are bad subjects: and we are not wife men, if we permit ourselves to be fufpected of it.
A fecond proper caution is, That to speak unfavourably of liberty, religious or civil, instead of carefully diftinguifhing both from the many abuses of them, which we daily fee; or to encourage any other restraints on either, than public utility makes evidently needful; can only ferve to increase that jealoufy, which being in former ages grounded too well, hath been most industriously heightened, when there never was fo little pretence of ground for it; that the claims of the clergy are hurtful to the rights of mankind. It concerns us greatly to remove fo dangerous a prejudice against us as this: not by renouncing those powers, which the Gospel hath given us; for we are bound to affert them: but by convincing the world, that they are perfectly innocent; and avoiding all appearance of afluming what we have no right to: by fhewing our abhorrence of tyranny, especially over the confciences of men; and fatiffying them fully, if poffible, that we preach not ourselves, but Corift Fesus, the Lord; and ourselves, their fervants for his fake (b). Then, with refpect to the privileges, that we derive from human authority: as, on the one hand, receding from any of them without caufe is only inviting fresh encroachments, and giving needlefs advantages to fuch as will be fure to lose none: so, on the other, ftraining them too far is the likelieft way to destroy them all at once: and both our usefulness and our fecurity depend very much, on our appearing plainly to defire nothing inconfiftent with the common good; to have the trueft concern for all reasonable liberty, and to be zealous only againft licentioufnefs and confufion.
Thirdly, If we should be tempted to oppofe profaneness, by encouraging the oppofite extreme of fuperftition: this alfo would be unjustifable in itself; would have bad effects upon as many as we might mif
(b) 2 Cor. iv. 5.
IN SIX VOLUMES.
By RICHARD WATSON, D.D. F.R.S.
REGIUS PROFESSOR of DIVINITY in the UNIVERSITY of
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