LESLIE'S WORKS--CAUSE OF NEGLECT--HALLAM'S CENSURES--BIRTH, PARENTAGE, CONTEMPORARIES, EDUCATION--STUDENTSHIP IN THE TEMPLE--ORDINATION AND CURE OF SOULS--MARRIAGE--JUSTICE OF PEACE--LADY FRANCES KEIGHTLEY--SUPPLEMENT--LETTER TO A GENTLEMAN, ABRIDGED.
CHARLES LESLIE, theological and political writer, was an author of great talent and learning, whose name and writings have suffered a most undeserved and unfortunate neglect during the nineteenth century. Scotland is the part of the United Kingdom where both are still held in greatest esteem; even there, however, the remembrance is on the wane, except among the old Episcopal clergy, who themselves are of a learned and orthodox school. In the country where he lived, and that in which he was born, his name and books alike now meet with scant praise, and are scarcely ever mentioned even in ecclesiastical circles or writings. Just a century ago exactly the reverse was the case. No name more frequently occurred in conversation, no author's books more frequently elicited warm approval, while yet his death was a recent event. And during his lifetime his celebrity stood unquestionably as high as that of any of his contemporaries. Two causes have operated to produce this alteration. Nonjuring and Jacobite principles with which he was eminently identified have necessarily lost all interest since the settlement of the Hanoverian dynasty, beyond revival of the question now, and extinction of the Stuart royal family. With it have died out, not only the hopes and efforts of its supporters, but the call for laboured invectives and detraction, with which their names were pursued by political writers, so long as the Hanoverian house had anything to fear from adherents to the cause of the Stuarts and hereditary right. When such persons ceased to assail eminent Nonjurors and load their memory with reproach--much of which writing under the name of history in the interest of the Whig party was paid for out of public funds--naturally a deeper oblivion overtook those men than would otherwise have befallen them. For none were longer concerned to defend any more than defame them, and the subject had become so wearisome that the public in general were glad to escape from its mention or repetition, for a season at least, among fresher and more exciting topics. Another reason for the oblivion into which Charles Leslie's name has fallen in recent times is less satisfactory--the decrease of theological learning and study among clergy as well as laity, which ensued upon the establishment of the house of Hanover upon the throne of Great Britain, and has continued down to the present day; with a very slight improvement now perhaps observable in some quarters. How very few names of divines during the last century and a half can be mentioned, who ever wrote a line worth remembrance in the communion of the Churches of England, Ireland, and Scotland! Scarcely half a dozen; and what some wrote was of very questionable orthodoxy, compared with the plain letter of their own formularies. Among Nonjurors were not a meagre half-dozen, but dozens in London, Oxford, and other places, every one of whom was confessedly thoroughly steeped in divinity, and admitted by his opponents, whether political or ecclesiastical, to be entitled to the highest respect for learning and ability in his proper calling. At the present day, incessant pastoral work and a variety of interruptions are often pleaded as an. excuse for want of theological learning and study among the clergy. One would like to think the explanation satisfactory, and to extend it so far as may be obviously required. But if clergy have not time, amid the pressure of engagements of another kind, for study--which is a habit not to be acquired at a later period if neglected in youth--then they should be more chary of preaching on every possible occasion or opportunity. Competition for popularity will not be successful whilst it is conducted upon the plan of rivalling its teachers in mere empty talk, barren impoverished discourses, whether professedly extempore in delivery or otherwise, or of abusing the Church's authority to utter their unsound opinions in her name. And that both the one and the other are extensively practised, Dissenters can testify from experience as well as Church-people. If sermons were less abundant, they would not be so little esteemed; if rarer, they would be of better quality; and congregations, instead of being starved, would be fed with sound doctrine, and thus more heartily attached to the Church, than a vast majority, who go to hear but not to pray, nor to worship, but show their preference for different schools of thoughtlessness. Quite as feeble and impoverished as the sermons heard in sacred buildings are those written and reproduced under various titles in magazines and periodicals. Pens of ready writers, who would write better if they wrote more slowly, are actually hired out under sectarian auspices to give these productions currency, and of necessity contents are toned and watered down to suit the taste of the commercial undertakers. This system as doubly dishonest and unjust. For periodicals acquire popularity and circulation by the names of orthodox divines, and thus become vehicles for dissemination of opinions and statements by heterodox writers which tacitly they disapprove; but numbers of readers are unable to see the distinction. Further, instead of publishers who confine their business within the limits of conscience and authority meeting with support and encouragement for circulating only what is wholesome and sound doctrine, they find the most active opponents trying to hinder and undersell them are the Church's professed defenders for filthy lucre's sake.
If the writings of Charles Leslie have suffered neglect owing to want of study among the clergy, and the growth of a pernicious style of literature upon religious subjects, they have been as unfairly dealt with quite in another way. His arguments and statements have been pirated and plagiarized by a great many writers, without generally the slightest acknowledgment of their obligation; indeed, the silence and reserve with regard to his name is quite remarkable, as if they had never even seen his works, while borrowing wholesale, and picking his brains ad libitum, some of these being persons whom one would hardly have suspected of such dishonesty. Thus, while readers have often been convinced by the mode of reasoning adopted on subjects of controversy, and attributed much merit to some modern divine, they have, in fact, been reading what Charles Leslie wrote with still greater force and clearness without its new dress. His works, indeed, contain a complete armoury of defence against all opponents of the Church. There is scarcely a question between her doctrine and that of all rival and different communions which he has not treated at length. Therefore exclusion of reference to him is in itself a suspicious circumstance, which further examination of several volumes accounts for easily, if not creditably, to their authors.
