The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 3/The Examiner, Number 22
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1711.
Nullæ sunt occultiores insidiæ, quam eœ, quæ latent in simulatione officii, aut in aliquo necessitudinis nomine.
The EXAMINER cross-examined; or, A full Answer to the last EXAMINER.
IF I durst be so bold with this author, I would gladly ask him a familiar question; Pray, sir, who made you an examiner? He talks in one of his insipid papers of eight or nine thousand corruptions, while we were at the head of affairs; yet in all this time he has hardly produced fifty:
Parturiunt montes, &c.Hor.
But I shall confine myself at present to his last paper. He tells us, the queen began her reign with a noble benefaction to the church. Here's priestcraft with a witness! This is the constant language of your highfliers, to call those who are hired to teach the religion of the magistrate, by the name of the church. But this is not all; for in the very next line he says, it was hoped the nation would have followed this example. You see the faction begins already to speak out: this is an open demand for the abbey-lands; this furious zealot would have us priestridden again, like our popish ancestors; but it is to be hoped the government will take timely care to suppress such audacious attempts; else we have spent so much blood and treasure, to very little purpose, in maintaining religion and the revolution. But what can we expect from a man, who at one blow endeavours to ruin our trade? A country, says he, may flourish (these are his own words) without being the common receptacle for all nations, religions, and languages. What! we must immediately banish, or murder the Palatines; forbid all foreign merchants not only the Exchange but the kingdom; persecute the dissenters with fire and faggot; and make it high treason to speak any other tongue but English. In another place he talks of a serpent with seven heads, which is a manifest corruption of the text; for the words, seven heads, are not mentioned in that verse. However, we know what serpent he would mean; a serpent with fourteen legs; or indeed no serpent at all, but seven great men, who were the best ministers, the truest protestants, and the most disinterested patriots, that ever served a prince. But nothing is so inconsistent as this writer. I know not whether to call him a whig or a tory, a protestant or a papist; he finds fault with convocations; says, they are assemblies strangely contrived; and yet lays the fault upon us, that we bound their hands: I wish we could have bound their tongues too. But, as fast as their hands were bound, they could make a shift to hold their pens, and have their share in the guilt of ruining the hopefullest party and ministry, that ever prescribed to a crown. This captious gentleman is angry to see a majority of prelates cried up by those, who are enemies to the character: now I always thought, that the concessions of enemies, were more to a man's advantage, than the praise of his friends. Time and mortality, he says, can only remedy these inconveniencies in the church: that is, in other words, when certain bishops are dead, we shall have others of our own stamp. Not so fast; you are not yet so sure of your game. We have already got one comfortable loss in Spain, although by a general of our own: for joy of which, our junto had a merry meeting at the house of their great proselyte, on the very day we received the happy news. One or two more such blows would perhaps set us right again; and then we, can employ mortality as well as others. He concludes with wishing, that three letters, spoken when the prolocutor was presented, were made publick. I suppose he would be content with one; and that is more than we shall humour him to grant. However, I hope he will allow it possible to have grace, without either eloquence or Latin; which is all I shall say to this malicious innuendo.
Having thus, I hope, given a full and satisfactory answer to the Examiner's last paper, I shall now go on to a more important affair, which is, to prove by several undeniable instances, that the late ministry and their abettors were true friends to the church. It is yet, I confess, a secret to the clergy wherein this friendship did consist. For information therefore of that reverend body, that they may never forget their benefactors, as well as of all others who may be equally ignorant, I have determined to display our merits to the world upon that weighty article. And I could wish, that what I am to say were to be written in brass, for an eternal memorial; the rather, because for the future the church may endeavour to stand unsupported by those patrons, who expired in doing it their last good office, and will never rise to preserve it any more.
Let us therefore produce the pious endeavours of these church defenders, who were its patrons, by their power and authority, as well as ornaments of it, by their exemplary lives.
First, St. Paul tells us, there must be heresies in the church, that the truth may be manifest; and therefore, by due course of reasoning, the more heresies there are, the more manifest will the truth be made. This being maturely considered by these lovers of the church, they endeavoured to propagate as many heresies as they could, that the light of truth might shine the clearer.
Secondly, To show their zeal for the church's defence, they took the care of it entirely out of the hands of God Almighty, (because that was a foreign jurisdiction) and made it their own creature, depending altogether upon them; and issued out their orders to Tindal, and others, to give publick notice of it.
Thirdly, Because charity is the most celebrated of all christian virtues, therefore they extended theirs beyond all bounds; and instead of shutting the church against dissenters, were ready to open it to all comers, and break down its walls, rather than that any should want room to enter. The strength of a state, we know, consists in the number of people, how different soever in their callings; and why should not the strength of a church consist in the same, how different soever in their creeds? For that reason, they charitably attempted to abolish the test, which tied up so many hands from getting employments, in order to protect the church.
I know very well, that this attempt is objected to us as a crime by several malignant tories; and denied as a slander, by many unthinking people among ourselves. The latter are apt, in their defence, to ask such questions as these; Was your test repealed? had we not a majority? might we not have done it, if we pleased? To which the others answer, you did what you could: you prepared the way, but you found a fatal impediment from that quarter whence the sanction of the law must come; and therefore, to save your credit, you condemned a paper to be burnt, which yourselves had brought in. But alas! the miscarriage of that noble project for the safety of the church, had another original; the knowledge whereof depends upon a piece of secret history, which I shall now lay open.
