The last advantage is that abolishing Christianity would unite Protestants because Dissenters would be able to participate in all spheres of church and state. It is likewise urged, that there are, by computation, in this kingdom, above ten thousand parsons, whose revenues, added to those of my lords the bishops, would suffice to maintain at least two hundred young gentlemen of wit and pleasure, and free-thinking, enemies to priestcraft, narrow principles, pedantry, and prejudices, who might be an ornament to the court and town: and then again, so a great number of able [bodied] divines might be a recruit to our fleet and armies. First, he responds to the argument that the abolition of Christianity would expand the liberty of conscience by arguing that if great wits could not denounce the Church, they might instead turn to the denunciation of the government, causing political unrest. A second supposed advantage is that freethinkers would no longer be required to believe things they find difficult. The irony becomes more explicit as Swift next addresses the argument that it is ridiculous to employ a class of people to wail on one day a week against behavior that is the constant practice of all men alive on the other six by arguing that such vices, including wine and fine silks, were made all the more pleasurable by virtue of their being forbidden by the Christian mores of the era.
I aM very sensible what a … The rebuttals are equally pragmatic. There is one advantage greater than any of the foregoing, proposed by the abolishing of Christianity, that it will utterly extinguish parties among us, by removing those factious distinctions of high and low church, of Whig and Tory, Presbyterian and Church of England, which are now so many mutual clogs upon public proceedings, and are apt to prefer the gratifying themselves or depressing their adversaries before the most important interest of the State. Abolishing Christianity would free up the funds devoted to supporting ten thousand parsons plus the bishops; it would also gain another usable day in the week. Let the mastiffs amuse themselves about a sheep’s skin stuffed with hay, provided it will keep them from worrying the flock. As plausible as this project seems, there may be a dangerous design lurk under it. What if the men of pleasure are forced, one day in the week, to game at home instead of the chocolate-house? And indeed it were to be wished that some other prohibitions were promoted, in order to improve the pleasures of the town, which, for want of such expedients, begin already, as I am told, to flag and grow languid, giving way daily to cruel inroads from the spleen. This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question.
As to the particular fact related, I think it is not fair to argue from one instance, perhaps another cannot be produced: yet (to the comfort of all those who may be apprehensive of persecution) blasphemy we know is freely spoke a million of times in every coffee-house and tavern, or wherever else good company meet. Swift responds that if the funds used to support the clergy were used instead to fund freethinking young gentlemen, the money would, in short time, be squandered away on vices, and divided by disagreeable marriages. It must be allowed, indeed, that to break an English free-born officer only for blasphemy was, to speak the gentlest of such an action, a very high strain of absolute power. For they are not only strict observers of religions worship, but what is worse, believe a God; which is more than is required of us, even while we preserve the name of Christians.
We shall find Christianity to have no share in it at all. The major literatures written in English outside the British Isles are… … Universalium, Sermons of Dean Swift — Jonathan Swift, as Dean of St. Patrick s Cathedral in Dublin, produced many sermons during his tenure from 1713 to 1745. First, it would considerably “enlarge and establish liberty of conscience.” His reply is that nominal Christianity is useful as a subject of mockery for “great wits” who would otherwise target an important institution such as the government. A seventh and greater advantage of “discard[ing] the system of the Gospel” would be the disappearance of religion and all its “prejudices of education” such as virtue, conscience, and honor. In a final ironic flourish, Swift warns that if Christianity were abolished, the stock market would fall, costing Great Britain more than the country had ever spent for Christianity's preservation, and that there would be no reason to lose that much money merely for the sake of destroying the faith. And since that is fifty times more than ever the wisdom of our age thought fit to venture for the preservation of Christianity, there is no reason we should be at so great a loss merely for the sake of destroying it. The institution of convents abroad seems in one point a strain of great wisdom, there being few irregularities in human passions which may not have recourse to vent themselves in some of those orders, which are so many retreats for the speculative, the melancholy, the proud, the silent, the politic, and the morose, to spend themselves, and evaporate the noxious particles; for each of whom we in this island are forced to provide a several sect of religion to keep them quiet; and whenever Christianity shall be abolished, the Legislature must find some other expedient to employ and entertain them. If, upon being rejected by them, we are to trust to an alliance with the Turk, we shall find ourselves much deceived; for, as he is too remote, and generally engaged in war with the Persian emperor, so his people would be more scandalised at our infidelity than our Christian neighbours. Is not that the chief day for traders to sum up the accounts of the week, and for lawyers to prepare their briefs? Perhaps I could add some others to the number; but the fact is beyond dispute, and the reasoning they proceed by is right: for supposing Christianity to be extinguished the people will never he at ease till they find out some other method of worship, which will as infallibly produce superstition as this will end in Popery. It is the wise choice of the subject that alone adorns and distinguishes the writer. Next, Swift warns that the abolition of Christianity (specifically the Anglican church) could lead to a rise in Presbyterianism, or worse in his mind, Catholicism. Suppose, for argument sake, that the Tories favoured Margarita, the Whigs, Mrs. Tofts, and the Trimmers, Valentini, would not Margaritians, Toftians, and Valentinians be very tolerable marks of distinction? But this objection is, I think, a little unworthy so refined an age as ours. Does the Gospel anywhere prescribe a starched, squeezed countenance, a stiff formal gait, a singularity of manners and habit, or any affected forms and modes of speech different from the reasonable part of mankind? The essay was written in 1708, and as was common at the time, was distributed widely as a pamphlet. I hope I shall be forgiven a hard word if I call this a perfect cavil. Early in the work, however, he makes it clear that he is defending only nominal Christianity; to try to restore real Christianity would be a “wild project” that would destroy wit and learning, ruin trade, and disrupt the entire frame of society. © 2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. From this fountain were said to be derived all our foolish notions of justice, piety, love of our country; all our opinions of God or a future state, heaven, hell, and the like; and there might formerly perhaps have been some pretence for this charge. Would any indifferent foreigner, who should read the trumpery lately written by Asgil, Tindal, Toland, Coward, and forty more, imagine the Gospel to be our rule of faith, and to be confirmed by Parliaments? The Argument Against Abolishing Christianity by the Irish clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift presents itself as a case for maintaining Christianity as the official religion of England. But if he argued, as some have done, upon a mistaken principle, that an officer who is guilty of speaking blasphemy may, some time or other, proceed so far as to raise a mutiny, the consequence is by no means to be admitted: for surely the commander of an English army is like to be but ill obeyed whose soldiers fear and reverence him as little as they do a Deity. Jonathan Swift — For the high speed ferry operated by Irish Ferries, see HSC Jonathan Swift. There is a portion of enthusiasm assigned to every nation, which, if it hath not proper objects to work on, will burst out, and set all into a flame.
An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (1708) by Jonathan Swift An argument to prove that the abolishing of Christianity in England may, as things now stand, be attended with some inconveniences, and perhaps not produce those many good effects proposed thereby. What other subject through all art or nature could have produced Tindal for a profound author, or furnished him with readers? To which I answer, that men should be cautious how they raise objections which reflect upon the wisdom of the nation. To offer at the restoring of that, would indeed be a wild project: it would be to dig up foundations; to destroy at one blow all the wit, and half the learning of the kingdom; to break the entire frame and constitution of things; to ruin trade, extinguish arts and sciences, with the professors of them; in short, to turn our courts, exchanges, and shops into deserts; and would be full as absurd as the proposal of Horace, where he advises the Romans, all in a body, to leave their city, and seek a new seat in some remote part of the world, by way of a cure for the corruption of their manners.