BOLINGBROKE'S COMPLAINT--LETTER TO BISHOP OF MEAUX--BISHOP BULL--LETTER ON USAGES--OTHER PAMPHLETS--DEATH OF QUEEN ANNE--PROJECTED INVASION--ROBERT-LESLIE'S ADVICE--"CHURCH OF ENGLAND'S ADVICE TO HER CHILDREN "--CHEVALIER--GEORGE I.--JACOBITES- RETURN--AN INFORMER--SUPPLEMENT--CASE BETWEEN CHURCHES OF ENGLAND AND ROME--LETTER TO BISHOP OF MEAUX CONCERNING THE ENGLISH CHURCH.
A REPORT reached England that the Prince had been reconciled to the English Church, and received the Holy Eucharist at the hands of Leslie on New Year's Day, which awakened emotions of the highest gratification among Tories and Jacobites. But, after what has been already stated, it is almost superfluous to add that like so many previous stories it was devoid of any foundation in fact. He occasionally attended in a private capacity at daily service in the temporary chapel, perhaps even witnessed a Celebration, but beyond that made no advance in the desired direction. Leslie continued his ordinary ministrations among the household, with free access to his presence for conversation upon religion, but of course this was gradually discontinued when it became apparent that it could prove of no avail. On the other hand, Bolingbroke had no authority for his statement that "the Pretender treated Leslie very badly," whether he referred to a subsequent period in Italy, or more particularly to their connection at Bar-le-Duc. No such complaint ever fell from his own lips, nor does there appear any reason for it. But if there had been, the painful secret would not have been imparted to Bolingbroke of all men in the world. He was already suspected of having designed to betray the prince, and that suspicion was afterwards fully confirmed; while his notorious indifference to religion would have been sufficient to prevent any confidential communications between Leslie and him on the subject. What is more, no interruption of friendly relations with the Chevalier took place at any time. Their intercourse remained on the same footing as before; which could hardly have been the case if any sense of unhandsome treatment had been experienced in that matter which lay nearest to his chaplain's heart, and for the sake of which he went to Bar-le-Duc, That he felt disappointment at his failure can too easily be imagined. It must have been so, but that was better than an organized hypocrisy such as would have satisfied a majority of political adherents to his cause.
With a view of facilitating his object, Leslie at this time produced another treatise, in accordance with his established principle of conducting arguments upon paper rather than by conversation, in which people are apt to become heated and obstinate; and as affording better opportunities for study and reflection. Under any circumstances, however, this work would have been sure to be written, and the substance had long previously been prepared, for it was necessary to complete the plan originally formed of furnishing English Church-people with a full system of defence against all adversaries. Its title was the "Case Stated between the Churches of England and Rome," and took the form of a dialogue between members of the two communions, in which all the main points at issue between them were brought out to be freely canvassed. Since publication of this work the state of the case has very materially altered, and the gulf of separation been seriously widened by the Church of Rome's action in imposing fresh terms of communion. Members of the Church of England in this sad fact have yet a source of much consolation, knowing that the awful responsibility of division cannot possibly be charged upon them. Their doctrinal standard remains unaltered from two or eight centuries ago; and that is the same as the English Church held twelve centuries ago; that also identical in all essential respects with what S. Augustine introduced; the faith once delivered to the saints derived from apostles. Many controversialist, have found in Leslie's treatise all the materials they required most lucidly and skilfully arranged; and if the amount of obligation has not been always so fully and gratefully acknowledged as was proper, yet himself would scarcely have wished it otherwise, so as the purpose were served for which they were accumulated. He proceeded invariably upon the maxim, "Magna est veritas, et praevalebit" therefore would have made all comers welcome to enter into his labours for the truth's sake. But of necessity the value of his work is diminished now, because the Church of Rome has shifted her ground so considerably; as well as that weapons from his armoury have been so extensively borrowed for fabrication of new ones. Therefore the selection of passages appended here may be smaller than otherwise would be desirable; while those who wish to know more upon this subject can be confidently recommended to peruse the original; which up to a certain date will hold its place in comparison of all the most masterly statements which have emanated from any quarter. A reply, subscribed "A. C.," very shortly appeared, called the "Case Restated," the authorship of which has not been ascertained. It must in fairness be admitted to be written with considerable ability, and some points effectively and ingeniously urged in defence of the Church of Rome, especially in the former part; but mere verbal criticism is largely employed to evade and obscure the real question in dispute. Probably Leslie never saw this reply himself. [Perhaps Sutton. "A. C." standing for "a Catholic." Another answer by a Jesuit has not been seen.]
A publication of much earlier date has been reserved for notice here, because virtually dealing with the same subject. In the year 1694 the learned and pious Dr. Bull, afterwards Bishop of S. David's, published his masterly defence of the doctrine of the Trinity, a copy of which Nelson presented to the famous Bishop of Meaux, who was so delighted with its perusal as to lay it before an assembly of divines of the Gallican Church. They were equally pleased as his lordship, and unanimously accorded a vote of thanks to the author. In conveying this honourable tribute, the bishop went further to express his surprise and desire for explanation concerning Dr. Bull's use of the term Catholic Church. He made a reply fully justifying the claim and character of the English branch, but other engagements caused considerable delay in its appearance. Leslie, therefore, to whom Nelson had communicated the correspondence, meanwhile accepted the implied challenge and answered his inquiry in a public letter. When, however, it reached that eloquent prelate he was dying, so that it is impossible to say what impression might have been produced. Now, it may advantageously be considered in connection with the "Case Stated," by any one desiring to form an accurate conception of the Church of England's position between Rome on one hand and Geneva on the other.
"Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines,
Ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum."
His stand is upon the old ways between superstition and schism.
