Project Canterbury

Life and Writings of Charles Leslie, M.A., Nonjuring Divine
by the Rev. R. J. Leslie, M.A.

London: Rivingtons, 1885.

Chapter IV.


NOTHING was more natural than that he should resolve upon taking up his abode in London after return from the Isle of Wight with the Kcightleys, or at least residing there until some providential circumstance should direct him elsewhere. It was the centre to which his thoughts and hopes would naturally turn, because there he would have the earliest opportunities of intelligence concerning political and ecclesiastical affairs of great importance; because also there he could mix more freely in the society for which he was adapted, and find a field for employment of his abilities. On his first arrival he spent some time with Lord Clarendon at his country seat and in town, who had appointed him his private chaplain, rather in an honorary capacity than with a view of performing ecclesiastical duties. If any such intention had been entertained, it would have soon been removed by the strong measures adopted by William's government against Nonjuring clergy to hinder their officiating in churches, as well as their own scruples about the Prayers. However for a while this did not preclude him from being invited and consenting to do duty at some churches occasionally. For instance, on two successive Sundays, 8th and 15th of September, 1689, he was the preacher at the Services in Charlbury Church, when the rector was not only present, but afterwards dined with his wife at the same table, though there is no record attesting which Royalties were prayed for. And probably the same was the case at other churches. In the next year a change had taken place. Nonjuring clergy were no longer permitted to preach in parish churches, nor willing themselves or their supporters to countenance services where the king and queen's names were superseded. Tillotson, the intruding archbishop, himself admitted the propriety of this refusal with those who could not conscientiously assent; and the practice of some who were reluctant to leave their parish churches, of standing up or muttering protest against the usurpers' names, was not one to be commended upon any principle whatever. Accordingly a separation had become no longer a question for discussion in theory, but an inevitable necessity in practice. There now stood side by side two Communions, each professing to be the true Church of England, and accusing the other of schism. It was not a case of wide diversity upon fundamental points as between the Churches of England and Rome, which could not be bridged over except by abandonment of her whole position on the part of one or other, but of two sections thoroughly united still upon every material point of doctrine or discipline. There was the distressing spectacle of a house divided against itself, with rival priesthoods, altars, and sacraments, the worshippers firmly convinced for the most part that the blame of such a grievous state of things between Christians, Catholics, and Church-people lay not with themselves but with their opponents. As family quarrels generally are more bitter than any others, so Nonjurors and Jacobites (another term of reproach now brought into vogue by the necessities of political hatred, and an absurd misnomer) were more bitterly denounced than Romanists or Dissenters by professors of the same religion, and of course became in consequence embittered against them. Both declared the Rubicon had been passed, yet it was not even a new Rubric in the Prayer-book which divided them, nor a new interpretation of an old one, but the mere filling up of a blank space intended to be supplied as occasion should from time to time require. The burden of proof lay with those who demanded alteration suddenly; and since none satisfactory could be furnished, their duty and wisdom was to have devised some plan for leaving it an open question, which must have had a healing tendency in time, and helped to close the wound. Instead of which, since Christianity was not the aim of a revolutionary government, but domination, a galling seton was introduced of the most painful description. Some persons who talk blandly of the mistake Non-jurors made in separating, evidently do not realize their position in regard to principle. They did not separate from the Church of England, nor propose any alteration in terms of communion, but were violently dispossessed for adhering to engagements which they had solemnly sworn to. The real departure was on the part of those who treated these engagements as waste paper, and violated them every time they joined in public worship. The question was not at all about the doctrine of divine right to m the throne; although up to that moment almost universally it had been held in the Church of England, and most of m those abjuring bishops and priests had constantly proclaimed it with their own lips; but concerning the obligation of an oath which all had deliberately taken, and now claimed a liberty to revoke. Therefore the position of Non-jurors cannot be rightly estimated in the light of affairs now, when any clergy as much as laity might conscientiously renounce attachment to the House of Hanover or the Houses of Parliament, if it should be the will of the nation to get rid of them, for their only title to existence is that will. Now it is a simple question of expediency, then it was one of principle; now it is only a matter of politics, then it was an integral feature of the whole English constitution. Accordingly Nonjurors were forced to form a Communion of their own, and they did so, though the numbers were small who united with them in Public Worship; a majority who fully concurred in their principles shrinking from so open a declaration. Ely House, the residence of the Bishop of Ely, contained one of the Chapels in which service was held. The bishop, Dr. Francis Turner, had been among the Seven sent to the Tower, but he remained loyal, and was subjected to a great deal of persecution on the plea of being engaged in conspiracies against William, none of which charges could be substantiated. Macaulay, who has undertaken to repeat them, can only make out his case by putting his own construction upon language which he admits to be metaphorical in letters, which, if genuine, are quite compatible with the bishop's own asseverations. Upon the commemoration of Kin^ Charles's martyrdom, service was held at Ely House, when Charles Leslie was the preacher, and delivered "a most excellent sermon to about sixty persons, a great auditory at this time," according to the testimony of Lord Clarendon at whose desire he undertook the duty. If it be remembered that the anniversary fell upon a Thursday, when revolutionists could not for bare shame observe it, the flock was not so small in comparison of the numbers who now attend week-day services. However, such an auditory was too much for the sensibilities of men in power. And when a month more elapsed," the king had been told of the great concourse of people" who assembled at Ely House; so it was ordered to be closed. Such was religious liberty permitted by a man who came over ostensibly to defend religion and liberty according to his own declaration. Everybody knew which of the hawk tribe had hatched this egg, and Lloyd was the cuckoo's fool who volunteered to convey the arbitrary summons. The good Bishop of Ely felt much aggrieved; and if these schemers had foreseen the obloquy to be incurred, they perhaps might hardly have thought the success of their trick repaid them. Nonjurors could not be prohibited in this manner from meeting together for divine worship. William knew better, though he had the will, than to provoke even Nonjurors to desperation and arm the multitude in their defence, who very soon began to exhibit their dislike of him. So various churches were opened in London and other places, where their little congregations could worship in peace and security. At several of these Charles Leslie often officiated as a priest, and was a favourite preacher from time to time; but he never undertook any regular cure, nor attached himself to a particular congregation.

