LORD ROCHESTER--JACOBITES AT WALTHAM--" TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY"--ABBÉ S. REAL--DEATH OF PRINCESS ELIZABETH--ILLNESS OF CHEVALIER--DESCRIPTIONS OF HIM--NEW CONSECRATIONS--NONJURORS--MRS. LESLIE'S ILLNESS AND DEATH--CHAPLAINCY AT BAR-LE-DUC--CONVERSIONS--SUPPLEMENTS--"TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY," ETC.
A TORY Government succeeded to office, but their measures need not be discussed, having no bearing upon the history of Leslie; nor, as far as the real spiritual character of the Church was concerned, had the new ministry any better ideas than the Whigs. But it should be recorded that at length the Bill against occasional conformity was carried under their auspices, only to reappear at a later date for fresh contention. Leslie wrote a letter to the Chevalier upon this subject, which also may be omitted. Were he alive at the present day, his own principles of the Church's independence of the State would probably incline him to a different field of action, and he would be found contending, not for imposition of tests of any description upon Dissenters, but her emancipation from Erastian fetters. Marl-borough had finished his last siege of Bouchain to find a cold welcome at home, even dismissal from all his offices. He had asked for the governorship of the Low Countries, which once before he declined, but was refused. Since then he had applied for the permanent commandership of the British army, to be still more peremptorily refused by the queen, who took alarm at the request; and well she might, if only she had known for certain what was too truly whispered and suspected, but only revealed when he had long gone to his great account. Who, however, would not prefer the retirement of Leslie under the same royal displeasure to Marlborough's inglorious ease on return, when the characters and conduct of both in their respective spheres are considered? How could he have enjoyed such a splendid fortune as he had accumulated, when accompanied with a conviction of being at any moment liable to detection? Who not rather, with a stainless, unsullied conscience, be driven forth by legal tyranny an outlaw and exile from his native land? Leslie's residence at Waltham was a very perilous undertaking, which, if no domestic affairs had urged, his friends should hardly have encouraged; for such disguises and secrecy have an air of mystery about them, which provokes inquiry. However, there he remained securely till, his wife being somewhat recovered, they were able to accept the invitation to S. Germain, where they arrived on April 17, 1711. During his stay he committed to paper in French an account of the state of affairs as they appeared to him in England, but which very few readers would care to peruse as altered by translation into English . for it was mainly a recapitulation of facts and circumstances already noticed in these pages. Moreover, in the translation by another hand it must have undergone considerable modification, for it bears no traces of his general style, and contains some statements at variance with his undoubted wishes and opinions. A French priest took the liberty to carry this plan of alteration still further, so as to involve some unpleasantness at the French court, and when discovered, a severe reprimand to himself; but the details are not interesting enough for repetition.
In May of this year the Earl of Rochester died very suddenly, so he had not long enjoyed the title and property to which he had succeeded on the death of his brother. He was perhaps equal in ability and more of an orator, but his temper so violent as to make many enemies, and though a Tory in politics, a man of little principle or religion. Some people supposed that he often shielded Leslie, but there is no evidence of the kind, and there was so very little sympathy between them in disposition or opinions, that nothing can be justly deemed less probable; though the old friendship between him and the family might have inclined him to discourage any interference which his own political interests did not seem to require. During the visit to S. Germain, Leslie steadily adhered to the policy he had long recommended of abstaining from attempts to disturb Queen Anne; rather endeavouring conciliation and negotiation with her in securing her consent for reversion of the crown to her brother after her death, in lieu of the house of Hanover; meanwhile making preparations as complete as possible, in order to act immediately upon tidings of that event. This was not the advice palatable to many adherents either there or in Scotland, who wanted another effort at invasion without delay; but he knew well that the same chances of success no longer remained as attended the first if they had only been properly used, and that no support could be expected at the present in England, whereas the feeling had increased of late years in favour of the prince's recall when the throne should be vacant. And he had better opportunities than most people of knowing that such an event might not be deemed improbable at any time from the queen's evidently failing health. Had he deemed any more immediate action prudent in the' Chevalier's interest, no one could reasonably have complained of his concurrence in the scheme, because his allegiance had been formally repudiated by her and her Government, and he put beyond the pale of law on a groundless pretence of disobedience to it.
