THE PRINCE--INVASION--BENJAMIN HOADLY AND SERMON POMP--ILL HEALTH--DEATH OF PRINCE GEORGE--DR. GREGORY--GIVING SECURITY--SACHEVERELL'S TRIAL AND EPISCOPAL APPOINTMENTS--"BEST ANSWER"--"BEST OR ALL"--MR. HIGDEN--TYRREL--SUPPLEMENT--EXTRACTS FROM "REHEARSAL."
WHAT shall he be called? A man of many titles. Prince of Wales--the Pretended Prince of Wales--the Pretender--the Pretended Pretender--James III.--Chevalier S. George. It matters nothing now which of these any person deems the more appropriate to him, and more proper for one's self to adopt, and involves no question of hereditary or parliamentary right. Because both are combined in the title of the reigning sovereign in England. De facto has become also de jure, upon the principles advocated so consistently and persistently by Leslie himself; and if he were alive he would be foremost in acknowledging that tin-house of Stuart being extinct, there can be none to dispute the claims of the house of Hanover. Equally large and unqualified must be the admission due from those who trace the right of the Crown to the Revolution settlement and the Act of Succession, for those national engagements preclude them on their own principles from trying to alter the constitution of the country as then determined, whether for better or worse. A plebiscitum would not produce any material difference, if it were conducted in any fair and reasonable manner, whatever republicans and democrats may pretend upon occasions, or leaders of a party, who are notably of foreign extraction, try to persuade the people to believe. Such men who talk of a mere "titular sovereignty" in Great Britain, are not only guilty of disloyalty, but their language is in direct contravention of the Revolution settlement, of the conditions made with the house of Hanover in accepting the succession, of Acts of Parliament unrepealed to this day, and of all the principles professed by the Whig party two centuries ago. [A speech at Birmingham, 1884.] Perhaps the reason lies in this fact, that candidates for popular leadership in the present day are most of them not of English, Irish, or Scotch descent, but imported from America, Germany, and Italy; therefore having no patriotic attachment to the Constitution either by inheritance, tradition, or conviction. Of course there are exceptions, but these are not men who have hitherto exhibited talents for statesmanship to qualify them for trust in the enormous venture of a fresh revolution, nor of courage requisite for the enterprise, because the English nation will probably never again be so blind as to engage in a civil war to feed the vanity and cupidity of individuals unprepared to take foremost posts of danger. It was not such stuff as modern demagogues are made of, that enabled a Cromwell or a Prince of Orange to filch a crown from the owner's brow, and terrify the House of Lords into treason or submission. Now loyal and patriotic people who wish for peace, but "peace with honour," at home as well as abroad, are freed from that dilemma and conflict of conscience which painfully entangled those who lived in Leslie's time; when de jure and de facto titles stood in glaring opposition, and to support the one, even as an abstract principle incapable of further assertion, was to incur suspicion of active designs against the other. ["Is not peace the end of arms? . . . No. Let's use the peace of honour." ("Bonduca.")] There was seated upon the throne one who, upon the de jure principle, had only a parliamentary title, and of might against right, almost as liable to the charge of usurpation as her predecessor. Across the Channel was a young man, the trumped-up accusation against whose birth had long since not only been disproved but abandoned by the very persons who first set it afloat; who could not be deemed guilty of charges laid against his parents; who had never injured his country and professed devotion to it, claiming allegiance by an hereditary title of the most unquestionable character; but of a religion hateful to the nation, and whose return, whatever pledges he might offer of relinquishing the arbitrary courses of his infatuated father, was naturally dreaded by that portion of his subjects who had driven him into exile. What was an honourable man to do? Silence was impossible, because an oath at any one's suggestion might be tendered, to say nothing of the pain of ignominious self-obliteration, which would compel a declaration and put an end to hedging and evasion. That exactly was the difficulty which Leslie foresaw must render life intolerable to one of his ardent nature and solemn convictions, if he had wished to adopt a neutral position even temporarily; therefore from the first he chose his side against his interests, and endured much suffering and loss in adhering to it openly, undisguisedly--not, however, hastily, for he declared that he had made the strictest inquiry into the question and examined all the objections which he could meet with from others or suggest to himself, but retained his conviction. "The flagrancy of fact from Scripture, as well as reason, determined me against all bias to that side of the question which lies furthest from the world as to me." He who would read this pathetic expression without respect and admiration would only be one deserving of neither himself. The sting consisted in this, that against the de facto sovereign he had not one hostile sentiment, while for the sovereign de jure he did not know what beyond that he had to say. He could only hope the best and wait. But the Pretended Pretender could not wait himself. He could not count upon his ebbing fortunes--as they drifted further into unreality upon a distant shore, growing itself colder in the lapse of time-- returning at any high tide without some supreme effort on his own part. Therefore he determined to make one, and issued a declaration of war in February, 1707, which was to be published if supporters could be found in sufficient numbers to take the field when he should arrive in Scotland; trusting also that Marlborough and Godolphin were out of humour enough at last, under the direction of Sarah, to play the part of traitors openly once more and go over to the winning side. Marlborough kept out of the reach of Sarah; and her storms raged higher than ever upon discovering that the abigail, Hill, whom she had introduced as a poor kinswoman to the royal palace, used her position to supplant her. A sweeter temper, a nobler spirit, a more devout character, could scarcely have brooked such ingratitude and deception without indignant remonstrance, but within six months the web was woven too successfully to be undone. Harley had made the abigail his tool, though he had soon to give way before the influences of the duke and Prince George in fear of the Pretender.
She--as Mrs. Masham--had ousted Sarah, and the queen felt bound to stick by her new favourite, wearied of the old friendship which had become a burden. Had James come sooner, and stayed longer than he did, then the question what to call him had been settled undoubtedly in his favour, very differently from what results proved. He sailed from France upon March 17, 1708, for Scotland, with a force extorted from the French ministry, who had little mind for fulfilment of Louis's chivalrous engagement to James II. on his death-bed unless assured of success. Some thought that his own reluctance to start equalled theirs to hazard anything beyond courtesy and hospitality at S. Germain, and that secret orders were given to Fourbin, commander of the expedition, not to land. At any rate he did not; and brought the young heir safely back, after hovering near the coast of Scotland for some time without accomplishing anything, upon the plea of difficulty. The value of this plea need not be narrowly scrutinized, since one ship and four thousand men were lost, which was at least on the surface some testimony to sincerity of purpose if combined with safety. What appears more probable from all accounts on both sides, and an impartial consideration of actual circumstances, is that if the attempted invasion had been followed up strenuously and energetically it would have been crowned with success. For the Union project had been so mismanaged in Scotland as to alienate both Presbyterians and Jacobites. Lowlanders would soon have joined James's standard. From thence insurrection would have passed by rapid strides from north to south of England, where many things had combined to detach from Queen Anne the good will of a large proportion of the people, especially her own uninteresting want of character and vacillation between Whigs and Tories, weariness of war, and the violence of the Whig press against the Church Establishment, which had given rise to the cry that it was in danger. But the French fleet returned to Dunkirk; discontented Scotchmen returned to their homes; discontented Englishmen had no necessity to run the risk of leaving theirs, and the queen and her Government were relieved from great panic and peril. All ended, therefore, in a mere flash of the pan; the scare for revolutionists, trimmers, and Tom Doubles soon passed; and as they breathed freely again they talked loudly of what they would have done, and what now should be done to prevent the Pretender.
