« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
different doctrines taught. There is, indeed, but one faith, in which we can be saved, the stedfast belief of the birth, passion, and resurrection of our Saviour; and every church, that receives and embraces that faith, is in a state of salvation. If the apostles preached true doctrine, the reception and retention of many errors does not destroy the essence of a church ; if it did, the church of Rome would be in as ill, if not in a worse condition, than most other christian churches, because its errors are of a greater magnitude, and more destructive to religion. Let not the canting dis. course of the universality and extent of that church, which has as little of truth as the rest, prevail over you. They, who will imitate the greatest part of the world, must turn heathers; for it is generally believed, that above half the world is possessed by them, and that the Mahometans possess more than half the remainder. There is as little question, that of the rest, which is inhabited by christians, one part of four is not of the communion of the church of Rome; and God knows, in that very communion, there is as great discord in opinion, and in matters of great moment, as is between the other christians.
I hear you do, in publick discourses, dislike some things in tho church of England, as the marriage of the clergy; which is a point that no Roman Catholick will pretend to be of the essence of reli. gion, and is in use in many places, which are of the communion of the church of Rome, as in Bohemia, and those parts of the Greek church which submit to the Roman. And all men know, that, in the late council of Trent, the sacrament of both kinds, and liberty of the clergy to marry, was very passionately pressed, both by the emperor and king of France, for their dominions; and it was afterwards granted to Germany, though under such conditions, as made it ineffectual ; which however shews, that it was not, nor ever can be, looked upon as matter of religion. Christianity was many hundred years old, before such a restraint was 'ever heard of in the church ; and, when it was endeavoured, it met with great opposition, and never was submitted to. And, as the positive inhibition seems absolutely unlawful, so the inconveniences, which result from thence, will, upon a just disquisition, be found supe. rior to those, which attend the liberty which christian religion permits. Those arguments, which are not strong enough to draw persons from the Roman communion into that of the church of England, when custom and education, and a long stupid resignation of all their faculties to their teachers, usually shuts out all reason to the contrary, may yet be abundant to retain those who have been baptised, and bred and instructed in the grounds and princi. ples of that religion, which are, in truth, not only founded upon the clear authority of the scriptures, but upon the consent of antiquity, and the practice of the primitive church. And men, who look into antiquity, know well by what corruption and violence, and with what constant and continual opposition those opinions, which are contrary to ours, crept into the world; and how una Warrantably the authority of the Bishop of Roine, which alone
supports all the rest, came to prevail, who hath no more pretence of authority and power in England, than the Bishop of Paris or Toledo can as reasonably lay claim to; and is so far from being matter of catholick religion, that the Pope hath so much, and no more, to do in France or Spain, or any other catholiek dominion, than the crown, and laws, and constitutions of several king. doms gave him leave, which makes him so little, if at all, considered in France, and so much in Spain. And, therefore, the Eng. lish catholicks, which attribute so much to him, make themselves very uwarrantably of another religion than the catholick church professeth ; and, without doubt, they who desert the church of England, of which they are members, and become thereby disobedient to the ecclesiastical and civil laws of their country, and there in renounce their subjection to the state, as well as to the church, which are grievous sins, had need have a better excuse, than the meeting with some doubts which they could not answer; and less than a manifest evidence, that their salvation is desperate in that communion, cannot serve their turn. And they, who imagine they have such an evidence, ought rather to suspect, that their under. standing hath forsaken them, and that they are become mad, than that the church, which is replenished with all learning and piety reqnisite, can betray them to perdition. I beseech you to consider (which I hope will over-rule those ordinary doubts and objections which may be infused into you) that, if you change your religion, you renounce all obedience and affection to your father, who loves you so tenderly, that such an odious mutation would break his heart. You condemn your father and your mother (whose incomparable virtue, and piety, and devotion, hath placed her in heaven) for having impiously educated you; and you declare the church and state, to both which you owe reverence and subjection, to be, in your judgment, anti-christian. You bring irrepa. rable dishonour, scandal, and prejudice, to the duke your bus, band, to whom you ought to pay all imaginable duty, and who, ! presume, is much more precious to you than your own life, and all possible ruin to your children, of whose company and convera sation you must look to be deprived; for God forbid, that, after such an apostasy, you should have any power in the education of your children. You have many enemies, whom you herein would abundantly gratify, and some friends, whom you will thereby, at least as far as in you lies, perfectly destroy, and aflict many others, who have deserved well of you.