To wipe off the dust of modern neglect and restore to its rightful position the name of this long-forgotten champion of the Church of England, is the aim and purpose of this work. Should the execution fall short of the design in the opinion of competent judges, yet it will be something to have endeavoured and not succeeded in default of some other pen more capable of doing justice to the subject, better than by silence seem to consent to the unmerited obscurity of a worthy and useful life. There can be no pretext for overlooking his merits any longer, because that question has been decided finally against him in which he differed from the majority of the nation, and with its now unanimous consent a Parliamentary title has been substituted for hereditary right to the throne of England. The cause for which he made tremendous sacrifices and incurred the greatest obloquy has passed beyond the region of dispute. If he were alive he would have no temptation to resuscitate it. But the principles which he laboured most industriously and powerfully to inculcate in politics remain as true as ever, applicable to other questions frequently arising for discussion. It was also in another capacity he shone conspicuously among contemporaries, as a defender of the faith against adversaries of every kind. On this account, therefore, he has a claim to remembrance by posterity. What the eminent lexicographer, Dr. Johnson, said of him has "been unfairly employed to the depreciation and disparagement of other Nonjurors: "Leslie was a reasoner not to be reasoned against." Johnson's meaning was not intended by himself to be pressed too closely to their prejudice, nor had the remark any proper application to Sancroft, Hickes, and others, as has been well pointed out in the interesting biography of William Law. [Overton's "Life and Times of William Law," p. 60 (Longmans, 1881).] But it was rigidly correct in respect of the persons whom the doctor mentioned by way of a distinction from a number of obtrusive advocates, whose incapacity injured the nonjuring cause which they professed to serve. The most noteworthy assailant of Leslie in modern times was Hallam the historian, who has loaded his name with abuse, and contemptuously ridiculed his arguments as mere "stuff." Dr. Johnson was, at least, equal to Hallam in capacity; and Macaulay, though writing on the same side and as prepossessed against the Church of England, has pronounced an exactly opposite verdict. But no one who has read Hallam's history carefully can doubt that his acquaintance with Leslie's writings was of the very slightest and most cursory description. He simply censured what he never took pains to read because it proceeded from an eminent representative of the religion and politics which he naturally detested and held a brief to defame. Hallam not only was laboriously unjust to Nonjurors, the Church of England, and Tories, but with amazing inconsistency has admitted the principles to be sound for which they contended, while heaping personal abuse upon the men who were no longer alive to answer him. "Bigotry," "intolerance," "scurrility," "dulness," and similar epithets, the Whig historian has lavished in profusion upon men of spotless character, exemplary piety, great learning, and shining talents, because they presumed to suffer the loss of all things rather than forswear themselves; because they refused to abandon the principle of hereditary right; because they conscientiously, against their temporal interests, declined to sanction a revolution which they deemed neither warrantable on the grounds put forth for its justification, nor the best expedient for accomplishing a very necessary purpose--the control of an infatuated priest-ridden monarch within the limits of the constitution which he had solemnly pledged himself to maintain. Not a single piece of evidence has been furnished by Hallam in substantiation of any one of the accusations which with unsparing and indiscriminating fury he has hurled against Nonjurors; and yet impartiality was the one superior qualification to which he laid claim, and upon which has been based since use of his work as an authoritative standard and a text-book in educational institutions. His own pages cannot be excused from dulness even by partisans as one-sided as himself, compared with other histories quite as painstaking and much more accurate. If "bigotry," "intolerance," and "scurrility" may be ascribed to a Whig and a sceptic, then not one Nonjuror, nor Tory, nor devoted Churchman whom he has denounced ever deserved the imputation more justly than himself. Much licence is claimed by much allowance extended to controversialists who in the heat of debate deal severely with opponents. But no such licence or allowance can be pleaded for writers who, under the veil of history, endeavour to calumniate and misrepresent good and great men in the eyes of posterity, not only without proofs, but by statements contrary to facts. And of this gross injustice Hallam was deliberately guilty towards Charles Leslie and many other faithful and learned men, only because of their ardent attachment to that Church and that ancient constitution which the Whigs had sedulously laboured to destroy. When the rising generation are being inoculated and poisoned by such writings, it is a duty to protest against the system on the part of those, who have carefully examined cases for themselves, and know that characters and events have been misrepresented with a view of sapping the foundations of true religion and substituting for it a motley incongruous jumble of opinions without authority, under the specious pretence of liberality. It is a convenient method of disposing of arguments to pass them by with a sneer as "stuff," but it would have been common honesty in Hallam to state, at the same time, how many very competent critics differed from that estimate. He has involved himself in many contradictions with regard to parties and individuals at the period of the Revolution, among whom was he whose life and character are here attempted to be portrayed.