He had fain to content himself with a conviction of failure, not being attributable to any want, of courage on his own part, and of writing another letter to his adherents, deploring the disappointment of their mutual hopes, and pledging himself never to cease his efforts to recover his crown. About this time he assumed the title Chevalier de S. George, which must have been deemed a fortunate circumstance by those who wished to be safe on both sides. "Pretender" had been adopted at first as a title of dubious signification, and only gradually came to bear its more unfavourable sense. What a pity that these waverers did not bethink them of the still more indefinite term "Claimant"--not yet polluted by a gross imposter--as a safe and convenient cloak which committed a speaker irrecoverably to neither side!
Meanwhile the paper war continued to reflect the vehement passions and interests which stirred the public mind. Ridpath had even less ability than Tutchin, with all his coarseness. De Foe's promises of amendment always ended in the same way, and his well-paid services in Scotland as spy upon the Jacobites and scout for the Kirk, whetted his appetite for fresh onslaughts on the Church of England, under cover of protesting against Jacobites, Nonjurors, High-Flyers, and Tantivy men--this latter a euphemism to denote the boot-whip-and-spur-policy of postillions as adopted by Tories. John Hoadly had acquitted himself to the satisfaction of the grand jury at Salisbury in commending moderation towards Dissenters in immoderate terms; but Leslie had ventured to impugn the one-sidedness of his liberality, and question the propriety of his language. Now his brother Benjamin came to the rescue, among a fresh batch of pamphleteers and sermon publishers, whose sermons and books had somehow hitherto fallen flat, though undoubtedly he was an abler man. He could hardly have been jealous of his brother's success, though it looked like it, but it may be supposed was simply animated by an earnest desire to stamp his opinions with higher authority; and it is a curious thing physiologists have not accounted for, how opinions, even new ones, run in families. Accordingly he preached and published a "sermon of pomp," heralded by the tin trumpets, and endorsed by judge and jury at Hertford. Hoadly ostentatiously professed to scorn penny papers like the Rehearsal, yet he attacked Leslie's principles and very words so closely there, that he said "he might bet him a penny he had read the penny paper, which, though so beneath his notice, he answered in a penny sermon." [Like John Knox's disclaimer concerning Aylmer's book, "I have not read him."] Its subject was the blessing of liberty, distinguished from anarchy or lawless confusion on one hand, on the other from slavery or an absolute subjection to the will of another not bounded by any wholesome and good laws. What he wanted was "a liberty or property such as cannot be shaken by any humour or arbitrary will of one man or society of men." This is exactly what everybody has always wanted, but how to secure it has been the difficulty, because it can be shaken both by a single man and a company over and over again. If the people may take arms to resist what they deem slavery, then comes in lawless confusion. If the\ question be, whether Government act justly in depriving subjects of liberty or property, who is the judge? Hoadly intended his auditory to understand himself to be the advocate of liberty, and others whom he indicated not indistinctly to be the advocates of slavery, which accordingly he painted in the blackest colours, very easy to do with a little rhetoric. His examples from Scripture were not happily selected; for instance, when he pointed out the "Israelites refusing God to be their King, because they were so little sensible of the difference between slavery and liberty." For it showed that the notion of a commonwealth did not then exist; and that when the people would choose for themselves they chose wrongly, but still a king instead of a God; so they are not the best judges of what is right or good for themselves. Again, it was said the miracles of Moses distinguished his government from others. To which it was replied in the Rehearsal most acutely, "This, instead of a salvo, pins the basket faster upon the orators for resistance; for if pretences could be made against a governor of God's own appointment, with such mighty works in attestation of it, how much more might they be made against an ordinary governor, who managed by his own skill and wisdom?" And further, who were the people? Some were for Moses in the right; the major part against him, in the wrong; therefore a majority is not always right, nor vox populi vox Dei. Mr. Hoadly spoke of the two Houses of Parliament as "co-ordinate legislative powers with the crown." But this was to repeat and assume the old notion of rebels and regicides, already confuted in the Rehearsal, and at variance with his own Prayer-book If he did not read the former, he ought to have been better acquainted with the latter--specially a service for November 5, then interpolated by authority only of his own revolutionary party. Lest he should take amiss the freedom with which his opinions were corrected and shown to be mere mob-notions of government, though he had attacked Leslie frequently in print before receiving any reply, he assured him it was not with himself but those notions he quarrelled, and that, on the contrary, with some of his works he had been very well pleased. Assistance from the Review could hardly have seemed a valuable compliment to Mr. Hoadly in any case, and De Foe's banter, as usual, betrayed his superficial acquaintance with Scripture, as much as his irreverence in handling sacred topics. Shortly after this controversy and the failure of the Chevalier's expedition, it was said that Leslie had gone to S. Germain engaged in preparation of some new plans. But there is ample proof that as he had not "been consulted or concerned in that enterprise, so he was not in any new one meditated. On the contrary, by express desire of the Chevalier, his communications to him were confined at that time to mere reports of public events, doubtless with a view to his own security; nor had he any inclination to embarrass the present Government. Early in 1707 he had an attack of gout, which compelled him to seek change of air for a month in the country, during which he heard nothing of what went on in the world, beyond common reports about the Duke of Marlborough's grand schemes, and the demands of Dissenters, announced by their fugleman, De Foe. Letters after that prove he remained almost continuously at home in London till late in the summer of the next year, with the exception, apparently, of a brief visit to an old friend in Suffolk, which was entirely of a private character. Then he had another severe attack of illness which threatened his life, and it was gravely doubted by himself that he could possibly recover. During it he did not fail to review his past life, nor neglect to seek those spiritual remedies the need and benefit of which he had so often urgently recommended to others. And it was well this should be known, for the privacy in which a clergyman's sickness has frequently been enveloped, has created an impression that he did not desire or receive the ministrations of another priest. Nothing could seem more effectually to promote disbelief in such ministrations themselves on the part of the laity. Who, rather for his own sake, should put himself in the hands of a spiritual adviser able to point out faithfully and kindly flaws and failings unknown to himself, which have hindered his usefulness, as well as administer to him absolution and the Holy Eucharist, than a clergyman? For this reason it was that Leslie took an early opportunity, when the danger had passed and he was able to resume to some extent his ordinary occupations, of testifying publicly in the Rehearsal that he had not been negligent in his sickness of the proper ordinances of religion; and that his very connection with this paper had occupied his serious concern. Its publication had for some time past been increased to nearly twice a week, but was now intermitted for ten days, which of course led to another report of prosecution, and also helped to identify him more clearly as the editor. His "sick-bed thoughts" were of too strong a nature to be digested easily by readers of the Observator, who did not want to think there could be any necessity for a priest's interference. Ridpath's remarks, therefore, which could be readily anticipated, afforded a convenient opportunity for reiterating the doctrines he had already inculcated concerning the Power of the Keys and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. This he did, moreover, the more distinctly to challenge attention to them as no novelties of a Nonjuror, or remnants of Romish superstition, but the positive teaching of the Church of England in her Book of Common Prayer. And how had they come to be thus regarded, or lost sight of, but because so generally slurred over, or omitted, or acknowledged with "whispering humbleness and bated breath," by clergy themselves, while pulpits were resounding continually with declamation upon moderation, toleration, liberty, government, and other political topics, deemed likely to be more interesting than purely spiritual matters, to mixed and not very religious audiences. So it came to pass, he observed, in reply to complaints, "the religion of some men consists all in negatives, and they think-nothing is meant by the word "Protestant" but protesting against the pope, which whoever does, Pagan, Turk, or Socinian, they think him a good Protestant, and in this fury have run themselves out of all Christianity, who will allow neither Church nor priesthood, and for fear of the sacrifice of the mass will own no sacrifice at all."
