« PreviousContinue »
National meeting of the Dissenters may soon follow, when OTHER RESOLUTIONS, not now expected, may be agreed upon.
Quere. Whether an assembly, which meets with a declared intention to change the Laws of the kingdom, or to procure a change of the Laws of the kingdom, is not to be deemed an unlawful assembly, and, as such, within the cognizance of the civil magistrate ?
REFORMATION OF PRINCIPLES,
N 1, I HE late institution of Sunday Schools having been so well supported by the rich and honourable of this kingdom, and so well received by the poor, we are encouraged to hope that some similar plan will be adopted for preventing the corruption which prevails among scholars, and persons of the higher orders of life, from evil principles, and what may be called a monopoly of the press. We have long been witnesses to the artifices and assiduity of sectaries, republicans, socinians, and infidels. These may differ very much from one another in their opinions; but if any mischief is to be aimed at the church or its doctrines; if any popular lure is to be thrown out for the raising of a party, and promoting some public disturbance, they never fail to make a Common cause of it and a large body of men, animated by one spirit, and acting in one direction, must necessarily act with weight and effect. Let us observe what they do, and it will hence appear what we ought to do.
About forty years ago, when some promising schemes had failed, a Monthly Review of religion and literature was set on foot ; the object of which was to lessen the influence of all such works as should be written in defence of the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, by defamimg either the abilities or the integrity of their authors, omitting their arguments, and exhibiting unconnected scraps, from which the public must form an unjust idea: and, on the other hand, by praising the parts and literature of loose, dangerous, and fanatical writers, blanching their bigotry, and presenting their productions to the best advantage.
This undertaking, contrived by some out of malignity, and encouraged by others through inadvertence and curiosity, must in so long a time, by possessing itself of the avenues to public opinion, have had a pernicious effect on the Principles and Learning of the age. By another like artifice, some useful works, of established reputation, have been taken up,
and re-published by insidious Editors, with omissions and interpolations of their own, for the purpose of misrepresenting public characters, and dispersing unsound opinions. Many readers are apprized of what hath happened to the Biographia Britannica, under the management of an Editor, who is a person of influence among the Dissenters; and it hath been hinted, that a plan is in embryo, of setting forth the English language after the manner of the great work de la Crusca, by dissenting Editors ; in which case, such authorities will be admitted as are proper to insinuate into students the new doctrines and dangerous opinions of the conventicle. This would be a great stroke, and therefore the alarm should be given in time. For which purpose, we request the readers of this paper to peruse Mr. Burke's account of that literary cabal in France, which, by poisoning the fountains of literature, of late effected the destruction of their church and government. See Reflections, p. 165, &c. The same practices, and with the same views, are now carrying on in this country; and the party have been heard to boast, that their purposes will be accomplished without force of arms, by the effect of the press, in giving new lights to the people * A reverend and learned Divine, now the head of a College in Oxford, in a sermon lately preached before that University, observed of the same party that “ they command almost every channel of in“ formation, and have the direction of almost “ every periodical publication.”
That no opportunity may be lost, novels have been written, to insinuate under that disguise the errors of heresy and infidelity; as people, if they were to poison children, would mix arsenic with their sugar-plums.
Many pious and learned, and some great men, dispersed about the kingdom, as well laity as clergy, have long seen and lamented the evils here complained of, and wished for a remedy. The first object, therefore, of this Proposal is, to bring some of these together into small parties, as time and place will admit, and promote a farther consultation, by a correspondence between them. All particulars will dispose them under the three following ques
* We have heard it reported, that the sum of 10,000l. was subscribed, for dispersing that mischievous and worthless piece of Thomas Pain ; which in virtue of this liberal sup. port, was found in pot-houses and petty assemblies in all parts of the country.