AN ANSWER TO A PAPER ENTITULED THE CASE Of the Protestant DISSENTERS Of IRELAND, In Reference to a BILL of Indulgence, Represented and Argued.

THERE being a Paper lately Publish't, Intitul'd, The Case of the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland, in Reference to a Bill of Indulgence, Represented, and Argued. I shall endeavour to shew, that tho, the Au­thor has truly Represented the Desires of the Dissenting Protestants among us, yet he has weakly Argued for the granting of them.

The Desires of the Dissenting Protestants, he Comprises in these Two Propo­sitions; First, that by a Bill of Indulgence a full Security for the free Exercise of Religion according to their Consciences may be given them. Secondly, That there be no such Clauses annex't to it, as may Disable 'em from Serving their King, and their Country.

As to the first of these Desires, I believe there are few or none but will agree to secure to 'em by Law, the Free Exercise of their Religion, tho 'tis plain, the Authors Arguments do not evince the necessity of it, as may appear by a di­stinct Consideration of 'em. The first of which is this, That since our Securi­ty consists in the Number and Union of Protestants, this Bill will promote both, by drawing Protestant Dissenters from abroad, and by Uniting those at home, and by securing their Affections to the Government, that grants 'em this Indulgence. Now to this, I answer:

First, That this Indulgence will tend rather to the multiplicity of Sects, than to the increase of the Number of Protestants, and will most successfully promote those very Designs, which our Author vainly imagins it the best Expe­dient to obstruct; For a general Indulgence has always prov'd instrumental to the advancing the Popish Interest among us, and has therefore been vigorously promoted by Popish Emissaries in England, and that by express Orders from their Superiors abroad, who have Experimentally found it to be the most ef­fectual method of Introducing Popery into a Country, and have expended ve­ry Considerable sums of Money, for the purchase of Tolerations to Dissen­ters.

Before I reply to what is said, concerning drawing over Protestant Dissenters from abroad, by this Bill of Indulgence; I shall propose this Question, whether the Granting Liberty of Conscience, with the Sacramental Test, will not be as effectual to the Peopling of this Kingdom with English Conformists, as a general Toleration, without restrictive Clauses to the planting of it with Scotch Dissenters? But to return, I presume by what the Author says, concerning [Page 2] drawing over Protestant Dissenters from abroad; he cannot mean Foreigners, because he acknowledges them to be provided for, by an Act past the last Par­liament in their Favour. He must therefore wholly, or more especially design the Dissenting Protestants of Scotland: Now in Reference to these, I leave it to the serious Consideration of every judicious, and impartial Reader, First, whether that Sect among 'em, whose violent Principles have unqualified 'em for Indulgence there should be Tolerated here? Can we Reasonably expect, that those who are so Turbulent in their own Countrey, shou'd be quiet in ours? Or that by their being Transplanted into another Soil, and by a kind and Indulgent Cultivation of them, we may gather Figs off this sharpest sort of Thistles? Secondly, whether the Free and Publick exercise of Religion should be Indulg'd to others of them, who have publickly Declar'd our Church Government to be Antichristian, and have solemnly sworn to Extirpate Prelacy? Thirdly, whether those that are the most moderate among 'em, can with Reason expect, but that with the same measure they have Meted to their Brethren, the Episcopal Clergy in their own Countrey, it should be measur'd to them again, when they come to settle in this Kingdom? So that if any Indulgence be granted, 'tis purely the Result of our own Charitable Inclinations, and a plain Evidence to the World, that our just Resentments of their Severity to others, has not Alienated our affections from them.

Neither will this Indulgence probably tend to the Uniting of Protestants at home, as is too fully prov'd by Experience in England; where the present To­leration has not had that good effect; neither can we in Reason expect it should be more Successful here; for if it equally extend to all Parties and Denominati­ons of Protestant Dissenters, their mutual jealousies of one another, and their Respective endeavours to propagate their Opinions, and to promote their Tem­poral Interests, will naturally create great Heats and Animosities; but if the benefit of the Indulgence be unequally distributed, it will be so far from being a means of supporting, that it will considerably weaken the Government by dis­obliging all, but those that are particularly Encourag'd, and Caress'd by it.