Other ways of ministerial usefulness, which he did not fail to use, offered without giving umbrage or occasioning jealousy among the clergy of the Establishment, such as cases of conscience and sickness. One of these, which occurred in the summer of 1690, will serve as an illustration. A gentleman named Tempest was taken suddenly ill, who desired to see a clergyman; and Leslie was brought to his house. He was then in a high fever and had been raving all the night, so that the doctors objected to his being disturbed. Upon seeing Leslie he inquired if he had taken the oaths, and on being assured that he had not, expressed great satisfaction, and requested him to come again in the.afternoon, which he did. The fever shortly returned, and he died early the next morning. Medical attendants are sometimes too officious thus with their patients, and take a very serious responsibility upon themselves in trying to make physical health appear of more consequence than spiritual. This instance, however, shows how strongly a conscientious objection prevailed among laity, which did not always manifest itself in public life, when a sick man felt upon his death-bed an invincible repugnance to the ministrations of a priest who had taken the oaths. Nobody, again, could hinder Leslie in holding private discussions and debates upon religious subjects, his special aptitude in which soon became extensively known, so that numbers of persons in different classes and with widely different views resorted to him for a solution of difficulties on the subject of religion, or with a view of testing his ability to meet arguments in favour of their own systems. This practice continued for several years, when not interrupted by absence on other business; and his accessibility and good humour won for him great esteem among members of various sects; though he never cultivated an unworthy popularity by the slightest concession of principle, or hesitation to speak decidedly and plainly against their errors. His particular intimacies were confined chiefly to the circle of those who agreed with him upon ecclesiastical and political matters, but he always readily acceded to the many requests made for his advice and direction in spiritual matters. Thus, happily, the base devices of Whig and unreasonable men were overruled for the benefit of the Church, and by that very attempt to silence him, an open and effectual door was provided for a ministry of mercy which he was most admirably fitted to fulfil. Clergymen are frequently said to be bad men of business, yet every conceivable business which no one else likes to undertake in a parish is by common consent shifted to the priest's shoulders. He is made a sort of parochial omnibus, so that in the multitude and variety of secular concerns thrust upon him by the laity he is sorely beset to discharge his spiritual functions. And it is observable that aggrieved parishioners and parliamentary scouts who claim to regulate ritual in public services, are those who contribute least of their time, substance, or small abilities to any useful parish work. Instead of being a reproach, it is a credit to a clergyman that he abstains from the meddlesome, fussy interference of a Burnet or a Lloyd, with affairs which belong to the laity, and confines himself to the ministry of the Word of God and to Prayer. To that his Ordination vows pledged him; and the reputation acquired by catering for public amusement, organizing lectures on all the 'ologies, presiding at bazaars, concerts, cricket matches, and various other worldly engagements, is at the expense of duty in his proper character and the study of theology.

Leslie had perceived already that discussion and controversy were ill adapted to minds much excited upon religious subjects, and that calm meditation was much more likely to have a beneficial effect. Materials for this purpose, however, were evidently wanting or inaccessible to most people. Many learned treatises had been written on almost every question, but there was a scarcity of simple and easy manuals suited to the capacities of ordinary readers, which yet should grasp the main points of each and treat them in a reverential and becoming manner. Therefore he turned his attention to a supply of this deficiency, and commenced at the very beginning; partly because the outline of an argument against the Deists lay before him which he had already used to good purpose; and partly because Deists were then most notorious and defiant in proclaiming their pernicious tenets, with very slight discouragement if not actual countenance from persons in high station, who ought to have been foremost in opposing them. His own idea was corroborated by that of many on whose judgment he could rely as to the desirability and seasonableness of such an undertaking. This was the origin of the "Short and Easy Methods," by which he entitled several treatises written in defence of the Catholic faith. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that a modern sceptic, who has devoted himself to the task of criticizing Leslie's performances, should, in direct denial of the author's own statement, presume to ascribe this first treatise as a reply to Charles Blount's "Oracles of Reason." It was composed and published several years before that wretched man's feeble blast was heard of, arising out of those circumstances already narrated. Notice of Blount only came into Leslie's treatise incidentally upon its republication, and lest silence might be misunderstood or misrepresented in regard to Apollonius Tyanaeus, set up with pretended miracles in rivalry to our blessed Saviour. Blount's work is now aptly enough styled "a collection of meagre tracts under a magniloquent title," but apparently to depreciate the value of Leslie's refutation. [Stephen's "Hist. Eng. Thought," vol. i. 194-200.] For the same reason Charles Gildon is sneered at as "a poor creature" whom he converted. But this is a stale and sorry device for discounting an adversary much superior to one's self in every possible respect. Macaulay has also spoken slightingly of Gildon, though knowing nothing more of him than that he had been the subject of Pope's sneers, whose insinuation of venality was false, and who hated him much more for his religion than anything else. Pope's own quill was venal as much as his. If Gildon had been so very inferior, why should such superior men as these have so industriously laboured to depreciate him but in order to bring down the Church of England and her champion too? In truth, he was a man of fair abilities if no more, and quite undeserving of any reproach. Equally disingenuous is the covert insinuation that Gildon was a specimen of his converts. Nothing is better established than that his instrumentality was blessed to the conversion of very great numbers of persons among disbelievers and misbelievers of all sorts, and that at a period when they were far abler men than sceptics and critics of the present day. Middleton said he had spent many years in vain trying to discover an objection to the argument on which. the "Short and Easy Method with Deists and Jews" is based, than whom none was more competent to judge of its weight. His testimony is supported by that of many more whose ability and impartiality are beyond question. This treatise was left upon the shelf while he proceeded to the composition of another, the "Short and Easy Method with the Jews," finished upon Good Friday, 1689. Leslie does not appear to have been brought into much personal contact with Jews, but the plan he had marked out naturally suggested dealing with them next in order, and the subjects were of a kindred nature. Indeed, he assumes perusal of the method with the Deists before that with the Jews, while in both the same rules are laid down and essentially the same line of argument adopted so far as it can apply. For none can admit the genuineness of the New Testament who deny that of the Old; and on the other hand, though Deists may not be Jews, Jews are Deists. This work was written in reply to the best and latest publications which he could find in Holland, and setting down, as the fairest way, "the defence, arguments, and objections of Jews in their own words, to get at the very heart of their cause as the likeliest method to bring matters to an issue." Grotius had written upon the same subject and been translated into English; but as this method had not been adopted by him, Leslie did not deem his own task superfluous. What effect it produced cannot be stated, as in the case of the other. Its circulation would be limited by an English dress, and the Jews in this country have not shown much interest in the study of controversy even as it concerns their own race and religion, like those in other countries. At any rate, it remains unanswered or even objected to; though, as Leslie says, "it is easier to object than to answer."