If it be shown that, amid much opposition and contention of various kinds, he maintained a reputation for integrity and piety, among honourable and pious men who even differed with him on mainly political and ecclesiastical subjects; if it be shown that he gained the admiration of eminent and learned men both at home and abroad for his talents and acquirements;--then the revilings of mercenary partisans will recoil on themselves and their party, and that justice be accorded which is desired. Leslie has been termed "the leader of the Nonjurors" and the "most distinguished man" among them. He cannot be justly entitled the latter, and he never aspired to the former position, nor was accounted to hold it. In fact, there was no such leader in his day. If there had been, by right it must have been the saintly Sancroft, by qualification George Hickes. A history of Nonjurors as a community requires yet to be written, for Lothbury's ill-digested performance can only be deemed an imperfect contribution of tracts and pamphlets towards it.
Charles Leslie was the sixth son and second surviving of John Leslie, D.D., LL.D., successively Bishop of the Isles in Scotland, and Raphoe and Clogher in Ireland. His father had endured a siege in his palace at the second place, commonly called Raphoe Castle, first by Romanist rebels, and then by the forces of Cromwell, to whom he was compelled at length to yield, being the last to surrender to him in Ireland. This son, therefore, was born in Dublin, whither the bishop retreated for some years, till his palace could be rendered habitable again in 1658.
The event occurred upon Thursday, July 17, 1650, at seven o'clock in the morning, and he was christened by the name of Charles. Although that has become since common in the family, and generally given to the eldest son, it had not been so previously in the original branch of the Leslies settled in Scotland, from whom the bishop was descended. Probably there never had been one so named before, and the reason of its selection in thi£ case is not far to seek. It was bestowed in honourable remembrance of the martyr-king, to whom the bishop had been both devotedly attached and greatly indebted. Well might he add in his family register to this record of loyalty a prayer for his son, "whom may God preserve," when he remembered the king's cruel murder and his own loss of children, amidst many other sufferings mainly owing to unswerving adherence to the royal cause. Some report of this devout aspiration, coupled with a vague idea of the bishop's character and principles, distorted and exaggerated in the usual manner of reports, may have suggested a foolish anecdote related in the first edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," to the effect that before his birth the bishop expressed a hope "that Charles should prove the greatest scourge of Covenanters ever seen." It had not a shadow of foundation in fact, for the bishop was not a man to entertain, much less to proclaim upon the housetop, silly and profane wishes of the kind for the amusement of reviewers and their readers. But because an objection was made to its repetition, a Liberal writer in the last edition has revenged himself by curtailing his account down almost to the point of exclusion; so one injustice has only been replaced by another: but, then, Charles Leslie and his father were neither Liberalists nor latitudinarians.
The year 1650 was remarkable for several important events in the history of the United Kingdom. First and most notable was the birth of the Prince of Orange, whose career so materially affected his whose life is here to be related. On May 21 the gallant Montrose was put to death in a cruel and disgraceful manner by Presbyterians at Edinburgh. Charles II. landed on a fruitless enterprise in Scotland on June 23, and on September 23 Cromwell defeated David Leslie and Alexander at Dunbar. The famous general Marlborough was born in this year also, with whom Leslie was afterwards brought into close acquaintance, though the wide diversity of their general pursuits, habits, and tastes would have prevented it ripening into friendship or intimacy had there been need of much connection. William King, Archbishop of Dublin, was not only born in the same year, but was a contemporary of Charles Leslie at Trinity College, Dublin, and the man who, in concert with Dr. Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, first endeavoured to effect his ruin, and continued his lifelong enemy; the reason of whose antipathy will appear further on. At the age of ten years Charles was sent to school at Enniskillen; one of royal foundation then in the commencement of its useful career, and which with undiminished celebrity has continued to the present day. Grants and endowments out of forfeited estates made by James I. had been renewed by King Charles I. in 1629, and vested in the Archbishop of Armagh (then the famous James Usher) for the benefit of it and other schools in Ireland, at Armagh, Cavan, and Dungannon, the last of which, however, is the only one beside Enniskillen that has sustained a high reputation for its pupils. It used to be said for a very long time, that at entrance examinations in the University of Dublin, where high places are an object of great competition, of the first twelve seven always were gained by pupils from Enniskillen, and five by those from Dungannon. Whatever may I have been the merits of his masters, no registers remain to show that Leslie exhibited any proficiency indicative of his hereditary talents or future greatness. At the early age of fourteen from thence he passed to matriculate in the University as a fellow-commoner, on August 4, 1664; but that was not unusual then as now. His tutor was Dr. Michael; Ward. There is no further mention of his name in the College books till his admission to the degree of Master ot I Arts in 1673, not even of his becoming a Bachelor of Arts--an omission noticeable in regard to some other persons of the name of Leslie, for which no reason can be assigned.
It is sufficiently evident, however, that he gained no distinctions of any kind during his University career, nor gave any promise then either of the learning or talents which subsequently he exhibited. It is the more remarkable, because he must have applied himself to books and formed a habit of study long before, or else he never could have made up for arrears of lost time so completely as to acquire that extensive range of information which he displayed when he betook himself to writing on controversial subjects.
