Hor. And if you compare the Prince of Conde's Army with that of the League there, or Cromwell's Troops with the King's Forces here, the Whigs will tell you, that in either Nation you may meet with sufficient Proofs, to confirm the Opinion you speak of.
Cleo. I have Nothing to do with Whigs or Tories; but let us narrowly look into this Affair, and examine it impartially. Religion was brought into the Quarrel, you know, in both Kingdoms, and the Cases between the Adversaries here and there were much the same. The Huguenots and Roundheads on the one Side said, that they had Nothing so much at Heart as Religion; that the National Worship was Idolatry; that Christianity required no outward Shew of Altars or Vestments, but the Sacrifice of the Heart to be seen in Men's Lives; that God was to be serv'd with greater Strictness, than was observed by the National Clergy; that they fought his Cause, and did not question, but by his Help to obtain the Victory. The Leaguers and Cavaliers said on the other Side, that Lay-men, especially Soldiers, where improper Judges in Matters of Religion; that themselves were honest Men, loyal Subjects, who fought for the establish'd Church, their King and Country; and as to their Adversaries, that they were under a Parcel of Hypocritical Rascals, that under the Mask of Sanctity carried on an open Rebellion, and had no other Design than to dethrone the King, and get the Government into their own Clutches. Let us see the Consequence that would naturally follow from this Difference. The First, to support their Cause, would think it necessary not to be too glaringly inconsistent with themselves; therefore they would display somewhat more of Devotion, and by praying often, and perhaps singing of Psalms, make a greater Shew of Religion, than is commonly seen in Armies. Should the Chief of such Troops, and the great Men under him, who are most likely to get by the Quarrel, be more circumspect in their Actions, and attend Divine Worship oftner than is usual for Persons of Quality, their Example would influence the inferiour Officers, and these would take Care, that the Soldiers should comply, whether they would or not. If this was well perform'd on one Side, it is very natural to suppose, that the other, knowing the first to be no better Men than themselves, and believing them to be Hypocrites, would not only be offended at their Behaviour, but likewise, in Opposition to their Enemies, be more neglectful of Religious Duties, than well disciplin'd Armies generally are, and the Soldiers allow'd to be more dissolute in their Lives than is usual. By this Means the Contrast between two such Armies, would be very conspicuous. A good Politician may add to, or take from the Principle of Honour, what Virtue or Qualifications he pleases; and a skillful General, who can guard his own Actions, and will be at some Trouble in Self-denial where he may be observed, may model an Army as he thinks fit. All Superiors, in Camps as well as Courts, will ever serve for Patterns to their Inferiours; and should Officers unanimously resolve to render Swearing unfashionable, and in good Earnest set about this Task, by Example as well as Precept and Discipline, it would not be difficult to manage Soldiers in such a Manner, that in less than Half a Year not an Oath should be heard among them. If there were Two Armies in the Same Country, and of the same Nation, in one of which the Soldiers should curse and swear, as much as is commonly done among all loose, and ill-bred People, and in the other the Men should have been cured of that bad Custom, it is incredible what Reputation of being Good and Religious, those, who would only forbear Swearing, would gain beyond their Adversaries, tho' they were equally guilty with them of Whoring, Drinking, Gaming, and every other Vice except that one. Therefore if one General, to please and keep in with a Party, should think it his Interest that his Troops should make a greater Appearance of Godliness, than is commonly observed among Military Men; and another, to please a contrary Party, should take it to be his Interest to act as contrary as it was possible to what his Enemies did, and endeavour to be the Reverse of them, the Difference would be prodigious.
Hor. Then if in one Army they were Valiant, the General of the other would endeavour to make his Men Cowards.
Cleo. They would differ in every Thing that Soldiers can differ in: The Observance of the Point of Honour and Hatred to their Enemies are inseparable from their Calling; therefore resenting of Affronts among themselves, and cruel Usage to their Enemies, were not more banish'd from the Armies of the Huguenots and Roundheads, than they were from those of the Leaguers and Cavaliers.
Hor. The true Reason of the Difference, in the Lives and Morals of the Soldiers, between the King's Forces and the Rebels, was the Difference of their Circumstances, and the Care that was taken of them. The Parliament's Army was regularly provided for, and always able to pay for what they had. But the others, who were most commonly in Want, were forced to live upon the Country, and take their Provisions where they could get them; and this will make all Troops more dissolute and disorderly, than is consistent with the Service, tho' they had the best Officers in the World.
Cleo. The Misfortune you speak of, and which the King's Army labour'd under, must every where be a great Hinderance to Discipline; and I verily believe, that his Soldiers suffer'd very much in their Morals on Account of it; but I am persuaded, that the Contrariety of Principles, which I hinted at, was an Addition to that Misfortune, and made it worse; for that the Cavaliers laughed at the Roundheads for their praying so long and so often, and the great Shew they made of Devotion, is certain; and there is always a Pleasure in appearing to be the Reverse of what we ridicule in our Enemies. But whatever was then, or might at any other Time, be the true Reason of the Difference in the Shew of Piety and Goodness between two such Armies, let us see the Consequence of it, and the Effect it would naturally have on the sober Party. All Multitudes are superstitious; and among great Numbers, there are always Men prone to Enthusiasm; and if the Pretenders to Godliness had skilful Divines (as no doubt, they would have) that knew, how to extol the Goodness and Piety of the General and the Soldiers, declaim against the Wickedness and reprobate Lives of the Enemies, and remonstrate to their Hearers, how God must love the first, and, from his known Attributes, hate the latter, it would in all Probability produce every Thing we read of in the Armies of the Prince of Conde and the Parliament. Some Colonels would preach, and some Soldiers would learn Prayers and Scraps of Psalms by Heart, and many of them would grow more circumspect in indulging their Vices, than is common to Men of their Function. This latter would make the Men more governable, and consequently better Troops, and all together would make a great Noise. Besides, Mankind are so given to flatter themselves, that they'll believe any Thing, that is said in their Praise; and should, in any Regiment of such an Army, the Chaplain display his Eloquence before a Battle, exhort the Men to Bravery, speak in Commendation of the Zeal and Piety of the Officers and the Troops in general, and find out some particular Reason, why God should love and have Regard for that Regiment beyond any other, it might have a very good Effect upon the most Wicked, as well as the better Sort. And if this Chaplain, from what he knew of them, should pathetically encourage them, and promise them the Victory, Enthusiasm is so catching, that a Fellow, who lay with a Whore over Night, and was drunk the Day before, if he saw his Comrades moved, might be transported with Joy and Eagerness to fight, and be stupid enough to think, that he had a Share in God's Favour. The Greek and Roman Histories abound with Instances of the immense Use that may be made in War of Superstition well turn'd: The grossest, if skilfully managed, may make the fearful, undaunted, and the loosest Livers exert themselves to the utmost of their Power, from a firm Belief, that Heaven is on their Side. That Superstition has had this Effect upon Men of almost every Persuasion, as well as Heathen Idolaters, is certain; but he must be a notable Divine, that can expect the same from the Doctrine of Christ, faithfully deliver'd, and preach'd in its Purity. It is possible therefore that any Number of Troops may, by crafty Declamations and other Arts, be made Zealots and Enthusiasts, that shall fight and pray, sing Psalms one Hour, and demolish an Hospital the next; but you'll as soon meet with an Army of Generals or of Emperours, as you will with, I won't say an Army, but a Regiment, or even a Company of good Christians among Military Men. There never were better Troops, or Men that behaved with greater Gallantry and Chearfulness, than we had in the two last Wars; Officers as well as common Soldiers; but I would as soon believe, that it was Witchcraft that made them brave, as that it was their Religion.
Hor. Yet I have often heard it from experienc'd Officers, that the most virtuous, the soberest, and the most civiliz'd Fellows made the best Soldiers, and were those whom they could most depend upon.
Cleo. I heartily believe that to be true for the Generality; for I know, that by Virtuous, you don't mean much more than tolerably Honest, such as are not given to wrong or decieve Any body; or else among the Officers themselves, you know, that very Few of them are possess'd of many Christian Virtues, or would be fond of the Character. Do but consider what is required of a Soldier. There are Three Things which the officers are chiefly afraid of in their Men: The First is, that they may desert, which is so much Money lost: The Second, that they may rob or steal, and so come to be hang'd: The Third is, that they may be sick, and consequently incapable of doing Duty. Any middling Honest secures them entirely as to the two First; and, without Doubt, the less vicious; that is, the more sober and temperate the Men are, the more likely they are to preserve their Health. As for the Rest, Military Men are easy Casuists for the Generality, and are used to give, as well as take, large Grains of Allowance. A Soldier, who minds his Business, is seldom reproved for taking any Pleasure he can come at, without being complain'd of: And if he be brave, and understands his Exercise, takes Care always to be sober when he is upon Duty, pays a profound Respect to his Officers, as well as a strict Obedience to their Commands, watches their Eyes, and flies at a Nod, he can never fail of being beloved. And if moreover he keeps himself clean, and his Hair powder'd, is neat in his Cloaths, and takes Care not to be pox'd; let him do what he pleases for the Rest, he'll be counted a very valuable Fellow. A Man may do all this without Christianity, as well as he can do it without having an Estate. There are Thousands that are less circumspect and not half so well accomplish'd, who yet are well esteem'd in that Station. And as I have allow'd on the one Hand, that the soberest and the civiliz'd Fellows make the best Soldiers, and are, generally speaking, the most to be depended upon in an Army, so it is undeniable on the other, that, if not the major, at least a very considerable Part of our best Troops, that had the greatest Share in the Victories we obtain'd, was made up of loose and immoral, if not debauch'd and wicked Fellows. Nay, I insist upon it, that Jayl-birds, Rogues, who had been guilty of the worst of Crimes, and some that had been saved from the Gallows to recruit our Forces, did on many Occasions both in Spain, and Flanders, fight with as much Intrepidity, and were as indefatigable, as the most Virtuous amongst them. Nor was this any Thing strange or unexpected; or else the recruiting Officers ought to have been punish'd, for lifting and giving the Money of the Publick to Men, of whom there was no Probability that they could be made Soldiers. But to make it evident, how little the Religion and Morality of a Soldier are minded by his Superiours, and what great Care is taken to keep up and cultivate his Pride ——.
