CATECHIZING IN CHURCH--CONDUCT OF "REHEARSAL"--CHANGE OF RESIDENCE--MEMORIAL OF THE CHURCH--VISIT TO OXFORD--WEATHERCOCK AT MERTON--ABRAHAM GILL--HAYMARKET THEATRE--LITERARY FORGERIES AND PIRACIES--"RIGHTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH" ANSWERED--HEADSHIP OF THE CHURCH--THE ADMIRAL AND ALDERMAN MEDITATED DISCONTINUANCE OF "REHEARSAL"--ASGILL'S BOOK-COWARD'S--EDWARDS--HOADLY--"OBSERVATOR'S"; NEW EDITOR--MR. DODWELL'S BOOK--FALSE REPORTS--SCOTTISH CLERGY--SUPPLEMENT--EXTRACTS FROM "REHEARSAL."
A DEVOUT and estimable Parish Priest, who recently went to his rest, was one of the first who revived the practice of public Catechizing in church after long abeyance in general, which at first met with much objection as an innovation. [Rev. R. W. Miles, Rector of Bingham, Notts, October 26, 1883.] About five years after its successful establishment--for he was a man who could bide his time, and quietly persevered in whatever good work he commenced--an assistant Curate, in conversation with a parishioner, heard her express, to his surprise, great satisfaction at it. "Why, I thought," said he, "that though you generally attend you had a prejudice against Catechizing." To which the lady replied, "I had once, and told the Rector so; but have long changed my opinion." "And will you tell me why?" said the curate. "Yes," she answered; "for this reason. I like your sermons all well enough; but I learn much more from the Catechizing, and hear things explained I did not know without displaying my own ignorance." ' That was an excellent reason, and the best of all testimonies in favour of catechizing in church. A priest can convey information thereby in an easy, familiar way, and through questioning children correct prevailing misconceptions which would be deemed generally beneath the dignity of the pulpit; though this might be a little less strained than it is, with advantage to ordinary hearers. The anecdote here may serve to illustrate another matter. The Rehearsal's popularity had grown immensely among all classes within two years, so as to have nearly driven the Review of De Foe out of the field, and provoked from Tutchin's Observator complaints which plainly declared him on the losing side. Because a great many Dissenters had been favourably influenced, and persons in the highest ranks were known to approve of the paper, the cry was revived of its being in the pay of a party, and subscriptions solicited. Particular statements were even offered on this point, such as that one clergyman in Devonshire had collected a hundred pounds for the author. All of them were mere fabrications, as before; and those particulars of persons and places merely inserted to invest the stories with an air of probability. The real reason of success lay, like the catechizing, in furnishing information without exposing their ignorance to great numbers, who had but slight acquaintance with history and facts necessary to be known in order to a right judgment concerning disputed matters of Church and State. The Rehearsal supplied these, and set people thinking instead of hastily adopting opinions which first came to hand, or fell in with their inclinations. Nor did any more need instruction than those who called themselves the Upper classes; just as many parish priests could testify to be the case still from personal intercourse with candidates for confirmation, or as haphazard misquotations of Scripture and religious errors by aspiring politicians and statesmen abundantly declare. Another reason was that readers of the Rehearsal found no personalities nor scurrilous attacks made upon individuals, whether on one side or another, or in any rank, so that they could read with profit and without pain. No one could take up a Review, or Flying Post, or Observator without a dread of seeing himself or a friend lampooned in the most offensive manner, or an insinuation artfully conveyed, more cruel than an open libel. Whereas the Rehearser only alluded to persons to defend them, or where they had first forced themselves upon attention by some public act. What distressed them still more was their failure to discover the writer in his incognito; after many guesses and assumptions, every one of which he successfully parried, without denying any correct statement or making incautious admissions. And he continued to write anonymously, the better to escape being drawn into personal questions of any kind; for he had no apprehensions on his own account, because he had no reason to fear such opponents as his, however threatening their attitude, nor any intention of uttering statements offensive or improper against the Government. De Foe had scarcely been liberated from prison, and Tutchin eluded a conviction for libel, before both were risking fresh perils from authorities, some of whom had too much reason to be sensitive about their characters and proceedings; such as Harley, who yet did not hesitate to retain De Foe for the purpose of defaming others. Leslie, however, could neither have stooped to such acts, nor wanted discernment to see that an honourable conduct of his paper would probably prove safer as well as more creditable. What he did complain of was apathy on the part of some clergy, who seemed indifferent whether truth or falsehood should prevail, and of others who allowed themselves to be beguiled into the delusion that alliance with Whigs and Dissenters against their own brethren under the brand of High Church could ultimately issue in anything but their own ruin. Yet this was done in a strain of mild remonstrance, which was the furthest possible from censoriousness or appeal for sympathy for himself, with proofs from history how such policy had always failed before, and must in its very nature be a failure. It was their battle he was fighting, and the cause of the Church at large. Clergy have often thrown cold water upon those who have done so, or been jealous of their abilities; nevertheless this want of appreciation did not stand in the way of doing what he conceived his duty, and if he carried his cross bravely, so did he meekly at the same time.
For some five years he pinioned himself to a desk day after day, with but occasional intervals of rest and relaxation; whereas, if he had chosen to direct his talents into another channel, grasped at preferment within his reach, or studied the virtue of moderation at the expense of principle, concealing his convictions, he might have passed as men do now, by safe and silent courses, to the smiles of peers and prelates. They have their reward, and he had his. He had removed from lodgings under the roof of his friend the Quaker, still his friend as much as ever, to a house of his own for the convenience of his wife, whose health had begun to show symptoms of failing, which caused him much anxiety; a home indeed of very modest pretensions, and still within easy reach of business haunts. She was of a quiet and retiring disposition, so that restricted means were not a subject of much regret, and affection led her to find an interest in her husband's pursuits. Had they desired to mix more freely in society, his reputation was sufficiently established to have provided it; but they continued pretty much in that of the friends they had first known. And there is no trace of their absence from 1701 to 1706, except for two short visits to the Continent, the longer being spent in Holland just before the Rehearsal was opened. Frequent visits and secret interviews at the court of S. Germain, with which Leslie has been credited, had little existence except in the imagination of friendly or unfriendly biographers; and often, when he has been presumed busy in hatching plots over there, he was listening with an air of mere casual attention to conversation in a coffee-house about himself and his writings; or at home preparing another number for the press, when reported to be down in Suffolk or Devonshire canvassing or collecting; or at Swallowfield on a visit to Lord Clarendon, his esteemed and fastest friend, who had withdrawn from public life and was growing infirm, while report perhaps was busy with his appearance at the Old Bailey on a charge of libel.
