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I take it for granted, that a Christian is not bound to believe any Thing to have been of Divine Institution, that has not been declared to be such in Holy Writ. Yet great Offence has been taken at an Essay, in the First Part of the Fable of the Bees, call'd An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue; notwithstanding the great Caution it is wrote with. Since then, it is thought Criminal to surmise, that even Heathen Virtue was of Human Invention, and the Reader, in the following Dialogues, will find me to persist in the Opinion, that it was; I beg his Patience to peruse what I have to say for my self on this Head, which is all I shall trouble him with here.
The Word Morality is either synonimous with Virtue, or signifies that Part of Philosophy, which treats of it, and teaches the Regulation of Manners; and by the Words Moral Virtue, I mean the same Thing which I believe Every body else does. I am likewise fully persuaded that to govern our selves according to the Dictates of Reason, is far better than to indulge the Passions without Stop or Controul, and consequently that Virtue is more beneficial than Vice, not only for the Peace and real Happiness of Society in general, but likewise for the Temporal Felicity of every individual Member of it, abstract from thee Consideration of a future State, I am moreover convinced, that all wise Men ever were and ever will be of this Opinion; and I shall never oppose Any body, who shall be pleased to call this an Eternal Truth.
Having allow'd and own'd thus much, I beg Leave to make a short Grammatical Reflection on the Sounds or Letters we make use of to express this rational Management of ourselves: For tho' the Truth of its Excellency is Eternal, the Words Moral Virtue themselves are not so, any more than Speech or Man himself. Permit me therefore to enquire which Way it is most probably, they must have come into the World.
The Word Moral, without Doubt, comes from Mos, and signifies every Thing that relates to Manners: The Word Ethick is synonimous with Moral, and is derived from [Greek: ithik], which is exactly the same in Greek, that Mos is in Latin. The Greek for Virtu, is [Greek: arete], which is derived from [Greek: ares], the God of War and properly signifies Martial Virtue. The same Word in Latin, if we believe Cicero, comes from Vir; and the genuine Signification likewise of the Word Virtus is Fortitude. It is hardly to be conceived, but that in the first Forming of all Societies, there must have been Struggles for Superiority; and therefore it is reasonable to imagine, that in all the Beginnings of Civil Government, and the Infancy of Nations, Strength and Courage must have been the most valuable Qualifications for some Time. This makes me think, that Virtus, in its first Acceptation, might, with great Justice and Propriety, be in English render'd Manliness; which fully expresses the Original Meaning of it, and shews the Etymology equally with the Latin; and whoever is acquainted with that Language must know, that it was some ages before the Romans used it in any other Sense. Nay, to this Day, the Word Virtus by it self, in any of their Historians, has the same Signification, as if the Word Bellica had been added. We have Reason to think, that, as First, Nothing was meant by Virtus, but Daring and Intrepidity, right or wrong; or else if could never have been made to signify Savageness, and brutish Courage; as Tacitus, in the Fourth Book of his History, makes use of it manifestly in that Sense. Even Wild Beasts, says he, if you keep them shut up, will lose their Fierceness. Etiam sera animalia, si clausa teneas, virtutis obliviseuntur.
What the Great Men of Rome valued themselves upon was active and passive Bravery, Warlike Virtue, which is so strongly express'd in the Words of Livy: Et facere & pati fortia Romanum est. But besides the Consideration of the great Service, All Warriours received from this Virtue, there is a very good Reason in the Nature of the Thing it self, why it should be in far higher Esteem than any other. The Passion it has to struggle with, is the most violent and stubborn, and consequently the hardest to be conquer'd, the Fear of Death: The least Conflict with it is harsh Work, and a difficult Task; and it is in Regard to this, that Cicero, in his Offices, calls Modesty, Justice and Temperance, the softer and easier Virtues. Qui virtutibus bis lenioribus erit ornatus, modestia, justitia temperantia, &c. Justice and Temperance require Professors as grave and solemnn, and demand as much Strictness and Observance as any other Virtues. Why lenioribus then; but that they are more mild and gentle in the Restrain they lay upon our Inclinations, and that the Self-denial they require is more practicable and less mortifying than that of Virtue itself, as it is taken in it proper and genuine Sense? To be Just or Temperate, we have Temptations to encounter, and Difficulties to surmount, that are troublesome: But the Efforts we are oblig'd to make upon our selves to be truyly Valiant are infinitely greater; and, in order to it, we are overcome the First, the strongest and most lasting Passion, that has been implanted in us; for tho' we may hate and have Aversion to many Things by Instinct, yet this is Nothing so generally terrible, and so generally dreadful to all Creatures, rational or not rational, as the Dissolution of their Being.
Upon due Consideration of what has been said, it will be easy to imagine how and why, soon after Fortitude had been honoured with the Name of Virtue, all the other Branches of Conquest over our selves were dignify'd with the same Title. We may see in it likewise the Reason of what I have always so strenuously insisted upon, viz. That no Practice, no Action or good Quality, how useful or beneficial soever they may be in them selves, can ever deserve the Name of Virtue, strictly speaking, where there is not a palpable Self-denial to be seen. In Tract of Time, the Sense of the Word Virtus received still a grated Latitude; and it signify'd Worth, Strength, Authority, and Goodness of all Kinds: Plautus makes use of it, for Assistance. Virtute Deûm, by the Help of the Gods. By Degrees it was applied not only to Brutes, Est in juveneis, est in equis patrum Virtus, but likewise to Things inanimate and was made Use of to express the Power, and peculiar Qualities of Vegetables and Minerals of all Sorts, as it continues to be to this Day. The Virtue of the Loadstone, the Virtue of Opium, &c. It is highly probable, that the Word Moral, either in Greek or Latin, never was thought of before the Signification of the Word Virtue had been extended so far beyond its Original; and then in speaking of the Virtues of our Species, the Addition of that Epithet became necessary, to denote the Relation they had to our Manners, and distinguish them from the Properties and Efficacy of Plants, Stones, &c. which were likewise call'd Virtues.
If I am wrong, I shall be glad to see a better Account, how this Adjective and Substantive came to be join'd together. In the mean Time, I am very sure, that this is Nothing strain'd or forc'd in my Supposition. That the Words, in Tract of Time, are be come of greater Importance, I don't deny. The Words Clown and Villain have opprobrious Meanings annex'd to them, that were never implied in Colonus and Villanus, from which they were undoubtedly derived. Moral, for ought I know, may now signify Virtue, in the same Manner and for the same Reason, that Panic signifies Fear.
That this Conjecture or Opinion of mine, should be detracting from the Dignity of Moral Virtue, or have a Tendency to bring it into Disrepute, I can not see. I have already own'd, that it ever was and ever will be preferable to Vice, in the Opinion of all wise Men. But to call Virtue it self Eternal, can not be done without a strangely Figurative Way of Speaking. There is no Doubt, but all Mathematical Truths are Eternal, yet they are taught; and some of them are very abstruse, and the Knowledge of them never was acquir'd without great Labour and Depth of Thought. Euclid had his Merit; and it does not appear that the Doctrine of the Fluxions was known before Sir Isaac Newton discover'd that concise Way of Computation; and it is not impossible that there should be another Method, as yet unknown, still more compendious, that may not be found out these Thousand Years.
All Propositions, not confin'd to Time or Place, that are once true, must be always so; even in the silliest and most abject Things in the World; as for Example, It is wrong to under-roast Mutton for People who love to have their Meat well done. The Truth of this, which is the most trifling Thing I can readily think on, is as much Eternal, as that of the Sublimest Virtue. If you ask me, where this Truth was, before there was Mutton, or People to dress or eat it, I answer, in the same Place where Chastity was, before there were any Creatures that had an Appetite to procreate their Species. This puts me in mind of the inconsiderate Zeal of some Men, who even in Metaphysicks, know not how to think abstractly, and cannot forebear mixing their own Meanness and Imbecillities, with the Idea's they form of the Supreme Being.
There is no Virtue that has a Name, but it curbs, regulates, or subdues some Passion that is peculiar to Humane Nature; and therefore to say, that God has all the Virtues in the highest Perfection, wants as much the Apology, that it is an Expression accommodated to vulgar Capacities, as that he has Hands and Feet, and is angry. For as God has not a Body, nor any Thing that is Corporeal belonging to his Essence, so he is entirely free from Passions and Fralities. With what Propriety then can we attribute any Thing to him that was invented, or at least signifies a Strength or Ability to conquer or govern Passions and Fralities? The Holiness of God, and all his Perfections, as well as the Beatitude he exists in, belong to his Nature; and there is no Virtue but what is acquired. It signifies Nothing to add, that God has those Virtues in the highest Perfection; let them be what they will, as to Perfection, they must still be Virtues; which, for the aforesaid Reasons, it is impertinent to ascribe to the Diety. Our Thoughts of God should be as worthy of him as we are able to frame them; and as they can not be adequate to his Greatness, so they oughts at least to be abstract from every Thing that does or can belong to silly, reptile Man: And it is sufficient, whenever we venture to speak of a Subject so immensly far beyond our Reach, to say, that there is a perfect and compleat Goodness in the Divine Nature, infinitely surpassing not only the highest Perfection, which the most virtuous Men can arrive at, but likewise every Thing that Mortals can conceive about it.
I recommend the fore-going Paragraph to the Consideration of the Advocates for the Eternity and Divine Original of Virtue; assuring them, that, if I am mistaken, it is not owing to any Perverseness of my Will, but Want of Understanding.
The Opinion, that there can be no Virtue without Self-denial, is more advantagious to Society than the contrary Doctrine, which is a vast Inlet to Hypocrisy, as I have shewn at large : Yet I am willing to allow, that Men may contract a Habit of Virtue, so as to practise it, without being sensible of Self-denial, and even that they may take Pleasure in Actions that would be impracticable to the Vicious: But then it is manifest, that this Habit is the Work of Art, Education and Custom; and it never was acquired, where the Conquest over the Passions had not be already made. There is no Virtuous Man of Forty Years, but he may remember the Conflict he had with some Appetites before he was Twenty. How natural seem all Civilities to be a Gentleman! Yet Time was, that he would not have made his Bow, if he had not been bid.
[Footnote 1: Fable of the Bees. p. ii. P. 106.]
Whoever has read the Second Part of the Fable of the Bees, will see, that in these Dialogues I make Use of the same Persons, who are the Interlocutors there, and whose Characters have been already draw in the Preface of that Book.
Honour is built upon a Passion in Human Nature, for which there is no Name
The Author's Reasons for Coining the Word Self-liking
How the Passion of Self-liking is discovered in Infants
A Definition of Honour, and what it is in Substance
The Author's Opinion illustrated by what we know of Dishonour or Shame
The different Symptoms of Pride and Shame in the Mechanism of Man
Are both the Result of the same Passion
The Word Honour, as it signifies a Principle of Courage and Virtue, is of Gothick Extraction
All Societies of Men are perpetually in Quest after Happiness
The true Reason, why no Nations can be govern'd without Religion, enquired into
Why no one Sort or Degree of Idolatry can be more or less absurd than another
For what Purpose all Religions may be equally serviceable
All Men are born with the Fear of an invisible Cause
The Usefulness of that Fear, as to Religion
The Impossibility of making Atheism universally received
Religion no Invention of Politicians
The Benefit expected from the Notions of Honour
The Reasonableness of Mens Actions examined
How the Strictness of the Gospel came to be first disapproved of, and the Consequence
How Mens Actions may be inconsistent with their Belief
That many bad Christians were yet kept in Awe by the Fear of Shame, gave the first Handle to the Invention of Honour as a Principle
What it is we are afraid of in the Fear of Shame
Why the Principle of Honour has been of more Use to Society than that of Virtue
The Principle of Honour, clashing with Christianity
Reasons why the Church of Rome endeavour'd to reconcile them
The real Design of Legends and Romances
The Stratagems of the Church of Rome to enslave the Laity
What gave Rise to the Custom of Duelling
Of the Principle of Honour in the fair Sex
The Motives of Women who turn Nuns, seldom Religious
Which is most serviceable to the Preservation of Chastity in Women, Religion, or Self-liking
How the Notions concerning the Principle of Honour came to be commonly received
The Qualifications thought Necessary in a Man of Honour
But Courage alone is sufficient to obtain the Title
When the Fashion of Duelling was at its greatest Height
Courts of Honour erected in France
Laws of Honour made by them to prevent Duelling
Why those Laws were the Reverse of all others
The Laws of Honour introduced as speaking
The Effect such Laws must have on Human Nature
The Arguments a true Christian would make use of to dissuade Men from Duelling
The Reasons why Men are despised who take Affronts without resenting them
No Scarcity of Believers in Christ
The Principle of Honour contrary to Christianity
Why the Principle of Honour is of greater Efficacy upon many than Religion
How Men may adore themselves
Equivalents for Swearing
A ludicrous Proposal of Horatio upon the Supposition, that Honor is an Idol
A Passage in the Fable of the Bees Defended
Satyr as little to be depended upon as Panegyrick
Whatever belongs to Honour or Shame, has its Foundation in the Passion of Self-liking
The Church of Rome's cunning in consulting and humouring Human Nature
Heraldry of great influence on the Passion of Self-liking
Of Canonizations of Saint, and the different Purposes they serve
The want of Foresight in the first Reformers
The worldly Wisdom of the Church of Rome
Hor. owning the Self-denial required in the Gospel in a literal Sense
The great Use she has made of it
The Analogy between the Popish Religion and a Manufacture
The Danger there is in explaining away the Self-denial of the Gospel
How the Self-denial of some may seem to be of use to others that practise none
Easy Casuists can only satisfy the Beau Monde
Jesuits don't, explain away Self-denial in General
What sort of Preachers will soonest gain Credit among the Multitude
Men may easily be taught to believe what is not Clashing with received Opinions
The force of Education as to Self-denial
The Advantage the Church of Rome has made from vulgar Nations
Divines, who appeal to Men's Reason, ought to behave differently from those, who teach implicite Faith.
Why the Luxury of a Popish Clergy gives less Offence to the Laity, than that of Protestants
What the Church of Rome seems no to dispair of
The Politicks of Rome more formidable than any other
What must always keep up the Popish Interest in Great-Britain
The most probable Maxims to hinder the Growth as well as Irreligion and Impiety as of Popery and Superstition
When the literal Sense of Words is to be prefer'd to the figurative
What the Reformers might have foreseen
What has been and ever will be the Fate of all Sects
The Beginning of all Earthly Things was mean
The Reason of the high Value Men have for things in which they have but the least Share
Whether the best Christians make the best Soldiers
Remarks on the Word Difference
An excursion of Horatio Why Religious Wars are the most Cruel
The Pretensions of the Huguenot Army in France, and that of the Roundheads in England near the same
What was answered by their Adversaries
What would be the natural Consequeuce of such Differences
The Effect which such a Contrariety of Interests would always have on the sober Party
Superstition and Enthusiasm may make Men fight, but the Doctrine of Christ never can
What is required in a Soldier to be call'd virtuous and good
Instances where debauch'd Fellows and the greatest Rogues have fought well
What is connived at in Soldiers and what not
Divines in Armies seldom rigid Casuists
How Troops may aquire the Character of being good Christians
Why Divines are necessary in Armies
Why the worst Religion is more beneficial to Society than Atheism
Whether Preachers of the Gospel ever made Men Fight
The use that may be made of the Old Testament
An everlasting Maxim in Politicks
When the Gospel is preach'd to military Men, and when it is let aside
Whether Cromwel's Views in promoting an outward Shew of Piety were Religious or Political
The Foundation of the Quarrels that occasion'd the Civil War
How Men who are sincere in their Religion may be made to Act contrary to the Precept of it
When the Gospel ought no longer to be appeald to
A promise to prove what seems to be a Paradox
What all Priests have labour'd at in all Armies
The Sentiments that were instill'd into the Minds of the Roundheads
The Use which it is probable, a crafty wicked General would make of a Conjucture, as here hinted at
How Men may be sincere and in many Respects morally good, and bad Christians
How an obsure Man might raise himself to the highest Post in an Army, and be thought a Saint tho' he was an Atheist
How wicked men may be useful soldiers
How the most obdurate Wretch might receive benefit as a soldier from an outward Shew of Devotion in others
That Men may be sincere Believers and yet lead wicked Lives
Few Men are wicked from a desire to be so
How even bad Men may be chear'd up by Preaching
Hyopcrites to save an outward Appearance may be as useful as Men of Sincerity
There are two sorts of Hypocrites very different from one another
An Objection of Horatio, concerning Fast-Days
What War they would be useful in, if duely kept
How Christianity may be made serviceable to Anti-Christian Purposes
What is understood in England by keeping a Fast-Day
The real Doctrine of Christ can give no Encouragement for Fighting
Instances, where Divines seem not to think themselves strictly tied to the Gospel
The Art of Preaching in Armies
The Use which Politicians may make of extraordinary Days of Devotion, abstract from all Thoughts of Religion
The miserable Nations, which many of the Vulgar have of Religion
How the Rememberance of a Fast-Day may affect a Wicked Soldier
The Power which Preaching may have upon ignorant Well-wishers to Religion
The Days of Supplication among the Ancients
A general Show of Religion cannot be procured at all Times
What Conjuncture it is only practicable in
A Character of Oliver Cromwell
A Spirit of Gentility introduced among Military Men
An improvement in the Art of Flattery
A Demonstration that what made the Men fight well in the late Wars was not their Religion
Why no Armies could subsist without Religion
A Recapitulation of what has been advanced in this and the former Dialogue
ERRATA Page 81. Line 6. read Influence. P. 94. l. 12. r. Proprætors. P. 174. l. 3. r. Rites.
Horatio. I Wonder you never attempted to guess at the Origin of Honour, as you have done at that of Politeness, and your Friend in his Fable of the Bees has done at the Origin of Virtue.
Cleo. I have often thought of it, and am satisfied within my self, that my Conjecture about it is Just; but there are Three substantial Reasons, why I have hitherto kept it to my Self, and never yet mention'd to any One, what my Sentiments are concerning the Origin of that charming Sound.
Hor. Let me hear your Reasons however.
Cleo. The Word Honour, is used in such different Acceptations, is now a Verb, then a Noun, sometimes taken for the Reward of Virtue, sometimes for a Principle that leads to Virtue, and, at others again, signifies Virtue it self; that it would be a very hard Task to take in every Thing that belongs to it, and at the same Time avoid Confusion in Treating of it. This is my First Reason. The Second is: That to set forth and explain my Opinion on this Head to others with Perspicuity, would take up so much Time, that few People would have the Patience to hear it, or think it worth their while to bestow so much Attention, as it would require, on what the greatest Part of Mankind would think very trifling.
Hor. This Second whets my Curiosity: pray, what is your Third Reason?
Cleo. That the very Thing, to which, in my Opinion, Honour owes its Birth, is a Passion in our Nature, for which there is no Word coin'd yet, no Name that is commonly known and receiv'd in any Language.
Hor. That is very strange.
Cleo. Yet not less true. Do you remember what I said of Self-liking in our Third Conversation, when I spoke of the Origin of Politeness?
Hor. I do; but you know, I hate Affectation and Singularity of all sorts. Some Men are fond of uncouth Words of their own making, when there are other Words already known, that sound better, and would equally explain their Meaning: What you call'd then Self-liking at last prov'd to be Pride, you know.
Cleo. Self-liking I have call'd that great Value, which all Individuals set upon their own Persons; that high Esteem, which I take all Men to be born with for themselves. I have proved from what is constantly observ'd in Suicide, that there is such a Passion in Human Nature, and that it is plainly  distinct from Self-love. When this Self-liking is excessive, and so openly shewn as to give Offence to others, I know very well it is counted a Vice and call'd Pride: But when it is kept out of Sight, or is so well disguis'd as not to appear in its own Colours, it has no Name, tho' Men act from that and no other Principle.
[Footnote 2: Fable of the Bees, part II. p. 141]
Hor. When what you call Self-liking, that just Esteem which Men have naturally for themselves, is moderate, and spurs them on to good Actions, it is very laudable, and is call'd the Love of Praise or a Desire of the Applause of others. Why can't you take up with either of these Names?
Cleo. Because I would not confound the Effect with the Cause. That Men are desirous of Praise, and love to be applauded by others, is the Result, a palpable Consequence, of that Self-liking which reigns in Human Nature, and is felt in every one's Breast before we have Time or Capacity to reflect and think of Any body else. What Moralists have taught us concerning the Passions, is very superficial and defective. Their great Aim was the Publick Peace, and the Welfare of the Civil Society; to make Men governable, and unite Multitudes in one common Interest.
Hor. And is it possible that Men can have a more noble Aim in Temporals?
Cleo. I don't deny that; but as all their Labours were only tending to those Purposes, they neglected all the rest; and if they could but make Men useful to each other and easy to themselves, they had no Scruple about the Means they did it by, nor any Regard to Truth or the Reality of Things; as is evident from the gross Absurdities they have made Men swallow concerning their own Nature, in spight of what All felt within. In the Culture of Gardens, whatever comes up in the Paths is weeded out as offensive and flung upon the Dunghill; out among the Vegetables that are all thus promiscously thrown away for Weeds, there may be many curious Plants, on the Use and Beauty of which a Botanist would read long Lectures. The Moralists have endeavour'd to rout Vice, and clear the Heart of all hurtful Appetites and Inclinations: We are beholden to them for this in the same Manner as we are to Those who destroy Vermin, and clear the Countries of all noxious Creatures. But may not a Naturalist dissect Moles, try Experiments upon them, and enquire into the Nature of their Handicraft, without Offence to the Mole-catchers, whose Business it is only to kill them as fast as they can?
Hor. What Fault is it you find with the Moralists? I can't see what you drive at.
Cleo. I would shew you, that the Want of Accuracy in them, when they have treated of Human Nature, makes it extremely difficult to speak intelligibly of the different Faculties of our intellectual Part. Some Things are very essential, and yet have no Name, as I have given an Instance in that Esteem which Men have naturally for themselves, abstract from Self-love, and which I have been forced to coin the Word Self-liking for: Others are miscall'd and said to be what they are not. So most of the Passions are counted to be Weaknesses, and commonly call'd Frailties; whereas they are the very Powers that govern the whole Machine; and, whether they are perceived or not, determine or rather create The Will that immediately precedes every deliberate Action.
Hor. I now understand perfectly well what you mean by Self-liking. You are of Opinion, that we are all born with a Passion manifestly distinct from Self-love; that, when it is moderate and well regulated, excites in us the Love of Praise, and a Desire to be applauded and thought well of by others, and stirs us up to good Actions: but that the same Passion, when it is excessive, or ill turn'd, whatever it excites in our Selves, gives Offence to others, renders us odious, and is call'd Pride. As there is no Word or Expression that comprehends all the different Effects of this same Cause, this Passion, you have made one, viz. Self-liking, by which you mean the Passion in general, the whole Extent of it, whether it produces laudable Actions, and gains us Applause, or such as we are blamed for and draw upon us the ill Will of others.
Cleo. You are extremely right; this was my Design in coining the Word Self-liking.
Hor. But you said, that Honour owes its Birth to this Passion; which I don't understand, and wish you would explain to me.
Cleo. To comprehend this well, we ought to consider, that as all Human Creatures are born with this Passion, so the Operations of it are manifestly observed in Infants; as soon as they begin to be conscious and to reflect, often before they can speak or go.
Hor. As how?
Cleo. If they are praised, or commended, tho' they don't deserve it, and good Things are said of them, tho' they are not true, we see, that Joy is raised in them, and they are pleased: On the Contrary, when they are reproved and blamed, tho' they know themselves to be in Fault, and bad Things are said of them, tho' Nothing but Truth, we see it excites Sorrow in them and often Anger. This Passion of Self-liking, then, manifesting it self so early in all Children that are not Idiots, it is inconceivable that Men should not be sensible, and plainly feel, that they have it long before they are grown up: And all Men feeling themselves to be affected with it, tho' they know no Name for the Thing it self, it is impossible, that they should long converse together in Society without finding out, not only that others are influenced with it as well as themselves, but likewise which Way to please or displease one another on Account of this Passion.
Hor. But what is all this to Honour?
Cleo. I'll shew you. When A performs an Action which, in the Eyes of B, is laudable, B wishes well to A; and, to shew him his Satisfaction, tells him, that such an Action is an Honour to Him, or that He ought to be Honoured for it: By saying this, B, who knows that all Men are affected with Self-liking, intends to acquaint A, that he thinks him in the Right to gratify and indulge himself in the Passion of Self-liking. In this Sense the Word Honour, whether it is used as a Noun or a Verb, is always a Compliment we make to Those who act, have, or are what we approve of; it is a Term of Art to express our Concurrence with others, our Agreement with them in their Sentiments concerning the Esteem and Value they have for themselves. From what I have said, it must follow, that the greater the Multitudes are that express this Concurrence, and the more expensive, the more operose, and the more humble the Demonstrations of it are, the more openly likewise they are made, the longer they last, and the higher the Quality is of Those who join and assist in this Concurrence, this Compliment; the greater, without all Dispute, is the Honour which is done to the Person in whose Favour these Marks of Esteem are displayed: So that the highest Honour which Men can give to Mortals, whilst alive, is in Substance no more, than the most likely and most effectual Means that Human Wit can invent to gratify, stir up, and encrease in Him, to whom that Honour is paid, the Passion of Self-liking.
Hor. I am afraid it is true.
Cleo. To render what I have advanced more conspicuous, we need only look into the Reverse of Honour, which is Dishonour or Shame, and we shall find, that this could have had no Existence any more than Honour, if there had not been such a Passion in our Nature as Self-liking. When we see Others commit such Actions, as are vile and odious in our Opinion, we say, that such Actions are a Shame to them, or that they ought to be ashamed of them. By this we shew, that we differ from them in their Sentiments concerning the Value which we know, that they, as well as all Mankind, have for their own Persons; and are endeavouring to make them have an ill Opinion of themselves, and raise in them that sincere Sorrow, which always attends Man's reflecting on his own Unworthiness. I desire, you would mind, that the Actions which we thus condemn as vile and odious, need not to be so but in our own Opinion; for what I have said happens among the worst of Rogues, as well as among the better Sort of People. If one Villain should neglect picking a Pocket, when he might have done it with Ease, another of the same Gang, who was near him and saw this, would upbraid him with it in good Earnest, and tell him, that he ought to be ashamed of having slipt so fair an Opportunity. Sometimes Shame signifies the visible Disorders that are the Symptoms of this sorrowful Reflection on our own Unworthiness; at others, we give that Name to the Punishments that are inflicted to raise those Disorders; but the more you will examine into the Nature of either, the more you will see the Truth of what I have asserted on this Head; and all the Marks of Ignominy, that can be thought of; have a plain Tendency to mortify Pride; which, in other Words, is to disturb, take away and extirpate every Thought of Self-liking.
Hor. The Author of the Fable of the Bees, I think, pretends somewhere to set down the different Symptoms of Pride and Shame.
Cleo. I believe they are faithfully copied from Nature. —— Here is the Passage; pray read it.
Hor.  When a Man is overwhelm'd with Shame, he observes a Sinking of the Spirits; the Heart feels cold and condensed, and the Blood flies from it to the Circumference of the Body; the Face glows; the Neck and part of the Breast partake of the Fire: He is heavy as Lead; the Head is hung down; and the Eyes through a Mist of Confusion are fix'd on the Ground: No Injuries can move him; he is weary of his Being, and heartily wishes he could make himself invisible: But when, gratifying his Vanity, he exults in his Pride, he discovers quite contrary Symptoms; his Spirits swell and fan the Arterial Blood; a more than ordinary Warmth strengthens and dilates the Hear; the Extremities are cool; he feels Light to himself, and imagines he could tread on Air; his Head is held up; his Eyes are roll'd about with Sprightliness; he rejoices at his Being, is prone to Anger, and would be glad that all the World could take Notice of him.
[Footnote 3: Fable of the Bees, Page 57.]
Cleo. That's all.
Hor. But you see, he took Pride and Shame to be two distinct Passions; nay, in another Place he has call'd them so.
Cleo. He did; but it was an Errour, which I know he is willing to own.
Hor. what he is willing to own I don't know; but I think he is in the Right in what he says of them in his Book. The Symptoms of Pride and Shame are so vastly different, that to me it is inconceivable, they should proceed from the fame Passion.
Cleo. Pray think again with Attention, and you'll be of my Opinion. My Friend compares the Symptoms that are observed in Human Creatures when they exult in their Pride, with those of the Mortification they feel when they are overwhelm'd with Shame. The Symptoms, and if you will the Sensations, that are felt in the Two Cases, are, as you say, vastly different from one another; but no Man could be affected with either, if he had not such a Passion in his Nature, as I call Self-liking. Therefore they are different Affections of one and the same Passion, that are differently observed in us, according as we either enjoy Pleasure, or are aggriev'd on Account of that Passion; in the same Manner as the most happy and the most miserable Lovers are happy and miserable on the Score of the same Passion. Do but compare the Pleasure of a Man, who with an extraordinary Appetite is feasting on what is delicious to him, to the Torment of another, who is extremely hungry, and can get Nothing to eat. No Two Things in the World can be more different, than the Pleasure of the One is from the Torment of the other; yet Nothing is more evident, than that both are derived from and owing to the same craving principle in our nature, the Desire of Food; for when this is entirely lost, it is more vexatious to eat, than it is to let it alone, tho' the whole Body languishes, and we are ready to expire for Want of Sustenance. Hitherto I have spoken of honour in its first literal Sense, in which it is a Technic Word in the Art of Civility, and signifies a Means which Men by Conversing together have found out to please and gratify one another on Account of a palpable Passion in our Nature, that has no Name, and which therefore I call Self-liking. In this Sense I believe the Word Honour, both as a Verb and a Noun, to be as Ancient as the oldest Language. But there is another Meaning besides, belonging to the same Sound; and Honour signifies likewise a principle of Courage, Virtue, and Fidelity, which some men are said to act from, and to be aw'd by, as others are by Religion. In this latter Sense, it is much more modern, and I don't believe to be met with a Thousand Years ago in any Language.
Hor. How! Is it but within these Thousand Years that there have been men of Bravery and Virtue? Have not the Greeks and Romans had great Numbers of them? Were not the Horatii and Curiatii Men of Honour?