It is time to return to a long-neglected subject. While these various events occurred, the literary world had submitted to their consideration two fresh publications, which formed a closing chapter to Leslie's earlier controversies on theological topics. The house at White Waltham he termed "my Tusculum," probably in playful allusion to Cicero's country seat near Rome. Yet two men, alike in the variety and extent of their intellectual attainments, and the fact of adversity at the hands of opponents, never resembled each other less in their manner of meeting a crisis, or in general character. The great Roman orator was utterly cast down, bemoaning bitterly his proscription to his brother Quintius. Leslie and his wife bore up cheerfully against misfortune, and upon arrival there he sat himself at once to prosecute the work which came to hi-hand, so that by November the task had been completed. and both Treatises were ready for the press long before their departure for the Continent. The first of these was the "Truth of Christianity demonstrated," and the second "A Dissertation concerning Judgment and Authority, with a Vindication of the Short and Easy Method with the Deists." This last was added particularly in a reply to a book entitled "A Detection of the Four Marks, being the Marks of the Beast calculated for the Cause and Service of Popery." But the former had evidently long occupied his attention, only withheld till leisure permitted their satisfactory conclusion, and time had been afforded for any reply which Deists or Socinians could produce to the "Short and Easy Methods" after their long silence. Anxious rather to hear what they could say against his arguments than himself, personally he might well feel at once relieved and disappointed at this solitary and miserable result; the malicious intention of which appeared by its title, whilst the contents were of the weakest, most impoverished description. He felt more than disappointment--" horror and amazement to see Christ not only blasphemed, but ridiculed by reduction to a level with senseless legends. Here the cloven foot appeared, and showed out of what quiver this envenomed arrow came--even of an inveterate and malicious Deist." So poor and mean the performance appeared as to the reasoning, that Leslie said he thought to neglect it, and let it sink under its own weight of nonsense and contradiction, till he heard that among some even of better capacity than the unthinking multitude, "whose prejudices inclined them to accept anything of this sort, it was boasted of as a shrewd and unanswerable piece against priestcraft and all the fourbe of revelation." This determined him upon writing an answer, confining himself in it to the four marks originally laid down, but in the "Truth of Christianity" adding four more to distinguish it from all false religions. His statement of only four religions in the world has been cavilled at by a modern sceptic. No doubt the enumeration is insufficient for embracing the swarm of heresies and sects which existed even two centuries ago; but it fairly included all the great species and systems of error under which the smaller ones can be classified at pleasure. What is insisted upon is the essential features of antagonist to the gospel in their fourfold form, and in this respect the division holds good to the present day. A more complete and accurate distribution, which should range all the varieties of disbelief and misbelief, from rank atheism to the newest and nearest imitation of orthodoxy, under their proper heads, would require several volumes instead of pages, and be a work of sacred zoology rather than theology. An epitome as usual will furnish what seems sufficient for readers, in order to estimate fairly the general character of the author's reasoning; and it may be the shorter, because a great portion of his treatise necessarily was occupied with repetitions of former arguments. A beautiful passage upon the English version of the Bible is a piece of simple and unadorned eloquence, which will not unfavourably compare with Cardinal Newman's striking eulogy of a later date, and find an echo in many hearts. Archbishop Whately owed some of his best ideas to Leslie, and another eminent writer has been similarly indebted; yet, strange to say, has never mentioned his name even in a passage where it is evident that he had his words in view. This consideration leads naturally to a matter seriously affecting Leslie's own literary reputation. Long after his decease an anonymous writer insinuated a charge of plagiarism in regard to the "Truth of Christianity," which if true would be as surprising as painful a discovery. Such things, indeed, have been done even by distinguished men. Living persons on: remember a brilliant speech, delivered on a memorable occasion before an overflowing assemblage of great personages in England, borrowed wholesale from a French orator. [Disraeli on death of Wellington, and Mr. Thomas Duncombe.] And the lame apology offered by a friend, of unconscious repetition, was as damaging as the silence of the great speaker himself, who could only have resorted to this expedient for meeting an immediate and imperative obligation from a stress of work and want of time, because he showed himself on many other occasions capable of far grander efforts. But the instances of literary piracy are far too numerous to permit of particular mention, nor would they justify Leslie in the least if guilty. The charge then was this, that his work was only a reproduction in an English dress of one by the Abbé S. Real. Mr. Gleig so effectively vindicated Leslie in a most generous and appreciative article in the British Critic} that nothing can be required further, nor any improvement made upon his defence. It would be an injustice to. him, therefore, not to say that here simply the main points of that argument are restated. The remarkable similarity between the French and English treatise does not admit of the explanation that two authors conceived the same mode of reasoning against infidelity at almost the same time. Currents of thought do seem to flow in various directions simultaneously, and ideas float in the air like infectious disorders, but they are not generally of the best and purest description. One or other of these works must have been a copy, but by no means therefore a forgery, or made with any purpose of deception at all. The Abbé died in 1692, leaving behind several manuscripts which were published, including this disputed treatise. But in his own lifetime had appeared an edition of his works which did not contain it. What is the fair inference, but that he did not lay claim to its authorship while alive? And could it have escaped the vigilance of a learned man like Burnet, always in quest of information or been passed over in silence by him, if such a charge had been capable of substantiation at the time? Now for the explanation. It does not appear necessary to adopt in full Mr. Gleig's suggestion, that a French editor, knowing the real author's obnoxiousness to the English Government, might have deemed it a favourable opportunity of appropriating merit to a countryman of his own. That removes the piracy from the Abbé some two doors off. But as he certainly never pretended to its authorship, nor, was the manuscript proved to have been in his handwriting, nor produced for a long time after his death, it seems sufficient to suppose that an error was innocently committed in attributing to him the French translation. Leslie's treatise had been published anonymously, and many copies were circulated among friends and acquaintances abroad familiar with both languages. Nothing, therefore, was more probable than its translation as an exercise by some admiring reader, or for the purpose of convincing a disbeliever. Then internal evidence amounts to a demonstration that Leslie was the author. So very different from the case of Gordon's claim to the "Eikon Basilike" and other impostures, it bears all the characteristic marks of authenticity, being neither inferior nor superior in style or ability to most of his undoubted writings. Further, let it be asked, Cui bono?--To whose interest? The question can be answered safely in his case; he had no need to surreptitiously appropriate another man's labours, who had established a reputation by abundant and successful labours of his own. Whether the Abbé and Leslie ever interchange; communications upon the subject of the treatise, or had any acquaintance with each other, is not known; but nothing is more probable, and then the mystery would admit of a very easy solution honourable to both persons.
