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honest zeal for the truth, and a conscience that cannot bend to the world ? A people, less fond of their native country, could not have made so great a sacrifice to their religion. In this light, they have a right to be considered as confessors, and to be both trusted and treated, by us at least, as such. It is for Christ they suffer; and if we are Christians, we must love, we must pity, we must relieve them. You will be as well pleased, I believe, as I was, with the behaviour of a French gentlewoman, brought from Bourdeaux to Portsmouth, by a sea captain of my acquaintance, her spirit and turn of mind will so aptly serve to characterise those of her countrymen, that, to save a greater expense of words for that purpose, I shall take the liberty to set her before you, as the representative of the rest.
This excellent woman, having found means to turn her fortune, which was considerable, into jewels, was in the night time conveyed on board the ship of my friend, with all she was worth in a little casket. Never was the mind of a human creature so racked with fears and anxieties, till the ship was under sail. But she no sooner saw herself fairly disengaged from the country which she loved best, and where she had left all her relations, than her spirits began to rise, and discover that kind of joy, which others, after a long absence, testify on their approach to the place of their nativity and education. This pleasing sensation gave signs of gradual increase, as she drew nearer and nearer to the situation she had chosen for her banishment. The moment she was landed, she threw herself on her face among the mud; and while, without the least regard either to the foulness of the spot, or the remarks of those who saw her, she kissed the dirty ground, and grappled it with her fingers, blessed land of liberty! she cried, have Į at last attained my wishes? Yes, gracious God (raising herself to her knees, and spreading her hands to heaven) I thank thee for this deliverance from a tyranny exercised on my conscience, and for placing me where thou alone art to reign over it by thy word, till I shall lay down my head in this beloved earth.
How lovely a sight was this, especially to the eyes of an Englishman! Now, although every French refugee does not give signs of equal transport on landing among us, and for a melancholy reason, because he comes stripped perhaps of
all his worldly possessions, and uncertain where he shall look for the necessaries of life; yet does he not come with the same sentiments of religion? And as it is to be presumed, since he is destitute of all support, and appears by his person, understanding, and behaviour, to have formerly lived in some condition, that he hath made a greater sacrifice to conscience, than the lady mentioned was obliged to do, ought we not to look upon him with at least equal esteem and affection? Ought not our abundance, now at this time, to be a supply for his want, that by the experiment of this ministration he may glorify God for our professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for our liberal distribution unto him, and unto all men, circumstanced as he is?
It is objected, I know, by some, that these men, having been bred presbyterians, ought not to be too much encouraged, because they increase the number of our dissenters, in proportion as they settle among us; and consequently, in the same proportion endanger the establishment, by that accession of strength, which they give to those who do not love it.
Too many, it is to be feared, of these objectors, have little Christianity themselves, or they could not think of thus shutting their hearts against such men as have proved themselves true Christians. It is, and I hope ever will be, the glory of our church, that, although no other, since the purity of the first ages, hath afforded less pretence to dissenters, she hath, notwithstanding, always allowed more freedom and indulgence to those who differed from her, than other churches have done. Her only aim hath ever been to make real Christians, both in faith and practice, of all her members. Such she gladly receives to communion; and when, through their infirmities and prejudices, she cannot receive, she shelters and protects them. So just, and so truly Christian hath her conduct always been, and I trust, will ever be, towards the French refugees; who, in their turn, have in all respects shewn themselves worthy of her indulgence. In the present scarcity of true believers, she is still farther than ever, from preferring herself to the church of Christ at large, or hardening her heart against his tried, his faithful servants, merely on account of their scruples, howsoever trifling or groundless they may appear to be. He
is therefore no true son of this church, whatsoever he may pretend, or even in good earnest think, who is for shutting the doors of charity against the oppressed, against such as have given up their country, and all that was dear to them in this world, to preserve their consciences. Nor can he be a member of Christ's church, who is not ready, as Christ was, to help every human creature in distress, whether agreeing, or differing with him in principles. What right can he have to talk of churches, who wants the characteristic charity of a Christian, and consequently is of no church?