But Secondly, as this Indulgence is not Necessary for the common Protestant Interest in this Kingdom; so neither is it so highly reasonable, as the Author pre­tends, as may appear, by a particular Consideration of the Arguments he makes use of to prove it. For first, as the early Zeal of the Dissenters, in be­half of this Government, may Intitle 'em to its Protection, so it can't be deny'd but that they have enjoy'd it ever since the Revolution, and have Receiv'd more than ordinary marks of Royal Favour, partly by the free Liberty that is granted 'em throughout the Kingdom, for the publick Exercise of their Reli­gion, and for the Building of Meeting Houses, even in Corporate Towns; as also by his Majesties bounty, in allowing Yearly hitherto a considerable Sum for the maintenance of their Ministers.

Secondly, there seems to be more than ordinary Reason to make an Act in behalf of Foreign Protestants, because they are found by experience to have more favourable Thoughts of; and more forward Inclinations to our Church-Government and Worship, than others have. And besides, 'tis Observable, that the free Exercise of Religion, which was granted 'em by the late Act, was to con­tinue but for seven Years, in which time it was suppos'd they might Learn our Language, and be Instructed in the Principles and Worship of the Establish't Church, and 'twas with good Reason hop't that after the Expiration of that Term. [...]ey would declare themselves Members of our Communion. And I'me credibly Inform'd, that of Eleven Congregations of Foreign Pro­testants in London, there are Nine Conformists.

[Page 3] Thirdly, The Papists are not in equal circumstances of publick Favour with our Dissenting Brethren; for as the Liberty they have in the Exercise of their Religion, was extorted from the Government, by the pressing necessity of publick Affairs, so it is not confirm'd to them by any Act of Parliament, as this Indulgence is expected, and I suppose, design'd to be to the Dissenters.

And Fourthly, the experience that our Dissenting Brethren have had of our Tenderness towards them heretofore, is a sufficient Argument and Secu­rity to 'em of our future Kindness; for we consider our mutual Agreement in the same Articles of Faith, and are glad this Author is pleas'd to declare, That the suppressing of Protestant Dissenters, by the strict execution of Penal Laws, is a Practice that has a just Odium left upon it; but are sorry, That the just Odium left upon it among us, should be wholly confin'd to us, and that this Practice should have no Censure, nor Reflection cast upon it among our Neighbours: And 'tis strange, that the Author should say, that there is so apparent a contrariety in it, to the mild and merciful Genius of our Holy Religion, seeing he can't but know the time when it was an avow'd Doctrine, and a General Practice among the Presbyterians and Independants, to bar the Mem­bers of the Church of England from the Free Exercise of Divine Worship ac­cording to their Consciences: And 'tis as strange, that this Practice should be so apparently contrary to our Holy Religion, and have so mischievous Effects upon the publick Peace here in this Kingdom, and yet be thought so great an Evi­dence of a truly Christian Zeal, and so effectual an Instrument of publick Good in Scotland; and how possibly can our Author hope, That all Protestants are in this Point come to a better Temper, than to gratifie their Enemies by Ruining their Brethren, when there is so plain a Demonstration of the contrary; unless he be of Opinion, that what is accounted a Warm and Sanguine Temper of Religion there, is to be esteem'd the raging Heat of a malignant Feavor here.

Fourthly, as concerning the establishing Toleration by a Law; the Reason why some may be against it, is not (as our Author do's invidiously insinuate) that they wait for a more favourable opportunity of Reviving the former Severi­ties, but that they may still have it in their Power to shew their Tenderness to their Dissenting Brethren, and may prevent, or repress the misdemeanors that some Nonconformists may possibly be Guilty of, if they had a Legal Tolera­tion; as also, that they may secure the Established Religion they profess, a­gainst the Dangerous Consequences they fear from a General Indulgence.

And Lastly, as to what he says concerning His Majesties Declaration, I de­sire this Author to consider more seriously, whether there be not some others in the Three Kingdoms besides the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland, to whom One great end of His Majesties Declaration is yet unaccomplish'd) and whether there be a Law made to cover the Protestant Episcopal Clergy in Scotland, from Persecution on the Account of Religion.