Prince George of Denmark died in October, after suffering much from dropsy and asthma, nursed during his illness most tenderly and devotedly by the queen herself. If he was not a noble character, nor behaved well to his father-in-law, yet he was an amiable man, who made no enemies nor interfered improperly with State affairs, for which he-had little capacity. Leslie could reflect with satisfaction that none of those darts often directed against him in public prints had ever been feathered by his pen, but that, on the contrary, even when the Prince sided with the ministry against the Church party, he invariably spoke of him with the utmost kindness and respect. Another death soon followed, which he felt more deeply. It was that of a very dear and esteemed friend, Dr. Gregory, the learned Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. They were very intimately acquainted, and agreed upon most matters of religion and politics. The doctor had a large circle of admirers for his learning, among whom was another eminent man, a mutual friend, Dr. Smalridge, who rose afterwards to be Bishop of Bristol, and celebrated among contemporaries as much for his peculiar sweetness of temper and integrity as for his learning. In announcing to Dr. Charlett the death of Dr. Gregory and his burial at Maidenhead, with his desire to have seen him, Dr. Smalridge mentioned that "Mr. Leslie accompanied him from Bath, and assisted him in his sickness and in extremis"
If mathematicians are prone to push their modes of investigation beyond the limits of science into the domain of faith, learned and pious persons are also sometimes too credulous and impressionable. And in connection with Dr. Gregory's name may be mentioned the subject of Second Sight, in which he was a believer, and to the time of his death engaged in collecting instances of it, which appeared well authenticated, as had been Samuel Pepys. What became of that work, or if it was ever published, cannot be stated; but he stood by no means alone in his belief among notable persons of that time, to mention no more than Boyle, Lord Clarendon, Dr. Hickes, Lords Reay and Tarbut, who bestowed a great deal of attention upon the inquiry. At one of their social meetings Leslie contributed an anecdote of an elf arrow shot by a demon at his father with a terrible noise, and said to be well attested.
Whether he believed it himself, or only told it as a good story, is a question, nor would it confirm the pretensions of visionaries, since they do not profess to be under the influence of evil spirits. It is curious also that this faculty, if of higher origin, should be chiefly confined to Scotch peasants! Happily the Bishop of Raphoe suffered no more than a fright from the designs of his enemy, when, if demons did not take human form, many human creatures acted like demons. Misfortunes proverbially seldom come singly, but the next was one of a different kind and easier to bear. A scandalous story was spread abroad by the faction in their papers that Leslie was threatened with arrest for debt, which caused him publicly to state the simple facts of the case, and put a different face upon the matter. Twenty years ago he had given security for a person, which, as usual, resulted ultimately in his being called upon to pay when he had not the means--"losing both his friend and loan." If there had been a Statute of Limitations he would not have-taken advantage of it, and the only reason of difficulty was the losses sustained in consequence of the Revolution, so that no imputation could possibly lie against his honour But he abided by the engagement of "good-natured folly," and made arrangement for redeeming the bond to the perfect satisfaction of the creditors, nor had they ever threatened to molest him in any way. Shortly afterwards the claim was discharged; meanwhile he had to be content with feeling no scar upon his conscience, and learning by sharp experience the wisdom of Solomon's warning, "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it, and he that hateth suretyship is sure." Yet the philosophy of the Old Testament must be interpreted in the warm light of the Gospel: "From him that would borrow of thee turn not away." The world is deceitful enough to force upon Christians the necessity of prudence; but how much worse it would be if they had always to be cold and hard, "only lending to receive as much again"?
Sacheverell's trial, and the tremendous excitement attendant upon it, are matters so fully narrated by several historians, that it may be presumed no one wishes for any\ addition to the heap of accounts, nor do they admit of much variation; if the majority are highly coloured by party bias, this is more or less a result of that reaction sure to follow upon every movement in which passions and sentiments have been overstrained to a high degree. Tories were inordinately excited, and carried the populace with them for a champion and a cause, which the indiscretion of their opponents, rather than anything in him or it seasonably presented. When agitation had subsided, having run its natural course, and Sacheverell had no resources for its continuance or revival, the usual consequence ensued--that he sank into obscurity, and the cause lost ground together with the waning of its popularity. High Churchmen would have acted more prudently if they had foreseen this certainty of a reaction, and declined to identify themselves too closely with either Dr. Sacheverell or the Tory party, which really had very little sympathy with them. Their objects were selfish and political; only to use the cry of "The Church in danger!" to defeat the Whigs, and install themselves in office. But the same game has been played many times since then, and with much the same result. It will be repeated till Churchmen learn to separate principles from party, and rely upon her inherent character and authority for support against all opposition. Then the cry will cease, "The Church is in danger!" and its establishment perhaps rest on a firmer basis than ever, though that should be to them of inferior concern compared with her spiritual integrity and freedom. It has been the fashion among Whig historians to cover Sacheverell with ridicule, in order thereby the more effectually to damage the cause with which he was so unfortunately associated. But no one who candidly examines the subsequent sermons which brought him into prominence a second time, and were made rather than gave occasion for disturbance, will deny that, like the first, they were of more than average merit, considered as pieces of sermon composition. As for the opinions expressed in them, they were just what it was very well known and expected that clergymen should say; nor half so strong and offensively put as those of Whig candidates for notoriety upon any special occasion throughout the year. If he became intoxicated by the flattery accorded to him, it was no more than most persons might fear they would become themselves under any similar circumstances. But it is satisfactory also to remember that after his substantial victory, and when excitement cooled down, he brought no scandal upon the clergy by his life or ministry, nor sought to trumpet himself into fame by political publications, as did so many on the other side; he devoted himself henceforth quietly to the duties of his country parish during the period of his suspension.