These church-protectors had directed a presbyterian preacher to draw up a bill for repealing the test. It was accordingly done with great art; and in the preamble, several expressions of civility to the established church; and when it came to the qualifications of all those who were to enter on any office, the compiler had taken special care to make them large enough for all christians whatsoever, by transcribing the very words (only formed into an oath) which quakers are obliged to profess by a former act of parliament; as I shall here set them down: "I, A. B. profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God; and in the Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for evermore; and do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament, to be given by divine inspiration." This bill was carried to the chief leaders, for their approbation, with these terrible words turned into an oath: What should they do? Those few among them, who fancied they believed in God, were sure they did not believe in Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or one syllable of the Bible; and they were as sure that every body knew their opinion in those matters, which indeed they had been always too sincere to disguise; how therefore could they take such an oath as that, without ruining their reputation with Tindal, Toland, Coward, Collins, Clendon, and all the tribe of freethinkers, and so give a scandal to weak unbelievers? Upon this nice point of honour and conscience, the matter was hushed, the project for repealing the test let fall, and the sacrament left as the smaller evil of the two.
Fourthly, These pillars of the church, because the harvest was great, and the labourers few, and because they would ease the bishops from the grievous trouble of laying on hands, were willing to allow that power to all men whatsoever, to prevent that terrible consequence of unchurching those, who thought a hand from under a cloak, as effectual as from lawn sleeves. And indeed what could more contribute to the advancement of true religion, than a bill of general naturalization for priesthood?
Fifthly, In order to fix religion in the minds of men, because truth never appears so fair as when confronted with falsehood, they directed books to be published, that denied the being of a God, the divinity of the Second and Third Person, the truth of all revelation, and the immortality of the soul. To this we owe that great sense of religion, that respect and kindness of the clergy, and that true love of virtue, so manifest of late years among the youth of our nation. Nor could any thing be more discreet, than to leave the merits of each cause, to such wise, impartial judges; who might otherwise fall under the slavery of believing, by education and prejudice.
Sixthly, Because nothing so much distracts the thoughts, as too great a variety of subjects, therefore they had kindly prepared a bill to prescribe the clergy what subjects they should preach upon, and in what manner, that they might be at no loss; and this no doubt was a proper work for such hands, so thoroughly versed in the theory and practice of all Christian duties.
Seventhly, To save trouble and expense to the clergy, they contrived that convocations should meet as seldom as possible; and when they were suffered to assemble, would never allow them to meddle with any business; because, they said, the office of a clergyman was enough to take up the whole man. For the same reason they were very desirous to excuse the bishops from sitting in parliament, that they might be at more leisure to stay at home, and look after the inferiour clergy.
I shall mention at present but one more instance of their pious zeal for the church. They had somewhere heard the maxim, that Sanguis martyrum est semen ecclesiæ; therefore, in order to sow this seed, they began with impeaching a clergyman: and that it might be a true martyrdom in every circumstance, they proceeded as much as possible against common law: which the long-robe part of the managers knew, was in a hundred instances directly contrary to all their positions, and were sufficiently warned of it beforehand; but their love of the church prevailed. Neither was this impeachment an affair taken up on a sudden; for a certain great person, (whose character has been lately published by some stupid and lying writer) who very much distinguished himself by his zeal in forwarding this impeachment, had several years ago, endeavoured to persuade the late king to give way to just such another attempt. He told his majesty, there was a certain clergyman, who preached very dangerous sermons, and that the only way to put a stop to such insolence, was, to impeach him in parliament. The king inquired the character of the man: O sir, said my lord, the most violent, hot, positive fellow in England; so extremely wilful, that I believe he would be heartily glad to be a martyr. The king answered, Is it so? then I am resolved to disappoint him; and would never hear more of the matter, by which that hopeful project unhappily miscarried.
I have hitherto confined myself to those endeavours for the good of the church, which were common to all the leaders and principal men of our party; but, if my paper were not drawing toward an end, I could produce several instances of particular persons, who, by their exemplary lives and actions, have confirmed the character so justly due to the whole body. I shall at present mention only two, and illustrate the merits of each by a matter of fact.
That worthy patriot and true lover of the church, whom a late Examiner is supposed to reflect on under the name of Verres, felt a pious impulse to be a benefactor to the cathedral of Gloucester; but how to do it in the most decent, generous manner, was the question. At last he thought of an expedient: one morning, or night, he stole into the church, mounted upon the altar, and there did that, which, in cleanly phrase, is called disburdening of nature. He was discovered, prosecuted, and condemned to pay a thousand pounds; which sum was all employed to support the church, as no doubt the benefactor meant it.
There is another person, whom the same writer is thought to point at under the name of Will Bigamy. This gentleman, knowing that marriage fees were a considerable perquisite to the clergy, found out a way of improving them cent per cent for the good of the church. His invention was to marry a second wife, while the first was alive, convincing her of the lawfulness, by such arguments, as he did not doubt would make others follow the same example. These he had drawn up in writing, with an intention to publish for the general good: and it is hoped, he may now have leisure to finish them.