Thirteen years after the publication of the "Short Method with the Deists," appeared a treatise in reply, which he was inclined at first to dismiss with contempt, as written by some "impotent Whig or Dissenter," on account of its absurd and abusive title-page. A closer inspection could not improve his opinion of the anonymous author or his production. Therefore he thought it might fairly be left to sink under its own weight of nonsense and contradiction. Finding, however, it was boasted of among Deists as a very clever performance, he resolved to answer it. And in thinking thus over the whole subject further, he concluded that there were other marks beside the four already advanced, which might properly be added to the evidence in favour of Christianity, though not of its truth. But he answered this treatise, the "Detection," in the first place without reference to the new marks, because the former ones were those in question by its author. The mountain had only brought forth a mouse. He attempted to parallel the books of Moses and the Gospels by other stories ancient and modern, none of which could stand on close investigation the test of the four marks, supposing for a moment their truth. They were puerile, paltry fables, indeed not deserving of serious notice, and accompanied with a torrent of personal abuse and scurrility which no person now would care to read. Nevertheless, Leslie took the trouble to refute these senseless stories seriatim, showing how in each instance there was a failure to satisfy some one or more of the marks, and leaving, therefore, their force unassailable as before. Previously to this a Mr. Leclerc had attacked Leslie in a haughty and contemptuous manner, charging him with' writing scandalous and seditious discourses, and having opposed the revolution; political matters quite foreign to the subject. That article contained the substance of what afterwards was more lengthily stated in the "Detection." Then came another assailant, the editor of the Observator who charged Leslie with Popery and betrayal of his own conscience, and substituted proofs of Christianity which he deemed preferable to his. (i) Natural conscience and reason. (2) Conformity of the doctrine to the nature of God and morality. (3) Contrariety to the corruptness of human nature, etc. (4) Its independence of human philosophy or authority. (5) Its clear evidence that the pope is Antichrist. For the first it was argued that every man was sensible of conscience and reason being depraved, and the Scripture only furnishes the explanation. But the answer was obvious, that the authority of the Scriptures must be admitted before its revelation concerning the fall of Adam could be accounted a sufficient explanation. The second and third of his proofs might be equalled by the precepts of moral philosophers, or the self-mortifications of Brahmins. The fourth proof was absurd, for facts can only be proved by human testimony or revelation, so that Deists could only depend upon miracles which they denied; unless the fifth would serve every purpose of conviction, namely, the notion among some Protestants of the pope being Antichrist! To go altogether upon doctrine in neglect of facts in this manner was overlooking our Saviour's own appeal, "Believe Me for the works' sake," and "If I had not done such works, you had had no sin." The only doctrine here contended for was morality, whereas Christianity includes the doctrines of the Incarnation, Atonement, etc., which even a Presbyterian must admit.

Mr. Stephen has accused Leslie of being a "rationalist in principle," and, to give colour to the accusation, has misstated the general nature of his arguments by weaving together statements from different treatises, which were independent and unconnected with each other. ["English Thought," etc., vol. i. pp. 194-197.] Thus a show of contradiction is attempted, where there is no real inconsistency. Our author was in no proper sense a "rationalist," but, as he stated upon one occasion to some dissenting teachers who requested a conference with him upon the subject of the "Short Method," adopted the "plain principle of reason" in arguing with Deists in his day, because themselves exclusively appealed to it. He did not perhaps anticipate the new grounds to which disbelief has shifted, whether those of avowed opponents of the gospel, or of treacherous dealers. Nor if he had foreseen any of them, would it have been consistent either with his purpose or duty to have suggested them to adversaries. In another place he tells us that it was always his method, in representing and discussing the opinion of any adversary, to say all he could for it as if it were really his own. All his works show that he constantly acted upon this principle most fairly; though it is an inevitable accident of controversy that unconsciously one often puts into an adversary's mouth statements easy of defeat, and which are not the strongest to be adduced for his side of the case. Men of straw are thereby put up only to be knocked down, and opponents turn about made to assail each other, so to serve as bottle-holders for the victorious party. This constitutes a vital objection to dialogues and discussions generally upon religious topics.

Plain principles of reason were all Deists would allow, therefore Leslie was compelled to adopt them, without liability to the reproach of being "a rationalist in principle." Dost thou "appeal unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go," was the ground on which he proceeded with scoffers who would have trampled gospel pearls under their feet.

Abuse was plentifully bestowed upon him; attempts-made to answer him, though after a sufficiently long interval, to show how difficult the task was felt to be; but it never entered the imagination of any contemporaries to claim him as the "unconscious" advocate of Deists because he met them on the ground they had chosen, and fought them with their own weapons after the example of S. Paul.