But to the honour of the refugees, and for the satisfaction of such, as, through an honest love to our church, regard them with some coldness, because they do not immediately conform; it ought to be observed, that they dissent not out of stubbornnesss or perversity, but merely in consequence of the education they had received ; that indeed they cannot immediately conform, inasmuch as they come hither wholly unacquainted with our language; and that, after they have attained to some knowledge of that language, they seldom or never communicate with our native dissenters; but either keep up their own congregations, that they may afford their new countrymen an opportunity of serving God in the only language they understand; or come over to the established church by hundreds every year, and by their unfeigned piety and virtue, rank themselves with the very best members she can boast of. But even during their state of separation from our communion, are they not religious and honest men ? And if they are, shall we not be vile dissenters ourselves, from real religion and honesty, in case we hold them at a distance from our hearts?
We must have but a mean opinion of Christianity, if from an attachment, so ardent as theirs, to its fundamental principles, we do not expect the exemplification of every virtue. Accordingly, the lives of these men have neither done any dishonour to their principles, nor disappointed our expectations. Hence it is, that I can boldly appeal to the experience of every one who knows them, whether, in point of private, and civil or social virtue, they have not, all along, so behaved themselves, as to deserve our love, our esteem. and confidence. As to their private virtues, are they not
sober, modest, industrious, and honest? Let us candidly
say, is manifest to any one who reflects on their civil or social virtues, and considers them as members of the community. The are, all of them, fast friends to the constitution, and remarkably amenable to the laws. We have never had reason to be sorry for the confidence reposed in such of them as have been advanced to places of trust. They have shewn themselves brave and faithful in the army; just and impartial in the magistracy. For the truth of the former assertion, the noble carriage of Sir John Ligonier, is a sufficient voucher; and for that of the latter, the mayoralty of Alderman Porter. Did any of them ever sell or betray us, as some among ourselves have done? It is much to their honour, that, out of so many of them employed in the lower stations of the church, the army, &c. scarcely any have been
wanting to their duty; and that of so few advanced to posts of high dignity and trust, the majority have carried off the general applause of a people naturally averse to the French.
And here it is worth observing, that the coldness shewn to them by too many among us, is chiefly owing to the national quarrel, and a most groundless suspicion, that these refugees still love the country they have left, better than this which they live in. It is true, they love the country that gave them birth, education, and all their former attachments. This however is but natural. Yet ought we not to regard them the more on this account? Is he likely to love that place he never saw, till he was advanced in years, and
, began perhaps to disrelish the whole world, through the hope of a more abiding country, who in all the warmth of a youthful heart, could contract no affection for that of his nativity? They love France; but they love these nations better, because here they can enjoy that liberty and that religion, which they gave up France for. For the truth of this, I will appeal to a trial that cannot deceive us, I mean, their behaviour in all our wars with the French. Brave as the English have always shewn themselves to be, are the French Protestants a single inch behind them in any
battle with the French Papists? Do they not bear up to those oppressors of civil and religious liberty with an animosity truly English? In cases of another nature,' we ought not to judge by the appearance, but ought to judge righteous judgment. In this we may safely trust to the appearance, because the very appearancc is a fact, too well known, and too demonstrative of the principle we wish for in these men, to be questioned by suspicion itself. Let them therefore love France in their hearts; we see, they love these nations in their consciences; and the whole world knows, their consciences have the entire ascendant over their hearts.
Whether they love us, and are entitled to a mutual return of affection, may be best decided by their actions. Whom do they injure? Whom do they not oblige and serve to the uttermost of their power? I could illustrate what I here insinuate, with a thousand endearing instances. But I am hurried from the agreeable recollection by the sight of every person and thing about me; which, as it were, with one voice remind me of a benefit derived to us from God, through