Hor. That latter I have seen enough of in the Fable of the Bees. You would speak about the Cloaths and Accoutrements.
Cleo. I wave them; tho' there it is likewise very conspicuous. I only desire you to compare the Things he is indulg'd in, and which, if he pleases, he may brag of, with what he is taught to be ashamed of, the grand Offence, which, if once committed, is never to be pardon'd. If he has but Courage, and knows how to please his Officers, he may get drunk Two or Three Times a Week, have a fresh Whore every Day, and swear an Oath at every Word he speaks, little or no Notice shall be taken of him to his Dishonour; and, if he be good humour'd, and forbears stealing among his Comrades, he'll be counted a very honest Fellow. But if, what Christ and his Apostles would have justify'd him in and exhorted him to do, he takes a Slap in the Face, or any other gross Affront before Company, without resenting it, tho' from his intimate Friend, it cannot be endured; and tho' he was the soberest, and the most chaste, the most discreet, tractable and best temper'd Man in the World, his Business is done. No body will serve with a noted Coward; nay, it would be an Affront to desire it of Gentlemen Soldiers, who wear the King's Cloth; and the Officers are forc'd to turn him out of the Regiment. Those who are unacquainted with Military Affairs and Chaplains of Regiments, would not imagine, what a small Portion of Virtue and Forbearance a Soldier stands in Need of, to have the Reputation of a good Religious Man among those he converses with. Clergymen, that are employ'd in Armies, are seldom rigid Casuists; and Few of them are Saints themselves. If a Soldier seems to be less fond of strong Liquors than others generally are; if he is seldom heard to swear; if he is cautious in Love-Affairs, and not openly vicious that Way; if he is not known to Steal or Pilfer, he'll be stiled a very honest, sober Fellow. But if, moreover, such a one should behave with Decency at Devine Service, and seem now and then to be attentive to what is spoken; if ever he had been seen with a Book in his Hand, either open or shut; if he was respectful to the Clergy, and zealous against those, who are not of the same Religion which he professes to be of, he would be call'd a very Religious Man; and half a Dozen of them in a Regiment would, in a little Time, procure a mighty Character to the whole, and great Honour to the Chaplain.
Hor. I dare say, that on some Occasions he would take the Liberty from it to brag, that there were no better Christians in the World, than a great many were, whom he had under his Care.
Cleo. Considering how Things are often magnify'd without Regard to Truth or Merit, and what Advantages some Men will take, right or wrong, to advance as well as maintain the Cause they get by; it is not improbable, that three or four score thousand Men, that were kept in good Discipline, tho' they were all taken at Random from the lowest and idlest of the Vulgar, might be stiled an Army of good Christians, if they had a Chaplain to every Regiment, and but Two or Three such orderly Soldiers, as I have describ'd, in every Thousand: And I am persuaded, that the sect or Religion, which they pretended to follow and profess, would, by the Help of able and active Divines, acquire more Credit and Reputation from those Few, than all the Loosness, Debauchery and gross Vices of the Rest would ever be able to take away from them.
Hor. But from what you have said, I should think, that the Gospel must do Hurt among fighting Men. As such they must be animated by another Spirit, and can receive no Benefit from the Doctrine of Peace. What Occasion is there for Divines in an Army?
Cleo. I have hinted to you several Times, that in the Management of Human Creatures, the Fear of an invincible Cause, which they are all born with, was always to be consulted; and that no Multitudes can ever be govern'd, so as to be made useful to any one Purpose, if those, who attempt to rule over them, should neglect to take Notice of, or but any Ways seem to slight the Principle of that Fear. The worst of Men are often as much influenc'd by it as the best; or else Highwaymen and House-breakers would not swear Fidelity to one another. God is call'd upon as a Witness to the mutual Promises of the greatest Miscreants, that they will persevere in their Crimes and Villanies, and to the last Drop of their Blood be unalterably Wicked. This, you know, has been done in Massacres, the blackest Treasons, and the most horrid Conspiracies; tho' the Persons concern'd in them, perhaps, gave other Names to their Undertakings. By this we may see, what absurd Notions Men may have of the Deity, who undoubtedly believe his Existence: For how flagitious soever Men are, none can be deem'd Atheists but those, who pretend to have absolutely conquer'd, or never been influenced by the Fear of an invisible Cause, that over-rules Human Affairs; and what I say now has been and ever will be true in all Countries, and in all Ages, let the Religion or Worship of the People be what they will.
Hor. It is better to have no Religion, than to worship the Devil.
Cleo. In what Respect is it better?
Hor. It is not so great an Affront to the Deity not to believe his Existence, as it is to believe him to be the most Cruel and the most Malicious Being that can be imagin'd.
Cleo. That is a subtle Argument, seldom made Use of but by Unbelievers.
Hor. Don't you think, that many Believers have been worse Men, than some Atheists?
Cleo. As to Morality, there have been good and bad Men of all Sects and all Persuasions; but before we know any Thing of Men's Lives, Nothing can be worse in the Civil Society, than an Atheist, caeteris paribus. For it would be ridiculous to say, that it is less safe to trust to a Man's Principle, of whom we have some Reason to hope, that he may be with-held by the Fear of Something, than it is to trust to one who absolutely denies, that he is withheld by the Fear of any Thing. The old Mexicans worship'd Vitzliputzli, at the same Time that they own'd his Malice, and execrated his Cruelty; yet it is highly probable, that some of them were deterr'd from Perjury for Fear of being punish'd by Vitzliputzli; who would have been guilty of it, if they had not been afraid of any Thing at all.
Hor. Then not to have believed the Existence of that chimerical Monster was Atheism in Mexico.
Cleo. It certainly was among People that knew of no other invisible Cause.
Hor. But why should I wonder at the Mexicans? There are Christians enough, of whom, to judge from their Sentiments and Behaviour, it is hard to determine, which it is they are more afraid of, God or the Devil.
Cleo. I don't question, but among the Vulgar, more Persons have been deterr'd from doing Evil, by what they had heard of the Torments of Hell, than have been made virtuous by what had been told them of the Joys of Heaven, tho' both had been represented to them as equally infinite and unutterable.
Hor. But to return to my Question. When I ask'd what Occasion there was for Divines in an Army, I was not ignorant of the Necessity there is of having Religion and Priests of some Sort or other, to humour as well as awe the Multitude; but I wanted to know the Mystery, and be let into the Secret, by which the Doctrine of Peace is made serviceable to the carrying on of War; for that Preachers of the Gospel have not only exhorted Men to Battle, but likewise that they have done it effectually; and that Soldiers have been inspired with Courage, and made to fight with Obstinacy by their Sermons, the History of almost every Country can witness.
Cleo. A little Accuracy will set us to Rights. That what you say has been, and is often done by Sermons and Preachers, both Protestant and Popish, is certainly true. But I deny, that ever it was once done by a Preacher of the Gospel.
Hor. I don't understand your Distinction. Are not all Christian Divines call'd Preachers, as well as Ministers of the Gospel?
Cleo. But many People are call'd, what, strictly speaking, they are not. The Reason I have for what I say is, that there is Nothing contain'd in the Gospel, that can have the least Tendency to promote or justify War or Discord, Foreign or Domestic, Publick or Private; nor is there any the least Expression to be found in it, from which it is possible to excite or set People on to quarrel with, do Hurt to, or any ways offend one another, on any Account whatever.
Hor. But this encreases the mystery, and makes the facts less intelligible.
Cleo. I will unfold it to you. As all Priests have ever maintain'd, that they were the Interpreters of the will of the deity they pretended to serve, and had an undoubted Right of construing and explaining the Doctrine and the Meaning of the Religion they taught and presided over: As, I say, all priests have ever maintain'd this, so the Christian Clergy, as soon as they took it in their Heads to be priests likewise, claim'd the same Privilege; and finding several things, which they had a Mind to, denied them in the Gospel; and that many Conveniencies, which all other Priests had ever, not only been fond of, but likewise enjoy'd, were in express words forbid, and absolutely prohibited in the New Testament, they had recourse to the Old, and providently took Care from thence to supply the Deficiency of the New.
Hor. So, when they had no settled Revenue or Pomp of Dress from the Gospel, they took up with the Tithes and Sacerdotal Ornaments of the Levites, and borrow'd from the Jewish Priests and Prophets every Thing that was worth having.
Cleo. This would open too large a Field, and therefore I would look into the Clergy's Behaviour no farther, than as it relates to Armies and military Men, and take Notice, that whenever Pillage or shedding of Blood are to be justified or encouraged by a Sermon, or Men are to be exhorted to Battle, to the Sacking of a City or the Devastation of a Country, by a pathetick Discourse, the Text is always taken from the Old Testament; which is an inexhaustible Fund for Declamation on almost every Subject and every Occasion: And there is no worldly End, which the most ambitious Man, or the most cruel Tyrant can have to serve, but from some Part or other of that Book a Divine of middling Capacity may find out a proper Text to harangue upon, that shall answer the Purpose. But to make it evident, that Divines may be useful to all Fighting Men, without preaching of the Gospel, we need but to consider, that among all the Wars and Dissentions, which Christians have had with one another on innumerable Accounts, there never was a Cause yet, so unreasonable or absurd, so unjust or openly wicked, if it had an army to back it, that has not found Christian Divines, or at least such as stiled themselves so, who have espoused and call'd it Righteous. No rebellion was ever so unnatural, nor Tyranny so cruel, but if there were men who would fight for it, there were Priests who would pray for it, and loudly maintain, that it was the Cause of God. Nothing is more necessary to an Army, than to have this latter strenously insisted upon, and skilfully unculcated to the soldiers. No body fights heartily, who believes himself to be in the wrong, and that God is against him, Whereas a firm persuasion of the Contrary, inspires Men with Courage and Intrepidity; it furnishes them with arguments to justify the Malice of their Hearts, and the implacable Hatred they bear their Enemies; it confirms them in the ill opinion they have of them, and makes them confident of victory; si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos? In all wars it is an everlasting Maxim in Politicks, that whenever Religion can be brought into the Quarrel, it ought never to be neglected, and that how small soever the Difference may be between the contending Parties, the Divines on each Side, ought to magnify and make the most of it; for Nothing is more comfortable to Men, than the Thought, that their Enemies are likewise the Enemies of God.
