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and upon this debate seem to be some late occurrences may not be so jealous of those liberties, and the fresh in memory, or capable of being arguments urged for this bill: are in urged with that plausibility and force no wise forcible enough to introduce hcreafter, as at present. so great an alteration; it is to be considered, that the people (whatever insinuations they may be dis- THE SPEECH OP SIR CHARLES turbed with now will not be better SIDLEY IN THE HOUSE OF satisfied by the repeal of the Trien- COMMONS, ON THE PUBLIC nial Act.
EXPENDITURE, 1691. That the Whigs themselves own, (From Lord Somers's Trects, Vol. II.) we owed the rejection of the destructive bill of commerce to the view the We have provided for the navy, members had of an approaching we have provided for the army, and election, which according to their now at the latter end of a session own way of arguing, shows the re- here is a new reckoning brought us; gerd members pay to the good opin we must provide likewise for the ci nion of the people, when perhaps the vil list: Truly, Mr. Speaker, it is a good of their country might not sway sad reflection, that some men should them. i
wallow in wealth and places, whilst Besides, the dangerous consequen- others pay away in taxes the fourth ces in future times, should an ambi- part of their yearly revenue for the trous prince design the subversion of support of the same government; we the constitution, a Septennial parlia- are not upon equal terms for his ment might by degrees effect what a Majesty's service; the courtiers and ,Triennial could not, and deliver our great officers, charge as it were in posterity up slaves to an arbitary go armour, they feel not the taxes by vernment.
reason of their places, while the · Were the limited session of this country gentlemen are shot through
parliament expiring, and a rebellion and through with them. raging within the kingdom, there The King is pleased to lay his would be then the same necessity.for wants before us, and I am confident continuing the parliament some expects our advice upon it: We longer time, as was for suspending ought therefore to tell him what the Habeas Corpus Act. (But God pensions are too great, what places be praised) those fears are over, the may be extinguished during this rebellion is entirely crushed, and all time of war, and public calamities. human probabilities, are against any His Majesty is encompassed with, other attempt of that nature, (our and sees nothing but plenty, great home affairs) seem every day to grow tables, coaches and six horses, and more calm and quiet. This parlia. all things suitable; and therefore ment has still a considerable time to cannot imagine the want and misery sit, and should there be a necessity of the rest of his subjects. He is a visible for continuing them, they have wise and virtuous Prince, but he is the power to do it when it is so. but a young King, encompassed and
But let us not precipitate with hemmed in among a company of out any necessity, a work that ought crafty old courtiers ; to say no more not to be done but late, and on the of them, with places some of 3000, greatest necessity, least it should be some of 6000, and some 11,0001. I thought it was attempted at this time, am told the commissioners of the by reason it is now foreseen there treasury have 80001. a year a-piece : can be no such necessity; and the' Certainly such pensions, whatever nue reason suspected to be, that they may have been formerly, are
much too great, in the present want have been to have ordered it, or as I and calamities that reign every where should be, now it is printed, to disuwn else; and it is a general scandal, what I have written ; and therefore I that a government so sick at heart have here set my name to it. as ours, should look so well in the By the nature of this discourse, I face. We must save the King mowas forced to conclude with an opi. ney wherever we can, for I am a- nion, which I have been long convinced . fraid our work is too big for our of, that nothing can be more antipurses, if things be not managed christian, nor more contrary to sense with all the thrift imaginable. When and reason, than to trouble and mothe people of England see that all lest our fellow-christians, because is saved that can be saved, that there they cannot be exactly of our minds, are no exorbitant pensions nor un- in all the things relating to the wornecessary salaries, that all is ap- ship of God. plied to the use for which it was And who will but examine what given, we shall give and they will multitudes of men there are now acheerfully pay whatever his Majesty amongst us, of different persuasions can want to secure the protestant in religion; and how inconsiderable religion, to keep out the King of any one part of them is, compared to France, aye, and King James ton: the rest, must, I am confident, be coli-. whom, by the way, I have not vinced, that the practice of it, at this heard named this session, whether time, would be of no advantage to the out of fear, respect or discretion, I public. cannot tell. I conclude, Mr. Speak If a serious consideration of the er, let us save the King what we present state of this kingdom can sink can, and then let us proceed to give deep enough into mens' hearts, to make him what we are able.