One other publication demands special notice--"A Letter to Mr. B(? owyer) concerning the New Separation." Revival of what are termed the Usages, the use of unleavened bread, mixed chalice, and lights at celebration of the Holy Communion, had caused a fresh disturbance among Nonjurors; and he was formally appealed to for his opinion upon the subject. They were a gradually decaying community. The eminent Dr. Hickes, Bishop of Thetford, died in 1715, so incomparably superior to all others in learning, or else his decision should have been final. Leslie argued strongly, it will be seen, against introduction of these Usages, not as wrong in themselves, or superstitious in their nature, or unwarranted by the practice of the primitive Church, but as having become obsolete, therefore not absolutely necessary, and their revival unseasonable in regard to the position of the Nonjuring community at that period of depression. [See on this subject, Rev. Dr. Gordon's "Eccles. Chron, Scot." vol. ii., 118-152.] His advice was sound, but cannot be fairly pushed beyond the present necessity to which it referred. Expediency is a relative term. What was inexpedient and inopportune for Nonjurors in their peculiar circumstances need be no longer so, when the Church is not antagonistic to the Crown or Government, nor includes separate encampments; and when a breath of Heaven-sent vigour has descended upon the valley of dry bones of the last century, and beats in every pulse and limb of her living, growing body. The usages still remain a question of expediency and discretion in regard to circumstances; for they are neither enjoined nor prohibited in Holy Scripture nor by General Councils; neither enjoined nor prohibited by any formulary or authorized formulary of the English Church, but having the sanction and recommendation of primitive anti-papal practice. At least, therefore, they have a claim of preference to innovations and newfangled schemes, and associations of questionable origin and without a vestige of authority. If they had not been suffered to fall into disuse owing to a sordid economy, Puritan tendencies, and slovenly neglect, much of the difficulty now experienced in keeping alive a spirit of devotion and piety had never been incurred--nor crude and precarious amalgamations with sectarianism adopted to recover the lost tribes of our Israel. When foundations are cast down, what shall the righteous do? Daubing with untempered mortar and restoring breaches with incongruous mixtures of style and material is sorry work, and cannot last. Where ceremonies, however, old and new, serve to gender strife instead of godly union and concord, their introduction is to be deprecated. There is a time for everything, and to be premature is as injurious often as being too late. A chief purpose is edification of the faithful, and when this is not attained Leslie's principle is as applicable as ever. But none can plead his authority in support of outside agitation, or obstinate prejudice against priests and communicants, who wish to worship with holy worship and present a pure offering to the Lord.
Some minor pamphlets, said to have proceeded from Leslie's pen, are left without examination for various reasons. Of one or two no copies are known to be extant still, if ever indeed they existed at all. Others he certainly did not compose, and their imputation to him was mere guess-work or imposture. Others, again, are doubtful, such as the "Mitre and the Crown," a concise and closely reasoned little production, on a subject sufficiently indicated by its title, but which is extremely unlike his other writings. And, again, others are nothing else but pamphlets, either whole or in part already mentioned under different titles, suggested by some salient expressions of his--such as "Salt for the Leech." "The Finishing Stroke," "Delenda est Carthago," "The Principles of Dissenters." Two letters were written by him, particularly upon the subject of Convocation, the latter, in 1717, being the one better known. But it is not necessary to quote any portion of the contents, because to do them any justice would involve a lengthened explanation, whereas enough has been said upon that subject; and the new heats and contentions which led to the arbitrary and unconstitutional silencing of Convocation for upwards of a century belong more properly to what is called the Bangorian Controversy. Those who wish to know whether Hoadley as a bishop showed any better spirit or held sounder opinions than as a priest at S. Peter-le-Port, will find ample materials for a judgment in other works. [As Overton's "Life and Writings of William Law."] When his more famous letter was written he was staying for a while at Chatillon; nor did he return to reside at Bar-le-Duc, for the Chevalier had broken up his establishment there, owing to the grave crisis in his affairs which occurred in 1714. Queen Anne, who during the last two years had suffered several alarming attacks from gout, combined with other disorders, breathed her last somewhat suddenly, owing to an internal rupture on July 31-August 1st. One of the last acts of her reign was said to be the fixing a price upon her brother's head of £100,000, which more certainly was one of the first acts under the new reign. And the order to the Duke of Lorraine for his dismissal, which Leslie said was "forced upon her," though magnanimously rejected at the time, inevitably portended his departure, voluntarily or involuntarily, at an early date. Moreover his own constitution was too delicate to stand the climate there, so that his absences were frequent. Now, however, the queen's death rendered departure imperative and immediate. Her general character, conduct, and conflicting emotions about a successor need not be further enlarged upon. Her attachment to the Church of England, as she understood the term, under Bishop Compton's teaching, is unquestionable, and this would have qualified greatly any leaning to her brother's cause, if there had appeared a prospect of its accomplishment without loss to herself or a bloody revolution. The story of a death-bed confession to the Bishop of London! eliciting the reply, "Madam, I shall obey, but it will cost me my head," appears worthy of little attention. At any rate he kept his secret and his head, upon reflection, and was solicitous early to instruct a young princess from Hanover in the doctrine of the Church of England; which with scant ceremony she declined, preferring to take her divinity from the pages of the Socinian writer, Dr. Clarke That Anne had "a heart entirely English" may be also readily admitted without Bolingbroke's commentary--"that is, extremely dull." It was a sad pity, if Church of England teachers could not sway her judgment upon politics, that they had no stronger influence of a moral kind; or that the angry Duchess Sarah's reproachful present of the "Whole Duty of Man" and a Prayer-book exercised no wholesome restraint over intemperate habits, which were so notorious as to be the subject of coarse sneers in the German ambassador's correspondence, and ribald songs in the streets. [Robinson, successor of Compton.] Some load of anguish or remorse lay heavy upon her heart, vainly and sadly sought to be drowned in this deplorable way. Her sudden death fell like a thunderbolt upon her divided cabinet; and if the crisis had produced any temporary concert, they were prevented from adopting measures on behalf of James III. by the regency, with admirable promptitude anticipating this supposed design, and proclaiming George III. Dr. Atterbury was ready in his episcopal habit to make a counter-proclamation; but ministers had not the nerve if the will to authorize so bold and hazardous a proceeding till they should see more clearly which way the tide would flow. A commotion ensued throughout the kingdom, the thrill of which was quickly felt upon the Continent, and multitudes stood on the tiptoe of expectation for the consequences to follow. But neither of the rival candidates for the crown of Great Britain and Ireland seemed in any great hurry to imperil his life in grasping it. Each waited as if for his adversary to strike the first blow for a full month, while streets, coffeehouses, and clubs resounded with cries on one side--
"King George our Defender From Pope and Pretender!"