Hor. But to make Soldiers laborious as well as governable, would it not be useful to exhort them to Virtue, and a close Attachment to the Principle of Honour?
Cleo. The principle of Honour is never forgot; and as to Virtue, what is required of them is Fortitude, and to do as they are bid. And if you'll consider what Pains are taken to make them ashamed of Cowardice above all other Vices; and how prompt, as well as severe, the Punishment for Disobedience is in the least Trifles among Soldiers, beyond what it is any where else; if, I say, you'll consider these Things on the one Hand, and on the other the great Latitude that is given them as to Morals, in what has no Regard to the Service, you'll find, that for the First, Divines are not wanted, and that for the other they can do but little Good. However Morality is often preach'd to them, and even the Gospel at seasonable Times, when they are in Winter Quarters, or in an idle summer, when there is no Enemy near, and the Troops perhaps are encamped in a Country, where no Hostilities should be committed. But when they are to enter upon Action, to besiege a large Town, or ravage a rich Country, it would be very impertinent to talk to them of Christian Virtues; doing as they would be done by; loving their enemies, and extending their Charity to all Mankind. When the Foe is at Hand, the Men have Skirmishes with him every Day, and perhaps a main battle is expected; then the mask is flung off; not a Word of the Gospel, nor of Meekness or Humility; and all Thoughts of Christianity are laid aside entirely. The men are prais'd and buoy'd up in the high value they have for themselves: their Officers call them Gentlemen and Fellow-Soldiers; Generals pull off their Hats to them; and no Artifice is neglected that can flatter their Pride, or inspire them with the Love of Glory. The Clergy themselves take Care at such Times, not to mention to them their Sins, or any Thing that is melancholy or disheartning: On the Contrary, they speak chearfully to them, encourage and assure them of God's Favour. They take Pains to justify, and endeavour to encrease the Animosities and Aversion, which those under their Care have against their Enemies, whom to blacken and render odious, they leave no Art untried, no Stone unturn'd; and no Calumny can be more malicious, no Story more incredible, nor Falsity more notorious, than have been made Use of knowingly for that Purpose by Christian Divines, both Protestants, and Papists.
Hor. I don't use to be an Advocate for Bigots of any sort, much less for Fanaticks, whom I hate; but facts are stubborn things. It is impossible to reflect on the sharp and bloody Engagements in the Rebellion, and the Devotion of Cromwell's army, without being convinced, that there must have been Men at that Time, that were both Valiant and Religious. It is certain, that the Rebels fought well, and that they had more Days of Fasting and Humiliation, than ever were known among any other Soldiers.
Cleo. That there was a greater Appearance of Religion among them, than ever was among any other regular Troops, I allow; but that none of it could proceed from a Principle of Christianity is demonstrable.
Hor. They had Men of unquestionable Honour among them; and some of them must have been sincere.
Cleo. A great many, I verily believe, were sincere; but let us look into this Affair a little more narrowly. What do you think of the General? Do you think, that Cromwell was a good Christian and a pious Man, who had Nothing so much at Heart as Religion and Liberty, and, void of Selfishness, had devoted himself to procure Happiness Eternal as well as Temporal to the People of England? Or that he was a vile wicked Hypocrite, who, under the Cloak of Sanctity, broke through all Human and Divine Laws to aggrandize himself, and sacrifis'd every Thing to his own Ambition, and the Interest of his Family?
Hor. There is no Doubt, but all impartial Men must believe the latter. But then he understood Mankind very well; his very Enemies, that were his Contemporaries, allow'd him to be a Man of great Parts. If he had had the the same Opinion of Christianity, which you have, and the Unfitness of it to make Men quarrel and fight with Obstinacy, he would never have made Use of it among his Soldiers.
Cleo. And it is clear as the sun, that he never did.
Hor. That his pretences to religion were no more than Hypocrisy, I have allow'd; but it does not appear, that he desired others to be Hypocrites too: On the Contrary, he took Pains, or at least made Use of all possible Means to promote Christianity among his Men, and make them sincerely Religious.
Cleo. You will never distinguish between Christianity, that is, the Doctrine of Christ, and the Interpretations, that are made of it by Clergymen; tho' I have often shew'd you the great Difference there is between them. Cromwell was a Man of admirable good Sense, and thoroughly well acquainted with Human Nature; he knew the mighty Force of Enthusiasm, and made Use of it accordingly. As to Strictness of Religion and the Love of Liberty, they had all along been the darling Pretences of the party he engaged in. The complaints of the Puritans against Episcopacy, and that the Church of England was not sufficiently reformed, began in Queen Elizabeth's Time, and were very near as old as the Reformation itself. The people's Murmurings and Struggles for Liberty were of some Standing, when King Charles the First came to the Throne: The Jealousies, which Parliaments had of the Regal Power and Prerogative, had been openly shewn in his Father's Reign, and, throughout the Course of it, been troublesome to his Ministers. That the Clergy of the Church of England had enjoin'd Things, and taught what they had no Warrant for from the Gospel, and that King James the First, as well as his Son, who succeeded him, laid Claim to a more absolute Power, than was consistent with the privileges of Parliament and the Constitution, in undeniable. Religion then and Liberty, being two topicks, that Abundance was to be said upon in those Days, became the Subject and Foundation of the Quarrels between the King and Parliament, that afterwards broke out into a Civil War.
Hor. I was not born in China or Lapland: there is not a Boy of Twelve Years old, that is ignorant of the Causes of that Civil War.
Cleo. I don't question your Knowledge; but only mention these Things, that from the Nature of the Dissentions, and the mischiefs that ensued upon them, we might see the Impossibility, that either Party should have acted from a Principle of Christianity. I shall now endeavor to demonstrate to you Two Things; the First is, that Clergymen, by a small Deviation from the Gospel, may so egregiously impose upon their Hearers, as to make even sincere Men act quite contrary to the Precepts of it, at the same Time that those subtle Declaimers shall seem to be full of Zeal, and to have the highest Value for Christianity. The Other is, that in a well disciplin'd Army, Acts of Devotion, and an outward Shew of Religion may do vast Service for the obtaining of Victory, tho' the General who appointed and order'd them, was an Atheist; the greatest part of the Clergy, who perform'd and assisted in them, were Hypocrites, and the Generality of the Men were wicked Livers. As to the First, I call a Man sincere in his Religion, who believes the Bible to be the Word of God, and acknowledging the Difficulty he finds in obeying the Dictates of the Gospel, wishes with all his heart, that he could practice the self-denial that is required in it; and is sorry, that he has not the Power to govern and subdue his stubborn Passions so well as he could wish. If to such a one, a Clergyman should preach the Strictness of Morality, and the Necessity of Repentance, that are taught in the Gospel, and moreover inculcate to him, that as to Divine Worship the Ceremonial was abrogated; that what was required of us, was the Sacrifice of the Heart and the Conquest over our darling Lusts; and that in short the Religious Duties of a Christian were summ'd up in loving God as his Neighbour; this Doctrine being every Way agreeable to that of Christ, a sincere man, who had read the New Testament, would easily give Ear to a Divine, who should preach it to him; and it is highly probable, that in Matters of Conscience, and every Thing relating to his Deportment, he should be glad of his Counsel. Suppose now, that there was another Clergyman in the same city, who likewise pretending to preach the Gospel, should, on the one Hand, represent the Doctrine of it as very indulging to Human Nature, and the Practice of it easily comply'd with, and, on the other, lay a great Stress on the Honour to be paid to his own Person, and the Performances of a Set of Ceremonies, no where mention'd in the Gospel; it is not likely, that our sincere Man should approve of his Sermons; but if this Second Divine should moreover call them Enemies to God, who should refuse to comply with every Part of these Ceremonies, and give the Name of Hypocrite to Every body, who should assert, that the Gospel required stricter Morality than what he taught; if he should sollicite the Magistrate to have all Persons punish'd, who were not of his Opinion; and if, by his Instigation, our sincere Man should actually be persecuted and plagued by his Fellow-Subjects; to judge from what we know of Human Nature, such Usage would fill the sincere Man with Indignation, and raise his Anger against all those, who were the Occasion of his Sufferings. Let us suppose like-wise, that this Man, besides his Sincerity, had Temper and Goodness enough to consider, that, tho' he had been unjustly dealt with, and was highly provok'd, yet his Religion taught and commanded him not to resent Injuries, but to forgive his Enemies, and to Love them that hated him; it is reasonable to think, that this Clashing between Nature and Principle would perplex him, and himself stand in Need of good Advice, what to do in this Dilemma. If in this Case, the Clergyman, who first preached to him the Purity of the Christian Religion, and the Severity of its Morals, and whom he often went to hear, should persist in the same Sentiments; and, continuing to recommend to him the Doctrine of Peace, make Use of all the Arguments, which the Gospel could furnish him with, either to warn him against Anger and all sinful Passions, Malice of Heart, Hatred and Resentment; or to exhort him to Fortitude in Afflictions, Heroick Patience in Sufferings, and on all Emergencies an entire Resignation to the Will of God; If, I say, the Clergyman I mention'd should do this, whatever might be the Success he did it with, he would have acted the good Shepherd, and his Sermons could never be made a Handle of for War or Rebellion. But if instead of it, he should seem to approve of the other's Anger, and, to justify it, enter into the Merits of the Cause; if he should endeavour to demonstrate, that all Ceremonies of Human Invention were superstitious, and that Kneeling down, where there were Pictures and Sculpture, was a manifest Token of Idolatry; if after this, by an easy Transition, he should go over to the Old Testament, expatiate on the Second Commandment, and produce several Instances of God's Vengeance on Idolaters, and the utter Destruction, that had often been brought upon them by God's own People, fighting under his Banner, and acting by his special Commission; If a Preacher should do this, and have Mischief in his Heart, it would not be difficult for him insensibly to mislead his Hearers, extinguish their Charity, and, working upon the Passions, make a sincere Man, who had really been ill treated, mistake in his own Breast the Spirit of Revenge for Religious Zeal, and, to maintain the Truth of the Gospel, act directly contrary to the Precepts of it. And the more regular the Life was of such a Divine, and the greater the Austerity of his Manners, the fitter Instrument would he be to sow Sedition, enflame an Audience, and make Tools of them for the Ambitious.
