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which it is distinguished. In regard to religion, there is no church without some tendency ;-in its government, either to laxity or intolerance;-in its ritual, to a negligent indecorum, or to a superstitious nicety ;-in its devotion, to warmth and enthusiasm, or to coldness and indifference;—and in its doctrine, to high and overstrained notions, or to mere deism and natural religion. Among the regular orders of the Romish church, which are so many distinct communities, some are prone to fanaticisin, others to a cruel superstitious discipline, and many to a lazy indulgence. In regard to politics, (which are more immediately our subject) a spirit of despotism lurks in a monarchy; of anarchy in a republic; of discord and petty tyranny in an aristocracy. Under a mixed government, all these spirits are in conflict, and prevail by turns. Nay, there is no association in trade or manufactures, in arts or science, no guild or corporation without this esprit de corps, which is sure to operate upon every member, according to his individual character, and particular circumstances.
(2.) Another reason, før guarding against the spirit of which we are speaking, is, that its influence is no less powerful than it is extensive. Man is very much the product of his situation in whatever capacity we view him, civil, religious, or literary. The instances are extremely few of those who rise above the genius of their age or country; or even above that of the particular body or society, with which they regularly act or associate. Notwithstanding any smaller individual differences, the family likeness remains. The monk retains the spirit of his order, and the livery man of the cominon-hall; not only the lawyer, the physician, and divine, but also men of ordinary callings, receive a certain turn and character from their several professions. We can therefore have no cause to wonder if the same law extend itself over the political world; if the courtier and the patriot are much the same in all ages; and if the spirit of every state-party, like some mighty vortex, bears along with it almost all those who are placed within the sphere of its influence.
(3.) Hence may appear of how much importance it is, for a public man to guard against the spirit of the party to which he belongs; since otherwise he may be surprized into measures which he never meant to countenance. Under a notion of strengthening the hands of government, and maintaining social order, he may be led to injure the sacred cause of liberty; and, under the fair pretext of supporting the rights of men, and the privileges of citizens, he may abridge the necessary power of government, and open a door to general licence and anarchy. Let him, therefore, well study the genius of the party in which he is engaged, and how he may best guard against its irregularities. Should it be of a high prerogative or a high church complexion; let him endeavour to correct it by the sober doctrine of the rights and privileges of the people. Should it, on the other hand, have a tendency towards a democratic, a republican, and schismatical extravagance; let. him try to moderate it, by insisting on the necessity of a prompt and uniform submission to the authority of the magistrate, and
on the importance of preserving a general decorum in our religious as well as civil concerns, in order to the maintenance of the public peace, and the advancement of the commonweal. Thus, in conjunction with any body of men who mean, on the whole, to promote the general welfare, he may acquit himself as becomes a good citizen, by a seasonable support or counteraction of its measures, and by his endeavours to correct its spirit by that of the constitution, and laws, and religion of his country.
4. The last rule I would suggest under this head is, To act liberally towards other partics.
(1.) Not to impute ill designs to a party, merely on account of its dissimilarity or opposition to our own. There is nothing more common than this among all parties, though nothing can be more illiberal, than to criminate others for no better reason than because they pursue not the same objects, or in the same way, with ourselves; as if the various position in which things are viewed by different persons, was not perfectly sufficient to account for their difference of opinion and conduct respecting them, without any harsh imputation either upon their understanding, or their sincerity. Nay, though the declarations and conduct of a party should be extremely dubious and exceptionable, and bear a very threatening aspect upon the state; this alone would not afford any infallible indication of bad designs. Of this I shall adduce two memorable examples from our own history. During the period between the restoration of Charles the Second and the revolution, the church of England was so lavish in her professions of passive obedience and non-resistance, as if she meant to sacrifice the national liberty to an ostentatious loyalty, and to her resentments against the puritans: yet, at the eve of the latter great event, when the misguided James the Second laid claim to a power of dispensing with the laws of the Jand, in order to let in upon it a deluge of popish superstition, the same church, in a noble contradiction to the slavish doctrines she had before so disgracefully maintained, was the first to erect a standard against him.