Stories of this description were put into circulation at that date against various persons, and found ready credence without an iota of proof, which seems to show the thing itself was too probable. He therefore may have suffered little more annoyance than any other public man who happened to be obnoxious to a party or faction. But entries in several diaries of charges and convictions, summonses and bails, are more frequent than is consistent with even ordinary care on the part of the writers to ascertain the truth of what they left to posterity. [E.g. Luttrell's "Diary."] No less than three occasions are thus recorded of prosecutions against him in the years 1705-6 when, so far from the Government having any design against him, his papers were very acceptable to a majority, and not even Harley could be supposed to have any animosity or excuse for proceedings against him. The most important of these was in connection with a publication entitled "The Memorial of the Church of England," which created a great deal of excitement in the year 1705, was animadverted upon in the House of Commons with much warmth and severity, and sup-posed to be glanced at unfavourably in the queen's speech. Its main purport was to represent the Church to be in danger from factious movements of Whigs and Dissenters, enforced by a variety of considerations, and severely commenting upon ministers of the Crown, their names being indicated in a form too slightly disguised to admit of doubt. All efforts to discover the author failed, and Parliament, though several persons were pitched upon or suggested for inquiry, had to be content with ordering the offensive pamphlet to be burned by the common hangman. Perhaps it is still a moot point who wrote it, for no one ever claimed or acknowledged the foundling; but the honour of parentage appears to lie between Mr. Hill, the Rector of Kilvington, and Dr. Drake; more likely the latter than the former, because it contains expressions which can hardly be reconciled with his known opinions. Some persons attributed it to Leslie, of which for a long time he took no notice, till directly accused of its authorship, and a warrant stated to have been issued for his apprehension. The Government never for a moment suspected him, nor did any search or examination point in his direction. However, then he came forward voluntarily with a disavowal of any acquaintance with the matter, but pointed out how impossible it was that he could have written it, for (on p. 45) towards the end were statements admitting the principle he had continually denied, of "power originating in the sovereignty of the people." He further affirmed that he had taken less notice of it for some time because he suspected it to be a repetition of De Foe's base hoax in the "Shortest Way" to bring odium on the Church. Still, however, it may be found labelled with his name among collections of old tracts in various public libraries. Those who have taken the trouble to read this "Memorial" will have scarcely thought their trouble repaid, or found in it sufficient to account for the excitement occasioned by its appearance, if flames had not been already kindled fiercely in angry breasts. About that time he and some members of his family happened to pay a brief visit to Oxford, when he walked with them through the Bodleian under the name of Mr. Smith. This little disguise occasionally was necessary to escape curiosity and compliments, freely tendered by undergraduates at the University, with whom his reputation had made him a favourite. But very naturally the excellent Mr. Hearn, misled by common report, imputed it to an intention of "fleeing from justice;" and though he would not for the world have hurt a hair of his--wig, immediately dotted down in his note-book a record of his penetration on September 15.
A letter published by a Mr. Stevens contributed to fan the flames and protract agitation, so that the "Memorial" had many recurring allusions in the Rehearsal, provoked by attacks of the Observator; but the subject may here end with clearance of Leslie's name from any connection with its elaborate censures and complaints.
At Oxford another mischievous piece of scandal was manufactured and reproduced in London to cause a ferment, originating doubtless from some misconception in the first instance, and exaggerated in its retail as gossip by De Foe. The Observator announced with a flourish of trumpets a discovery of iniquity at Merton College. A weathercock had been set up with a motto, "Semper eadem" and the queen's arms, which was immediately explained to have a mysterious signification, which wicked Tories had conceived and shrewd Whigs had discovered. The Rehearsal took pains to prove, by irresistible evidence, that nothing of the kind had been done or intended, but simply an old sign cleaned and repaired exactly as it had been before. Meanwhile offensive charges were flung indiscriminately at the Queen, the College authorities, and persons of distinction, and sinister designs whispered about, which caused simple folk to lie uneasy in their beds lest the Pretender might come in the night. When the invention was substantially refuted in every particular, they had to be content with De Foe's assertion that no one could prove such a thing had never been designed. Upon this graceless evasion he and his companions were not ashamed to ride off, rather than confess that their notorious appetite for slander had betrayed them into a base and wicked fabrication.
"A review of the times, their principles and their practices," was the purport of the Rehearsal; therefore it contained, among many thoughtful dissertations, allusions to wretched canards as bad as those which fill the columns of petty provincial papers of a later date. Such was the story about an Abraham Gill in the diocese of Ely, whose title to Orders was very questionable; but having obtained recognition as a clergyman of the Church of England took upon himself to discard her Liturgy and doctrines, and permit a Chapel-of-ease to be turned into a schismatical meeting-house. When this conduct called for the interference of the Rector, an outcry of cruel persecution was raised, and the High Church party, as usual, arraigned at the bar of public opinion, till the facts of the case were rightly stated, and the man's character and antecedents exposed; then, without apology or confession of error the Scandal Club simply dropped the subject. A performance of "Hamlet" was announced at the Haymarket in aid of a Chapel-of-ease to S. Martin's. Here was a splendid opportunity for De Foe to launch out into invective, with many repetitions of the names of Mr. Collier and Leslie, which he lost no time in utilizing. Indeed, he could hardly be expected altogether to refrain, had he been a man of more delicate and refined organization. For it was a foolish and unseemly undertaking, certain to provoke hostile criticism, to shock many pious persons, and likely to result in very slender assistance to the object in view. Our Rehearser evidently felt that his task of defence was an uncongenial one, and had to content himself with putting a few facts in the right light. Neither Mr. Collier nor himself had the remotest concern with the transaction. No clergyman at all was involved, but "an unwary churchwarden" had assented to a proposal from actors and others who were too poor to contribute money that their services in a performance should be accepted in aid of the building fund. A system of galling restrictions upon the press, together with infliction of barbarous punishments and ruinous fines for whatever judges and juries might denominate a libel at the instance of the court or Government often defeated the purpose for which it had been established. Naturally persons burning with indignation, or a mere desire to express opinions right or wrong, burned more fiercely for want of a free vent; so anonymous publications multiplied. This again worked disadvantageously for successful authors. Their own writings were unscrupulously pirated, and the profits misappropriated by inferior scribblers; while, on the other hand, any publication attracting attention was readily imputed, to promote its sale, to some well-known name. De Foe suffered much injustice in both these respects, and loudly complained; nor did his wrong less deserve sympathy because he was himself reckless in scattering groundless imputations against opponents. Leslie does not seem to have been injured in the former way; at least, he never complained of it. But he was a victim to the latter practice, as has been already observed in regard to the "Memorial." There were also several other instances. After his death catalogues were published of his works, containing pamphlets which he never owned, and of which no evidence beyond vague assertion or conjecture was produced. Only the bare names of several survive, without a possibility of test or scrutiny being applied to their contents. Even, however, in his lifetime, and more especially at this period, he found it necessary to disclaim four such forgeries. There was first a "Second Part of the Wolf Stript," a title which stamped the writer with an obvious intention of deceit. Then there appeared a "Letter" addressed to the author of a "Memorial on the State of England." This "Memorial," in opposition to the other about the Church, defended the Whigs and Dissenters with the Government in its recently altered form in favour of that party. It was deemed a very able pamphlet on their side, emanating from Matthew Tindal, the so-called historian, but an apostate of discreditable character, who, after going to Rome under King James, reverted under William, and was then a professed Deist. A more infamous book was his "Christianity as Old as the Creation," answered by many controversialists, including Dr. Waterland. The letter addressed to him was composed by a Mr. Stevens, rector of Sutton, in Surrey, really a Whig and a Low Churchman, but who, smarting under some personal offence, assumed the character for the nonce of a Tory, though not very cleverly. His meagre performance was burned by the hand of the hangman, and himself, upon conviction, sentenced to a fine and the pillory, the latter part being only formally put in execution. Meanwhile Leslie had the unpleasant necessity of disavowing any acquaintance with him or his work. The Observator also charged him with composing "three scandalous libels," naming two: (i) "Britain's Just Complaint; (2) that virulent libel on the good queen, called "God's Curse on the Sin of Disobedience, that they shall be taken off in the flower of their age." To this accusation he replied at once frankly. "For the first, I have always heard it attributed to Sir James Montgomery of Skelmerly. But I assure you it was none of mine. And for the second, I never saw it, nor heard it, till I read this title of it in the Observator Montgomery had aided in the Revolution, but returned to his allegiance and engaged in a plot for the restoration of King James. His name would not have been mentioned now, but that. he was safe out of reach on the Continent.1 Notwithstanding this, Tutchin had the effrontery to return to the church a month after in these words concerning the "Sin of obedience"--"He says he did not write it, or ever heard of it, though it is evident he did write it, and that virulent libel was answered by the Bishop of Salisbury (Burnet); some months after the good queen died." Readers will hardly think the retort too severe or undeserved which this elicited. "Whether the bishop answered it or not, I know not, nor did I hear of it before. But is this a proof that I wrote it? I dare say the bishop would not charge it [Who is said to be the author of "Declarations from St. Germain."] upon me; but I have inquired, and cannot find that ever such a book was printed. If so, this is pure invention. I quoted this to show an original of impudence and the obdurateness of a Whig hardened against shame and repentance. Let him show his evidence. I provoke him to it, and when he can prove it, I'll be content to be thought as great a liar as he is."