Nor had he to mourn that painful hindrance to success, worse than actual poverty, which has discouraged many a youth conscious of higher powers--domestic discouragement and neglect. Parents, brothers, and sisters have thus in pure selfishness blighted the prospects and aspirations of geniuses who could have elevated their whole families to honour and fortune. But Charles Leslie had no such injustice to complain of. What is more, his father set an example which, unfortunately, has not been followed by men of rank and station in Ireland as it ought. If any one would have been justified in sending his son for education elsewhere, it was the Bishop of Clogher, because he was not an Irishman. But he had that higher patriotism which recognized duty to the land of his adoption. Is it any wonder that the gulf of separation between the nobility and the people of Ireland has been continually widening, when the former, generation after generation, were taught to look with contempt upon the very noblest institutions of their native country? Landlords have committed many wrongs, but no graver mistake, nor more unwarrantable proof of a want of patriotism have they given than this neglect of Trinity College, Dublin.
The bishop had died in 1671, and Charles's first intention after leaving the University was to become a barrister, for which purpose he entered himself a student of the Temple in London, and continued in the profession for ten years. During this period he became conversant with the principles both of civil and ecclesiastical law, and acquired a considerable facility in dealing with the legal bearings of questions in public life, which he showed on several occasions to advantage afterwards. There does not appear much foundation for the statement, first made by Ware and Walter Harris, and frequently repeated by others since, that he grew wearied of the dryncss and intricacy of the law. He never said so himself; on the contrary, he took pleasure in exercising his acquirements whenever opportunity offered. Casual expressions in conversation have been assigned a meaning they were not intended to bear. What he said was only of a general character concerning a practice of counsel trying to make the worse appear the better cause in a client's behalf. This he condemned, and to what extent it was often carried some persons can remember in a very remarkable trial on a capital charge, when the advocate solemnly assured the jury of his own conviction of the prisoner's innocence. The evil lies, not so much in the danger of an intelligent jury being misled by counsel practising it, as of suspicions of guilt being created in other cases where more conscientious men refrained from giving such assurance, if it became customary. How far counsel are tempted or required to put false glosses upon cases in general, and how far this may be justifiable in foro conscientiae, is a difficult question left for others to determine.
If Leslie's scruples were not singular, yet they were not the result of any painful experience, nor had any personal and particular reference. Now, the simple truth is that, like many another clever barrister, he obtained no briefs most evidently because he had no connection among solicitors to give him a start in his profession; which did not fail to damp his expectations. It is not surprising, since his acquaintance in England was necessarily at that time limited, and no reputation of University success had accompanied his arrival at the Temple. There was another reason. Solicitors have always showed great shrewdness in discovering the young men likely to suit their purpose. They find out their characters, habits, and pursuits, as well as talents. And they would not have formed a favourable opinion of Leslie if they learned, as they easily could have done, that he was much more absorbed in the study of divinity and ecclesiastical history than the subjects in which they needed proficiency. That was the real state of the case. He had, in fact, mistaken his profession, and though no doubt he might have eventually succeeded by perseverance, nor could be said to have felt disgusted with the law, nature exerted itself at length in the conviction that his proper and more congenial sphere of employment would be the ministry of the Church. His elder brother having been set apart for that, family arrangement had settled for him to go to the Bar; as it has done in numberless other cases, without consideration of his peculiar aptitude for the calling, and before he knew his own mind. At the end of ten years the propriety of a change became apparent, and he offered himself for Holy Orders. There was no difficulty in accomplishing his wishes. His brother owned the property at Glaslough which the bishop had left, but he very gladly shared his home with him, and Charles had some means of his own; not much, but a competence. An opening also conveniently offered there to act as curate assistant of the parish church, for his brother had an incumbency in another part of the diocese. Accordingly he was ordained Deacon in 1680 by Dr. Sheridan, Bishop of Cloyne; Priest, 1681, by the Bishop of Kilmore, being at the time just thirty years of age. His first title seems to have been in Cloyne for a very short time. The parish of Donagh, in which Glaslough is situated, did not afford much field for his energies or talents. It is now a poor place, and was even more so then. The population consisted mainly of Presbyterians and Romanists; Church-people, or as they were termed, in distinction from the former as well as the latter, members of the Protestant Church, were nearly all dependents of the Castle. Thus he had the more time for pursuit of those studies to which he was devoted. His position also in society marked him out for the office of a magistrate, to which he was appointed about the same time as his ordination to the priesthood, and the ability and activity displayed in administration of justice, when the duties of that office were less simple and less of a routine character than in more recent times, soon commended him to notice and respect among other gentlemen on the Bench. His opinion began to be sought beyond his own jurisdiction and upon questions of difficulty of various kinds, so that he became the chief authority upon civil as well as ecclesiastical matters both in his own county, Monaghan, and in the adjoining ones. That he took great delight in this office is evident, not only from the zeal manifested in its work, but from a treatise written afterwards, in which at considerable length he justified the combination of clerical and magisterial functions in the same person. What can be said in its favour is there stated forcibly and clearly; but, therefore, all the more forcible are the objections which he has abstained from considering. Experience does not confirm his judgment. The practice is injurious in several respects, and tends to stamp the Church with a mark of Erastianism, however convenient it may be for State purposes, in neighbourhoods where there is a scarcity of suitable persons. The clergy most eager to become justices of the peace are not generally distinguished for their knowledge of divinity nor high estimation of the priesthood--which, however, may be a recommendation to some minds--but rather are candidates for position in society or the world's eye. There are also still more serious objections. The poor, who form the greater part of every parish, intensely dislike justice administered by a clergyman, and feel personally aggrieved by a sentence from him; which may be an erroneous sentiment, but is natural, and can never be eradicated. Besides, the two characters of priest and justice are essentially incompatible, for the confidence expected in the one case is actually forbidden, if it were not impossible, by the caution required in the other. It is a palpable contradiction that a man should upon Sunday invite his people to resort to him "for ghostly counsel and the benefit of absolution" if their "consciences be burdened with any weighty matter," and they be encouraged by the further security of secrecy, pledged in the 113th canon, that he shall "not reveal to any person an offence or crime," when that same man, no longer as a priest but a magistrate, is in duty bound to hand over to the tender mercies of the police the person who fondly ventured to confess that he had stolen a goose, or signed a wrong name, or used false weights, or sent bad meat to a distance for human food--offences not beyond the bounds of experience to be committed, or probably to be repented of and confessed.