The Rehearsal continued to be published, with few interruptions, till the end of March, 1709. Its last half-year's numbers were mainly occupied with theological subjects, and restatements of some already consider Then it was abruptly brought to a conclusion. For a Ions.; time the strongest pressure had been brought to bear upon the Government, and influences exerted at court to stop it, but hitherto in vain; because no plausible ground could be pleaded for such a step, as it had never exceeded the limits allowed by law. While it was notorious the Observator and Review had violated these by scandalous attacks upon the Throne, the Government, and almost every personage of authority in Church or State supposed to sympathize with the Tory party. Continual dropping will wear away a stone, and this was not forgotten by Burnet and his friends when admitted to secret conference with the queen. The law itself also for regulating the press had been altered, as a convenient handle for suppressing publications deemed obnoxious by the ministry, among whom Leslie could no longer number any personal friends. Therefore the blow was struck beneath which the Rehearsal expired, after a brief life of three years and eight months, in its 4o8th number, to the deep regret of a large circle of friends and admirers, and the equal gratification of the opposite faction. This partial and high-handed proceeding made a great disturbance; and if there had been a disposition to contest its legality, funds would have been freely supplied for resistance, which the Government would have found a more difficult and unfortunate enterprise than even getting a conviction against Dr. Sacheverell. They did not, however, venture upon any of the harsh proceedings reported in the Whig papers against Leslie personally, and he had no desire to become either a hero or a martyr in such a matter. Reluctantly commenced, it was with no reluctance discontinued, for he had been over-persuaded to go on from time to time long after he was wearied with the conduct of the paper, and shackled more than he liked or approved by his publisher; which is not surprising, because legal proceedings were formally instituted against him, which, however, went no further. Therefore the Rehearser bade farewell to the public with a short enumeration of the works he had answered, and the motives which had animated him in undertaking and discharging a disagreeable duty. How well he did it must be left to the Judgment of readers who will take the trouble of considering carefully the specimens furnished in this biography, or, still better, the original papers of the Rehearsal in their integrity, wherein the man himself and his opinions may be seen more clearly in some respects than any account could convey. For his honesty and earnestness, stability of purpose and kindness of heart, his extensive acquaintance with theology in all its branches, reasoning powers, and inexhaustible wit, are as perceptible there as they are to those who met him in society, or at that celebrated and charming rendezvous, Child's Coffeehouse. If the Rehearsal has fallen out of notice, even more than the rest of his works, owing to its inclusion of so much matter the interest of which has entirely evaporated, yet it contains finer passages than can be found in them, and treats in a masterly manner other subjects of first and last importance to all times. Its dross was an admixture and accretion from the world where his lot was cast, and the purer metal entirely his own.
Before its conclusion Benjamin Hoadly, whose book on "Measures of Submission "occupied much of the latter portion, published some more sermons of pomp.
The last of these formed a noticeable feature in a curious controversy. Through Godolphin's influence Bishop Trelawney had been promoted to the valuable see of Winchester. He and Compton of London had been the two prelates who were understood to have invited the Prince of Orange over, though the fact was never admitted formally; and since then they had reverted to their old party, apparently because their services had not met the rewards expected. [Trelawney is not so generally accused, but William boasted of more than one.] Trelawney's advancement, therefore, brought much odium upon Godolphin among the Whigs, when he was most anxious to cultivate their support--the more so because the bishop had never anything to recommend him but his birth and connections; so Godolphin engaged for the future to consider party interests more carefully in such appointments. The queen, however, did not consider herself bound by this engagement, and when two other sees became vacant, without consulting the treasurer or the general, nominated Mr. Offspring Blackall to Exeter, and Sir William Davves to Chester. This produced a violent storm in the cabinet and the party. But remonstrance was useless, for the queen pleaded promises and would not cancel the appointment; but to soothe the irritation of her ministers pledged herself henceforth not to act without their advice; and shortly afterwards, to rectify the balance in favour of the Whigs, Dr. More was promoted to Ely, Dr. Trimnell to Norwich, and Dr. Potter appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. Sir W. Dawes is spoken of by Burnet as an aspiring man, anxious to be at the head of his party; but other accounts show him, on the contrary, to have been rather of a retiring and modest disposition, who got this preferment, and subsequently the archbishopric of York, without any desire on his own part. Blackall, of Puritan antecedents, had held different preferments in London, and as well as Dawes was a chaplain to William; but, like him, had never cordially approved the Revolution, or changed his opinion upon further consideration. Among other writings which brought him into notice, was one in defence of King Charles's authorship of "Eikon Basilike" against Toland, who supported Bishop Gauden's claim, an imposition now generally discredited.
