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The case is plainly determined, and cast over the bar of reafon with contempt and abhorrence.
§ 8. Come we next to your third excuse, or plea ; That fwearing is become modifb, and
gives you a great reputation among men of your own rank and quality, and that you sball be looked upon as sneaking fellows, unfit for the society of gentlemen, if you did not discourse with them in their own dialett.
This apology for fin is of no late date : Salvian mentions it as far back as his own time: Profane persons then * thus pleaded for themselves, that they were compelled to be evil, left they should be accounted vile.
Whether there be any weight in this apology for swearing, will quickly appear, now it is to be laid in the balance of true reason.
1. And first of all, let us consider what makes a true gentleman; and whether profane swearing have any place in his true character and description. + A gentleman, is one that springs from famous and renowned ancestors, and degenerates not from their probity and honour.
This is the man, whom the Latins call generofus, and we, a gentleman : Because we suppose a man of such an extraction and education, more gentle, affable, and condescending to inferiors, and to keep a stricter government over his tongue and paffions, than rude plebians are wont to do. Upon this account, the poet rightly observes,
Quo major eft quisquis, magis eft placabilis ira,
Et facilis motus mens generosa capit. Men of genteel extraction and education, are persons, whose pafsions are supposed to move more gently than other mens: And if at any time they be moved disorderly, yet are they more placable, and sooner reduced, than those of fordid and baser spirits are.
It is virtue which raises and enrobles families at first; for omnis fanguis concolor, all human blood is derived from, and equally tainted by Adam. Nobler, and baser blood, is an after-difference, made by virtue and vice among men.
And as virtue first ennobled, and raised some families above others, so it will still continue the line of honour in their posterity : And as their virtues shall increase, fo will their honour
pro. portionably do.
Z z 2
* Mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur.
+ Generosus, nobilis, ex praeclaro genere ortus, qui a genere non defiellit.
The case truly and plainly standing thus; it is morally im possible, to make debauchery the proper badge and character of gentility. For men of eminency (above the vulgar) are more obliged than they, to shun all base and fordid actions : And as their honour increafeth, fo do their obligations to temperance and fobriety increase, and ftrengthen upon them propór ţionably.
It was therefore a right and rațional observation of Hierome; I fee nothing desirable in nobility, (faith he) but this ; that fuck men are bound by a certain kind of neceffty, not to degenerate from, or stain the glory and honour of their renown. ed ancestors. And the reason is strong and evident: For virtue being that which first differenced their blood from others, they are obliged, by all the value they have for the honour of their blood and families, to Thun thiofe vices which stain that honour and dignity. And what vice can dishonour and debafe them more, than profane (wearing? For if the arms of many noble families have been reversed, for treafon against the king it is irrațional to imagine, that treason against the King of kings, should add a new mark of honour And what is blafphemy, but treason against God? It is plain then, from the true rise and character of a gentleman, profane swearing neither first raised, nor can preserve and continue, but rather blots and exposes their reputation and honour.
2. Though I am moft willing to pay a becoming deference to all persons of noble and genteel extra&tion, yet, in faithfulness to their true honour, I am here obliged to fay, (and in faying it, I can offerid no man that hath a true sense of hanour) that their natural descent can never give them so much honour, as the vices I am here censuring will reflect iğnominy and dishonour upon them. To be a slave of Satan, and your own lufts, is such a mark of infamy, as all the honourable and illustrious titles in the world can never cover. It is better to rise by virtue to honour, from contemptible parents, than by vice and profaneness, to grow contemptible from honourable parents. It is your honour to have many fervants at your command, obfequiously attending à nod of your head, or a beck of your finger : But afk your own reason, gentlemen, whether it be not a greater dishonour, for you to attend as obsequiously yourselves upon every beck and nod of Satan, and
Were your natural birth once ennobled by the new birth, you would be more than thrice honourable, grace would make you more illustrious, than your natural extraction doth, or
your own lufts?
çan do. Or if morality (which is far inferior to that honoura and for which Heathens themselves have been renowned in the Pagan world) did but adors, and beautify your conversations; though it cannot entitle you to heavens, or secure to you the glory of the world to come ; yet it would make you thine in the eyes of men in this world, and taking its advantage from your honourable extraction, make you differ from persons of an inferior rank, as stars of a greater magnitude and luttre. I hopé, gentlemen valuing themselves upon their honour, will not be offended at a sharper invective than this, againft those vices that darken and eclipse their honour, both in the eyes of God, as well as in the judgment of all wise and good men.
3. Suppose what you say to be true, that fome profane gentlemen should scoff and deride you, for your fober carriage, and decorus language, (things which ought to be inseparable from true gențility) I would in this case appeal to your own reason, why you should not enjoy your own pleasure in as full Latitude and liberty, as they do theirs ? They delight in the dialect of devils ; you, in pure and inoffensive language. If they will drink the puddled waters, and you refuse them for the pure chrystal streams ; you have, to be sure, as much reafon (and a thousand times more) to affert your liberty to be virtuous, than they have (or can pretend to have) a privilege to be vicious.