Again equally groundless is the assertion that Leslie made "allegation the same thing as proof, and assumes the authenticity and contemporaneity of the records which are his, and that others are not so." It is not true. His conclusions are fairly drawn from his premises in every instance, and those premises are no more than "matters of fact," which sceptics cannot disprove. As for other records, what or where are they? There are none, unless these men who claim to a monopoly of reason mean such heathen legends and fables as have no historic basis, and which themselves repudiate. If the records are not contempo-raneouSj at least these sceptics ought to produce some date for the forgery, and some account of its manufacture, a task which they discreetly avoid. Their whole argument is of a negative character, which would as reasonably deny every fact in profane or modern history. The only reason for Leslie's clothing his Old Testament matters of fact in its language was evidently on account of the general familiarity with it. He has not assumed the truth of those records, but insisted on the facts, interwoven in the whole national existence, and incorporated in the legal constitution of the Jews. His appeal to the sacred books is in the way of testimony, not authority, as furnishing the only probable and possible explanation of the matters of fact which were undeniable, from which he argues step by step to an inevitable conclusion. Matters of doctrine rest on a somewhat different basis, and before a Church's authority is accepted for them, testimony must be produced for that authority; but to assert that "dogmas are not to be believed unless they stare one in the face," is tantamount to a denial of all faith whatever; for a man does not believe or hope for that which he sees.

A few further remarks seem called for in regard to the wretched man Charles Blount. He belonged to a family of some consideration, and possessed amiable qualities and sparkling conversational powers, which gave him access to the higher circles of society. He might even be termed a man of talent, if that talent had been cultivated by study and reflection, for which he was too indolent; and what he wrote, like Tindal's history, was largely borrowed, with little acknowledgment. None but a weak-minded man could have been driven to the crime of suicide because prohibited from marriage with his wife's sister, but it is almost surprising that Parliamentary champions of incest do not cite his unhappy end in support of their proposals for setting aside that prohibition of divine, ecclesiastical, and even the old Roman law. Leslie gave offence to some of his friends by calling him "execrable," but rightly refused to retract or modify the expression in regard to one who had execrated and blasphemed his Saviour. The rebuke was the more needful when he could boast of being a friend and companion of Prelates. Sensitiveness about personal dignity is not an uncommon characteristic of sceptics unsparing and unscrupulous in their own expressions concerning the objects of a Christian's worship and deepest veneration.

The value of these "Methods" has not been impaired by lapse of time, they having a far wider scope than confutation of unbelievers' objections, in supplying profitable matter for study and consideration to Christians. Very far from true is the saying, that "he who has never doubted yet, has never yet believed." [Bishop Hinds' Poem in Bacon's Essays by Whately, p. 340.] But those who may be induced, by perusal of the sketches in the ensuing pages, to read Leslie's treatises in extenso, if they do not quite admit their shortness and easiness, will never regret the pains it may cost in the result of a better acquaintance with the evidences of truth and the strengthening of their own convictions in its favour.

Events which occurred in Ireland during the next two or three years after the Revolution are too generally known to require any special notice; though Protestants and Romanists there seem never to remember that the date of the battle of the Boyne was July 1, for they celebrate it on the anniversary of the battle of Aughrim, July 12. Leslie contented himself with the study of theological subjects and in the society of friends, who increased in number as his reputation spread. At least, there is no trace of his active engagement in political affairs during that period. One might regret that he ever suffered himself to be withdrawn from this retirement to mingle in the vortex of public life upon which he could not exercise any effective influence, whereas his services to the Church were Invaluable. But he would not thus have been happy, for men cannot control their inclinations, nor put genius into fetters by considerations of expediency. Circumstances seemed to call for his active interference again on the side of hereditary right and truth. Dr. William King, Archbishop of Dublin, published a pamphlet entitled "The State of the Protestants in Ireland under King James," which consisted of violent invectives against that Sovereign, and several serious misstatements of fact, to prejudice his cause in the eyes of English people more fully than before, and exhibit himself in a favourable light Leslie knew the exact truth of transactions which King professed to explain, and the motives of his conduct in suddenly abandoning former professions of loyalty. Therefore he undertook the task of reply and exposure in another pamphlet or book, for which purpose he paid a visit to Glaslough. Both his and King's productions are now extremely scarce; nor is this matter of much regret, for they are chiefly occupied with particular circumstances without a vestige of interest for the present day. But the books then evoked a warm controversy, occasioned Leslie some annoyance by way of reprisal, and have left an indelible stain upon King's memory. Leslie's object was not to justify King James's Government in their general proceedings, some of which himself had resisted as unlawful, but to expose misrepresentations and denounce principles which struck at the root of all constitutional authority. He wrote under no excitement nor prompted by any personal feeling. Both pamphlets were published anonymously, nor was any actual proof adduced of authorship; so that King ventured, even in the company of other persons, to disclaim his own publication, nor ever avowed it; but the secret transpired, as such things almost invariably do; and now is put beyond question, for his posthumous manuscripts contained the heads of a reply intended against Leslie. [Hearne's Notes, Bodleian Lib. Hist. MS. ep. ii.] The efforts of his friends and partisans, therefore, to rescue his reputation from a sad blot have been defeated. Leslie was as well understood by the public to be the author of the reply to the archbishop, but though he never denied it, no alternative but silence was left to him; because through the secret advice of King, and at the instance of Burnet and Lloyd, the Government denounced it as a libel. Some of the more salient passages will explain the reason why such wrath was excited in the archiepiscopal breast. "It is no easy matter to know what his principles are, but those he exhibits are all the old rotten rebel commonwealth ones, the same with Bradshaw upon trial of King Charles I., viz. that all power is from the people; kings, then-deputies, therefore are accountable to them, and may be deposed by them. He gives every one power to dispense with allegiance to the king, when he thinks that the king dispenses with the execution of any law. Even ecclesiastical authority shall be derived from the people. To crown all, he gives as large and loose an interpretation of that famous principle of the Church of England, of its not being lawful upon any pretence to take" arms against the king, as Bradshaw, Rutherford, Bellarmine, or Mariana could desire; that private men should not take the sword or resist the king1 upon any pretence of private injury or wrong done to them in particular. The only true notion of abdication is a king's voluntary resignation of it to the next heir. No one will allow that every private person can determine what sort of withdrawing shall dissolve the Government, and absolve subjects from allegiance. This author's notion will do no service to Protestants in Ireland, who set up arms against King James before the convention in England declared him to have abdicated. There is another view of the case which our author takes care to conceal. Are not all revolutions carried on by making parties combinations of leading men, aspersing opponents, using all arts to bear the mob to one side? But would any member of Parliament or the State lose so much by destruction of the kingdom as the king? Therefore it is less probable that he should design its destruction than any of them. Never any charge more apparent than when Dathan and Abiram accused Moses of arbitrary government and breach of promise. ... If the people were at liberty from government they would be exposed to one another, which would be the greatest slavery in the world. . . . He says, 'to lose even half the subjects of the nation in a civil war is more terrible than the loss of liberty.' Does he think Irish Protestants did not lose their liberty under King James? If they did not, his whole book is false. If they did, has not K(ing) W------retrieved it? then if he has, his position is false. It is a terrible sort of creed to slaughter half the nation. If half be destroyed to purchase liberty to the rest, here is no good, but hurt, done to the people. And I suppose our author has not represented himself in his own mind to be one in that half which was to be destroyed. This principle opens a door to an eternal halving of the people; and we may sec by experience that where it obtains, that country seldom enjoys respite from one revolution longer than to feed up and fatten for another.