Although Queen Anne preserved inscrutable silence-concerning her brother's letter, she urgently insisted upon his removal from France in the preliminaries for peace. Secrets were ill kept at S. Germain, for in addition to gossip and indiscretion bribes were lavishly bestowed to procure information for the English. But scarcely was it one that there a peace would no longer be unfavourably regarded, if this condition should not be too rigidly interpreted, and if the arrears of the queen-mother's dowry, so long withheld upon false and frivolous pretences, should be paid, amounting to about a million of pounds sterling. The Chevalier objected to go to Rome or Avignon, lest it might be attributed by Protestants to an overweening attachment to Popery, at a time when that alone seemed to stand in the way of reconcilement with his country.
After their visit to S. Germain, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie went to reside in Holland, but had not been there more than a few months when the latter had another attack of illness more alarming than the preceding, and very slowly regained her health. During this time several letters were despatched from S. Germain to which no answer was received, perhaps on this account, or some delay in delivery. In one of these from the Chevalier himself, he complained of "the difficulty in dark times of discerning friends from foes, and distinguishing false from true appearances." A study of the correspondence carried on between England and the two courts of S. Germain and Hanover which has come to light affords a sad commentary on this complaint; since it remains still a matter of dispute in the interest of which royal family several eminent persons were concerned, for they solemnly pledged their devotion to both. One point stands out clearly from the mass of hypocrisy and falsehood in these letters, that Lords Bolingbroke and Oxford wished to provide for themselves above all things security in any emergency, without the slightest regard to principle. Another inference may be drawn with almost equal certainty, that in whichever direction their personal predilections ran, their dependence rather lay on the prospects of Hanover than S. Germain; but they detested each other so cordially, that a distinct assurance of the one being committed to any course would have proved a strong inducement to the other to embrace the opposite, irrespective of other considerations. "Idem sentire de republica" has never been a distinguishing feature of English Cabinets; so open questions now are those of religion, instead of trivial matters as formerly. But then the spectacle was presented of men in the Cabinet, who quarrelled in the presence of the Sovereign, and whose points of difference were more-numerous than of agreement upon all subjects of policy. In the opening of 1712, the Chevalier and his sister were both attacked with small-pox, and the latter, just when good hopes were entertained of recovery, had a relapse, and sank beneath the fatal malady. Even political opponents in England were shocked to hear of the loss of this princess, whose amiability and superior intelligence were widely appreciated. The Chevalier happily soon regained, his health, without a trace of the disease, though he was of a delicate constitution; but as yet had shown no symptoms of those vicious habits which, in later years, injured it and his charachter so seriously. Here will be a fitting opportunity to speak to him as he then appeared to his friends and adherents.
Leslie's description naturally claims attention first, because of his intimate acquaintance; and given in ... letter to a member of Parliament, with a view of removing impediments to the Stuart line, was reprinted in a public letter in 1715, which will require observation in its place. "Concerning the person of the Pretender you desire to know. He is tall, straight, and clean limbed; slender, yet his bones pretty large. He has a very graceful mien, walks fast, and in his gait has a great resemblance to his uncle, Charles II. He uses exercise more for health than diversion, is seldom merry, thoughtful but not dejected. Gives great application to business, writes much, and no man more distinctly, also shows much criticalness in the use of words. He is a Stuart perfect in your language, and though driven by you into another nation, yet his and his father's court was still English, and his education the This letter was handed about among Tories in England, where it underwent many transformations, till the author would have been puzzled to find, beyond this picture, his own words or sentiments. How little credit can be attached to stories from spies may be easily seen by comparing different passages in the Stuart and Hanover Papers, where his name also is made a key for three different locks, but seldom fits any. He is called Leighton, Hannah, Lamb, pretty much .at random, and even the brother of the Chevalier's physician, the excellent Mr. Kenyon! With the above description of the prince's personal characteristics it is interesting, however, to compare others of a later date. Walpole wrote thus: "The chevalier has the strong lines and fatality of air peculiar to them all," which corresponds with "the plaintive look" spoken of by many persons. Another writer, who obviously could not have been Nairn, as represented by Macpherson, wrote: "I should be glad to know what my lord (Bolingbroke) says of that knight, and whether he likes him; for they tell me he is a tall, proper, well-shaped young gentleman, that he has an air of greatness mixed with mildness and good nature, and that his countenance is not spoiled with the small-pox, but on the contrary that he looks now more manly than he did, and is really healthier than he was before; they say he goes to Chalons." The brave and unfortunate Balberino pronounced this eulogium upon him on the scaffold: "I am at a loss when I come to speak of the prince. I am not a fit hand to draw his character. I shall leave that to others. But I must beg leave to tell you that the incomparable sweetness of his nature, his affability, his compassion, his justice, his