their endeavour, now, to promote a true liberty of conscience, I shall yet
hope to enjoy huppy days in England. A SHORT DISCOURSE But otherwise, without pretending to UPON THE REASONABLENESS OF be a prophet, I can easily foresce, MENS' HAVING A RELIGION, that the contrary must of necessity
OR WORSHIP OF GOD. terminate in this ; a general discono By GEORGE, Duke of BUCKINGHAM, tent; the dispeopling of our poor
country; and the exposing us to To the Reader,
the conquest of a foreign nation. When I began to write upon this April, 1685. BUCKINGHAM, subject, it was out of a curiosity 1 had to try what I could say, in rear There is nothing that gives inen a son, against the bold assertions of greater dissatisfaction, than to find those men, who think it a witty thing themselves disappointed in their exto defume religion ; and I have seen pectations, especially of those things 80 few writings of late, which are not in which they think themselves most very tedious, that I was desirous at concerned; and therefore all, who least to avoid that fault in this, by go about to give demonstrations in making it as short as I could. matters of religion, and fail in the
The reason why I have suffered it attempt, do not only leave men less to be printed, is indeed, because I devout than they were before, but could not help it : copies having been also, with great pains anil industry, taken of it, and sent to the press, by lay in their minds the very grounds the negligence of some to whom I lent and foundations of atheism : for the it to read, I was as much ashamed to generality of mankind, either out of forbid the printing of it, as I should laziness, or a diffidence of their be
ing able to judge aright in points the strength of reason ; and therefore that are not very clear, are apt ra- I am forced to lay aside all arguther to take things upon trust, than ments which have any dependence to give themselves the trouble to ex- upon the authority of scripture, and amine whether they be true or no. must fashion my discourse as if I But when they find, that what a had to do with those that have no man undertakes to give them for a religion at all. demonstration, is really none at all, The first main question, upon the they do not only conclude they are clearing of which I shall endeavour deceived by him, but begin also to to ground the reasonableness of mens' suspect they have been ill used by having a religion, or worship of God, those, who first imposed upon thein is this, whether it is more probable a notion, for which no demonstra- that the world has ordered itself to be tion can be given ; and from that sus- in the form it now is, or uas contrived picion proceed to this other of a more to be so by some other being of a more dangerous consequence, that what is perfect, and more designing nature not demonstrable, may perhaps too For whether or no the world has not be true.
been created out of nothing, is I shall, therefore, in this discourse, not material to our purpose ; be. make use of another method, and cause if a supreme intelligent agent content myself with endeavouring to has framed the world to be what it shew what, in my opinion, is most is, and has made us to be what we probable; demonstration being, as are, we ought as much to stand in tu matters of faith, absolutely unne- awe of it, as if it had made both us cessary: because, if I can convince and the world out of nothing. Yet a man, that the notions I maintain because this latter question ought are more likely to be true than false, not to be totally passed by, I shall it is not in his power not to believe take the liberty to offer some conthem, no man believing any thing ceptions of mine upon it, because he has a mind to believe it, The chief argument used against but because his judgment is con- God Almighty's having created the vinced, and he cannot chuse but be world, is, that no man can imagine lieve ii, whether he will or no: and how a thing should be made out of belief is all that is required of us in nothing; and that, therefore, it is the speculative part of religion. impossible he should have made the
Besides, demonstration being such world, because there is nothing else an evidence of a thing, as shows the out of which it could be made. contrary of it to be impossible; it is, First then, I cannot chuse but obif you mark it, a whimsical kind of serve, that to say, because we are expression to say, that a man does not able to imagine how a thing but believe a thing to be so, which should be, therefore the being of that he is sure cannot possibly be other thing must be impossible, is in itself wise. It is just as ingenious as if à disingenuous way of argumenta. one should profess, that he hopes he tion; especially in those, who at the shall but begin to have a thing to same time declare they believe this morrow, which he is already this world to be eternal, and yet are as day in possession of Belief and little able to comprehend how it faith being as entirely swallowed up should be eternal, as how it should in demonstration, as hope is in frui- be made out of nothing. tion.
In the next place I conceive, that My design in this paper is, to in. nothing can be properly said to enduce men to a belief of religion, by dure, any longer than it remains just
the same; for in the instant any part taste as accidents of that body. But of it is changed, that thing, as it was in none of these considerations we before, is no more in being.
mean that any thing can have length, In the third place, that every part or smell, or taste, but what really is of this world we live in is changed body; and when any thing, that every moment; and by consequence, had a smell or tase, has left off to that this whole world is so tuo, be- have a smell or taste, it is, because cause the whole is nothing else but that part of it which had a smell or what is composed of every part; and taste, is no more in it. So that, upthat therefore we cannot properly on an examination of the whole matsay, this world has continued for ter, I am bapt to believe, that there many ages, but only that all things can be naturally no change of acciin this world have been changed for dents, but where there is a real several years together.
