Remarks on Tindal
44 use to know from what quarter they come, and go a good way towards their confutation. For instance, if any man should write a book against the lawfulness of punishing felony with death; and, upon enquiry, the author should be found in Newgate under condemnation for robbing a house; his arguments would not very unjustly lose much of their force, from the circumstances he lay under. So, when Milton writ his book of divorces, it was presently rejected as an occasional treatise; because every body knew, he had a shrew for his wife. Neither can there be any reason imagined, why he might not, after he was blind, have writ another upon the danger and inconvenience of eyes. But, it is a piece of logic which will hardly pass on the world; that because one man hath a fore nose, therefore all the town should put plaisters upon theirs. So, if this treatise about the rights of the church should prove to be the work of a man steady in his principles, of exact morals, and prosound learning, a true lover of his country, and a hater of christianity, as what he really believes to be a cheat upon mankind, whom he would undeceive purely for their good; it might be apt to check unwary men, even of good dispositions towards religion. But if it be found the production of a man soured with age and misfortunes, together with the consciousness of past miscarriages; of one, who, in hopes of preferment, was reconciled to the Popish religion; of one wholely prostitute in life and principles, and only an enemy to religion, because it condemns them: In this case, and this last I find is the universal opinion, he is like to have few proselytes, beside those, who, from a sense of their vicious lives, require to be perpetually supplied by such amusements as this; which serve to flatter their wishes, and debase their understandings.
I know there are some who would fain have it, that this discourse was written by a club of free-thinkers, among whom the supposed author only came in for a share. But, sure, we cannot judge so meanly of any party, without affronting the dignity of mankind.