temperance, his patience, and his courage, are virtues seldom all to be found in one person. In short, he wants no qualification requisite to make him a great man.1 In 1714 a proposal was made and favourably entertained for his marriage with a daughter of the Emperor of Austria, but it fell through; and in 1718 he married the Princess Clementina, daughter of Sobieski--King of Poland certainly not de jure. She was an amiable and attractive person, and brought the Chevalier a large fortune; but from that time his character began sensibly to deteriorate, with all the promises of his youth one by one destroyed. He treated her very cruelly, so that she died literally of a broken heart, which lost to him the attachment and sympathy of his best friend. Therefore, with a view of retaining a hold upon the English nation, it was deemed necessary to propose that his claim to the crown should be resigned in favour of his eldest son. This melancholy downfall will account for the very different picture from Leslie's drawn by Keysler in 1756. "The figure made by the Pretender is in every way mean and unbecoming. The pope has issued orders that all his subjects should call him King of England, but the Italians make a joke of this, for they term him the local king, or king here, while the real possessor is termed the king there. . . . He is fond of seeing his image struck on medals. His pusillanimity and licentiousness have lessened every one's esteem." Misfortunes are a poor excuse for any vices, but his have been somewhat exaggerated by unfriendly critics like Thackeray. "He never dared to draw his sword, though he had it. He let his chances slip by as he lay in the lap of opera-girls, or snivelled at the knees of priests asking pardon." [Esmond, 305.] It was owing to no lack of courage or promptitude on his part that the first attempt at invasion had failed and not been renewed. It will presently appear that upon the next more memorable occasion, at least he exhibited no reluctance to risk his own person in a far greater enterprise. For several years his infirmities compelled him to remain in great retirement, yet he lived to see George III. for some time upon the throne, dying at last at the age of seventy-eight, on January 12, 1766.
About this time which Leslie described Dr. Wagstaffe died, so that Dr. Hickes was left alone; the question, therefore, came up in a new form concerning the continuance of separation in the Church of England. Application was made to the Chevalier for his sanction to consecrate new bishops. His opinion was very unfavourable to the proposal as unreasonable at the present juncture of affairs, but he added that no new authority was required beyond what he had conveyed to them by Leslie upon the first occasion. The latter seems to have differed from him on this point, concurring with Dr. Hickes and the party who desired new consecrations. No words, indeed, of his to this effect have been found, but the general presumption seems a fair one from want of evidence to the contrary, and his continuing to act in accord with them. It was a great pity that such a happy opportunity was omitted of separating politics from religion, and practising passive obedience under circumstances greatly altered from those which had justified separation at the first, remaining content with a protest against what they deemed unconstitutional in government. In order to effect their purpose canonically recourse was had to the bishops in Scotland; and Spinkes and Collins were selected for consecration--estimable and suitable men for the office, since the step was determined upon.
Another important question now arose, in consequence of fresh and urgent insistance from the queen and Government in England for her brother's immediate removal from France as an essential condition of peace, to which Louis XIV. could no longer object. The prince, seeing it to be inevitable, by anticipation fixed his own departure to take-place so soon as securities for his safety should be obtained from the different states and rulers in Europe, with whose united consent Lorraine was chosen for his future residence. Some thought Queen Anne secretly thus intended to provide for his easier return to England; but they were those Jacobites who interpreted every event favourably to their own wishes. The Duke of Lorraine offered a cordial welcome, the more readily because, in seeming anxious to oblige her, he had stronger ground for demanding support to his own claim for redress from the King of France, who had almost of necessity for his own protection taken possession of the other's territory. To smooth matters still further for himself, whatever the Chevalier or his friend said was immediately reported by the Duke, with copies to letters to Bolingbroke in England, although he at the same time wished to treat his guest, not only hospitably, but with such kindness and friendship as his own interests permitted. Subsequently also he showed no little spirit in honourably refusing to withdraw this shelter when the English Government, upon a change of opinion, sent an order to this effect. Jacobites and Nonjurors began now to pick up courage and expectation under the Tory Government beyond anything known for a long time, and revolutionists to feel proportionately depressed or infuriated. Intrigues for a restoration of the hereditary right were a staple topic of conversation at home and abroad; nor were reports of a fresh invasion altogether without foundation, if premature and exaggerated. While Tories wished the Chevalier to be brought over, for the queen's failing health could no longer be concealed, Whigs clamoured yet more vehemently for the Elector or Electoral Prince to be fetched. Proposals and warnings on both sides still failed to elicit any definite intimation of her secret wishes from her lips. She would only reply to Argyle's remonstrances, "How can they say such things?" And to Burnet's prosy lectures--nothing at all. The Whigs went beyond remonstrance, inviting the Elector to invade England with an army while the queen still lived, and promising large subscriptions towards its