Of course the challenge was not accepted, and as characteristically Tutchin neither retracted nor apologized to Leslie and the public for his fabrication.
During his stay at Oxford he had an opportunity of reading a letter from ministers of Geneva to the University, which he was able to turn to good account in connection with a fresh work from Tindal's pen, of a more important character than the previous one. Though entitled disingenuously "The Rights of the Christian Church," it was an elaborate and virulent attack upon the Christian Church, denying those rights. He betrayed in it some leaning to bis old stepmother of Rome, but otherwise rank infidelity and accumulated hatred for the Church of England, such as only perverts feel in a general way. The book, however, on this account was highly extolled among Whigs and Dissenters, who could not see or care that if Christianity were proved an imposture their own position would be more unwarrantable than any other. Leslie, therefore, dissected this book completely, exposed its false assumptions and frivolous sophistry in the clearest manner, and then proceeded to demonstrate in opposition the divine rights and authority of the Christian Church. Tindal wrote a defence of his book, trying to shift his argument when it had been shown to be absurd as well as untenable; but he could not retrieve his ground. His whole case was built upon empty hypothesis and gross perversion of the plain words of Scripture. De Foe showed himself in high feather for a while at this support to his cause, and enlarged grandly upon what was termed the Horeb contract between God and the people of Israel, that He should be accepted as their chosen King. It appeared a fine corroboration of the Whig principle of government originating with the people, which had been overlooked strangely by all divines. But he had, after many flourishes, to relinquish Tindal as he had done Milton, Sidney, and Locke, one after the other. Upon this abandonment of successive positions, Leslie spoke in a triumphant tone perfectly justifiable; yet he disclaimed any praise to himself, for he did so only if possible to provoke his antagonists to further efforts, that the victory of truth might be rendered more complete and unquestionable. His prospect was with pity, not pride.
Like Toland, Tindal met bland smiles and patronage, notwithstanding his antecedents and present attacks upon Christianity, from latitudinarian prelates who scowled at and scolded its defenders if only they were deemed high Tories. Therefore it was very desirable to strip off the sheep's clothing and show the wolf of infidelity, which multitudes of people could not detect for themselves, and expressed great surprise and gratification when this was done for them in the pages of the Rehearsal. But its author did not rest content with exposing fallacies and perversions of Scripture. His object was not only to destroy but build up, and in place of the errors which he refuted to supply positive doctrine and sound principles. A mere system of negatives and protests he deemed as bad, or worse, than falsehood. Accordingly he inculcated, with all the force and clearness of which he was capable, in plain popular language, the divine government, hereditary right, the power of the priesthood, the visibility of the Church, and sin of schism--disbelief or denial of which engendered that revolutionary spirit which had overthrown Mitre and Crown in England once, and were working up to repeat the same experiment if possible again by the hands of an ignorant populace, under the sinister guidance of designing infidels and republicans. Happily he had discernment as well as ability to make their finest weapons recoil on themselves, and show the inconsistency and inconsiderateness with which these men seized upon any plausible pretence for defaming or damaging the Church of England. Nothing at that date was more common than to take exception to her as a Parliamentary institution, and established upon Erastian principles. Dissenters of all sorts flung this stigma in the face of her members, especially Presbyterians. Leslie therefore showed the charge to have no foundation; for the Act of Submission, generally urged to prove it, had been made to that infamous monster of sacrilege and blood Henry VIII. by Popish clergy; and the title, "Head of the Church" claimed by him, was repudiated by his daughter Elizabeth, never to be resumed by any succeeding Sovereign with consent of Church or State, nor is it recognized in a single Church Formulary. When this had been irrefragably established, what did the redoubted Tutchin do, but turn round and boldly exclaim that it was high time a new law should be passed to declare Queen Anne's headship, and prohibit, under penalties, its denial? He did not care about inconsistency or contradiction; but he had silently to beat retreat when Leslie pointed out how disastrously this new law might be enforced against English Presbyterians and other sectarians in separation from their Scotch brethren who denied the right of any sovereign to meddle in their religious affairs.
De Foe taunted him in the Review several times upon his silence concerning the projected Union between Scotland and England then busily agitated, and for promoting which he himself had a well-paid mission under Hartley and Godolphin, and had been permitted to kiss the queen's hand on appointment. Let De Foe have his due. If he had possessed the instincts and education of a gentleman he would have been a very great man, for it is wonderful how much he achieved in spite of his grievous faults of character, and what industry and talent he brought to bear upon any enterprise he took in hand. He made himself useful in this business to his employers, and earned whatever remuneration he received; nor did Leslie grudge it to him, but declined to occupy the Rehearsal with that subject, because, so far from wishing to oppose or delay the Union, he entirely approved of it. Indeed, he was ahead both of Whigs and Tories, for he expressed a desire that it should be extended to include Ireland; but as it was entirely a political measure not involving any definite principle, he had no intention of meddling with it one way or the other, and confined himself to his original plan When he strayed from this, the fault lay with opponents themselves. Such an instance here occurs, of a grand encounter between an Admiral and an Alderman, who having no Homer to record their destroying wrath, and the mischief which ensued from what time these heroes, Dilks and Seager, were divided, the matter forced itself upon our Rehearser's notice. Sir Thomas Dilks was not a Whig, but a Tory; not a Dissenter or Deist, but Churchman by profession; not of low birth or condition, but a gentleman of aristocratic origin and connection, and a flag officer, therefore an object of aversion to Mr. Seager, a baker at Portsmouth, a member of its corporation, and an ardent Dissenter. Both were present at an entertainment given by the Mayor in his public capacity, on which occasion Sir Thomas, in conversation, made use of some profane words, as Seager asserted, but none of the rest of the company heard, so they could hardly have been uttered in a loud voice. Still, if used at all, the oaths were most improper, and at that time rendered persons liable to a penalty. What was strange on Seager's part, besides his acuteness of hearing, was his notion that the improper language was purposely intended to offend himself, though the speaker had not addressed him personally at all, but only the Mayor, and though many of the company might be supposed to disapprove of profane expressions quite as much as he. Nevertheless, he gave the Admiral into custody of a policeman for publicly breaking the law, who however on advice of a magistrate refused to act. Shortly afterwards the Admiral met the Alderman, and, having a cane in his hand, administered to him a castigation. Many said "it served him right;" others, more cautiously, "a man must not take the law into his own hands." Probably both were right. But such was the matter which two centuries ago was deemed sufficient to form a fresh apple of discord between rival parties from Portsmouth to London, because a Dilks then was a Tory, and Seager a Whig Dissenter. Except John Dyer's News Letter, which unfortunately did not stand high in public estimation, Tories had no other means of rectifying false or garbled statements than by an appeal to the Rehearsal. Leslie closed his account of the real facts of the case, which had been greatly distorted in the Whig papers, by an anecdote of the Lord Mayor of London at the same date, who, when a person uttered an oath at his table, laid a shilling down, saying, "Now, I pay this time for you, the next you must pay for yourself." At this time he had seriously meditated upon its discontinuance. He found its conduct a severe tax, and if he should look for the same success as hitherto he might be drawn deeper into the vortex of common politics. For both De Foe and Tutchin had received donations from the Kitcat Club, to encourage them in carrying on the war with fresh vigour against the Tories, and they had several friends in it who contributed the more useful aid of their pens. An explanation of its curious title may be interesting for those who have not met with it elsewhere. It was derived from Christopher Catt, abbreviated into Kit-Cat, who kept the Fountain Tavern in the Strand, where the lights of the Whig party delighted to assemble and regale themselves with mutton-pies, indigestible food which may account for the general dulness of their literary productions.