The duty of confession is not advocated here, so Protestant readers need not be offended; but it is distinctly thus sanctioned by the Church of England, and was far more positively enjoined by the great reformer, John Knox, upon all Christian people. No answer is furnished in the treatise of Charles Leslie to these difficulties, therefore it must remain for some one else to explain and reconcile the administration of Law and Gospel by a priest under obligations both to secrecy and disclosure at the same time.
Here is a fair abstract of his reasoning on the contrary side, which clerical magistrates can quote in their own defence: "There are many prejudiced against our clergy being admitted to any share in the civil administrationthey pretend that it is at least an hindrance to the office of their calling, which they would have wholly abstracted from the world, and to respect only heavenly things.... This is a spice of monkish superstition. I would pray these men to consider whether the practice be not as necessary to a clergyman as the preaching of good doctrine, and wherein can he show his practice more, or so beneficially, as in assisting to making good laws and preventing wickedness being established by law. ... The young king Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. ... God Himself made priests the chief judges even in secular affairs under the Law, and does not the reason hold the same under the Gospel, viz. that they are supposed, and ought to be most conscientious in the discharge of this duty; and consequently that it is best for the people that the clergy should have the discharge of it? Docs not the apostle argue from the same topic I Cor. vi., and think it fit that the Church should judge of secular matters? ... It is true Christ gave no civil authority at all to His Church; but He nowhere debarred her from it if given by the secular power, And the judging which S. Paul speaks of is plainly voluntary arbitration, not encroaching in the least upon the office of the civil magistrate. But this shows that it was no ways unfit for clergymen to concern themselves in secular matters, else it would be as unlawful to be arbitrators as judges. . . . No man but thinks it becoming the office of a clergyman to be a peacemaker, which is impossible without understanding something of worldly business. And might he not do this with more advantage if he were clothed with the civil authority? I have seen the experience of it, and the country very sensible of the benefit of a clergyman in the Commission of the Peace, where they had that dispatch, and justice and protection, which they bemoaned the want of when he was removed from them. ... If he be a good man and understanding, no man can be a fitter magistrate, and thereby more recommend him as to his spiritual office, when they see and taste and feel his justice, prudence, beneficence, and charity, as well as hear him discourse it from the pulpit; when he can contribute and vote and act for the support of the poor, and be their remembrancer and advocate every assizes and sessions, as well as recommend it in a sermon; when he can browbeat the audacious and profane, and if not convert them, yet keep them within decency, that their infection spread not among his flock; when a debauchee dare not swear two or three rappers in his face, burlesque the holy Scriptures, or ... without the correction of the stocks. . . . It cannot be unbecoming the character of a clergyman, that he be enabled to preserve religion and morality from insults and outrage." ["Essay concerning Divine Right of Tithes," vol. vii. pp. 424-427, Oxford ed.] This defence of his secular capacity, written ten years after he had ceased to exercise it, shows that time had not altered his opinion of its propriety. Nor is it hard to trace in it his own experience, for his removal on all hands was admitted a great loss to the magisterial bench.
Now it will be an agreeable diversion to view the author in his more private relations. He married" Jane, daughter of the Very Reverend Richard Griffith, Dean of Ross.
One who held this same position, together with the more difficult post of Rector in a large northern town at a later date for many years, used to say that he had "never been there in his life;" but, if it were a sinecure, equally nominal was the remuneration. In Dean Griffith's day the dignity and duties were just a trifle more of a reality; but Ross itself can scarcely be said to have had much substantial existence in an ecclesiastical sense either then or since, consisting of the county of Kerry, the most remote in the south-west of Ireland, and alternately made a mere appendage to other dioceses, Cloyne, or Cork and Cloyne, without a Cathedral, and its churches during the seventeenth century nearly all in a grievous state of dilapidation. Such honorary titles are in the patronage of the Lord-lieutenant, and generally conferred upon clerical supporters of the Government, or on men of some social standing, through family interest.