change of bodies. To evade which opinion, those But to proceed a little further, who maintain the eternity of the the question being, whether it be world, are forced to say, that the more probable that the world, or that matter of it is not changed, but the God Almighty, has been from all ecer. accidents only. Though this be a nity ; I think I may adventure to sort of argument which they will affirm, that of two propositions, the not allow of in others; for when it least probable is that which comes is by the Romanists, urged, in de- nearest to a contradiction. Now fence of transubstantiation in the nothing can come nearer to a consacrament, that the accidents of the tradiction than eternity, or abiding wafer remain, though the substance of the same for ever, and a continued it be changed, they reject that as a changing, or not abiding the same ridiculous notion: and yet it is not one moment. And therefore I conone jot more absurd to say, that the clude, it is less probable that this accidents remain when the matter is changeable world should have been changed, than that the matter remains from all eternity, than that some when the accidents are changed: nay, other being, of more excellence, and of the two, the asserters of this latter greater perfection, should be so, opinion are the least excusable, be- whose very nature is incapable of cause they boldly attribute it to a change. natural cause; whereas the Roman- That Being of more excellence, ists have the modesty at least to own and greater perfection, I call God; it for a mysterious miracle,
and those who, out of a fuolish averBut that the weakness of this ima- sion they have for the name of God, gination, of separating accidents from will call it Nature, do not in any bodies, may the plainlier appear, let kind differ from this notion of that us examine a little what the mean- Being, but only change its name, ing of the word accident is. Acci- and rather show, they have a vain dent then does not signify a being mistaken ambition of being thought distinct from body or matter, but is atheists, than that they have any rea. only a word, whereby wc express the son strong enough to convince them several ways we consider of what is to be so. in a body, or matter that is before The next question I shall take inus. For example; if we perceive a to consideration, is this, whether, body to have length, then we consi- though there be a God, it is probable der of that length as an accident of that he should take a more particular that body; and when we perceive a care of mankind, than he does of beasts body to bave a smell, or taste, then and other animals. To which I have we consides of that smell and that this to offer, that thuugh there are several sorts of animals, which give he wants justice, the more he will us occasion to imagine they have certainly become a wicked man, some kind of reason in them, though And therefore, in my opinion, not to so great a perfection as men it is a very unreasonable thing for hare; yet since no other animal did men, out of a design of extolling ever any one thing, that could give God Almighty's power, to rob him of us the least cause to believe, they justice; the quality without which, have a conception of another world, even power itself must necessarily or of a Deity; and that no man was be abhorred. And pray what can ever yet born, but had a conception, be more disrespectful to God Alor at least a suspicion of it, more or mighty, than to fancy that he shall less: I say, for this reason, it is pro. punish us for doing that, which he has bable, in my opinion, that there is from all eternity predestinated; tbat something nearer a-kin to the nature is, compelled us to do? It is an act of God in men, than there is in any that I can hardly believe there ever other animals whatsoever; and for yet was born a man cruel enough to that reason, that God Almighty does be guilty of, even in the depth of his take a more particular care of us, revenge. And shall we make that than he does of them.
an attribute of the most perfect, and If then God be eternal, and it is the most high God, which is bencath probable there is something in our the effect of the meanest of passions nature, which is a-kin to the nature in the worst of men? It is, in my of God, it is also probable, that that opinion, more reasonable to believe, part of us never dies.
that God Almighty, out of his love It is also probable, that what by to mankind, has given us an eternal it we are prompted most to value soul; that an eternal being and freeand esteem, as the highest perfec. will, are things in their nature insetions, good qualities, and virtues, parable one from the other; and that are parts of the essence and nature therefore, according to our actions, of God.
proceeding from our wills, God AlNow of all good qualities, or vir- mighty, in justice, will reward and tues, it is justice, which all men do punish us in another world, for the 'must highly esteem and value in good and ițl deeds we perform in others, though they have not all the this. 'I do not say, that the best of good fortune to practice it them- our actions here, are.good enough selves. For justice is that good to make us deserve the joys of heaquality, or virtue, which causes all ven; we must owe them to God Alotber good qualities or virtues to be mighty's grace and favour, as indeed esteemed; nay, it is that virtue, we owe all things else. without which all other virtues be- Neither will I take upon me to come as vices; that is, they all come guess at the several degrees of joys to be abhorred.
there are in heaven; our dull senses For be who wants justice, and making it as impossible for us to has wit, judgment, or valour, will discourse wcil of those things, as it for the having wit, judgment, or va- is impossible for a man born blind, lour, be the more abhorred; because to talk well of colours. Nor will I the more wit, judgment, or valour pretend to judge how long; or how he has, if he wants justice, the more much God Almighty will punish us he will certainly become a wicked hereafter; because, for the same rea. man: and he who wants justice, and son that we think him to be a God has power, will, for the having that of justice, we must also conclude power, be the more abhorred; be- him to be a God of mercy. cause the more power he has, if This only I do verily believe, that