"Hence did the assembly's title first arise, And Kitcat wits first spring from Kitcat pies."
Of course there were exceptions, and, facile princeps, the poet Dryden, who, however, must have had a surfeit when he wrote some wretched lines to Tonson, the bookseller, secretary to this club, with an offensive addition: "Tell the dog that he who wrote them can write more." [Also Congreve, Lord Somers, Prior, who turned over to Bolingbroke's afterwards.] No more was needed to get his money. Leslie also conceived that he had fully redeemed his pledge to abase himself in his Divine Master's service by the variety and fulness with which he discussed religious topics. So the date, April 16th, 1702, was actually fixed for bowing his retreat from a stage on which he had entered reluctantly, when he was for the present diverted from his purpose by a necessity of entering the lists against two new combatants.
Mr. John Asgill was a briefless barrister who lodged near Moorfields, but had some property and a seat in the Irish House of Commons. His want of practice may have been either the cause or effect of his devoting attention to theological speculations, for which he was particularly ill qualified by a very slender acquaintance with even the English version of the Scriptures. No wonder, therefore, that he fell into absurd mistakes in trying to frame a theory about the mysterious subject of death, which had he kept to himself or his own circle of acquaintance need only have provoked a smile as an innocent craze. But he courted distinction, and resolved to enlighten the world by publication of a book propounding his system, the heart of which lay in an assertion that men only die for want of faith. Having such faith himself, a mortality should have been the reward and testimony of its possession. But alas! for the finest conceptions when subjected to the remorseless crucible of experience. The barrister himself one day disappeared from the stage of existence, and gave this emphatic denial to his own theory. Meanwhile, the few readers of his book up to this time--and they were very few--would have been well content to wait patiently the issue of events for clearing up in the same manner doubts about their own cases. Zealots in the Irish Parliament, however, could not brook so dilatory a process of determination. Asgill's book was formally brought before their assembly, and, a majority being Orange Tories of the first water, where faith and charity could not go beyond the tomb, it was condemned, and the author in his absence, for he had not the imprudence to appear, ignominiously expelled from membership. His book instead of himself gained a portion of immortality, and, what was at any rate an immediate convenience, thus acquired a sale and popularity hitherto unattainable. Some persons even suspected these proceedings in Parliament to have been a crafty device of his own, and that his book was forced on the notice of Parliament to acquire notoriety. The serious tone in which, however, he had written seemed inconsistent with such a view, and Leslie thought his design lay far deeper still, by professing to establish his theory upon the Holy Scriptures to bring them into discredit, since men could see for themselves the certainty and universality of death. He quoted many texts, but applied them in such a silly, senseless manner, and betrayed such general ignorance of all history and religion, that it is difficult now to deem him capable of this design--"to banter the authority of the Holy Scriptures and the whole Christian faith." But Leslie thought this; and he had seen another heresy Quakerism, like twitch shoot its fangs underground, and spread till it became the nucleus of an organized society, silent and destructive, simply from contemptuous neglect in its earliest stages of growth because it appeared ridiculous and unattractive. Therefore he took alarm at the notoriety and sympathy-accorded to Asgill, and resolved to apply his "weed-killer" to the roots of this deadly nonsense till he had eradicated it, and at the same time plant instead the true doctrine on death and resurrection. In doing this he explained many texts often misunderstood, or passed over without any consideration of their meaning at all--a very useful work if an Asgill had never furnished the occasion, or been elevated to the position almost of a martyr and confessor among unbelievers and misbelievers of every description.
Asgill did not stand alone, for another volume had become prominent from the pen of a Dr. Coward, whose patients were as scanty as the "counsellor's" clients. His theory was that the soul is nothing but the life of the body, and is extinguished with it as the flame of a candle, but to be lighted again at the resurrection and burn for ever. This he also pretended to base upon Scripture, as Leslie suspected "for the same purpose to make men disbelieve them; and that himself believed in no resurrection, but having got the soul dead he intended to keep it so." He answered, if the soul be no more than the life, then at death of the body there must be an end of both. If at the resurrection the body live again, there must be a new soul; so one soul will suffer or be rewarded for another. It is no resurrection unless the same thing that died rise again. What is called one's person is chiefly denominated from the soul; for eating mutton does not make one a sheep, but flesh enlivened and acted upon by a human soul becomes human flesh. On the other hand, if a dog eat a man it does not make that dog a man; therefore the soul is the chief part of the person, who is composed of body and soul. There can be no such thing as a human body without a human soul. And as the particles are continually changing, it is a very needless question which of them shall be raised again. This will be enough for the philosophy of the subject as a specimen; but what he proceeded to say was the gist and drift of the Rehearsal reasoning, that though those who argued for the immateriality and immortality of the soul from nature had the best of it, yet the full proof could only come from revelation. Heathen philosophers, so far as they had inklings of truth on this subject, as upon sacrifice, priesthood, marriage, etc., got them from immemorial tradition. They did not institute these practices or doctrines, but found them in use, descended from Adam. In the text, S. Matt. x. 28, Coward explained soul to be no more than life, which is to make our Saviour say that a man may kill the body, yet not take away its life. In conclusion, it was shown that the doctor's claim to originality even had no foundation. He had been anticipated recently by seven other writers, if, indeed, he had not copied from them; and both he and Asgill had only revived old exploded heresies, the former of persons in Arabia, whom Origen was sent to dispute against, and condemned by a Council; the latter of Menander, a disciple of Simon Magus.
No sooner had this subject been dismissed from consideration, than the doctrines of Predestination and Election reappeared for agitation under the auspices of one Edwards, a Calvinistic doctor at Cambridge. These questions have been worn so threadbare by discussion in all times, that it is quite unnecessary to touch upon them here, or refer to him and his sermon for "re-establishing Calvinistic doctrines long stifled, and to extirpate Arminianism," further than to say that "if he had no free-will he could not help it, that may be his excuse," which Episcopalians in Scotland also could charitably apply to a book he published full of abuse of them. Leslie stated the Catholic doctrine with his usual force and clearness, showing at length how consistent the tenth and seventeenth Articles of the Church of England are with the teaching of S. Paul, whilst from their perversion most terrible consequences have resulted. But it was impossible for him then, as it is now, to put these points in a new or better light than it had been done often before; so that very brief notice of his argument must suffice at the close of this chapter.