Any persons concerned about the propriety of clerical marriages must be respectfully referred to what is said upon the subject in the life of his father, the Bishop of Clogher, and to Charles Leslie's own remarks in the same treatise in which their appointment to the magistracy is defended, for justification of himself in following his father's example. A more generally interesting matter will be the wife's position in her new home. What a woman is supposed to desire is a house of her own; whether a castle, a cottage, or a parsonage, to be the head and mistress of the establishment. That Mrs. Charles could not have been at Glaslough, for the bishop's wife still lived, and of course reigned supreme, at least nominally and by right. And if the Dean should marry, yet another could take precedence of the bride as only a younger son's wife. [This occurred in 1698.] How did this arrangement answer? Could not any one have predicted the consequence? Was not the very idea of its lasting preposterous? Notwithstanding any such forebodings, the arrangement did answer exceedingly well. No domestic brawls disturbed the house; no symptoms of incompatibility were ever known for some six years or more. When an interruption of peace and harmony did come, it came not from within, but from without; not owing to any discord among the inmates, but the political revolution which drove Charles Leslie and his family from the home and country to which he had become attached. No doubt a great deal of discretion and forbearance had to be exercised to maintain close and cordial relations at all times, and keep things in tune; but these qualities, or the want of them, would have been manifested no less under different circumstances. The more credit is due to the happy family at Glaslough, that no actual necessity hindered their separation had it been desirable at any previous period. In 1686 another event occurred out of the usual course. Lady Frances Keightlcy came to reside with them, sister of the Earls of Clarendon and Rochester, and wife of Mr. Thomas Keightley, a gentleman holding an office in the Civil Service, and residing at Leixlip, near Dublin; with his full consent and at her own desire. It is of importance because it explains another matter, about which much mystery and. needless conjectures have been hazarded. She had been tempted to apostasy from the Christian faith by certain persons mixing in the highest classes of society. Such a step gave a terrible shock to her family, especially her husband and Lord Clarendon, who had used all efforts of dissuasion in vain. Fortunately at this time she became acquainted with Charles Leslie through a mutual friend, to whom his character and ability in controversy were well known. Her mind was in a state of great distraction, and she desired some place of retirement where she might calmly review the painful doubts which had been suggested concerning the whole truth of religion. Lord Clarendon's letter to his brother will best explain the arrangement further. "That unfortunate woman, Keightley told me a fortnight since, was offered a retreat at Mr. Leslie's house, which he agreed to. They are two brothers, clergymen who live together, and have very good women for their wives.1 They are very worthy men, and of good esteem in their calling. Her husband knows them well. Thither she went on this day was a sennight. It is a private place in the north about 60 miles from hence, that is as far as from London to Bristol (sic). There she may stay as long as I will, and we will be thinking of another retreat.--Chapel Izod, Sept. 6, 1686." [Clarendon's Diary.]
Now, this letter is satisfactory in two respects, when compared with one published afterwards in connection with a vindication of Leslie's "Short and Easy Method with the Deists." All sorts of ingenious speculations have been hazarded, both about the person referred to by his lordship, and the other addressed by Leslie. Mr. Gleig, in a very interesting and generous defence of him, suggested the Duke of Leeds as the latter. But it could be shown that Leslie had no communication with the duke upon any subject, nor could have held intercourse with him at that period, if ever afterwards any intimacy occurred between them. Leslie was never his chaplain, as again has been erroneously stated. The duke joined in the Church party ultimately and spoke contemptuously of the Revolution; but when that letter was originally written, he, as Earl Danby, was a decided Whig, with no concern about points of faith at all; and soon after took a foremost part in the conspiracy against King James II. His name, therefore, is out of the question. But why should the author's own positive statement be rejected, when no possible motive can be suggested for doubting it? And he distinctly asserted of his treatise upon its republication, that "it was at first but two sheets of paper wrote for the satisfaction of a gentlewoman (though it is addressed as to a man) who had been staggered with the arguments of Deism even to distraction; for though she told me she had not become to be a downright Deist, yet she was not able to answer their arguments, nor to clear up the matter in her own mind. . . . She came to abstain from all prayers even in private, and she was in a most deplorable condition, owning that she was often tempted to destroy herself, which she was afraid would be the issue. I found discoursing with her had but little effect, for in that violent discomposure she could not give attention, but would fall out into terrible exclamations, and wishing herself dead, or that she had never been born. I then wrote this letter to her, free from all intricacies and suited to her capacity; and prevailed with her to copy it in her own hand, thinking that would fix her attention the more, and prevent those wandering thoughts which interrupted her consideration of what was offered to her in discourse. And by the blessing of God this had the desired effect, and at last was fully convinced, as she still remains." [Vindication of "Short and Easy Method," vol. i. pp. 257, 258,, Oxford ed.] Nothing could be more explicit than this account, tallying exactly with the facts ascertained of Lady Frances residing at Glaslough, for some reason not publicly known at the time. For want of the proper due aspersions have been cast upon her reputation, and suggestions hazarded of her ailment without a shadow of foundation by readers of Clarendon's "Diary" and "Letters," which much more properly would apply to the eighteenth or nineteenth century habits than the seventeenth. One may well shrink from the keeping of a diary or correspondence, if private affairs are to be ruthlessly misconceived and misrepresented in the odious light of