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A Vindication of the Press, or An Essay on Usefulness of Writing
by [?]

In answer to which, I shall give the following Particulars: In respect to Uneasinesses in the State, it may not be amiss to premise, that it is esteem’d by Men of Penetration, no small Wisdom in the present Administration, to bestow Preferments on the brightest and most enterprising Authors of the Age; but whether it be so much out of a Regard to the Service they are capable of to the State in their Employs, as to their Writing for the Government, and to answer treasonable Pamphlets, poison’d Pens, etc. I do not take upon me to determine. I must confess, where a Faction prevails, it gives a sensible Monarch some Pain to see Disafection propagated by the Press, without any manner of Restraint; but then, on the other Hand, such a Ruler is thereby let into the Secrets of the Faction, he may with facility penetrate into their deepest Intrigues, and be enabled to avert an impending Storm. Upon approach of a Rebellion, he will be thoroughly sensible from what Quarter his greatest Danger is to be expected, whereby it will be entirely his own Fault, if he be without a sufficient Guard against it, which he could not be appriz’d of (with any certainty) without a general Liberty of Writing: And tho’ Slander must occasion a great deal of Uneasiness to a crown’d Head, the Power of bestowing Favours on Friends only is no small Satisfaction to the Prince, and a sufficient Punishment to his Enemies. And it is my Opinion, that the Grand Sultan, and other Eastern Potentates, would be in a great deal less danger of Deposing, (a Practice very frequent of late) if in some measure a Liberty of Writing was allow’d; for the Eyes of the People would be open, as well for as against their Prince, and their fearing a worse Evil should succeed, might make them easy under a present Oppression.

As for Confusion in the Church, I look upon this to be the greatest Objection that can be raised; but then it must be allow’d, that without Writing the Reformation (the Glory of our Religion) could never have been effected; and in respect to religious Controversies, tho’ I own they are seldom attended with good Consequences, yet I must beg leave to observe, that as the Age we now live in, is more bright and shining in substantial Literature than any preceding Century, so the generality of Mankind are capable of judging with such an Exactness as to avoid a Bad; not but, I confess, I think many of the Persons concern’d in the Controversy lately on foot, with relation to the Bishop of Bangor’s Sermon, preach’d before His Majesty, deserve to be stigmatiz’d, as well for their indecent Heat, as for the Latitude taken with regard to the Holy Scriptures. And for the last Objection, I never knew that Writing was any ways destructive to Liberty, unless it was in a Pamphlet, [entitled King-Killing no Murder] which ’tis said occasion’d the Death of Oliver Cromwel.

These are the Uses of Writings in the Church and the State, with Answers to such Objections as may be made against them, not to mention particularly in respect to the former, the Writings of the Fathers, and even of some Heathen Philosophers, such as Seneca, etc. And besides the valuable Performances of our most eminent Divines in all Ages, as Dr. Taylor, Bishop Usher, Tillotson, Beveridge etc. and The whole Duty of Man, etc. in our private Devotions. I now proceed to the Uses in Arts and Sciences.

How much Posterity will be oblig’d to the Great Sir Isaac Newton and Doctor Flamstead for their Mathematical Writings, is more easy to imagine than the Improvements which may be made from thence; there’s a great deal of Reason to believe, that if a future Age produces a Successor to Sir Isaac, (at present I take it, there’s none in the World) that not only the Longitude at Sea will be discover’d, but the perpetual Motion, so many Ages sought after, found out.