Way must now be made for a more imposing preacher, with "a sermon of pomp" and a flourish of trumpets from a Grand Jury, reviving the old controversy upon Moderation, which had been for a considerable time left by the Whigs like a horse out at grass on the plains of Salisbury. This was Mr. John Hoadly, chaplain of Bishop Burnet, and by his favour made at an unusually early age Prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral; however, such dignities are not generally conferred only as the reward of learning or merit. He must not be confused with his brother Benjamin, a more notable man in controversy, Bishop of Bangor, then\ of Winchester. John indeed obtained high preferment, being advanced successively to the sees of Ferns, Dublin, and Armagh, in Ireland. Probably he became a sounder divine than Benjamin, after removal from the influences of earlier years at Salisbury; at any rate, he caused no such disturbance in the Irish as his brother did in the English Church. Yet his preferment to the Primacy was one of many instances how unscrupulously the Episcopate was abused to serve the purposes of political parties formerly in Ireland. When quite a novice he had published a letter in defence of the bishops, which he deemed worthy of reprinting at a later date, and it stated the case for Occasional Conformity with a fair amount of point and cogency, without running into dangerous admissions upon matters of doctrine and discipline. His other literary efforts were confined to some "Humorous Views of Bishop Beveridge's Works," the last subject an ordinary person would have selected as a proper one for the exercise of facetiousness. However, the wit speedily evaporated, leaving no trace behind, and happily the works remain unmethylated. This "sermon of pomp" bore on its title-page nineteen names of the Judge and Grand Jury at Salisbury Assizes, as though it needed Lay recommendation to back it up. So it did. For it contained little new, though obviously composed and corrected with much care. What was new was of course not true, and of a painful description from the effort to be striking and sententious. Mr. Hoadly trespassed very closely upon the borders of impiety. As, for instance, in the commencement, where he suggested "that if the Scriptures do not furnish a sufficient Rule of Faith, so that any honest man can find out the way of salvation for himself, it must be said that either God did not design to give us a clear revelation, or else that He could not so express Himself as to accomplish what He designed." What he intended to imply is clear enough and true enough to a certain extent. But his mode of expressing himself had a strong savour of profanity, and was very unseemly in the pulpit, for he "put upon God a dilemma which he meant for human creatures who ventured to disagree with himself." The reply in substance was: "I allow the Holy Scriptures to be a sufficient rule. But there are helps ordained of God towards our better understanding of them, of which, if we make not due use, we cannot plead the obscurity of the rule. It is written that the lips of the priest should preserve knowledge, and that the people should seek the law at his mouth. ... I wonder that Mr. Hoadly, being a priest himself, forgot this help. To leave every man to himself is a dangerous thing. But to charge it upon God, and put that alternative upon Him, that He either did not design we should understand our duty, or that He could not express Himself, was a very bold and dangerous attempt." Again, Mr. Hoadly said, "Those disputes which vex Christianity, and have vexed it from the very beginning, on difficult and abstruse points, have been much more deplorable in their consequences than considerable in themselves. Such they are that men may be saved on both sides, yet such as a man would take some pains to convince men in." This followed after a passage alluding to early controversies concerning the Saviour's Divinity, the Incarnation, and Trinity, therefore the inference appeared fair that he meant a man might be saved on both sides of these, and that they were not considerable in themselves, which involved a tremendous imputation upon the Church and General Councils. Further, his words were shown to have been taken from Toland's book, "Christianity not Mysterious,"\ therefore rightly termed "stabs to Christianity in the dark," and couched in generals well enough to be understood by those whom he courted, a more effectual method to undermine Christianity than if he had made an open attack and declared himself. "S. John calls deniers of the divinity of our Saviour antichrists, but Mr. Hoadly's moderation would have given them a softer word, told them that they might be saved on both sides, and that the controversy was not worth the contest. He says, 'Christ came to turn men from their iniquities,' but there is not a word of His being the Propitiation and Atonement for them--not a syllable of the doctrine which distinguishes a Christian from a moral heathen. Again, he spoke of ' God not being so tied up to one form of government in the Church as to leave those who want it under condemnation'--turning religion into mechanism and a charm, and making his own sect a conjuror's circle, the only place of safety from the devil, chaining God down, as heathens their idols, to one's own house or city." Now, all this sort of language he could not fail to know would be popularly understood to imply that the Church might be no better than a conjuror's circle and sect, to which God's goodness was not confined or chained like a heathen idol. Otherwise it had no meaning at all, which alone would have been a great fault upon such an occasion, in a sermon prepared under the eye of a bishop suspected of Socinianism, and indebted for some of its most noticeable contents to the study of infidel publications, then printed with an unusual sort of recommendation. Criticism was thus plainly invited if not challenged, and to point out defects and faults was a duty and service to the Church. Leslie in discharging this had no personal motive whatever, for he had never seen Mr. Hoadly, nor had any knowledge of him till copies of the sermon were forwarded with request for a review in the Rehearsal. What he censured was, not the man, but the principles which he employed his position as a preacher and authorized teacher of the Church to promulgate; then proceeding in his characteristic way to construct as well as destroy, and upon the ruins of the demolished discourse to establish sound and edifying doctrines. The only pulpit which he could conscientiously occupy without being trammelled by political oaths, where he could be widely heard, and by larger audiences than even in Salisbury Cathedral at the Assizes, was the Rehearsal. There he spoke fearlessly, lifting up his voice like a trumpet, and giving no uncertain sound upon the need of Christian faith as well as morality. If he had not done his work effectually, to the comfort and encouragement of many members of the Church, and the conviction of many sceptics and unbelievers, he would never have provoked such virulent hostility and attempts at interference from Whig partisans and Dissenters as he did, though happily for a long time these were all abortive.
John Tutchin, born at Lymington, closed his ignoble-and unfortunate career on September 23, 1707. His harsh treatment for engagement in Monmouth's rebellion had attracted to him more sympathy than his bravery, and this would have been turned to more profitable account in any other situation than that of journalist, where the temptations proved irresistible to personal abuse and libel of opponents. Though he and De Foe rowed in the same boat, they could not manage generally to keep stroke or pull together, which caused many awkward capsizes. And the reckless manner in which he put Machiavel's maxim on "the art of throwing mud into execution frequently recoiled with most injurious effect upon both his party and himself, Ridpath, his successor in the editorial chair, promised to conduct the Observator in a more prudent and decorous manner, which in itself conveyed a strong admission of the; truth of charges in the Rehearsal; but either the recurring force of nature or external influences proved too potent for submission to such wholesome restraint, and after a few numbers the paper resumed its wonted style, commencing with a very far-fetched and wanton attack upon the gentle, retiring Mr. Dodwell, as well as upon Leslie, for which not the slightest provocation could be pretended against either, while calling for their "expulsion from the nation." Leslie readily advanced in defence of his friend, whom he termed "of the first if not the highest rank in the learned world, and as eminent for his piety as his learning, therefore for whose good company, if expelled, he would feel obliged to the new Observator." What made him so angry with this good man? A book lately published concerning the Immortality of the Soul, which had made some noise in the world, and to which several answers had been written. These proceeded for the most part upon a thorough misconception of Mr. Dodwell's meaning--comparing him to Asgill, though they intended Coward; for they accused him of denying the immortality of the soul, which he did not, but drew a distinction between this as natural and actual. He argued for the latter as the gift of God conferred in the sacrament of holy baptism; and so it was represented as "a piece of Jacobitism levelled at the queen's title and the foundation of the Constitution," because he questioned the validity of Dissenting baptism. Leslie did not concur in Dodwell's theory, for reasons which need not be entered into here, because that would involve a lengthened statement rather concerning his book than its defence; but he showed very plainly that it was a gross misrepresentation to raise such issues at all, and that whether Mr. Dodwell's theory were right or wrong, there was no excuse for directing such a storm against him, because the same had been asserted by many persons before; in ancient days by Justin Martyr, more recently even by writers of their own party--Milton, Baxter, and Robert Fleming. Attacks upon Leslie himself, made up of wild gossip and old reports of being a turncoat priest, having been in three battles and fought at the battle of the Boyne, only evoked a smile and assurance that he had never been in battle in his life. The origin of these blunders have been already explained in confusing him first with the son of another bishop than his own father, then with his own brother, followed by addition-and exaggerations incident to all such stories. Nor need: their ready credence and circulation among opponents call for animadversion when friends and admirers, even descendants, quite as inconsiderately have adopted them from time to time. The immediate purpose in view was to damage the Rehearsal, because it cast such an inconvenient glare upon principles and practices of the times. These, with false reports of warrants and arrests, are still to be traced Luttrell's "Diary" and other such remembrancers. They were the current topic of the day, taken from Whig papers where the wish was father to the thought, and nothing of the kind had ever taken place. Leslie's first intelligence on several occasions of his giving bail or being imprisoned Was on reading them. Here lay a difference. He confessed he would have stopped them if he could; not having the power, he answered them. They, not being able to answer him, tried or pretended to stop him. Whigs and Dissenters were much ruffled in temper at their discomfiture. He was reasonably elated with a success which enabled him to achieve still more.