Hor. The First you have made out beyond my Expectations; but it has been at the Expence of your Revolution-Principles; I hope you'll never take them up again.
Cleo. I hope I shall have no Occasion for it: but what I have advanced has Nothing to do with the Controversy you point at. The illegal Sway of Magistrates is not to be justified from the Gospel, any more than the Resistance of the People. Where Two Parties quarrel, and open Animosities are to be seen on both Sides, it is ridiculous for either to appeal to the Gospel. The Right, which Princes have to enjoy their Prerogative, is not more divine, than that which Subjects have to enjoy their Privileges; and if Tyrants will think themselves more justifiable before God than Rebels, they ought first to be satisfied, that Oppression is less heinous in his Sight than Revenge.
Hor. But No body owns himself to be a Tyrant.
Cleo. Nor did ever any Malecontents own themselves to be Rebels.
Hor. I can't give this up, and must talk with you about it another Time. But now I long to hear you demonstrate the Second of your Assertions, and make that as evident to me, as you have done the First.
Cleo. I'll endeavour it, if you'll give me Leave, and can have but Patience to hear me, for you'll stand in Need of it.
Hor. You are to prove, that Acts of Devotion, and an outward Shew of Religion, may make an Army Victorious, tho' the General was an Atheist, the Clergy were Hypocrites, and the Generality of the Men wicked Livers.
Cleo. A little more Accuracy, if you please. I said, that they might do vast Service for the obtaining of Victory; the Service I mean, consists in rousing the Courage of the Men, and throwing them into an Enthusiasm, that shall dissipate their Fears, and make them despise the greatest Dangers. There is no greater Art to make Men fight with Obstinacy, than to make them trust to, and rely with Confidence on the Assistance of the invisible Cause, they Fear.
Hor. But how can wicked Men be made to do this? What Reasons can they be furnish'd with, to hope for the Assistance of Heaven?
Cleo. If you can assure Men of the Justice of their Cause, and render that evident and unquestionable, the Business is done, and their own Wickedness will be no Obstacle to it. Therefore this, you see, is the Grand Point, which Priests have ever labour'd to gain among Fighting Men in all Countries and in all Ages. How immensely soever they have differ'd from one another in Religion and Worship, in this they have all agreed. We were speaking, you know, of Cromwell's Army; do but recollect what you have heard and read of those Times, and you'll find, that the Notions and Sentiments, that were industriously instill'd into the minds of the soldiers, had a manifest tendency to obtain this end, and that all their preaching and praying were made serviceable to the same purpose. The Credenda, which the whole army, and every individual were imbued with, even by the most moderate of their preachers, were generally these: that the King gave ear to his evil counsellours; that he was govern'd by his Queen, who was a rank Papist, bigotted to her own superstition; that all his ministers were wicked men, who endeavour'd to subvert the constitution, and aim'd at nothing more than to render him absolute, that by his arbitrary power they might be skreen'd from justice, and the resentment of an injured nation: that the bishops were in the same interest; that, tho' they had abjured the Pope's supremacy, and found fault with the luxury of the court of Rome, they wanted as much to lord it over the laity themselves, and were as fond of worldly honour, power, and authority, of pomp and splendour, and a distinguish'd manner of living, as any Popish prelates: that the worship of the church of England was above half Popery; that most of the clergy were idle drones, who lived upon the Fat of the Land, and perverted the End of their Function: That by this Means Religion it self was neglected, and, instead of it, Rights and Ceremonies were obstinately insisted upon, that were notoriousy borrow'd from the Heathen and Jewish Priests. That preaching Non-resistance was justifying Tyranny, and could have no other Meaning than to encourage Princes to be wicked, and tie the Peoples Hands, whilst they should have their Throats cut: That in Pursuance of this Doctrine, He, who should have been the Guardian of their Laws, had already trampled upon them and broken his Coronation-Oath, and, instead of being a Father to his People, had openly proclaim'd himself their Enemy, invited, a Foreign Force into the Land, and was now actually making War against the Parliament, the undoubted Representatives of the Nation. Whilst these Things were said of the Adverse Party, their own was extoll'd to the Skies; and loud Encomiums were made on the Patriotism of their Superiours, the Sanctity and Disinterestedness as well as Wisdom and Capacity of those Asserters of Liberty, who had rescued them from Bondage. Sometimes they spoke of the Care, that was taken of Religion, and a Pains-taking Ministry, that preach'd not themselves but Christ, and, by their Example as well as Precept, taught the Purity of the Gospel, and the strict Morality that is contain'd in it, without Superstition or Allowances to please Sinners: At others, they represented to their Hearers the exemplary Lives of the Generals, the Sobriety of the Soldiers, and the Goodness and Piety, as well as Zeal and Heroism of the whole Army.
Hor. But what is all this to what you was to prove? I want to know the vast Service an outward Shew of Religion can be of to wicked Men, for the obtaining of Victory: When shall I see that?
Cleo. Presently; but you must give me Leave to prove it my own Way. In what I have said hitherto, I have only laid before you the Artifice, which Every body knows was made Use of by the Roundheads haranguing their own Troops, to render the Cavaliers and the King's Cause odious and detestable to them on the one Hand, and to make them, on the other, have an high Opinion of their own, and firmly believe, that God could not but favour it. Now let us call to Mind the Situation of Affairs in the Times I speak of, and the Politicks of those, who opposed the King, and then consider, what a crafty designing General ought to have done to make the most of the Conjuncture he lived in, and the Zeal and Spirit that were then reigning among the Party he was engaged in; if he had Nothing at Heart, but to advance, per fas aut nefas, his own worldly Interest and his own Glory: In the First Place, it would never have been believed that the Presbyters were in Earnest, who found Fault with and rail'd at the Luxury and loose Morals, as well as Laziness of the National Clergy, if they had not been more diligent in their Calling, and led stricter Lives themselves. This therefore was complied with, and the dissenting Clergy took vast Pains in Praying and Preaching without Book for Hours together, and practis'd much greater Self-denial, at least to outward Appearance, than their Adversaries. The Laity of the same Side, to compass their End, were obliged to follow the Example of their Teachers in Severity of Manners, and Pretences to Religion: Accordingly they did, at least well enough, you see, to acquire the Name of the Sober Party.
Hor. Then you must think, that they had none but Hypocrites among them.
Cleo. Indeed I don't; but I believe, that most of the Ring-leaders who began the quarrel with the King had Temporal Advantages in View, or other private Ends to serve, that had no Relation either to the Service of God or the Welfare of the People; and yet I believe likewise, that many sincere and well-meaning Men were drawn into their Measures. When a Reformation of Manners is once set on Foot, and strict Morality is well spoken of, and countenanc'd by the better Sort of People, the very Fashion will make Proselytes to Virtue. Swearing and not Swearing in Conversation depend upon Mode and Custom. Nothing is more reasonable, than Temperance and Honesty to Men that consult their Health and their Interest; where Men are not debarr'd from Marriage, Chastity is easily comply'd with, and prevents a Thousand Mischiefs. There is Nothing more universal than the Love of Liberty; and there is Something engaging in the Sound of the Words. The Love of one's Country is natural and very bad Men may feel it as warm about them, as very good Men; and it is a Principle, which a Man may as sincerely act from, who Fights against his King, as he who Fights for him. But these sincere and well-meaning People, that can pray and fight, sing Psalms and do Mischief with a good Conscience, may in many Respects be Morally good, and yet want most of the Virtues, that are peculiar to Christianity, and, if the Gospel speaks Truth, necessary to Salvation. A Man may be continent and likewise never drink to Excess, and yet be haughty and insupportable in his Carriage, a litigious Neighbour, an unnatural Father, and a barbarous Husband. He may be just in his Dealings, and wrong No body in his Property, yet he may be full of Envy, take Delight in Slander, be revengeful in his Heart, and never known to have forgiven an Injury. He may abstain from Cursing and all idle as well as prophane Swearing, and at the same Time be uncharitable and wish Evil to all, that are not of his Opinion; nay, he may mortally hate, and take Pleasure in persecuting and doing Mischief to, all those who differ from him in Religion.
Hor. I see plainly now, how Men may be sincere in their Religion, and by Art be made to act quite contrary to the Precepts of it: And your Manner of accounting for this, does not only render the Sober Party less odious, than the Orthodox have represented them; but there is likewise greater Probability in it, than there is in what they generally say of them: For that an Army of a great many Thousand Men should consist of None but Hypocrites, who yet should fight well, is an inconceivable Thing. But what is it you would say of the General?
Cleo. I would shew you, how an obscure Man, of an active Spirit and boundless Ambition, might raise himself among such a Set of People to the higher Post; and having once got the Supreme Command of the Army, what Method, and what Arts it is most probable he would make Use of to model such Troops to his Purpose, and make them serviceable to the Advancement of his own Greatness.
Hor. But remember he must be an Atheist.