By all which it may plainly be perceiv'd, That 'tis not by force of the Au­thors Arguments for the Necessity, or Reasonableness of Toleration, but pure­ly in compliance to the importunate Desires of our Dissenting Brethren, that the Members of the Establish'd Church are inclin'd to grant 'em a General and Legal Indulgence, as Parents do often humour their Children, in giving 'em those things they eagerly desire, which tho' pleasant to their Pallates, are yet many times prejudicial to their Health,

And now, I proceed to the Second Desire of the Protestant Dissenters, which is, That there may be no such Clauses annext to this Bill, as would disable 'em from serving their King and their Country; which in plain terms is no more than this; That whereas the Ease to Tender Consciences was the only thing [Page 4] they formerly desir'd; they now Claim it as their due, to be admitted also in­to all Honourable and Profitable Employments, and without these, whatever Ease may be given to their Consciences, 'tis to be fear'd they will have no quiet in their Minds.

But let us hear our Authors Auguments for granting this Bill of Indulgence, without a Sacramental Test annext. First he tells us, That the Sacrament Test in England was chiefly design'd against Papists, but 'tis also plain, it was intend­ed against Protestant Dissenters too; for tho' none but the former be mention'd in the Title, yet the latter are included in the Body of the Act; and if the Zeal of the English Dissenters against Popery in the late times has not exempt­ed them from a Sacramental Test; our Dissenting Brethren in this Kingdom, cannot with Modesty expect, that their late Services should Intitle them to any such Immunities.

Secondly, He tells us such a Test for disabling Protestant Dissenters for any pub­lick Service, is against the common Protestant Interest of Ireland. Our Circumstances indeed vastly differ, as he says, from those of England, for here the Established Church is more in Danger than there, by the Protestant Dissenters, as well as by the common Enemy: In England one unmixt People does compose the main body of the Nation, which continues still the same; but here we are made up of several Nations, and there is a daily Accession of great Numbers from a Neighbouring Country, of whom the meaner sort, are generally of a different Communion from the Establish'd Church. Tho' the Nobility and Gentry, (to their great praise be it spoken) are generaly Conformists. 'Tis possible inded, as he Observes That the Irish may be more Numerous, if there should be a General Peace, and I may add, That 'tis highly probable, that the Papists will grow much more Numerous, if there should be a General Indulgence; and therefore, not­withstanding our Authors Opinion, we cannot think it Reasonable to give the Protestant Interest a wider Bassis here, than it has in Holland (which is a Place of greatest Liberty in Matters of Religion) where all Protestants are not equally capable of Employments without Religious Tests. As to what he says, con­cerning the Danger of a future Rebellion, we hope, that by the late Acts of Parliament made against the Papists, and the diligence of the Magistrates in putting them in Execution, the Irish may be disabled for any New Insurre­ctions; or if we should fall into the same unhappy Circumstances that we have been lately in, we have Reason to believe, Notwithstanding the Authors dis­advantagious Representation of the Temper of the Dissenters (wherein he in­timates, that the excluding them from publick Offices, would incline 'em in future Dangers to desert the publick Service (the foreboding of which seems equivalent to an Advice to them, and a Menace to us) Notwithstanding this, I say, we have Reason to believe, that the Consideration of the common Safety, and their Gratitude for their Indulgence, which they now expect, would engage 'em to shew an equal Zeal to what they did before, tho' they should not be wholly on equal Terms with us, since they could not reasonably hope for so kind a Treatment from the Papists, as they have had from us,

Thirdly, To what the Author says, to prove, That it does not seem agreea­ble to the Judgment of the Parliament of England, that any such Test should be impos'd here; I answer, That as the Substituting the New Oaths, and the De­claration or Test against Popery instead of the Oath of Supremacy did not Re­peal the Statute that enjoyns the Sacrament Test in England; so neither can it with the least shadow of Reason be alledged, That the English Act for the Abrogating the Oath of Supremacy in Ireland, &c. ought to be construed as intended, to prevent the imposing of it here, in case a General Indulgence should be Granted to the Protestant Dissenters in this Kingdom.

[Page 5] Fourthly, To the first Argument produc'd by the Author, to prove a Sacrament Test to be as unreasonable as 'tis dangerous; Viz. That it will put the Protestant Dissenters into worse Circumstances, than they are in at present; I may with great Justice and Reason, Reply, that whatever hardships the Dissenters may pre­tend, they should be under by those Restrictions; I am sure the Members of the Establish'd Church would be in far worse Circumstances than they now are in, if an Indulgence should be Granted without those Clauses.