In 1708 Bishop Blackall preached before the queen a sermon, which by her command was published, upholding "the powers that be," but upon the ground of divine right, not an authority derived from the people. Hoadly fished up another of his lordship's discourses preached four years previously, and upon a comparison between them charged him publicly with flagrant contradiction, and asserting that her title was only that of a successful usurpation. Now, it appears plain enough these two charges had a good deal of foundation in fact, whatever the bishop himself intended, or failed to discern in his desire to justify his own position as well as the queen's; for her title to the throne in opposition to her brother could not possibly depend upon divine right, as hereditary, or upon anything but the Revolution basis. Leslie, however, might fairly undertake the bishop's defence, because he thus rudely attacked was a personal friend of his own, a man of exceptionable character, one whose worth even Burnet did not question, and because this sermon was made a pretext for reiterating those doctrines which Leslie abhorred with all his soul. A letter appeared thus lengthily entitled, "The Best Answer ever was made, and to which no Answer ever will be made "'not to be behind Mr. Hoadly in assurance); but this "vapouring title" was only intended as an oblique reflection upon him for his self-confidence and practice of indirectly and covertly glancing in his sermons at the arguments of opponents, instead of boldly and fairly meeting them. First the writer, by way of preface, complained of the bishop's treatment, that he was held up in opprobrium before the world, while pretending to venerate his character and station, for a mere change of opinion, to avow which, if sincere, was creditable to him rather than otherwise; such, too, as Hoadly himself had been guilty of, for he had gained preferment in London upon the supposition of believing what he now condemned. "If the bishop had been in error and gone along with the stream in some things--as who has not?--there can be nothing more glorious to mortal man than to return from it, and to preach up the contrary doctrine. And to insult a man for this is the work of the devil, who is tormented at that which gives joy to the angels of heaven. S. Augustin thought it no dishonour to him to write a book of Retractations." The more delicate point could not be so easily handled, so it had to be explained with a "good night to you, and a fresh appetite" for the letter in this manner: His lordship, in his sermon, 1704, says that "though God appointed government, He did not name the persons who should govern." And in his sermon, 1708, he makes the person of the king to be sacred and inviolable as being the minister of God. His lordship might mean only that God does not name every king that reigns, as in hereditary monarchies, yet the same right descends that at first was given. Thus God did not name Joash, but his right is thus set forth by the high priest. "Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the sons of David." "Though Athaliah called this treason, because it was against de facto" Now, there is no clear proof that this Answer, still less the preface, ever was written by Leslie, and there are some things in it difficult to reconcile with his well-authenticated works, both of style and sentiment. Yet it has been so universally attributed to him; it contains so much which he would probably have said; and the differences are not so palpable as in the case of the "Memorial," "Wolf Stript," and other publications; nor did he deny it when it would have been possible in some way, though the Rehearsal had stopped; that he must presumably be accepted as the author. But this involves another question, whether the "Best Answer" ought to be considered by itself as a bond fide defence of Bishop Blackall's sermon, or in connection with a later publication, "Best of All," which has also been commonly attributed to Leslie. If the latter be the case, then the reference to Athaliah was a trap laid for Hoadly. If the former, then its special pleading could hardly have been welcome to the queen, or even the bishop, for it implied an imputation upon her understanding or his prudence--the same which he put upon Hoadly as a blunder in supposing some resemblance to have been insinuated between her position and that of the Old Testament usurper. In any case the lawyer is more apparent than the divine, and it was properly signed by a student of the Temple. At the same time, Hoadly was shown to have hazarded some equally rash assertions. He had subscribed to the Book of Homilies, which affirmed the doctrine of non-resistance, which now he denied. He-placed the queen's title and the Revolution upon the foot of resistance now, whereas that had been expressly disowned by William and the Convention. He said the resistance against King James was the contrivance of all ranks, including bishops, to their immortal honour, and "if a guilt, more so than the murder of King Charles I." Facts of history contradict him here, for the whole nation let that murder go by default, since none appeared to give a negative, though the few miscreants who perpetrated it did not represent the secret feeling of a majority; whereas no opportunity was afforded of appealing to the nation in King James's case. He disbanded the army and withdrew, overawed by the Prince of Orange's force, who pretended not to come for the crown; and the bishops, whether falsely or truly, all denied any invitation from themselves. Hoadly, therefore, had no standing-ground in court against the queen and bishop, nor the person whom he called a pretended son; because, if only pretended and not a son, there could be no need to say anything about him.
When the argument assumed a more general form the divine may be supposed to supersede the lawyer, because it was returning to the old subject on which Hoadly, with the Observator and Reviews, had been completely defeated in the Rehearsal, and most of his fresh considerations were borrowed from Toland and Hobbs.
A supreme contempt for the Lower House of Convocation, which had condemned his book, was couched in language savouring much more of violent indignation; and his charge of disrespectful demeanour towards the bishops, jarred with his present complaint against one of their lordships. "That's my man! Let not your noble courage be cast down," said Charon to his pupil Achilles. ..." Though you will be censured by none, you here show that the highest are not free from your censure."
As to the difference between their two schemes of government, it came to this: "If appeals are to everybody, this is anarchy; if not, the people's chosen governor is as absolute as any other. If the last resort be to the king, there is an end of controversy; and though an unjust decree may be given in some cases, yet in the main it is for the good and benefit of the people, and peace and order are preserved. If the last resort be in the people, there is no end of controversy at all, but endless confusion."
Here was the other letter, which appeared in the following year, strangely entitled "Best of All: being the Student's thanks to Mr. Hoadly, wherein the second part of his Measures of Submission which he intends soon to publish, is fully answered. If this does not stop it." Hoadly had caught at or been caught by the reference in the "Best Answer" to Athaliah, and indignantly volunteered a defence of the queen, thereby falling into a trap designedly laid in it, to be exposed in "Best of All"--unless this were only an ingenious after-thought of some one else than Leslie, remembering how such traps in the Rehearsal had often ensnared Tutchin. At any rate, said its author, "who applies a scandal is the one who makes it." Here is a strange thing. If one tell a story as far off as Adam or Noah, or name any one that was not very good in all the Bible, some will presently cry, "Oh, this is certainly meant of------ and------, who I think are not much obliged to such vindicators. . . . As for what you assert, that paternal right cannot descend to a daughter, you cannot turn it upon me. I never said or thought it--the treason comes home to your own door." Hoadly had complained that, "if his principles were as destructive as represented by the Nonjuror he should not be attacked, for so was he doing real service to his master," by whom was meant the Chevalier. On the contrary, it was because they were destructive of all government whatever. He promised a second part to his book, in which the original of civil authority should be largely discussed; meanwhile he advocated the principle of resistance upon authority of the Convention, which expressly disowned it for the plea of an abdication. "You call me a Nonjuror who has given very just grounds of loud complaints," said Leslie. "I know my own innocence in this matter, and it does not at all affect me. But what is this to the argument? This is calling for help. Would not a little sober reasoning have done better for the honour of the Revolution, not to say your own? Keep close to the point. I am as willing to be in the wrong as in the right, and if I am wrong I will own him my benefactor who shall set me right. The common saying of kings being made for the subjects, and not subjects for kings, was not so from the beginning, for the first subjects were made for the use and benefit of the king, and it was for the benefit of the subjects too, as it is still, to be obedient to their governors. What our Lord argued against divorce is what we say to the Commonwealth frame, that from the beginning it was not so. It began among heathen Greeks, and shall we prefer that to the institution of God in Holy Scripture? If you will paint a king like a monster or mad, then think on the other side of the madness of the people. If you put extreme cases, put them on both sides. There is another consideration--make a difference between errors in administration and constitution, much more fatal and harder to be remedied. There can be none in the constitutional monarchy. If in your second part you still pursue your former principles, I have ventured to call this an answer beforehand, because it is impossible to find any other original government than what I have set down, unless you have a fancy for the pre-Adamites."