On the other--
"The king shall have his own again!" and--
"Young Jemmy is a lad right royally descended,
With every virtue clad, by every tongue commended."
At length the Elector, tired of waiting, or impressed with the danger of further delay, arrived amid acclamations from his party the bolder and more numerous in appearance, if not yet awhile demonstrated to be the stronger. He succeeded, and shortly afterwards was publicly crowned, with all the time-honoured ceremonials and solemnity, as peaceably and easily as his predecessor, or any sovereign before. His demeanour towards the late ministry, or such of them as ventured into his presence, significantly intimated, without the need of words, what favour they might expect at his hands. Accordingly Bolingbroke slipped off in disguise across the Channel, while announced to patronize a new theatrical entertainment. The Duke of Ormond and Sir William Wyndham as quietly, but in a less undignified manner, followed his example. Lord-treasurer Harley (Oxford) was slower in his movements, or deemed himself safer, only to be lodged in the Tower on a charge of treason. Marlborough hastened back from the Continent with his freshest smiles; but they did not clear the brow of George, who had studied him long. Where was the Chevalier? and why did he not come? were questions asked with the utmost eagerness and impatience from the Land's End to Inverness and Cromarty. The only answer was, "He is coming;" but none could say when, while the stream flowed on in the contrary direction. First he had deemed it advisable to repair to Paris, that he might ascertain what assistance could be procured from Louis XIV. The gallant, grand old monarch was then at his last gasp, but signified a will to lend his aid if first the prince would see what he could do by reliance on his own friends in Scotland. So much the Duke of Orleans as Regent admitted had been promised when interrogated by the English ambassador in an unofficial conversation; while Abbé Dubois disclaimed any acquaintance with the matter on the part of the Government. Therefore, if an invasion was to be made, it came to this, that the Chevalier must go attended only by the Duke of Berwick and a few friends, a venture disapproved of by the queen-mother. It required, unfortunately, serious consideration when time was precious, and adherents of the cause were becoming dispirited, or clamouring that he should come as he was and at once or never.
Robert Leslie was at S. Germain at this time with his father. Now they were termed "old and young Mr. Leslie" by Lord Cardigan and others who met them there; so had time set its mark upon the controversialist in its silent but not imperceptible progress when distinctions and comparisons come to be made. He was, too, "in the sere and yellow leaf," prematurely enfeebled with care, toil, and sickness, as well as age, then in his sixty-fifth year. Robert was honoured with a particular inquiry of his opinion, when he warmly seconded the call from Scotland for an immediate effort, but with an air of deferential apology, if his words be rightly reported, which at this distance seems to imply some consciousness of delay or reluctance to start, more than befitted the occasion. [Stuart Papers. Macpherson and Carte, vol. iv. p. 349.] His father contributed assistance in a more congenial and serviceable manner than if he had exchanged for a sword the pen, his trusty well-tried weapon which had won many victories. He drew up a letter of very considerable length, copies of which were to be distributed in England, together with a declaration from the prince. It was entitled "The Church of England's Advice to her Children, and to all Kings, Princes and Potentates." Here are a few extracts: "My most dear children, it is now twenty-seven years that I have been seeking you whom my soul loves. I sought you, but I found you not; and to which way soever I turned myself, I saw nothing but desolation. I see the hand of the adversary upon all my pleasant things, and the heathen within the walls of my sanctuary. Every day, my dear children, adds to these calamities, and your next care should be how to extricate yourselves from present difficulties, and to ward off those which are rolling towards you with every tide of time To this end receive the instruction of your unfortunate mother; for I speak not to reproach, but to the furtherance of your temporal and eternal happiness. . . . The picking out of a stone from an arch renders it easy to sink the whole fabric. As a decoy to you, revolutionary leaders pretend the greatest regard to my preservation; but you already see in their practices, and may perceive in their principles, that which in a very little while, humanly speaking, will be my death. For there is a royalty in the Church as well as in the State, and the hand that will destroy the one will never be stretched out in vindication of the other. It may be a standing rule to you that the enemies of monarchy will never be very good friends to episcopacy. . . . Lord Sunderland advised King James in his own vindication, as he artfully termed it, to send the seven bishops to the Tower. The king consented , but he who never could do a severe thing recalled it, by offering them their liberty upon each other's bail. They, being better divines than politicians, were persuaded to decline the king's favour. The repentance of the greatest ecclesiastic in England shortened his days, and he never forgave himself his mistake in going to the Tower.... [A very different view from that of Whig historians, by one intimate with both.] The Prince of Orange was so regardless of his future state as to sign the Abjuration Act in the very hour of his death; and after it an instrument was found in his strong box, by which it appeared, if he had lived three weeks longer, the late queen had been committed to the Tower and her life taken from her. The present John How, Esq., particularly affirmed having seen the instrument. Parliament required him to prove his assertion or take the consequences; but the proceedings were dropped, and the queen persuaded to smother the matter. Dr. Sacheverell had the courage to revive the ancient and apostolic doctrine of passive obedience, and in fact they brought me to trial in person of the doctor. There never was any law pretended in England to cut off an heir before the usurpation of the Prince of Orange, unless of Oliver Cromwell, whose acts have never been numbered with the laws of the land. . . . The Elector was proclaimed, contrary to all the fundamental laws of England, and by his coming will either prove himself very wise, or extremely other-wise. If he be wise, he must know that his makers are very well acquainted with the way by which a crowned head may be brought to the block, and by a strange paradox affirm that they are the rulers of him whom they shall elect to rule over them. If he believe he can support the crown upon their ticklish terms during the course of his natural life, it will be a reason why he should not be numbered among the wise for thinking that he came into the world with that infirmity which his reputation is known to labour under. . . . His parting with a religion that he knew, for one he knows not, is a standard by which his devotion is to be measured. It was said that the treasures of Hanover were to pay the debts of the English nation; but all you have seen of that was what entered the city of London with him in a cart, mop-brooms, brickets, tubs, and earthenware pots, etc. . . . The religion he has sworn to maintain is the only one discountenanced by him. The love of your lawful king for his country-has been sufficiently attested by many marks of affection to English officers and soldiers taken to France in the late war. He has promised to make the laws of the land the rule of his government, and to hear what I have to say in the business of religion when it may be done with conveniency."
