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of our sects, and more indeed than I could reasonably have hoped, who have withdrawn themselves from the communion of the Panther, and embraced this gracious indulgence of his majesty in point of toleration. But neither to the one nor the other of these is this satire any way intended : it is aimed only at the refractory and disobedient on either side. For those, who are come over to the royal party, are consequently supposed to be out of gun-shot. Our physicians have observed, that, in process of time, some diseases have abated of their virulence, and have in a manner worn out their malignity, so as to be no longer mortal ; and why may not I suppose the same concerning some of those, who have
* The tumultuary joy of the sectaries, upon their first view of this triumph over the church of England, led them into all the extravagancies of loyalty, which used to be practised by their ancient enemies the Tories. Addresses teeming with affection, and foaming with bombast, were poured in upon King James from all corners of his dominions; Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Quakers, Sectaries of all sorts and persuasions, strove to be foremost in the race of gratitude. And when similar addresses came in from corporations, who had been formerly anxious to shew their loyalty on the subject of the Rye-house plot, the king's accession, and other occasions of triumph to the Tories, the tone of these bodies also was wonderfully changed ; and, instead of raving against excluders, rebels, regicides, republicans, and fanatics, whose hellish contrivances endeavoured to destroy the safety of the kingdom, and the life of the king, these same gentlemen mention the Sectaries as their brethren and fellow-subjects, to whom the king, their common father, had been justly, liberally, royally pleased to grant freedom of conscience, for which the addressers offer their hearty and unfeigned thanks. These were the two classes of persons, whom Dryden, as they had closed with the measures of government, declares to be exempted from his satire. Those, therefore, against whom it is avowedly directed, are first, the Church of England, whose adherents saw her destruction aimed at through the pretence of toleration. 2dly, Those Sectaries, who distrusted the boon which the king presented, and feared that the conse
fornierly been enemies to kingly government, as well as Catholic religion? I hope they have now another notion of both, as having found, by comfortable experience, that the doctrine of persecution is far from being an article of our faith. *
It is not for any private man to censure the proceedings of a foreign prince:ť but, without suspicion of flattery, I may praise our own, who has taken contrary measures, and those more suitable to the spirit of Christianity. Some of the dissenters, in their addresses to his majesty, have said, “ That he
quences of this immediate indulgence at the hands of an ancient enemy, would be purchased by future persecution. These formed a body, small at first, but whose numbers daily increased.
Among the numerous addresses which were presented to the court on this occasion, there are two somewhat remarkable from the quality and condition of the persons in whose name they are offered. The one is from the persons engaged in the schemes of Shaftesbury and Monmouth, and who set out by acknowledging their lives and fortunes forfeited to King James ; a singular instance of convicts offering their sentiments upon state affairs. The other is from no less a corporation than the company of London Cooks, which respectable persons declare their approbation of the indulgence, upon a principle recognized in their profession, " the difference of men's gusto, in religion, as in eatables ;” and assure his majesty, that his declaration “ somewhat resembles the Almighty's manna, which suited every man's palate.” History of Addresses, pp. 106, 132.
* Most readers will, I think, acknowledge with me, the extreme awkwardness with which Dryden apologizes, for hoping well of those Sectaries, against whom he had so often discharged the utmost severity of his pen. Yet there is much real truth in the observation, though the compliment to the new allies of the Catholics is but a cold one. Many sects have distinguished themselves by faction, fanaticism, and furious excess at their rise, which, when their spirits have ceased to be agitated by novelty, and exasperated by persecution, have subsided into quiet orderly classes of citizens, only remarkable for some peculiarities of speculative doctrine.
+ Alluding to the persecution of the Huguenots in France, after the recall of the edict of Nantes.
has restored God to his empire over conscience.”* I confess, I dare not stretch the figure to so great a boldness : but I may safely say, that conscience is the royalty and prerogative of every private man. He is absolute in his own breast, and accountable to no earthly power for that which passes only betwixt God and him. Those who are driven into the fold are, generally speaking, rather made hypocrites than converts.
This indulgence being granted to all the sects, it ought in reason to be expected, that they should both receive it, and receive it thankfully. For, at this time of day, to refuse the benefit, and adhere to those whom they have esteemed their persecutors, what is it else but publicly to own, that they suffered not before for conscience-sake, but only out of pride and obstinacy, to separate from a church for those impositions, which they now judge may be lawfully obeyed ? After they have so long contended for their classical ordination (not to speak of rites and ceremonies) will they at length submit to an episcopal? If they can go so far, out of complaisance to their old enemies, methinks a little reason should persuade them to take another step, and see whither that will lead them. t
* This phrase occurs in the address of the Ministers of the Gospel in and about the city of London, commonly called Presbyterians : “ Your majesty's princely wisdom," say these reverend sycophants, now rescues us from our long sufferings, and by the same royal act restores God to the empire over conscience.” This it is to be too eloquent; when people set no bounds to their rhetoric, it betrays them often into nonsense, and not seldom into blasphemy.---History of Addresses, p. 107.
† A gentle insinuation, that, if the sectaries could renounce the ordination by presbyteries or classes, in favour of the church of England, it would require but a step or two farther to bring them to a conformity with that of Rome.
Of the receiving this toleration thankfully, I shall say no more, than that they ought, and I doubt not they will consider from what hand they received it. It is not from a Cyrus, a heathen prince, and a foreigner, * but from a christian king, their native sovereign; who expects a return in specie from them, that the kindness, which he has graciously shewn them, may be retaliated on those of his own persuasion
As for the poem in general, I will only thus far satisfy the reader, that it was neither imposed on me, nor so much as the subject given me by any
It was written during the last winter, and the beginning of this spring; though with long interruptions of ill health and other hindrances. About a fortnight before I had finished it, his majesty's Declaration for liberty of conscience came abroad ; which, if I had so soon expected, I might have spared myself the labour of writing many things which are contained in the third part of it. But I was always in some hope, that the church of England might have been persuaded to have taken off the penal laws and the test, which was one design of the poem, when I proposed to myself the writing of it
It is evident that some part of it was only occasional, and not first intended : I mean that defence of myself, to which every honest man is bound, when he is injuriously attacked in print; and I refer myself to the judgment of those, who have read the answer to the Defence of the late king's Papers, and that of the duchess, (in which last I was concerned) how charitably I have been represented
* Who freed the Jews from their bondage, and gave them permission to rebuild their city and temple.... See the Book of Esdras, VOL. X.
there. * I am now informed both of the author and supervisors of this pamphlet, and will reply, when I think he can affront me: for I am of Socrates's opinion, that all creatures cannot. In the mean time let him consider whether he deserved not a more severe reprehension than I gave him formerly, for using so little respect to the memory of those, whom he pretended to answer ; and, at his leisure, look out for some original treatise of humility, written by any Protestant in English; (I believe I may say in any other tongue :) for the magnified piece of Duncombe on that subject, which either he must mean, or none, and with which another of his fellows has upbraided me, 'was translated from the Spanish of Rodriguez; though with the omission of the seventeenth, the twenty-fourth, the twentyfifth, and the last chapter, which will be found in comparing of the books. +
* In his ardour for extending the Catholic religion, James IT. had directed copies of the papers found in his brother's strongbox in favour of that communion, with the copy of a paper by his first duchess, giving the reasons for her conversion to that taith, to be printed, and circulated through the kingdom. These papers were answered by the learned Stillingfleet, then Dean of St Pitul's. A Defence of the Papers was published by command,” of which it appears, from the passage in the text, that our author wrote the third part, which applies to the Duchess of York's paper. Stillingfleet published a vin ation of his answer, in which he attacks our author with some severity. A full account of the controversy will be found attached to Dryden's part of the Defence, among his.
+ In the controversy between Dryden and Stillingfeet, the former had concluded his Defence of the Duchess of York's paper, by alleging, that "
among all the volumes of divinity written by the Protestants, there is not one original treatise, at least that I have seen or heard of, which has handled distinctly, and by itself, the Christian virtue of humility.” This Stillingfieet, in his reply, calls
bare-faced assertion of a thing known to be false;" for, “ with