I know you are not inclined to any part of this mischief, and therefore offer these considerations, as all those particulars would be the conseqnence of such a conclusion. It is to me the saddest circumstance of my banishment, that I may not be admitted, in such a season as this, to confer with you; when, I am confident, I could satisfy you in all your doubts, and make it appear to you, that there are many absurdities in the Roman religion, inconsist
. ent with your judgment and understanding, and many impieties, inconsistent with your conscience; so that, before you can suba
sit to the obligations of faith, you must divest yourself of your natural reason and common sense, and captivate the dictates of your own conscience to the impositions of an authority which hath not any pretence to oblige or advise you. If you will not, with freedom, communicate the doubts which occur to you, to those pear you, of whose learning and piety you have had much experi. ence, let me conjure you to impart them to me, and to expect my answer, before you suffer them to prevail over you.
God bless you and yours,
A MODERN ACCOUNT OF
Being an exact Description of the Country, and a true Character of the People
and their Manners,
the account of its antiquity, why should Scotland be neglect. ed, whose wrinkled surface derives its original from the chaos ? The first inhabitants were some stragglers of the fallen angel , who rested themselves on the confines, till their captain Lucifer provided places for them in his own country. This is the conjecture of learned criticks, who trace things to their originals; and this opinion was grounded on the devil's brats yet resident amongst them (whose foresight, in the events of good and evil, exceeds the oracles at Delphos) the supposed issue of those pristine inhabitants.
Names of countries were not then in fashion ; those came not in till Adam's days; and history, being then in her infancy, makes no mention of the changes of that renowned country. In that in, terval betwixt him and Moses, when their Chronicle commences, she was then baptised (and most think with the sign of the Cross) by the venerable name of Scotland, from Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Hence came the rise and name of these present inhabitants, as their Chronicle informs us, and is not to be doubted of, from divers considerable circumstances; the plagues of Egypt being entailed upon them, that of lice (being a judgment unrepealed) is an ample testimony, these loving animals accompanied them from Egypt, and remain with them to this day, never forsaking them (but as rats leave a house) till they tumble into their graves. The plague of biles and blains is hereditary to them, as a distinguishing mark from the rest of the world, which (like the devil's cloven hoof) warns all men to beware em. The judgment of hail and snow is naturalised and made free denison here, and continues with them from the sun's first ingress into Aries, till he has passed the thirtieth degree of Aquary.
The plague of darkness was said to be thick darkness, to be felt, which most undoubtedly these people have a share in, as the word Exetin, darkness, implies; the darkness being appliable to their gross and blockish understandings (as I had it from a scholar of their own nation). Upon these grounds this original is undeni. ably allowed them, and he country itself (in pyramids) resein bles Egypt, but far exceeds them both in bulk and number; theirs are but the products of men's labours, but these are nature's own handy-work; and, if Atlas would ease a shoulder, here he may be fitted with a supporter.
Italy is compared to a leg, Scotland to a louse, whose legs and engrailed edges represent the promontories and buttings out into the sea, with more nooks and angles than the most conceited of my lord mayor's custards. Nor does the comparison determine here. A louse preys upon its own fosterer and preserver, and is productive of those minute animals called nits; só Scotland, whose proboscis joins too close to England, has sucked away the nu triment from Northumberland, as the country itself is too true a testimony, and, from its opposite a has calved those nitty islands, called the Orcades and the Shetland (quasi Shite-land) islands.