This last observation was generally interpreted into a willingness to listen to Leslie himself; but that is a very narrow and forced construction for language supposed to come from the lips of the Church of England to her children, engaging an impartial hearing to all in future. The date affixed to the end of this letter, April 26, show what a long time was suffered to elapse before the Chevalier had made up his mind or completed his preparations, so that King George had not only got the start of him by a twelvemonth, but been able to ingratiate himself with the populace of London, which he did in a most sensible am: manly manner; he and his family walking unattended in public places and freely mixing in amusements. Never was a golden opportunity more completely lost, either under ill advice, or a mistaken view of his best interest. Leslie knew the peril he incurred, but did not shrink from the bold step of going himself to London with tin manuscripts of this Letter and the Declaration. He sin succeeded in having them printed and placed in safe hands for distribution, returning in safety almost before his absence had been noted by many friends; and this was done when his health was in a very unsatisfactory state.
On September 13, the prince set out to take ship for Scotland, but the carriage conveying him overturned, so that he was carried back much bruised and shaken. An ill omen, but a true one for his project. Meanwhile, the Government in England laid hands upon every important person suspected of sympathy with it, and put them in prison. Active preparations also were made to resist the invader whenever or. wherever he should attempt to land. This vigilance and severity did not deter Jacobites and Tories from avowing themselves in favour of hereditary right, in language sometimes of cautious innuendo, sometimes without any figure or caution at all. Carte, the well-known historian, thus, when a cabman hailed him during a shower, merrily replied, "he could not afford to hire a carriage in this reign." Later, an officiating clergyman in a church at Edinburgh asked the prayers of the congregation "for a young gentleman who was, or shortly would be, at sea." Pulpits rang again with the old style of declamation on both sides, and foremost among the preachers was Sacheverell again! After his three years' honourable exile in Wales, he had been summoned back to preach before the House of Commons, and take charge of the valuable living of S. Andrew, Holborn. He delivered two or three stirring discourses, and then--what would Leslie have thought if he had seen it?--one morning walked quietly arm-in-arm with a friend to an office and took the oath of fealty to the new sovereign! Perhaps his judgment was affected by overhearing a stout Whig express a desire to "lay a horsewhip across his shoulders" on account of his last sermon. In the early-spring died Burnet. And a far worthier, more honest, and kindly natured man, William Penn, true to his errors and to the cause of hereditary right to the last.
Most extraordinary phenomena and portents were reported in various places this year. Meteors falling, fiery squadrons and strange figures in the sky, accompanied by voices and sounds, and an eclipse on December 27, which filled multitudes of people with alarm. The prince landed with a few followers at Peterhead, but only to find himself too late. He made, indeed, a vain pilgrimage for many miles to rally scattered forces to his standard, and went through the empty mockery of a coronation at Scone, but all was over and all was lost before he came; at Sherriffmuir and Preston. Had he come sooner it might have been different; he had to be content with hoping it might still be so on another occasion; then on February 9 slipped back secretly to S. Germains. What Robert Leslie thought then he did not say; but if the prince was wanting to himself in some degree, many were still more wanting to the professions and promises on which he had too confidently relied. Those who proved faithful sealed their loyalty in blood, either in battle or the frightful scenes of slaughter which followed what has been named the Rebellion of 1715, because it failed; but had it succeeded would have been termed another glorious Revolution.
Leslie had gone to Italy before this disastrous conclusion of an enterprise on which he had too sanguinely built the very greatest expectations. And after that his history is almost a blank. The Chevalier followed, with whom he remained on terms of favour and friendship; as also with other members of the Stuart royal family, paying visits from time to time to them at S. Germain while the queen-mother lived, who invariably treated him with a condescension and consideration she never showed to any other priest, or even lay member of the Church of England. That she hated with all her heart. Many more notices of his name have been traced in the correspondence of various persons, who met with him in Italy, at S. Germain, and other places, which are not worth recording; but they afford strong confirmatory evidence of the high esteem entertained for his character and abilities among all classes. He did not reside continually in any one place during the closing years of his life, nor mix much in general society even where English visitors were numerous. This was in some measure owing to habits of seclusion and study acquired in the earlier portion of his life, though he was very far from a recluse at any period by nature. Still more, it was occasioned by increasing infirmities and ill health, with restricted means. He had never been dependent upon any one, nor accepted remuneration for any of his works, theological or political, beyond the ordinary profits accruing from the sale of some pamphlets in great demand. Or else he could at various periods have acquired considerable sums of money by the hire of his pen to the service of party interests. The same high-minded independence made him unwilling to accept assistance at the hands of relatives who had compounded with the Government, though he evinced no personal animosity either to them or any others who did so. He never visited Ireland after the year 1691; but this was rather in the interest of the family at Glaslough than for his own sake, because he had nothing to apprehend till the last, and was very well known to numbers of persons by sight in London. But visits there would have been certain to be misrepresented as having some political design, and exposed them to suspicion of disaffection to the Government; or might even have led to some disturbance unintentionally, because Roman Catholics as well as Protestants greatly loved and esteemed his memory throughout the north of Ireland.