Cleo. They never were call'd so. All Ages and most Countries have produced Men of Virtue and Bravery; but this I do not enquire into now: What I assert to be modern is the Phrase, the Term of Art; it is that which the Ancients knew Nothing of; nor can you with Ten Words, in either Greek or Latin, express the entire Idea which is annex'd to the Word Honour when it signifies a Principle. To be a Man of Honour, it is not sufficient, that he, who assumes that Title, is brave in War, and dares to fight against the Enemies of his Country; but he must likewise be ready to engage in private Quarrels, tho' the Laws of God and his Country forbid it. He must bear no Affront without resenting it, nor refuse a Challenge, if it be sent to him in a proper Manner by a Man of Honour. I make no Doubt, but this Signification of the Word Honour is entirely Gothick, and sprung up in some of the most ignorant Ages of Christianity. It seems to have been Invention to influence Men, whom Religion had no Power over. All Human Creatures have a restless Desire of mending their Condition; and in all Civil Societies and Communions of Men there seems to be a Spirit at Work, that, in Spight of the continual Opposition it receives from Vice and Misfortunes, is always labouring for, and seeking after what can never be obtain'd whilst the World stands.
Hor. What is that pray?
Cleo. To make Men compleatly Happy upon Earth. Thus Men make Laws to obviate every Inconveniency they meet with; and as Times discover to them the Insufficiency of those Laws, they make others with an Intent to enforce, mend, explain or repeal the former; till the Body of Laws grows to such an enormous Bulk, that to understand it is a tedious prolix Study, and the Numbers that follow and belong to the Practise of it, come to be a Grievance almost as great as could be fear'd from Injustice and Oppression. Nothing is more necessary than that Property should be secured; and it is impossible but on many Occasions Men must trust one another in the Civil Society. Now Nothing has ever been thought to be more obligatory or a greater Tie upon Man than Religion.
Hor. This I have often wonder'd at: Considering the Absurdities on the Religion of the Greeks and Romans, the bad Examples and Immoralities of their Deities, the ridiculous Fables of a Charon, a Styx, a Cerberus, &c, and the obscenity display'd in several of their Festivals, I cannot conceive how Men could expect, that such Religions should make Men Honest, or do any good to their Morals; and yet, which is amazing to me, most wise men in all Ages have agreed, that, without some Religion or other, it would be impossible to govern any considerable Nation. However, I believe it is Fact, that it never was done.
Cleo. That no large Society of Men can be well govern'd without Religion, and that there never was a Nation that had not some Worship, and did not believe in some Deity or other, is most certain: But what do you think is the Reason of that?
Hor. Because Multitudes must be aw'd by Something that is terrible, as Flames of Hell, and Fire everlasting; and it is evident, that if it was not for the Fear of an After-Reckoning, some Men would be so wicked, that there would be no living with them.
Cleo. Pray, how wicked would they be? What Crimes would they commit?
Hor. Robbing, Murdering, Ravishing.
Cleo. And are not often here, as well as in other Nations, People convicted of, and punished for those Crimes?
Hor. I am satisfied, the Vulgar could not be managed without Religion of some Sort or other; for the Fear of Futurity keeps Thousands in Awe, who, without that Reflection, would all be guilty of those Crimes which are now committed only by a Few.
Cleo. This is a Surmise without any Foundation. It has been said a Thousand Times by Divines of all Sects; but No body has ever shewn the least Probability of its being true; and daily Experience gives us all the Reason in the World to think the Contrary; for there are Thousands, who, throughout the Course of their Lives, seem not to have the least Regard to a future State, tho' they are Believers, and yet these very People are very cautious of committing any Thing which the Law would punish. You'll give me Leave to observe by the By, that to believe what you say, a Man must have a worse Opinion of his Species, than ever the Author of the Fable of the Bees appears to have had yet.
Hor. Don't mistake me: I am far from believing, that Men of Sense and Education are to be frighten'd with those Bugbears.
Cleo. And what I say, I don't mean of Libertines or Deist; but Men, that to all outward Appearance are Believers, that go to Church, receive the Sacrament, and at the Approach of Death are observed to be really afraid of Hell. And yet of these, many are Drunkards, Whoremasters, Adulterers, and not a Few of them betray their Trust, rob their Country, defraud Widows and Orphans, and make wronging their Neighbours their daily Practice.
Hor. What Temporal Benefit can Religion be of to the Civil Society, if it don't keep People in Awe?
Cleo. That's another Question. We both agree, that no Nation or large Society can be well govern'd without Religion. I ask'd you the Reason of this: You tell me, because the Vulgar could not be kept in Awe without it. In Reply to this, I point at a Thousand Instances, where Religion is not of the Efficacy, and shew you withal that this End of keeping Men in Awe is much better obtain'd by the Laws and temporal Punishment; and that it is the Fear of them, which actually restrains great Numbers of wicked People; I might say All, without Exception, of whom there is any Hope or Possibility, that they can be curb'd at all, or restrain'd by any Thing whatever: For such Reprobates as can make a Jest of the Gallows, and are not afraid of Hanging, will laugh likewise at Hell and defy Damnation.
Hor. If the Reason I alledge is insufficient, pray give me a better.
Cleo. I'll endeavour it. The First Business of all Governments, I mean the Task which all Rulers must begin with, is, to make Men tractable and obedient, which is not to be perform'd unless we can make them believe, that the Instructions and Commands we give them have a plain Tendency to the Good of every Individual, and that we say Nothing to them, but what we know to be true. To do this effectually, Human Nature ought to be humour'd as well as studied: Whoever therefore takes upon him to govern a Multitude, ought to inform himself of those Sentiments that are the natural Result of the Passions and Frailties which every Human Creature is born with.
Hor. I don't understand what Sentiments you speak of.
Cleo. I'll explain my self. All Men are born with Fear; and as they are likewise born with a Desire of Happiness and Self-Preservation, it is natural for them to avoid Pain and every Thing that makes them uneasy; and which, by a general Word, is call'd Evil. Fear being that Passion which inspires us with a strong Aversion to Evil, it is very natural to think that it will put us up on enquiring into the means to shun it. I have told you already, in our Fifth Conversation, how this Aversion to Evil, and Endeavour to shun it, this Principle of Fear, would always naturally dispose Human Creatures to suspect the Existence of an intelligent Cause that is invisible, whenever any Evil happen'd to them, which came they knew not whence, and of which the Author was not to be seen. If you remember what I said then, the Reasons why no Nations can be govern'd without Religion, will be obvious. Every Individual, whether he is a Savage, or is born in a Civil Society, is persuaded within, that there is such an invisible Cause; and should any Mortal contradict this, no Multitude would believe a Word of what he said. Whereas, on the other Hand, if a Ruler humours this Fear, and puts it out of all Doubt, that there is such an invisible Cause, he may say of it what he pleases; and no Multitude, that was never taught any Thing to the contrary, will ever dispute it with him. He may say, that it is a Crocodile or a Monkey, an Ox, or a Dog, an Onion, or a Wafer. And as to the Essence and the Qualities of the invisible Cause, he is at Liberty to call it very good or very bad. He many say of it, that it is an envious, malicious, and the most cruel Being that can be imagin'd; that it loves Blood and delights in Human Sacrifices: Or he may say that there are two invisible Causes; one the Author of Good, the other of Evil; or that there are Three; or that there is really but One, tho' seemingly there are Three, or else that there are Fifty Thousand. The many Calamities we are liable to, from Thunder and Lightning, Hurricanes and Earthquakes, Plagues and Inundations, will always make ignorant and untaught Men more prone to believe, that the invisible Cause is a bad mischievous Being, than that it is a good benign one; as I shew'd you then in that Fifth Conversation.
Hor. On this Head I own I must give up Mankind, and cannot maintain the Excellency of Human Nature; for the absurdities in Idolatrous Worship, that have been and are still committed by some of our own Species, are such as no Creatures of any other could out-do them in.
Cleo. The Protestant and the Mahometan are the only National Religions now, that are free from Idolatry; and therefore the Absurdities in the Worship of all the Rest are pretty much alike; at least, the Difference in the Degrees of Mens Folly, as Idolaters, is very inconsiderable. For how unknown soever an invisible Cause, Power, or Being may be, that is incomprehensible, this is certain of it, that no clear intelligible Idea can be form'd of it; and that no Figure can describe it. All Attempts then, to represent the Deity, being equally vain and frivolous, no One Shape or Form can be imagin'd of it, that can justly be said to be more or less absurd than another. As to the temporal Benefit which Religion can be of to the Civil Society, or the Political View which Lawgivers and Governours may have in promoting it, the chief Use of it is in Promises of Allegiance and Loyalty, and all solemn Engagements and Asseverations, in which the invisible Power, that, in every Country, is the Object of the Publick Worship, is involved or appeal'd to. For these Purposes all Religions are equally serrviceable; and the worst is better than none: For without the belief of an invisible Cause, no Man's Word is to be relied upon, no Vows or Protestations can be depended upon; but as soon as a Man believes, that there is a Power somewhere, that will certainly punish him, if he forswears himself; as soon, I say, as a Man believes this, we have Reason to trust to his Oath; at least, it is a better Test than any other Verbal Assurance. But what this same Person believes further, concerning the Nature and the Essence of that Power he swears by, the Worship it requires, or whether he conceives it in the singular or plural Number, may be very material to himself, but the Socicty has Nothing to do with it: Because it can make no Alteration in the Security which his Swearing gives us. I don't deny the Usefulness which even the worst Religion that can be, may be of to Politicians and the Civil Society: But what I insist upon, is, that the temporal Benefit of it, or the Contrivance of Oaths and Swearing, could never have enter'd into the the Heads of Politician, if the Fear of an invisible Cause had not pre-existed and been supposed to be universal, any more than they would have contrived matrimony, if the Desire of Procreation had not been planted in Human Nature and visible in both Sexes. Passions don't affect us, but when they are provoked: The Fear of Death is a Reality in our Nature: But the greatest Cowards may, and often do, live Forty Years and longer, without being disturb'd by it. The Fear of an invisible Cause is as real in our Nature, as the Fear of Death; either of them may be conquer'd perhaps; but so may Lust; and Experience teaches us, that how violent soever the Desire of Propagating our Species may be whilst we are young, it goes off, and is often entirely lost in old Age. When I hear a Man say, that he never felt any Fear of an invisible Cause, that was not owing to Education, I believe him as much as I do a young married Woman in Health and Vigour, who tells me, that she never felt any Love to a Man, that did not proceed from a Sense of her Duty.
Hor. Does this Fear, this Acknowledgment of an invisible Cause, dispose or excite men any more to the true Religion, than it does to the grossest and most abominable Idolatry?
Cleo. I don't say it does. But there is no Passion in Human Nature so beneficial, that, according as it is managed, may not do Mischief as well as good. What do you think of Love? If this Fear had not been common to the whole Species, none could have been influenc'd by it; the Consequence of which must have been, that Men would have rejected the true Religion as well as the false. There is Nothing that Men may differ in, in which they will ever be all of the same Opinion: And abstruse Truths do often seem to be less probable than well dress'd Fables, when they are skilfully accommodated to our Understanding, and agreeable to our own Way of thinking. That there is but one God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, that is an all-wise and perfectly good Being, without any Mixture of Evil, would have been a most rational Opinion, tho' it had not been reveal'd. But Reasoning and Metaphysicks must have been carried on to a great Height of Perfection, before this Truth could be penetrated into by the Light of Nature. Plutarch, who was a Man of great Learning, and has in many Things display'd good Sense and Capacity, thought it impossible, that one Being should have been the Cause of the Whole, and was therefore of Opinion, that there must have been Two Principles; the one to produce all the Good; and the other all the Evil that is in the World. And Some of the greatest men have been of this Opinion, both before and since the Promulgation of the Gospel. But whatever Philosophers and men of Letters may have advanced, there never was an Age or a Country where the Vulgar would ever come into an Opinion that contradicted that Fear, which all men are born with, of an invisible Cause, that meddles and interferes in Human Affairs; and there is a greater Possibility, that the most Senseless Enthusiast should make a knowing and polite Nation believe the most incredible Falsities, or that the most odious Tyrant should persuade them to the grossest Idolatry, than that the most artful Politician, or the most popular Prince, should make Atheism to be universally received among the Vulgar of any considerable State or Kingdom, tho' there were no Temples or Priests to be seen. From all which I would shew, that, on the one Hand, you can make no Multitudes believe contrary to what they feel, or what contradicts a Passion inherent in their Nature, and that, on the other, if you humour that Passion, and allow it to be just, you may regulate it as you please. How unanimous soever, therefore, all Rulers and Magistrates have seem'd to be in promoting some Religion or other, the Principle of it was not of their Invention. They found it in Man; and the Fear of an invisible Cause being universal, if Governours had said nothing of it, every Man in his own Breast would have found Fault with them, and had a Superstition of his own to himself. It has often been seen, that the most subtle Unbelievers among Politicians have been forced, for their own Quiet, to counterfeit their Attachment to religion, when they would a Thousand Times rather have done without it.
Hor. It is not in the Power then, you think, of Politicians, to contradict the Passions, or deny the Existence of them, but that, when once they have allow'd them to be just and natural, they may guide Men in the Indulgence of them, as they please.
Cleo. I do so; and the Truth of this is evident likewise in another Passion, (viz) that of Love, which I hinted at before; and Marriage was not invented to make Men procreate; they had that Desire before; but it was instituted to regulate a strong Passion, and prevent the innumerable Mischiefs that would ensue, if Men and Women should converse together promiscuosly, and love and leave one another as Caprice and their unruly Fancy led them. Thus we see, that every Legislator has regulated Matrimony in that Way, which, to the best of his Skill, he imagin'd would be the most proper to promote the Peace Felicity in general of Those he govern'd: And how great an Imposter soever Mahomet was, I can never believe, that he would have allow'd his Mussulmen Three or Four Wives a piece, if he had thought it better, than one; Man should be contented with and confin'd to One Woman; I mean better upon the Whole, more beneficial to the Civil Society, as well in Consideration of the Climate he lived in—, as the Nature and the Temperament of those Arabians he gave his Laws to.
Hor. But what is all this to the Origin of Honour? What Reason have you to think it to be of Gothick Extraction?
Cleo. My Conjecture concerning Honour, as it signifies a Principle from which Men act, is, that it is an Invention of Politicians, to keep Men close to their Promises and Engagements, when all other Ties prov'd ineffectual; and the Christian Religion itself was often found insufficient for that Purpose.
Hor. But the Belief of an over-ruling Power, that will certainly punish Perjury and Injustice, being common to all Religions, what pre-eminence has the Christian over the Rest, as to the Civil Society in Temporals?
Cleo. It shews and insists upon the Necessity of that Belief more amply and more emphatically than any other. Besides, the Strictness of its Morality, and the exemplary Lives of Those who preach'd it, gain'd vast Credit to the mysterious Part of it; and there never had been a Doctrine or Philosophy from which it was so likely to expect, that it would produce Honesty, mutual Love and Faithfulness in the Discharge of all Duties and Engagements as the Christian Religion. The wisest Moralists, before that Time, has laid the greatest Stress on the Reasonableness of their precepts; and appeal'd to Human Understanding for the Truth of their Opinions. But the Gospel, soaring beyond the Reach of Reason, teaches us many Things, which no Mortal could ever have known, unless they had been reveal'd to him; and several that must always remain incomprehensible to finite Capacities; and this is the Reason, that the Gospel presses and enjoins Nothing with more Earnestness than Faith and Believing.
Hor. But would Men be more sway'd by Things they believed only, than they would be by those they understood?
Cleo. All Human Creatures are sway'd and wholly govern'd by their Passions, whatever fine Notions we may flatter our Selves with; even those who act suitably to their Knowledge, and strictly follow the Dictates of their Reason, are not less compell'd so to do by some Passion or other, that sets them to Work, than others, who bid Defiance and act contrary to Both, and whom we call Slaves to their Passions. To love Virtue for the Beauty of it, and curb one's Appetites because it is most reasonable so to do, are very good Things in Theory; but whoever understands our Nature, and consults the Practice of Human Creatures, would sooner expect from them, that they should abstain from Vice, for Fear of Punishment, and do good, in Hopes of being rewarded for it.
Hor. Would you prefer that Goodness, built upon Selfishness and Mercenary Principles, to that which proceeds from a Rectitude of Thinking, and a real Love of Virtue and Reasonableness of Mens Actions?
Cleo. We can give no better Proof of our Reasonableness, than by judging rightly. When a Man wavers in his Choice, between present Enjoyments of Ease and Pleasure, and the Discharge of Duties that are troublesome, he weighs what Damage or benefit will accrue to him upon the Whole, as well from the Neglect as the Observence of the Duties that are prescrib'd to him; and the greater the Punishment is he fears from the Neglect, and the more transcendent the Reward is which he hopes for from the Observance, the more reasonably he acts, when he sides with his Duty. To bear with Inconveniencies, Pain and Sorrow, in Hopes of being eternally Happy, and refuse the Enjoyments of Pleasure, for Fear of being Miserable for ever, are more justifiable to Reason, and more consonant to good Sense, than it is to do it for Nothing.
Hor. But our Divines will tell you, that this Slavish Fear is unacceptable, and that the Love of God ought to be the Motive of good Actions.
Cleo. I have Nothing against the refin'd Notions of the Love of God, but this is not what I would now speak of. My Design was only to prove, that the more firmly Men believe Rewards and Punishments from an invisible Cause, and the more this Belief always influences them in all their Actions, the closer they'll keep to Justice and all Promises and Engagements. It is this that was always most wanted in the Civil Society; and, before the Coming of Christ, Nothing had appear'd upon Earth, from which this grand Desideratum, this Blessing, might so reasonably be expected as it might from his Doctrine. In the Beginning of Christianity, and whilst the Gospel was explain'd without any Regard to Wordly Views, to be a Soldier was thought inconsistent with the Profession of a Christian; but this Strictness of the Gospel-Principles began to be disapproved of in the Second Century. The Divines of those Days were most of them become arrant Priests, and saw plainly, that a Religion, which would not allow its Votaries to assist at Courts or Armies, and comply with the vain World, could never be made National; consequently, the Clergy of it could never acquire any considerable Power upon Earth. In Spirituals they were the Successors of the Apostles, but in Temporals they wanted to succeed the Pagan Priests, whose Possessions they look'd upon with wishful Eyes; and Worldly Strength and Authority being absolutely necessary to establish Dominion, it was agreed, that Christians might be Soldiers, and in a just War fight with the Enemies of their Country. But Experience soon taught them, that those Christians, whose Consciences would suffer them to be Soldiers, and to act contrary to the Doctrine of Peace, were not more strict Observers of other Duties; that Pride, Avarice and Revenge ranged among them as they did among the Heathens, and that many of them were guilty of Drunkenness and Incontinence, Fraud and Injustice, at the same Time that they pretended to great Zeal, and were great Sticklers for their Religion. This made it evident, that there could be no Religion so strict, no System of Morality so refin'd, nor Theory so well meaning, but some People might pretend to profess and follow it, and yet be loose Livers, and wicked in their Practice.
Hor. Those who profess to be of a Theory, which they contradict by their Practice, are, without Doubt, hypocrites.
Cleo. I have more Charity than to think so. There are real Believers that lead Wicked Lives; and Many stick not at Crimes, which they never would have dared to commit, if the Terrors of the Divine Justice, and the Flames of Hell, had struck their Imagination, and been before them in the same Manner as they really believe they shall be; or if at that Time their Fears had made the same Impression upon them, which they do at others, when the Evil dreaded seems to be near. Things at a Distance, tho' we are sure that they are to come, make little Impression upon us in Comparison with those that are present and immediately before us. This is evident in the Affair of Death: There is No Body who does not believe, that he must die, Mr. Asgil perhaps excepted; yet it hardly ever employs People's Thoughts, even of Those who are most terribly afraid of it whilst they are in perfect Health, and have every Thing they like. Man is never better pleas'd than when he is employ'd in procuring Ease and Pleasure, in thinking on his own Worth, and mending his Condition upon Earth. Whether This is laid on the Devil or our Attachment to the World, it is plain to me, that it flows from Man's Nature, always to mind to Flatter, Love, and take Delight in himself; and that he cares as little as possible ever to be interupted in this grand Employment. As every organ, and every part of Man, seems to be made and wisely contriv'd for the Functions of this Life only, so his Nature prompts him, not to have any Sollicitude for Things beyond this World. The Care of Self-Preservation we are born with, does not extend it self beyond this Life; therefore every Creature dreads Death as the Dissolution of its Being, the Term not to be exceeded, the End of All. How various and unreasonable soever our Wishes may be, and how enormous the Multiplicity of our Desires, they terminate in Life, and all the Objects of them are on this Side the Grave.
Hor. Has not a Man Desires beyond the Grave, who buys an Estate, not to be enjoy'd but by his Heirs, and enters into Agreements that shall be binding for a Thousand Years.
Cleo. All the Pleasure and Satisfaction that can arise from the Reflection on our Heirs, is enjoy'd in this Life: And the Benefits and Advantages we wish to our Posterity are of the same Nature with those which we would wish to our Selves if we were to live; and what we take Care of is, that they shall be Rich, keep their Possessions, and that their Estates, Authority and Prerogatives shall never diminish, but rather encrease. We look upon Posterity as the Effect of which we are the Cause, and we reckon our Selves as it were to continue in them.
Hor. But the Ambitious that are in Pursuit of Glory, and sacrifise their Lives to Fame and a lasting Reputation, sure they have Wishes beyond the Grave.
Cleo. Tho' a Man should stretch and carry his Ambition to the End of the World, and desire not to be forgot as long as that stood, yet the Pleasure that arises from the Reflection on what shall be said of him Thousands and Thousand of Years after, can only be enjoy'd in this Life. If a vain Coxcomb, whose Memory shall die with him, can be but firmly persuaded, that he shall leave an eternal Name, the Reflection may give him as much Pleasure as the greatest Hero can receive from reflecting on what shall really render him immortal. A Man, who is not regenerated, can have no Notion of another World, or future happiness; therefore his Longing after it cannot be very strong. Nothing can affect us forcibly but what strikes the Senses, or such Things which we are conscious of within. By the Light of Nature only, we are capable of demonstrating to our Selves the necessity of a First Cause, a Supreme Being; but the Existence of a Deity cannot be render'd more manifest to our Reason, than his Essence is unknown and incomprehensible to our Understanding.
Hor. I don't see what you drive at.
Cleo. I am endeavouring to account for the small Effect and little Force, which Religion, and the Belief of future Punishments, may be of to mere Man, unassisted with the Divine Grace. The Practice of nominal Christians is perpetually clashing with the Theory they profess. Innumerable Sins are committed in private, which the Presence of a Child, or the most insignificant Person, might have hinder'd, by Men who believe God to be omniscient, and never question'd his Ubiquity.
Hor. But pray, come to the Point, the Origin of Honour.
Cleo. If we consider, that men are always endeavouring to mend their Condition and render Society more happy as to this World we may easily conceive, when it was evident that Nothing could be a Check upon Man that was absent, or at least appear'd not to be present, how Moralists and Politicians came to look for Something in Man himself, to keep him in Awe. The more they examin'd into Human Nature, the more they must have been convinced, that Man is so Selfish a Creature, that, whilst he is at Liberty, the greatest Part of his Time will always be bestow'd upon himself; and that whatever Fear or Revenerence he might have for an invisible Cause, that Thought was often jostled out by others, more nearly relating to himself. It is obvious likewise, that he neither loves nor esteems any Thing so well as he does his own Individual; and that here is Nothing, which he has so constantly before his Eyes, as his own dear Self. It is highly probable, that skilful Rulers, having made these observations for some Time, would be tempted to try if Man could not be made an Object of Reverence to himself.
Hor. You have only named Love and Esteem; they alone cannot produce Reverence by your own Maxim; how could they make a man afraid of himself?
Cleo. By improving upon his Dread of Shame; and this, I am persuaded, was the Case: For as soon as it was found out, that many vicious, quarrelsome, and undaunted Men, that fear'd neither God nor Devil, were yet often curb'd and visibly with-held by the Fear of Shame; and likewise that this Fear of Shame might be greatly encreas'd by an artful Education, and be made superiour even to that of Death, they had made a Discovery of a real Tie, that would serve many noble Purposes in the Society. This I take to have been the Origin of Honour, the Principle of which has its Foundation in Self-liking; and no Art could ever have fix'd or rais'd it in any Breast, if that Passion had not pre-existed and been predominant there.
Hor. But, how are you sure, that this was the Work of Moralists and Politicians, as you seem to insinuate?
Cleo. I give those Names promiscuously to All that, having studied Human Nature, have endeavour'd to civilize Men, and render them more and more tractable, either for the Ease of Governours and Magistrates, or else for the Temporal Happiness of Society in general. I think of all Inventions of this Sort, the same which told  you of Politeness, that they are the joint Labour of Many, Human Wisdom is the Child of Time. It was not the Contrivance of one Man, nor could it have been the Business of a few Years, to establish a Notion, by which a rational Creature is kept in Awe for Fear of it Self, and an Idol is set up, that shall be its own Worshiper.
[Footnote 4: Fable of the Bees, Part. II. page 132.]
Hor. But I deny, that in the Fear of Shame we are afraid of our Selves. What we fear, is the judgment of others, and the ill Opinion they will justly have of us.
Cleo. Examine this thoroughly, and you'll find, that when we covet Glory, or dread Infamy, it is not the good or bad Opinion of others that affects us with Joy or Sorrow, Pleasure or Pain; but it is the Notion we form of that Opinion of theirs, and must proceed from the Regard and Value we have for it. If it was otherwise, the most Shameless Fellow would suffer as much in his Mind from publick Disgrace and Infamy, as a Man that values his Reputation. Therefore it is the Notion we have of Things, our own Thought and Something within our Selves, that creates the Fear of Shame: For if I have a Reason, why I forbear to do a Thing to Day, which it is impossible should be known before to Morrow, I must be with-held by Something that exists already; for Nothing can act upon me the Day before it has its Being.
Hor. The Upshot is I find, that Honour is of the same Origin with Virtue.
Cleo. But the Invention of Honour, as a Principle, is of a much later Date; and I look upon it as the greater Atchievement by far. It was an Improvement in the Art of Flattery, by which the Excellency of our Species is raised to such a Height, that it becomes the Object of our own Adoration, and Man is taught in good Earnest to worship himself.
Hor. But granting you, that both Virtue and Honour are of Human Contrivance, why do you look upon the Invention of the One to be a greater Atchievement than that of the other?
Cleo. Because the One is more skilfully adapted to our inward Make. Men are better paid for their Adherence to Honour, than they are for their Adherence to Virtue: The First requires less Self-denial; and the Rewards they receive for that Little are not imaginary but real and palpable. But Experience confirms what I say: The Invention of Honour has been far more beneficial to the Civil Society than that of Virtue, and much better answer'd the End for which they were invented. For ever since the Notion of Honour has been receiv'd among Christians, there have always been, in the same Number of People, Twenty Men of real Honour, to One of real Virtue. The Reason is obvious. The Persuasions to Virtue make no Allowances, nor have any Allurements that are clashing with the Principle of it; whereas the Men of Pleasure, the Passionate and the Malicious, may all in their Turns meet with Opportunities of indulging their darling Appetites without trespassing against the Principle of Honour. A virtuous Man thinks himself obliged to obey the Laws of his Country; but a Man of Honour acts from a Principle which he is bound to believe Superiour to all Laws. Do but consider the Instinct of Sovereignty that all Men are born with, and you'll find, that in the closest Attachment to the Principle of Honour there are Enjoyments that are ravishing to Human Nature. A virtuous Man expects no Acknowledgments from others; and if they won't believe him to be virtuous, his Business is not to force them to it; but a Man of Honour has the Liberty openly to proclaim himself to be such, and call to an Account Every body who dares to doubt of it: Nay, such is the inestimable Value he sets upon himself, that he often endeavours to punish with Death the most insignificant Trespass that's committed against him, the least Word, Look, or Motion, if he can find but any far-fetch'd reason to suspect a Design in it to under-value him; and of this No body is allow'd to be a Judge but himself. The Enjoyments that arise from being virtuous are of that Nicety, that every ordinary Capacity cannot relish them: As, without Doubt, there is a noble Pleasure in forgiving of Injuries, to Speculative Men that have refin'd Notions of Virtue; but it is more Natural to resent them; and in revenging one's self, there is a Pleasure which the meanest Understanding is capable of tasting. It is manifest then, that there are Allurements in the Principle of Honour, to draw in Men of the lowest Capacity, and even the vicious, which Virtue has not.
Hor. I can't see, how a Man can be really virtuous, who is not likewise a Man of Honour. A Person may desire to be Honest, and have an Aversion to Injustice, but unless he has Courage, he will not always dare to be just, and may on many Occasions be afraid to do his Duty. There is no Dependance to be had on a Coward, who may be bully'd into vicious Actions, and every Moment be frighten'd from his Principle.
Cleo. It never was pretended, that a Man could be Virtuous and a Coward at the same Time, since Fortitude is the very First of the Four Cardinal Virtues. As much Courage and Intrepidity as you please; but a virtuous Man will never display his Valour with Ostentation, where the Laws of God and Men forbid him to make Use of it. What I would demonstrate, is, that there are many Allowances, gross Indulgences to Human Nature in the Principle of Honour, especially of modern Honour, that are always exclaim'd against by the Voice of Virtue, and diametrically opposite to the Doctrine of Christ.
Hor. Yet the further we look back for these Seven or Eight Hundred years, the more we shall find Honour and Religion blended together.
Cleo. When Ignorance, for several Ages, had been successfully encouraged and was designedly introduced to make Way for Credulity, the Simplicity of the Gospel and the Doctrine of Christ were turn'd into Gaudy Foppery and vile Superstition. It was then, that the Church of Rome began openly to execute her deep-laid Plot for enslaving the Laity. Knowing, that no Power or Authority can be established or long maintain'd upon Earth without real Strength and Force of Arms, she very early coax'd the Soldiery, and made all Men of Valour her Tools by Three Maxims, that, if skilfully follow'd, will never fail of engaging Mankind in our Favour.
Hor. What are those, pray.
Cleo. Indulging Some in their Vices, Humouring Others in their Folly, and Flattering the Pride of All. The various Orders of Knighthood were so many Bulwarks to defend the Temporals of the Church, as well against the Encroachments of her Friends, as the Invasions of her Enemies. It was in the Institutions of these Orders, that Pains were taken by the grand Architects of the Church, to reconcile, in outward Shew, the Principle of Honour with that of the Christian Religion, and make Men stupidly believe, that the Height of Pride is not inconsistent with the greatest Humility. In these Solemnities the jugling Priests resolved to be kept out no where; had commonly the greatest Share; continually blending Rites seemingly Sacred with the Emblems of vain Glory, which made all of them an eternal Mixture of Pomp and Superstition.
Hor. I don't believe, that ever Any body set those Things in such a Light besides your Self; but I see no Design, and the Priests gave themselves a great Deal of Trouble for Nothing.
Cleo. Yet it is certain, that, by this and other Arts, they made themselves sure of the most dangerous Men; for by this Means the boldest and even the most wicked became Bigots. The less Religion they had, the more they stood in Need of the Church; and the farther they went from God, the more closely they stuck to the Priests, whose Power over the Laity was then the most absolute and uncontroul'd when the Crimes of These were most flagrant and enormous.