Arrests and imprisonments had befallen Tutchin and De Foe, notwithstanding all the patronage of Ministers and subscriptions of clubs. He declined either subscriptions or patronage, yet had not been subjected to legal proceedings of any kind. If he had many political adversaries, the majority had no personal animosity against him, while they were equalled in number by both personal and political friends; moreover, multitudes at a distance, in various parts of this kingdom and of Scotland, heartily recognized the services he gratuitously performed for the Church at large. Nowhere did she need assistance more than in Scotland against the infamous cruelty of the Presbyterian body, never more unblushingly infamous and cruel than in Queen Anne's reign. Nowhere did he more desire to assist her or strive more earnestly, if to little purpose. Accordingly, it is gratifying to reflect that to this day his memory and services are affectionately treasured by some of the worthiest sons of that most faithful but suffering Branch of the True Vine.
It is evident, from several passages of his writings, that few things ever grieved Leslie so much as the conduct of the Presbyterian body in Scotland towards the Clergy there. After these had been mobbed and marauded, proscribed and plundered, till they had been reduced to a state bordering on starvation, the hireling Whig press was instigated by the General Assembly to hinder collections in England on their behalf. However, the motives were too transparent, and the characters and claims of the noble band of sufferers too unquestionable, for this scandalous conspiracy to succeed; so even the queen was persuaded by her ministry, the archbishop, and Bishop Burnet, to subscribe among great numbers of other influential persons. Nor is there any portion of the Rehearsal more deserving of admiration than that in which, single-handed, he contended for the sufferers against Calvin's ungenerous sect, and pleaded her wrongs. His heart may be heard beating in every line. So now the memory of the bishop and himself, though strangely slighted by the Church of Ireland which owed them most, nor ever has produced a worthier father or a worthier son, is still cherished by the more orthodox branch of Scotland.
7. The Sacrament of the Altar a True and Proper Sacrifice.--Must we now despise the most solemn and proper priesthood that God ever committed into the hands of men, to offer up the same sacrifice in figure which Christ in reality daily offers to His Father in heaven, the sacrifice of His own body and blood once offered upon the Cross? The priest at the Altar stands there representing the person of Christ our great High Priest, presenting himself in our flesh and blood to His Father as our High Priest, who, by the sacrifice of the Cross, has made full atonement and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; to be applied to all who with true faith and sincere repentance lay hold of it. He has commanded the same thing to be done by His priests on earth in these symbols of it, which He blessed and called His own body and blood, to show the nearness of the relation between this sacrifice upon earth and that performed by Himself in heaven.
But the rage of these men against the priesthood upon earth will leave none in heaven. They will not let Christ be a priest now, though he is called "a Priest for ever." For if His offering His once crucified body in the presence of His Father, and, in virtue of that, making daily intercession for us, be not the proper act of a priest, and a true, real, though unbloody sacrifice (for He is not to be sacrificed again), then He is not now a priest. But if these are proper acts of priesthood, so they are when performed in symbol by His priests on earth. We offer the unbloody sacrifice as it is offered in heaven; but the Church of Rome offers a bloody sacrifice, which is abhorrent. For if it be a real blood as they say, then the sacrifice is really bloody, and the blood of Christ is poured out again in every sacrament. And this commemorative sacrifice of Christ already come and slain, and now our High Priest in heaven, is a more noble sacrifice, and as properly the act of a priest as the typical sacrifices under the law, which prefigured Christ to come. And if Christ is more properly a priest than Aaron, who was but a type of Him, so is the evangelical priesthood more properly priests than the Levitical. And if "no man taketh this honour to himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron;" and if "Christ glorified not Himself to be an High Priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art a Priest for ever;" how monstrous does it look to have such notions set up among us, that every man, nay, and woman, is as much a priest as those whom Christ ordained and appointed to succeed Him in that office, nay, as Christ Himself, whom these men will not allow to be any priest at all, and overthrow our whole religion which is built upon it!
What Whigs call "the top of priestcraft" is Christ, our great High Priest, in heaven; who, by leaving behind Him a priesthood upon earth to celebrate the same worship and offer the same unbloody sacrifice of His body and blood for the people which He, in person, perpetually perform in heaven, has by this means united heaven and earth into one family. The same atonement and sacrifice for sin being offered up in both. In the one by Christ Himself in person; in the other by priests whom He sent, as His Father had sent Him; that is, with the same commission of binding and retaining sin, in subordination to Him and in His name; and to whom, at the institution of the holy sacrament of His body and blood, He said, "Do this," that you have seen Me do--in blessing the elements, etc.--"till My coming again." "And he that despises you despises Me." This torments the evil spirit out of all bounds. Here he sees his own ruin and eternal destruction aggravated by the redemption afforded mankind in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, making atonement for their sins. The devils know Christ to be their King, they feel His power to be superior to theirs, and have been forced to confess it. This they believe, and tremble. But they believe not Christ to be their Priest, that is, to make atonement for their sins, which is the proper office of the priesthood. Thence comes their despair, their rage and envy against mankind who have Christ for their Priest as well as for their King. First to redeem them and then give them the glories of His kingdom. But His kingdom is all terror to those who have Him not first to be their Priest. He is King in hell as well as in heaven; but he is only a Priest in heaven. And they who believe not in Him as their Priest in this world will not have Him King in the next. To confirm this the more to us, and that we might have it perpetually before our eyes, He has delegated His priesthood to earthen vessels, to men subject to like infirmities with ourselves, and gave them the glory which His Father had given Him; that is, to stand in the midst between God and men; to transact with them, and sign and seal His covenant with them in His name, as His attorneys or ambassadors; to remit and retain their sins according to the rules He has prescribed to them, and to offer up the sacrifice of His blessed body and blood. He commands them to let no man despise them, that is to keep up the dignity of their office. For by this an intercourse is opened between heaven and earth, and the angels ascend and descend. They who see Christ offer up this sacrifice are present in our assemblies, and behold the same thing performed by His priests on earth in those symbols He has commanded, and called His own body and blood for the remission of sins. As the priests and the people did eat of the sacrifice after it was offered, so here we eat and drink what Christ calls His body and blood. This provokes the rage of the devil above all things, to see a heaven thus instituted and set up on earth, answering each other like two indentures--the same worship, the same priesthood, the same sacrifice. And God has showed us no other way of going to heaven but by the ministry of His priests upon earth, to whom He has committed the word of reconciliation and the administration of His sacraments. He that will not hear the Church is to be reckoned as a heathen. But the devil would persuade us, as at the beginning, not to fear this threat, for that we shall not surely die, although we go out of the road which God has prescribed to us. No, but we shall be as gods, we shall be all priests, and offer up sacrifices every one for himself. And what signifies these outward institutions? They are all priestcraft! Do you think God would damn a man for eating an apple, though it were forbidden, or for not washing himself, or taking a little bread and wine, though it were commanded? And what are these priests that would arrogate this to themselves? Look upon them; what do you see in them more than other men? By this sort of argument the devil has seduced many. And in all ages his malice has been chiefly exerted against the clergy, for the institution of the priesthood is the destruction of his kingdom.
8. Of Rebellion.--There is no sin but has its subterfuges and excuses. The plainest sins have been distinguished into nothing, nay, turned into virtues by men of art and cunning. There may be some difficult cases, as is seen in our books of casuistry, but in the main and in the great duties of Christianity the rule is plain to any honest and well-designing mind. He will make a hedge about the law and refrain from every appearance of evil; he will fly from sin as from the face of a serpent. He that once comes to distinctions and salvos about his duty is weary of it, and would be glad to get rid of it, and he seldom misses to find out a means. He that would be secure must strengthen himself in the ways of the Lord, must hate and detest all sin, put on the armour of God and prepare himself against all temptation. But if he seeks to compound with sin, and wishes such a thing were not one, that he might comply with it--that man has sinned already, and will go on all the way, even to the excess of sin. Hence it comes likewise that men are furious against one sin and very gentle towards another. This docs not come from the fear of God, but (it may always be observed) there is something of party and interest in the case, or of violent bent and inclination. There is no man given to all sins, but most men have some beloved sin which they would excuse, and show their zeal in crying out against other sins. They
"Compound for those they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to."