The Irish are an emotional and excitable nation, too much devoted to political and religious agitation for their own happiness or temporal prosperity. But they have seldom ill-treated open adversaries of their opinions, who have fearlessly trusted them and refrained from interference in disputed questions about the possession of land; the one thing to which they cling with a desperate tenacity often beyond reason and justice as well as law, because they have nothing else. Besides, his adherence to James II. was an additional claim to regard among the great mass of the people. In Italy he found himself, as in Lorraine and at S. Germain, isolated from the natives by his religion. He, who in England had suffered from very erroneous imputations of inclination to Romanism, there was eschewed as a champion of Protestantism, and priests were on the alert to whisper designs of proselytizing. So that he was out of harmony with the world in general as much abroad as at home. After the marriage of the Chevalier it necessarily happened that influence over him or the closeness of their former intercourse decreased. And he could not fail to feel pained at the deterioration of character observable in him; the more keenly because he had in his "Letter to a Member of Parliament" affirmed with great gratification the prince's exemption from "those vices incident to youth." All these circumstances combined to render his life miserable for the most part on the Continent, relieved and cheered, however, by the noble consciousness that he "had always followed truth as closely as he could without straying after worldly interests." Had those been his object, no man could have made a more advantageous bargain with secular powers, and he might have passed Burnet and Hoadly far on the road of ambition and preferment. Since he was, "through the providence of God infinitely wise and righteous, excluded for the greater part of his life from the public exercise of that sacred office to which he had been called, yet had he the comfort of having endeavoured in some degree to serve against its various adversaries the cause of God, religion, and of that Church into which was baptized, educated, and received into Holy Orders, and in which he resolved to die." This was not the language of a boastful, contentious, or dissatisfied spirit; but of one who valued truth above all things, and humbly submitted to the will of God.
In the year 1719 he felt that the shadows of eternity were gathering round him, and he should prepare to bid the world farewell--the world which had dealt hardly with him; yet he made no complaint of its treatment, or recurred to unkindly remembrances of the past. He had two great desires. One that his theological works might be collected and published for the good of the Church of England in future. Nothing was said about political writings--a silence significant of his desire to let controversy die with him, till it could no longer cause heat and distractions. The other wish was to return home to his own country, and be buried in the grave of his father and his mother. These wishes were communicated in the first instance to his beloved friend, the good physician at S. Germain, Mr. Roger Kenyon, who immediately set about securing their accomplishment with disinterested warmth and earnestness. He wrote to friends in England, who with equal promptitude and kindness took the matter up. Mr. Bowyer, the publisher, gladly promised his assistance; and at a meeting of those interested in the undertaking, it was resolved to print the theological works of Leslie in two folio volumes, a larger and smaller edition, at the price of two and one guineas each to subscribers. Conspicuous among those who exerted themselves was a barrister, Mr. George Bishop, of Gray's Inn, who collected a very large sum of money--no less than £750--in a short time, and wrote a great number of letters recommending the work and its author to persons whom he deemed likely to take an interest in both. These letters were as creditable to Mr. Bishop as to Leslie, for nothing could exceed the enthusiasm which he displayed, mingled with much delicacy and tenderness. Leslie was "in low circumstances" owing to the constant drain upon his resources, without any means of replenishment. But this was only cautiously disclosed to those who were thought proper to be entrusted with the secret.
Strange to say, the only reluctance and opposition to the business was encountered in the University of Oxford, once the stronghold of Toryism, where his name had been a watchword, and among some with whom he had always cultivated friendly relations! This vexed Mr. Bishop very much, and he complained in strong terms of this apathy, saying that the "very stones would cry out." The ostensible reason, or that assigned by Dr. Charlett, was objection to his mode of procedure being somewhat secret, which had been adopted to avoid the possibility of hindrance to publication on the part of the Government at the instance of Whigs and Dissenters. But it is tolerably clear that under this more honourable pretext was veiled an unwillingness to incur suspicion to themselves under the new-dynasty. "Tempora mutantur et nos mutantur in illis." There were some bright exceptions at least among authorities at Oxford. The vice-chancellor, the president of Trinity, Dr. Barnes, Drs. Bourne and Taylor. Some slight reparation was made at a later date by publication of a new edition in the Clarendon Press at the instance of Leslie's lineal descendant, the Rev. Edward Leslie, Rector and Treasurer of Dromore in Ireland, himself a learned man, and who twice refused the Deanery from conscientious motives, offered through Sir R. Peel.
No less than five hundred members in the two Houses of Parliament subscribed, some much beyond the price of the work; nor were they all persons of the same political sympathies, but who with honour to themselves generously combined to honour an opponent who had never used any but honourable modes of warfare. Leslie did not know of this noble conduct, or even of all that friends had done on his behalf, till too late to express his own gratitude. Mr. Higden, brother of the clergyman to whom the letter had been addressed concerning "the English Constitution," subscribed £400, and many hundreds of people besides, including "farmers and tradesmen in many country towns." [MSS. Bodleian Library.] What could be a more striking testimony of the universal esteem in which his name was held? Leslie wrote strongly, severely, but seldom with any tinge of personal bitterness towards individuals. He often in the Rehearsal declared that his combat was with their opinions, not themselves, and excluded matters which would have increased its popularity to avoid personalities. If he censured Burnet and Hoadly in scathing terms somewhat imprudent, yet it was not unjust; for the offensive and libellous terms in which they spoke of him, even in the pulpit, would be beyond belief in the present day, if there did not remain several records which are not deemed worthy of citation here. Yet one can wish he had believed in this respect what they preached, if not practised towards him, that "moderation is a virtue." Of the writers in scurrilous papers he might well have taken no notice, had it not been that silence would have been misunderstood by readers, and that they were hirelings of more considerable persons. Against these upon principle he directed no attacks; never even against Godolphin, Harley, or Maryborough, whom he knew to be amongst his most dangerous and deceitful enemies. One thing he probably regretted upon reflection, and in that he erred greatly--his attack upon King George I.; because therein he swerved from his own principle. The house of Hanover had not injured or offended him personally, and therefore deserved no wounding remarks at his hand. This must be candidly and sorrowfully acknowledged by those who cherish his memory with affection. But King George had a noble revenge, in which Lord Sunderland concurred. When it was intimated that Leslie had resolved at all hazards to return, for he could not conscientiously retract what he had written or swear allegiance, his Majesty in a very kindly and generous manner declared that "the old man should come home and die in peace." And when some malignant person--it was generally believed and reported Burnet's son--hastened to inform against him upon arrival, Lord Sunderland, with a look of immeasurable scorn, simply showed him the door.