vices belonging to a succeeding age. Instead of a stain or shade of reproach resting upon the name of the daughter of that nobleman her father, and that nobleman her brother, the two Lords Clarendon, Lady Frances Keightley stands out here distinguished as a most excellent and sensible woman, who, when subjected to that temptation of superior rather than inferior intellects, wisely resolved to seek satisfaction for her doubts by no hasty apostasy, the usual resort of weak minds. She neither flung herself into Charybdis nor upon Scylla, nor continued to flounder upon a sea of idle private conjecture, but quietly applied first to her natural and proper guides in religion, away from scenes of excitement or disturbance of her thoughts. Her conduct might afford an example worthy of imitation to many of both sexes, who often become sated and wearied with the frivolities of what is called high life, and then unreasonably for then-dejection blame a religion the very elements of which thcy ncver rightly understood or cared to learn; or those with intellectual tastes, though somewhat overrating their powers, who seek notoriety and satisfaction by adopting the most fashionable craze in religion of their day. Such persons "vert"--they are none of them converted in any real sense, but perverted either to superstition or infidelity, nor add much credit to the particular system adopting or adopted by them. Lady Frances showed herself of nobler character and finer mould. The happy result was, under the Divine blessing, what had been desired and anticipated. She recovered from her painful temptation by wicked Deists, regained her lost balance of mind, and became not only, as she had been before, distinguished for honour and ability, but a faithful devoted daughter of the true Church in England. The veil of mystery properly drawn over a lady's identity would not even have been lifted here to satisfy a reasonable curiosity concerning Leslie's reference, if such delicacy had not been first dispensed with by the publishers of Lord Clarendon's "Diary," and thereby exposed his sister's name to suspicions and suggestions which are shown to be utterly unwarrantable. Her friendship continued thus cemented by the purest and holiest of obligations ever afterwards, nor did her connection and domiciliation at Glaslough terminate till Leslie himself had to remove to England. His was most truly a work of charity in affording her a pleasant home, with opportunity of meditation apart from the baneful society of infidels. At the same time, nothing could have been more judicious than his plan of putting his arguments in the shape of a letter, instead of worrying controversial discourses and conversations. Truth is seldom elicited by these, but much unwholesome agitation produced, and a combative antagonistic disposition to question, and display one's own talent in making objections. Many perverts from the Church of England have ascribed their change of faith to the mode of handling adopted by ill-qualified preachers of controversial sermons, who have only suggested doubts, and exposed their own vanity and incompetence.
An epitome of the letter is now presented, which can be skipped by readers who have no taste for such dissertations. It is hoped that ladies who may favour this work with perusal will not be among the number, but show that the author originally, in addressing his arguments to one of their sex, rightly estimated their mental capacities as on a par with the others of stronger physical powers.
The letter is here reduced to about its first dimensions, without omission of any material part of the contents as amplified and extended in publication by himself afterwards.
A LETTER TO A GENTLEMAN.
I have read over your papers with great satisfaction r and heartily bless God with you, and for you, that He has had mercy and opened your eyes... given you likewise that true spirit of repentance to make what satisfaction you can for the injuries you have done to religion.
I. Creation.--You have laid the true foundation of God against the atheist, of His creation of the world and providence against assertors of blind chance. If all be chance then their thoughts are so too. ... Others suppose the world and all things to have been from eternity, and gone on in a constant succession. But a succession cannot be without a beginning.
2. Providence.--To deny providence in the First Cause, is the denying of a God. Whence had we ours, for we find we have one: "He that made the eye, docs He not see? "And He who put providence into the heart of man, has He none Himself? ... The glory of His wisdom and power seems greater in providence than creation, especially in governing the actions of free agents without taking from them the freedom of their will to do as they list, and turning their very evil into good by the almightiness of His wisdom. ... This strikes us more sensibly, and is nearer to us than the making of a tree or a star... When the sins of men are increased, He permits their destruction of each other. And they are so free agents, that they think it their own doing; though under the unseen direction of a superior power.... His providence is observable in private affairs. A thought sometimes darting into a man's mind to rid him of a difficulty, or show him an advantage. Events he thought to his utter ruin he finds afterwards to be much for the best, and that he had been undone if that had not happened which he feared. On the other hand, things he thought for his great benefit he has found to be for his hurt. This shows a Providence, which sees further than we can, and disposes all our actions, though done in the full freedom of our own will to what He pleases.
3. Revelation.--Those considerations are earthly in comparison of heavenly things which God has revealed in holy Scriptures (Wisdom ix. 13-16). ... All religions pretend to revelation for their original. The heathen and Mohammedan not only want the marks which ascertain the truth of fact, but their morals and worship are impure, and inconsistent with the attributes of God. Some philosophers spoke against revenge, but not on account of humanity and love to our brethren: and by humility they meant only dejection of mind, which is a vice; they had no notion of it as a virtue. . . . The Jewish religion has the certainty of fact, and its morals are good, but came not up to primitive purity. Perfection of morals and the true knowledge of God was reserved for the Christian religion, which has the infallible marks; and answers the objection of Jews that Christ wrought His miracles by Beelzebub; for we must alter our notion of Satan and suppose him to be good, and his kingdom be then at an end, which we see not yet done if Satan cast out Satan.
