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and plain dealing, are esteemed to be so, in a degenerate and corrupted age. But, if it be so, that I am, in this, transported beyond due bounds, let all the fault be imputed to the subject I have been upon. The state of religion, on all sides, is a scene of astonishment; and the surprise of things, to which I have been heretofore a stranger, hath, I confess, filled me with an enthusiasm, too warm to be contained. Descend, Holy Father, from your seven hills, and disdain not to tread upon the level plain. Unrobe yourself of all the gaudy attire of a pompous superStition. Lay aside all the embarrassments of worldly grandeur. Turn your eyes from the coffers of gold and silver, of which your great predecessor, St Peter, and his greater master, had none. Acknowledge religion to be something more, than being wrapt up in a heap of fine vestments, or being skilled in a dexterous performance of antic gestures. And then look inwards. Divest yourself of your infallibility; and own yourself to be like one of us. As to renounce a kingdom for your church, hath been accounted the height of honour and saintship; so now, it will be your glory, in the most exalted degree, to renounce, in the name of your church, a double kingdom, for Christ; that temporal kingdom, which, in his name, and to his reproach, you have
erected over the bodies and estates; and that spiritual one, which you have established over the consciences of mankind. Remember, in the midst of all your luxury, and delicacy, and ostentation, what ground you stand upon. The bowels of the earth are armed against you. The shocks of earthquakes and the eruptions of volcanos, besides the common calamities of nations, are the beginnings of that day of vengeance, which will come, unless you prevent it by a speedy conversion to christianity. Renounce, therefore, your golden keys, and your fruitful kingdoms. Throw away your fopperies, and your indulgencies, and your processions, and your canonizations. Show yourself in the nakedness of simplicity; and take the Gospel into your hand, and into your heart. Call in your emissaries, and your missionaries, from all parts of the world; and let them receive instruction, themselves, before they pretend to convert others. Trouble the world no more with quarrels about the holy sepulchre; but believe that he is risen, who once was laid in it. Let the wood of his cross cease to be magnified to an immense bulk; and his natural body cease to be multiplied to an infinite number. Restore the heads of holy men and women to their bodies, if they can be found. Let the bones of the dead saints be at rest, and their
Throw up all your legends; discard all your miracles, stated and unstated ; and make over all your tricks to the jugglers of this world. Declare to the Jesuits, that their game is at an end ; and restore the inquisition to hell, in which it was forged.
And, for the conclusion of this great work, celebrate an open and solemn marriage between faith and reason; proclaim an eternal friendship between piety and charity; and establish an agreement, never to be dissolved, between religion, on one side, and humanity, forbearance, and good nature, on the other.
I would not have you think, that I propose all this to your Holiness, and nothing from our own quarter. So far from it, that I am free to acknowledge, that it cannot be expected, that you should thus far recede from your present pretensions, unless others are ready to give up every thing of the same sort and the same nature.
If your Holiness parts with infallibility, it is but equitable, that the protestant churches should part with indisputable authority. If you give up the decrees of the council of Trent ; let them, in Holland, give up the synod of Dort; and others, every where, throw off all manner of human decisions, in religion. If you discard the inquisition, let them discard classes, and judicatories, and consistories, and fines, and imprisonments, and the whole train of secular artillery, and the whole armory of the weapons of this world.
If you make all your great names bow and pay homage to Christ, let them bring forth their army on the other side ; and let Calvin, and Luther, and Zuinglius, and Knox, and Laud, and Baxter, and all other idols, bow down to the same Christ. Let Christians cease to be called by their names; and let them, who have one master, have but one common denomination. And let the whole be sealed with the kiss of charity, and with all the tokens of benevolence and love. But whether you, or they, will hear, or will forbear ; whether any thing of this sort shall be done, or not done ; I have delivered my own soul. I had an impulse upon me, to say all this. I have followed that impulse ; and, what I have said, I have said. I have opened my heart to your Holiness; and you may make what use you please of it. If you think fit to accept of my correspondence, I faithfully promise to give you, from time to time, an exact account of the state, in which we protestants are, or are like to be. For the present, without any farther ceremony or apology, I kiss your Holiness’ feet, not in a religious, but a civil manner; and am, Your most faithful friend, or generous adversary, RICHARD STEELE.
oN THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM, or CHURCH, OF CHRIST.
* ST John xviii. 36.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.
ONE of those great effects, which length of time is seen to bring along with it, is the alteration of the meaning annexed to certain sounds. The signification of a word, well known and understood by those who first made use of it, is very insensibly varied, by passing through many mouths, and by being taken and given by multitudes, in common discourse; till it often comes to stand for a complication of notions, as distant from the original intention of it, nay, as contradictory to it, as darkness is to light. The ignorance and weakness of some, and the passions and bad designs of others, are the great instruments of this evil; which, even when it seems to affect only indifferent matters, ought in reason to be opposed, as it tends, in its nature, to confound men's notions