support. Nor did he reject their proposal with indignation, but preferred for a while longer a more peaceable method of making his footing sure. Here was a strange exhibition of Whig loyalty to their own principle of obedience to the de facto possessor, while complaining of treason in those who wanted to bring over the rival candidate. Jealousy, not without reason, prevented the Electoral prince being sent instead of his father, though it was defiantly stated that, having been created a peer by the queen's pleasure, he did not longer need her invitation or even permission for arrival at any time. Meanwhile, to strengthen the family interest in this nation, De Foe and Ridpath received retaining fees to write it up in their papers. [Hanover Papers.] If the Chevalier adopted no such mean artifices to obtain popularity, many of his supporters were very indiscreet and troublesome, not only in England but on the Continent in various places, with their ceaseless reports, recommendations, and applications for pecuniary assistance or employment. Such was their number and importunity that "dear Mat," as the poet and treaty-maker, Matthew Prior, was unceremoniously styled by his friends in the cabinet, complained "that Jacobites were waiting before he was awake in the morning, and tall Irishmen put into bed with him." Among other English visitors in Holland at this time were the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, the very mention of whose names the queen could no longer bear. To be as magnanimous in resentment, when her birthday came round, their two daughters sat before an open window in dressing-gowns as the carriages passed to the levee, and two more drove in Hyde Park among the crowd in similar deshabillé! When the Chevalier at length departed for Bar-le-Duc, with a view of satisfying the prejudices of English people, he took with him only Protestant servants, some of whom were very hard to satisfy. They thought his only hope of recovering his throne lay in abjuring the Roman Catholic religion, therefore proposed that if he could not conscientiously do that, he should temporarily simulate a conversion, the mask to be thrown off when the prize should be won. A baser and more unwise piece of policy never was propounded, or less likely to prove ultimately successful in this country, even though recent instances could be adduced in its favour among continental sovereigns. From the prince it met a firm and dignified rejection, with a touching appeal for the same generous allowance as he pledged himself prepared to extend to all his subjects. Other persons less unreasonably suggested that a grand controversial discussion should be held in his presence, upon the issue of which his faith in the future should depend, reckoning confidently upon the certain triumph of their own advocate. At the same time Lord Middleton united with some other attendants in urging that Leslie should be summoned to supersede Mr. West, Protestant chaplain in the royal household. To this latter part of the proposal no objection was made, because it accorded with his own views and inclinations, but some delay occurred in consequence of Mrs. Leslie's illness. She had another attack of her complaint, and as her name does not occur again in any of the papers which have been discovered, and henceforth he and his son are always mentioned alone, the presumption must be that her illness ended fatally upon this occasion. Little has been said in these pages of their domestic life, because so little has been ascertained of its details through private sources, and he was so eminently a public character. But every one can feel that, owing to external circumstances, and the thorny paths in which their lot was cast, her life must have been for the most part a sad one; somewhat closely resembling that of the bishop's wife. For however warmly she sympathized with her husband in his trials, and whatever gratification his celebrity afforded her, any woman must have been sorely tried by the perils and persecutions to which his faithful attachment to the exiled family exposed them, with frequent removals from place to place. Happily their family was small, or such trials would have proved even heavier; and these were now all grown up to maturity. The second son, Henry, married a Spanish lady, of whom no particulars are recorded which need be repeated. A daughter married Mr. Hamilton, an estimable clergyman in Ireland, some time afterwards; and the eldest son, Robert, after receiving a good education from his father, finished on the Continent, now resided with him generally and accompanied him on his travels. He had the credit of assisting in the Rehearsal; nor is it improbable, as he fully shared his father's political and religious sentiments, with considerable intellectual powers; but, of course, that was a subject not prudent to disclose. Since he could not swallow the oaths, no profession was open to him; or else there need be little doubt, from the testimony of Dean Swift, Mr. Carte, and others, that he might have distinguished himself in several capacities. [Swift's Works, vol. vii. 136; Carte, vol. iv. 413; Burnet, iv. 290.]
A pamphlet entitled "Hereditary Right," etc., in reply to another from the revolutionary point of view, provoked a great deal of angry criticism against Jacobites at this time, while really containing little which had not been said frequently before and as forcibly. But Whigs were in a more than usually disagreeable humour; and the Government desired no attention directed to their own projects or purposes, whatever they were. Therefore a warrant was issued for apprehension of the publisher and author. As usual, Leslie incurred suspicion, whereas he had no part in its composition. The publisher gave up the name at last of a Mr. Bedford as having brought it to him, who bore the penalty inflicted of fine and imprisonment. It was, in fact, a joint production between him and Mr. Harbin, another Nonjuring clergyman; and probably the exposure of his share would not have relieved Mr. Bedford, or else he was far too honourable a man to make a scapegoat of his brother-priest.