Hor. I believe, that among the Men of Honour Many were tainted with Pride and Superstition at the same Time; but there were others in whom superlative Bravery was united with the strictest Virtue.
Cleo. All Ages have had Men of Courage, and all Ages have had Men of Virtue; but the Examples of Those you speak of, in whom superlative Bravery was united with the strictest Virtue, were always extremely scarce, and are rarely to be met with, but in Legends and Romances, the Writers of both which I take to have been the greatest Enemies to Truth and sober Sense the World ever produc'd. I don't deny, that by perusing them Some might have fallen in Love with Courage and Heroism, others with Chastity and Temperance, but the Design of both was to serve the Church of Rome, and with wonderful Stories to gain the Attention of the Readers, whilst they taught Bigotry, and inured them to believe Impossibilities. But what I intended was to point at the People that had the greatest Hand in reconciling, to outward Appearance, the Principle of Honour with that of the Christian Religion, the Ages This was done in, and the Reasons for which it was attempted. For it is certain, that by the Maxims I named, the Church made her self sure of Those who were most to be fear'd. Do but cast your Eyes on the childish Farces, some Popes have made great Men the chief Actors in, and the apish Tricks they made them play, when they found them intoxicated with Pride, and that at the same Time they were Believers without Reserve. What Impertinence of tedious Ceremonies have they made the greatest Princes submit to, even such as were noted for being cholerick and impatient! What Absurdities in Dress have they made them swallow for Ornaments and Marks of Dignity! If in all these the Passion of Self-liking had not been highly gratify'd as well as play'd upon, Men of Sense could never have been fond of them, nor could they have been of that Duration; for many of them are still remaining even in Protestant Countries, where all the Frauds of Popery have been detected long ago; and such Veneration is paid to some of them, that it would hardly be safe to ridicule them. It is amazing to think, what immense Multitudes of Badges of Honour have been invented by Popery, that are all distinct from the Rest, and yet have Something or other to shew, that they have a Relation to Christianity. What a vast Variety of Shapes, not resembling the Original, has the poor Cross Cross been tortur'd into! How differently has it been placed and represented on the Garments of Men and Women, from Head to Foot! How inconsiderable are all other Frauds that Lay-Rogues now and then have been secretly guilty of, if you compare them to the bare-fac'd Cheats and impudent Forgeries, with which the Church of Rome has constantly imposed upon Mankind in a triumphant Manner! What contemptible Baubles has that Holy Toy-shop put off in the Face of the Sun for the richest Merchandize! She has bribed the most Selfish and penetrating Statesmen, with empty Sounds, and Titles without Meaning. The most resolute Warriours She has forced to desist from their Purposes, and do her dirty Work against their own Interest. I shall say Nothing of the Holy War; how often the Church has kindled and renew'd it, or what a Handle She made of it to raise and establish her own Power, and to weaken and undermine that of the Temporal Princes in Christendom. The Authority of the Church has made the greatest Princes and most haughty Sovereigns fall prostrate before, and pay Adoration to the vilest Trumpery, and accept of, as Presents of inestimable Worth, despicable Trifles, that had no Value at all but what was set upon them by the Gigantick Impudence of the donors, and the childish Credulity of the Receivers. the Church misled the Vulgar, and then made Money of their Errors. There is not an Attribute of God, and hardly a Word in the Bible, to which she gave not some Turn or other, to serve her Worldly Interest. The Relief of Witch-craft was the Fore-runner of Exorcisms; and the Priests forged Apparitions to shew the Power they pretended to, of laying Spirits, and casting out Devils. To make accused Persons, sometimes by Ordeal, at others by single Combat, try the Justice of their Cause, were both Arrows out of her Quiver; and it is from the latter, that the Fashion of Duelling took its Rise. But those single Combats at first were only fought by Persons of great Quality, and on some considerable Quarrel, when they ask'd Leave of the Sovereign to decide the Difference between them by Feats of Arms; which being obtain'd, Judges of the Combat were appointed, and the Champions enter'd the List with great Pomp, and in a very solemn Manner. But as the Principle of Honour came to be very useful, the Notions of it, by Degrees, were industriously spread among the Multitude, till at last all Swords-men took it in their Heads, that they had a right to decide their own Quarrels, without asking any Body's Leave. Two Hundred Years ago——
Hor. Pardon my Rudeness, I cannot stay one Moment. An Affair of Importance requires my Presence. It is an Appointment which I had entirely forgot when I came hither. I am sure I have been staid for this Half Hour.
Cleo. Pray, Horatio, make no Apologies. There is no Company I love better than I do yours when you are at Leisure; but——
Hor. You don't stir out I know; I shall be back again in Two Hours Time.
Cleo. And I shall be at Home for No body but your Self.
Horatio. I Believe I am within my Time.
Cleo. By above Ten Minutes.
Hor. When I came back in the Chair, I was thinking how artfully, all this Afternoon, you avoided saying any Thing of Honour, as it relates to the Fair Sex. Their Honour, you know, consists in their Chastity, which is a real Virtue in your own Sense, not to be practis'd without palpable Self-denial. To make a Vow of perpetual Virginity, and to be resolute enough, never to break it, is a Task not to be perform'd without the utmost Mortification to Flesh and Blood, especially in handsome clever Women that seem to be made for Love, as you and I have seen a great many in the Nunneries in Flanders. Self-liking or Pride have Nothing to do there; for the more powerfully that Passion operates in either Men or Women, the less Inclination they'll shew to be mew'd up in a Cloyster, where they can have None but their own Sex to converse with.
Cleo. The Reason why I said Nothing of Honour as it relates to the fair Sex, was because we had spoke of it already in a former Conversation; by the same Token, that I told you then, that  the Word Honour, I mean, the Sence of it, was very whimsical, and the Difference in the Signification so prodigious, according as the Attribute was either applied to a Man, or to a Woman, that neither shall forfeit their Honour, tho' each should be guilty, and openly boast of what would be the other's greatest Shame.
[Footnote 5: Fable of the Bees, part II. page 128.]
Hor. I remember it, and it is true. Gallantry with Women, is no Discredit to the Men, any more than Want of Courage is a Reproach to the Ladies. But do you think this is an Answer to what I said?
Cleo. It is an Answer to your Charge against me of making Use of an Artifice, which, I declare to you, never enter'd into my Head. That the Honour of Women in general, is allow'd to consist in their Chastity, is very true; the Words themselves have been made Use of as Synonimous even among the Ancients: But this, strictly speaking, ought only to be understood of Worldly Women, who act from Political Views, and at best from a Principle of Heathen Virtue. But the Women you speak of among the Christians, who, having vow'd a perpetual Virginity, debar themselves from sensual Pleasures, must be set on, and animated by a higher Principle than that of Honour. Those who can voluntarily make this Vow in good Humour and Prosperity, as well as Health and Vigour, and keep it with Strictness, tho' it is in their Power to break it, have, I own with you, a Task to perform, than which Nothing can be more mortifying to Flesh and Blood. Self-liking or Pride, as you say, have Nothing to do there. But where are these Women to be found?
Hor. I told you; in the Religious Houses.
Cleo. I don't believe there is one in a Thousand that answers the Character you gave of them. Most Nuns are made whilst they are very young, and under the Tuition of others; and oftner by Compulsion than their own Choice.
Hor. But there are Women grown, who take the Veil voluntarily, when they are at their own Disposal.
Cleo. Not many, who have not some substantial Reason or other for it, that has no Relation to Piety or Devotion; such as the Want of a Portion suitable to their Quality; Disappointments or other Misfortunes in the World. But to come to the Point. There are but two Things which, in Celibacy, can make Men or Women, in Youth and Health, strictly comply with the Rules of Chastity; and these are Religion, and the Fear of Shame. Good Christians, that are wholly sway'd by the Sense of a Religious Duty, must be supernaturally assisted, and are Proof against all Temptations. But These have always been very scarce, and there are no Numbers of them any where, that one can readily go to. It would perhaps be an odious Disquisition, whether, among all the young and middle-aged Women who lead a Monastick Life, and are secluded from the World, there are Any that have, abstract from all other Motives, Religion enough to secure them from the Frailty of the Flesh, if they had an Opportunity to gratify it to their Liking with Impunity. This is certain, that their Superiors, and Those under whose Care these Nuns are, seem not to entertain that Opinion of the Generality of them. They always keep them lock'd up and barr'd; suffer no Men to converse with them even in Publick, but where there are Grates between them, and not even then within Reach of one another: And tho' hardly a Male Creature of any Kind is allow'd to come near them, yet they are ever suspicious of them, pry into their most Secret Thoughts, and keep constantly a watchful Eye over them.
Hor. Don't you think this must be a great Mortification to young Women?
Cleo. Yes, a forc'd one; but there is no voluntary Self-denial, which was the Thing you spoke of. The Mortifitation which they feel is like that of Vagabonds in a Work-House: There is no Virtue in the Confinement of either. Both are dissatisfied, without Doubt, but it is because they are not employ'd to their Liking; and what they grieve at, is, that they can't help themselves. But there are Thousands of vain Women, whom no Thoughts of Futurity ever made any Impression upon, that lead single Lives by Choice, and are at the same Time careful of their Honour to the greatest Nicety, in the Midst of Temptations, gay sprightly Women, of amorous Complexions, that can deny a passionate, deserving Lover, whose Person they approve of and admire, when they are alone with him in the dark; and all this from no better Principle than the Fear of Shame, which has its Foundation in Self-liking, and is so manifesty derived from that and no other Passion. You and I are acquainted with Women, that have refused Honourable Matches with the Men they loved, and with whom they might have been Happy, if they themselves had been less intoxicated with Vanity.
Hor. But when a Woman can marry, and be maintain'd suitably to her Quality, and she refuses a Man upon no other Score, than that his Fortune, or his Estate, are not equal to her unreasonable Desires, the Passion she acts from is Covetousness.
Cleo. Would you call a Woman covetous, who visibly takes Delight in Lavishness, and never shew'd any Value for Money when She had it: One that would not have a Shilling left at the Year's End, tho' she had Fifty Thousand Pounds coming in? All Women consult not what is befitting their Quality: What many of them want is to be maintain'd suitably to their Merit, their own Worth, which with great Sincerity they think inestimable and which consequently no Price can be equal to. The Motive therefore of these Women is no other, than what I have call'd it, their Vanity, the undoubted Offspring of Self-liking, a palpable Excess, an extravagant Degree of the Passion, that is able to stifle the loudest Calls of Nature, and with a high Hand triumphs over all other Appetites and Inclinations. What Sort of Education now do you think the fittest to furnish and fill young Ladies with this high Esteem for themselves and their Reputation, which, whilst it subsists and reigns in them, is an ever-watchful and incorruptible Guardian of their Honour? Would you mortify or flatter; lessen or increase in them the Passion of Self-liking, in order to preserve their Chastity? In short, which of the Two is it, you would stir up and cultivate in them if you could, Humility or Pride?
Hor. I should not try to make them Humble, I own: And now I remember, that in our Third Conversation, speaking of raising the Principle Honour in both Sexes, you gave some plausible Reasons why  Pride should be more encourag'd in Women than in Men. So much for the Ladies. I shall now be glad to hear what you have to add further concerning Honour, as it relates to Men only, and requires Courage. When I took the Freedom to interupt you, you was saying Something of Two Hundred Years ago.
[Footnote 6: Fable of the Bees part II. p. 126.]
Cleo. I was then going to put you in Mind, that Two Hundred Years ago and upward, as all Gentlemen were train'd up to Arms, the Notions of Honour were of great Use to them; and it was manifest, that never any Thing had been invented before, that was half so effectual to create artificial Courage among Military Men. For which Reason it was the Interest of all politicians, among the Clergy, as well as the Laity, to cultivate these Notions of Honour with the utmost Care, and leave no stone unturn'd to make Every body believe the Existence and Reality of such a Principle; not among Mechanicks, or any of the Vulgar, but in Persons of high Birth, Knights, and others of Heroick Spirit and exalted Nature. I can easily imagine, how, in a credulous, ignorant Age, this might be swallow'd and generally receiv'd for Truth; nor is it more difficult to conceive, how illiterate Men and rude Warriours, altogether unacquainted with Human Nature, should be so far imposed upon by such Assertions, as to be fully persuaded, that they were really posses'd of; and actually animated by such a Principle, constantly ascribing to the Force and Influence of it every Effort and Suggestion they felt from the Passion of Self-liking. The Idol it self was finely dress'd up, made a beautiful Figure, and the Worship of it seem'd to require Nothing, that was not highly commendable and most beneficial to Society. Those who pretended to pay their Adoration to it, and to be true Votaries of Honour, had a hard Task to perform. They were to be Brave and yet Courteous, Just, Loyal, and the Protectors of Innocence against Malice and Oppression. They were to be the profess'd Guardians of the Fair; and chaste, as well as profound Admirers of the Sex: But above all, they were to be Stanch to the Church, implicite Believers, zealous Champions of the Christian Faith, and implacable Enemies to all Infidels and Hereticks.
Hor. I believe, that between Two and Three Hundred Years ago, Bigotry was at the greatest Height.
Cleo. The Church of Rome had, long before that Time, gain'd such an Ascendant over the Laity, that Men of the highest Quality stood in Awe of the least Parish-Priest. This made Superstition fashionable; and the most resolute Heroes were not ashamed to pay a blind Veneration to every Thing which the Clergy was pleased to call Sacred. Men had an entire Confidence in the Pope's Power; his blessing of Swords, Armours, Colours and Standards; and No body doubted of the Influence, which Saints and Angels had upon Earth, the miraculous Virtue of Relicks, the Reality of Witches and Enchantments, the Black Art, or that Men might be made invulnerable.
Hor. But the Ignorance of those Days notwithstanding, you believe, that there were Men of that strict Honour, you have been speaking of.
Cleo. Men of Honour, I told you, were required and supposed to be possess'd of those Qualities; and I believe, that several endeavour'd to be, and some actually were such, as far as Human Frailty would let them; but I believe likewise, that there were others, who gain'd the Title, by their Undauntedness only, and had but a small Stock of any other Virtue besides; and that the Number of these was always far the greatest. Courage and Intrepidity always were, and ever will be the grand Characteristick of a Man of Honour: It is this Part of the Character only, which it is always in our Power to demonstrate. The best Friend a King has, may want an Opportunity to shew his Loyalty: So a Man may be just and chaste, and yet not be able to convince the World that he is so; but he may pick a Quarrel, and shew, that he dares to Fight when he pleases, especially if he converses with Men of the Sword. Where the Principle of Honour was in high Esteem, Vanity and Impatience must have always prompted the most proud and forward to seek after Opportunities of Signalizing themselves, in order to be stiled Men of Honour. This would naturally occasion Quarrelling and Fighting, as it did and had frequently done before the Time I speak of. As Duelling was made a Fashion, the Point of Honour became, of Course, a common Topick of Discourse among the best bred Men: By this Means the Rules for Quarrelling and Ponctilio in Behaviour, which at first were very uncertain and precarious, came to be better understood, and refin'd upon from Time to Time, till, in the Beginning of the last Century, the Sence of Honour was arrived to such a Degree of Nicety all over Europe, especially in France, that barely looking upon a Man was often taken for an Affront. The Custom of Duelling, by this, was become to universal in that Kingdom, that the Judges themselves thought it dishonourable to refuse a Challenge. Henry IVth. seeing the best Blood of France so often sacrific'd to this Idol, endeavour'd to put a Stop to it, but was not able; and the several Edicts made in 1602 and 1609 were fruitless. The Resolutions of Parliament likewise, made in the Reign of Lewis XIIIth. were as ineffectual: the First Check that was given to Duelling, was in the Minority of Lewis XIVth, and from the Method by which it was prevented at last, it is evident, that Honour is an Idol, by Human Contrivance, rais'd on the Basis of Human Pride.
Hor. The Method by which a Stop was put to it, was strictly to punish and never to pardon Any that either sent or accepted of Challenges, whether they fought or not.
Cleo. This was not trusted to only. An Edict was publish'd in the Year 1651, by which Courts of Honour were erected throughout the Kingdom, with Gentlemen Commissioners in every Bailiwick, that were to have Advice of, and immediately to interpose in all Differences that might arise between Gentlemen. The Difficulty they labour'd under was, that they would abolish the Custom of Duelling without parting with the Notions of Honour; destroying of which must have been certain Ruin to a warlike Nation, that once had received them; and therefore they never design'd, that the Worship of the Idol should cease, but they only try'd, whether it was not to be satisfied with less valuable Victims, and other Sacrifices besides human Blood. In the Year 1653, Lewis XIV. set forth another Declaration against Duels; in which having made some Additions to his former Edict, he commands the Marshals of France to draw up a Regulation touching the Satisfactions and Reparations of Honour, which they should think necessary for the several Sorts of Offences. This Order was immediately obey'd, and nineteen Articles were drawn up and publish'd accordingly. In these, calling a Man Fool, Coward, or the Like, was punish'd with a Month's Imprisonment; and after being released, the Offender was to declare to the Party so offended, that he had wrongfully and impertinently injur'd him by outragious Words, which he own'd to be false, and ask'd him to forgive. Giving one the Lie, or threatning to beat him, was two Month's Imprisonment, and the Submission to be made afterwards yet more humble than the foregoing. For Blows, as striking with the Hand, and other Injuries of the same Nature, the Offender was to lye in Prison Six Months, unless, at the Request of the offended, half of that Time was chang'd into a pecuniary Mulct, that might not be under Fifteen Hundred Livres, to be paid before he was set at Liberty, for the Use of the Nearest Hospital to the Abode of the offended; after which, the Offender was to submit to the same Blows from the offended, and to declare by Word of Mouth, and in Writing, that he had struck him in a Brutish Manner, and beg'd him to pardon and forget that Offence.
Hor. What Mortal could submit to such Condescensions?
Cleo. For Caning, or Blows given with a Stick, the Punishment was still more severe; and the Offender was to beg pardon upon his Knees.
Hor. I should have no great Opinion of a Man's Honour, who would not chuse to Die rather than comply with such Demands.
Cleo. Several thought as you do, and were hang'd for their Pains. But what Need a Man come to those Extremes, when he could have Satisfaction for any real Offence that might provoke him? For the Articles took Notice of, and made ample Provisions against all Manner of Injuries, from the most trifling Offences to the highest Outrages, and were very severe against all those that should refuse to submit to the Penalties imposed. The Marshals of France remain'd the Supreme Judges in all these Matters; and under them acted the Governours and Lieutenants General of Provinces, in whose Absence the Gentlemen Commissioners in every Bailiwick, having Power to call the Officers of Justice to their Assistance, were to take all provisional Care imaginable; so that no Lawyers or Mechanicks had a Hand in composing any Differences concerning the Point of Honour.
Hor. All these Things, we'll say, are wisely contriv'd; but in complaining first there is a meanness which a Man of Honour cannot stoop to.
Cleo. That the Instinct of Sovereignty will always bid Men revenge their own Wrongs, and do Justice to themselves, is certain. But I wanted, to shew you the Equivalent, that wise Men substituted in the Room of Dueling, and which Men of unqueston'd Honour took up with. The Scheme was contrived by Men of tried Valour, whose Example is always of great Weight: Besides, from the Nature of the Remedies that were applied to the Evil, it must always follow, that those who had given the greatest Proofs of their Courage, would be the most ready to subscribe to those Articles.
Hor. In our last Conversation but one you told me, that  all Laws pointed at, and tally'd with some Frailty or Passion in our Nature; pray, what is it that these Laws of Honour tally with?
[Footnote 7: Fable of the Bees, part II. page 318.]
Cleo. It is self-evident, that they point at Self-liking and the Instinct of Sovereignty. But what is singular in these Laws is, that in their Operation they are the reverse of all others.
Hor. I don't understand you.
Cleo. All other Precepts and Commandments are visibly labouring to restrain the Passions, and cure the Imperfections of our Nature; but these Regulations of Honour are endeavouring to prevent Mischief, by soothing and flattering the Frailties they point at. In Offences against a Man's Honour, Pardon is not ask'd of God or the King, but of him who receiv'd the Affront. It is he, therefore, whom all the Address and Homage are paid to: He is the Idol that is kneel'd to, and the only Sovereign that can forgive the Trespasses committed against himself. The Punishment of the first Aggressor, you see, is altogether a Compliment to the Person offended, whose Wrath the Law is so far from blaming, that it justifies it, and gives him an Opportunity of indulging it by the Indignity it puts upon the Offender. The real Mischief is not apprehended from the Offender, but the Person offended; and therefore it is him, whom the Law coaxes and wheedles into good Humour, by offering him a Reparation that shall be equally honourable with what he would chuse, tho' less prejudicial to the Society. What the Law promises is a Tribute to the same Passion which he wants to gratify, a Sacrifice to the Idol which he himself adores. Should Any one personate these Laws, and, representing the Sentiments on those who made them, speak to a Man of Honour, who had receiv'd an Affront, an Officer of the Guards, we'll say, who had been call'd Fool by his Equal, the Purport of the Discourse would be this: You are very much in the Right, Sir, to be highly incensed against the Man who dared to call you Fool, you that are a Man of Honour, to whom, as such, the whole World ought to pay the highest Esteem. You have not only an undoubted Right to do your Self justice, and revenge the Affront that has been given you; but there is likewise such a Necessity of your resenting it, that if you could tamely put up the Injury you have receiv'd, and neglect demanding Satisfaction, you would deserve to be branded with Ignominy, and all Men of Honour would justly refuse ever to converse with you for the future. But the Person, whom you have this Affair with, being likewise a Man of Honour, it is greatly to be fear'd, that upon your demanding Satisfaction of him, a Battle will ensue, which, between two Persons who value their Honours a Thousand Times more than their Lives, will probably be fatal to one, if not to both; you are therefore earnestly desired by the King himself, that for his Sake you would make some Alteration in the Manner of taking that Satisfaction which you ought to receive; and the Marshals of France have not only given it under their Hands, that the Equivalents, which they have proposed for Fighting, will be as entire a Reparation to your Honour as can be obtain'd by Arms; but moreover they have promised and engaged their Honours, that in Cases of Affronts they will take up and content themselves with the same Equivalents, and on all Occasions submit to the same Regulations, which you are now desired to follow. And that it may appear, how highly reasonable this Request is; you are likewise desired to take the following Remonstrance into your Consideration: That the Valour and Steadiness of Men of Honour: are the grand Support of all States and Kingdoms, is a Truth not to be denied; and that not only the Peace and Tranquility, and all the Blessings we enjoy, but likewise the King's Crown and Safety would be precarious without them, is as unquestionable. For this Reason all wise Princes, Magistrates and Governours, will ever take all imaginable Care, on the one Hand, to cultivate and encourage the most noble Principle of Honour, and, on the other, to encrease the Numbers of the worthy Posessors of it, by favouring and on all Occasions shewing them the most tender Affection, as well as highest Esteem. It is easy then to be imagin'd, that a Monarch, who loves his People, and has the Interest of his Nation at Heart, must be sensibly afflicted to see it become a common Practice for such valuable Men to destroy one another, and behold that Bravery and Spirit, which should only be made Use of against the Enemies of the Country, hourly employ'd and lavish'd away in private Quarrels, that can have no other Tendency that the weakening of the Kingdom, and which, if suffer'd to go on, must compleat its Ruin.
Hor. You make these Laws speak very notably.
Cleo. I have said Nothing but what is certainly imply'd in them. Every Man in France knew, that the chief Motive of all those Edicts against Duelling, was the Loss of the brave Men that was sustain'd by that Custom. The Sinfulness of it was the least Consideration.
Hor. There, I believe, you wrong them, for I have seen some of these Edicts, where Duelling is call'd an Antichristian Practice, which God was highly offended at.
Cleo. In wording of the Edicts, indeed, some such Thing was put in for Form's Sake; but the Regulations themselves, by which the Men of Honour were to walk, were openly Antichristian; and in some Cases, instead of Teaching Men to forgive those that had trespas'd against them, they obliged and forced the Offended to shew their Resentment, tho' they would rather not, and desired to be excused.
Hor. Where the Affront was very heinous, I know what you say is true. But you set these Things in a strange Light. I can make the same Glosses upon our Laws, which oblige me to prosecute a Man that has robb'd me, if I can catch him, whether I will or not; and he shall be hang'd, tho' I forgive him the Injury, and even would beg his Life.
Cleo. There is a vast Difference between the two Cases, a Robbery, and an Affront: No body hinders you from forgiving a Man that robb'd you; but notwithstanding your pardoning him, he is punish'd for acting against the Laws; therefore his Offence is against the King, who is the Guardian and Superintendant of them. And No body but the King can pardon the Trespasses that are committed against his Crown and Dignity. Whoever robs you, must be hang'd, because he robb'd, not because he robb'd YOU in particular: Tho' you are bound to prosecute him for Robbing you, yet the Injury is reckon'd as done to the Publick; and you become a Criminal your Self, if you connive at his Escape, tho' he restor'd to you what he had robb'd you of. But in the Case of an Affront the Injury is reckon'd to be done to him only who receiv'd it. His Anger, as I said before, is thought to be just, and his Resentment reasonable, till an ample Satisfaction be made him; therefore it is He who is to be appeas'd, and He only who is to be applied to. The Laws that were compiled by the Marshals of France, don't pretend to mend the Heart, and lay no greater Restraint on the Spirit of Revenge, than Matrimony does on the Desire of Procreation; on the Contrary, they flatter the Frailty, and are administring to the Haughtiness of the offended: They are so far from denying him his Demands, or refusing to give him Satisfaction for the Affront, that they appoint it by Authority; in the ordering of which they make such ample Provisions for the Gratification of his Pride, as no reasonable Man could ever think of without blushing. The only Thing they oblige him to is, that he shall take the Satisfaction in such a Manner, as shall be most safe to himself, and least detrimental to the Publick. Now if you will consider first, that those who made these Regulations were Men of undoubted Honour, who hourly feeling the Force of it within themselves, were perfectly well acquainted with the Principle which it is built upon; and secondly, that the profound Humility of the Offender, and his asking Pardon of the offended, are two main Points in the repairing of Honour, necessary postulata, without which those knowing Judges thought it impossible, that an Affront could be forgiven: If, I say, you'll consider these two Things, you'll see plainly, what Passion in Human Nature it is, which those Laws of Honour tally'd with, and likewise that it is true, what I have asserted of them, that instead of reproving, curbing, or diminishing the Frailty that is offensive, which seems to be the Intention of all other Laws, their Aim is to prevent Mischief and do Service to the Civil Society, by approving of, cherishing, and indulging that very Passion, from which the Evil they would prevent can only proceed.
Hor. You think those Regulations were effectual, and yet you seem to dislike them.
Cleo. I dislike them because they are destructive to Religion; and if a Minister of the Gospel was to dissuade and deter Men from Duelling he would do it in quite another Manner. By a Minister of the Gospel I don't mean a Philosophizing Divine, or a polite Preacher, but a sincere Follower of the Apostles, a down-right Christian. He would, in the First Place, insist upon it, that Forgiving of Injuries was a Christian Duty never to be dispens'd with; because it is made the Condition on which we are taught to beg Pardon for our own Offences. In the Second, he would demonstrate that no Man is ever to revenge himself, how highly and how atrociously soever he might have been injured. If ever he heard of a Man's sending a Challenge for having been call'd Fool, or other verbal Injuries, he would reprove his Frowardness and Want of Temper, for resenting such Trifles as the Law of his Country thought it not worthy to take Notice of. He would appeal to his Reason, and ask him, whether he could think, that the Affront he complain'd of, was a sufficient Cause to take away a Man's Life. He would represent to him the Heinousnesss of Murder, God's express Command against it; his Justice, his Wrath, his Vengeance when provok'd. But if all these could not divert the Dueller from his Purpose, he would attack his stubborn Heart in its inmost Recesses, and forget Nothing of what I told you on the Subject in our Second and Third Conversation. He would recommend to him the Fable of the Bees, and, like that, he'd dissect and lay open to him the Principle of Honour, and shew him, how diametrically opposite the Worship of that Idol was to the Christian Religion; the First consisting in openly cherishing and feeding that very Frailty in our Nature, which the latter strictly commands us with all our Might to conquer and destroy. Having convinced him of the substantial Difference and Contrariety between these Two Principles, he would display to him, on the one Hand, the Vanity of Earthly Glory, and the Folly of Coveting the Applause of a Sinful World; and, on the other, the Certainty of a Future State, and the Transcendency of everlasting Happiness over every Thing that is perishable. From such Remonstrances as these the good, pious Man would take an Opportunity of exhorting him to a Christian Self-denial, and the Practice of real Virtue, and he would earnestly endeavour to make him sensible of the Peace of Conscience and solid Comforts that are to be found in Meekness and Humility, Patience, and an entire Resignation to the Will of God.
Hor. How long, pray, do you intend to go on with this Cant?
Cleo. If I am to personate a Christian Divine, who is a sincere Believer, you must give me Leave to speak his Language.
Hor. But if a Man had really such an Affair upon his Hands, and he knew the Person, he had to do with, to be a resolute Man that understood the Sword, do you think he would have Patience or be at Leisure to hearken to all that puritanical Stuff, which you have been heaping together? Do you think (for that is the Point) it would have any Influence over his Actions?
Cleo. If he believ'd the Gospel, and consequently future Rewards and Punishments, and he likewise acted consistently with what he believ'd, it would put an entire Stop to all, and it would certainly hinder him from fending or accepting of Challenges, or ever engaging in any Thing relating to a Duel.
Hor. Pray now, among all the Gentlemen of your Acquaintance, and such as you your Self should care to converse with, how many are there, do you think, on whom the Thoughts of Religion would have that Effect?
Cleo. A great many, I hope.
Hor. You can hardly forbear laughing, I see, when you say it; and I am sure, you your Self would have no Value for a Man whom you should see tamely put up a gross Affront: Nay, I have seen and heard Parsons and Bishops themselves laugh at, and speak with Contempt of pretended Gentlemen, that had suffer'd themselves to be ill treated without resenting it.
Cleo. What you say of my self, I own to be true; and I believe the same of others, Clergymen as well as Laymen. But the Reason why Men, who bear Affronts with Patience, Are so generally despised is, because Every body imagines, that their Forbearance does not proceed from a Motive of Religion, but a Principle of Cowardice. What chiefly induces us to believe this, is the Knowledge we have of our selves: We are conscious within of the little Power which Christianity has over our Hearts, and the small Influence it has over our Actions. Finding our own Incapacity of subduing strong Passions, but by the Help of others that are more violent, we judge of others in the same Manner: And therefore when we see a vain, worldly Man gain such a Conquest over his known and well establish'd Pride, we presently suspect it to be a Sacrifice which he makes to his Fear; not the Fear of God, or Punishment in another World, but the Fear of Death, the strongest Passion in our Nature, the Fear that his Adversary, the Man who has affronted him, will kill him, if he fights him. What confirms us in this Opinion is, that Poltrons shew no greater Piety or Devotion than other People, but live as voluptuously and indulge their Pleasures as much, at least, as any other of the beau monde. Whereas a good Christian is all of a Piece; his Life is uniform; and whoever should scruple to send or to accept of a Challenge for the Love of God, or but from a Fear of his Vengeance, depend upon it, he would have that same Fear before his Eyes on other Occasions likewise: And it is impossible that a Religious Principle, which is once of that Force, that it can make a Man chuse to be despis'd by the World, rather than he would offend God, should not only not be conspicuous throughout his Behaviour, but likewise never influences the Rest of his Actions at any other Time.