And if they will be offended with you for this, their offence is groundless in themselves, and will be greatly advantageous to you.
you need not doubt but you may find better company than theirs
where on this side hell. I remember that rational and excellent apology, which Tertullian made for the Christians in his time against the Gentiles: ? Wherein (faith
he) do we offend you, if we will not partake with you in your delights? If we sustain any damage by such our refusal, the injury can be only our own: We reject your pleasures, and you are not delighted with ours.'
You will fhew yourselves true and worthy gentlemen, in abandoning and rejecting (upon fo noble an account as this). alt further unnecessary society with such gentile-men ; for fo they deserve to be called, rather than gentlemen. They boast, indeed the honour of their blood, whilst they trample the preci. ous and invaluable blood of Christ, under their feet: They boast their eminency above the vulgar, whilst mean time they labour vilely to debase him that set them there.
I am sure there is not a devil in hell, but is by nature of a more honourable and illustrious house, than the proudest of blasphemers. They are angels by nature, though devils by practice. They have little reason to boast of their original excel. lency, which now aggravates their misery. Sin darkned their luftre, degraded them from their natural dignity; and so it will do theirs also, that imitate devils in their blasphemy and malignity against God.
4. It may as easily be proved as asserted, that to make curling, swearing, and blafpheming, the badges and characteristical marks of a true gentleman, is the foulest blot and mark of infamy, which the malice of their enemies can devise to put into their escutcheons; and such an affront, as ought to be highly resented by all true gentlemen.
Should the most malicious enemy you have in the world, f.e an herald to devise a mark of infamy for your coats of arms, to make you ridiculous, and a by-word among the people; he could never dishonour you at that rate, you this
For if debauchery be both afserted and allowed to be the true badge of gentility, then your own reason will infer, that all the ancient epithets of gentility ought thereupon to be altered. And would those gentlemen, think you, take it well, to have the titles, and epithets of ingenious, worthy, honourable, and noble, changed into curling, fwearing, damning, blafpheming gentlemen ? You cannot but see the inconsistency of both. If, therefore, you will adopt and wear the latter, you muft either cahier and renounce the former, or try to make the former consistent with the latter, which I am sure the most ingenious among you will find an hard talk to do.
5. I humbly beg leave to propound one plain blunt question to you, gentlemen. The matter of it is too rational to be rejected, and let that make atonement for the blunt manner of its proposal. And the question is this:
Quest. Whether your reafon and conscience be fully satisfied, that when you die (as you know you fbortly muft), you shall ther appear before the judgment- seat of God, in the quality and character of gentlemen? Do you verily think you shall find the more fatour there, for the fake of your noble descent, and honourable extraction, or that your gentility svall make an atonement for all your impiety?
I am perfuaded, gentlemen, you do not ; you cannot think so. You know you must appear before that God, with whom there is no respect of persons; a God that will certainly damn the impenitent blasphemer. The man must assuredly go to
hell, i Cor. vi. 9, 10. And if the man be damned, certainly the gentleman is in a bad case.
6. In a word, I am past all doubt, and so may you too, that this genteel mode of swearing, drinking, and whoring, which hath spread so far in this present infamous age, into Protestant ftates and kingdoms, is the very spirit and strength of a Popish plot, subtlely projected, and industriously managed, for their effectual reduction to Popery.
For nothing in the world can reconcile men to Popery; yea, and even endear them to it, like debauchery. Under Popery, gentlemen may.come up to the rates of coftly pardons and indulgences, for their greatest fins. They may give themfelves liberty to wallow in profaneness all the days of their life. They may give their lufts the utmost scope and liberty, and yet have a plenary pardon when they die. So that they need not abridge themselves of any sinful liberty, or boggle at the loudest blasphemy, whilst they have that in their pocket to still and quiet something that grumbles in their bosóm. Do you not fee, gentlemen, the natural tendencies of these things ? Does not debauchery look like a fhoeing-horn to Popery.
Besides, gentlemen, the devil and the Pope are confederates in a farther design upon you ; and if their design hit, they hope to win by power, what they may miss by policy; and that by the very same method of corrupting and debauching persons of eminent rank and quality, in Protestant kingdoms and commonwealths. For (as a * learned man in queen Elizabeth's days rightly observed) these are the men especially interested in the public affairs of kingdoms. These represent the people in parliaments. These make their laws, ada minister the government in peace and war.
To their hands are committed the great concerns of nations. that fill the seats of public judicature.
These are they
the reins of government, who is prefent at, and presides over, both private and public matters, but persons of eminent rank and quality ? Who moderates in the Senate, presides in courts, commands at home and abroad ? Chief men and nobles surely. Who commands and countermands, acts and overacts, manages and canvaffes all affairs, who makes laws and rescinds them, who governs the state in time of peace, and commands the forces in time of war; but great med and pobles ? No wonder that the management of pub. lic affairs be committed to him, who by personal merit and renowa of his ancestors hath recommended himself to the good report and elteem of mankind. Humphred on nobility,