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ridiclue, they value so much, is a perfection very easily acquired, and applied to all things whatsoever; neither is any thing at all the worse, because it is capable of being perverted to burlesque: Perhaps it may be the more perfect upon that score; since we know, the most celebrated pieces have been thus treated with greatest succefs. It is in any man's power to suppose
cap on the wiseft head, and then laugh at his own supposition. I think there are not many things cheaper than supposing and laughing; and if the uniting these two talents can bring a thing into contempt, it is hard to know where it
To conclude. These considerations may, perhaps, have some effect while men are awake; but what arguments shall we use to the sleeper? What methods shall we take to hold open his eyes? Will he be moved by considerations of common civility? We know it is reckoned a point of very bad manners to sleep in private company, when, perhaps, the tedious impertinence of many talkers would render it
at least as excusable as at the dullest fermon. Do they think it a small thing to watch four hours at a play, where all virtue and religion are openly reviled; and can they not watch one half hour to hear them defended? Is this to deal like a judge, (I mean like a good judge) to listen on one side of the cause, and feep on the other? I shall add but one word more: That this indecent floth is very much owing to that luxury and excess men usually practice upon this day, by which half the service thereof is turned to fin; men dividing the time between God and their bellies, when, after a gluttonous meal, their senses dozed and stupified, they retire to God's house to sleep out the afternoon. Surely, brethren, these things ought not so to be.
He that bath ears to hear, let him bear.
And God give us all grace to hear and receive his holy word to the salvation of our cwn souls.
The Rights of the Christian Church, &c.
Written in the Year 1708, but left unfinished.
EFORE I enter upon a particular
examination of this treatise, it will be convenient to do two things:
First, To give some account of the author, together with the motives, that might probably engage him in such a work. And,
Secondly, To discover the nature and tendency in general, of the work itself.
The first of these, although it hath been objected against, seems highly reasonable, especially in books that instil pernicious principles. For, although a book is not intrinsically much better or worse,
according to the stature or complexion of the author, yet when it happens to make a noise, we are apt, and curious, as in other noises, to look about from whence it cometh. But however, there is something more in the matter.
If a theological subject be well handled by the layman, it is better received than if it came from a divine; and that for reasons obvious enough, which, although of little weight in themselves, will ever have a great deal with mankind.
But, when books are written with ill intentions, to advance dangerous opinions, or destroy foundations; it may be then of real use to know from what quarter they come, and go a good way towards their confutation. For instance, if any man should write a book against the lawfulness of punishing felony with death; and, upon enquiry, the author should be found in Newgate under condemnation for robbing a house; his arguments would not very unjustly lose much of their force, from the circumstances he lay under. So, when Milton writ his book of divorces, it was presently rejected as an occasional VOL. XIII.
treatise; because every body knew, he had a shrew for his wife. Neither can there be any reason imagined, why he might not, after he was blind, have writ another upon the danger and inconvenience of eyes. But, it is a piece of logic which will hardly pass on the world; that because one man hath a fore nofe, there ore all the town should put plaisters upon theirs. So, if this treatise about the rights of the church should prove to be the work of a man steady in his principles, of exact morals, and profound learning, a true lover of his country, and a hater of christianity, as what he really believes to be a cheat upon mankind, whom he would undeceive purely for their good; it might be apt to check unwary men, even of good dispositions towards religion. But, if it be found the production of a man fowered with age and misfortunes, together with the consciousness of past miscarriages; of one, who, in hopes of preferment, was reconciled to the Popish religion; of one wholely prostitute in life and principles, and only an enemy to religion, because it condemns them i In this