Now at last, on August 3, 1713, Leslie made his long-expected arrival at Bar-le-Duc, where he experienced a very gracious reception from the Chevalier, with a warm welcome from his fellow-countrymen. What had he come for? Simply, in the first place, to exercise his ministerial office without hindrance where it was wanted. That was the immediate and main purpose of his attendance, to which any others were secondary and subordinate. He might be the friend, the confidant, the guest, or even spiritual adviser ultimately, of the prince, but his business was to act as chaplain to the members in the household of his own communion. The invitation offered and accepted was for this purpose upon an understanding honourable to both, but rather implied than expressed, that he should be unrestricted in performance of his sacred duties, and on the other hand not trespass beyond his province. At the same time, the Chevalier professed his readiness to listen to any arguments he might think proper to address in private to himself in favour of the Church of England. Nothing more could have been properly requested or granted. To have come there as an avowed proselytizcr and propagandist would have been as injudicious and unbecoming a proceeding as can well be imagined, and the only result have been to fan flames of discord in the whole country as well as the court, thus most certainly rendering it too hot for him to stay. Yet this was what many foolish people thought and wished, not seeing that their speeches and reports were calculated to prevent the very object they professed to cherish, and mar at the outset the whole of Leslie's influence for good there. He never gave any sanction or encouragement to these schemes. He had no design or desire to take advantage of the prince's misfortunes, or hurry him into a premature or dishonest abandonment of his religion. Such an intention on his part would have been more guilty than the apostasy of his victim. To leave a Church is a leap of far too tremendous consequences to be taken or advised lightly and in the dark. How few so-called converts or perverts have realized the extent and importance of the step! Personal experience can testify the worthlessness of motives and reasons assigned for such changes. Here are a few instances. A priest left the Roman Communion some years ago who had held high office therein, upon the ground of religious scruples which had long troubled his mind after conversation with an English clergyman, into whose communion he was received, with a flourish of trumpets announcing the fact of his conversion in the newspaper. Yet that wicked man had recently committed a most terrible crime in Ireland, and while meditating it and his change of religion, had used all his sophistry to pervert to the Romish Church, perhaps as some compensation, a young undergraduate preparing for Holy Orders. The rest of his career was of a piece with this new departure.--A young lad besought a clergyman to take pity on him as an orphan, alleging that he was exposed to bitter persecution on account of his attachment to Protestant opinions. The clergyman took him under his protection, sent him to a first-rate school, and provided for him in every way till eighteen years of age; when suddenly, without the slightest explanation, one Sunday evening he decamped never to return. It was reported that he hail been threatened and kidnapped, but what only could be ascertained further with certainty was, that he had returned to the Roman Communion, and engaged himself in public attacks upon the Church of England. These are on one side; now a few on the other, also selected as samples of the mode in which proselytism is conducted in modern days. A gentleman, who left the Church of England after the rest of his family had done the same, in conversation with an English priest who entertained for them a very affectionate regard, assigned as the chief ground of his defection the discovery that "there are seven Sacraments, whereas the Church of England teaches that there are only two, and denies Absolution and Penance," etc. When it was pointed out to him in reply that the Church of England makes no such statement or denial, and that he ought, before putting himself into the hands of a Romish priest for direction, to have applied to his natural and proper spiritual adviser for an explanation of the Catechism, which had been thus misrepresented, he could only say, "Well, that is what I always heard." Unhappily, many parents and teachers are as ignorant as his were of the meaning of this Exposition of doctrine, and need something more plain and simple for their guidance; for if the blind lead the blind, no wonder that they fall.--A young man had scraped through the university and examinations for Holy Orders, though the bishop expressed great doubts afterwards if he ought to have let him pass. He did so because he came highly recommended for unblemished character and devotion. After a few years this priest found time, amid parochial work, not for study of divinity under his authorized Leaders, but surreptitious visits to a Roman chapel; then shortly afterwards, without consultation or communication with his bishop or any English priest, silently transferred himself into the opposite camp, from whence he has summoned courage, under careful direction, to issue darts of controversy tipped with a show of wisdom, which himself was quite incapable of ever making, against quondam friends and the Church whose bread he had 'eaten. Another person apostatized upon profession of disgust at hearing a priest speak in contemptuous terms of the Sacrament as "worshipping a bit of bread;" omitting to consider how directly opposite to the Church of England's teaching upon the subject are such wicked and foolish speeches of ignorant priests here or there, and how shocking to the minds of thousands who know better.--One instance more. A clergyman who had come over to the Church of England from the ranks of Dissent, and became a popular preacher in a large town, delivered a series of controversial lectures against Rome, spiced with more than ordinary vehemence. What was the result, for he had crowded audiences? Not a single Romanist was converted, but several of his own congregation lapsed to Rome; one of whom, a most respectable and intelligent tradesman, declared that "he never had a doubt till these lectures suggested many, and he thought, if no better answer could be given than he had heard, it was full time to inquire elsewhere." He went, and took his family with him. Priests most fond of controversial sermons and lectures, where they cannot be answered, are seldom those best qualified for the task, either morally or intellectually; but whatever may be their merits or good intentions, it would be well if they considered the possibility of suggesting painful doubts and suspicions to less sophisticated intelligence by the practice of disclaiming against priesthood, which themselves have sworn to bear, and the doctrines of their own Prayer-book.