First, 'Tis too Notorious to be denied, That the Conformists at Sligo, and Crum, at Inniskillen and Derry, did appear at least as early, and Act as Zea­lously for this Government as the Dissenters; and consequently the Confor­mists will have Reason to think themselves severely dealt with, if no other way can be found of Rewarding the Services of the former, without the ap­parent hazarding the most valuable Rights of the latter, by Granting the Dis­senters such an Indulgence, and by admitting them into such Offices as may give 'em Power and Opportunity to alter the whole Frame of the present Church Government.

Secondly, As to what is said concerning the Sacraments not being a fit Test of Admission into Offices; I observe, First, that the Arguments he makes use of in this matter, are much the same with those that were urg'd in the late Reign, for the taking off the Penal Laws and Test. Secondly, I answer more di­stinctly. That by this Sacramental Test, we do not prostitute that Holy In­stitution to mean and worldly Purposes, as our Author insinuates; but Religion being the great Band of Humane Society, 'tis highly Reasonable, that those Persons should be Rewarded, as well as Intrusted with Employments in the State that give the greatest Evidences of their Piety to Almighty God; And if this Argument of our Authors be valid, 'twill not only conclude against this but all other Religious Tests; and then the most Scandalous Neglects of Ho­ly Duties, must not be accounted a sufficient Bar to an Admission into the most considerable Offices, for fear of Prostituting the Ordinances of Divine Worship, and of Driving Unworthy Persons to a participation of those Sa­cred Mysteries; And if, as our Author says, the Interest of Religion is very little concerned in the Posture of Receiving the Holy Sacrament; why should a­ny Person seperate from the Communion of the Establish'd Church, on Ac­count of that which our Author is pleas'd to call a Trivial Matter, and a Trifle: But if any Man refuse to give the State so Trivial and inconsiderable a Mark of his Complyance to its Orders and Injunctions: There is no Rea­son why such an one should be intrusted with the Management of the Civil and Military Offices, or that they should be esteemed such Ʋseful Persons, that it should be thought the Interest of the Government to comprehend 'em.

The Case that our Author puts of a Man endued with Eminent Wisdom; Integrity, &c. is scarcely to be be suppos'd; for no Man surely, that deserves that Character, will unqualifie himself to serve his King, his Countrey, and his Temporal Interest too, by refusing to Receive the Holy Sacrament in such a Posture, which our Author acknowledges, is more expressive of our Reve­rence to our Saviour, than that which is in Use among the Dissenters.

However, as a Reward to those that have been more than ordinarily Re­markable for their Services to His Majesty, and are now in any Civil, or Mi­litary Employment, it may perhaps be thought convenient, that Persons so Qualified, may be excepted as Nominees, and hold their Offices, notwith­standing their Refusal of the Sacramental Test.

[Page 6] Lastly, whereas our Author says, that the Establish't Church will be no way indanger'd by the Indulgence he is pleading for, I answer that tho' the Honours and Revenues of the Clergy are now secur'd to 'em, yet we cannot foresee the Difficulties the Conforming Clergy may possibly contest with, in asserting the Rites of the Church, if Nonconformists were Qualified for Civil Offices; and besides, we are far less concern'd for the security of our Temporal Interest, than for the Establishment of our Antient, Holy and Peaceable Religion.

I am far from detracting from the good Services which the Dissenters did the King and the Nation, in being joynt Instruments with the Conformists in the Preservation of Derry and Inniskillin; nor would I exclude 'em from a Capacity of concurring to preserve their Country again. But as in the late Troubles common Safety, and the publick Interest of the Nation did oblige 'em to take up Arms, so if a like juncture should happen, (which God for­bid) they may be in the same Circumstances to serve their King and Country as before, tho' they be not Legally qualified for Offices, by a General and Unlimited Indulgence.

As to the Authors Commendations of the Peaceable Temper of the Dis­senters of this Kingdom, it is to be Observed, That they have not had the same opportunities of discovering their unpeaceable Turbulency towards their Neighbours, as their Brethren in Scotland at present have, or of expressing their Dissatisfaction to the Government, as both they and the Dissenters in England have formerly had; but if ever they should be in the like Circumstances here, we have no great Reason to expect much more favourable Usage, nor the Government a more Dutiful Obedience from them.

Good Nature and common Prudence will indeed direct us to provide for our own Security, by condescending to all the Reasonable Requests of our Dis­senting Friends; but no Motives ought to prevail on us, to make such Large Concessions to them, as will in all probability shake the very Foundations of the Establish'd Church.

DUBLIN, Printed by Joseph Ray at the 3 Nags-Heads in Essex-street, 1695.

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