"Of all pretences for rebellion, religion is the most ridiculous; because a civil war introduces greater immorality, loosens the reins of discipline, and is more contrary to the spirit of true religion than any other thing in the world. It is not propagated by the sword. It is a small still voice that cannot be heard in war. It is built, like Solomon's temple, without the noise of a hammer. War confounds and debauches it. But all is no matter so as we beat down Popery; and yet Popery was never more tolerated in Ireland than since the conclusion of our war against Popery. Another thing; God has threatened to visit the sins of fathers upon the children. And that ocean of blood spilt in one of the revolutions must lie at some door or other. . . . What will become of clergymen, what will their judgment be, who lead their flocks by their example to sin, and employ their wits and learning to find out distinctions and salvoes to keep their flocks from returning and repenting? . . . Of all things, how could the Irish who adhered to King James be made rebels to King William before they submitted to him? The Government of England being dissolved by abdication and returned back to the supposed original contract, of consequence the tie which England had upon Ireland by conquest was separated, and Ireland left as well as England, in their supposed original freedom, to choose what government and governors they pleased. The Jews were about the same time under Egypt that Ireland has been under England, but with this difference--that the English came into Ireland by conquest, whereas Israel was in Egypt by invitation of the king. And though God sent Moses to deliver them from servitude, He did not suffer their exodus till Pharaoh gave them leave to depart. The same in regard to the captivity of Babyloa The immediate and apparent cause of their destruction by the Romans was their obstinate rebellion against lawful governors. . . . Christ came to form a society independent from all others; all kings fell upon them to root them out. What were Christians to do? Were they to take up arms against their governors? No; they were totally barred from that. Damnation was preached to those who resisted their lawful governors. . . . What if the prince be indifferent and evil, and that it is evident to all men he is so? Neither is this a cause for resistance; but we are admonished to reflect that it is our sins have brought such a king to rule over us. ... I am far from vindicating all that Tyrconnel and other of King James's ministers have done in Ireland. But after King James came in person, there was no act which could properly be called his which was not all mercy and goodness to Protestants. This author avers it was their unanimous resolution not to be the aggressors, and pleads excuse the shutting up of Derry. Was this not enough--to seize the king's forts, to enlist and array soldiers in arms against the king's forces? I never heard Protestants say but that there were many hard cases, and even unjust, in the Acts of Settlement; and they excuse this by saying it was impossible it should be otherwise. This seems to be King-James's sense of that matter all along. Ought they not to be redressed, if a way can be found agreeable to reason, justice, and public good? King James did not propose, nor was inclined to the Act of Attainder, as this author slanderously reports. He has written every word with the spirit of malice against his much-inspired sovereign, to whom he had sworn fealty. He owes it to King James's mercy that he now lives to thank him for his mercy. Was, he not accused of holding correspondence and giving intelligence to the rebels? King James had once so good an, opinion of him that he had him frequently in private, and trusted him in his affairs till at last he found him out. This author did mightily bemoan, September, 1688, that no care was taken to make some proofs of the Prince of Wales's birth. When this was done, we hear of no more objections from him till at the battle of the Boync he acknowledged this same prince; and yet, in his thanksgiving sermon after that, he calls it a well-contrived cheat. Oh, if this author had retained his integrity! There was a severe jest which the common people got up against the clergy, that there was but one thing which the Parliament could not do; that was, to make a man a woman! Now there is another; that is, to make an oath which the clergy will not take! There are none who have cleverly stuck to the principles they professed but the Nonjuring clergy of the Church of England. Therefore this cannot be called a defection of the Church, but only of particular individuals. At a supper, when an Irish lord began to reproach the Church for her apostasy from former principles, the king replied, ' They are the Church of England who have kept to her principles.' The lord made answer, ' But, sir, how few they are in comparison of the rest!' The king said, ' They are more than Christ had to begin with.'"

Now it has been said since in behalf of Archbishop King that "he denied in toto Leslie's charges." [Private letters of descendants.] This defence puts out of sight the fact that he never admitted but disclaimed authorship of "The State of Protestants," etc. ["Ballard's Letters." Bodleian Library.] And the charges of being in communication with the Revolutionists whilst in the confidence of James, and of praying for the Prince of Wales, and denouncing his birth as an imposition after the battle of the Boyne, may be denied, but remain as certainly established as that battle itself. That he should have been much exercised in spirit by this exposure and castigation is not surprising, and then would have been the time to avow his authorship and rebut the charges publicly. Instead of venturing upon so hopeless a task, he chose a nearer path to revenge, which at the same time relieved him of the necessity of dropping his disguise. A prosecution was ordered at his instigation, aided by Burnet and Lloyd, against the author for libel, simply because the publication was unlicensed--not that any intention was entertained of trying the question as to the truth or character of its contents. Such was the law of libel in those days; but even the Secretary of State reluctantly granted the order under pressure of Leslie's episcopal foes.

King, who could make a mistake about his presence or absence upon a former occasion, managed now to ferret out his visit to Glaslough, where the work was composed because of its seclusion from London business, and of the opportunity afforded for obtaining particular information on some points. When an officer arrived to search for proofs and arrest him, he had returned to London. It was boasted that a copy of the manuscript was found "in his study." Had the case appeared for trial this could not have served for conviction, because the house was not his, nor did he hold any legal right or responsibility over it! He was simply a guest partaking of a brother's hospitality.