Hor. From all this it is very plain, that there are very few sincere Christians.
Cleo. I don't think so, as to Faith and Theory; and I am persuaded, that there are great Numbers in all Christian Countries, who sincerely believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and the old as well as new Testament to be a Revelation from Heaven: But as to Works and Practice I am of your Opinion; and I not only believe, that there are very few sincere and real Christians in their Lives and Conversation, for that is a difficult Task, but I believe likewise, that there are very Few who are sincere in endeavouring to be so, or even in desiring to be real Christians. But this is no Argument against Christianity, or the Reasonableness of its Doctrine.
Hor. I don't say it is. But as the Principle of Honour, whatever Origin it had, teaches Men to be just in all their Dealings, and true to their Engagements, and there are considerable Numbers in every civiliz'd Nation, who really take Delight in this Principle, and in all their Actions are sway'd and govern'd by it, must you not allow, that such a Principle, let it be owing to Education, to Flattery, to Pride, or what you please, is more useful to Society than the best Doctrine in the World, which None can live up to, and but Few endeavour to follow?
Cleo. Tho' those who are deem'd to be Men of Honour, are far from being all really virtuous, yet I can't disprove, that the Principle of Honour, such as it is, does not fully as much Good to Society as Christianity, as it is practised; I say, to Society, and only in respect to Temporals; but it is altogether destructive as to another World: And as the greatest Happiness upon Earth to a good Christian, is a firm Belief, and well grounded Hope, that he shall be Happy in Heaven, so a Man who believes the Gospel, and pretends to value everlasting Happiness beyond any Thing of shorter Duration, must act inconsistently with himself unless he adheres to the Precepts of Christianity, and at the same Time explodes the Principle of Honour, which is the very Reverse of it.
Hor. I own, that in the Light you have put them, they seem to be, as you say, diametrically opposite.
Cleo. You see, that those who act from a Principle of Religion, fairly attack the Heart, and would abolish Duelling and all other Mischief, by restraining, conquering, and destroying of Pride, Anger, and the Spirit of Revenge; but these Passions are so necessary to Society for the Advancement of Dominion and worldly Glory, that the Great and Ambitious could not do without them in a Warlike Nation. Those who compiled in France the Regulations we have been speaking of, were well aware of this: They judged from what they felt within, and knew full well, that take away Pride, and you spoil the Soldier; for it is as impossible to strip a Man of that Passion, and preserve in him his Principle of Honour, as you can leave him his Bed after you have taken away the Feathers. A peaceful Disposition and Humility are not Qualities more promising in the Day of Battle, than a contrite Heart an broken Spirit are Preparatives for Fighting. In these Regulations, so often mention'd, it is plainly to be seen, what Pains and Care were taken, not to arraign, or lay the least Blame upon the Principle of Honour, tho' the Kingdom groan'd under a Calamity which visibly arose from, and could be the Effect of no other Cause than that very Principle.
Hor. All the Fault, in my Opinion, ought to be laid on the Tyranny of Custom; and therefore the Marshals of France were in the Right not to depreciate or run the least Risque of destroying or lessening the Principle of Honour, which, I am confident, has been a greater Tie upon Men than any Religion whatever.
Cleo. It is impossible that there should be a greater Tie, a stronger Barrier against Injustice, than the Christian Religion, where it is sincerely believ'd, and Men live up to that Belief. But if you mean, that the Number of Men, who have stuck to the Principle of Honour, and strictly follow'd the Dictates of it, has been greater than that of Christians, who, with equal Strictness, have obey'd the Precepts of the Gospel; if, I say, you mean this, I don't know how to contradict you. But I thought, that I had given you a very good Reason for that, when I shew'd you, that in the Notions of Honour there are many Allurements to draw-in vain worldly Men, which the Christian Religion has not; and that the Severity of this is more mortifying and disagreable to Human Nature, than the Self-denial which is required in the other. There are other Reasons besides, which I have likewise hinted at more than once. A Man may believe the Torments of Hell, and stand in great Dread of them, whilst they are the Object of his serious Reflection; but he does not always think of them, nor will they always make the same Impression upon him, when he does. But in worshiping Honour, a Man adores himself, which is ever dear to him, never absent, never out of Sight. A Man is easily induced to reverence what he loves so entirely.
Hor. The Fear of Shame cannot restrain Men in Things that are done in Secret, and can never be known. Men of Honour are true to their Trust, where it is impossible they should be discover'd.
Cleo. That is not universally true; tho', without doubt, there are many such. The grand Characteristick of a Man of Honour, at least of Modern Honour, is, that he takes no Affront without resenting it, and dares fight Any body without Exception; and such there are that have not common Honesty, and are noted Sharpers. Besides, by Education and conversing constantly with Men of Honour, and some of real Honour and Probity, Persons may contract a strong Aversion to every Thing that is dishonourable. The most effectual method to breed Men of Honour, is to inspire them with lofty and romantick Sentiments concerning the Excellency of their Nature, and the superlative Merit there is in being a Man of Honour. The higher you can raise a Man's Pride, the more refin'd you may render his Notions of Honour.
Hon. The Substance of this you have said twenty Times; but I don't understand your adoring of one's self.
Cleo. I'll endeavour to explain it to you. I am acquainted with Men of Honour, who seem to have a very slender Belief, if any, of future Rewards and Punishiments, and whom yet I believe to be very just Men. Of these there are several, whom I could entirely confide in, and whose Words I would much rather take in Business of Moment than any Bishop's, whom I know Nothing of. What is it that keeps these Men in Awe? What keeps them true to their Word, and steady to their Engagements, tho' they should be Losers by it?
Hor. I don't know any Thing but the Principle of Honour, that is deeply rooted in them.
Cleo. Still the Thing, whatever it be, which a Man loves, fears, esteems, and consequently reverences, is not without, but within himself. The Object then of Reverence, and the Worshiper, who pays it, meeting and remaining in the same Person, maynot such a Person be justly said to adore himself: Nay, it seems to be the common Opinion, that this is true; for unless some Sort of Divinity was supposed, to reside in Men of Honour, their affirming and denying Things upon that Principle could never be thought an Equivalent for an Oath, as to Some it is allow'd to be. Pray, when a Man asserts a Thing upon his Honour, is it not a Kind of Swearing by himself, as others do by God? If it was not so, and there was supposed to be the least Danger, that Men, endued with the Principle of Honour, could deceive or prevaricate, I would fain know, why it should be binding and acquiesc'd in.
Hor. You may say the same of the Quakers; and that there must be supposed to be some Divinity in them, that their solemn Affirmation should be thought equivalent to an Oath.
Cleo. That's quite another Thing. The Quakers take all Oaths whatever, whether they are made before a Magistrate or otherwise, to be sinful, and for that Reason they refuse to Swear at all. But as it is their avow'd Opinion, that a wilful notorious Lie is not less Criminal in the Sight of Heaven than we take Perjury to be, it is evident, that in giving their Testimony, they stake their Salvation equally with other People that make Oath. Whereas those who, with us, are credited upon their Honour, have no such Scruples, and make Oath themselves on other Occasions: The Reason therefore why they don't try Criminals and pronounce their Judgment upon Oath, as other Judges and Juries do, is not, that they think appealing to God or Swearing by his Name to be Sinful, which is the Case of the Quakers; but because they are supposed to be altogether as credible without it, as if they did. And if there was not some Adoration, some Worship, which Men of Honour pay to themselves, the Principle they act from could not have produced the visible Effects it has in so many different Nations.
Hor. You have said several Things which I cannot disprove, and some of them, I own, are probable enough; but you are like to leave me as you found me. The Principle of Honour has lost no Ground in my Esteem; and I shall continue to act from it as I did before. But since you imagine to have so plainly proved, that we are Idols to our Selves, and that Honour is diametrically opposite to Christianity, I wonder you don't call it the Beast in the Apocalypse, and say, that it is the Whore of Babylon. This would be a notable Conceit, and suit Papists as well as Protestants; nay, I fancy, that the Colour of the Whore, and her Thirst after Blood, might be better accounted for from Duelling, than any other Way that has been tried yet.
Cleo. The Revelations of St. John are above my Comprehension; and I shall never laugh at Mysteries for not understanding them.
Hor. What you say of Mysteries, I think, ought to be more justly applied to the Principle of Honour, which we do understand; for whatever it may be derived from, the Advantages the Civil Society receives from it, both in Peace and War, are so many and so manifest, that the Usefulness of it ought to exempt and preserve it from being ridicul'd. I hate to hear a Man talk of its being more or less portable, the melting of it over again, and reducing it to a new Standard. Cleo. I know, you dislike this in the Fable of the Bees; but if you'll examine into what you have read there, you'll find, that my Friend has ridicul'd Nothing but what deserves it. There is certainly a great Difference between the Men of Honour in former Ages and many of those, who now-a-days assume the Title. A Man in whom Justice, Integrity, Temperance and Chastity are join'd with Fortitude, is worthy of the highest Esteem; but that a debauch'd Fellow, who runs in every Tradesman's Debt, and thinks himself not obliged to pay any Thing but what is borrow'd or lost at Play, should claim the same Regard from us, for no other Reason than because he dares to Fight, is very unreasonable.
Hor. But is he serious, when he speaks of the Men of ancient Honour, of whom he thinks Don Quixot to have been the last?
Cleo. When the Romance-Writers had carried the Prowess and Atchievements of their heroes to an incredible Pitch, was it not ridiculous to see Men in their Senses, not only believe those Extravagancies in good Earnest, but likewise endeavour to imitate those fabulous Exploits, and set about copying after those imaginary Patterns? For it was that which Cervantes exposed in Don Quixot.
Hor. In the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century, the Spaniards were the best Soldiers in the World; they shew'd themselves on many Emergencies to be a grave and wise Nation, and had many real Patterns of strict Honour and great Virtue among them. Things are as often over-done in Satyrs as they are in Panegyricks; and the Likeness of a Caricatura is no more to be trusted to than that of the most flattering Pencil.
Cleo. I shall always bear the highest Esteem for Men of strict Honour and real Virtue, and will never ridicule what is approved of by Custom, and the Consent of several Ages has render'd valuable; but no Title or Dignity, no Name or Distinction can be so honourable, or so eminent, that a serious Enquirer may not have Leave to trace it to the Bottom. I have acknowledged, that the Word Honour, in its first and genuine Sense, is as ancient as the oldest Language in the World. As to my Conjecture concerning the same Word, as it signifies a Principle which Men act from, I leave it entirely to your Judgment: But whatever the Origin may be of either, it is certain, that whatever the Words Honour and Honourable are join'd with, added or applied to, there is plain Design in them of pleasing and gratifying those it concerns, on Account of the Passion of Self-liking, and a palpable Tendency to humour, approve of, or encrease the good Opinion Man has of himself: As you'll find, on the Contrary, that in the Words Dishonour Shame, Ignominy, and whatever is dishonourable, there is an Intention, or Something imply'd, to displease and mortify those it concerns, on Account of that same Passion of Self-liking, and an Endeavour to lessen, contradict or destroy Self-Esteem, which is that good Opinion which Man has of himself from Nature.
Hor. That the Words Honour and Shame are either literally made Use of, as you say, or metaphorically applied to other Creatures or Things inanimate, I believe: I allow likewise, that the Principle of Honour is found in no Breast that is not possess'd of Self-liking to an eminent Degree; but I don't think that a Fault.
Cleo. The only Fault I have found with the Principle of Honour, is, it's clashing with the Christian Religion. I have told you the Reasons, why the Church of Rome thought it her Interest to reconcile them, and make People believe, that they did not interfere with one another. She has always consulted Human Nature, and ever join'd gay Shew and Pomp, as I have hinted before, to Superstition; well knowing, that, as to keep Man under and in Subjection, you must work upon his Fear, so, to make him act with Alacrity, and obey with Pleasure, where Lucre is out of Question, you must flatter his Pride. It is from this Policy of hers, that all Names of Dignity and Distinction among Christians, as Earl, Baron, Duke, Marquis, &c. had originally their Rise as Hereditary Titles. To the same have been owing all the various Ceremonies of Institutions and Instalments; and Coronations, as well as Inthronizations. Of the Orders of Knighthood, and the vast Multiplicity of them, I have spoke already.
Hor. You give more to the Church of Rome than her Due: Most Countries in Christendom have Orders of Knighthood peculiar to themselves, and of which it is evident, that they were instituted by their own Sovereigns.
Cleo. But look into the Ceremonial of those Institutions, and the great Share the Clergy has in most of them, and you'll easily see, what Stock they sprung from. And tho' the Sovereign, in every Country, is deem'd to be the Fountain of Honour, yet the Sovereigns themselves had their Titles, as well as Coats of arms, from the Popes; nor had they ever any Ensign of Honour, Power or Authority, which they could depend upon, unless it had first been granted, or confirm'd and ratify'd, by the See of Rome.
Hor. I take the Insignia, which the Proconsuls and Proprietors had in the different Provinces of the Roman Empire, and which Pancirolus has wrote of so amply, to have been much after the Nature of Coats of Arms.
Cleo. Those Insignia belong'd to the Office; and a Governour could only make Use of them, whilst he was in it: But hereditary Coats of arms, that were given to particular Men or Societies, by Way of Reward for Services perform'd, were never known; and Heraldry it Self had no Existence, before the Pope's Supremacy had been acknowledged by the Christian World. And if we consider the fine Opportunities, which the most idle and indolent, the most insignificant and unworthy of the Society, often meet with from this Invention of valuing themselves upon Actions that were perform'd several Ages before they were born, and bespeak a Merit which they know in their Consciences that they are destitute of; if, I say, we consider what I have now mention'd, we shall be forc'd to confess, that, of all Arts and Sciences, Heraldry has been the most effectual to stir up and excite in Men the Passion of Self-liking, on the finallest Foundation; and daily Experience teaches us, that Persons of Education and Politeness can taste no Pleasure in any Thing at Home or Abroad, at Church or the Play-House, where the Gratification of this Passion is entirely excluded. Of all the Shews and Solemnities that are exhibited at Rome, the greatest and most expensive, next to a Jubilee, is the Canonization of a Saint. For one that has never seen it, the Pomp is incredible. The Stateliness of the Processions, the Richness of Vestments and sacred Utensils that are display'd, the fine Painting and Sculpture that are expos'd at that Time, the Variety of good Voices and Musical Instruments that are heard, the Profusion of Wax-Candles, the Magnificence which the Whole is perform'd with, and the vast Concourse of People, that is occasion'd by those Solemnities, are all such, that it is impossible to describe them.
Hor. It is astonishing, I own; but what would you infer from them?
Cleo. I would desire you to observe, how vastly different some of the Ends and Purposes are, that Canonizations may be made to serve at the same Time. It is pretended, in the First Place, that they are perform'd to do Justice and pay Veneration to the Memory of those Holy Persons: Secondly, that by Men's worshiping them, they may be induced, among the Rest of the Saints, to intercede with God for the the Sins of their Votaries: And lastly, because it is to be hoped, that among such Numbers as assist at those Solemnities, there are many who will be affected by them, and endeavour to imitate, in their Lives, the holy Examples that are set before them: For there is no Time more seasonable to stir Men up to Devotion and Sentiments of Piety, than when Rapture and high Admiration have been rais'd in them first.
Hor. Besides Canonizations keep up the Reputation of the Roman Catholick Faith; for the new Saints, that are made from Time to Time, are always fresh Witnesses, that Miracles are not ceas'd, and consequently that the Church of Rome continues to be the same Church which Christ and his Apostles first establish'd.
Cleo. You are in the Right; and whilst we consider and give Credit to those Pretences, the Design must seem to be religious; and every Roman Catholick, who is firm in his Belief; is obliged to think, that whatever Cost is bestow'd upon Canonizations, no Money could be laid out better. But if we mind, on the other Side, the strong Sollicitations of the great Men, that either are, or pretend to be the Relations of the venerable Person, whose Holiness they vouch for; the vast Pains that are taken, the Intrigues that are carried on for Years together, to procure this high Favour of the Sacred College; and when it is obtain'd, what an Honour it is to the whole Family; the Visits that are paid from all Parts to every Rich Man that belongs to it, and the Compliments that are made on Account of it; besides the Privileges they receive from it ever after; If, I say, we mind these Things on the other Side, we shall find, that in the Motives from which Men sue for this Honour, there is not a Grain of Religion to an Ounce of Pride, and that what seems to be a Solemnity to celebrate the Sanctity of the Dead, is in Reality a Stratagem of the Church to gratify the Ambition of the Living. The Church of Rome has never made a Step without Regard to her Temporal Interest, and an After-Thought on her Successors, Luther and Calvin, and some Others of the chief Adversaries of Rome, were Men of great Parts, that have gain'd themselves Immortal Names; but it must be confess'd, that they rais'd themselves altogether at the Expence of their Brethren. They gave up both the Patrimony and Dominion of the Church, and made Presents of them to the Secular Powers, that would espouse their respective Causes, and establish their Doctrines; by which, and the destroying of Purgatory, they not only stript the Clergy of their Wealth and Power for the present, but likewise took away the Means by which, one Day or other, it might have been possible for their Successors to retrieve them. It is well for the Protestant Cause, that the Multitude can't hear or know the Wishes, that are made in Secret by many of the Clergy, nor the hearty Ejaculations, which the Men of Spirit among them are often sending after the Memory of the first Reformers, for having left their Order in that Pickle, and almost at the Mercy of the Laity, after they had been made dependent on the Clergy. If those pious Leaders had understood, or at least consulted Human Nature, they would have known, that strict Lives and Austerity of Manners don't go by Inheritance, and must have foreseen, that as soon as the Zeal of the Reformation should begin to cool both the Clergy and the Laity would relax in their Morals; and consequently, that their Successors, after Two or Three Generations, would make wretched Figures, if they were still to continue to preach Christianity without Deceit or Evasions, and pretend to live conformably to the Rules of it: If they had but reflected on what had happen'd in the Infancy of their Religion, they must have easily foreseen what I say.
Hor. What is it that happen'd then?
Cleo. That Christ and his Apostles taught by Example as well as Precepts the Practice of Humility and the Contempt of Riches; to renounce the Pomp and Vanity of the World, and mortify the Flesh, is certain: And that this was striking at the very Fundamentals of Human Nature, is as certain. This could only be perform'd by Men preternaturally affected; and therefore the Founders of Christianity being gone, it could not be expected, that the same Austerity of Life and Self-denial should be continued among the Successors of them, as soon as the Ministry of the Gospel became a Calling, that Men were brought up to for a Livelihood; and considering how essential those mortifying Principles are to Christianity, it is not easy to conceive, how the one could be made still to subsist, when the other should cease to be. But Nothing seems more impracticable than that the Gospel, which those Principles are evidently taught, should ever be turn'd into an inexhaustible Fund of Worldly Comforts, Gain, Honour, and Authority; yet this has been perform'd by the Skill and Industry of the Architects, who have built that Master-Piece of Human Policy, the Church of Rome. They have treated Religion as if it was a Manufacture, and the Church a Set of Workmen, Labourers and Artificers, of different Employments, that all contribute and cooperate to produce one entire Fabrick. In the great Variety of their Religious Houses, you have all the Severity of Manners and Rigour of Discipline, which the Gospel requires, improved upon. There you have perpetual Chastity, and Virgins wedded to Christ: There is Abstinence, and Fasting; there is Mortifying of the flesh, Watching, Praying, the Contempt of Money and Worldly Honour; a literal Retirement from the World, and every Thing you can ask for, relating to Self-denial, as to Carnal Enjoyments and the renouncing of Pomp and Vanity, at least to all outward Appearance. When Men see that Strictness of Morals, and that Christian Self-denial, which are so manifestly taught in the Gospel, own'd by the Clergy, and some where or other actually comply'd with, they will easily give Ear to any Thing that is said to them besides. This grand Point concerning the Austerity of Life, and mortifying the Flesh, being literally understood, and acknowledged by the Clergy to be such, as the Apostles have deliver'd them without Prevarication, it will not be difficult to make the Laity believe, not only mysterious Contradictions, but likewise the most palpable Absurdities, such as Transubstantiation; that the Pope is infallible, and has the Power of Thundering out Anathema's and granting Absolutions; and consequently of damning and saving whom he pleases; that the Pomp and Magnificence of the Sacred College, and even the Luxury of a Court, are laudable Means, and absolutely necessary to keep up the Dignity and outward Luster of the visible Church; and that the Spiritual Welfare of it depends upon Temporal Authority, and cannot be duely taken Care of without large Revenues, Princely Power, Politicks, and Military Force. No Set of Men have deserv'd better of the Church of Rome, than the Writers of Legends and the Forgers of Miracles. In the Lives of the Saints, there is a plausible Representation of the Church Militant; and considering how naural it is for Man to be superstitious, and to love the Merveilleux, Nothing could be thought of more agreeable or edifying than to read of such Numbers of Holy Men and Women, that did not flinch from Combating themselves, and to see the noble Victories that have been obtain'd over the World, the Flesh and the Devil, in a literal Sense, as are to be met with in those judicious Relations.
Hor. But what Analogy is there between the Roman Catholick Religion, and a Manufacture, as you insinuated?
Cleo. The Division of the whole into so many different Branches. The great Prelates, of whom not many have any Religion at all, are yet for Worldly Ends continually watching over the Temporal Interest of it. The little Bishops and ordinary Priests take Care of the Mystical Part of it; whilst the Religious Orders contribute meritorious Works, and seem actually to comply with the harshest Precepts of Christianity, often in a more rigid Construction than the Words themselves will bear.
Hor. Then have the Laity no Share in it?
Cleo. Yes; but their Task is the easiest, and what they club towards Religion chiefly consists in Faith and Money. But when Men pretend to be Christians, and Nothing is to be met with in any Part of their Religion, but what is easy and pleasant, and Nothing is required either of the Laity or the Clergy, that is difficult to perform, or disagreeable to Human Nature, there is Room to suspect, that such a Set of People lay claim to a Title, that does not belong to them. When Ministers of the Gospel take Pains to undermine it themselves, and flatly deny the Strictness of Behaviour, and Severity of Manners, that are so manifestly inculcated in every Part of it, I don't wonder, that Men of Sincerity, who can read, should refuse to give Credit to every Thing that is said by such Ministers. It is easier to speak with Contempt of the recluse Lives of the Carthusians, and to laugh at the Austerities of La Trappe, than it is to refute what might be alledg'd from the Gospel to prove the Necessity there is, that to be acceptable to God, Men should fly from Lust, make War with themselves, and mortify the Flesh. When Ministers of Christ assure their Hearers, that to indulge themselves in all earthly Pleasures and Sensualities, that are not clashing with the Laws of the Country, or the Fashion of the Age they live in, will be no Bar to their future Happiness, if they enjoy them with Moderation; that Nothing ought to be deem'd Luxury, that is suitable to a Person's Rank and Quality, and which he can purchase without hurting his Estate, or injuring his Neighbour; that no Buildings or Gardens can be so profusely sumptuous, no Furniture so curious or magnificent, no Inventions for Ease so extravagant, no Cookery so operose, no Diet so delicious, no Entertainments or Way of Living so expensive as to be Sinful in the Sight of God, if a man can afford them; and they are the same, as others of the same Birth or Quality either do or would make Use of, if they could: That a Man may study and be sollicitous about Modes and Fashions, assist at Courts, hunt after Worldly Honour, and partake of all the Diversions of the beau monde, and at the same Time be a very good Christian; when Ministers of Christ, I say, assure their Hearers of this, they certainly teach what they have no Warrant for from his Doctrine. For it is in Effect the same as to assert, that the strictest Attachment to the World is not inconsistent with a Man's Promise of renouncing the Pomp and Vanity of it.
Hor. But what signify the Austerity of Life and Forbearance of Nuns and Friars, if they were real, to all the Rest who don't practise them? And what Service can their Self-denial and Mortification be of to the Vain and Sensual, who gratify every Appetite that comes uppermost?
Cleo. The Laity of the Roman Communion are taught and assured, that they may be of great Service even to the Wicked; nay, it may be proved from Scripture, that the Intercession of the Righteous and Innocent, is sometimes capable of averting God's Vengence from the Guilty. This only wants to be believed; and it is the easiest Thing in the World to make the Multitude believe any Assertion, in which there is Nothing that contradicts receiv'd Opinions, and the common notions which Men have of Things. There is no Truth, that has hitherto been more unanimously believed among all Sects and Opinions of Christians in all Ages, than that the gospel warns Men against Carnal Pleasures, and requires of them Humility, the Contempt of Earthly Glory, and such a Strictness of Manners and Morality, as is difficult for Human Nature to comply with. Now when a clergyman, who pretends to preach the Gospel, puts such Constructions on the plainest texts, in which the Doctrine I spoke of is literally taught, as can only tend to extenuate and diminish the Force of them, and when moreover he leaves no Shifts or Evasions untied, till he has destroy'd the Observance of those Precepts; when a Clergyman, I say, is thus employ'd, it is no Wonder that his Doctrine should raise Doubts and Scruples in his hearers, when they compare it with the common Notions Men have of Christianity.
Hor. I am no Admirer, you know, of Priests of any Sort; but of the Two, I would prefer a Man of Learning and good Sense, who treats me with good Manners, recommends Virtue, and a reasonable Way of Living, to an ill bred sour Pedant, that entertains me with fanatical Cant, and would make me believe, that it is a Sin to wear good Cloaths, and fill my Belly with what I like.
Cleo. There is no Doubt, but the beau monde, and all well bred People, that desire to be judged of from outward Appearance, will always chuse the most easy Casuists; and the more ample the Allowances are, which Clergymen give them, of enjoying the World, the more they'll be pleas'd with them. But this can only be of Service among the Fashionable and the Polite, whose Religion is commonly very Superficial, and whose Virtue is seldom extended beyond good Manners. But what will it do to Men of greater Sincerity, that can and dare examine themselves? What will it do to serious and able Enquirers, that refuse to trust to Outsides, and will not be barr'd from searching into the Bottom of Things? If this was only a Matter of Speculation, a disputable Point in a Ceremony, as whether Men are to sit or to stand at the Performance of it, the Thing might easily be given up: but it plainly appears to be a Theory skilfully raised by Clergymen, to build a Practice upon in their Favour. Those easie Divines don't make such large Allowances to others for Nothing: They speak one Word for the Laity, and two for themselves, and seem to have Nothing more at Heart than to enjoy the Benefit of their own Doctrine. It is no Wonder therefore, that so many of the Clergy are always desirous to converse with the beau monde. Among the best bred People there is seldom any Difference to be seen between Believers and Unbelievers; neither of them give any Trouble to their Pastors, and they are all equally cautious of offending. Polite People contradict No body, but conform to all Ceremonies that are fashionable with Regard to the Time and the Places they are in; and a courtly Infidel will observe Decency at Church, and a becoming Carriage there, for the same Reason that he does it at a Ball, or in the Drawing-Room.
Hor. As to Indulgences and large Allowances, the Roman Catholicks out-do us far, especially the Jesuits, who certainly are the most easy Casuists in the World.
Cleo. They are so; but it is only in the Management of those, whose Consciences are under their Direction. A Jesuit may tell a Man such or such Things are allow'd to Him in particular, and give him Reasons for it from his Quality, or the Post he is in, from the State of his Health, his Temperament, his Age, or his Circumstances: But he'll not deny or explain away the Self-denial and the Mortification in general, that are commanded in the Gospel. When you come to this Point, he'll not lessen the Difficulty and Irksomeness of Christian Duties to Human Nature and the Flesh; but he'll refer you to the Founder of his Order, and the great Self-denial he practis'd: Perhaps he'll relate to you, how that Saint watch'd his Arms all Night, after he had dedicated them, together with his Life, to the Virgin Mary. But that the Gospel requires a literal Mortification of the Flesh, and other hard Tasks from us, is the very Basis which the Pope's Exchequer is built upon. He could have no Colour for enjoining Fasting and Abstinence, if it was not supposed, that he had a Warrant for it from the New Testament. It is this Supposition, that brings all the Grist to his Mill; and thus a Man may eat Flesh in Lent, without a Sin; but tho' he can get the Meat perhaps for Nothing, he shall pay for the Liberty of Eating it. Buying Absolutions implies the Consciousness of having committed a Crime; and No body would give Money for Indulgences, if he thought, that what he desires to be indulged in, was lawful without them. All Multitudes will sooner believe a Man to come from God, who leads an Austere Life himself, and preaches Abstinence and Self-denial to others tho' they themselves, I mean the Hearers, don't practice it, or take any Pains to comply with his Precepts, than they will another, who takes greater Liberties himself, and whose Doctrine is less severe. This the wise Architects of the Church of Rome, who were thoroughly skill'd in Human Nature, were well aware of; and accordingly they have improved upon the Scriptures, and added Lustre to all those Precepts, which is most difficult to comply with; and in commenting on the severest Duties of Christianity, they have been so far from extenuating and explaining away our Obligations to perform them, that they have heighten'd and magnify'd them, not only by Words and in Theory, but the Practice and Example; as is so manifest from the hard and almost incredible Tasks, which many of them have actually impos'd upon themselves, and gone through. They have flinch'd at Nothing on this Head.
Hor. A Man must be very stupid to believe, that his close Attachment to the World, and the Loosness of his own Morals can be atton'd for by the recluse and strict Lives that are led in some Religious Houses.
Cleo. Not so stupid as you imagine: There is Nothing in it that clashes with the common Notions of Mankind. Ceremonies are perform'd by Proxy; Men are Security for one another; and a Debt is not more effectually discharg'd, when we receive the Money from him who borrow'd it, than when it is paid by his Bail, tho' the Principal himself runs away. If there is but real Self-denial to be met with any where in a Religion, it is no difficult Matter to make Multitudes believe, that they have, or may buy, a Share in it: Besides, all Roman Catholicks are brought up in the firm Belief of the Necessity there is of Self-denial. They are strictly forbid to eat Flesh on Fridays; and Pains are taken to inspire them from their very Childhood with a Honour against the breaking of this Commandment. It is incredible, what Force such a Precept is of, and how closely the Influence of it sticks to men, when it has been earnestly inculcated to them from their early Youth. There is no Difficulty in the Thing when they are grown up; and I'll engage, that a Roman Catholick, who always has been accustom'd to this Piece of Observance till he is Five and Twenty Years of Age, will find it more easy afterwards to continue than to leave it off, tho' he should turn Protestant, or even Turk.