Transition indeed from one Church to another is a tremendous assertion of private judgment and authority in matters of faith, for which comparatively few individual-can show call or capacity, because it involves not merely adoption of a new Church and articles of belief, but condemnation of their own spiritual mother in the past. Leaving any of the multitudinous sects implies nothing or the kind; though even so it ought not to be clone lightly or unadvisedly. At most it is only leaving a bundle of opinions, and an unauthorized system, more or less erroneous, for admission into the Church which is the pillar and ground of the truth; when also security ought to be given that those erroneous opinions are really renounced, not only transferred. But to leave the Church of Rome for the Church of England, or the Church of England for the other, is a step of such vast meaning and importance that to take it or recommend it hastily, and without most earnest conviction of necessity, is to load one's conscience with a very great weight. None felt this more sincerely than Leslie, and he repudiated distinctly the notion of trying to reconcile the Chevalier to the English Church upon any other terms than those which his own conscience, aided by all the helps his ordinary guides could give, should approve after full consideration. That he should lay before him this case was a duty; and he might, without a particle of vanity, presume his own experience and ability entitled him to undertake it more than most persons. But there he stopped. He failed where no one else would have succeeded; which disappointed numbers of eager friends of all sorts who mainly wanted a change of religion as removing a barrier to the succession. But now that these serious matters can be considered with sobriety and calmness becoming their solemnity, nothing ought to be deemed more honourable and worthy on the prince's part than his conscientious adherence to the faith of his parents, since arguments to the contrary could not convince him. He acted as every sincere and pious person ought to act, and would wish his friends to act, even when his own religious opinions lie in an opposite direction. Half-hearted or double-minded persons talk of "verts" and "versions," without the prefix which candour, the basis of true politeness, suggest; but their faltering inexpressiveness is a testimony how little their hesitation need be regarded. If the rightful, legitimate heir could not regain his crown without sacrificing his sincerity, or making a false profession of conversion--that is, apostasy and perversion--he did well in the sight of God to refuse it. Had he been convinced, what had been the consequence it is utterly useless to conjecture; because so many other considerations were involved for deciding the question of succession between him and his rival, apart from religion; because, also, it is impossible to say what effect restoration might have produced upon his conduct If the first two Georges were as sorry Protestants as he turned out a Romanist, yet old George III., with all his prejudices, would have been a great loss to England in exchange for such as he, whose only virtue seemed to be religious sincerity. He who said that "no gentleman would change his religion," was a statesman with very little religion to change. Middleton, who now laid down the seals of office to the Chevalier, after apostatizing to obtain them from his father, was little more than a Deist at heart; and thus spoke contemptuously, but not far wide of the mark, concerning perverts in general, that "a new light seldom comes into the house but through a crack in the tiling." Some great lights might profitably reflect upon this candid admission of their predecessor in the journey from England to Rome. The other promise, of allowing Leslie's ministrations to the members of the Church of England, forthwith was put into execution, and a room fitted up in the court, for performance of daily Prayers, with administration of the Sacraments and other Rites as he should deem expedient; nor did he complain of any deviation from this pledge at a subsequent date. But this point will call for further notice in the last chapter.
ABRIDGMENT OF "THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY DEMONSTRATED."
A Deist's whole wit and skill are employed in working in himself a disbelief of any future rewards and punishments, only to live easy in this world, while yet not undisturbed by fear of an event which he cannot be sure about; for the utmost that he can propose to himself is doubt, therefore his is rather a disbelief than belief of anything. Christians believe; Deists only disbelieve. The Deist replies, "I believe a God as well as you; but for what you call the Holy Scriptures, I may think they were wrote by pious and good men who might take this method of speaking in God's name, as supposing their good thoughts came from Him, and have thus a greater effect upon the people." This is to make the penmen of the Scriptures far from good; not only cheats and impostors, but blasphemers and an abomination before God, such as the law condemned to be stoned. Heathen philosophers and moralists did not believe in their fables of the gods as matters of facts, nor preface them with the favourite expression of inspired writers, "Thus saith the Lord." To distinguish true from false revelations the four marks are set down already explained, and then four others are added as peculiar to our Bible, distinguishing it from all other histories. That the book relating the facts contains likewise the law of the people to be their statute-book. This fifth mark prevents the possibility of forgery. It is stronger to the Gospel than even to the Law of Moses, for no forgery could pass undiscovered without a concert of all Christian nations and peoples. Various lections are objected, but it is much more wonderful there are no more, than that there are so many, considering the multitudes of translations; nor is there one of them which alters the facts or the doctrines. The sixth mark is the topic of prophecy. No other fact ever had such evidence as that of our Saviour's first advent, from the beginning to the end of the Old Testament, on which was founded the general expectation of the Jews, especially at the time in which He did come. Nor only so. He was equally expected among the Gentiles at the same time, as, for instance, is proved by the Magi coming from the cast to worship Him, according to Isaiah's prophecy. S. Matthew wrote the first Gospel in the same age when this fact was said to have been done, and is it possible, if false, it could have passed without contradiction when unbelievers, Jews, elders, and priests so much desired to expose Christianity? Then Tacitus, Suetonius, Cicero, and others confirm the general expectation; and the Sybils, whatever source be attributed to their prophecies. If it proceeded from the Jewish tradition, the Holy Scriptures are confirmed, and the miracle is only greater if we suppose God did send such a