Such are the more salient passages of the two letters, omitting the argument upon the origin of government, to which, if Hoadly could only reply by repeating objections which were not arguments, it was no wonder, for abler men than himself had failed in the same attempt But if some persons who then applauded him enthusiastically as a divine and politician, and menacingly uttered now loud complaints against Leslie to frighten him, could have foreseen how Hoadly's views in religion would carry him on to the very verge of deism and denial of Christianity, they would have started back with affright. And if Bishop Blackall's sermon was so difficult to defend, why was it but because it virtually involved the hopeless task of reconciling sound doctrine with a false position? There could be no bridging over the chasm between de jure and de facto possession of the throne, or exempting Queen Anne from the charge of usurpation any more than her predecessor, except upon presumption of her brother's consent for the time, which had not been asked though it might have been obtained. Therefore, those who vainly tried to reconcile these opposite positions exposed themselves to painful rebuffs such as Hoadly gave to Blackall, and Burnet to Compton, when he told him that he was treading on very tender ground in proposing severe measures for repressing any opposition to the Government. The only two consistent parties were the extreme Revolutionists and Nonjurors.
While these letters were being digested by the latitudinarian divine, Leslie left London, and no trace of him has been found for some months. That he had not gone to S. Germain is certain, because Lord Middleton, writing from thence, was unacquainted with his place of retirement, for the interpretation put upon expressions and names in Macpherson's, the Stuart and Hanover Papers cannot be fully relied upon, because they are not always consistent with each other, nor with facts otherwise ascertained. Thus "Lamb," presumed to mean Leslie, is spoken of as dead in one letter, but very shortly afterwards as alive. [Of course it is possible the term was metaphorical.] His residence then in the country may be inferred from a statement of his own. that being at a distance from libraries he could not verify a reference. No clue to the particular locality is afforded; nor is it necessary to presume any very special reason for absence from London, beyond such simple circumstances as health, a holiday, or visits to friends. In his case, however, with any of these may have probably concurred a desire of avoiding either the possibility of the oath of abjuration being tendered to him at some officious or ill-natured person's suggestion, or of conversation respecting the Rehearsal just starting again under new direction, with which he had no concern. Whatever amount of leisure he enjoyed during this period, he had also plenty of employment, both at hand and in prospect, similar to that just completed. The first portion consisted in a letter to; another clergyman, Mr. William Higden, up to now a Non-juror, who had published a "View of the English Constitution," in vindication of himself for taking the oaths, the nature of which can be inferred from the answer of Leslie. The terror of the Abjuration Act had worked upon his mind to induce a compliance which conviction had not suggested. But when reasons were announced he could not complain if they were very closely scrutinized by former confederates. So Mr. Higden's book naturally incurred analysis at the hands of one little disposed to look too leniently upon his defection, even though he had bespoken great charity and moderation on the part of any one undertaking to answer it. Leslie complained in the first place that one who had pronounced the Government "a wickedness and usurpation" should now profess to comply, not because he had altered his mind, but only for reasons of prudence and fear which would justify compliance with any other government set up in its place, and be morally worse than adoption of revolutionary principles. In the second place he rebuked him for boasting that his manuscript had been so much admired by readers, that he thought its publication would bring over many other Nonjurors. At least, before repeating arguments which had already been urged, he should have read the answers to them. He had no new ground to rest upon, only pleading for submission to iniquity established by law, and possession without right and against right. If Mr. Higden had not been a person of consequence or credit, whose abandonment of principle Nonjurors felt to be a blow to their cause, or his book of more merit than appears from the review of it, one can hardly think he would have been honoured with particular notice. And it may be here mentioned that though nothing more has been ascertained respecting himself, many years afterwards a brother of his came forward to testify his esteem for Leslie, and contributed towards the publication of his works, when he could not but have anticipated this letter might be included among them. Its chief value consists in a full and clear account of what is called commonly the Constitution, and as commonly misunderstood. "In England by Constitution is generally understood legislative authority residing in the Sovereigns and three Estates, but it was not so from the beginning. God made kings, and kings made parliaments. These are very good things, for in the multitude of counsellors is safety, but when they degenerated became authors of great mischief, as dear-bought experience testifies. In Saxon and Norman times parliaments had no place; nor till Henry III. had the Common.-any share or vote in the government of the kingdom. Even then this was not a settled thing, for the king named who were to be returned; nor was their consent necessary to the raising of money or making of laws. After this every order taxed themselves separately--Spiritualty in Convocation, Lords Temporal and the Commons in their House? And when at the Restoration the clergy submitted to be taxed in common with the rest of the nation, there was an express salvo made of their right, and that this submission was on account of present necessity. Only facts have been taken to make precedents.
"Again, kings have granted limitations or concessions of authority, but any coercion against them is of necessity void. If mere possession of a throne or exercise of sovereign authority make a king, then Oliver was as good as any other, for sailing west brings one to the east at last. Possession implies right, where no better right remains. When Henry VI. was on the throne Richard set forth his title by proximity of blood, and Parliament, declared it could not be defeated. The York and Lancaster disputes every one turned upon this point of de jure against de facto. And why were usurpers anxious to obtain resignation from the deposed monarchs but on this account? Even Richard III. pretended the children of Edward IV. to be illegitimate, or he would not have murdered his nephews.
"So Queen Jane was denounced and deposed by Queen Mary. Thirty-eight sovereigns in England all claimed the throne upon the de jure principle. Magna Charta, the foundation of Acts of Parliament, is a charta from the king. If laws have been allowed which were passed in the reigns of usurpers, it has been simply for the sake of convenience." In conclusion, after an admirable and exhaustive summary of history in support of his principles, Leslie showed that a Mr. Tyrrel, author of a General History, had set up again a system which stood condemned by law, Scripture, and Church authority, without even the air of novelty to recommend it. Both Mr. Higden and Mr. Tyrrel did no more than repeat "Sherlock's old case of Might against Right with its weathercock pleas, which no one would admit to be sound in regard to private property exercised against himself. In fact, he who has no right but possession, loses his right with possession. It is Mahometan, not Christian right."
Quite apart from the controversial use for which it was first employed, this whole letter's contents are of the utmost value, because they prove by an historical induction of particulars upon what foundation the constitution of England rests, and that if, as proverbially said, possession be nine points of the law in practice, yet the remaining point, if it be de jure, is that which the law itself alone recognizes as right. It would be well if those who venture to write and speak upon constitutional questions would first make themselves acquainted with the essential facts of history here lucidly stated and arranged.