The wanderer came back, the exile returned, in the autumn of 1721. His "heart untravelled" fondly turned to the home of early happy days, before ever he had become entangled in the meshes of controversy, or been buffeted by the winds of political agitation. His father led a stormy life; still more stormy was his. Which was intellectually the abler man cannot unfortunately be determined, owing to the losses by fire of all the former's, and many of his own, manuscripts.
The Dean of Dromore and his wife had shortly before left all their property to Robert, because legally it could not have been left to the father, still under the ban of outlawry; who submitted, it may be presumed, from a conscientious change of opinions, not the mere desire of a fine estate. He certainly had taken as active and decided a part in behalf of the Stuart cause, if he had not become so prominent and distinguished. Yet attachment to his father, and knowing how it would grieve him, may have induced him to coincide with his views so long as he possibly could, and till the critical moment came for choosing between perpetual exile and want in behalf of a hopeless cause, or reluctant submission when he had thereby no oath of allegiance to break.
His father lingered on for several months, utterly shattered in health and exhausted in spirit, and breathed his last on April 13, 1722, at three o'clock in the afternoon. His mortal remains were interred in the churchyard of Glaslough. His soul went back to Him who gave it, and rests in Abraham's bosom in the beautiful abodes of Paradise. There are no conflicts nor questions concerning de jure and de facto. No right of possession is claimed; all plead only the merits and satisfaction of the Saviour.
And here upon earth in these three kingdoms old causes and dissensions have become extinct. The house of Hanover has no rival with a better title. May the nation never again invite foreign interference with its affairs on any pretence whatever, or risk the certain blessings of peace and order for the miseries and uncertainties of another Civil War or Revolution!
ABRIDGMENT OF "THE CASE STATED BETWEEN THE CHURCH OF ROME AND THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND."
What is there in the communion of the Church of England that should make one think one's soul in any danger? Would there be any hazard if there were no invocation of saints that are dead in the public offices of the Church; no pictures or images of God to be seen there; no elevation of the host, which was but of late years brought into the Church; no prayers for souls out of purgatory; if the public prayers were in the vulgar tongue; and if the Sacrament were given in both kinds; for these are all the differences you will find between your public Offices and ours?
It is certain that Jerusalem was the mother Church where Christ first planted the gospel, and commanded that it should be thence propagated to all other nations as Himself said, "beginning at Jerusalem;" and till after the vision of the sheet, no Gentile was admitted. So that the Jewish Christian was the only Church for some time, and she it was who converted the Gentile nations, and therefore was the mother Church to them all. . . . And Rome was not the first Gentile Church, for "the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." And the Greek Church was before the Latin; the New Testament was written in Greek for their use, therefore the Greek Church could not be the daughter of the Latin, which was born after her.
"S. Peter having been Bishop of Rome, and Christ having constituted him to be the head of the Catholic Church"--this will not make her the mother Church. In the conversion of the Gentiles to Christianity, one man and one nation must receive the faith before another; but it gives no one superiority over the other except that of gratitude and esteem, but nothing of authority. Whatever the privilege of the mother Church may be, if it can be translated from one to another, from Jerusalem to Antioch and thence to Rome, then it may be translated from Rome also to some other Church, unless some positive command of Christ can be produced first to fix it at Rome, and then a promise that it shall never be removed. But the Church of Rome is not once named in all the New Testament, unless she is meant by "the Church at Babylon." Nor is there any promise whatsoever made to her, or the least intimation of her being the head of the Church, the standard and centre of unity to them all. Strange, if that be, as Bellarmine calls it, the sum and foundation of the Christian religion. As silent are the Scriptures concerning a supposed universal supremacy of S. Peter, or that he ever was at Rome or Bishop of Rome. Some after-writers have mentioned it; but that is far from such a universal tradition as is sufficient for the mighty superstructure which is raised upon it. Let it be granted; it signifies nothing, because all is founded upon some words said to S. Peter, as, "Thou art Peter," etc., "Feed My sheep," etc., which cannot be strained to such a universal supremacy as the popes have claimed, nor were so understood in the primitive Church. That the rock upon which Christ said He would build His Church was not Peter, but the faith which Peter then confessed. See S. Augustine (Sermon xiii.), S. Cyril, S. Chrysostom, S. Ambrose, S. Hilary, and many others. S. Peter was the apostle of the Jews, they were his particular charge; himself allowed that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to S. Paul; accordingly, he wrote not to the Gentiles, particularly not to Rome, which would seem strange if he had been bishop and that had been his principal charge.
S. Paul withstood him to the face before the whole Church of Antioch in behalf of the Gentiles whom he had misled; a behaviour not very suitable to the supreme head of the Church, if S. Paul had known anything of his being so constituted by Christ. As little had it become the other apostles to send their sovereign upon business, as they sent S. Peter to Samaria.
If, as some say, S. Peter was bishop of the Jewish converts at Rome, and S. Paul of the Gentiles there, S. Paul would have had a much greater flock than S. Peter, and the successors of S. Paul, not S. Peter, been the bishops there. The surest way to find out the truth is by fact, and not straining expressions which may have several meanings. In the history of the Acts, S. Peter has a great share, though not so much as S. Paul; and there is a council mentioned wherein both were present, and there is not a title of any superiority of S. Peter over S. Paul, or any other of the apostles. If the supremacy of S. Peter be so essential a point upon which the unity of the Church depends, it is inconceivable the Scriptures should be wholly silent on it--nay, showing the very contrary, in fact; and that our blessed Saviour should not have determined the question among apostles "which of them should be the greatest," but left them all upon a level.
