Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

TRACTS

IN

DEFENCE OF CHRISTIANITY.

1

AN ARGUMENT

TO PROVE THAT THE ABOLISHING OF

CHRISTIANITY IN ENGLAND

MAY, AS THINGS NOW STAND,

BE ATTENDED WITH SOME INCONVENIENCIES, AND

PERHAPS NOT PRODUCE THOSE MANY GOOD

EFFECTS PROPOSED THEREBY.*

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1708.

I am very sensible, what a weakness and presumption it is, to reason against the general humour and disposition of the world. I remember it was, with great justice, and due regard to the freedom both of the public and the press, forbidden, upon several penalties, to write, or discourse

* This admirable specimen of Swift's peculiar humour, is one of the most felicitous efforts in our language, to engage wit and humour on the side of religion. The author himself considered it as particularly levelled against the latitudinarian principles adopted by the Low Church party, with whom he was himself at that time united in temporal politics. But there is no occasion, nor, perhaps, much propriety, in narrowing the application of a satire, which too faithfully embraces the greater part of all parties, in

all ages.

or lay wagers against the union, even before it was confirmed by parliament; because that was looked upon as a design to oppose the current of the people, which, beside the folly of it, is a manifest breach of the fundamental law, that makes this majority of opinion the voice of God. In like manner, and for the very same reasons, it may perhaps be neither safe nor prudent, to argue against the abolishing of Christianity, at a juncture, when all parties appear so unanimously determined upon the point, as we cannot but allow from their actions, their discourses, and their writings. However, I know not how, whether from the affectation of singularity, or the perverseness of human nature, but so it unhappily falls out, that I cannot be entirely of this opinion. Nay, though I were sure an order were issued for my immediate prosecution by the attorney-general, I should still confess, that in the present posture of our affairs, at home or abroad, I do not yet see the absolute necessity of extirpating the Christian religion from among us.

This perhaps may appear too great a paradox, even for our wise and paradoxical age to endure; therefore I shall handle it with all tenderness, and with the utmost deference to that great and profound majority, which is of another sentiment.

And yet the curious may please to observe, how much the genius of a nation is liable to alter in half an age: I have heard it affirmed for certain, by some very old people, that the contrary opinion was, even in their memories, as much in vogue, as the other is now; and that a project for the abolishing of Christianity, would then have appeared as singular, and been thought as absurd, as it would be, at this time, to write or discourse in its defence.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »