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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsLetters On England - LETTER VI - ON THE PRESBYTERIANS
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Letters On England - LETTER VI - ON THE PRESBYTERIANS Post by :Chillin Category :Nonfictions Author :Voltaire Date :January 2011 Read :1377

Click below to download : Letters On England - LETTER VI - ON THE PRESBYTERIANS (Format : PDF)

Letters On England - LETTER VI - ON THE PRESBYTERIANS

The Church of England is confined almost to the kingdom whence it
received its name, and to Ireland, for Presbyterianism is the
established religion in Scotland. This Presbyterianism is directly
the same with Calvinism, as it was established in France, and is now
professed at Geneva. As the priests of this sect receive but very
inconsiderable stipends from their churches, and consequently cannot
emulate the splendid luxury of bishops, they exclaim very naturally
against honours which they can never attain to. Figure to yourself
the haughty Diogenes trampling under foot the pride of Plato. The
Scotch Presbyterians are not very unlike that proud though tattered
reasoner. Diogenes did not use Alexander half so impertinently as
these treated King Charles II.; for when they took up arms in his
cause in opposition to Oliver, who had deceived them, they forced
that poor monarch to undergo the hearing of three or four sermons
every day, would not suffer him to play, reduced him to a state of
penitence and mortification, so that Charles soon grew sick of these
pedants, and accordingly eloped from them with as much joy as a
youth does from school.

A Church of England minister appears as another Cato in presence of
a juvenile, sprightly French graduate, who bawls for a whole morning
together in the divinity schools, and hums a song in chorus with
ladies in the evening; but this Cato is a very spark when before a
Scotch Presbyterian. The latter affects a serious gait, puts on a
sour look, wears a vastly broad-brimmed hat and a long cloak over a
very short coat, preaches through the nose, and gives the name of
the whore of Babylon to all churches where the ministers are so
fortunate as to enjoy an annual revenue of five or six thousand
pounds, and where the people are weak enough to suffer this, and to
give them the titles of my lord, your lordship, or your eminence.

These gentlemen, who have also some churches in England, introduced
there the mode of grave and severe exhortations. To them is owing
the sanctification of Sunday in the three kingdoms. People are
there forbidden to work or take any recreation on that day, in which
the severity is twice as great as that of the Romish Church. No
operas, plays, or concerts are allowed in London on Sundays, and
even cards are so expressly forbidden that none but persons of
quality, and those we call the genteel, play on that day; the rest
of the nation go either to church, to the tavern, or to see their
mistresses.

Though the Episcopal and Presbyterian sects are the two prevailing
ones in Great Britain, yet all others are very welcome to come and
settle in it, and live very sociably together, though most of their
preachers hate one another almost as cordially as a Jansenist damns
a Jesuit.

Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable
than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all
nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the
Mahometan, and the Christian transact together, as though they all
professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none
but bankrupts. There the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist,
and the Churchman depends on the Quaker's word.

If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would
very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people
would cut one another's throats; but as there are such a multitude,
they all live happy and in peace.

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England is properly the country of sectarists. Multae suntmansiones in domo patris mei (in my Father's house are manymansions). An Englishman, as one to whom liberty is natural, may goto heaven his own way.Nevertheless, though every one is permitted to serve God in whatevermode or fashion he thinks proper, yet their true religion, that inwhich a man makes his fortune, is the sect of Episcopalians orChurchmen, called the Church of England, or simply the Church, byway of eminence. No person can possess an employment either inEngland or Ireland unless he be ranked among the faithful, that is,professes himself
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