The accusation of flight came with specially bad grace from these men, each of whom had been very ready to flee from danger themselves. However, he was pursued to London, and arrested on board of a vessel on the Thames. Returning with the officer, he upon landing offered him some wine at a public-house, which was readily accepted. Leslie laid a purse of gold upon the table, asking the officer to keep an eye upon it whilst he retired for a short time, having caught a chill on the water, and called for another bottle of claret. With such security for reappearance, it is little wonder that he consented, and made himself comfortable. His prisoner never returned, and what the officer did with the fifty pounds was never explained, as he did not report his successful capture; nor did Leslie, except in private among friends, with whom it was a favourite observation how well he told the story. No fresh or further attempts were made to arrest him, for it was deemed advisable to let the matter drop, lest the charge of anonymously replying to an anonymous pamphlet might elicit the truth of his facts and statements--which was the last thing his adversaries wished; nor had the Government inclination to push it further.


They say that there is no greater ground to believe in Christ than in Mahomet--that all pretences to revelation are cheats of cunning and designing men upon the credulity of simple people, till, their numbers increasing, these came to be established by laws and received upon trust from foregoing ages.--What is desired is some short topic of reason without running into mazes of learning, which shall distinguish Christianity from all impostures. First, then, the truth of the doctrine of Christ will be evinced, if the matters of fact recorded of Him in the Gospels be true; for His miracles if true vouch the truth of what He delivered. The same is to be said of Moses. If he did such wonderful things as are told of him, it must follow that he was sent from God. For proof, rules are set down that where all meet, such matters of fact cannot be false; they do meet in those of Christ and Moses, but do not in any imposture whatever. I. Such that men's outward senses can judge of them. 2. That they be done publicly. 3. That not only public monuments, but some outward actions to be performed, are kept in memory of them. 4. That such memorials commence from the time when the matters of fact were done. The two first make impossible a cheat at the time when the matter is said to be done; the two last secure against invention of them for imposing- upon credulity in after ages. Moses could not have persuaded 600,000 men that he had brought them out of Egypt through the Red Sea, etc., if he had not done so, because every man's senses would have contradicted him; no more than one could persuade the people of London that they had seen the Thames divided, and been carried through on dry land, when it was not true. He could not have made them receive his five books which told of these things done before their eyes, if all were manifestly an imposture. They speak of themselves as delivered by Moses, and kept in the ark from his time. In whatever age it may be supposed they were forged, everybody must know they had never heard of them before, or that they had owned and acknowledged them all along from Moses till then, and as containing the statutes and municipal law of their nation. These books have a further demonstration of truth, for they give an historical account of the institution of these laws, and the practice of them from that time--the Passover, etc., with yearly, monthly, weekly, daily remembrances of matters of fact. If these books of Moses were forged, and imposed upon the people in making them believe that they had kept all their observances in memory of what the books asserted, then the Jews must cither have kept them in memory of nothing, or without knowing anything of their original, or the reason why they kept them. Was that possible to persuade men that they had kept observances in memory of what they had never heard of? None know the reason why Stone-henge on Salisbury Plain was set up. If I should write a book to tell these stones were set up in memory of such and such, by such and such, and say in this book it was written when they were done by actors and eye-witnesses, received as truth and quoted by authors of the greatest reputation in all ages since, well known in England, enjoined by Act of Parliament, and taught to children, could this pass upon England? Compare this with the great stones at Gilgal; which case is free from little carpings as to the passage of the Red Sea at a springtide and with a strong wind. Would not every person say we know the stonage at Gilgal, but we never heard before of this reason for it (Josh. iv. 1-18), nor of the book of Joshua. Where has it been all this while? And where and how came you after so many ages to find it? Besides, this book tells us that this passage over Jordan was ordained to be taught our children from age to age. We never were; nor have done so.

So likewise the four marks meet in the matters of fact which are recorded in the Gospel. All that is said of Moses and his book is every way applicable to Christ. His works and miracles are there said to be done publicly; then baptism and the Lord's Supper were instituted as memorials at the very time, and have been observed without interruption throughout the whole Christian world down all the way from that time to this. The Christian clergy are as notoriously a matter of fact as the tribe of Levi among the Jews, and the Gospel as much a law as the books of Moses. It being impossible there could be such things before they were invented, it is as impossible they should be received when invented in after ages. The matters of fact of Mahomet, or what are fabled of the heathen deities, all want these four marks. Mahomet pretended to no miracles, and what are commonly told of him are rejected by the learned among Mahometans. In the next place, what are told want the two first rules, being not performed before any one. The same is to be said of fables of heathen gods. They had, it is true, public institutions in memory of them, but want the fourth mark, that these should commence from the time when what they commemorate were done, appointed many ages afterwards, and by others in honour of them.

I do not say that everything wanting these marks is false, but that nothing is so which has them, and this shows that matters of fact of Moses and of Christ have come down better guarded than any others. Our very souls and bodies are concerned in the truth of what is related in the holy Scriptures, therefore men have searched into, sifted, and examined them narrowly. Some have suffered for errors which they thought to be truth, but never any for what themselves knew to be lies. And apostles must have known what they taught to be lies if it had been so, because they said they had seen and heard them, etc. More, their Master bid them expect nothing but suffering in this world, so they were not disappointed. Now, that this despised doctrine of the Cross should prevail universally against allurements of flesh and blood, of the world, and persecutions of kings and princes, must show its origin to be divine, and its protector Almighty.