Cleo. He shall be so, in the Vulgar Acceptation of the Word; that is, he shall have no Religion or Conscience; fear neither God nor Devil, and not believe either a Providence in this World, or any Thing that is said of another: But he must be a great Genius, daring to the highest Degree, indefatigable, supple to his Interest, and ready as well as capable to act any Part, and put on any Disguise, that shall be required to serve or promote it. Every brisk, forward Man, who pretends to an extraordinary Zeal for his Party, and the Cause he is engaged in, and who shews Eagerness for Action, and behaves with Intrepidity in Danger, cannot remain long unknown, where Men have frequent Opportunities of signalizing themselves. But if he be likewise a Man of Sense, who understands his Business, and has Conduct as well as Courage, he can't fail of Preferment in an Army, where the Interest of the common Cause is taken Care of. If he serves among Puritans, who pretend to a stricter Morality, and to be more religious than their Neighbours, and himself is an artful Man, as soon as he is taken Notice of, he'll fall in with the Cant in Fashion, talk of Grace and Regeneration, counterfeit Piety, and seem to be sincerely Devout. If he can do this well, put on a sanctify'd Face, and abstain from being openly vicious, it is incredible what Lustre it will add to the Rest of his Qualifications, in such a Conjuncture: And if moreover he is a Man of Address, and can get the Reputation of being disinterested and a Soldier's Friend, in a short Time he'll become the Darling of the Army; and it would hardly be safe long to deny him any Post, he can reasonably pretend to. In all Wars, where the contending Parties are in good Earnest, and the Animosities between them run high, Campaigns are always active, and many brave Men must fall on both Sides; and where there should be much Room for Advancement, it is highly probable, that such a Man as I have describ'd, if at his first setting out he was Captain of Horse, and had raised an entire Troop at his own Charge, should in a few Years come to be a General Officer, and of great Weight in all Councils and Debates. Being thus far preferr'd, if he would make the most of his Talents, he might be of infinite Service to his Party. An aspiring Man, whose grand Aim was to thrive by Hypocrisy, would study the Scripture, learn the Languages of it, and occasionally mix it with his Discourse. He would cajole the Clergy of his Party, and often do good Offices to those of them that were most popular. A Man of his Parts would preach ex tempore himself, and get the Knack of Praying for as many Hours as there should be Occasion. Whoever is well skill'd in these Exercises may counterfeit Enthusiasm when he pleases, and pretend on some Emergencies to receive Directions from God himself; and that he is manifestly influenc'd by his Spirit. A General Officer, who has once got this Reputation, may carry almost any Thing; for Few that are wise will venture to oppose what such a Man, pretending to have sought the Lord, declares to be his Opinion. Whatever Victories might be obtain'd, and in all Successes under his Command, a skilful Hypocrite would make a Shew of Modesty, refuse to hear the Praises that are his due, and seem with great Humility to give all the Glory to God only; not forgetting, at the same Time, to flatter the Pride of his Troops, highly to commend and magnify, first the Goodness and Bravery of the Soldiers, and then the Care and Vigilance of the Officers under him. To be well serv'd, he would reward Merit, punish and discountenance Vice, always speak well and magnificently of Virtue, and seem to be just himself. But as to Christianity it self, he would not suffer any Thing to be taught of it, that could interfere with the Principle of Honour, or any of the Artifices to keep up the Ill Will, and Hatred which military Men are to be inspired with against their Enemies. The Christian Duties, which he would chiefly take Care of and see perform'd, would be outward Acts of Devotion, and that Part of Religion which is easily comply'd with, and yet taken Notice of by all the World; such as frequent Prayers, long and pathetick Sermons, singing of Psalms, and the keeping of the Sabbath with great Strictness; all which Men may assist at and employ themselves in, tho' their Hearts are otherwise engag'd. It is certain, that a Man of vast Parts and superlative Ambition might, by the Divine Permission, perform, take Care of, and compass all this, tho' he was an Atheist; and that he might live and die with the Reputation of a Saint, if he was but circumspect and wise enough to conceal himself so entirely well, that no Penetration or Watchfulness of Mortals could ever discover his real Sentiments. There is no Atchievement to be expected from Soldiers, which they would not perform for such a General; and his Name would be sufficient to fill the greatest Profligate in an Army with a Religious Enthusiasm, if he disbelieved not an invisible Cause.
Hor. There lies the Difficulty; it is that which I cannot comprehend.
Cleo. Wickedness, I have hinted to you before, is no Bar to Superstition; and a great Profligate may at the same Time be a silly Fellow, believe Absurdities, and rely on Trifles, which a Man of Sense and Virtue could not be influenc'd or affected by. It is easily imagin'd, that in such an Army, under such a General as I have been speaking of, the Men would be kept under strict Discipline; and that they would not only be compell'd, whether they would or not, to assist at all their Exercises of outward Devotion and Publick Worship; but likewise that the loosest Livers among them should be obliged to be more cautious and circumspect in their Behaviour, than Soldiers generally are. Now suppose a Man so wicked, that, tho' he has no Doubt of Future State, the Belief of Rewards and Punishments in another World made no impression upon him; but that he indulged every vicious Inclination as far as he dared, lay with every Woman that would let him, and got drunk as often as he could get an Opportunity to do it; one that would stick at Nothing, rob or steal, kill a Man that should anger him, if he was not with-held by the Law, and the Fear of Temporal Punishment: Suppose likewise, that this was one of the lowest Mob, who being in Want, and too lazy to work, should lift himself in some Regiment or other of this Army. There is no Doubt, but this Man would be forc'd immediately to have a greater Guard upon his Actions, and reform, at least outwardly, more than would suit with his Inclinations, and therefore it is not unlikely, that, what Duties soever he might comply with, and whatever Appearance he might make among the Rest, in his Heart he should remain the same he was before. Yet notwithstanding all this, in a little Time he might make a very good Soldier. I can easily conceive, how the Wearing of a Sword and Regimental Cloaths, and always conversing with resolute and well disciplin'd Men, among whom Arms and Gallantry are in the highest Esteem, might so far encrease a wicked Fellow's Pride, that he should wish to be brave, and in a few Months think Nothing more really dreadful, than to be thought a Coward. The Fear of Shame may act as powerfully upon bad Men, as it can upon good; and the Wickedness of his Heart would not hinder him from having a good Opinion of himself, and the Cause he served; nor yet from hating his Enemies or taking Delight in destroying, plundering, and doing all Manner of Mischief.
Hor. But having no Regard to Godliness or Religion, it is impossible, that he should be influenc'd or affected by the Prayers or other Exercises of Devotion, which he might assist at and which, in all Probability, he would never come near, unless he was compell'd to it.
Cleo. I don't suppose, that he would be influenced or affected by them at all himself; but he might easily believe, that others were. I take it for granted, that in such an Army there might have been Abundance of well-meaning Men, that were really honest, and sincere in their Religion, tho' they had been misled in what concern'd the Duties of it. From the Behaviour of these, and the Imitation of others, from the Exemplary Lives, which our Reprobate should see among them, and the establish'd Reputation of so many Men of Honour, he would have all the Reason in the World to think, that at least the greatest Part of them were in good Earnest; that they relied upon God; and that the fervent Zeal, with which they seem'd to implore his assistance, was real and unfeign'd. All wicked Men are not inflexible; and there are great Sinners, whom this Consideration would move to the quick; and tho' perhaps it would not be of Force enough to reclaim them, there are many, who, by means of it, would be made to relent, and wish that they were better. But I don't want this help; and we'll suppose our Profligate such a stubborn Wretch, and so obstinately vicious, that the most moving Discourses, and the most fervent Prayers, tho' he is forc'd to assist at them, have not the least Power to make him reflect either on his Sins or his Duty; and that notwithstanding what he hears and sees of others, his Heart remains as bad as ever, and himself as immoral as he dares to be for Fear of his Officers. We'll suppose, I say, all this; but as it is taken for granted, that he believes the World to be govern'd by Providence ——.
Hor. But why should that be taken for granted, of a fellow so thoroughly wicked?
Cleo. Because it is included in his Belief of a Future State, which, in his Character, I supposed him not to doubt of.
Hor. I know it; but what Reason had you to suppose this at First, in a Man who never gave any Signs, nor ever did insinuate, for ought you know, that he had such a Belief?
Cleo. Because he never gave any Signs to the contrary; and in a Christian Country, I suppose all Men to believe the Existence of a God and a Future State, who, by speaking or writing, never declared, that they did not. Wickedness consisting in an unreasonable Gratification of every Passion that comes uppermost, it is so far from implying Unbelief, or what is call'd Atheism, that it rather excludes it. Because the Fear of an invisible Cause is as much a Passion in our Nature, as the Fear of Death. I have hinted to you before, that great Cowards, whilst they are in Health and Safety, may live many Years without discovering the least Symptom of the Fear of Death, so as to be visibly affected by it; but that this is no Sign, that they have it not, is evident when they are in Danger. It is the same with the Fear of an invisible Cause; the one is as much born with us as the other, and to conquer either, is more difficult than is easily imagin'd. The Fear of an invisible Cause is universal, how widely soever men may differ in the worship of it; and it was never observed among a Multitude, that the worst were more backward than the best in believing whatever from their Infancy they had heard concerning this invisible Cause; how absurd or shocking soever that might have been. The most Wicked are often the most Superstitious, and as ready as any to believe Witchcraft, consult Fortune-tellers, and make Use of Charms. And tho' among the most brutish Part of the Mob, we should meet with Some, that neither pray nor pay Worship to any Thing, laugh at Things sacred, and openly disclaim all Religion, we could have no Reason to think, even from these, that they acted from Principles of Infidelity, when from their Behaviour and many of their Actions, it should be manifest, that they apprehended Something or other, that could do them Good or Hurt, and yet is invisible. But as to the vilest Reprobates among the Vulgar, from their very Curses and the most prophane of their Oaths and Imprecations, it is plain, that they are Believers.
Hor. That's far fetch'd.