notion into the minds of men all over the world, strangely to chime in with the facts of the case. Again, beside greater prophecies of the Saviour's birth, death, and resurrection, there are others, reaching to minute circumstances, which, inapplicable to any other event, could only have been foreseen by God, nor were known by the actors, or else they would not have done them. To which ought to be added prophecies in our Bible of things yet to come. We may believe what is to come by fulfilment of the past, and there is no other law or history in the world which so much as pretends to this; it is peculiar to the Bible as being written from the mouth of God. There is one more evidence yet more peculiar than prophecy, which is, types or resemblances and 'exhibitions of the fact in outward institutions, ordained as laws, from the beginning, to continue till the fact they prefigured should come to pass. Such, first, were the sacrifices instituted by God immediately upon the Fall, as types of that great and only propitiatory sacrifice for sin which was to come. These were continued in the heathen posterities of Adam by immemorial tradition from the beginning. Though they had forgotten the origin, they retained the reason so far as universally to have the notion of a vicarious atonement. Beside sacrifices in general, there were afterwards some particular ones, more nearly expressive of our redemption by Christ as the Passover. The double exhibition of Christ on the great day of expiation once a year, when the high priest entered into the holy of holies with the blood of the sacrifice whose body was burnt without the camp, and the other living representation of the scapegoat. Another was the brazen serpent in the wilderness. Another the manna, the rock, the cloud of glory in the temple. The sabbath is called "a shadow of Christ," a figure of the eternal rest He procured for us. Such a sign was the temple at Jerusalem, at which place and none other sacrifices were to be offered; and so great stress was laid upon this, that no sin of the Jews is oftener remembered than their breach of this covenant. A further design of Providence in limiting their sacrifices to Jerusalem was, that after the great propitiatory sacrifice of the Cross, the Jews removed from Jerusalem might have no sacrifice at all, and force them to look back upon that. Their present state of desolation was foretold in several places of Scripture. It is a living prophecy which we see fulfilling at this day. As the door was kept open to Christ before He came by the many and flagrant prophecies of Him, and by the types representing Him, so was the door shut after Him for ever by those prophecies being fulfilled in Him, and all the types ceasing, the shadows vanishing, when the substance was come.
Compare these evidences for Christianity with those preached for any other religion. There are but four in the world. Christianity was the first, for from the promise made to Adam all was Christianity in type, during the patriarchal and legal dispensations. First, then, as to Moses and the Law. The Jews can give no evidence for that which will not equally establish the truth of Christ and the Gospel. So that they are hedged in on every side either to renounce Moses or to acknowledge Christ. Moses and the Law have the first five evidences, but they have not the sixth and the seventh, which are the strongest; and Judaism, as it now stands in opposition to Christianity, has none at all. Secondly, for heathenism some of the facts recorded of their gods have the first and second evidences, and some the third, but not one of them the fourth or any of the other evidences. Thirdly, as to the Mahometan religion it wants them all, for there was no miracle said to be done by Mahomet publicly, save conquering by the sword. The Alcoran is a rhapsody of stuff without head or tail. Compared with our Holy Scriptures no argument is needed to show the difference. Heathen orators have admired then sublimity of style. No writing in the world comes near it. even with all the disadvantage of translation. The plainness and succinctness of the historical part, the melody of the Psalms, the instruction of the Proverbs, the majesty of the Prophets, and above all, that easy sweetness in the New Testament where the glory of heaven is set forth in a grave and moving expression; not like the flights of rhetoric, which set out small matters in great words; but the Holy Scriptures touch the heart, raise expectation, confirm our hope, strengthen our faith, give peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost which is inexpressible. If there be truth in the Alcoran, then are the Holy Scriptures the Word of God; for the Alcoran says so, and that it was sent to confirm them, and expressly owns our Jesus to be the Messiah. How then, it is asked, came the false prophet to set up his religion against the Gospel, and to reckon Christians among unbelievers? No less than as other heretics who called themselves the only true Christians, and invented new interpretations of the Scriptures. The Alcoran is but a system of old Arianism, ill digested and worse put together, with a mixture of some heathenism and Judaism. For Mahomet's father was a heathen, his mother a Jewess, and his tutor a Nestorian monk, which sect was a branch of Arianism. So that in strictness Mahometanism is only one of the heresies of Christianity. . . . Deists profess to go upon bare nature and reason against revelation; but it is a natural notion that there should be a necessity for revelation in religion. For when man had fallen and his reason become corrupted, as we feel to this day, was it not highly reasonable God should give us a law and directions how to serve and worship Him? Plato concluded it to be necessary for a lawgiver to be sent from heaven to instruct us, and said, no doubt from perusal of the Scriptures and the primitive tradition, "Oh, how greatly do I desire to see that man, and who He is!" Again, he said, as if he had copied the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, "That this person must be poor and void of all recommendations but of virtue alone; that a wicked world would not bear His instructions and reproof; and, therefore, within three or four years, He should be persecuted, imprisoned, scourged, and put to death, His word be cut to pieces as a sacrifice." There is one point remaining--that is, how to distinguish between true and false miracles. I confess I do not know the power of spirits, nor how they work upon bodies. By the same reason that a spirit can lift a straw, he may a mountain, and do many things which would appear true miracles, and so deceive me. All I have to trust to in this case is the restraining power of God, which is the strongest consideration in the world to keep us in dependence upon Him. Herein His great power and goodness are manifest, that He never yet has permitted Satan to work miracles in opposition to any whom He has sent, except when the remedy was at hand, and to show His power the more.