Hor. I have often admired at the great Force this senseless Piece of Superstition is of; for I have seen great Reprobates and very loose Fellows among the Roman Catholicks, who stuck at no Manner of Debauchery, and would often talk prophanely, that yet refused to eat Flesh on a Friday, and could not be laugh'd out of their Folly; tho' at the same Time I could see, that they were actually ashamed of it.
Cleo. No Set of People have so artfully play'd upon Mankind as the Church of Rome. In the Use they have made of Scripture, they have consulted all our Frailties; and in their own Interpretations of it, most dextrously adapted themselves to the common Notions of all Multitudes. They knew perfectly well, not only, that all Men are born with the Fear of an invisible Cause, but likewise that it is more natural, or, at least, that the rude and ignorant of our Species are always more apt to suspect, that this invisible Cause is their Enemy, than they are to think it to be their Friend, and will sooner believe it to be an evil and malicious, than a good beneficent Being. To turn this to their Advantage, they made Use of all their Skill and Cunning to magnify the Devil, and cry up his Force and Subtlety, his supernatural Art, his implacable Hatred to Mankind, and great Influence over Human Affairs. All the strange Stories they have spread, the monstrous Fables they have invented, and the gross Lies they have maintain'd, of Spirits, of Witchcraft, and Apparitions, never had any other Tendency than to manifest the Works of Satan, and make Every body afraid of his Power and Stratagems at all Times, and in all Places; which has been a prodigious Gain to them. They never taught any Thing that contradicted Vulgar Opinions, and never gave Men any Ideas of Heaven, that were not borrow'd from Something on Earth. That Courts of Princes are not deem'd to be compleat without Women, has advanced the Virgin Mary to be Queen of Heaven. From the Influence of Mothers, and the Authority they are known to exercise of their Infants, they have drawn the most childish Conclusions to raise Superstition; for to that Notion, and the great Honour which is every where allow'd to be due to Parents, it has been owing, that the Mother of God in the Roman Communion has been all along more address'd and pray'd to, than her Son; and of the Two She seems to be the more venerable Person. All Patrons in ancient Rome had their Clients, whom the protected; and all Favourites of Princes have their Creatures, whose Interests they espouse upon Occasion: This has produced the Invocation of Saints and Angels; and that no Advocates might be wanting in the Celestial Court on any Emergency, the Church has provided, that there is no Town or Country, no Handicraft or Profession, no Pain or Disease, Danger or Distress, but there is a kind Saint for that particular Affair, whose peculiar Province is to preside over and take Care of every Thing that relates to it; which has made the Number of them equal with, if not superiour to that of the Pagan Deities. She knew, that the Incredibility of Things is no Obstacle to Faith among Multitudes; and that in believing of Mysteries, Propositions will not be the less swallow'd for being contradictory to Reason.
Hor. But I thought you was not for keeping Men in Ignorance.
Cleo. What I am for, is not the Question. Priests who would bear an absolute Sway over the Laity, and live luxuriously at their Cost, ought First to make them believe Implicitly: Whereas an honest Clergy, that will teach Nothing concerning Religion, but what is consistent with good Sense, and becoming a rational Creature to believe, ought to deal uprightly with Men throughout the Whole, and not impose upon their Understandings in one Point more than they do in another. From the real Incomprehensibility of God, just Arguments must be drawn for believing of Mysteries that surpass our Capacities. But when a Man has good Reason to suspect, that he who instructed him in these Mysteries, does not believe them himself, it must stagger and obstruct his Faith, tho' he had no Scruples before, and the Things he had been made to believe, are no Ways clashing with his Reason. It is not difficult for a Protestant Divine to make a Man of Sense see the many Absurdities that are taught by the Church of Rome, the little Claim which Popes can lay to Infallibility, and the Priestcraft there is in what they say of purgatory and all that belongs to it. But to persuade him likewise, that the Gospel requires no Self-denial, nor any Thing that is irksome to Nature, and that the Generality of the Clergy of England are sincerely endeavouring, in their Lives and Doctrine, to imitate the Apostles, as nearly as Human Frailty will let them, and is consistent with the Difference of the Age and Manners between their Time and ours; to persuade, I say, a Man of Sense, that these Things are likewise true, would not be so easy a Task. By a Man of Sense, I mean a Man likewise of some Knowledge, who, in the First Place, has read the Bible, and believes the Scripture to be the sole Rule of Faith; and, in the Second, is no Stranger to our Church, or any Thing that is openly to be seen relating to her Clergy, especially the Heads of them, the Bishops; such as their Palaces and Manner of Living; their Translations, Revenues and Earthly Power, together with the Worldly Honours, Precedency and other Privileges, which our Spiritual Lords insist upon to be their Due.
Hor. I have often laugh'd my Self at Apostles in Coaches and Six; but what must at that Rate the Men of Sense and Sincerity among the Roman Catholicks think of their Prelates, who live in much greater Splendour and Luxury than ours? What must they think of the Cardinals and the Pope himself?
Cleo. Think of them? What they please, so they dare not to open their Lips against them, or any Thing which the Clergy are pleas'd to call Sacred. In all Roman Catholick Countries, you know, no Books or Pamphlets may be publish'd, but what are Licensed; and no Man is allow'd to divulge any Sentiments concerning Religion, that are not entirely Orthodox; which in all Countries, so regulated, is a vast Ease and an unspeakable Comfort to the Clergy of the establish'd Church.
Hor. I never thought to hear you speak against the Liberty of the Press.
Cleo. And you never will; for tho' Orthodoxy and the National Clergy are always the Gainers by these Curbs and Prohibitions, yet Truth and Religion are ever the Sufferers by them. But all prudent Men ought to behave according to the Condition they are in, and the Principles as well as Privileges they lay claim to. Reform'd Divines own themselves to be fallible: They appeal to our Reason, and exhort us to peruse the Scripture Ourselves. We live in a Country where the Press is open; where all Men are at full Liberty to expose Error and Falshood, where they can find them; and No body is debarr'd from Writing almost any Thing, but Blasphemy and Treason. A Protestant Clergy ought always to remember the Reasons, which their Predecessors alledg'd for separating themselves from the Roman Communion, and never to forget, that the Haughtiness and Luxury of the Prelates, as well as the Covetousness, the Insolence, and barefac'd Encroachments of the Clergy, were a considerable Part of the Complaints against Popery. No equitable Guides, that have open'd our Eyes to see the Frailties of others, ought to expect from us, that in Regard to themselves we should keep them shut close, and never look upon their Behaviour. The Roman Pastors, who keep their flocks in the Dark, teach them blind Obedience, and never vouchsafe to argue with 'em any more than if they were real Sheep. They don't advise Men to read the Bible, but such Books of Devotion as their Priests shall think proper for them; and are so far from appealing to their Judgment, that they conjure them, on Pain of Damnation, never to trust their Reason, but implicitly to believe whatever the Church shall require of them.
Hor. You put me in Mind of Father Canaye, the Jesuit in St. Evremond. No Reason! No Reason at all!
Cleo. Where the Clergy are possess'd of, and keep up this Authority over the Laity, and the Secular Arm is at their Devotion, to punish whom they condemn, they need not be nice or circumspect in their Manner of Living; and no Pomp or Luxury will easily lessen them in the Esteem of the Multitude. No Protestant Clergy have wrote better in Defence of the Reformation than ours; but others have certainly gone greater Lengths in it, as to Worship and Discipline in outward Appearance. The Difference between the Roman Catholicks and us seems to be less irreconcilable, than it is between them and the Reformed Churches of the united Netherlands and Switzerland; and I am fully persuaded, that the Mother Church despairs not of bringing back to her Bosom this run-away Daughter of hers, and making this Island one Day or other repay with Interest the Losses she has sustain'd by its long Disobedience. Arguments alone will never keep out Popery; and Great Britain being once reconciled to the Church of Rome, would add such a Weight to her Power, that it would not be difficult for her in a little Time to reduce all the Rest of the Protestants by main Force, and entirely to Triumph over what She calls the Northern Heresy.
Hor. We have very good Laws to secure us from the Usurpation of Rome; and the Abbey Lands, that are in the Possession of the Laity, I believe, are a better, I mean, a stronger Argument against the Return of Popery, than ever will be shewn in Print.
Cleo. I believe so too; but it is not easy to determine, what Difficulties and Discouragements true Politicks and never ceasing Industry may not surmount in Time. The Church of Rome is never without Men of great Parts and Application; she entertains Numbers of them; and there is no Government, without Exception, of which the true Interest is so well understood, or so steadily pursued without Interruption, as hers.
Hor. But why may not Protestants have Men of good Sense and Capacity among them, as well as Roman Catholicks? Do not other Countries produce Men of Genius as well as Italy?
Cleo. Perhaps they do; tho' none more. The Italians are a subtle People; and I believe, that consummate Knowledge in State Affairs, and Worldly Wisdom are less precarious at Rome, than in any other Place you can name. Men of uncommon Genius are not born every Day, no more in Italy than any where else; but when in other Countries a good Politician goes off the Stage, either of Life or Business, it is often seen that a Bungler succeeds him, who in a few Years does more Hurt to the Nation, that the other had Time to do them good in a long Administration. This never happens at Rome; and there is no Court in the Universe so constantly supplied with able Managers and crafty Statemen as hers: For how short soever the Lives of most Popes may be, the Sacred College never dies. Tell me now pray, what unlikely Change, what Improbability can you imagine, of which we have not Reason to fear, that, if it be possible at all, it may be brought about by such a Set of Men; when every one's private Interest, as well as that of the Common Cause, are highly concern'd in it, and they are not stinted in Time?
Hor. Assiduity and Patience, I know, will do strange Things, and overcome great Obstacles. That the Church of Rome is more diligent and sollicitous to make Proselytes, than the Protestants generally are, I have long observed.
Cleo. There is no common Cause among the Reformed: The Princes and Laity of different Persuasions would have been firmly united long ago, if the Clergy would have suffer'd it; but Divines, who differ, are implacable, and never known to treat any Adversary with Temper or Moderation; and it has never been seen yet, that Two Sects of Christians did agree, and join heartily in one Interest, unless they were oppress'd, or in immediate Danger of suffering by a common Enemy to both. As soon as that is over, you always see their former Animosities revive. If the Church of Rome had no Hopes left, and given over all Thoughts of ever bringing this Kingdom back within her Pales, you would see the English Seminaries abroad neglected and dropt by Degrees; which she now cultivates with the utmost Care: For it is from them only, that She can be furnish'd with the proper Instruments to keep Popery alive in England, and buoy up the drooping Spirits of the distress'd Catholicks, among the many Hardships and Discouragements, they labour under beyond the Rest of their Fellow-Subjects. Such Offices as these, are every where best perform'd by Natives: Whatever Persuasion People are of, if the National Church of their Country, be not of their Religion, it is natural the them to wish it was; and that all imaginable Care is taken in the English Seminaries to encourage, and with the utmost Skill to heighten and encrease this Natural Desire in those under their Care, no Man can doubt who considers the Abilities of the Tutors that are employ'd in them, and the vast Advantage the Reduction of Great Britain would be to the See of Rome. Whilst those Colleges are constant supply'd with English and Irish Youth, the Popish Interest can never die in this Realm, nor the Church of Rome want insinuating Priests, or hearty Zealots, that will act any part, put on any Disguise, and run any Risque for their Cause, either in Strengthening the Roman Catholicks that are among us in their Faith, or seducing Protestants from theirs. No Foreigners could do us half the Mischief. People love their own Language from the same Motives as they love their Country; and there are no Priests or Clergy, whom Men will sooner hearken to and confide in, than such, as take great Pains and express an uncommon Zeal in their Function, at the same Time that they exercise it at the Hazard of their Liberty or their Lives. The Church of Rome has fit Tools for every Work and every Purpose; and no other Power upon Earth has such a Number of Creatures to serve it, nor such a Fund to reward them when they do. That the Protestant Interest lost Ground soon after it was well establish'd, and is still declining more and more every Day, is undeniable. To one Roman Catholick, that is converted to the Reform'd Religion, Ten Protestants turn Papists, among the highest Quality as well as the Vulgar. What can be the Reason of this Change? What is it that this Evil ought to be imputed to?
Hor. Either the Church of Rome is grown more vigilant and mindful of her Cause since the Reformation, than She was in Luther's Days, or the Protestants are become more negligent and careless of theirs.
Cleo. I believe both to be true, but especially the latter; for if the Maxims, that were most instrumental in bringing about the Reformation, had been continued, they certainly would have prevented, at least in a great Measure, not only this Evil, but likewise another, which is worse, I mean the Growth of Irreligion and Impiety: Nay, I don't question but the same Maxims, if they were to be tried again would have that Effect still.
Hor. This is a fine Secret, and what, I dare say, the Clergy would be glad to know. Pray, which are those Maxims.
Cleo. The Sanctity of Manners and exemplary Lives of the Reformers, their Application and unwearied Diligence in their Calling; their Zeal for Religion, and Disregard of Wealth and Worldly Enjoyments, either real or counterfeited, for that God only knows.
Hor. I did not expect this. The Bench of Bishops won't thank you for your Prescription: They would call it an Attempt to cure the Patients by blistering the Physicians.
Cleo. Those who would call it so, must be strange Protestant Divines.
Hor. I am sure, that some, if not most of them, would think the Remedy worse than the Disease.
Cleo. Yet there is none equal to it, no Remedy so effectual, either to cure us of those Evils, and put an entire Stop to, or to hinder and obstruct the Encrease as well of Atheism and Prophaneness, as of Popery and Superstition. And I defy all the Powers of Priestcraft to name such another, a practicable Remedy, of which there is any Probability, that it would go down or could be made use of in a clear-sighted Age, and among a knowing People, that have a Sense of Liberty, and refuse to be Priest-rid. It is amazing, that so many fine Writers among the Clergy, so many Men of Parts and Erudition should seem very earnestly to enquire into the Causes of Libertinism and Infidelity, and never think on their own Conduct.
Hor. But they'll tell you, that you make the Doctrine of the Gospel stricter than it really is; and I think so too; and that you take several Things literally, that ought to be figuratively understood.
Cleo. When Words are plain and intelligible, and what is meant by them in a literal sense is agreeable to the Tenour and the whole Scope of the Book in which we meet with those Words, it is reasonable to think, that they ought to be literally understood. But if, notwithstanding this, there are others, who are of Opinion, that these Words are to be taken in a figurative Sense, and this figurative Sense is more forced than the literal, and likewise clashing with the Doctrine and the Design of the Book, we have great Reason not to side with their Opinion: But if it appears moreover, that those who contend for the forced, figurative Sense, should be Gainers by it, if their Opinion prevail'd, and it would bring them Profit, Honour, Pleasure, or Ease, then we ought to suspect them to be partial, and the figurative Sense is to be rejected.
Hor. I don't know what to make of you to Day. You have shewn the Roman Catholick Religion to be a bare-faced Imposture; and at the same Time you seem to blame the Protestants for having left it.
Cleo. I am very consistent with my Self. I have laid open to you the Politicks, Penetration and Worldly Wisdom of the Church of Rome, and the Want of them in the Reformers, who exposed the Frauds of their Adversaries, without considering the Hardships and Difficulties, which such a Discovery would entail upon their Successors. When they parted with their Power, and gave up their Infallibility, they should have foreseen the necessary Consequences of the Honesty and Candour. A Reform'd Church, that will own she may err, must prepare for Heresies and Schisms, look upon them as unavoidable, and never be angry with those who dissent from her. They ought likewise to have known, that no Divines, who will preach the Gospel in its Purity, and teach Nothing but Apostolick Truths without Craft or Deceit, will ever be believ'd long, if they appeal to Men's Reason, unless they will likewise lead, or at least endeavour or seem to lead Apostolick Lives. In all Sects and Schisms it has always been and will ever be observed, that the Founders of them either are, or pretend to be Men of Piety and good Lives; but as there never was a Principle of Morality that Men have set out from, so strict yet, that in Tract of Time Human Nature has not got the better of it, so the Successors of those Founders always become more remiss by Degrees, and look out for Ways and Means to render the Practice of their Doctrine, or the Exercise of their Function, more comfortable and commodious: And all Persuasions have ever lost Ground, and been sunk in their Reputation in proportion, as the Teachers of them have relax'd their Manners. No Doctrine ever prevail'd or got any Advantage over the establish'd Religion in any Country, that was not accompanied with a real Austerity of Life, or a Pretence at least to a stricter Morality, and greater Forbearance, than was generally to be seen in the National Church, at the Time in which the Doctrine was advanced. These are eternal Truths, that must flow from the Fabrick, the very Essence of Human Nature. Therefore the Clergy may write and preach as they please: They may have all the Skill and Learning that Mortals can be possess'd of, and all the assistance into the Bargain, that the secular Power can give them in a free Nation, they will never be able long to keep up their Credit with a mixed Multitude, if no Show is made of Self-denial, and they will totally neglect those Means, without which that Credit was never acquired.
Horatio. Tho' it is but Two Days ago that I troubled you almost a whole Afternoon, I am come again to spend the Remainder of this, and sup with you, if you are at Leisure.
Cleo. This is exceeding kind. I am no Ways engaged; and you give me a vast Deal of Pleasure.
Hor. The more I have thought and reflected on what you said of Honour last Tuesday, the more I have perceiv'd and felt the Truth of it in Spight of my Teeth. But I shall never dare to speak of so wretched an Origin.
Cleo. The Beginning of all Things relating to Human Affairs was ever small and mean: Man himself was made of a Lump of Earth. Why should we be ashamed of this? What could be meaner than the Origin of Ancient Rome? Yet her own Historians, proud as they were, scrupled not to mention it, after she was arrived at the Height of her Glory, and become a Goddess, Dea Roma, to whom Divine Honours were paid throughout the Empire, and a stately Temple was erected within her own Walls.
Hor. I have often wonder'd at that Dea Roma, and her Statues resembling those of Pallas. What could they pretend her Divinity to consist in?
Cleo. In her vast Power, which every Freeman had the Privilege to imagine, he had a Share in.
Hor. What a Bizar, what a monstrous Humour must it have been, that could make a wife People suppose that to be a Goddess, which they knew to be a City!
Cleo. Nothing in the Universe, but the Pride of the Citizens. But I don't think, that the Humour, which you seem to be so much astonish'd at, is altogether worn off yet. In Poetry, Painting and Sculpture, you see Rivers, Towns, and Countries continue to be represented under the Images of Men and Women as much as ever. Look upon the Marble Figures about the Pedestal of Queen Anne's Statue at St. Paul's.
Hor. But No body is so silly as to worship them.
Cleo. Not in outward Shew, because it is out of Fashion; but the inward Veneration, which is paid by many to the Things represented by those Images, is the very same as it was formerly, and owing to the same Cause.
Hor. In what Part of the World is it, that you have observed this?
Cleo. In Christendom; Here. If you was to hear a vain Man, that is a considerable Inhabitant of any large Capital, when he is speaking on the Part and in Behalf of his City, London for example, Paris or Amsterdam, you would find the Honour, the high Esteem, and the Deference, which in his Opinion are due to it, far superiour to any, that are now paid to Mortal Creatures.
Hor. I believe there is a great Deal in what you say.
Cleo. It is worth your Observation, what I am going to mention. Wherever you see great Power and Authority lodged in a considerable Number of Men, mind the profound Respect and Submission, each Member pays to the whole, and you'll find, that there is great Plenty, throughout the World, of what you said, two Days ago, was inconceivable to you.
Hor. What is that, pray?
Cleo. Idols, that are their own Worshipers, and sincerely adore themselves.
Hor. I don't know but there may be, in your Way of construing Things: But I came with a Design to discourse with you on another Subject. When you said in our last Conversation, that a peaceful Disposition and Humility were not Qualities more promising in the Day of Battle, than a contrite Heart and a broken Spirit are Preparatives for Fighting, I could not help agreeing with your Sentiments; yet it is a common Notion, even among Men of very good Sense, that the best Christians make the best Soldiers.
Cleo. I verily believe, that there are no better Soldiers, than there are among the Christians; and I believe the same of Painters; but I am well assured, that the best in either Calling are often far from being the best Christians. The Doctrine of Christ does not teach Men to Fight, any more than it does to Paint. That Englishmen fight well is not owing to their Christianity. The Fear of Shame is able to make most Men brave. Soldiers are made by Discipline. To make them proud of their Profession, and inspire them with the Love of Glory, are the surest Arts to make them valiant: Religion has Nothing to do with it. The Alcoran bids its Followers fight and propagate their Faith by Arms and Violence; nay, it promises Paradise to All, who die in Battle against Infidels; yet, you see, how often the Turks have turn'd Tail to the Germans, when the latter have been inferiour in Number.
Hor. Yet Men never fight with greater Obstinacy than in Religious Wars. If it had not been taken for granted, that Men were animated to Battle by Preaching, Butler would never have call'd the Pulpit, Drum Ecclesiastick.
Cleo. That Clergymen may be made Use of as Incendiaries, and by perverting the Duties of their Function, set Men together by the Ears, is very true; but no Man was ever made to fight by having the Gospel preach'd to him. From what I have said of Self-liking and Human Nature, the Reason is manifest, why among People, that are indifferent to one another, it is a difficult Task to make a Man sincerely love his Neighbour, at the same Time, that it is the easiest Thing in the World to make him hate his Neighbour with all his Heart. It is impossible that Two distinct Persons or Things should be the same; therefore they must all differ in Something.
Hor. Cannot Two Things be so exactly alike, that they shall differ in Nothing?
Cleo. No: For if they are Two, they must differ in Situation, East and West, the Right and the Left; and there is Nothing so small, so innocent, or so insignificant, that Individuals of our Species can differ in, but Self-liking may make a Handle of it for Quarrelling. This close Attachment and Partiality of every Man to himself, the very Word, Difference, points at, and upbraids us with: For tho' literally it is only a Term, to express that Things are not the same; yet, in its figurative Sense, Difference between Men signifies Disagreement in Opinions, and Want of Concord. For not only different Nations, but different Cities in the same Kingdom, different Wards, different Parishes, different Families, different Persons, tho' they are Twins, or the best Friends in the World, are all in a fair Way of Quarrelling, whenever the Difference, that is between them, be that what it will, comes to be look'd into and discuss'd; if both act with Sincerity, and each Party will speak from the Bottom of their Hearts.
Hor. Self is never forgot; and I believe, that many love their Country very sincerely for the Sake of One.
Cleo. Nay, what is all the World to the meanest Beggar, if he is not to be consider'd as a Part of it?
Hor. This is a little too openly inculcated at Church; and I have often wonder'd, how a Parson, preaching before a few Clowns in a pitiful Village, should, after he has named all the great People in the Nation, pray God to bless more especially the Congregation there assembled; and this at the same Time that the King and the Royal Family are at Prayers likewise; and the House of Lords at one Church, and the House of Commons at another. I think it is an impudent Thing for a Parcel of Country Boobies to desire to be serv'd first, or better, than so many Hundred Congregations, that are superiour to them in Number and Knowledge, as well as Wealth and Quality.
Cleo. Men always join most heartily in Petitions, in which they manifestly have a Share; and that the Especially, you find Fault with was put in from that Consideration, I believe No body denies.
Hor. But there seems to be a low Artifice, a crafty Design, by which the Compilers of those Prayers, knowingly made People lay a Stress upon a Thing, in which there is no Reality. When I hear a Man pray for Blessings on All, especially the Congregation where I am present, it pleases me well enough, and the Word Especially, has its Effect upon me whilst I think no further; but when I consider, that the same Words are said to every audience of the same Church throughout the Kingdom, I plainly find that I was pleas'd with Nothing.
Cleo. Suppose I should own, that it was a Contrivance of those, who composed the Prayers, to raise Devotion, and that this Contrivance had been the Effect of a thorough Knowledge of Human Nature; where would be the Harm, since No body can be injured by it? But to return to our Subject. If Difference in the least Things is capable of raising Anger, there is no Doubt, but it will do it most in Things that are very material, and of the highest Concern: And that Religion in all Countries is an Affair of the greatest Concern, is taken for granted by all good Men, and seldom denied by the bad. This is the Reason, that in Religious Wars Men are more inveterate, and commit more Cruelties, than when they fight upon other Account. Here the worst and most vicious Men have fine Opportunities of gratifying their natural Malice and Rancour of Heart, without being blamed for it; and placing a Merit in doing Mischief. Therefore we see, that those, who are most neglectful of their Duty, and act most contrary to the Dictates of their Religion, are so often the most zealous in fighting for it. There are other Things that help, and all contribute, to make Religious Wars the most bloody. Men are commonly sure of Nothing so much, as they are of the Truth of the Religion they profess; so that in all Religious Quarrels, Every body is satisfied that he has Justice on his Side: This must make Man obstinate. The Multitude in all Countries ascribe to the Deities they worship the same Passions which they feel themselves; and knowing how well pleas'd they are with Every body that is on their Side, and will take their Part, they expect their Reward from Heaven, which they seem to defend; and on that Score they think with Delight on the Losses and Calamities which they make others suffer; whether Churchmen fight with Presbyterians, Papists with Protestants, or Mahometans with Christians of any Sort. Those who are of Opinion, that the best Christians make the best Soldiers, have commonly their Eyes on the Civil Wars both in France and in England.
Hor. And if you compare the Prince of Conde's Army with that of the League there, or Cromwell's Troops with the King's Forces here, the Whigs will tell you, that in either Nation you may meet with sufficient Proofs, to confirm the Opinion you speak of.
Cleo. I have Nothing to do with Whigs or Tories; but let us narrowly look into this Affair, and examine it impartially. Religion was brought into the Quarrel, you know, in both Kingdoms, and the Cases between the Adversaries here and there were much the same. The Huguenots and Roundheads on the one Side said, that they had Nothing so much at Heart as Religion; that the National Worship was Idolatry; that Christianity required no outward Shew of Altars or Vestments, but the Sacrifice of the Heart to be seen in Men's Lives; that God was to be serv'd with greater Strictness, than was observed by the National Clergy; that they fought his Cause, and did not question, but by his Help to obtain the Victory. The Leaguers and Cavaliers said on the other Side, that Lay-men, especially Soldiers, where improper Judges in Matters of Religion; that themselves were honest Men, loyal Subjects, who fought for the establish'd Church, their King and Country; and as to their Adversaries, that they were under a Parcel of Hypocritical Rascals, that under the Mask of Sanctity carried on an open Rebellion, and had no other Design than to dethrone the King, and get the Government into their own Clutches. Let us see the Consequence that would naturally follow from this Difference. The First, to support their Cause, would think it necessary not to be too glaringly inconsistent with themselves; therefore they would display somewhat more of Devotion, and by praying often, and perhaps singing of Psalms, make a greater Shew of Religion, than is commonly seen in Armies. Should the Chief of such Troops, and the great Men under him, who are most likely to get by the Quarrel, be more circumspect in their Actions, and attend Divine Worship oftner than is usual for Persons of Quality, their Example would influence the inferiour Officers, and these would take Care, that the Soldiers should comply, whether they would or not. If this was well perform'd on one Side, it is very natural to suppose, that the other, knowing the first to be no better Men than themselves, and believing them to be Hypocrites, would not only be offended at their Behaviour, but likewise, in Opposition to their Enemies, be more neglectful of Religious Duties, than well disciplin'd Armies generally are, and the Soldiers allow'd to be more dissolute in their Lives than is usual. By this Means the Contrast between two such Armies, would be very conspicuous. A good Politician may add to, or take from the Principle of Honour, what Virtue or Qualifications he pleases; and a skillful General, who can guard his own Actions, and will be at some Trouble in Self-denial where he may be observed, may model an Army as he thinks fit. All Superiors, in Camps as well as Courts, will ever serve for Patterns to their Inferiours; and should Officers unanimously resolve to render Swearing unfashionable, and in good Earnest set about this Task, by Example as well as Precept and Discipline, it would not be difficult to manage Soldiers in such a Manner, that in less than Half a Year not an Oath should be heard among them. If there were Two Armies in the Same Country, and of the same Nation, in one of which the Soldiers should curse and swear, as much as is commonly done among all loose, and ill-bred People, and in the other the Men should have been cured of that bad Custom, it is incredible what Reputation of being Good and Religious, those, who would only forbear Swearing, would gain beyond their Adversaries, tho' they were equally guilty with them of Whoring, Drinking, Gaming, and every other Vice except that one. Therefore if one General, to please and keep in with a Party, should think it his Interest that his Troops should make a greater Appearance of Godliness, than is commonly observed among Military Men; and another, to please a contrary Party, should take it to be his Interest to act as contrary as it was possible to what his Enemies did, and endeavour to be the Reverse of them, the Difference would be prodigious.
Hor. Then if in one Army they were Valiant, the General of the other would endeavour to make his Men Cowards.
Cleo. They would differ in every Thing that Soldiers can differ in: The Observance of the Point of Honour and Hatred to their Enemies are inseparable from their Calling; therefore resenting of Affronts among themselves, and cruel Usage to their Enemies, were not more banish'd from the Armies of the Huguenots and Roundheads, than they were from those of the Leaguers and Cavaliers.
Hor. The true Reason of the Difference, in the Lives and Morals of the Soldiers, between the King's Forces and the Rebels, was the Difference of their Circumstances, and the Care that was taken of them. The Parliament's Army was regularly provided for, and always able to pay for what they had. But the others, who were most commonly in Want, were forced to live upon the Country, and take their Provisions where they could get them; and this will make all Troops more dissolute and disorderly, than is consistent with the Service, tho' they had the best Officers in the World.