Christ has but one Church on earth and in heaven, of which He is the Head; one part militant, the other triumphant, which makes not two Churches, but two states of the same. All the nations are one kingdom to Him; but He has appointed no universal monarch as His deputy The pretence in the Church of Rome has been the great cause of divisions. For which reason God has appointed no universal monarch in the Church more than in tin-State. This was the frame of the Church in S. Cyprian's days, and before, from the apostles; the apostolate was given to each in partnership or in common with the rest.
As all nations are one kingdom, so all Christian Churches are one to Christ; and as the unity of the world consists in the law of nations common to all, so the unity of the Church consists in the common Christianity wherein all agree. There is not one word in Scripture appointing a universal head in the Christian Church, or of altering this common sentiment of mankind as to the meaning of the word Church, or taking it in any other sense than commonly understood by all the world. There were some before that of Rome; and bishops and fathers knew nothing of its supremacy, far less of its infallibility, nor ever appealed to it in their disputes with heretics, which had been the shortest and surest way, and impossible to have been forgotten, had it been received as the current faith or even opinion. On the contrary, other Churches have contended with that of Rome, and asserted their independence when encroachments began to arise and disturb the peace and unity of the Church. Unity was understood, not as being under one supreme bishop, but in the common faith, described by all having one Lord, one Baptism, one Faith, and one Spirit, from which they are called one Body. All Churches agree in that summary of faith called the Apostles' Creed. The twelve new articles which the Council of Trent has added to the twelve of the apostles, which we call the Creed of Pope Pius, is required to be professed by converts, and has made many contests and divisions in the Church. Sacraments are signs and seals of our faith, but not the faith itself, and therefore not put into the Apostles' Creed. They are "generally necessary to salvation," as our Catechism words it; but of five, one cannot say they are so much as generally necessary, because none can partake of them all. If a Church be answerable for all that break off from her, then the Roman Church has all our sects to answer for, and us too, which is one more. The Greek Church is an elder one than she is. And since the Reformation, the Roman communion is now reduced to a very small part of the Christian Church in comparison with those who differ from her. . . . Old and new Popery are very different things; Rome itself has in some measure been reformed by our Reformation. There never was a general or Oecumenical Council, where all Churches meet; no more than the Roman empire was all the world. Romanists are not agreed among themselves concerning general councils. Some are partly confirmed and partly reprobated; and one neither manifestly approved nor rejected; this is going through all the degrees of uncertainty. And what a thing it is to say that a council is partly right and partly wrong! We must have an infallible method, too, to preserve the acts of these councils, that they be not adulterated, as Bellarmine says they have been So that the scheme of infallibility of councils stands thus: the Church of Rome makes herself the Catholic Church and little party councils under the direction of the pope are universal and infallible. If infallibility be neither in pope nor council, where do we place it? Nowhere: nor can it be among men who are all fallible.
The Church is compared to a city set upon a hill. To a candle. Likewise to a woman persecuted in the wilderness. To a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. To a besieged city; and, lastly, that she will be so little visible as that faith shall hardly be found upon the earth. This is not to be reconciled but of different states of the Church and at different times. . . . The Church is called holy and beloved because of God's covenant with her to be His holy and beloved, which will be hereafter in those that are perfected, when the tares and the wheat shall be separated; but they must grow together till then. Then, and not till then, will the Church be "all glorious, without spot or wrinkle." She is still in her cleansing state, but not thoroughly cleansed. And the Scripture speaks of both these states of the Church, which, when we distinguish not, but apply what is said of the most glorious to the most corrupt, we must needs fall into many errors and mistakes.
The pretence of miracles, legends, and shops of relics which are bought and sold, instead of a proof, are the greatest prejudice to men of sense against the Roman Church. And it is the sorest blow which Christianity has received, while common people put these legends on a level with the Holy Scriptures as having the same authority, whence Atheists and Deists take a handle to render both alike fabulous.
Believing the Scriptures upon the authority of the Church, as the Church because the Scriptures bid, is the old circle running round and proving a thing by itself. What is it, then? We believe a God purely upon our own reason. And if God has given us no other guide but that, with the assistance of His grace, to believe in Himself, what further do we require for those of less consequence than the first and main article of our Creed? As Fermilian said to Stephen, Bishop of Rome, "Do not deceive yourself . . '. while you think you can excommunicate all other Churches, you have only excommunicated yourself." If the Christian sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, the most solemn worship of God, were confined to S. Peter's Church at Rome, as the legal sacrifices were confined to the temple, and if the Church of Rome, like that of the Jews, were the old Church in the world, yet the Roman would have no more pretence to perpetuity and infallibility than the other. As to Apocryphal books, we received the canon of the Old Testament from the Church of the Jews, which never admitted them. Again, we are sure they were not in the Christian Canon in the days of S. Jerome. The canon of the New Testament was established not at all upon authority, but plainly by evidence.
Precedence of bishops is not a matter of that consequence as to break the peace of the Church, and we should not trouble the world about any such thing. What the Pope claims is no less than absolute sovereignty over all the Churches and kingdoms of the earth by a divine and indefeasible right as heir of S. Peter, and the promises made to him. Behold the machine which God never thought of, of climbing to heaven upon a ladder of popes, cardinals, councils, etc.; and we must give no obstruction, because it would break the machine of their being our infallible guides to heaven. An infallible guide would not be an infallible assurance to us, unless we were infallible too; for besides our not knowing him or mistaking another for him, we might misunderstand his doctrine, and turn it to quite contrary purposes from what he intended. No man knows where this Church is to which the infallibility is annexed. Choose which we will, there are three to one against it; and what difference is there between having no guide, or one we cannot find? You must apply to every man's private judgment when you would make him a convert, else why do you argue or reason with him? Since this notion of infallibility came into the Church of Rome it has rooted out all charity, and her religion has chiefly been employed in cursing all the world but herself. Her canons are bagged with anathema. and one hears little who shall be saved, but every page is full of who must be damned. The bulla in coena pins the basket, and leaves very few to escape even of the Roman communion itself.