Rebellion is called witchcraft in the Holy Scriptures, and the common epithet of rebels is sons of Belial, which shows that this sin was learned from the devil, who was the first rebel, and it is of a much higher class in wickedness than the ordinary sins of the flesh. For the king having limited himself by the law, the law is the rule when this comes to be applied to any particular case, and the king has granted to us to plead the law with him in all such cases. But it allows of no coercion over the king in any case. The Whigs tell stories of kings that have been coerced, and particularly name King John. To which it is answered, that ten thousand instances might be given of the breach of other commands of God, for one instance of coercing kings, yet that did not abrogate any of these commands of God. It is particularly remarkable of Presbytery that it never yet came into any country upon the face of the earth but by rebellion. That mark lies upon it. A Whig is a Dissenter without his religion, but retains his principles as a government, therefore they are dear brethren. And the Dissenter overlooks the atheism and immorality of the Whig, because he is useful to him in carrying on his rebellion, yet rails at immorality in Churchmen. 9. The Church a Society.--The Church is a society in the great society of the world, and in the several kingdoms and societies of it. But every one of these societies has a chief governor or head within itself to regulate its affairs. Thus every Church has its bishop for its head and governor, and every kingdom has its head. The head over all Churches is the Same, who is Head over all kingdoms; that is, none but God, whose kingdom ruleth over all. As all nations are one kingdom to God, so all Churches are one to Christ, the chief Bishop. And as God has made no universal deputy or monarch over the world, neither has Christ made any universal bishop over the Church. But what if these bishops differ among themselves, and so there be opposite Churches set up one against another, as we see it done, to the no small ruin of Christianity and the peace of the Church of Christ? What if kings differ among themselves, and kingdom rise up against kingdom, to the disturbance of the peace of the world? The case is the same; and though it be lamentable and a sad concomitance of our fallen and corrupted nature, yet it is better than if all the world were under one king, or all the Churches under one bishop. For, considering human frailty, there would be more rebellions and bloody wars under an universal monarch than as it is now. Thus, as to the Church, if the universal Church of Christ all depended upon one bishop, unless he were infallible and omnipotent, the whole Church must go to ruin, and there could be no remedy. With all the divisions of the Church, it is in a better condition than if under the absolute dominion and government of one poor fallible man, subject to errors and passions. Therefore let us not be wiser than God.
Church and State may part again, as several times they have done, and each stand upon its own foundation, which therefore they cannot lose by their union. This makes it rather a federal than an incorporating union, by which last all distinct and independent powers are for ever abolished and extinguished. The Church takes care of religion, and the State of civil concerns, and these are not contrary the one to the other. Nor can they ever interfere while each keeps within its own limits. For example, the State condemns a man for murder; the Church, upon his repentance, absolves him; yet this docs not hinder the sentence of the law to pass upon him. So here is no interfering, because the censure of the Church does not cramp the sentence of the State, nor the sentence. of the State the censure of the Church.
It is not to be supposed that any bishop would command one from his bounden duty and service to the king; or if he did, it would be an unlawful command, and he would be obliged to disobey it. Or if it happened by chance, the bishop, not knowing what command the king had given, would excuse attendance at the time and place.
10. The Power of the Keys.--There is a declaratory part, which is also judicial, as when a man, vested with authority and executing the office of a judge, declares the law. It is a sentence. When a herald reads a declaration of war with the solemnity appointed, it authorizes and begins the war. Another may read such a declaration as well and as loud, but it signifies nothing. Thus the clergy are heralds appointed and authorized by Christ to proclaim His peace to the world, or His wrath if they obey not. And He has promised to ratify in heaven what they thus declare in His name upon earth. But may they not exercise this power of the keys very unjustly? Can they save or damn at their pleasure? No doubt God will reverse any unjust sentence that they pass. He is King, they are but His ministers, and the King may pardon whom the judge has condemned. But this shows the sentence to be judicial, for nothing else is reversed or reversible. No court would reverse the sentence of a private person because it goes for nothing. But if a sentence pass by a lawful judge, though it be unjust, yet it will take place unless reversed by a higher authority. And there needs no express reservation of this superior power in the king when he grants a commission, for it is implied. This obviates all the objections of the Church using the power of the keys unjustly. The supreme authority of Christ the King is still implied and supposed; who is not tied up by any unjust sentence--"clave errante," as the phrase of the schools is. For while the administration of government is committed into the hands of men, it is liable to mistakes and errors. Therefore when Christ promises to ratify in heaven the sentence the Church shall pass upon earth, it is still supposed that it be passed justly. Christ says that "God judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son." And the reason is given: "Because He is the Son of man." It is not said because He is the Son of God; as if all God's judgments were to be dispensed by the hand of man. From the beginning of the world God has dispensed His blessings by the hands of men, sent men to be His prophets and priests, to intercede and make atonement for sins; the last judgment will be pronounced by the mouth of The Man; and God judges no man but mediately, by the intervention of man. A man cannot be said to be truly penitent, if he refuse to own his crime and submit himself to the censure of the Church. And God will not remit his crime, though he be sorry in his heart he has committed it; but will retain his sin and ratify the sentence of the Church, while he continues in his obstinacy against her. One cannot be reconciled to God while standing out in obstinacy to the Church, for He will maintain His own institutions; and he who expects to go to heaven any other way than that which God hath appointed makes himself wiser than God, and may find his folly when it will be too late. What allowances He will make for extreme ignorance I will not determine; "His mercy is over all His works." But for those who offend of malicious wickedness, who obstinately break off from the Church and despise her authority, who place themselves in the seat of the scorner and turn everything that is sacred into ridicule, these are in the gall of bitterness and their condition most desperate. Now one may plainly sec that the power of the Keys is to open or shut the gates of heaven, and that there is no entrance thither to those who die in obstinate opposition to the Church, though they should repent of all their other errors except this. Therefore a man ought to be very sure that the censure of the Church is unjustly passed upon him before he ventures his soul on it. Those who go out of the Church excommunicate themselves, and with this aggravation, that it is their own act and deed; whereas a man may be excommunicated wrongfully. The separation of Dissenters from the Church of England is a schism; but not hers from the Church of Rome, because that Church imposed sinful conditions of communion. Some men think they are safe if they follow their conscience in anything; they forget the Holy Scriptures are given as a rule to our conscience, and we are obliged by the law of God, whether we think so or not; else we might harden our conscience, let passions and lusts blind the eye of reason, wink and shut our eyes and not see the way, and then say, "How can a blind man see?"
