« AnteriorContinuar »
Man that reads the New Testament, think that God Almighty intended the Gospel to be an Engine - for the Advancement of Fome Men, and for ensaving all the rest ? Are any of the Schemes of Codex, the Power, Pomp and Pride of Prelates to be found there? No ; it condemns them all. Every Man, with an Eye half open on the Scriptures, may see that all the Power of Priests is Usurpation, and an Antichristian Tyranny ; that all their Honours and Dignities, their Names and Titles, are 4 Contradie. tion both to the Precepts and Example of the Blessed Author of our Religion. Does the New Testament give to the Priests the Tenth of our Property, and authorize them to barrass and plague, distress and ruin us when we refuse to pay it, or when we are not able to pay it ? Does the Gospel insult common Sense, by dressing up a Set of Men in antique Garbs, to delude the Vulgar, and procure Reverence from the Mob ? Do the Scriptures give to any Men a Power
to meet together, under the Name of Synods, Councils, Convocations, or Affemblies of . Divines, to decree Rites and Ceremonies, and make Articles of Faith ; and ruin all that will not practise the one, and damn all that cannot believe the other ? Let them answer these Questions.
And bere I ask further, how the Conduct of the Priests is consistent with the Belief of the Christian Religion? Do they not subscribe the Articles of Calvin, and yet preach against them ? Do not some of them, who subscribe Athanasian Articles, and read Athanafian Prayers, profess Unitarian Principles? Do not many that read the Athanafian Creed disbelieve it, and thereby pronounce a Sentence of Damnation upon thema felves?
Can it be thought, that these Men who thus prevaricate in the very Aet of Worship, and sport with the Terrors of the Almighty, are Believers of the Christian. Religion ; which condemns all Fraud and Hypocrisy, all Infincerity and Double-deal
ing; and requires Truth in the Heart and Life?
And now I expect it will be said, that I bave abused the Clergy. To which I anfwer ; that such of the Clergy as are Lovers of Liberty, and Encouragers and Promoters of a Reformation in the Church, I highly reverence and esteem : But all such as are Enemies to free Enquiry, all that labour to promote Priestcraft, and spiritual Tyranny ; as a Lover of Liberty and of Mankind, I despise and abominate. How can they, who prostitute Religion to the vilest Purposes, look for any Reverence or Respect ? We value all other Sorts of Men in Proportion to their Usefulness to Society, and their Endeavours to do Good. A Physician is deservedly esteemed, "because he employs bis Knowledge and Skill to deliver us from our Maladies ; but what an execrable Villain is be that poisons his Patient? Why should the Laity be despised and bated, when they abuse their Profeffions, and pervert their several Callings to publick
Mischief ; and yet the Clergy complain of Contempt for perverting the sacred Function ? Do they not make that Religion, which teaches Benevolence and Love more than any other Religion, to be the Occafion of Discord and Animofities, Distress and Ruin to many; and thus fight its Author under bis own Banners? With the Do&trine of Humility in their Moulbs, do theje not afpire after bigh Titles, Dignities, and Honours above others ? Bless us ! what would tbefe Madmen have ? Refpect, when they deserve Contempt ? Reverence, when they merit Indignation? Their Business is to study the Scriptures, to exhort Men to the Practice of Righteousness, to set forth the various Duties of human Life; and by this Means to promote and advance the publick Peace, and the general Welfare. Let them divest themselves of all Craft, all worldly Views, all ambitious Designs, and employ themselves in their proper Duty; and they will want no Respect, nor Encouragment in their feveral Stations. But to complain of
Contempt, without considering the Causes from whence that Contempt proceeds, is abfurd and ridiculous. I can tell them, that if these Causes be not removed, the Contempt will soon become universal. As they call themselves the Ministers of Jesus, and Succesors to the Apostles, let them sew us that they bear a Resemblance to Christ and the Apostles. For my Part, I profess that I can see no Likeness at all betwixt them. Christ said, that his Kingdom was not of this World ; and accordingly he did not seek the Riches of this World, nor affeEt its Ho
The Apostles, in like manner, bad no worldly Grandeur, no Titles of Honour ; nor did they distinguish themselves from the rest of Mankind by their Garbs and Vestments. (mark that !) Compare the pride, Avarice and Ambition of the Priests, with the Humility and Disinterestedness of the Apostles : Compare the Behaviour of Priests with the Direclions laid down for Miniflers in the New Testament ; where is the Likiness ? where is the Affinity ? With what lace can the