There is another argument from prophecy--all which had gone before fulfilled in Christ. Deists, when not able to deny the evidence of facts, yet deny that we can be sure any wonderful thing is a true or a false miracle, because we cannot know what is the utmost extent of the power of nature. But we can certainly tell in many cases when we are not cheated. In the case of fire, though we know not its utmost extent, we do that its nature is to burn; and therefore, when three men walked in it without harm or smell, we cannot be deceived in thinking there was a stop put to the nature of fire. Deists acknowledge a God of almighty power, yet would put it out of His power to make any revelation of His will to mankind. Nay, if we know not what is nature, how do we know there is such a thing? Then all becomes supernatural till we get to downright scepticism, and doubt whether we sec, hear, or feel. . . . Therefore the sum is this, that whatever matter of fact has all the four marks, could never have been invented and received but upon conviction of the outward senses. Let Deists produce their Apollonius Tyanaeus, or aid from Romish legends (those pious cheats, the sorest disgrace of Christianity), or the most probable fables of heathen deities, and see if they can find the four marks. [Toland's book.] If, notwithstanding, this be said to be priestcraft, they will give us an idea of priests far different from what they intend, above the condition of mortals and outdoing what has been related of infernal powers; making men believe they had practised, enacted, taught and been taught what they never had--more than God Almighty has done; for none of His miracles or the belief He has required have contradicted the senses of a single man, much less of all. And since Deists (these men of sense and reason) have so mean an idea of priests, why do they not recover the world out of the government of such blockheads? They have tried their hands, and are still exploded. False religion is but a corruption of the true: the true was before it. The revelation made to Moses is older than any heathen history. If Deists say that all the world are blockheads except themselves, voted to be men of sense by themselves, this will spoil their beloved topic of appealing to the common sense of mankind. The truth is that religion is no invention of priests but of divine original, and their order a perpetual and living monument of the matters of fact. Therefore the devil has bent his greatest force in all ages against the priesthood, knowing that if that goes down all goes with it.

NOTE,--Learned men have doubted whether there ever was such a person as Apoilonius. What account we have is from Philostratus, who lived a hundred years after the time in which he is pretended to have flourished. He got his knowledge, as he says, from a book of one Damis, a companion of Apoilonius, and at the command of the Empress Julia he bestowed some pains in transcribing its contents, which were written in an unelegant style. He did not confine himself to Damis's book, but gathered together dispersed relations of Apollonius; so we are only sure we have them as new dressed and vamped up by an orator to please the fancy of an oratorical lady in an age when feigned romantic stories were much in vogue, and living at court he would not be out of the fashion. All that Deists can possibly infer from their legends is that perhaps they may be true; but they dare not bring the matters of fact to the test of the four rules.


The Jewish and Christian religions both stand upon one bottom, and only of all revelations pretended can show the four marks. So that Jews are embraced under the happy necessity either to renounce Moses or to embrace Christ. Our Messiah did not pretend to destroy the law, but to fulfil it, and did so in every circumstance; nor is there any way possible to reconcile the promises in the law but as they are fulfilled in the gospel. For instance, Gen. xlix. 10. The sceptre has long since departed, and no other Messiahs come but our Lord. Evasions of this prophecy by the rabbis carry guilt on their face, being contradictory to one another. Jcr. xxxiii. 17, 22 gloriously fulfilled in our Messiah. Jews have not had since the destruction of Jerusalem any sacrifice at all. Except that of the evangelical priesthood. Some pretend the prophecy is meant of the time after the Messiah, but for this they have to add to the text, which would leave nothing certain. Isa. liii. An exact description of the death and sufferings of the Messiah, with the reason, as an expiation and satisfaction for the sins of the people. How forced and foreign the interpretation of some modern Jews, as if this were a description of the Jewish people in the name of a person, and their present dispersion with making many proselytes. If Jews keep their own ground it is the most they can expect; their proselytes are not known. The flowing in of the Gentiles has been to the Christian Church, and only so can be verified to the Jewish. Their dispersion is a punishment for their own sins, not for the conversion of the Gentiles; and the Jews shall at last be converted by them, not those by these.

What satisfaction will God accept? Even that Messiah for whom a body was prepared, described particularly in this chapter. Do the Jews make intercession for the Gentiles? Or how do they bear their sins? The "righteous servant" was not that people, but He who suffered for them. Then it is said that a real death is not meant, but great afflictions, as S Paul says "in deaths oft." That is plainly figurative, because a man can be only once in death, though often, as the apostle meant, in danger of it. Zech. ix. 9. Modern Jews have framed to themselves two Messiahs, one Ben Joseph of the tribe of Ephraim, poor and contemptible, to undergo great indignities; the other Ben David of the tribe of Judah, to conquer all the earth, live for ever in temporal grandeur, and raise from the dead all Israelites of former ages. Thus they dream and invent Messiahs to elude the import of prophecies concerning the true One. Dan. ix. 24. Our Messiah did come within the seventy weeks, according to the prophetical computation of a year for a day, and all spoken there of Him was punctually fulfilled. It pinches so close that modern Jews would discredit the whole Book of Daniel; though they dare not quite throw it off because indubitably received by their forefathers, and rather given preference to than excluded. So these have made a new distribution of holy Writings in the Old Testament, putting the Book of Daniel in a lower class. But if it cannot stand among those inspired in the highest degree, it must be reckoned false or blasphemous, because it speaks of itself all along as immediately inspired by God. 2 Chron. vii. 16; Haggai ii. 7, 9. Cannot be verified but as the temple was a type of the Christian Church. How was the glory of the latter house greater? Because the Desire of all nations came to give peace in the Person of Jesus Christ. Some pretend another temple yet to be built; but God spoke of only two, a former and later. Jews have several times tried to rebuild this but been defeated. Prophecies concerning the time of the Messiah were so noted, that when our Saviour appeared Jews were expecting Him. Romans had the same notion, and all the eastern part of the world. This universal impulse cannot be made of less account than a very extraordinary apparatus of preparing of the way whereby to introduce the Son of God. Since that time have been many impostors, as He foretold. But having lost all the marks whereby they may know their Messiah, nay, willing they should be lost, and because all the marks given in the Old Testament meet in our Lord, they deny any marks at all. Or that miracles are needful. Mahomet made the like excuse; because they cannot deny those of our Saviour. Another thing--as to the time. No false Messiah set up till near the time of our Saviour foretold by Daniel and the prophets; but since then they have been perpetually setting them up. They pretend sins have hindered His coming. This is a very bare, and looks like a guilty put off! What are those sins? Jews are not so guilty as their forefathers. And the coming of the Messiah is promised to be a remedy for sin; therefore, so far from being a ground for delay, it should be an argument for hastening it. Nay, more; God expressly declared that, though He would punish their sins, He would not alter His promise. It was foretold they should not recognize their Messiah, and this is literally the case of the Jews; "the vision of all is become unto them as the word of a book that is scaled." Some Jews have set up another notion, namely, that the Messiah has come at the appointed time, but for their sins conceals Himself in various disguises. If they did not recognize Him, then, they might persecute Him as their fathers did the prophets before Him, and so fill up the measure of iniquity, for which their dispersion over the face of the earth without a king or prophet is the punishment.