Cleo. I don't think so. Can a Man with himself damn'd, without supposing, that there is such a Thing as Damnation. Believe me, Horatio, there are no Atheists among the Common People: You never knew any of them entirely free from Superstition, which always implies Belief: and whoever lays any Stress upon Predictions, upon good or bad Omens; or does but think, that some Things are lucky and others unlucky, must believe, that there is an over-ruling Power, which meddles with, and interferes in Human Affairs.
Hor. I must yield this to you, I think.
Cleo. If then our wicked, obdurate Soldier believes, that there is a God, and that the World is govern'd by Providence, it is impossible, when Two Armies are to engage, but he must think, that it is very material, and a Thing of the highest Importance, which of them God will be pleas'd to favour, and wish with all his Heart, that Heaven would be of his Side. Now, if he knows that the Troops, he serves among, have gain'd several Advantages over their Enemies, and that he has been an Eye-witness of this himself, he must necessarily think, that God has a greater Regard to them, than he has to those that are beaten by them. It is certain, that a Man, who is strongly persuaded of this, will be more undaunted, and with the Same Degree of Skill, Malice and Strength, fight better than he could do, if he believ'd the Contrary. It is evident then, that the most abandon'd Rascal in a Christian Army may be made a valuable Man on the Score of Fighting, as soon as he can be persuaded, that God takes his Part, tho' he never made any further Reflection: But it is inconceivable, that a Man should firmly believe what I have said without reflecting one Time or other on what might be the Cause of this particular Favour, this visible Assistance of Heaven; and if ever he did, could he help thinking on the Preaching and Praying, which he was daily present at; and would he not be forced from all the Circumstances to believe, that those Things were acceptable to God; and conclude upon the whole, that those Religious Exercises were a proper Means to obtain God's Friendship? Would he not be very much confirm'd in this Opinion, if he saw or but heard of credible People, that, in the Enemy's Army, the men were more cold and remiss in their Worship, or at least, that they made a less outward Shew of Devotion, which is all that he should be able to judge by?
Hor. But why should you think, that such an abandon'd, obdurate Fellow, as you have supposed him to be, should ever trouble his Head with the Difference in Worship between one Army and another, or ever think at all on any Thing relating to Devotion?
Cleo. Because it would be impossible for him to help it. I have not supposed, that he was either Deaf or Blind: The Things I named, and which I imagin'd he would be forc'd to believe, would be run in his Ears, and repeated to him over and over from every Quarter: The Soldiers would be full of them; the Officers would talk of them. He would be present at the solemn Thanksgivings, they paid to Heaven. The Preachers would often be loud in commending the Godliness as well as Bravery of the Army, and roar out the Praises of their General, that sanctify'd Vessel, whom they would call a Gideon, a Joshua, a Moses, that glorious Instrument, which God had raised and made Use of to rescue his Church from Idolatry and Superstition, and his Saints from Tyranny and Oppression. They would exclaim against the Wickedness and Immorality of their Enemies, inveigh against Lawn-Sleeves and Surplices, Altar-Pieces, and Common-Prayers; call the Orthodox Clergy, the Priests of Baal, and assure their Hearers, that the Lord hated the Cavaliers; that they were an Abomination to him, and that he would certainly deliver them into the Hands of his chosen People. When a Man is obliged to hear all this, and sees moreover the Spirit and Alacrity that is raised in his Comrades after a moving extemporary Prayer, the real Enthusiasm the Men are thrown into by the Singing of a Psalm, and the Tears of Zeal and Joy run down the Cheeks of Men, whom he knows to be Faithful and Sincere, as well as Resolute and Daring. When Man, I say, such a one as I have describ'd, should be forc'd to hear and see all this, it would hardly be possible for him, not to believe, in the first Place, that God actually assisted this Army; and in the Second, that the Means, by which that Assistance was procured, were the Strictness of the Discipline and the Religious Duties, that were observed in it; tho' he himself should never Join in the one, or Submit to the other, but against his Will, and with the utmost Reluctancy. I am persuaded, that such an Opinion, well rivetted in a Man, would, in such an Army as I am speaking of, be of vast Use to him in all Adventures and Expeditions of War; and that, if he was fit at all to be made a soldier, it would in the Day of Battle inspire him with a Confidence and Undauntedness, which the same man could never have acquired, Cateris Paribus, if he had served among other troops, where Divine Worship had been little insisted upon, or but slightly perform'd. And if this be true, I have proved to you, that Acts of Devotion, and an outward Shew of Religion, may be serviceable to the greatest Profligate for the obtaining of Victory, tho' the General should be an Atheist, most of the Clergy Hypocrites, and the greatest Part of the Army wicked Men.
Hor. I can see very well the Possibility, that a few Profligates, among a great many others, that were not so, might be kept in Awe by strict Discipline, and that Acts of Devotion might be serviceable even to those, who were present at them against their Wills. But this Possibility is only built upon a Supposition, that the Rest of the Army should be better disposed: For if the Generality of them were not in Earnest, you could have no outward Shew of Religion; and the Things which you say the obdurate wretch should be forced to hear and see, could have no Existence. No Preaching or Praying can be moving to those, that are harden'd and inattentive; and no Man can be thrown into an Enthusiasm upon the Singing of Psalms, and shed Tears of Zeal and Joy in any Part of Divine Worship, unless they give Heed to it, and are really Devout.
Cleo. I am glad you start this Objection; for it puts me in Mind of Something, that will serve to illustrate this whole Matter, and which, if you had not mention'd this, I should have had no Opportunity to speak of. I took for granted, you know, that in the Quarrel between King and the People, there had been many honest well meaning Men, among the Sober Party, that by Artifice were drawn into the Measures of cunning Hypocrites, who, under specious Pretences, carried on the Rebellion with no other View than their own Advantage. But if you recollect what I said then, you'll find, that many of those honest well-meaning Men might have been very bad Christians. A Man may be a fair Dealer, and wish well to his Country, and yet be very wicked in many other Respects. But whatever Vices he may be guilty of, if he believes the Scriptures without Reserve, is sorry for his Sins, and sometimes really afraid, that he shall be punish'd for them in another World, he is certainly sincere in his Religion, tho' he never mends. Some of the most wicked in the World have been great Believers. Consider all the Money, that has been given to pray Souls out of Purgatory, and who they were, that left the greatest Legacies to the Church. The Generality of Mankind believe what they were taught in their Youth, let that be what it will, and there is no Superstition so gross or absurd, nor any Thing so improbable or contradictory in any Religion, but Men may be sincere in the Belief of it. What I say all this for is to shew you, that an honest well-meaning Man may believe the Bible and be Sincere in his Religion, when he is yet very remote from being a good Christian. What I understand then by Sincere is evident: Now give me Leave to tell you what I mean by Wicked, and to put you in Mind of what I have said of it already; viz that I gave that Name to those, who indulge their Passions as they come uppermost, without Regard to the Good or Hurt, which the Gratification of their Appetites may do to the Society. But all wicked Men are not equally neglectful of Religious Duties, nor equally inflexible; and you won't meet with one in a Hundred so stubborn and averse to all Sense of Divine Worship, as I have supposed our Profligate to be. My Reason for drawing so bad a Character, was to convince you, that, if an outward Shew of Religion could be made serviceable to the most stubborn Reprobate, it could never fail of having a good Effect upon all others, that should be more relenting, and assist at it with less Reluctancy. Few Men are wicked for Want of good Will to be better: The greatest Villains have Remorses; and hardly any of them are so bad, that the Fear of an invisible Cause and future Punishment should never make any Impression upon them; if not in Health, at least in Sickness. If we look narrowly into the Sentiments, as well as Actions even of those that persist in evil Courses for many Years, and spend their whole Lives in Debaucheries, we shall hardly ever find, that it is because they are obstinately bent to be Wicked; but because they want either the Power to govern their Passions, or else the Resolution to set about it; that they have often wish'd, that they could lead better Lives; that they hope, God will forgive them; and that Several Times they have fix'd a Time for their Repentance, but that always Something or other interven'd, that has hinder'd them, till at last they died without having ever met with the Opportunity they wish'd for. Such Men as these perhaps would never go to Prayers, or to hear a Sermon as long as they lived, if they could help it: But most of them, if they were forc'd to it, would behave very well, and actually receive Benefit from being there; especially in Armies, where Nothing being less wanted than contrite Hearts and broken Spirits, Nothing is mention'd that is mortifying, or would depress the Mind; and if ever any thing melancholy is slightly touch'd upon, it is done with great Art, and only to make a Contrast with something reviving, that is immediately to follow, which will flatter their Pride, and make them highly delighted with themselves. All Exhortations to Battle should be chearful and pleasing. What is required of the Men, is, that they should Fight undauntedly and obstinately. Therefore all Arts are made use of to raise and keep up their Spirits on the one Hand, and their Hatred to their Enemies on the other. To dissipate their Fears, they are assured of the Justice and Goodness of their Cause, that God himself is engaged, and his Honour concern'd in it; and that therefore, if they can but shew Zeal enough for him, and are not wanting to themselves, they need not doubt of the Victory.
Hor. It is amazing, that Believers, who are so conscious of their own Wickedness, should be so easily persuaded, that God would do any Thing in their Favour.
Cleo. The great Propensity we have in our Nature to flatter our selves, makes us easy Casuists in our own Concerns. Every body knows, that God is merciful, and that all Men are Sinners. The Thought of this has often been a great Comfort to very bad Livers, especially if they could remember, that ever they wish'd to be better; which, among Believers, there is not One in a Hundred, but can. This good Disposition of Mind a wicked Man may make a notable Construction of, and magnify the Merit of it, till the Reflection of it is sufficient to make his Conscience easy, and he absolves himself without the Trouble of Repentance. I can easily conceive, how one of the Vulgar, no better qualify'd, may assist at Publick Worship with Satisfaction, and even Pleasure; if Preaching and Praying are managed in the Manner I have hinted at: And it is not difficult to imagine, how by a little paultry Eloquence, and Violence of Gestures, a Man in this Situation may be hurried away from his Reason, and have his Passions so artfully play'd upon; that feeling himself thoroughly moved, he shall mistake the Malice of his Heart, and perhaps the Resentment of a great Wound received, for the Love of God and Zeal for Religion. There is another Class of wicked Men, that I have not touch'd upon yet; and of which there would always be great Numbers among such Troops as we have been speaking of, viz. Soldiers of the Sober Party, where Swearing, Prophaneness, and all open Immorality are actually punish'd; where a grave Deportment and strict Behaviour are encouraged, and where Scripture-Language and Pretences to Holiness are in Fashion; in an Army of which the General is firmly believed to be a Saint, and acts his part to Admiration.