Cleo. The Misfortune you speak of, and which the King's Army labour'd under, must every where be a great Hinderance to Discipline; and I verily believe, that his Soldiers suffer'd very much in their Morals on Account of it; but I am persuaded, that the Contrariety of Principles, which I hinted at, was an Addition to that Misfortune, and made it worse; for that the Cavaliers laughed at the Roundheads for their praying so long and so often, and the great Shew they made of Devotion, is certain; and there is always a Pleasure in appearing to be the Reverse of what we ridicule in our Enemies. But whatever was then, or might at any other Time, be the true Reason of the Difference in the Shew of Piety and Goodness between two such Armies, let us see the Consequence of it, and the Effect it would naturally have on the sober Party. All Multitudes are superstitious; and among great Numbers, there are always Men prone to Enthusiasm; and if the Pretenders to Godliness had skilful Divines (as no doubt, they would have) that knew, how to extol the Goodness and Piety of the General and the Soldiers, declaim against the Wickedness and reprobate Lives of the Enemies, and remonstrate to their Hearers, how God must love the first, and, from his known Attributes, hate the latter, it would in all Probability produce every Thing we read of in the Armies of the Prince of Conde and the Parliament. Some Colonels would preach, and some Soldiers would learn Prayers and Scraps of Psalms by Heart, and many of them would grow more circumspect in indulging their Vices, than is common to Men of their Function. This latter would make the Men more governable, and consequently better Troops, and all together would make a great Noise. Besides, Mankind are so given to flatter themselves, that they'll believe any Thing, that is said in their Praise; and should, in any Regiment of such an Army, the Chaplain display his Eloquence before a Battle, exhort the Men to Bravery, speak in Commendation of the Zeal and Piety of the Officers and the Troops in general, and find out some particular Reason, why God should love and have Regard for that Regiment beyond any other, it might have a very good Effect upon the most Wicked, as well as the better Sort. And if this Chaplain, from what he knew of them, should pathetically encourage them, and promise them the Victory, Enthusiasm is so catching, that a Fellow, who lay with a Whore over Night, and was drunk the Day before, if he saw his Comrades moved, might be transported with Joy and Eagerness to fight, and be stupid enough to think, that he had a Share in God's Favour. The Greek and Roman Histories abound with Instances of the immense Use that may be made in War of Superstition well turn'd: The grossest, if skilfully managed, may make the fearful, undaunted, and the loosest Livers exert themselves to the utmost of their Power, from a firm Belief, that Heaven is on their Side. That Superstition has had this Effect upon Men of almost every Persuasion, as well as Heathen Idolaters, is certain; but he must be a notable Divine, that can expect the same from the Doctrine of Christ, faithfully deliver'd, and preach'd in its Purity. It is possible therefore that any Number of Troops may, by crafty Declamations and other Arts, be made Zealots and Enthusiasts, that shall fight and pray, sing Psalms one Hour, and demolish an Hospital the next; but you'll as soon meet with an Army of Generals or of Emperours, as you will with, I won't say an Army, but a Regiment, or even a Company of good Christians among Military Men. There never were better Troops, or Men that behaved with greater Gallantry and Chearfulness, than we had in the two last Wars; Officers as well as common Soldiers; but I would as soon believe, that it was Witchcraft that made them brave, as that it was their Religion.
Hor. Yet I have often heard it from experienc'd Officers, that the most virtuous, the soberest, and the most civiliz'd Fellows made the best Soldiers, and were those whom they could most depend upon.
Cleo. I heartily believe that to be true for the Generality; for I know, that by Virtuous, you don't mean much more than tolerably Honest, such as are not given to wrong or decieve Any body; or else among the Officers themselves, you know, that very Few of them are possess'd of many Christian Virtues, or would be fond of the Character. Do but consider what is required of a Soldier. There are Three Things which the officers are chiefly afraid of in their Men: The First is, that they may desert, which is so much Money lost: The Second, that they may rob or steal, and so come to be hang'd: The Third is, that they may be sick, and consequently incapable of doing Duty. Any middling Honest secures them entirely as to the two First; and, without Doubt, the less vicious; that is, the more sober and temperate the Men are, the more likely they are to preserve their Health. As for the Rest, Military Men are easy Casuists for the Generality, and are used to give, as well as take, large Grains of Allowance. A Soldier, who minds his Business, is seldom reproved for taking any Pleasure he can come at, without being complain'd of: And if he be brave, and understands his Exercise, takes Care always to be sober when he is upon Duty, pays a profound Respect to his Officers, as well as a strict Obedience to their Commands, watches their Eyes, and flies at a Nod, he can never fail of being beloved. And if moreover he keeps himself clean, and his Hair powder'd, is neat in his Cloaths, and takes Care not to be pox'd; let him do what he pleases for the Rest, he'll be counted a very valuable Fellow. A Man may do all this without Christianity, as well as he can do it without having an Estate. There are Thousands that are less circumspect and not half so well accomplish'd, who yet are well esteem'd in that Station. And as I have allow'd on the one Hand, that the soberest and the civiliz'd Fellows make the best Soldiers, and are, generally speaking, the most to be depended upon in an Army, so it is undeniable on the other, that, if not the major, at least a very considerable Part of our best Troops, that had the greatest Share in the Victories we obtain'd, was made up of loose and immoral, if not debauch'd and wicked Fellows. Nay, I insist upon it, that Jayl-birds, Rogues, who had been guilty of the worst of Crimes, and some that had been saved from the Gallows to recruit our Forces, did on many Occasions both in Spain, and Flanders, fight with as much Intrepidity, and were as indefatigable, as the most Virtuous amongst them. Nor was this any Thing strange or unexpected; or else the recruiting Officers ought to have been punish'd, for lifting and giving the Money of the Publick to Men, of whom there was no Probability that they could be made Soldiers. But to make it evident, how little the Religion and Morality of a Soldier are minded by his Superiours, and what great Care is taken to keep up and cultivate his Pride ——.
Hor. That latter I have seen enough of in the Fable of the Bees. You would speak about the Cloaths and Accoutrements.
Cleo. I wave them; tho' there it is likewise very conspicuous. I only desire you to compare the Things he is indulg'd in, and which, if he pleases, he may brag of, with what he is taught to be ashamed of, the grand Offence, which, if once committed, is never to be pardon'd. If he has but Courage, and knows how to please his Officers, he may get drunk Two or Three Times a Week, have a fresh Whore every Day, and swear an Oath at every Word he speaks, little or no Notice shall be taken of him to his Dishonour; and, if he be good humour'd, and forbears stealing among his Comrades, he'll be counted a very honest Fellow. But if, what Christ and his Apostles would have justify'd him in and exhorted him to do, he takes a Slap in the Face, or any other gross Affront before Company, without resenting it, tho' from his intimate Friend, it cannot be endured; and tho' he was the soberest, and the most chaste, the most discreet, tractable and best temper'd Man in the World, his Business is done. No body will serve with a noted Coward; nay, it would be an Affront to desire it of Gentlemen Soldiers, who wear the King's Cloth; and the Officers are forc'd to turn him out of the Regiment. Those who are unacquainted with Military Affairs and Chaplains of Regiments, would not imagine, what a small Portion of Virtue and Forbearance a Soldier stands in Need of, to have the Reputation of a good Religious Man among those he converses with. Clergymen, that are employ'd in Armies, are seldom rigid Casuists; and Few of them are Saints themselves. If a Soldier seems to be less fond of strong Liquors than others generally are; if he is seldom heard to swear; if he is cautious in Love-Affairs, and not openly vicious that Way; if he is not known to Steal or Pilfer, he'll be stiled a very honest, sober Fellow. But if, moreover, such a one should behave with Decency at Devine Service, and seem now and then to be attentive to what is spoken; if ever he had been seen with a Book in his Hand, either open or shut; if he was respectful to the Clergy, and zealous against those, who are not of the same Religion which he professes to be of, he would be call'd a very Religious Man; and half a Dozen of them in a Regiment would, in a little Time, procure a mighty Character to the whole, and great Honour to the Chaplain.
Hor. I dare say, that on some Occasions he would take the Liberty from it to brag, that there were no better Christians in the World, than a great many were, whom he had under his Care.
Cleo. Considering how Things are often magnify'd without Regard to Truth or Merit, and what Advantages some Men will take, right or wrong, to advance as well as maintain the Cause they get by; it is not improbable, that three or four score thousand Men, that were kept in good Discipline, tho' they were all taken at Random from the lowest and idlest of the Vulgar, might be stiled an Army of good Christians, if they had a Chaplain to every Regiment, and but Two or Three such orderly Soldiers, as I have describ'd, in every Thousand: And I am persuaded, that the sect or Religion, which they pretended to follow and profess, would, by the Help of able and active Divines, acquire more Credit and Reputation from those Few, than all the Loosness, Debauchery and gross Vices of the Rest would ever be able to take away from them.
Hor. But from what you have said, I should think, that the Gospel must do Hurt among fighting Men. As such they must be animated by another Spirit, and can receive no Benefit from the Doctrine of Peace. What Occasion is there for Divines in an Army?
Cleo. I have hinted to you several Times, that in the Management of Human Creatures, the Fear of an invincible Cause, which they are all born with, was always to be consulted; and that no Multitudes can ever be govern'd, so as to be made useful to any one Purpose, if those, who attempt to rule over them, should neglect to take Notice of, or but any Ways seem to slight the Principle of that Fear. The worst of Men are often as much influenc'd by it as the best; or else Highwaymen and House-breakers would not swear Fidelity to one another. God is call'd upon as a Witness to the mutual Promises of the greatest Miscreants, that they will persevere in their Crimes and Villanies, and to the last Drop of their Blood be unalterably Wicked. This, you know, has been done in Massacres, the blackest Treasons, and the most horrid Conspiracies; tho' the Persons concern'd in them, perhaps, gave other Names to their Undertakings. By this we may see, what absurd Notions Men may have of the Deity, who undoubtedly believe his Existence: For how flagitious soever Men are, none can be deem'd Atheists but those, who pretend to have absolutely conquer'd, or never been influenced by the Fear of an invisible Cause, that over-rules Human Affairs; and what I say now has been and ever will be true in all Countries, and in all Ages, let the Religion or Worship of the People be what they will.
Hor. It is better to have no Religion, than to worship the Devil.
Cleo. In what Respect is it better?
Hor. It is not so great an Affront to the Deity not to believe his Existence, as it is to believe him to be the most Cruel and the most Malicious Being that can be imagin'd.
Cleo. That is a subtle Argument, seldom made Use of but by Unbelievers.
Hor. Don't you think, that many Believers have been worse Men, than some Atheists?
Cleo. As to Morality, there have been good and bad Men of all Sects and all Persuasions; but before we know any Thing of Men's Lives, Nothing can be worse in the Civil Society, than an Atheist, caeteris paribus. For it would be ridiculous to say, that it is less safe to trust to a Man's Principle, of whom we have some Reason to hope, that he may be with-held by the Fear of Something, than it is to trust to one who absolutely denies, that he is withheld by the Fear of any Thing. The old Mexicans worship'd Vitzliputzli, at the same Time that they own'd his Malice, and execrated his Cruelty; yet it is highly probable, that some of them were deterr'd from Perjury for Fear of being punish'd by Vitzliputzli; who would have been guilty of it, if they had not been afraid of any Thing at all.
Hor. Then not to have believed the Existence of that chimerical Monster was Atheism in Mexico.
Cleo. It certainly was among People that knew of no other invisible Cause.
Hor. But why should I wonder at the Mexicans? There are Christians enough, of whom, to judge from their Sentiments and Behaviour, it is hard to determine, which it is they are more afraid of, God or the Devil.
Cleo. I don't question, but among the Vulgar, more Persons have been deterr'd from doing Evil, by what they had heard of the Torments of Hell, than have been made virtuous by what had been told them of the Joys of Heaven, tho' both had been represented to them as equally infinite and unutterable.
Hor. But to return to my Question. When I ask'd what Occasion there was for Divines in an Army, I was not ignorant of the Necessity there is of having Religion and Priests of some Sort or other, to humour as well as awe the Multitude; but I wanted to know the Mystery, and be let into the Secret, by which the Doctrine of Peace is made serviceable to the carrying on of War; for that Preachers of the Gospel have not only exhorted Men to Battle, but likewise that they have done it effectually; and that Soldiers have been inspired with Courage, and made to fight with Obstinacy by their Sermons, the History of almost every Country can witness.
Cleo. A little Accuracy will set us to Rights. That what you say has been, and is often done by Sermons and Preachers, both Protestant and Popish, is certainly true. But I deny, that ever it was once done by a Preacher of the Gospel.
Hor. I don't understand your Distinction. Are not all Christian Divines call'd Preachers, as well as Ministers of the Gospel?
Cleo. But many People are call'd, what, strictly speaking, they are not. The Reason I have for what I say is, that there is Nothing contain'd in the Gospel, that can have the least Tendency to promote or justify War or Discord, Foreign or Domestic, Publick or Private; nor is there any the least Expression to be found in it, from which it is possible to excite or set People on to quarrel with, do Hurt to, or any ways offend one another, on any Account whatever.
Hor. But this encreases the mystery, and makes the facts less intelligible.
Cleo. I will unfold it to you. As all Priests have ever maintain'd, that they were the Interpreters of the will of the deity they pretended to serve, and had an undoubted Right of construing and explaining the Doctrine and the Meaning of the Religion they taught and presided over: As, I say, all priests have ever maintain'd this, so the Christian Clergy, as soon as they took it in their Heads to be priests likewise, claim'd the same Privilege; and finding several things, which they had a Mind to, denied them in the Gospel; and that many Conveniencies, which all other Priests had ever, not only been fond of, but likewise enjoy'd, were in express words forbid, and absolutely prohibited in the New Testament, they had recourse to the Old, and providently took Care from thence to supply the Deficiency of the New.
Hor. So, when they had no settled Revenue or Pomp of Dress from the Gospel, they took up with the Tithes and Sacerdotal Ornaments of the Levites, and borrow'd from the Jewish Priests and Prophets every Thing that was worth having.
Cleo. This would open too large a Field, and therefore I would look into the Clergy's Behaviour no farther, than as it relates to Armies and military Men, and take Notice, that whenever Pillage or shedding of Blood are to be justified or encouraged by a Sermon, or Men are to be exhorted to Battle, to the Sacking of a City or the Devastation of a Country, by a pathetick Discourse, the Text is always taken from the Old Testament; which is an inexhaustible Fund for Declamation on almost every Subject and every Occasion: And there is no worldly End, which the most ambitious Man, or the most cruel Tyrant can have to serve, but from some Part or other of that Book a Divine of middling Capacity may find out a proper Text to harangue upon, that shall answer the Purpose. But to make it evident, that Divines may be useful to all Fighting Men, without preaching of the Gospel, we need but to consider, that among all the Wars and Dissentions, which Christians have had with one another on innumerable Accounts, there never was a Cause yet, so unreasonable or absurd, so unjust or openly wicked, if it had an army to back it, that has not found Christian Divines, or at least such as stiled themselves so, who have espoused and call'd it Righteous. No rebellion was ever so unnatural, nor Tyranny so cruel, but if there were men who would fight for it, there were Priests who would pray for it, and loudly maintain, that it was the Cause of God. Nothing is more necessary to an Army, than to have this latter strenously insisted upon, and skilfully unculcated to the soldiers. No body fights heartily, who believes himself to be in the wrong, and that God is against him, Whereas a firm persuasion of the Contrary, inspires Men with Courage and Intrepidity; it furnishes them with arguments to justify the Malice of their Hearts, and the implacable Hatred they bear their Enemies; it confirms them in the ill opinion they have of them, and makes them confident of victory; si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos? In all wars it is an everlasting Maxim in Politicks, that whenever Religion can be brought into the Quarrel, it ought never to be neglected, and that how small soever the Difference may be between the contending Parties, the Divines on each Side, ought to magnify and make the most of it; for Nothing is more comfortable to Men, than the Thought, that their Enemies are likewise the Enemies of God.
Hor. But to make Soldiers laborious as well as governable, would it not be useful to exhort them to Virtue, and a close Attachment to the Principle of Honour?
Cleo. The principle of Honour is never forgot; and as to Virtue, what is required of them is Fortitude, and to do as they are bid. And if you'll consider what Pains are taken to make them ashamed of Cowardice above all other Vices; and how prompt, as well as severe, the Punishment for Disobedience is in the least Trifles among Soldiers, beyond what it is any where else; if, I say, you'll consider these Things on the one Hand, and on the other the great Latitude that is given them as to Morals, in what has no Regard to the Service, you'll find, that for the First, Divines are not wanted, and that for the other they can do but little Good. However Morality is often preach'd to them, and even the Gospel at seasonable Times, when they are in Winter Quarters, or in an idle summer, when there is no Enemy near, and the Troops perhaps are encamped in a Country, where no Hostilities should be committed. But when they are to enter upon Action, to besiege a large Town, or ravage a rich Country, it would be very impertinent to talk to them of Christian Virtues; doing as they would be done by; loving their enemies, and extending their Charity to all Mankind. When the Foe is at Hand, the Men have Skirmishes with him every Day, and perhaps a main battle is expected; then the mask is flung off; not a Word of the Gospel, nor of Meekness or Humility; and all Thoughts of Christianity are laid aside entirely. The men are prais'd and buoy'd up in the high value they have for themselves: their Officers call them Gentlemen and Fellow-Soldiers; Generals pull off their Hats to them; and no Artifice is neglected that can flatter their Pride, or inspire them with the Love of Glory. The Clergy themselves take Care at such Times, not to mention to them their Sins, or any Thing that is melancholy or disheartning: On the Contrary, they speak chearfully to them, encourage and assure them of God's Favour. They take Pains to justify, and endeavour to encrease the Animosities and Aversion, which those under their Care have against their Enemies, whom to blacken and render odious, they leave no Art untried, no Stone unturn'd; and no Calumny can be more malicious, no Story more incredible, nor Falsity more notorious, than have been made Use of knowingly for that Purpose by Christian Divines, both Protestants, and Papists.
Hor. I don't use to be an Advocate for Bigots of any sort, much less for Fanaticks, whom I hate; but facts are stubborn things. It is impossible to reflect on the sharp and bloody Engagements in the Rebellion, and the Devotion of Cromwell's army, without being convinced, that there must have been Men at that Time, that were both Valiant and Religious. It is certain, that the Rebels fought well, and that they had more Days of Fasting and Humiliation, than ever were known among any other Soldiers.
Cleo. That there was a greater Appearance of Religion among them, than ever was among any other regular Troops, I allow; but that none of it could proceed from a Principle of Christianity is demonstrable.
Hor. They had Men of unquestionable Honour among them; and some of them must have been sincere.
Cleo. A great many, I verily believe, were sincere; but let us look into this Affair a little more narrowly. What do you think of the General? Do you think, that Cromwell was a good Christian and a pious Man, who had Nothing so much at Heart as Religion and Liberty, and, void of Selfishness, had devoted himself to procure Happiness Eternal as well as Temporal to the People of England? Or that he was a vile wicked Hypocrite, who, under the Cloak of Sanctity, broke through all Human and Divine Laws to aggrandize himself, and sacrifis'd every Thing to his own Ambition, and the Interest of his Family?
Hor. There is no Doubt, but all impartial Men must believe the latter. But then he understood Mankind very well; his very Enemies, that were his Contemporaries, allow'd him to be a Man of great Parts. If he had had the the same Opinion of Christianity, which you have, and the Unfitness of it to make Men quarrel and fight with Obstinacy, he would never have made Use of it among his Soldiers.
Cleo. And it is clear as the sun, that he never did.
Hor. That his pretences to religion were no more than Hypocrisy, I have allow'd; but it does not appear, that he desired others to be Hypocrites too: On the Contrary, he took Pains, or at least made Use of all possible Means to promote Christianity among his Men, and make them sincerely Religious.
Cleo. You will never distinguish between Christianity, that is, the Doctrine of Christ, and the Interpretations, that are made of it by Clergymen; tho' I have often shew'd you the great Difference there is between them. Cromwell was a Man of admirable good Sense, and thoroughly well acquainted with Human Nature; he knew the mighty Force of Enthusiasm, and made Use of it accordingly. As to Strictness of Religion and the Love of Liberty, they had all along been the darling Pretences of the party he engaged in. The complaints of the Puritans against Episcopacy, and that the Church of England was not sufficiently reformed, began in Queen Elizabeth's Time, and were very near as old as the Reformation itself. The people's Murmurings and Struggles for Liberty were of some Standing, when King Charles the First came to the Throne: The Jealousies, which Parliaments had of the Regal Power and Prerogative, had been openly shewn in his Father's Reign, and, throughout the Course of it, been troublesome to his Ministers. That the Clergy of the Church of England had enjoin'd Things, and taught what they had no Warrant for from the Gospel, and that King James the First, as well as his Son, who succeeded him, laid Claim to a more absolute Power, than was consistent with the privileges of Parliament and the Constitution, in undeniable. Religion then and Liberty, being two topicks, that Abundance was to be said upon in those Days, became the Subject and Foundation of the Quarrels between the King and Parliament, that afterwards broke out into a Civil War.
Hor. I was not born in China or Lapland: there is not a Boy of Twelve Years old, that is ignorant of the Causes of that Civil War.
Cleo. I don't question your Knowledge; but only mention these Things, that from the Nature of the Dissentions, and the mischiefs that ensued upon them, we might see the Impossibility, that either Party should have acted from a Principle of Christianity. I shall now endeavor to demonstrate to you Two Things; the First is, that Clergymen, by a small Deviation from the Gospel, may so egregiously impose upon their Hearers, as to make even sincere Men act quite contrary to the Precepts of it, at the same Time that those subtle Declaimers shall seem to be full of Zeal, and to have the highest Value for Christianity. The Other is, that in a well disciplin'd Army, Acts of Devotion, and an outward Shew of Religion may do vast Service for the obtaining of Victory, tho' the General who appointed and order'd them, was an Atheist; the greatest part of the Clergy, who perform'd and assisted in them, were Hypocrites, and the Generality of the Men were wicked Livers. As to the First, I call a Man sincere in his Religion, who believes the Bible to be the Word of God, and acknowledging the Difficulty he finds in obeying the Dictates of the Gospel, wishes with all his heart, that he could practice the self-denial that is required in it; and is sorry, that he has not the Power to govern and subdue his stubborn Passions so well as he could wish. If to such a one, a Clergyman should preach the Strictness of Morality, and the Necessity of Repentance, that are taught in the Gospel, and moreover inculcate to him, that as to Divine Worship the Ceremonial was abrogated; that what was required of us, was the Sacrifice of the Heart and the Conquest over our darling Lusts; and that in short the Religious Duties of a Christian were summ'd up in loving God as his Neighbour; this Doctrine being every Way agreeable to that of Christ, a sincere man, who had read the New Testament, would easily give Ear to a Divine, who should preach it to him; and it is highly probable, that in Matters of Conscience, and every Thing relating to his Deportment, he should be glad of his Counsel. Suppose now, that there was another Clergyman in the same city, who likewise pretending to preach the Gospel, should, on the one Hand, represent the Doctrine of it as very indulging to Human Nature, and the Practice of it easily comply'd with, and, on the other, lay a great Stress on the Honour to be paid to his own Person, and the Performances of a Set of Ceremonies, no where mention'd in the Gospel; it is not likely, that our sincere Man should approve of his Sermons; but if this Second Divine should moreover call them Enemies to God, who should refuse to comply with every Part of these Ceremonies, and give the Name of Hypocrite to Every body, who should assert, that the Gospel required stricter Morality than what he taught; if he should sollicite the Magistrate to have all Persons punish'd, who were not of his Opinion; and if, by his Instigation, our sincere Man should actually be persecuted and plagued by his Fellow-Subjects; to judge from what we know of Human Nature, such Usage would fill the sincere Man with Indignation, and raise his Anger against all those, who were the Occasion of his Sufferings. Let us suppose like-wise, that this Man, besides his Sincerity, had Temper and Goodness enough to consider, that, tho' he had been unjustly dealt with, and was highly provok'd, yet his Religion taught and commanded him not to resent Injuries, but to forgive his Enemies, and to Love them that hated him; it is reasonable to think, that this Clashing between Nature and Principle would perplex him, and himself stand in Need of good Advice, what to do in this Dilemma. If in this Case, the Clergyman, who first preached to him the Purity of the Christian Religion, and the Severity of its Morals, and whom he often went to hear, should persist in the same Sentiments; and, continuing to recommend to him the Doctrine of Peace, make Use of all the Arguments, which the Gospel could furnish him with, either to warn him against Anger and all sinful Passions, Malice of Heart, Hatred and Resentment; or to exhort him to Fortitude in Afflictions, Heroick Patience in Sufferings, and on all Emergencies an entire Resignation to the Will of God; If, I say, the Clergyman I mention'd should do this, whatever might be the Success he did it with, he would have acted the good Shepherd, and his Sermons could never be made a Handle of for War or Rebellion. But if instead of it, he should seem to approve of the other's Anger, and, to justify it, enter into the Merits of the Cause; if he should endeavour to demonstrate, that all Ceremonies of Human Invention were superstitious, and that Kneeling down, where there were Pictures and Sculpture, was a manifest Token of Idolatry; if after this, by an easy Transition, he should go over to the Old Testament, expatiate on the Second Commandment, and produce several Instances of God's Vengeance on Idolaters, and the utter Destruction, that had often been brought upon them by God's own People, fighting under his Banner, and acting by his special Commission; If a Preacher should do this, and have Mischief in his Heart, it would not be difficult for him insensibly to mislead his Hearers, extinguish their Charity, and, working upon the Passions, make a sincere Man, who had really been ill treated, mistake in his own Breast the Spirit of Revenge for Religious Zeal, and, to maintain the Truth of the Gospel, act directly contrary to the Precepts of it. And the more regular the Life was of such a Divine, and the greater the Austerity of his Manners, the fitter Instrument would he be to sow Sedition, enflame an Audience, and make Tools of them for the Ambitious.
Hor. The First you have made out beyond my Expectations; but it has been at the Expence of your Revolution-Principles; I hope you'll never take them up again.
Cleo. I hope I shall have no Occasion for it: but what I have advanced has Nothing to do with the Controversy you point at. The illegal Sway of Magistrates is not to be justified from the Gospel, any more than the Resistance of the People. Where Two Parties quarrel, and open Animosities are to be seen on both Sides, it is ridiculous for either to appeal to the Gospel. The Right, which Princes have to enjoy their Prerogative, is not more divine, than that which Subjects have to enjoy their Privileges; and if Tyrants will think themselves more justifiable before God than Rebels, they ought first to be satisfied, that Oppression is less heinous in his Sight than Revenge.
Hor. But No body owns himself to be a Tyrant.
Cleo. Nor did ever any Malecontents own themselves to be Rebels.
Hor. I can't give this up, and must talk with you about it another Time. But now I long to hear you demonstrate the Second of your Assertions, and make that as evident to me, as you have done the First.
Cleo. I'll endeavour it, if you'll give me Leave, and can have but Patience to hear me, for you'll stand in Need of it.
Hor. You are to prove, that Acts of Devotion, and an outward Shew of Religion, may make an Army Victorious, tho' the General was an Atheist, the Clergy were Hypocrites, and the Generality of the Men wicked Livers.
Cleo. A little more Accuracy, if you please. I said, that they might do vast Service for the obtaining of Victory; the Service I mean, consists in rousing the Courage of the Men, and throwing them into an Enthusiasm, that shall dissipate their Fears, and make them despise the greatest Dangers. There is no greater Art to make Men fight with Obstinacy, than to make them trust to, and rely with Confidence on the Assistance of the invisible Cause, they Fear.
Hor. But how can wicked Men be made to do this? What Reasons can they be furnish'd with, to hope for the Assistance of Heaven?
Cleo. If you can assure Men of the Justice of their Cause, and render that evident and unquestionable, the Business is done, and their own Wickedness will be no Obstacle to it. Therefore this, you see, is the Grand Point, which Priests have ever labour'd to gain among Fighting Men in all Countries and in all Ages. How immensely soever they have differ'd from one another in Religion and Worship, in this they have all agreed. We were speaking, you know, of Cromwell's Army; do but recollect what you have heard and read of those Times, and you'll find, that the Notions and Sentiments, that were industriously instill'd into the minds of the soldiers, had a manifest tendency to obtain this end, and that all their preaching and praying were made serviceable to the same purpose. The Credenda, which the whole army, and every individual were imbued with, even by the most moderate of their preachers, were generally these: that the King gave ear to his evil counsellours; that he was govern'd by his Queen, who was a rank Papist, bigotted to her own superstition; that all his ministers were wicked men, who endeavour'd to subvert the constitution, and aim'd at nothing more than to render him absolute, that by his arbitrary power they might be skreen'd from justice, and the resentment of an injured nation: that the bishops were in the same interest; that, tho' they had abjured the Pope's supremacy, and found fault with the luxury of the court of Rome, they wanted as much to lord it over the laity themselves, and were as fond of worldly honour, power, and authority, of pomp and splendour, and a distinguish'd manner of living, as any Popish prelates: that the worship of the church of England was above half Popery; that most of the clergy were idle drones, who lived upon the Fat of the Land, and perverted the End of their Function: That by this Means Religion it self was neglected, and, instead of it, Rights and Ceremonies were obstinately insisted upon, that were notoriousy borrow'd from the Heathen and Jewish Priests. That preaching Non-resistance was justifying Tyranny, and could have no other Meaning than to encourage Princes to be wicked, and tie the Peoples Hands, whilst they should have their Throats cut: That in Pursuance of this Doctrine, He, who should have been the Guardian of their Laws, had already trampled upon them and broken his Coronation-Oath, and, instead of being a Father to his People, had openly proclaim'd himself their Enemy, invited, a Foreign Force into the Land, and was now actually making War against the Parliament, the undoubted Representatives of the Nation. Whilst these Things were said of the Adverse Party, their own was extoll'd to the Skies; and loud Encomiums were made on the Patriotism of their Superiours, the Sanctity and Disinterestedness as well as Wisdom and Capacity of those Asserters of Liberty, who had rescued them from Bondage. Sometimes they spoke of the Care, that was taken of Religion, and a Pains-taking Ministry, that preach'd not themselves but Christ, and, by their Example as well as Precept, taught the Purity of the Gospel, and the strict Morality that is contain'd in it, without Superstition or Allowances to please Sinners: At others, they represented to their Hearers the exemplary Lives of the Generals, the Sobriety of the Soldiers, and the Goodness and Piety, as well as Zeal and Heroism of the whole Army.
Hor. But what is all this to what you was to prove? I want to know the vast Service an outward Shew of Religion can be of to wicked Men, for the obtaining of Victory: When shall I see that?
Cleo. Presently; but you must give me Leave to prove it my own Way. In what I have said hitherto, I have only laid before you the Artifice, which Every body knows was made Use of by the Roundheads haranguing their own Troops, to render the Cavaliers and the King's Cause odious and detestable to them on the one Hand, and to make them, on the other, have an high Opinion of their own, and firmly believe, that God could not but favour it. Now let us call to Mind the Situation of Affairs in the Times I speak of, and the Politicks of those, who opposed the King, and then consider, what a crafty designing General ought to have done to make the most of the Conjuncture he lived in, and the Zeal and Spirit that were then reigning among the Party he was engaged in; if he had Nothing at Heart, but to advance, per fas aut nefas, his own worldly Interest and his own Glory: In the First Place, it would never have been believed that the Presbyters were in Earnest, who found Fault with and rail'd at the Luxury and loose Morals, as well as Laziness of the National Clergy, if they had not been more diligent in their Calling, and led stricter Lives themselves. This therefore was complied with, and the dissenting Clergy took vast Pains in Praying and Preaching without Book for Hours together, and practis'd much greater Self-denial, at least to outward Appearance, than their Adversaries. The Laity of the same Side, to compass their End, were obliged to follow the Example of their Teachers in Severity of Manners, and Pretences to Religion: Accordingly they did, at least well enough, you see, to acquire the Name of the Sober Party.