4. The Holy Trinity.--We acknowledge there are many things in the Divine nature far out of the reach of our reason. . . . Yet this obliges us to allow the necessary consequences of a First Cause. . . . As to the contradiction alleged in Three being One, it is none unless it be said they are so in the same respect. . . . One army may consist of thousands; there is one human nature, yet multitudes partake of it. The three Persons are one nature, not three and one in the same respect. Again, that may be a contradiction in one nature which is not in another; e.g. a man may go two miles as soon as one, because two is but one and another one. Yet this is no contradiction to sight, which can reach a star as well as a chimney-top, and the sun darts his rays in one instant from heaven to earth; but more than all these is the motion of thought. ... No words can give an idea of sight or light to a man born blind, and consequently to reconcile the progress of either to him from being a contradiction. . . . Therefore we cannot charge that as a contradiction in the Incomprehensible Nature, though we found it to be so in ours of being three in one.
We find in our nature a near resemblance of the Holy Trinity, and of the different operations of each of the Divine Persons. Understanding, the father faculty, answers to creation. From this proceeds memory, the second; the third faculty the will. These are all different, and their operations different; one is as soon in the soul as the other, yet make not three souls but one soul; none can act without the other, nor exist without the other. What we call faculties in the soul, we call Persons in the Godhead, because there are personal actions attributed to each. And we have no other words, but these are in condescension to our weak capacities. . . . By the word Person when applied to God we must mean something infinitely different from personality among men. ... It was a saying among philosophers that the soul is all in all, and all in every part of the body. Is there anything in a body can bear any resemblance to this without manifest contradiction?
5. Of Differences among Christians.--A multiplicity of sects and divisions our Saviour foretold should come for the probation of the elect; as some Canaanites left in the land to teach the Israelites the use of war. . . . When we are put to contend earnestly for the faith it quickens our zeal, keeps us upon guard. ... To some this high privilege is granted "in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." These go to make up the noble army of martyrs and confessors for ever triumphant in heaven. Others conquer even here on earth, that God's wonderfulness may be known to the children of men. But as he who builds a tower ought first to compute the expense, and he who goes to war to consider; so our blessed Saviour has instructed us, that he who will be His disciple must resolve beforehand to take up his cross daily.
6. The Doctrine of Satisfaction.--Here is the foundation of the Christian religion, that when man had sinned, and was utterly unable to make any satisfaction, God sent His own Son to take upon Him our flesh, to make full satisfaction by His perfect obedience and sacrifice upon the Cross. . . . God is not only just, but essential justice. . . . To remit is mercy, it is not justice, and the attributes of God must not oppose each other. . . . Here is justice satisfied to the least iota in the same nature that offended. Here is infinite wisdom expressed in this means found out for our salvation, and infinite mercy in affording it to us. Thus all His attributes are satisfied and filled up to the brim; they contradict not, but exalt one another.
7. The Socinians,--They deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the divinity of Christ. But they are confounded to give any account for His death. . . . Dying does not confirm any doctrine, only shows that he who does so believes it. If we look to the Saviour as our sacrifice, this is a rock and infallible assurance.
8. The Church of Rome,--She has greatly vitiated and depressed this doctrine by her own theories of merit and satisfaction by penance--as if it were not sufficient.
9. The Dissenters.--They run to the contrary extreme, making good works not necessary, nor of any effect towards salvation. They damn the greatest part of the world by irreversible decrees of reprobation . . . take away free-will in man and make him a machine. They make God the author of sin ... and His promises and threaten-ings of no effect.
10. The True Notion of the Church.--The Church must be considered not as a sect, but a society under government appointed by Christ This power was delegated to apostles and their successors to the end of the world. Each in his own Church, and all these together, are the Catholic Church.
11. Of an Universal Bishop.--Christ appointed none. No such theory was known in the primitive Church, more than an universal monarch over the world. It was set up first by John, Bishop of Constantinople, then by the Bishop of Rome, in the seventh century.
If there was one universal bishop, the Church must fall if he fell. This obliged the pope to set up infallibility in his Own person. And Bellarmine calls this absolute supremacy the sum and foundation of the Christian religion. Now it is generally decried by papists themselves, and sought to be placed in General Councils; but these are not always in being. Besides, they have contradicted one another. Others place this infallibility in the Church diffusive, which is indefinite.
12. Of the Infallibility of the Church.--There is an infallibility in the Church not personal, for millions of fallibles can never make an infallible. It consists in the nature of the evidence, which, having all the four marks, cannot possibly be false. . . . Thus, whatever doctrine has been taught (rule of Vincentius Lirinensis) always everywhere and by all is the Christian. This was the method taken in the council at Alexandria against Arius. And thus every doctrine may be reduced to fact. A council stands as evidence of the fact, not as judge of the faith. . . They who refuse this rule are broaching some novel doctrine.
13. Of Episcopacy.--The apostles did ordain bishops as governors; this was the current notion and language of antiquity. Thus it continued till John Calvin, in all which time there was not any one Church that was not episcopal. The dispute of Korah was not as to doctrine or worship, but government. And S. Jude brings down the same case to the Christian Church. . . . The Church is called "the pillar and ground of the truth," as being a society instituted by Christ for support and preservation of the faith . . . which no particular Church can attribute to itself. Heresies began by infraction upon this institution. In all Scripture there is not one instance of a schism against the priesthood which God appointed, but errors in doctrine and worship followed.