Hor. It is reasonable to think, I own, that in such an Army, to one sincere Man, there would always be three or four Hypocrites; for these I suppose are the Class you mean.
Cleo. They are so. And considering, that, to save Appearances, Hypocrites are at least as good as the sincere Men I have spoken of, it is impossible, that there should not be a great Shew of Religion among them, if there were but eight or ten of them sincere in every Hundred: And where such Pains should be taken to make the Men seem to be Godly; and this Point of outward Worship should be labour'd with so much Diligence and Assiduity, I am persuaded, that many even of those, who should be too wicked to be Hypocrites, and to counterfeit long, would sometimes, not only pray in good Earnest, but likewise, set on by the Examples before them, be transported with real Zeal for the Good of their Cause.
Hor. There is no Doubt but Enthusiasm among a Multitude is as catching as Yawning: But I don't understand very well what you mean by too wicked to be Hypocrites; for I look upon them to be the worst of all Men.
Cleo. I am very glad you named this. There are two Sorts of Hypocrites, that differ very much from one another. To distinguish them by Names, the One I would call the Malicious, and the Other the Fashionable. By malicious Hypocrites, I mean Such as pretend to a great Deal of Religion, when they know their Pretensions to be false; who take Pains to appear Pious and Devout, in order to be Villains, and in Hopes that they shall be trusted to get an Opportunity of deceiving those, who believe them to be sincere. Fashionable Hypocrites I call those, who, without any Motive of Religion, or Sense of Duty, go to Church, in Imitation of their Neighbours; counterfeit Devotion, and, without any Design upon others, comply occasionally with all the Rites and Ceremonies of Publick Worship, from no other Principle than an Aversion to Singularity, and a Desire of being in the Fashion. The first are, as you say, the worst of Men: but the other are rather beneficial to Society, and can only be injurious to themselves.
Hor. Your Distinction is very just, if these latter deserve to be call'd Hypocrites at all.
Cleo. To make a Shew outwardly of what is not felt within, and counterfeit what is not real, is certainly Hypocrisy, whether it does Good or Hurt.
Hor. Then, strictly speaking, good Manners and Politeness must come under the same Denomination.
Cleo. I remember the Time you would by no Means have allow'd this.
Hor. Now, you see I do, and freely own, that you have given me great Satisfaction this afternoon; only there is one Thing you said five or six Minutes ago, that has raised a Difficulty which I don't know how to get over.
Cleo. What is it, pray?
Hor. I don't think we shall have Time ——
Cleo. Supper, I see, is going in.
The Fourth Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
Horatio. I am glad my little Dinner pleased you. I don't love large Pieces of Meat for a small Company; especially in warm Weather: They heat the Room, and are offensive even upon a Side-board.
Cleo. It was very handsome indeed; and Horatio is elegant in every Thing. Your Favours of Yesterday, your Coming without Form, was so engaging, that I was resolved to repay the Compliment without Delay.
Hor. Assure your self, that your Payment is not more prompt, than it is welcome.
Cleo. I know no higher Enjoyment, than that of your Friendship. But pray, what was the Difficulty you hinted at last Night, when Supper broke off our Discourse?
Hor. When you spoke of Preaching and Praying in Armies, you said, that Nothing was ever mention'd to them, that was mortifying, or would depress the Mind. I had heard the same from you in Substance more than once before; and I own, that the Nature of the Thing seems to require, that Soldiers should be indulg'd in their Pride, and that all Exhortations to Battle should be cheerful and pleasing. But the last Time you was speaking of this, I recollected what I had read of the Solemn Fasts, that were so frequently observed in Oliver's Days; and presently I was puzled, and no ways able to account for the Usefulness of them in War, by the System which you had made appear to be very rational. The Fact it self, that Cromwell appointed many Days of Fasting and Humiliation, and made them be strictly kept, is undeniable; but it is impossible, they should promote Chearfulness; and what Purpose they could have been made to serve, that was not religious, I can not conceive. The mechanical Effect, which Fasting can have upon the Spirits, is to lower, flatten, and depress them; and the very Essence of Humiliation is the Mortification of Pride. You have own'd, that Cromwell understood Human Nature, and was a crafty Politician; but you would never allow, that he had the least Intention of promoting Piety, or rendring his Men good Christians.
Cleo. The Objection you have started seems to be of great Weight at first View; but if we look more narrowly into it, and examine this Affair, as we have done some other Things, the Difficulty you labour under will soon disappear. From the Nature of Man and Society it must follow, that whatever particular Vices may be more or less predominant in different Climates and different Ages, Luxury and Pride will always be reigning Sins in all civiliz'd Nations: Against these two stubborn, and always epidemic Maladies, the great Physician of the Soul has, in his Gospel Dispensation, left us two sovereign Remedies, Fasting and Humiliation; which, when rightly used, and duely assisted with the Exercise of Prayer, never fail to cure the Diseases I named in the most desperate Cases. No method likewise is more reasonable; for, tho' Jesus Christ had not recommended it himself, it is impossible to think on any Prescription, more judiciously adapted to an Ailment, than Fasting and Humiliation, accompany'd with fervent Prayer, are to Luxury and Pride. This is the Reason, that in private as well as public Disasters, and all Adversities in which is was thought that the divine Anger was visible, all Believers in Christ have, ever since the Promulgation of the Gospel, made use of the aforesaid Remedies, as the most proper Means to obtain Pardon for their Offences, and render heaven propitious to them. All Magistrates likewise, where the Christian Religion has been national, have in general Misfortunes and all great Calamities (whenever they happen'd) appointed Days to be solemnly kept, and set aside for Prayer, for Fasting and Humiliation. If on these Days Men should be sincere in their Devotion; if a pains-taking Clergy, of Apostolic Lives, on the one Hand, should preach Repentance to their Hearers, and shew them the Difference between the temporal Evils, which they complain'd of, tho' they were less afflicting than they had deserv'd, and the eternal Miseries, which impenitent Sinners would unavoidably meet with, tho' now they thought little of them; if the Hearers, on the other, searching their Consciences without Reserve, should reflect upon their past Conduct; if both the Clergy and the Laity should thus join in religious Exercises, and, adding real Fasting to ardent Prayer, humble themselves before the Throne of Mercy, with Sorrow and Contrition; if, I say, the Days you speak of were to be spent in this Manner, they would be of use in no War, but against the World, the Flesh, or the Devil, the only Enemies a Christian Hero is not oblig'd to love, and over which the Triumph is the darling Object of his Ambition, and the glorious End of his Warfare. On the Contrary, such Fast-days would be hurtful to a Soldier, in the literal Sense of the Word, and destructive to the Intentions of all Armies; and I would as soon expect from them, that they should turn Men into Trees or Stones, as that they should inspire them with martial Courage, or make them eager to fight. But skilful Politicians make an Advantage of every Thing, and often turn into useful Tools the seeming Obstacles to their Ambition. The most resolute Unbeliever, if he is a good Hypocrite, may pretend to as much Superstition and hold Fear, as the most timorous Bigot can be really possess'd with; and the First often gains his Point by making use of the Religion of others, where the Latter is undone by being hamper'd with his own.
Hor. This was very evident in Oliver Cromwel and King James the Second. But what would you infer from it in Relation to Fast-Days?
Cleo. The most sacred Institutions of Christianity may, by the Assistance of pliable Divines, be made serviceable to the most anti-christian Purposes of Tyrants and Usuerpers: Recollect, pray, what I have said concerning Sermons and Prayers, and what is done by some Clergymen under Pretence of Preaching the Gospel.
Hor. I do, and can easily see, how Preachers, by a small Deviation from the Doctrine of Peace, may insensibly seduce their Hearers, and, perverting the End of their Function, set them on to Enmity, Hatred, and all Manner of Mischief: But I can't understand how Fasting and Humiliation should further, or be made any ways instrumental to that Design.
Cleo. You have allow'd, that the Grand Point in Armies, and what has been ever most labour'd among military Men, was to make them believe, that Heaven, that is, the Deity they adore, was of their Side; and it is certain, (as I have hinted before) that how widely soever Men had differ'd in their Sentiments concerning the invisible Cause, or the Worship it requires, they have all agreed in this; and the Use that has been made of Religion in War has ever had a palpable Tendency this way. The Word Fasting, indefinitely spoken, sounds very harshly to a Man of a good Stomach; but, as practis'd religiously among Protestants, it is hardly an Emblem of the Thing it self, and rather a Joke than any grievous Penance: At least in England, by keeping a Fast-Day, Men mean no more, than Eating their Dinners three or four Hours later than they used to do, and perhaps no Supper that Night: Which is a Piece of Abstinence, that is so far from being likely to have an ill Effect upon the Strength or Spirits of Men in Health and Vigour, that there is not One in Fifty, whom it will not render more brisk and lively in the next Day. I speak of People that are not in Want, and who, of dainty or courser Fate, eat as much much every Day as their Appetite requires. As for Humiliation, it is a Word of Course. Fast-Days, bar the Abstinence already mention'd, are kept no otherwise, than the Sunday is. In the Army of the Rebels, the Chaplains perhaps preach'd and pray'd somewhat longer on those Days, and read a few Chapters more in the Bible, than was usual for them to do on a Sabbath-Day. But that was all.