The arms of the kingdom was anciently a Red Lion rampant in a field of gold, but, anno domini 787, they had the augmentation of the double Tressure, for assisting the French king; but his majesty's arms in Scotland is a mere hysteron proteron, the pride of the people being such, as to place the Scots arms in the dexter quarter of the escutcheon, and make the unicorn the dexter supporter, with the thistle at his heel, with a suitable motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, true enough; whoever deals with them shall be sure to smart for it. The thistle was wisely placed there, partly to shew the fertility of the country, nature alone producing plenty of these gay flowers, and partly as an emblem of the people, the top thereof having some colour of a flower, but the bulk and substance of it, is only sharp, and poisonous pricks.
Woods they have none; that suits not with the frugality of the people, who are so far from propagating any, that they destroy those they had upon this politick state maxim, that corn will not grow on the land pestered with its roots, and their branches har. bour birds, animals above their humble conversation, that exceeds not that of hornless quadrupedes. Marry, perhaps, some of their houses Jurk under the shelter of a plump of trees (the birds not daring so high a presumption) like Hugh Peters's puss in her majesty, or an owl in an ivy-bush. Some fir-woods there are in the high-lands, but so inaccessible, that they serve for no other use than dens for those ravenous wolves with two hands, that prey upon their neighbourhood, and shelter themselves under this co. vert; to whom the sight of a stranger is as surprising as that of a cockatrice. The vallies for the most part are covered with beer, or bigg, and the hills with snow; and, as in the northern coun. tries the bears and foxes change their coats into the livery of the
soil, so here the moor-fowl, called Termagants, turn white, to suit the sample, though the inhabitants still stand to their Egyptian hue.
They are freed from the charge and incumbrance of inclosures, the whole being but one large waste, surrounded with the sea. Ina deed, in many places you may see half a rood of land divided with an earthern bank, into many differing apartments, according to the quality of beasts that are to possess them.
The whole country will make up a park, forest, or chace, as you will please to call it; but, if you desire an account of parti. cular parks, they are innumerable, every small house having a few sodds thrown into a little bank about it, and this for the state of the business, forsooth, must be called a park, though not a pole of land in it.
If the air was not pure and well refined by its agitation, it would be so infected with the stink of their towns, and the steams of the nasty inhabitants, that it would be pestilential and destructive. Indeed, it is too thin for their gross senses, that must be fed with suitable viands, their meat not affecting their distem pered palates, without having a damnable hogoe; nor musick their ears, without loud and harsh discord, and their nostrils (like a Jew's) chiefly de. light in the perceptible efiluviums of an old Sir R
Fowl are as scarce here as birds of paradise, the charity of the inhabitants denying harbour to such celestial animals, though gulls and cormorants abound, there being a greater sympathy betwixt them. There is one sort of ravenous fowl amongst them, that has one web-foot, one foot suited for land, and another for water; but, whether or no this fowl, being particular to this country, be not a lively picture of the inhabitants, I shall leave to wiser conjectures.
Their rivers, or rather arms of the sea, are short, few places in Scotlar:d being above a day's journey from the sea ; but they are broad, deep, and dangerous, pestered with multitudes of porpoises, or sharks (some of them, perhaps, amphibious too, that live more on land than water) and destroy their salmon, the great commodity of this country ; which, being too good for the inhabitants, are barreled up, and converted into merchandise, &c. The banks and borders of these rivers, especially near their towns, are adorned with hardy amazons, though inverted, their valour being chiefly from the waist downwards; which parts they readily expose to all the dangers of a naked rencounter. The exercise of their arms (I should say, feet) is much about linnen ; sheets are sufferers; a fit receiver is provided (not unlike a shallow pulpit to mind them of their idol sermons) wherein foul linnen is laid to suffer persecu. tion; so they turn up all, and tuck them about their waists, and bounce into a buck-tub; then go their stock, and belabour poor lint, till there be not a dry thread on it: Hence came the invention of fulling-mills; the women taught the men, and they put in practice.
The country is full of lakes and loughs, and they well stocked