The Jews again adhere obstinately to the promises made to Levi, whereas it was expressly said in the Psalms that the Messiah should be a priest, not of the order of Levi, but of Melchizedek, and to last for ever. Their great biection is, that God cannot alter what He has once ordained. It is true God is immutable, and what He ordains must answer the ends for which He ordains it; but He does not always tell us what those ends arc, and therefore we cannot tell always when they are accomplished. When He pleases to make known the ends, then to think their accomplishment a breach of promise or alteration in God is a great weakness and unhappiness on men's own part, and the very error which Samaritans committed.

Another objection much insisted upon is derived from Deut. xii. 1-3, to the effect that the Christian Messiah \s not to be believed, no matter how great His miracles because He seeks to turn people after other gods. Miracles here spoken of are not true but false, mere seeming-ones permitted for the trial of faith, whereas those of our Saviour were real beyond doubt. And other gods here spoken of are not true but false, against whom our Saviour was as severe as Moses, and wherever His religion has spread it has rooted out all pagan idolatry more than the law. Then the worship of Himself cannot be reckoned as false worship here forbidden, because it is paid to Him as to the Creator in human nature. Nor the worship of the Trinity; for the doctrine, whether sound or not, as some affirm, is not chargeable with polytheism, but expressly affirms the unity of the Divine nature simple and uncompounded. The Jews are preserved a visible distinct people among all the nations whither they have been scattered, because the Lord has put it out of the power of all the earth to infringe His promise to them. This is a standing Miracle and a type of the Christian Church, which must struggle through many difficulties yet never be extinguished

That the Jews might not say it was through their own power they were preserved, it was necessary that the odds as to the world should be against them; and typify the Church, always greatly distressed but wonderfully preserved.

Our Messiah has fulfilled all the circumstances of the Prophecies: what hardness of heart, then, is it to expect another in whom these can never meet; and hankering after a temporal fulfilment of them to reject a better and spiritual one, yet really more literal! We carry the Law whither it was intended; we show an eternal and heavenly light shining through all and every institution of it; we look with reverence and great veneration upon it as the schoolmaster that was ordained to bring us unto Christ, as the ladder that was set to climb up into heaven. The Law and the Prophets are read every day in our churches, and their true and full import explained and fulfilled in the gospel; for the Gospel is the best comment upon the Law, and the law is the best expositor of the Gospel; they are like a pair of indentures, they answer in every part; their harmony is wonderful and is of itself a conviction. No; human contrivance could have reached it; there is a divine:. majesty and foresight in the answer of every ceremony and i type to its completion; and there is one yet to be completed. Oh the glorious day when that shall come, that is, the grafting the Jews in again to their own olive tree, the fatness, the sweet, the marrow of their own law fulfilled in the Messiah.

Some visible causes harden the Jews in obstinacy; as, for instance, they have quite altered their doctrine since Christ came, on purpose to avoid plain proofs of His being the Messiah. The Septuagint thus which used to be read in the synagogues since the Hebrew had ceased to be the vulgar tongue or well understood, and which was a translation deemed of divine inspiration, has been rejected for a spurious translation of a person called Aguila. For the same reason they have altered in prejudice to our Messiah, the principles and notions which they received by tradition from their fathers concerning the Logos, or Word of God, being God, yet a distinct Person from the Father. They now also will allow no type in the Law, or the office of the Messiah to extend beyond temporal conquests, whereas Jews formerly, Philo and those before him, did make the mystical the principal end of the law. They have invented new and strange conceits, as of two Messiahs to answer to the two states of suffering and triumphing foretold and fulfilled in our Saviour.

They say we disbelieve the Gospel, because our fathers tell us that those things related in it were not so done. The fathers have not told them so, but confessed to the matters of fact related there. The question is not between the tradition of the Jewish fathers and Gentiles, but of those fathers who did believe and those who did not. We have surer evidence even than the affirmative testimony in attestation of the Resurrection, namely, the many miracles performed by apostles as flagrant and notorious as those which Christ Himself had wrought, and which have all the four marks.

They now contend that men were never under the curse of God by the Fall, and therefore needed no deliverance from it; that Israel was a holy nation because they are so called in Scripture. If they can reconcile their being the holy people with being such sinners that the Messiah's coming is delayed as they say, then by the fall of Adam men were put under the curse of God, from which there were no sacrifices in their Law sufficient to purge the soul, therefore another and more efficacious sacrifice was necessary. . . . Plain reason does evince that the qualifications of a Messiah for the conversion of the Gentiles could be no other than what were found in our Jesus. His miracles vouched Him sent of God, and malice itself could find in Him no sinister or selfish end. His conquest of the Gentiles by their conversion did not begin till after His ascension, to obviate an objection of seeking temporal rule. Christ would not permit kings to become His servants till He had first endured three hundred years of their persecution; to teach them that His Church was not built upon their shoulders nor depended upon their authority. Moses was not designed for the ultimate and universal Lawgiver; he never pretended to it, but pointed to One who was to come after him, and had few of those qualifications which the Gentiles required in the supreme and universal Lawgiver. On the other hand, there is not any one circumstance or qualification, which they could desire in a Messiah, which is not filled up, nay, far exceeded in their own way in the person, life, and death of our Messiah, and in all His conduct: showing that He was a Legislator sent from heaven.

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