Hor. Then you must think, that they had none but Hypocrites among them.
Cleo. Indeed I don't; but I believe, that most of the Ring-leaders who began the quarrel with the King had Temporal Advantages in View, or other private Ends to serve, that had no Relation either to the Service of God or the Welfare of the People; and yet I believe likewise, that many sincere and well-meaning Men were drawn into their Measures. When a Reformation of Manners is once set on Foot, and strict Morality is well spoken of, and countenanc'd by the better Sort of People, the very Fashion will make Proselytes to Virtue. Swearing and not Swearing in Conversation depend upon Mode and Custom. Nothing is more reasonable, than Temperance and Honesty to Men that consult their Health and their Interest; where Men are not debarr'd from Marriage, Chastity is easily comply'd with, and prevents a Thousand Mischiefs. There is Nothing more universal than the Love of Liberty; and there is Something engaging in the Sound of the Words. The Love of one's Country is natural and very bad Men may feel it as warm about them, as very good Men; and it is a Principle, which a Man may as sincerely act from, who Fights against his King, as he who Fights for him. But these sincere and well-meaning People, that can pray and fight, sing Psalms and do Mischief with a good Conscience, may in many Respects be Morally good, and yet want most of the Virtues, that are peculiar to Christianity, and, if the Gospel speaks Truth, necessary to Salvation. A Man may be continent and likewise never drink to Excess, and yet be haughty and insupportable in his Carriage, a litigious Neighbour, an unnatural Father, and a barbarous Husband. He may be just in his Dealings, and wrong No body in his Property, yet he may be full of Envy, take Delight in Slander, be revengeful in his Heart, and never known to have forgiven an Injury. He may abstain from Cursing and all idle as well as prophane Swearing, and at the same Time be uncharitable and wish Evil to all, that are not of his Opinion; nay, he may mortally hate, and take Pleasure in persecuting and doing Mischief to, all those who differ from him in Religion.
Hor. I see plainly now, how Men may be sincere in their Religion, and by Art be made to act quite contrary to the Precepts of it: And your Manner of accounting for this, does not only render the Sober Party less odious, than the Orthodox have represented them; but there is likewise greater Probability in it, than there is in what they generally say of them: For that an Army of a great many Thousand Men should consist of None but Hypocrites, who yet should fight well, is an inconceivable Thing. But what is it you would say of the General?
Cleo. I would shew you, how an obscure Man, of an active Spirit and boundless Ambition, might raise himself among such a Set of People to the higher Post; and having once got the Supreme Command of the Army, what Method, and what Arts it is most probable he would make Use of to model such Troops to his Purpose, and make them serviceable to the Advancement of his own Greatness.
Hor. But remember he must be an Atheist.
Cleo. He shall be so, in the Vulgar Acceptation of the Word; that is, he shall have no Religion or Conscience; fear neither God nor Devil, and not believe either a Providence in this World, or any Thing that is said of another: But he must be a great Genius, daring to the highest Degree, indefatigable, supple to his Interest, and ready as well as capable to act any Part, and put on any Disguise, that shall be required to serve or promote it. Every brisk, forward Man, who pretends to an extraordinary Zeal for his Party, and the Cause he is engaged in, and who shews Eagerness for Action, and behaves with Intrepidity in Danger, cannot remain long unknown, where Men have frequent Opportunities of signalizing themselves. But if he be likewise a Man of Sense, who understands his Business, and has Conduct as well as Courage, he can't fail of Preferment in an Army, where the Interest of the common Cause is taken Care of. If he serves among Puritans, who pretend to a stricter Morality, and to be more religious than their Neighbours, and himself is an artful Man, as soon as he is taken Notice of, he'll fall in with the Cant in Fashion, talk of Grace and Regeneration, counterfeit Piety, and seem to be sincerely Devout. If he can do this well, put on a sanctify'd Face, and abstain from being openly vicious, it is incredible what Lustre it will add to the Rest of his Qualifications, in such a Conjuncture: And if moreover he is a Man of Address, and can get the Reputation of being disinterested and a Soldier's Friend, in a short Time he'll become the Darling of the Army; and it would hardly be safe long to deny him any Post, he can reasonably pretend to. In all Wars, where the contending Parties are in good Earnest, and the Animosities between them run high, Campaigns are always active, and many brave Men must fall on both Sides; and where there should be much Room for Advancement, it is highly probable, that such a Man as I have describ'd, if at his first setting out he was Captain of Horse, and had raised an entire Troop at his own Charge, should in a few Years come to be a General Officer, and of great Weight in all Councils and Debates. Being thus far preferr'd, if he would make the most of his Talents, he might be of infinite Service to his Party. An aspiring Man, whose grand Aim was to thrive by Hypocrisy, would study the Scripture, learn the Languages of it, and occasionally mix it with his Discourse. He would cajole the Clergy of his Party, and often do good Offices to those of them that were most popular. A Man of his Parts would preach ex tempore himself, and get the Knack of Praying for as many Hours as there should be Occasion. Whoever is well skill'd in these Exercises may counterfeit Enthusiasm when he pleases, and pretend on some Emergencies to receive Directions from God himself; and that he is manifestly influenc'd by his Spirit. A General Officer, who has once got this Reputation, may carry almost any Thing; for Few that are wise will venture to oppose what such a Man, pretending to have sought the Lord, declares to be his Opinion. Whatever Victories might be obtain'd, and in all Successes under his Command, a skilful Hypocrite would make a Shew of Modesty, refuse to hear the Praises that are his due, and seem with great Humility to give all the Glory to God only; not forgetting, at the same Time, to flatter the Pride of his Troops, highly to commend and magnify, first the Goodness and Bravery of the Soldiers, and then the Care and Vigilance of the Officers under him. To be well serv'd, he would reward Merit, punish and discountenance Vice, always speak well and magnificently of Virtue, and seem to be just himself. But as to Christianity it self, he would not suffer any Thing to be taught of it, that could interfere with the Principle of Honour, or any of the Artifices to keep up the Ill Will, and Hatred which military Men are to be inspired with against their Enemies. The Christian Duties, which he would chiefly take Care of and see perform'd, would be outward Acts of Devotion, and that Part of Religion which is easily comply'd with, and yet taken Notice of by all the World; such as frequent Prayers, long and pathetick Sermons, singing of Psalms, and the keeping of the Sabbath with great Strictness; all which Men may assist at and employ themselves in, tho' their Hearts are otherwise engag'd. It is certain, that a Man of vast Parts and superlative Ambition might, by the Divine Permission, perform, take Care of, and compass all this, tho' he was an Atheist; and that he might live and die with the Reputation of a Saint, if he was but circumspect and wise enough to conceal himself so entirely well, that no Penetration or Watchfulness of Mortals could ever discover his real Sentiments. There is no Atchievement to be expected from Soldiers, which they would not perform for such a General; and his Name would be sufficient to fill the greatest Profligate in an Army with a Religious Enthusiasm, if he disbelieved not an invisible Cause.
Hor. There lies the Difficulty; it is that which I cannot comprehend.
Cleo. Wickedness, I have hinted to you before, is no Bar to Superstition; and a great Profligate may at the same Time be a silly Fellow, believe Absurdities, and rely on Trifles, which a Man of Sense and Virtue could not be influenc'd or affected by. It is easily imagin'd, that in such an Army, under such a General as I have been speaking of, the Men would be kept under strict Discipline; and that they would not only be compell'd, whether they would or not, to assist at all their Exercises of outward Devotion and Publick Worship; but likewise that the loosest Livers among them should be obliged to be more cautious and circumspect in their Behaviour, than Soldiers generally are. Now suppose a Man so wicked, that, tho' he has no Doubt of Future State, the Belief of Rewards and Punishments in another World made no impression upon him; but that he indulged every vicious Inclination as far as he dared, lay with every Woman that would let him, and got drunk as often as he could get an Opportunity to do it; one that would stick at Nothing, rob or steal, kill a Man that should anger him, if he was not with-held by the Law, and the Fear of Temporal Punishment: Suppose likewise, that this was one of the lowest Mob, who being in Want, and too lazy to work, should lift himself in some Regiment or other of this Army. There is no Doubt, but this Man would be forc'd immediately to have a greater Guard upon his Actions, and reform, at least outwardly, more than would suit with his Inclinations, and therefore it is not unlikely, that, what Duties soever he might comply with, and whatever Appearance he might make among the Rest, in his Heart he should remain the same he was before. Yet notwithstanding all this, in a little Time he might make a very good Soldier. I can easily conceive, how the Wearing of a Sword and Regimental Cloaths, and always conversing with resolute and well disciplin'd Men, among whom Arms and Gallantry are in the highest Esteem, might so far encrease a wicked Fellow's Pride, that he should wish to be brave, and in a few Months think Nothing more really dreadful, than to be thought a Coward. The Fear of Shame may act as powerfully upon bad Men, as it can upon good; and the Wickedness of his Heart would not hinder him from having a good Opinion of himself, and the Cause he served; nor yet from hating his Enemies or taking Delight in destroying, plundering, and doing all Manner of Mischief.
Hor. But having no Regard to Godliness or Religion, it is impossible, that he should be influenc'd or affected by the Prayers or other Exercises of Devotion, which he might assist at and which, in all Probability, he would never come near, unless he was compell'd to it.
Cleo. I don't suppose, that he would be influenced or affected by them at all himself; but he might easily believe, that others were. I take it for granted, that in such an Army there might have been Abundance of well-meaning Men, that were really honest, and sincere in their Religion, tho' they had been misled in what concern'd the Duties of it. From the Behaviour of these, and the Imitation of others, from the Exemplary Lives, which our Reprobate should see among them, and the establish'd Reputation of so many Men of Honour, he would have all the Reason in the World to think, that at least the greatest Part of them were in good Earnest; that they relied upon God; and that the fervent Zeal, with which they seem'd to implore his assistance, was real and unfeign'd. All wicked Men are not inflexible; and there are great Sinners, whom this Consideration would move to the quick; and tho' perhaps it would not be of Force enough to reclaim them, there are many, who, by means of it, would be made to relent, and wish that they were better. But I don't want this help; and we'll suppose our Profligate such a stubborn Wretch, and so obstinately vicious, that the most moving Discourses, and the most fervent Prayers, tho' he is forc'd to assist at them, have not the least Power to make him reflect either on his Sins or his Duty; and that notwithstanding what he hears and sees of others, his Heart remains as bad as ever, and himself as immoral as he dares to be for Fear of his Officers. We'll suppose, I say, all this; but as it is taken for granted, that he believes the World to be govern'd by Providence ——.
Hor. But why should that be taken for granted, of a fellow so thoroughly wicked?
Cleo. Because it is included in his Belief of a Future State, which, in his Character, I supposed him not to doubt of.
Hor. I know it; but what Reason had you to suppose this at First, in a Man who never gave any Signs, nor ever did insinuate, for ought you know, that he had such a Belief?
Cleo. Because he never gave any Signs to the contrary; and in a Christian Country, I suppose all Men to believe the Existence of a God and a Future State, who, by speaking or writing, never declared, that they did not. Wickedness consisting in an unreasonable Gratification of every Passion that comes uppermost, it is so far from implying Unbelief, or what is call'd Atheism, that it rather excludes it. Because the Fear of an invisible Cause is as much a Passion in our Nature, as the Fear of Death. I have hinted to you before, that great Cowards, whilst they are in Health and Safety, may live many Years without discovering the least Symptom of the Fear of Death, so as to be visibly affected by it; but that this is no Sign, that they have it not, is evident when they are in Danger. It is the same with the Fear of an invisible Cause; the one is as much born with us as the other, and to conquer either, is more difficult than is easily imagin'd. The Fear of an invisible Cause is universal, how widely soever men may differ in the worship of it; and it was never observed among a Multitude, that the worst were more backward than the best in believing whatever from their Infancy they had heard concerning this invisible Cause; how absurd or shocking soever that might have been. The most Wicked are often the most Superstitious, and as ready as any to believe Witchcraft, consult Fortune-tellers, and make Use of Charms. And tho' among the most brutish Part of the Mob, we should meet with Some, that neither pray nor pay Worship to any Thing, laugh at Things sacred, and openly disclaim all Religion, we could have no Reason to think, even from these, that they acted from Principles of Infidelity, when from their Behaviour and many of their Actions, it should be manifest, that they apprehended Something or other, that could do them Good or Hurt, and yet is invisible. But as to the vilest Reprobates among the Vulgar, from their very Curses and the most prophane of their Oaths and Imprecations, it is plain, that they are Believers.
Hor. That's far fetch'd.
Cleo. I don't think so. Can a Man with himself damn'd, without supposing, that there is such a Thing as Damnation. Believe me, Horatio, there are no Atheists among the Common People: You never knew any of them entirely free from Superstition, which always implies Belief: and whoever lays any Stress upon Predictions, upon good or bad Omens; or does but think, that some Things are lucky and others unlucky, must believe, that there is an over-ruling Power, which meddles with, and interferes in Human Affairs.
Hor. I must yield this to you, I think.
Cleo. If then our wicked, obdurate Soldier believes, that there is a God, and that the World is govern'd by Providence, it is impossible, when Two Armies are to engage, but he must think, that it is very material, and a Thing of the highest Importance, which of them God will be pleas'd to favour, and wish with all his Heart, that Heaven would be of his Side. Now, if he knows that the Troops, he serves among, have gain'd several Advantages over their Enemies, and that he has been an Eye-witness of this himself, he must necessarily think, that God has a greater Regard to them, than he has to those that are beaten by them. It is certain, that a Man, who is strongly persuaded of this, will be more undaunted, and with the Same Degree of Skill, Malice and Strength, fight better than he could do, if he believ'd the Contrary. It is evident then, that the most abandon'd Rascal in a Christian Army may be made a valuable Man on the Score of Fighting, as soon as he can be persuaded, that God takes his Part, tho' he never made any further Reflection: But it is inconceivable, that a Man should firmly believe what I have said without reflecting one Time or other on what might be the Cause of this particular Favour, this visible Assistance of Heaven; and if ever he did, could he help thinking on the Preaching and Praying, which he was daily present at; and would he not be forced from all the Circumstances to believe, that those Things were acceptable to God; and conclude upon the whole, that those Religious Exercises were a proper Means to obtain God's Friendship? Would he not be very much confirm'd in this Opinion, if he saw or but heard of credible People, that, in the Enemy's Army, the men were more cold and remiss in their Worship, or at least, that they made a less outward Shew of Devotion, which is all that he should be able to judge by?
Hor. But why should you think, that such an abandon'd, obdurate Fellow, as you have supposed him to be, should ever trouble his Head with the Difference in Worship between one Army and another, or ever think at all on any Thing relating to Devotion?
Cleo. Because it would be impossible for him to help it. I have not supposed, that he was either Deaf or Blind: The Things I named, and which I imagin'd he would be forc'd to believe, would be run in his Ears, and repeated to him over and over from every Quarter: The Soldiers would be full of them; the Officers would talk of them. He would be present at the solemn Thanksgivings, they paid to Heaven. The Preachers would often be loud in commending the Godliness as well as Bravery of the Army, and roar out the Praises of their General, that sanctify'd Vessel, whom they would call a Gideon, a Joshua, a Moses, that glorious Instrument, which God had raised and made Use of to rescue his Church from Idolatry and Superstition, and his Saints from Tyranny and Oppression. They would exclaim against the Wickedness and Immorality of their Enemies, inveigh against Lawn-Sleeves and Surplices, Altar-Pieces, and Common-Prayers; call the Orthodox Clergy, the Priests of Baal, and assure their Hearers, that the Lord hated the Cavaliers; that they were an Abomination to him, and that he would certainly deliver them into the Hands of his chosen People. When a Man is obliged to hear all this, and sees moreover the Spirit and Alacrity that is raised in his Comrades after a moving extemporary Prayer, the real Enthusiasm the Men are thrown into by the Singing of a Psalm, and the Tears of Zeal and Joy run down the Cheeks of Men, whom he knows to be Faithful and Sincere, as well as Resolute and Daring. When Man, I say, such a one as I have describ'd, should be forc'd to hear and see all this, it would hardly be possible for him, not to believe, in the first Place, that God actually assisted this Army; and in the Second, that the Means, by which that Assistance was procured, were the Strictness of the Discipline and the Religious Duties, that were observed in it; tho' he himself should never Join in the one, or Submit to the other, but against his Will, and with the utmost Reluctancy. I am persuaded, that such an Opinion, well rivetted in a Man, would, in such an Army as I am speaking of, be of vast Use to him in all Adventures and Expeditions of War; and that, if he was fit at all to be made a soldier, it would in the Day of Battle inspire him with a Confidence and Undauntedness, which the same man could never have acquired, CŠaelig;teris Paribus, if he had served among other troops, where Divine Worship had been little insisted upon, or but slightly perform'd. And if this be true, I have proved to you, that Acts of Devotion, and an outward Shew of Religion, may be serviceable to the greatest Profligate for the obtaining of Victory, tho' the General should be an Atheist, most of the Clergy Hypocrites, and the greatest Part of the Army wicked Men.
Hor. I can see very well the Possibility, that a few Profligates, among a great many others, that were not so, might be kept in Awe by strict Discipline, and that Acts of Devotion might be serviceable even to those, who were present at them against their Wills. But this Possibility is only built upon a Supposition, that the Rest of the Army should be better disposed: For if the Generality of them were not in Earnest, you could have no outward Shew of Religion; and the Things which you say the obdurate wretch should be forced to hear and see, could have no Existence. No Preaching or Praying can be moving to those, that are harden'd and inattentive; and no Man can be thrown into an Enthusiasm upon the Singing of Psalms, and shed Tears of Zeal and Joy in any Part of Divine Worship, unless they give Heed to it, and are really Devout.
Cleo. I am glad you start this Objection; for it puts me in Mind of Something, that will serve to illustrate this whole Matter, and which, if you had not mention'd this, I should have had no Opportunity to speak of. I took for granted, you know, that in the Quarrel between King and the People, there had been many honest well meaning Men, among the Sober Party, that by Artifice were drawn into the Measures of cunning Hypocrites, who, under specious Pretences, carried on the Rebellion with no other View than their own Advantage. But if you recollect what I said then, you'll find, that many of those honest well-meaning Men might have been very bad Christians. A Man may be a fair Dealer, and wish well to his Country, and yet be very wicked in many other Respects. But whatever Vices he may be guilty of, if he believes the Scriptures without Reserve, is sorry for his Sins, and sometimes really afraid, that he shall be punish'd for them in another World, he is certainly sincere in his Religion, tho' he never mends. Some of the most wicked in the World have been great Believers. Consider all the Money, that has been given to pray Souls out of Purgatory, and who they were, that left the greatest Legacies to the Church. The Generality of Mankind believe what they were taught in their Youth, let that be what it will, and there is no Superstition so gross or absurd, nor any Thing so improbable or contradictory in any Religion, but Men may be sincere in the Belief of it. What I say all this for is to shew you, that an honest well-meaning Man may believe the Bible and be Sincere in his Religion, when he is yet very remote from being a good Christian. What I understand then by Sincere is evident: Now give me Leave to tell you what I mean by Wicked, and to put you in Mind of what I have said of it already; viz that I gave that Name to those, who indulge their Passions as they come uppermost, without Regard to the Good or Hurt, which the Gratification of their Appetites may do to the Society. But all wicked Men are not equally neglectful of Religious Duties, nor equally inflexible; and you won't meet with one in a Hundred so stubborn and averse to all Sense of Divine Worship, as I have supposed our Profligate to be. My Reason for drawing so bad a Character, was to convince you, that, if an outward Shew of Religion could be made serviceable to the most stubborn Reprobate, it could never fail of having a good Effect upon all others, that should be more relenting, and assist at it with less Reluctancy. Few Men are wicked for Want of good Will to be better: The greatest Villains have Remorses; and hardly any of them are so bad, that the Fear of an invisible Cause and future Punishment should never make any Impression upon them; if not in Health, at least in Sickness. If we look narrowly into the Sentiments, as well as Actions even of those that persist in evil Courses for many Years, and spend their whole Lives in Debaucheries, we shall hardly ever find, that it is because they are obstinately bent to be Wicked; but because they want either the Power to govern their Passions, or else the Resolution to set about it; that they have often wish'd, that they could lead better Lives; that they hope, God will forgive them; and that Several Times they have fix'd a Time for their Repentance, but that always Something or other interven'd, that has hinder'd them, till at last they died without having ever met with the Opportunity they wish'd for. Such Men as these perhaps would never go to Prayers, or to hear a Sermon as long as they lived, if they could help it: But most of them, if they were forc'd to it, would behave very well, and actually receive Benefit from being there; especially in Armies, where Nothing being less wanted than contrite Hearts and broken Spirits, Nothing is mention'd that is mortifying, or would depress the Mind; and if ever any thing melancholy is slightly touch'd upon, it is done with great Art, and only to make a Contrast with something reviving, that is immediately to follow, which will flatter their Pride, and make them highly delighted with themselves. All Exhortations to Battle should be chearful and pleasing. What is required of the Men, is, that they should Fight undauntedly and obstinately. Therefore all Arts are made use of to raise and keep up their Spirits on the one Hand, and their Hatred to their Enemies on the other. To dissipate their Fears, they are assured of the Justice and Goodness of their Cause, that God himself is engaged, and his Honour concern'd in it; and that therefore, if they can but shew Zeal enough for him, and are not wanting to themselves, they need not doubt of the Victory.
Hor. It is amazing, that Believers, who are so conscious of their own Wickedness, should be so easily persuaded, that God would do any Thing in their Favour.
Cleo. The great Propensity we have in our Nature to flatter our selves, makes us easy Casuists in our own Concerns. Every body knows, that God is merciful, and that all Men are Sinners. The Thought of this has often been a great Comfort to very bad Livers, especially if they could remember, that ever they wish'd to be better; which, among Believers, there is not One in a Hundred, but can. This good Disposition of Mind a wicked Man may make a notable Construction of, and magnify the Merit of it, till the Reflection of it is sufficient to make his Conscience easy, and he absolves himself without the Trouble of Repentance. I can easily conceive, how one of the Vulgar, no better qualify'd, may assist at Publick Worship with Satisfaction, and even Pleasure; if Preaching and Praying are managed in the Manner I have hinted at: And it is not difficult to imagine, how by a little paultry Eloquence, and Violence of Gestures, a Man in this Situation may be hurried away from his Reason, and have his Passions so artfully play'd upon; that feeling himself thoroughly moved, he shall mistake the Malice of his Heart, and perhaps the Resentment of a great Wound received, for the Love of God and Zeal for Religion. There is another Class of wicked Men, that I have not touch'd upon yet; and of which there would always be great Numbers among such Troops as we have been speaking of, viz. Soldiers of the Sober Party, where Swearing, Prophaneness, and all open Immorality are actually punish'd; where a grave Deportment and strict Behaviour are encouraged, and where Scripture-Language and Pretences to Holiness are in Fashion; in an Army of which the General is firmly believed to be a Saint, and acts his part to Admiration.
Hor. It is reasonable to think, I own, that in such an Army, to one sincere Man, there would always be three or four Hypocrites; for these I suppose are the Class you mean.
Cleo. They are so. And considering, that, to save Appearances, Hypocrites are at least as good as the sincere Men I have spoken of, it is impossible, that there should not be a great Shew of Religion among them, if there were but eight or ten of them sincere in every Hundred: And where such Pains should be taken to make the Men seem to be Godly; and this Point of outward Worship should be labour'd with so much Diligence and Assiduity, I am persuaded, that many even of those, who should be too wicked to be Hypocrites, and to counterfeit long, would sometimes, not only pray in good Earnest, but likewise, set on by the Examples before them, be transported with real Zeal for the Good of their Cause.
Hor. There is no Doubt but Enthusiasm among a Multitude is as catching as Yawning: But I don't understand very well what you mean by too wicked to be Hypocrites; for I look upon them to be the worst of all Men.
Cleo. I am very glad you named this. There are two Sorts of Hypocrites, that differ very much from one another. To distinguish them by Names, the One I would call the Malicious, and the Other the Fashionable. By malicious Hypocrites, I mean Such as pretend to a great Deal of Religion, when they know their Pretensions to be false; who take Pains to appear Pious and Devout, in order to be Villains, and in Hopes that they shall be trusted to get an Opportunity of deceiving those, who believe them to be sincere. Fashionable Hypocrites I call those, who, without any Motive of Religion, or Sense of Duty, go to Church, in Imitation of their Neighbours; counterfeit Devotion, and, without any Design upon others, comply occasionally with all the Rites and Ceremonies of Publick Worship, from no other Principle than an Aversion to Singularity, and a Desire of being in the Fashion. The first are, as you say, the worst of Men: but the other are rather beneficial to Society, and can only be injurious to themselves.
Hor. Your Distinction is very just, if these latter deserve to be call'd Hypocrites at all.
Cleo. To make a Shew outwardly of what is not felt within, and counterfeit what is not real, is certainly Hypocrisy, whether it does Good or Hurt.
Hor. Then, strictly speaking, good Manners and Politeness must come under the same Denomination.
Cleo. I remember the Time you would by no Means have allow'd this.
Hor. Now, you see I do, and freely own, that you have given me great Satisfaction this afternoon; only there is one Thing you said five or six Minutes ago, that has raised a Difficulty which I don't know how to get over.
Cleo. What is it, pray?
Hor. I don't think we shall have Time ——
Cleo. Supper, I see, is going in.
Horatio. I am glad my little Dinner pleased you. I don't love large Pieces of Meat for a small Company; especially in warm Weather: They heat the Room, and are offensive even upon a Side-board.
Cleo. It was very handsome indeed; and Horatio is elegant in every Thing. Your Favours of Yesterday, your Coming without Form, was so engaging, that I was resolved to repay the Compliment without Delay.
Hor. Assure your self, that your Payment is not more prompt, than it is welcome.
Cleo. I know no higher Enjoyment, than that of your Friendship. But pray, what was the Difficulty you hinted at last Night, when Supper broke off our Discourse?
Hor. When you spoke of Preaching and Praying in Armies, you said, that Nothing was ever mention'd to them, that was mortifying, or would depress the Mind. I had heard the same from you in Substance more than once before; and I own, that the Nature of the Thing seems to require, that Soldiers should be indulg'd in their Pride, and that all Exhortations to Battle should be cheerful and pleasing. But the last Time you was speaking of this, I recollected what I had read of the Solemn Fasts, that were so frequently observed in Oliver's Days; and presently I was puzled, and no ways able to account for the Usefulness of them in War, by the System which you had made appear to be very rational. The Fact it self, that Cromwell appointed many Days of Fasting and Humiliation, and made them be strictly kept, is undeniable; but it is impossible, they should promote Chearfulness; and what Purpose they could have been made to serve, that was not religious, I can not conceive. The mechanical Effect, which Fasting can have upon the Spirits, is to lower, flatten, and depress them; and the very Essence of Humiliation is the Mortification of Pride. You have own'd, that Cromwell understood Human Nature, and was a crafty Politician; but you would never allow, that he had the least Intention of promoting Piety, or rendring his Men good Christians.
Cleo. The Objection you have started seems to be of great Weight at first View; but if we look more narrowly into it, and examine this Affair, as we have done some other Things, the Difficulty you labour under will soon disappear. From the Nature of Man and Society it must follow, that whatever particular Vices may be more or less predominant in different Climates and different Ages, Luxury and Pride will always be reigning Sins in all civiliz'd Nations: Against these two stubborn, and always epidemic Maladies, the great Physician of the Soul has, in his Gospel Dispensation, left us two sovereign Remedies, Fasting and Humiliation; which, when rightly used, and duely assisted with the Exercise of Prayer, never fail to cure the Diseases I named in the most desperate Cases. No method likewise is more reasonable; for, tho' Jesus Christ had not recommended it himself, it is impossible to think on any Prescription, more judiciously adapted to an Ailment, than Fasting and Humiliation, accompany'd with fervent Prayer, are to Luxury and Pride. This is the Reason, that in private as well as public Disasters, and all Adversities in which is was thought that the divine Anger was visible, all Believers in Christ have, ever since the Promulgation of the Gospel, made use of the aforesaid Remedies, as the most proper Means to obtain Pardon for their Offences, and render heaven propitious to them. All Magistrates likewise, where the Christian Religion has been national, have in general Misfortunes and all great Calamities (whenever they happen'd) appointed Days to be solemnly kept, and set aside for Prayer, for Fasting and Humiliation. If on these Days Men should be sincere in their Devotion; if a pains-taking Clergy, of Apostolic Lives, on the one Hand, should preach Repentance to their Hearers, and shew them the Difference between the temporal Evils, which they complain'd of, tho' they were less afflicting than they had deserv'd, and the eternal Miseries, which impenitent Sinners would unavoidably meet with, tho' now they thought little of them; if the Hearers, on the other, searching their Consciences without Reserve, should reflect upon their past Conduct; if both the Clergy and the Laity should thus join in religious Exercises, and, adding real Fasting to ardent Prayer, humble themselves before the Throne of Mercy, with Sorrow and Contrition; if, I say, the Days you speak of were to be spent in this Manner, they would be of use in no War, but against the World, the Flesh, or the Devil, the only Enemies a Christian Hero is not oblig'd to love, and over which the Triumph is the darling Object of his Ambition, and the glorious End of his Warfare. On the Contrary, such Fast-days would be hurtful to a Soldier, in the literal Sense of the Word, and destructive to the Intentions of all Armies; and I would as soon expect from them, that they should turn Men into Trees or Stones, as that they should inspire them with martial Courage, or make them eager to fight. But skilful Politicians make an Advantage of every Thing, and often turn into useful Tools the seeming Obstacles to their Ambition. The most resolute Unbeliever, if he is a good Hypocrite, may pretend to as much Superstition and hold Fear, as the most timorous Bigot can be really possess'd with; and the First often gains his Point by making use of the Religion of others, where the Latter is undone by being hamper'd with his own.
Hor. This was very evident in Oliver Cromwel and King James the Second. But what would you infer from it in Relation to Fast-Days?
Cleo. The most sacred Institutions of Christianity may, by the Assistance of pliable Divines, be made serviceable to the most anti-christian Purposes of Tyrants and Usuerpers: Recollect, pray, what I have said concerning Sermons and Prayers, and what is done by some Clergymen under Pretence of Preaching the Gospel.
Hor. I do, and can easily see, how Preachers, by a small Deviation from the Doctrine of Peace, may insensibly seduce their Hearers, and, perverting the End of their Function, set them on to Enmity, Hatred, and all Manner of Mischief: But I can't understand how Fasting and Humiliation should further, or be made any ways instrumental to that Design.