Hor. But you have allow'd, that many of the Roundheads were sincere in their Religion, and that most of the Soldiers, tho' they were bad Christians, were still Believers. It is unreasonable to think, that the Solemnity of those Days, and the continual Shew of Devotion they were spent in, should have made no Impression upon a considerable Part of such a Multitude, as you your self suppose their Army to have been. Where a great Number of the Vulgar, who believe Hell-Torments and Fire Everlasting, are forced to hear, first their Lives laid open, and their Iniquities display'd, and, after that, all the terrible Things, that the Parson can say of Eternal Misery, it is impossible, that many of them should not be affected with Fear and Sorrow, at least for that Time: However, this is beyond all Dispute, that the mildest Remonstrances that can be made on that Head, will sooner dispose Men to Melancholy, than they will to Chearfulness.
Cleo. All this while you take that for granted, which I told you long ago was notoriously false; viz. That in camps and Armies, the plain Doctrine of Christ is delivered without Disguise or Dissimulation: Nay, I hinted to you just now, that if Repentance was preach'd among Military Men, as might be expected from Christian Divines, Solders would be in Danger of being spoil'd by it, and render'd unfit for their Business. All knowing Clergymen, at first Setting out, suit themselves and their Doctrine to the Occupations, as well as Capacities of their Hearers: And as Court Preachers speak in Praise of the Government, and applaud the Measures of it, shade the Vices of Princes and their Favourites, and place their Merit in the handsomest Light it can be seen in so Divines in Armies speak up for the Justice of the Cause they are engaged in, and extol the Generals to the Skies; cajole and curry Favour with the Troops, and flatter more particularly the respective Regiments they belong to. There is not a Chaplain in an Army, who is not perfectly well acquainted with the Duty of a Soldier, and what is required of him. Therefore they preach Christianity to them, as far as it is consistent with that Duty, and no farther. Where they interfere, and are clashing with one another, the Gospel is set aside. The Politician must have his Business done: Necessity is pleaded, and Religion ever made to give Way to the Urgency of Affairs. There is a vast Latitude in Preaching; and Clergymen often take great Liberties: Being as much subject to Errour and Passion as other People, they can give bad Counsel as well as good. Those, who are pleas'd with a Government, we see, preach one way; and those who are not, another. Above Half the Time of the last Reign, a considerable Part of the English Clergy exhorted their Hearers to Sedition, and in a Contempt for the Royal Family, either openly or by sly Inuendo's, in ever Sermon they preach'd: And every Thirtieth of January The same Church furnishes us with two contrary Doctrines: For whilst the more prudent and moderate of the Clergy are shifting and trimming between two Parties, the hot ones of one side assert with Vehemence, that it is meritorious as well as lawful for the people, to put their King to Death whenever he deserves it; and that of this Demerit, the Majority of the same People are the only Judges. The Zealots on the other, are as positive, that Kings are not accountable for their Actions, but to God only; and that, whatever Enormities they may commit, it is a damnable Sin for Subjects to resist them. And if an impartial Man, tho' he was the wisest in the World, was to judge of the Monarch, whose unfortunate End is the common Topick of the Discourses held on that Day, and he had no other Light to guide him, but the Sermons of both Parties, it would be impossible for him to decide, whether the Prince in Question had been a spotless Saint, or the greatest Tyrant. I name these obvious Facts, because they are familiar Instances of our own Time, to convince us, that the Gospel is no Clog which Divines think themselves strictly tied to. A skilful Preacher, whether it be a Fast, or a Day of Rejoycing, always finds Ways to pursue his End, instills into his Hearers whatever he pleases, and never dismisses an Audience, before he has acquainted them with what he would have them know; let the Subject, or the Occasion he preaches upon, be what they will. Besides, an artful Orator may mention frightful Things without giving Uneasiness to his Hearers. He may set forth the Enormity of any great Sin, and the Certainty of the Punishment, that is to follow it. He may display and dwell upon the Terrors of the Divine Vengeance for a considerable Time, and turn at last all the Weight of it upon their Adversaries; and having demonstrated to his Audience, that those whom they are to fight against, or else the great Grandfathers of them, have been notoriously guilty of that Wickedness, which is so heinous in the Sight of Heaven, he may easily convince Believers, that their Enemies must of Necessity be likewise the Enemies of God. If any Disgrace has happen'd to an Army, or some of the Men have misbehaved, a wary Preacher, instead of calling them Cowards, will lay all the Fault on their little Faith, their trusting too much to the Arm of the Flesh, and assure them, that they would have conquer'd, if they had put greater Confidence in God; and more entirely rely'd on his Assistance.
Hor. And so not have fought at all.
Cleo. The Coherence of these Things is never examin'd into. It is possible likewise for a crafty Divine, in order to rouse a listless and dejected Audience, first to awaken them with lively Images of the Torments of Hell and the State of Damnation, and afterwards seem happily to light on an Expedient, that shall create new Hopes, and revive the drooping Spirits of a Multitude; and by this Means the Courage of Soldiers may often be wrought up to a higher Pitch than it could have been rais'd, if they had not been terrify'd at all. I have heard of an Instance, where this was perform'd with great Success. Provisions had been scarce for some Time; and the Enemy was just at Hand; and Abundance of the Men seem'd to have little Mind to fight; when a Preacher, much esteem'd among the Soldiers, took the following Method: First, he set faithfully before them their Sins and Wickedness, the many Warnings that they had received to repent, and God's long Forbearance, as well as great Mercy, in not having totally destroy'd them long ago. He represented their Wants, and Scarcity of Provision, as a certain Token of the Divine Wrath, and shew'd them plainly, that labouring already under the Weight of his Displeasure, they had no Reason to think, that God would connive longer at their manifold Neglects and Transgressions. Having convinced them, that Heaven was angry with them, he enumerated many Calamities, which, he said, would befal them; and several of them being such, as they had actually to fear, he was hearken'd to as a Prophet. He then told them, that what they could suffer in this World, was of no great Moment, if they could but escape Eternal Punishment; but that of this (as they had lived) he saw not the least Probablity, they should. Having shewn an extraordinary Concern for their deplorable Condition, and seeing many of them touch'd with Remorse, and overwhelm'd with Sorrow, he chang'd his Note on a Sudden, and with an Air of Certainty told them, that there was still one Way left, and but that one, to retrieve all, and avert the Miseries they were threaten'd with; which, in short, was to Fight well, and beat their Enemies; and that they had Nothing else for it. Having thus disclosed his Mind to them, with all the Appearances of Sincerity, he assumed chearful Countenance, shew'd them the many Advantages, that would attend the Victory; assured them of it, if they would but exert themselves; named the Times and Places in which they had behaved well, not without Exaggeration, and work'd upon their Pride so powerfully, that they took Courage, fought like Lions, and got the Day.
Hor. A very good story; and whether this was preaching the Gospel or not, it was of great Use to that Army.
Cleo. It was so, politically speaking. But to act such a Part well, requires great Skill, and ought not to be attempted by an ordinary Orator; nor is it to be tried but in desperate Cases.
Hor. You have sufficiently shewn, and I am satisfied, that as Fasting is practiced, and Preaching and Praying may be managed by wary Divines, Care may be taken, that neither the Strictness of Behaviour observed, nor the Religious Exercises perform'd on those Days, shall be the least Hindrance to military Affairs, or any ways mortify or dispirit the Soldiers; but I cannot see, what Good they can do where Religion is out of the Question. What Service would an Atheist, who knew himself to be an Arch-Hypocrite and a Rebel (for such you allow Cromwell to have been) expect from them for his Purpose?
Cleo. I thought, that we had agreed, that to please the Party he was engaged in, it was his Interest to make a great Shew of Piety among his Troops, and seem to be religious himself.
Hor. I grant it; as I do likewise, that he throve by Hypocrisy, raised Enthusiasm in others by Counterfeiting it himself, and that the Craft of his Clergy was many ways instrumental to his Successes: But a skilful Hypocrite, and able Politician, would have made no more Rout about Religion, than there was Occasion for. They had Praying and Singing of Psalms every Day; and the Sabbath was kept with great Strictness. The Clergy of that Army had Opportunities enough to talk their Fill to the Soldiers, and harangue them on what Subject they pleased. They had such a Plenty of Religious Exercises, that it is highly probable, the greatest Part of the Soldiers were glutted with them: And if they were tired with what they had in Ordinary, what good effect could be expected from still more Devotion Extraordinary?
Cleo. What you named last is a great Matter. What is done every Day is soon turn'd into a Habit; and the more Men are accustomed to Things, the less they mind them; but any Thing extraordinary rouses their Spirits and raises their Attention. But to form a clear Idea of the Use and Advantage, a mere Politician, tho' he is an Unbeliever, may reasonably expect from Fast-Days, let us take into Consideration these two Things: First, the Grand Desideratum in armies, that is aim'd at by Religion, and which all Generals labour to obtain by Means of their Clergy: Secondly, the common Notions among Christians, both of Religion and of War. The First is to persuade the Soldiers, and make them firmly believe, that their Cause is Just, and that Heaven will certainly be on their Side; unless by their Offences they themselves should provoke it to be against them. All Prayers for Success, Thanksgivings for Victories obtain'd, and Humiliations after Losses received, are so many different Means to strengthen the Truth of that Persuasion, and confirm Men in the Belief of it. As to the second, Christians believe, that all Men are Sinners; that God is Just, and will punish, here or hereafter, all Trespasses committed against him, unless they are atton'd for before we die; but that he is likewise very merciful, and ever willing to forgive those, who sincerely repent. And as to War, that it is, as all human Affairs are, entirely under his Direction, and that the side whom he is pleased to favour, beats the other. This is the general Opinion, as well of those who hold a Free-agency, as of those who are for Predestination. A cursory View of these two Things, the Notions Men have of Providence and the Grand Point to be obtain'd in Armies, will give us a clear Idea of a Clergyman's Task among Military Men, and shew us both the Design of Fast-Days, and the Effect they are like to produce.