13. Of Charity.--i Cor. xiii. 13. The charity here spoken of is commonly understood to mean giving to the poor, whereby the sense of the chapter is lost. It signifies love, and to what it is to be extended the apostle has showed, exemplifying the limits of the Church by the unity of a natural body. Every word refers in the chapter to this, and to that breach of it which was made at Corinth by men vaunting themselves in the spiritual gifts then liberally bestowed, and refusing on this account to submit themselves to their ordinary superiors in the Church which perhaps had not those gifts. There will be an end of such gifts; but charity will go with us to heaven, where an no poor to be relieved, but there is perfect unity and the love of it. Heaven is unity, and hell discord; as we promote the one or the other here, we shall have our portion with it there. This is a terrible consideration for those who make little of the unity of the Church upon earth He has a strange opinion of his own gifts who thinks them so necessary as that the Church and religion should fall without them; or that it is worth dividing the Church and causing a schism on account of them. It is left to the freedom of our will to make an ill use of, and to abuse even miraculous gifts as well as natural. Bearing and believing all things was meant of what the members of the Church should bear for her, and believe of her; that is, put the best construction possible upon her commands and institutions rather than break her unity. And there is a lenity and condescension likewise to be used towards Dissenters, that all fair methods of conviction should be used before she proceed to severity. An heretic is to be twice admonished before he is rejected. This is a matter of discipline and prudence to be used by the Church, or varied according to times and circumstances; as the serpent is not to swallow the dove, so neither must the dove blind the serpent. Men must be wise as well as harmless; especially the governors of the Church ought to watch, to have their eyes in their head, lest the wolf get in among the sheep. If the sheep perish through their negligence or cowardice, the blood of those sheep will be required at the hands of the shepherds. As we must give no offence to those who are without, so neither to the Church of God; and if both these cannot be, surely the Church is to have the preference.
14. The Danger of Schism.--If Christ delegated His power to apostles, and they to others to continue to the end of the world and if no historian of those times makes the least mention of any change of government, but all with one voice speak of episcopacy and the succession of bishops in all the Churches from the days of the apostles, and in those ages of zeal when the Christians were so forward to sacrifice their lives in opposition to any error or deviation from the truth; if no one takes any notice of episcopacy as being an encroachment upon the rights of presbyters or the people, or a deviation from the apostolical institution; if these things are not possible to any thinking man, then episcopacy must be the apostolical and primitive institution, and it is as impossible to be otherwise, as to suppose that all the great monarchies in the world should be turned into commonwealths all at one instant, and yet that nobody should know it. Such revolutions could not happen, but they would have set the world in a flame. And if presbytery or any other form of government except episcopacy had been the primitive institution, the bishops could never have stolen themselves into possession and usurped upon all Churches without any notice, and without vast struggling and contests. If bishops then were constituted as governors of Churches, he that disowns the governor of any society or corporation disowns the government of it, and cannot be called a member of such a society, and consequently has no title or right to the privileges of it. Then their ordinations in opposition to episcopacy are invalid, and sacrilege and rebellion against Christ who instituted this society, and gave to it its character; and if their ordinations be null, then their baptism is so too, and all their ordinances. They are out of the visible Church, and have no right to any of the promises of the Gospel, all made to the Church and to none other. Nay, baptism by a layman or a midwife in case of necessity is more excusable than by those who have no authority, or worse than none. If we cannot ha\v the ordinances as Christ commanded them, it is more dutiful to God and expresses greater humility in ourselves to pray Him not to impute the want to us, than to take upon us to institute new ordinances, or set up a new priesthood of our own heads as Jeroboam and Micah did. Certainly it is less culpable for a layman to do some one priestly act, as to baptize upon necessity, than if he should set up false Orders and pretend to the office. With Christian concern Dissenters are asked to consider that what they receive in their congregations are not the Sacrament. The ministrations are null and void for want of lawful authority, but sacrilegious like the offerings of Korah; while themselves do not deny the validity of episcopal ordinations.
It is said the word bishop sometimes signifies a presbyter, and therefore that they mean the same thing. The word emperor sometimes signifies commander; suppose, therefore, any one should deny that there ever was an emperor at Rome, we should think him a madman. Such trifling from the etymology of words would not have been endured in former times. The word bishop signifies an overseer, and presbyter elder, or alderman, to express authority, and not only age; but that every elder was an overseer is such poor stuff as to fret one's patience. Again, they say that episcopacy encroached by degrees. Let them show when it began, and we can reckon the encroachments afterwards. Erroneous opinions may be instilled from one to another, and nobody may be able to tell who was the first broacher; but government is always public and before every man's face, and no history of those times can mistake in notice of it. No man can tell the beginning of episcopacy at any time since the apostles; but we all know that there was no Presbyterian "Church" in the world before John Calvin. Now, suppose we come to the Sacrament, and have a doubt whether the man be lawfully ordained and can consecrate and administer, will not the text Rom. xiv. 23 come into one's mind? What a condition, then, are Dissenters in, who cannot eat in faith? They may shut their eyes wilfully, but this is fresh aggravation of their sin. What compassion can they have for their tender infants to carry them to disputed baptism, when they have that which is clear and undisputed offered to them? Will they present the provocation of their offerings, and pawn their souls upon the greatest uncertainty? Will they say it is not an uncertainty, when they cannot answer for themselves? Is not this to be self-condemned? "To put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their faces, and then come to inquire of the Lord? "
How can he who has put himself out of the Church admit another to be member of it? Can one who is not free himself make another free of any corporation? No. If one is baptized by a schismatic, he is baptized into his schism and made a member of it, and not of the Church. And what is a man's duty if he is verily persuaded that this is the case? Shall he be silent and let them go on in their sin, rather than be at the pains to convince them, and displease them at all hazards? Or, if such silence would be guilty and argue self-love rather than the love of our neighbour, shall he mince the matter and alleviate or excuse the sin? This would be to "sew pillows," to hate our neighbour and suffer sin upon him. The preservation of the faith and doctrine of the Church depends, under God, most chiefly in the support of the Government as a society, whence she is called in Scripture the pillar and ground of the truth.
To bring a long dispute to a short issue--there is in every question what is called the root or heart of the cause , but lopping off branches is tedious work. What jangling has there been about the etymology of the words bishops and presbyters! What sort of bishops, what powers they had, and whether they were diocesan bishops like ours. Let these objectors show any bishop since the apostles who was not a diocesan bishop. S. Ignatius of Antioch, S. Polycarp of Smyrna, Irenaeus of Lyons, etc.; and so it was of all the rest. Let presbyterians show one instance to the contrary. S. Jerome of all the Fathers they quote most, because of two or three mistaken expressions, and his epistle "Ad Evagr.," for the sake of that in it, "What does a bishop that a presbyter does not?" But they wisely drop the very next words, part of the same sentence, "except ordination." That is, the presbyters preach, baptize, and consecrate the Holy Sacrament; but the power of ordination S. Jerome here excepts from them, and makes it peculiar to the bishop. He closes that same epistle with these words: "That we may know the apostolical constitution to be taken from that of the law, what Aaron and his sons were in the Temple, that same are the bishops, presbyters, and deacons in the church." And in his epistle against Montanus he says, "With us the bishops hold the place of the apostles." And "be subject to your bishop, and receive him as the father of your soul."