Cleo. You have allow'd, that the Grand Point in Armies, and what has been ever most labour'd among military Men, was to make them believe, that Heaven, that is, the Deity they adore, was of their Side; and it is certain, (as I have hinted before) that how widely soever Men had differ'd in their Sentiments concerning the invisible Cause, or the Worship it requires, they have all agreed in this; and the Use that has been made of Religion in War has ever had a palpable Tendency this way. The Word Fasting, indefinitely spoken, sounds very harshly to a Man of a good Stomach; but, as practis'd religiously among Protestants, it is hardly an Emblem of the Thing it self, and rather a Joke than any grievous Penance: At least in England, by keeping a Fast-Day, Men mean no more, than Eating their Dinners three or four Hours later than they used to do, and perhaps no Supper that Night: Which is a Piece of Abstinence, that is so far from being likely to have an ill Effect upon the Strength or Spirits of Men in Health and Vigour, that there is not One in Fifty, whom it will not render more brisk and lively in the next Day. I speak of People that are not in Want, and who, of dainty or courser Fate, eat as much much every Day as their Appetite requires. As for Humiliation, it is a Word of Course. Fast-Days, bar the Abstinence already mention'd, are kept no otherwise, than the Sunday is. In the Army of the Rebels, the Chaplains perhaps preach'd and pray'd somewhat longer on those Days, and read a few Chapters more in the Bible, than was usual for them to do on a Sabbath-Day. But that was all.
Hor. But you have allow'd, that many of the Roundheads were sincere in their Religion, and that most of the Soldiers, tho' they were bad Christians, were still Believers. It is unreasonable to think, that the Solemnity of those Days, and the continual Shew of Devotion they were spent in, should have made no Impression upon a considerable Part of such a Multitude, as you your self suppose their Army to have been. Where a great Number of the Vulgar, who believe Hell—Torments and Fire Everlasting, are forced to hear, first their Lives laid open, and their Iniquities display'd, and, after that, all the terrible Things, that the Parson can say of Eternal Misery, it is impossible, that many of them should not be affected with Fear and Sorrow, at least for that Time: However, this is beyond all Dispute, that the mildest Remonstrances that can be made on that Head, will sooner dispose Men to Melancholy, than they will to Chearfulness.
Cleo. All this while you take that for granted, which I told you long ago was notoriously false; viz. That in camps and Armies, the plain Doctrine of Christ is delivered without Disguise or Dissimulation: Nay, I hinted to you just now, that if Repentance was preach'd among Military Men, as might be expected from Christian Divines, Solders would be in Danger of being spoil'd by it, and render'd unfit for their Business. All knowing Clergymen, at first Setting out, suit themselves and their Doctrine to the Occupations, as well as Capacities of their Hearers: And as Court Preachers speak in Praise of the Government, and applaud the Measures of it, shade the Vices of Princes and their Favourites, and place their Merit in the handsomest Light it can be seen in so Divines in Armies speak up for the Justice of the Cause they are engaged in, and extol the Generals to the Skies; cajole and curry Favour with the Troops, and flatter more particularly the respective Regiments they belong to. There is not a Chaplain in an Army, who is not perfectly well acquainted with the Duty of a Soldier, and what is required of him. Therefore they preach Christianity to them, as far as it is consistent with that Duty, and no farther. Where they interfere, and are clashing with one another, the Gospel is set aside. The Politician must have his Business done: Necessity is pleaded, and Religion ever made to give Way to the Urgency of Affairs. There is a vast Latitude in Preaching; and Clergymen often take great Liberties: Being as much subject to Errour and Passion as other People, they can give bad Counsel as well as good. Those, who are pleas'd with a Government, we see, preach one way; and those who are not, another. Above Half the Time of the last Reign, a considerable Part of the English Clergy exhorted their Hearers to Sedition, and in a Contempt for the Royal Family, either openly or by sly Inuendo's, in ever Sermon they preach'd: And every Thirtieth of January The same Church furnishes us with two contrary Doctrines: For whilst the more prudent and moderate of the Clergy are shifting and trimming between two Parties, the hot ones of one side assert with Vehemence, that it is meritorious as well as lawful for the people, to put their King to Death whenever he deserves it; and that of this Demerit, the Majority of the same People are the only Judges. The Zealots on the other, are as positive, that Kings are not accountable for their Actions, but to God only; and that, whatever Enormities they may commit, it is a damnable Sin for Subjects to resist them. And if an impartial Man, tho' he was the wisest in the World, was to judge of the Monarch, whose unfortunate End is the common Topick of the Discourses held on that Day, and he had no other Light to guide him, but the Sermons of both Parties, it would be impossible for him to decide, whether the Prince in Question had been a spotless Saint, or the greatest Tyrant. I name these obvious Facts, because they are familiar Instances of our own Time, to convince us, that the Gospel is no Clog which Divines think themselves strictly tied to. A skilful Preacher, whether it be a Fast, or a Day of Rejoycing, always finds Ways to pursue his End, instills into his Hearers whatever he pleases, and never dismisses an Audience, before he has acquainted them with what he would have them know; let the Subject, or the Occasion he preaches upon, be what they will. Besides, an artful Orator may mention frightful Things without giving Uneasiness to his Hearers. He may set forth the Enormity of any great Sin, and the Certainty of the Punishment, that is to follow it. He may display and dwell upon the Terrors of the Divine Vengeance for a considerable Time, and turn at last all the Weight of it upon their Adversaries; and having demonstrated to his Audience, that those whom they are to fight against, or else the great Grandfathers of them, have been notoriously guilty of that Wickedness, which is so heinous in the Sight of Heaven, he may easily convince Believers, that their Enemies must of Necessity be likewise the Enemies of God. If any Disgrace has happen'd to an Army, or some of the Men have misbehaved, a wary Preacher, instead of calling them Cowards, will lay all the Fault on their little Faith, their trusting too much to the Arm of the Flesh, and assure them, that they would have conquer'd, if they had put greater Confidence in God; and more entirely rely'd on his Assistance.
Hor. And so not have fought at all.
Cleo. The Coherence of these Things is never examin'd into. It is possible likewise for a crafty Divine, in order to rouse a listless and dejected Audience, first to awaken them with lively Images of the Torments of Hell and the State of Damnation, and afterwards seem happily to light on an Expedient, that shall create new Hopes, and revive the drooping Spirits of a Multitude; and by this Means the Courage of Soldiers may often be wrought up to a higher Pitch than it could have been rais'd, if they had not been terrify'd at all. I have heard of an Instance, where this was perform'd with great Success. Provisions had been scarce for some Time; and the Enemy was just at Hand; and Abundance of the Men seem'd to have little Mind to fight; when a Preacher, much esteem'd among the Soldiers, took the following Method: First, he set faithfully before them their Sins and Wickedness, the many Warnings that they had received to repent, and God's long Forbearance, as well as great Mercy, in not having totally destroy'd them long ago. He represented their Wants, and Scarcity of Provision, as a certain Token of the Divine Wrath, and shew'd them plainly, that labouring already under the Weight of his Displeasure, they had no Reason to think, that God would connive longer at their manifold Neglects and Transgressions. Having convinced them, that Heaven was angry with them, he enumerated many Calamities, which, he said, would befal them; and several of them being such, as they had actually to fear, he was hearken'd to as a Prophet. He then told them, that what they could suffer in this World, was of no great Moment, if they could but escape Eternal Punishment; but that of this (as they had lived) he saw not the least Probablity, they should. Having shewn an extraordinary Concern for their deplorable Condition, and seeing many of them touch'd with Remorse, and overwhelm'd with Sorrow, he chang'd his Note on a Sudden, and with an Air of Certainty told them, that there was still one Way left, and but that one, to retrieve all, and avert the Miseries they were threaten'd with; which, in short, was to Fight well, and beat their Enemies; and that they had Nothing else for it. Having thus disclosed his Mind to them, with all the Appearances of Sincerity, he assumed chearful Countenance, shew'd them the many Advantages, that would attend the Victory; assured them of it, if they would but exert themselves; named the Times and Places in which they had behaved well, not without Exaggeration, and work'd upon their Pride so powerfully, that they took Courage, fought like Lions, and got the Day.
Hor. A very good story; and whether this was preaching the Gospel or not, it was of great Use to that Army.
Cleo. It was so, politically speaking. But to act such a Part well, requires great Skill, and ought not to be attempted by an ordinary Orator; nor is it to be tried but in desperate Cases.
Hor. You have sufficiently shewn, and I am satisfied, that as Fasting is practiced, and Preaching and Praying may be managed by wary Divines, Care may be taken, that neither the Strictness of Behaviour observed, nor the Religious Exercises perform'd on those Days, shall be the least Hindrance to military Affairs, or any ways mortify or dispirit the Soldiers; but I cannot see, what Good they can do where Religion is out of the Question. What Service would an Atheist, who knew himself to be an Arch-Hypocrite and a Rebel (for such you allow Cromwell to have been) expect from them for his Purpose?
Cleo. I thought, that we had agreed, that to please the Party he was engaged in, it was his Interest to make a great Shew of Piety among his Troops, and seem to be religious himself.
Hor. I grant it; as I do likewise, that he throve by Hypocrisy, raised Enthusiasm in others by Counterfeiting it himself, and that the Craft of his Clergy was many ways instrumental to his Successes: But a skilful Hypocrite, and able Politician, would have made no more Rout about Religion, than there was Occasion for. They had Praying and Singing of Psalms every Day; and the Sabbath was kept with great Strictness. The Clergy of that Army had Opportunities enough to talk their Fill to the Soldiers, and harangue them on what Subject they pleased. They had such a Plenty of Religious Exercises, that it is highly probable, the greatest Part of the Soldiers were glutted with them: And if they were tired with what they had in Ordinary, what good effect could be expected from still more Devotion Extraordinary?
Cleo. What you named last is a great Matter. What is done every Day is soon turn'd into a Habit; and the more Men are accustomed to Things, the less they mind them; but any Thing extraordinary rouses their Spirits and raises their Attention. But to form a clear Idea of the Use and Advantage, a mere Politician, tho' he is an Unbeliever, may reasonably expect from Fast-Days, let us take into Consideration these two Things: First, the Grand Desideratum in armies, that is aim'd at by Religion, and which all Generals labour to obtain by Means of their Clergy: Secondly, the common Notions among Christians, both of Religion and of War. The First is to persuade the Soldiers, and make them firmly believe, that their Cause is Just, and that Heaven will certainly be on their Side; unless by their Offences they themselves should provoke it to be against them. All Prayers for Success, Thanksgivings for Victories obtain'd, and Humiliations after Losses received, are so many different Means to strengthen the Truth of that Persuasion, and confirm Men in the Belief of it. As to the second, Christians believe, that all Men are Sinners; that God is Just, and will punish, here or hereafter, all Trespasses committed against him, unless they are atton'd for before we die; but that he is likewise very merciful, and ever willing to forgive those, who sincerely repent. And as to War, that it is, as all human Affairs are, entirely under his Direction, and that the side whom he is pleased to favour, beats the other. This is the general Opinion, as well of those who hold a Free-agency, as of those who are for Predestination. A cursory View of these two Things, the Notions Men have of Providence and the Grand Point to be obtain'd in Armies, will give us a clear Idea of a Clergyman's Task among Military Men, and shew us both the Design of Fast-Days, and the Effect they are like to produce.
Hor. The design of them is to gain the Divine Favour and Assistance; that's plain enough; but how you are sure, they will have that Effect, I can't see.
Cleo. You mistake the thing. The Politician may have no Thoughts of Heaven: The Effect I speak of relates to the Soldiers; and is the Influence, which, in all Probablility, Fast-Days will have upon Believers, that assist in the keeping of them.
Hor. What Influence is that, pray, if it be not Religious?
Cleo. That they will inspire, and fill the Men with fresh Hopes, that God will favour them and be of their Side. The Reputation of those Days, that they avert the Divine Wrath, and are acceptable to Heaven, is, in a great Measure, the Cause, that they have this Influence upon the Men. The Heathens harbour'd the same Sentiments of their Publick Supplications; and it has been the Opinion of all Ages, that the more Solemn and Respectful the Addresses are, which Men put up to the Deity, and the greater the Numbers are that join in them, the more probable it is, that their Petitions shall be granted. It is possible therefore, that a Politician may appoint Extraordinary Days of Devotion, with no other View than to chear up the Soldier, revive his Hopes, and make him confident of Success. Men are ready enough to flatter themselves, and willing to believe, that Heaven is on their Side, whenever it is told them, tho' they have little Reason to think so. But then they are unsteady, and naturally prone to Superstition, which often raises new Doubts and Fears in them. Therefore Common Soldiers are continually to be buoy'd up in the good Opinion they have of themselves; and the Hopes they were made to conceive, ought often to be stirr'd up in them afresh. The Benefit that accrues from those Extraordinary Days of Devotion, and the Advantages expected from them, are of longer Duration, than just the Time they are kept in. With a little Help of the Clergy, they are made to do Good when they are over; and two or three Days or a Week after, the Usefulness of them is more conspicuous than it was before. It is in the Power of the General, or any Government whatever, to have those Days as strictly kept, to outward Appearance, as they please. All Shops may be order'd to be shut, and Exercises of Devotion to be continued from Morning till Night; nothing suffer'd to be bought, or sold during the Time of Divine Service; and all Labour as well as Diversion be strictly prohibited. This having been well executed makes an admirable Topick for a Preacher, when the Day is over, especially among Military Men; and Nothing can furnish a Divine with a finer Opportunity of commending, and highly praising his Audience, without Suspicion of Flattery, than the Solemnity of such a Day. He may set forth the outward Face of it in a lively Manner, expatiate on the various Decorums, and Religious Beauties of it; and by faithfully representing what Every body remembers of it, gain Credit to every Thing he says besides. He may magnify and safely enlarge on the Self-denial, that was practised on that Day; and, ascribing to the Goodness and Piety of the Soldiers, what in his Heart he knows to have been altogether owing to Discipline, and the strict Commands of the General, he may easily make them believe, that greater Godliness and a more general Humiliation never had been seen in an Army. If he has Wit, and is a Man of Parts, he'll find out Quaint Similes, Happy Turns, and Plausible Arguments, to illustrate his Assertions, and give an Air of Truth to every Thing he advances. If it suits with the Times, he'll work himself up into Rapture and Enthusiasm, congratulate his Regiment, if not the whole Army, on the undeniable Proofs they have given of being good Christians, and with Tears in his Eyes wish them Joy of their Conversion, and the infallible Tokens they have received of the Divine Mercy. If a grave Divine, of good Repute, acts this, as he should do, with an artful Innocence and Chearfulness in his Countenance, it is incredible what an Effect it may have upon the greater part of a Multitude, amongst whom Christianity is not scoff'd at, and Pretences to Purity are in Fashion. Those who were any ways devout on that Day, which he points at, or can but remember that they wish'd to be Godly, will swallow with Greediness whatever such a Preacher delivers to them; and applauding every Sentence before it is quite finish'd, imagine, that in their Hearts they feel the Truth of every Word he utters. We are naturally so prone to think well of our Selves, that an artful Man, who is thought to be serious, and harangues a vulgar Audience, can hardly say any Thing in their Behalf, which they will not believe. One would imagine, that Men, who gave but little Heed to the Religious Exercises they assisted at, could receive no great Comfort from their Reflection on that Day; such, I mean, as were tired to Death with the Length of the Prayers, and almost slept as they stood the greatest Part of the Sermon; yet many of these, hearing the Behaviour of the Army in General well spoken of, would be stupid enough to take Share in the Praise; and remembring the Uneasiness they felt, make a Merit of the very Fatigue they then bore with Impatience. Most of the Vulgar, that are not averse to Religion, have a wild Notion of Debtor and Creditor betwen themselves and Heaven. Natural gratitude teaches them, that some returns must be due for the good Things they receive; and they look upon Divine Service as the only Payment they are able to make. Thousands have made this Acknowledgment in their Hearts, that never after cared to think on the vast Debt they owed. But how careless and neglectful soever most of them may be in the Discharge of their Duty, yet they never forget to place to their Accounts, and magnify in their Minds, what little Time they spend, and the least Trouble they are at in performing what can but seem to have any Relation to Religious Worship; and, what is astonishing, draw a Comfort from them by barely shutting their Eyes against the frightful Balance. Many of these are very well pleased with themselves after a sound Nap at Church, whole Consciences would be less easy, if they had stay'd from it. Nay, so extensive is the Usefulness of those Extraordinary Devotions, appointed by Authority, in Politicks only, that the most inattentive Wretch, and the greatest Reprobate, that can be in such an Army, may receive Benefit from them; and the Reflection on a Fast-Day, may be an Advantage to him as a Soldier. For tho' he cursed the Chaplain in his Heart, for preaching such a tedious while as he did, and wish'd the General damn'd, by whose Order he was kept from Strong Liquor such an unreasonable Time; yet he recollects, the Nothing went forward but Acts of Devotion all the Day long; that every Sutler's Tent was shut; and that it was Six a Clock before he could get a Drop of Drink. Whilst these Things are fresh in his Memory, it is hardly possible, that he should ever think of the Enemy, of Battles, or of Sieges, without receiving real Comfort from what he remembers of that Day. It is incredible what a strong Impression the Face, the outward Appearance only of such a Day, may make upon a loose wicked Fellow, who hardly ever had a Religious Thought in his Life; and how powerfully the Remembrance of it may inspire him with Courage and Confidence of Triumph, if he is not an Unbeliever.
Hor. I have not forgot what you said Yesterday of the obdurate Soldier; and I believe heartily, that the greatest Rogue may build Hopes of Success on the Devotion of others, whom he thinks to be Sincere,
Cleo. And if the bare outward Shew of such a Day, can any ways affect the worst of an Army, there is no Doubt, but the better Sort of them may get infinitely more Benefit by keeping it, and giving Attention to the greatest Part of the Preaching and Praying that are perform'd upon it. And tho' in Camps, there are not many Men of real Probity, any more than in Courts; and Soldiers, who are sincere in their Religion, and only misled in the Duties of it, are very scarce; yet in most Multitudes, especially of the sober Party, there are ignorant Well-wishers to Religion, that, by proper Means, may be raised to Devotion for a Time and of whom I have said, that tho' they were bad Livers, they often desired to repent; and would sometimes actually set about it, if their Passions would let them. All these an artful Preacher may persuade to any Thing, and do with them almost what he pleases. A bold Assurance of Victory, emphatically pronounc'd by a popular Preacher, has often been as little doubted of among such, as if it had been a Voice from Heaven.
Hor. I now plainly see the vast Use that may be made of Fast-Days, as well afterwards when they are over, as during the Time they are kept.
Cleo. The Days of Supplication among the Heathens, as I hinted before, were celebrated for the same Purpose; but their Arts to make People believe, that the Deity was on their side, and Heaven espoused their Cause, were very trifling in Comparison to those of Christian Divines. When the Pagan Priests had told the People, that the Chickens had eat their Meat very well, and the Entrails of the Victim were found, and that the Rest of the Omens were lucky, they had done, and were forced to leave the Belief of those Things to the Soldiers. But—
Hor. You need not to say any more, for I am convinced, and have now so clear an Idea of the Usefulness of Extraordinary Devotions, and a great Shew of Piety, among military Men; I mean the Political Usefulness of them, abstract from all Thoughts of Religion; that I begin to think them necessary, and wonder, how great and wise Generals ever would or could do without them. For it is evident, that since the Prince of Conde's and Cromwel's Armies, such a Shew of Godliness has not been seen among any regular Troops, in any considerable Body of Men. Why did not Luxemburg, King William, Prince Eugene, and the Duke of Marlborough follow those great Examples, in modelling their Armies after a Manner that had bred such good Soldiers?
Cleo. We are to consider, that such a Shew of Piety and outward Devotion, as we have been speaking of, is not to be created and started up at once, nor indeed to be made practicable but among such Troops as the Huguenots in France, and the Roundheads in England were. Their Quarrels with their Adversaries were chiefly Religious; and the greatest Complaints of the Malecontents in both Nations were made against the Establish'd Church. They exclaim'd against the Ceremonies and Superstition of it; the Lives of the Clergy, the Haughtiness of the Prelates, and the little Care that was taken of Christianity it self and good Morals. People, who advance these Things, must be thought very inconsistent with themselves, unless they are more upon their Guard, and lead stricter Lives than those, whom they find Fault with. All Ministers likewise, who pretend to dissent from a Communion, must make a sad Figure, unless they will reform, or at least seem to reform every Thing they blame in their Adversaries. If you'll duely weigh what I have said, you will find it impossible to have an Army, in which outward Godliness shall be so conspicuous, as it was in the Prince of Conde's or Oliver Cromwel's, unless that Godliness suited with the times.
Hor. What peculiar Conjuncture, pray, does that require.
Cleo. When a considerable Part of a Nation, for some End or other, seem to mend, and set up for Reformation; when Virtue and Sobriety are countenanced by many of the better Sort; and to appear Religious is made Fashionable. Such was the Time in which Cromwell enter'd himself into the Parliament's Service. What he aim'd at first was Applause; and skilfully suiting himself in every Respect to the Spirit of his party, he studied Day and Night to gain the good Opinion of the Army. He would have done the same, if he had been on the other Side. The Chief Motive of all his Actions was Ambition, and what he wanted was immortal Fame. This End he steadily pursued: All his Faculties were made subservient to it; and no Genius was ever more supple to his Interest. He could take Delight in being Just, Humane and Munificent, and with equal Pleasure he could oppress, persecute and plunder, if it served his Purpose. In the most Treacherous Contrivance to hasten the Execution of his blackest Design, he could counterfeit Enthusiasm, and seem to be a Saint. But the most enormous of his Crimes proceeded from no worse Principle, than the best of his Atchievements. In the Midst of his Villanies he was a Slave to Business; and the most disinterested Patriot never watch'd over the Publick Welfare, both at Home and Abroad, with greater Care and Assiduity, or retriev'd the fallen Credit of a Nation in less Time than this Usurper: But all was for himself; and he never had a Thought on the Glory of England, before he had made it inseparable from his own.
Hor. I don't wonder you dwell so long upon Cromwell, for Nothing can be more serviceable to your System, than his Life and Actions.
Cleo. You will pardon the Excursion, when I own, that you have hit upon the Reason. What I intended to shew, when I ran away from my Subject, was, that able Politicians consult the Humour of the Age, and the Conjuncture they live in, and that Cromwell made the most of his. I don't question, but he would have done the same, if he had been born three or four score Years later. And if he had been to command an English Army abroad, when the Duke of Marlborough did, I am persuaded, that he would sooner have endeavoured to make all his Soldiers dancing Masters, than he would have attempted to make them Bigots. There are more ways than one, to make People brave and obstinate in Fighting. What in Oliver's Days was intended by a Mask of Religion and a Shew of Sanctity, is now aim'd at by the Height of Politeness, and a perpetual Attachment to the Principle of modern Honour. There is a Spirit of Gentility introduced among military Men, both Officers and Soldiers, of which there was yet little to be seen in the last Century, in any Part of Europe, and which now shines through all their Vices and Debaucheries.
Hor. This is a new Discovery; pray, what does it consist in?
Cleo. Officers are less rough and boisterous in their Manners, and not only more careful of themselves, and their own Behaviour, but they likewise oblige and force their Men under severe Penalties to be Neat, and keep themselves Clean: And a much greater Stress is laid upon this, than was Forty or Fifty Years ago.
Hor. I believe there is, and approve of it very much; white Gaiters are a vast Addition to a clever Fellow in Regimental Cloaths; but what mighty Matters can you expect from a Soldier's being obliged to be clean.
Cleo. I look upon it as a great Improvement in the Art of Flattery, and a finer Stratagem to raise the Passion of Self-liking in Men, than had been invented yet; for by this Means the Gratification of their Vanity is made Part of the Discipline; and their Pride must encrease in Proportion to the Strictness, with which they observe this Duty.
Hor. It may be of greater Weight than I can see at Present. But I have another Question to ask. The main Things, that in raising Troops, and making War, Politicians are solicitous about, and which they seem altogether to rely upon, are Money, great Numbers, Art and Discipline. I want to know, why Generals, who can have no Hopes, from the Age they live in, of thriving by Bigotry, should yet put themselves to such an Expence, on Account of Religion in their Armies, as they all do. Why should they pay for Preaching for Praying at all, if they laid no Stress upon them?
Cleo. I never said, that the great Generals, you nam'd, laid no Stress on Preaching or Praying.
Hor. But Yesterday, speaking of the Gallantry of our Men in Spain and Flanders, you said, that you would as soon believe, that it was Witchcraft that made them Brave, as that it was their Religion. You could mean Nothing else by this, than that, whatever it was, you was very sure, it was not their Religion that made them Brave. How come you to be so very sure of that?
Cleo. I judge from undeniable Facts, the loose and wicked Lives, the Generality of them led, and the Courage and Intrepidity they were on many Occasions. For of Thousands of them it was as evident as the Sun, that they were very Vicious, at the same Time that they were very Brave.
Hor. But they had Divine Service among them; every Regiment had a Chaplain; and Religion was certainly taken care of.
Cleo. It was, I know it; but not more than was absolutely necessary to hinder the Vulgar from suspecting, that Religion was neglected by their Superiours; which would be of dangerous Consequence to all Governments. There are no great Numbers of Men without Superstition; and if it was to be tried, and the most skilful Unbelievers were to labour at it, with all imaginable Cunning and Industry, it would be altogether as impossible to get an Army of all Atheists, as it would be to have an Army of good Christians. Therefore no Multitudes can be so universally wicked, that there should not be some among them, upon whom the Suspicion, I hinted at, would have a bad Effect. It is inconceiveable, how Wickedness, Ignorance, and Folly are often blended together. There are, among all Mobs, vicious Fellows, that boggle at no Sin; and whilst they know Nothing to the Contrary, but that Divine Service is taken care of as it used to be, tho' they never come near it, are perfectly easy in their Evil Courses, who yet would be extremely shock'd, should Any body tell them seriously, that there was no Devil.
Hor. I have known such my self; and I see plainly, that the Use, which Politicians may make of Christianity in Armies, is the same as ever was made of all other Religions on the same Occasion, viz. That the Preists, who preside over them, should humour and make the most of the Natural Superstition of all Multitudes, and take great Care, that on all Emergencies, the Fear of an invisible Cause, which Every body is born with, should never be turn'd against the Interest those, who employ them.
Cleo. It is certain, that Christianity being once stript of the Severity of its Discipline, and its most essential Precepts, the Design of it may be so skilfully perverted from its real and original Scope, as to be made subservient to any worldly End or Purpose, a Politician can have Occasion for.
Hor. I love to hear you; and to shew you, that I have not been altogether inattentive, I believe I can repeat to you most of the Heads of your Discourse, since you finish'd what you had to say concerning the Origin of Honour. You have proved to my Satisfaction, that no Preaching of the Gospel, or strict Adherence to the Precepts of it, will make men good Soldiers, any more than they will make them good Painters, or any thing else the most remote from the Design of it. That good Christians, strictly speaking, can never presume or submit to be Soldiers. That Clergymen under Pretence of Preaching the Gospel, by a small Deviation from it, may easily misguide their Hearers, and not only make them fight in a just Cause, and against the Enemies of their Country, but likewise incite them to civil Discord and all Manner of Mischief. That by the Artifices of such Divines, even honest and well-meaning Men have often been seduced from their Duty, and, tho' they were sincere in their Religion, been made to act quite contrary to the Precepts of it. You have given me a full View of the Latitude, that may be taken in Preaching, by putting me in Mind of an undeniable Truth; viz. That in all the Quarrels among Christians, there never yet was a Cause so bad, but, if it could find an Army to back it, there were always Clergymen ready to justify and maintain it. You have made it plain to me, that Divine Service and Religious Exercises may be ordered and strictly enjoin'd with no other than Political Views; that by Preaching and Praying, bad Christians may be inspired with Hatred to their Enemies, and Confidence in the Divine Favour; that in order to obtain the Victory, Godliness and an outward Shew of Piety among Soldiers may be made serviceble to the greatest Profligates, who never join in Prayer, have no Thoughts of Religion, or ever assist at any Publick Worship, but by Compulsion and with Reluctancy; and that they may have this effect in an Army, of which the General is an Atheist, most of the Clergy are Hypocrites, and the Generality of the Soldiers wicked Men. You have made it evident, that neither the Huguenots in France, nor the Roundheads in England could have been animated by the Spirit of Christianity; and shewn me the true Reason, why Acts of Devotion were more frequent, and Religion seemingly more taken care of in both those Armies, than otherwise is usual among military Men.
Cleo. You have a good Memory.
Hor. I must have a very bad one, if I could not remember thus much. In all the Things I nam'd, I am very clear. The solution likewise, which you have given of the Difficulty I proposed this Afternoon, I have Nothing to object to; and I believe, that skilful Preachers consult the Occupations as well as the Capacities of their Hearers; that therefore in Armies they always encourage and chear up their Audiences; and that whatever the Day or the Occasion may be, upon which they harangue them, they seldom touch upon mortifying Truths, and take great Care never to leave them in a Melancholy Humour, or such an Opinion of themselves or their Affairs as might lower their Spirits, or depress their Minds. I am likewise of your Opinion, as to artful Politicians; that they fall in with the Humour of their Party, and make the most of the Conjuncture they live in; and I believe, that, if Cromwell had been to Command the Duke of Marlborough's Army, he would have taken quite other Measures, than he did in his own Time. Upon the whole, you have given me a clear Idea, and laid open to me the real Principle of that great wicked Man. I can now reconcile the Bravest and most Gallant of his Atchievements, with his vilest and the most treacherous of his Actions; and tracing every Thing, he did, from one and the same Motive, I can solve several Difficulties concerning his Character, that would be inexplicable, if that vast Genius had been govern'd by any Thing but his Ambition; and, if following the common Opinion, we suppose him to have been a Compound of a daring Villain and an Enthusiastical Bigot.
Cleo. I am not a little proud of your Concurrence with me.
Hor. You have made out, with Perspicuity, every Thing you have advanced both Yesterday and to Day, concerning the Political Use, that may be made of Clergymen in War; but, after all, I can't see what Honour you have done to the Christian Religion, which yet you ever seem strenuously to contend for, whilst you are treating every Thing else with the utmost Freedom. I am not prepared to reply to several Things, which, I know, you might answer: Therefore I desire, that we may break off our Discourse here. I will think on it, and wait on you in a few Days; for I shall long to be set to Rights in this Point.
Cleo. Whenever you please; and I will shew you, that no Discovery of the Craft, or Insincerity of Men can ever bring any Dishonour upon the Christian Religion it self, I mean the Doctrine of Christ, which can only be learn'd from the New Testament, where it will ever remain in its Purity and Lustre.
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