11. Of Predestination.--It is said that Predestination is a Scripture word, therefore no man ought to speak against it. Holy Scripture often speaks to us after the manner of men to our capacities-, for otherwise we could not understand them. We have no words to express the infinite nature of God; therefore, whether fore or after is attributed to God in Holy Scripture, we must take that word ad captum. Such is the word predestination, or foreordaining or fore-knowing. God knows all things, but lie foreknows nothing, because all things are present to Him. He ordains, but He does not fore-ordain. Yet we must use these words because they are according to our capacities. If we argue strictly and properly from them, we shall fall not only into many absurdities, but even blasphemies. Perplexities have arisen from taking the word in a strict and literal sense, without any as if or comparison supposed in the case, or any allowance for a word ad captum; but downright supposing a time past in God, and a decree already past concerning things to come with God--which absurdity being granted, others follow inevitably on both sides. Such decree being supposed, it takes away free-will; else the will of man might disappoint the decree of God. On the other hand, without free-will supposed, it will be impossible to give an account of all the promises and threatenings in the Holy Scriptures, and the protestations of God that He delighteth not in the death of a sinner, and His earnest invitations to' repentance. As this is the perplexity, so remove the first absurdity and all clears up on both sides. Let us understand God's predestination not strictly and philosophically, and consequences drawn from it, but in its general meaning and import; then we understand the firmness of God's promises, and of His covenant made with us in Christ impossible to be frustrated. The whole difficulty being as to time of fore and after, which we are sure is not nor can be in God. It is of God only we speak, when we speak of His eternal decrees before man was made; for man was not then in the case, otherwise than as all future things are present with God. But if we apply this to ourselves, then it will follow that I was born before I was born, even from eternity, because my birth was then present with God; and my death is now present with Him, therefore I am now dead. I am not dead, because all live unto Him. Thus we apply to ourselves what we call His fore-decrees, and say that the freedom of our will is now tied up by them. N Therefore let us leave the word fore out, and say only that God ordains the punishment of wickedness and the reward of virtue. When we say that God fore-ordains, there comes in all the confusion. No Predestinarians can refute this, since they all allow that there is no fore or after in God. Therefore, if they will speak properly of Him, they must use words only of the present.
The rigid Calvinistic notion of the word predestination, and the inferences drawn from it, are not only most absurd but likewise blasphemous against God. And the effects of it seen among common Presbyterians are terrible. Their heads being perpetually filled with abstruse notions of predestination, election, reprobation, and secret decrees of God, and that they have no free-will or choice what to do, but must go on as it is secretly decreed, this makes men careless (for why should they struggle when there is no remedy, and their sentence is already past, and that irrevocably?); so it is observable that more of these die in despair than any other sort of people. On their death-bed they have cried out for "assurance." And when the merits and satisfaction of Christ has been preached to them, they would say, alas, "What is that to me, if I be not one of the elect; for Christ died only for the elect?" This is another of their doctrines pursuant to their notion of predestination, that the decrees of God may not be frustrated. When some have been asked why they doubted of their election, and bid look into their lives, which, bating human infirmities, were good and virtuous, therefore they might take this as a mark of their election, they would answer that the good works of the reprobate were hateful to God, therefore this was no sure mark. The condition of such people is most lamentable. Election is with them a secret decree without any respect to our works, and they can have no other assurance of it but that of their own imaginations. They cannot, as the apostle requires, be always ready to render a reason of the hope that is in them. Nay, they speak against reason, and think it rather a hindrance to faith. Thank God, the faith learned in the Church of England is this, that Christ died for all mankind, and consequently for me in particular. And I have His promise, which is an infallible assurance, that if I believe and trust in that complete satisfaction He has made for all my sins, and truly repent of them, I shall be saved. Though my faith be weak and my repentance unworthy, and fit to be repented of, and all my righteousness as "filthy rags," yet I despair not, because the satisfaction made for my sins was performed by Christ in His own person, without me, in which I have no share at all. I did not and could not pay one penny of my debt, or make am satisfaction to infinite offended Justice; but my whole debt was paid by my Surety, and by Him who alone could make satisfaction it was made. My faith is a hand which reaches this medicine to me and applies it. The virtue is not in the hand, but in the medicine. The stronger the faith, the greater the comfort. Therefore, Lord, increase my faith, and I pray that it fail not. If it be well grounded, though weak, and my repentance be sincere, though unworthy, I am upon Jacob's ladder, and though upon the lowest step, yet on the road to heaven. Some are upon a higher step and some on a lower, but all are safe.
This is my faith and my assurance, this is the reason and the reck upon which it is built. What reason can any man give for his being elected by a secret decree which he knows not? There can be no sure mark of it by the principles of predestinarians. It is but imagination. Impressions on the imagination may give great pleasure, and even raptures of joy. If these are built upon the true ' foundation, they are gold and precious stones; otherwise they are but hay and stubble, and will not endure the fire. We may know them also by their effects. If such transports leave us more humble in ourselves, and with more love and charity to others, they come from God. But if they fill us with spiritual pride they come, no doubt, from the spirit of pride. Nor is any so proud as he who is proud of his humility. Whatever are the decrees of God, they are not contrary to His revealed will. Therefore I may cheerfully set about my duty, and surely trust in His promises. . . .
There is one thing which predestinarians boast very much, that their doctrine is agreeable to the Thirty-nine Articles. Now, though this be no argument as to the doctrine itself, yet to the Church of England it is of very great consequence. The tenth Article is of free-will, which is not denied, but rather supposed and asserted. But it supposes the concurrence of the grace of God by Christ to be necessary to incline and guide our will, and to work with us when we have that good will. The seventeenth Article is of predestination, and keeps us to the Scripture phrase of God's ordaining before the world began, of calling whom He foreknew, etc., which is to be understood in the same and no other sense than as these words are used in Holy Scripture, namely, ad captum. Then they are full of sweet, pleasant, unspeakable comfort to godly persons. But the Article checks the curiosities of this dispute, which is what I have been blaming. Observe, further, that there is not a word of reprobation in this seventeenth Article, nothing of God's having fore-decreed any to misery, but it speaks only of those whom He has elected to salvation, so that Calvinists can find in it no colour or umbrage in their favour. And whatever the opinion of particular men might have been. this cannot be charged upon the Church of England.
12. Of Universal Redemption.--Predestinarians do not allow universal redemption, or that Christ died for all. Because, they say, that if He died for the reprobate, it was totally in vain, and the end of His sufferings must be frustrated as to them. Besides, that He could not intend to save those whom God has reprobated by an eternal decree. As to eternal decrees, enough has been said already. But now, the Scripture is plain which says that "Christ died for all," and "would have none to perish," and "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I died even for those who perish. We may understand this by a familiar example. Suppose one came to a prison, and taking a list of all the debtors, should pay their debts, costs. and charges; and opening the doors, should tell them they were at liberty who would accept it, and go out in such a time. After which the doors should be locked again, and those there should be kept till they had paid the uttermost farthing. Some thankfully accept the offer; but other-despise his mercy, or will not believe him, and prefer the sordid life of a prison, the pot and the pipe, and will not come out. This is the very condemnation our Saviour spoke of, when He said that men loved darkness rather than light. God will not save us against our will--free-will. But there is no merit in us when we accept of His salvation. He pays all the debt, and the thanks and glory are to Him. Otherwise, how could wicked men be blamed, if He shed no blood for them, nor gave them any saving grace? This brings us to another point. From internal decrees it is inferred there can be no falling from grace, because this might defeat the decree; and, therefore, that men cannot finally resist this grace or fall from it. Dr. Bales was the physician called in the night that Oliver proved a "true deliverer of his country!" The Protector was in great agonies of mind; often started and asked those there if they saw ought. At length he called for his chaplains, and the first question he asked them was, "if there was any falling from grace?" To which, being answered in the negative, "Then," said he, "I am safe." For he supposed that some time or other in his life he might have had a little grace. Then this usurpation, with the murder of the king and devastation of three kingdoms, besides much bloodshed abroad, and the overthrow of the Church Establishment, could do him no harm! This is a short way of quieting conscience, and to lull men asleep in their sins. Thus poor souls are deluded by these doctrines of decrees. In consequence of which it is a maxim that God sees no sin in His elect; which is, indeed, that the elect cannot sin. Then it is all one whether we are good or wicked. These are monstrous principles, and make one not wonder at their preacher in London, who, being asked what progress he had made, said he had made many proselytes, but all the effects he found was that he had preached a congregation of Christians into a congregation of devils. Perhaps he did not know the cause, that it was the natural consequence of the doctrines he had preached. These are more fatal to the souls of men than idolatry, or .the worst part of Popery, unhinging the whole of Christianity, taking away faith and repentance, and dissolving all obligation to a good life.