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The guilt, therefore, of this rebellion, has in it all the most aggravating circumstances; which will still appear more plainly, if we consider, in the first place, the real motives to it.
The rebellion, which was one of the most flagitious in itself, and described with the utmost horror by his-. torians, is that of Cataline and his associates. The motives to it are displayed at large by the Roman writers, in order to inspire the reader with the utmost detestation of it. Cataline, the chief of the rebellion, had been disappointed in his competition for one of the first offices in the government, and had involved himself in such private debts and difficulties, as nothing could extricate him out of, but the ruin of an administration that would not intrust him with of honour or profit. His principal accomplices were men of the same character, and animated by the same incentives. They complained that power was lodged in the hands of the worst, to the oppression of the best; and that places were conferred on unworthy men, to the exclusion of themselves and their friends. Many of them were afraid of public justice for past crimes, and some of them stood actually condemned as traitors to their country. These were joined by men of desperate fortunes, who hoped to find their account in the confusions of their country, were applauded by the meanest of the rabble, who always delighted in change, and privately abetted by persons of a considerable figure, who aimed at those honours and preferments which were in the possession of their rivals. These are the motives with which Cataline's rebellion is branded in history, and which are expressly mentioned by Sallust. I shall leave it to every unpreju. diced reader to compare them with the motives which have kindled the present rebellion in his majesty's dominions.
As this rebellion is of the most criminal nature from its motives, so it is likewise, if we consider its consequences. Should it succeed, (a supposition which, God be thanked, is very extravagant,) what must be the natural effects of it upon our religion! What could we expect from an army, blessed by the pope, headed by a zealous Roman Catholic, encouraged by the most bigoted princes of the church of Rome, supported by contributions, not only from those several potentates, but from the wealthiest of their convents, and officered by Irish papists and outlaws! Can we imagine that the Roman Catholics of our own nation would so heartily embark in an enterprise, to the visible hazard of their lives and fortunes, did they only hope to enjoy their religion under those laws which are now in force? In short, the danger to the Protestant cause is so manifest, that it would be an affront to the understanding of the reader to endeavour farther to prove it.
Arbitrary power is so interwoven with popery, and so necessary to introduce it, so agreeable to the education of the pretender, só conformable to the principles of his adherents, and so natural to the insolence of conquerors, that, should our invader gain the sovereign power by violence, there is no doubt but he would preserve it by tyranny. I shall leave to the reader's own consideration, the change of property in general, and the utter extinction of it in our national funds, the inundation of nobles without estates, prelates without bishoprics, officers civil and military without places; and in short, the several occasions of rapine and revenge, which would necessarily ensue upon such a fatal revolution. But, by the blessing of Providence, and the wisdom of his majesty's administration, this melancholy prospect is as distant as it is dreadful.
These are the consequences which would necessarily attend the success of the present rebellion. But we will now suppose that the event of it should for some time remain doubtful. In this case we are to expect all the miseries of a civil war, nay, the armies of the greatest foreign princes would be subsisted, and all the battles of Europe fought in England. The rebels have already shown us, that they want no inclination to promote their cause by fire and sword, where they have an opportunity of practising their barbarities. Should such a fierce and rapacious host of men, as that which is now in the Highlands, fall down into our country, that is so well peopled, adorned, and cultivated, how would their march be distinguished by ravage and devastation! might not we say of them, in the sublime and beautiful words of the prophet, describe ing the progress of an enraged army from the north; 'Before them is as the garden of Eden, and behind them as the desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them?'
What then can we think of a party, who would plunge their native country into such evils as these; when the only avowed motive for their proceedings is a point of theory, that has been already determined by those who are proper judges, and in whose determination we have so many years acquiesced? If the calamities of the nation in general can make no impression on them, let them at least, in pity to themselves, their friends, and dependants, forbear all open and secret methods of encouraging a rebellion, so destructive, and so unprovoked. All human probabilities are against them; and they cannot expect success but from a miraculous interposition of the Almighty. And this we may with all Christian humility hope, will not turn against us, who observe those oaths which we have made in his presence; who are zealous for the safety of that religion, which we think most acceptable in his sight; and who endeavour to preserve that constitution which is most conducive to the happiness of our country.
No. 13. FRIDAY, FREBRUARY 3.
Ignavum fucos peçus à præsepibus arcent The most common, and indeed the most natural, division of all offences, is into those of omission and commission. We may make the same division of that particular set of crimes which regard human society. The greatest crime which can be committed against it is rebellion; as was shown in my last paper. The greatest crime of omission, is an indifference in the particular members of a society, when a rebellion is actually begun among them. In such a juncture, though a man may be innocent of the great breach which is made upon government, he is highly culpable, if he does not use all the means that are suitable to his station for reducing the community into its former state of peace and good order.
Our obligation to be active on such an occasion appears from the very nature of civil government; which is an institution, whereby we are all confederated to: gether for our mutual defence and security. Men who profess a state of neutrality in times of public danger, desert the common interest of their fellow subjects; and act with independence to that constitution into which they are incorporated. The safety of the whole requires our joint endeavours. When this is at stake, the indifferent are not properly a part of the community; or rather are like dead limbs, which are an incumbrance to the body, instead of being of use to it. Besides that, the protection which all receive from the same government, justly calls upon the gratitude of all to strengthen it, as well as upon their self-interest to preserve it.
But farther; if men, who in their hearts are friends to a government, forbear giving it their utmost assistance against its enemies, they put it in the power of a few desperate men to ruin the welfare of those who are much superior to them in strength, number, and interest. It was a remarkable law of Solon, the great legislator of the Athenians, that any person who in the civil tumults and commotions of the public remained neuter, or an indifferent spectator of the contending parties, should, after the re-establishment of the public peace, forfeit all his possessions, and be condemned to perpetual banishment. This law made it necessary for every citizen to take his party, because it was highly probable the majority would be so wise as to espouse that cause which was most agreeable to the public weal, and by that means hinder a sedition from making a successful progress. At least, every prudent and honest man, who might otherwise favour any indolence in his own temper, was hereby engaged to be active, such a one would be sure to join himself to that side which had the good of their country most at heart. For this reason their famous lawgiver condemned the persons who sat idle in divisions so dans gerous to the government, as aliens to the community, and, therefore, to be cut off from it as unprofitable members.
Farther; indifference cannot but be criminal, when it is conyersant about objects which are so far from being of an indifferent nature, that they are of the highest importance to ourselves and our country. If it be indifferent to us whether we are free subjects or slaves; whether our prince be of our own religion, or of one that obliges him to extirpate it; we are in the right to give ourselves no trouble in the present juncture. A man governs himself by the dictates of virtue and good sense, who acts without zeal or passion in points that are of no consequence: but when the whole community is shaken, and the safety of the public endangered, the appearance of a philosophical or an affected indolence must arise either from stupidity or perfidiousness.
When in the division of parties among us, men only strove for the first place in the prince's favour; when