15. The Church the Pillar and Ground of the Truth.--I Tim. iii. 15. Is the Church so the pillar and ground of the truth as to be the author of it, and that the truth of the gospel depends upon the authority of the Church? No; the gospel is the revelation which Christ gave to the Church. He is the Author of it, and it stands upon His authority. But He has left this sacred deposit with the Church to keep. The Church is to keep the truth and to preach it; to watch against errors and heresies which are contrary to it and to confute them; and when necessary to restrain them with the spiritual sword of discipline and that authority which Christ has left with her, to cut off rotten members from the body that the infection spread no further, and to graft them in again upon their repentance and amendment. This is what we call the power of the Keys to open and to shut, to admit into the society and to exclude out of it. Forasmuch as heaven and earth are one family, and the Church the same in both under the same Head, which is Christ, He calls this power which He has left to His Church upon earth, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that they who are justly excluded from His Church upon earth stand likewise excluded in heaven, as He has expressly promised. Thus the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, not only as teaching it but supporting and preserving it by that authority with which Christ has invested her. Therefore the Apostle S. Paul directs the bishops of the Church "to speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority, and to let no man despise them." Not to prostitute their authority or to give it up to any, for Christ gave them no more than he saw was needful for the government of His Church and the support of the truth. Therefore, if they part with any of it or compromise it away upon any pretence whatever, they betray their trust, and render themselves incapable to preserve the truth which will be required at their hands. This made S. Cyprian, say "How dangerous it was in divine things, that any should recede from his full right and authority!" Therefore the apostle exhorts to "put on the whole armour of God. . . . against wicked spirits in high places." These are potent enemies, and shall the Church lessen her authority with which to fight against them? Shall she deliver up her power into their hands, and surrender to them the sword of the Spirit which was committed to her to defend the truth? Wherever this has been done, wherever the power of the Church has been lessened or transferred. there the truth has suffered proportionably. Thus, when the pope would transfer to himself the power of the whole Catholic Church, and reduce all bishops under him as his deputies and subjects, and transferred the Episcopate into the Pontificate, what errors in doctrines and heresies ensued, even to idolatry! And when the Episcopate was overthrown in England, and transferred into the hands of the people, what swarms of heresies arose like locusts out of the pit, and darkened the whole face of the land, of which the names are transmitted in the books "Heresiography" and "Gangraena"! [Echard's "Hist.," iii. 45; Dryden, "Absalom and Ahithophel," 151-247.]
If priests preach up this doctrine and insist upon the authority given them, they may be called ambitious and proud; but they will not be contemptible. It is their not asserting their just rights which Christ has given them that makes them contemptible, as the prophet tells them: "Ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts, therefore have I made you contemptible and base before all the people." Who will obey any authority that does not exert itself, but is ashamed and afraid of its own power? The Church has lost her authority for not asserting it, and in a great measure has the sins of her rebellious children to answer for in not teaching them better, but suffering them to despise her. And the way to retrieve it is to let them know the high dignity which Christ has placed upon His Church, to teach even principalities and powers in heavenly places. We allow it to be the best interpreter of Scripture; that is, the Church from the beginning. But it is a great fallacy to apply to the Church of Rome whatever is said of the Church in general, either in the Scriptures or the primitive Fathers. And, in short, we are willing to put the issue with Romanists upon the current sense of the Scriptures in all ages, and appeal to it in all disputes. Because the judgment which the Church of Rome claims in matters of faith is a judgment of authority, that such things must be believed to be matters of faith because she delivers them as such, which is no less than blasphemy. And if it will not hold in the first article of the Creed, the belief of a God, neither will it in the rest. These articles of faith are of too high authority to be subjected to any human authority. It is only of smaller matters and of less consequence that the question can be asked, "Who shall judge?" The works of creation demonstrate a God. For nothing can make itself, and it is purely from one's own reason that he believes a God. The Church has taught belief in Christ, but not by way of authority, for one could not believe a Christian Church without first believing a Christ; and she pretends to no authority other than what she has received from Him. We receive the belief of God and Christ upon her evidence, though not her authority. The sacred oracles of the Scriptures were deposited with her to be kept, to be preached, and propagated. This makes her the pillar, and only pillar upon earth, of this grand deposition.
The Church has very great authority, though not over God, or Christ, or Holy Scripture. Her authority is over her flock, who are commanded by Christ to be subject to her. She has authority to preach the Word to them, to sign and seal the covenant of God with them in the Holy Sacraments, and in the remitting or retaining of their sins, In this sense also she may be called the pillar of the truth. not only as the keeper of this sacred deposition, but the administrator and dispenser of it; to offer up the incense of the prayers of the saints, and to bless them in the name of the Lord. Thus standing in the midst between God and the people in the person of their great Mediator, whose sacrifice her priests offer up continually for the people, in representation and in conjunction with what Christ in person offers to His Father in heaven. This power and authority is indeed very great, and reaches even to heaven, and has its effect to all eternity. Therefore, those who are justly thrown out of her communion, or unjustly separate themselves, are cut off from the communion of God, and have forfeited their rights to all the promises in the Gospel, which are every one made to the Church and none other.
What allowances God will make for ignorances, the prejudices of education, or other unmalicious causes of their separation, in His extraordinary and uncovenanted mercies, we must not determine. This we are sure of, that they who have left the covenant cannot plead by it. They may say God is merciful, but they cannot say He is faithful and just to forgive their sins, for that can be said only on account of the covenant, which, being made with His Church alone, they who are out of that are out of the covenant. "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." God hath given such power unto men. It is not to one man, but to men. And Christ gave the same power in express words to other men, and He sent these "as His Father had sent Him."
16. The Solemn League and Covenant.--This Covenant swore to preserve and defend- the king's Majesty, person, and authority (Charles I.), yet cut him out of all authority, and at last cut off his head, and was framed for that very purpose. It is word for word the "Holy League" in France, changing names only, and was sent into Scotland by Cardinal Richelieu, who was the constant correspondent and aider of these covenanters he had made, and their recourse was to him, whom they solicited for a French power to invade the kingdom (for the preservation of the Protestant religion against King Charles I.), and wrote a letter to the French king to put themselves under his protection! They reserved their allegiance to the French king according to their bargain with Cardinal Richelieu, yet swore it to King Charles I., and obtained his favour while they were conspiring to depose him. They were protected by the very government they abhorred, they were cherished by the Church they disowned, they ate the bread of the nation they betrayed, and were entertained by the silly creatures they debauched, and who in their hearts abhorred their designs. Mr. De Foe's rhetoric thus agrees to a T with the covenanters, and they sat for the picture which he has drawn of them to the life! These were the loyal men who invited over a foreign prince against their own natural sovereign, while they were swearing fidelity to him, and calling God to witness the sincerity of their hearts. Their letters to the French king were taken with a Covenanting lord in London, who was sent to the Tower, but pardoned by the king after his usual clemency, and made chief minister of the kingdom.