Now, it is the undoubted right of every national Church to reform, alter, and model their Liturgy as shall be most convenient, provided there be nothing put into it that is contrary to the faith, which is not so much as alleged against our public offices. They have a Breviary at Milan and in other places different from that at Rome. And in England, before the Reformation, there were divers in several dioceses. But these differences did not break communion, nor did the alteration at the Reformation, till the pope by the plenitude of his supremacy, and to be revenged upon Queen Elizabeth, took upon him to do so.
We call ourselves Catholics, and pray for the Catholic Church. Every bishop, every Church, and every member of it may be called Catholic, as being included in the general notion of the Catholic Church.
Confession is a good thing rightly used, but not in the sense of the Roman Catechism, that such a repentance as God will not accept is made sufficient by the Sacrament of Penance; and that very few can be saved without it. God has given us Christ as the one Mediator; but Romanists have multiplied saints to themselves without number, like heathen deities. And they pray to them jointly with God. "God and S. John help us," etc. The blessed Virgin Mary, if not preferred, is put on a level with her Son. Epiphanius reckons the worship of the Virgin, not then so rank among heresies, under the name of Collyridians; and he observes that our blessed Lord, foreseeing this superstition, never once called her mother. An extraordinary honour is paid to her in the Roman Mass, where the elements are offered up for her honour. This looks like putting her nearly on a level with the Almighty.
Transubstantiation is a mere school nicety which no man understands, and yet was transformed into an article of faith by the Council of Trent. Christ said, "This is My Body," but as to the manner or means how it was so He said not a word, whether sacramentally, figuratively, or symbolically; or, on the other hand, whether substantially, consubstantially, or transubstantially. These are inventions of our own from our poor philosophy; and yet about these is our whole dispute, which has tormented the Christian Church in our later age more than all the other mysteries of religion. When the substance of bread and wine in the Sacrament is gone, then their accidents are no more; that is, they are accidents and no accidents. And if the accidents, roundness, taste, liquidness, stand by themselves, why are they not substances? Who cannot see that what are called accidents then, are nothing at all in nature but abstracted notions of our own heads, yet disputed about as if real things and made articles of faith?
There is another error of subtracting from the institutions of Christ and the means of grace which lie has appointed, in taking away the cup from the laity in the Holy Sacrament. That they might not think themselves deprived of this so beneficial means of the greatest grace, the schools have invented a distinction they call concomitancy, which is, that in all flesh there is some blood goes along or is concomitant with it, so that whoever eats the flesh partakes also of the blood. It is a nicety. Flesh may be so dried that no blood shall appear in it; and in a wafer there can be none without having recourse to miracle. I think it is too bold to throw off the institution of Christ upon such imaginations of our own, which imply that there was no need of the institution of the Cup; for if it be not necessary now, it was not then. But this Sacrament was ordained not only to express the death of Christ, but also the manner of it by the shedding of blood. It was therefore necessary, says the apostle (Heb. ix. 22). The Church may as well take away the bread and leave only the cup, and say that the flesh is contained in the blood. The Council of Trent makes it a heresy to say that the whole Christ is not under each species. But since the Body and Blood of Christ were separated at His death, He ordained them to be so separated in the Sacrament.
The vow of single life was not imposed till Pope Hildebrand; and it was, says Sigebert, "without precedent, and, as many thought, of indiscreet zeal contrary to the opinion of the holy Fathers." Hildebrand was not obeyed in England for above a hundred years after.
We have not a word in Scripture of any such state of the dead as purgatory, where souls are put under pains equal to those of hell except for the duration. Souls are not said to be made better in purgatory; if not purified, why are they punished? The vindicative justice of God is satisfied before they are forgiven. God says, "He will not remember our sins," etc. How is that consistent with enduring the pains of hell for a hundred or a thousand years? And how do we know what souls go to purgatory? how long they remain there? and who of them are released? Can prayers, then, be made for their releasement in faith, otherwise they are sin? We have not seen any revelation for purgatory; and as for "the tradition of the Church," there are good and bad traditions. But the rule of Vincentius Lirinensis was, that what "was always received everywhere and by all universal tradition," we are willing to join issue upon as to purgatory.
How is it to be imagined that God should keep so many souls for years or ages in extreme torments without necessity? And if the pope has power to release, he must be a very cruel father who keeps one soul there an hour longer. How will poor souls there be deluded if the stock of supererogation should fail them! Can a creature merit at the hands of God for ever so great endowments bestowed upon him? And was there ever a man who did all his duty? We find the greatest saints applying to the mercy of God, and not pleading their own merits. Then, surely, they will disown all who do so.
Prayers for the dead among the Fathers were few, and for those supposed to be in peace to receive increase of happiness before the resurrection. We also pray for the dead, that it would "please God shortly to accomplish the number of the elect, and to hasten His kingdom, that we, with all those," etc. And we bless Him "for all His servants departed this life in His faith and fear," etc.; so that we pray for them as well as for ourselves. But neither these prayers of ours nor those of the ancients have any relation to purgatory. Some of the ancients had a notion of a purging fire at the last day, which does not come up to purgatory.
The public worship is not in a language understood of the people, as the apostle requires. The greatest number of the people cannot carry books of devotion with them, though if they did it would not be common prayer nor joining with the priest. The article in the Creed, "the Holy Catholic Church," was but late put in, on occasion of divisions, to mind people that they were all members of the same body. The next article explains this, and may be called a part of it, namely, "the communion of saints," who are the elect not visible upon earth. The archetypal and truly Catholic Church in heaven is that which is chiefly and principally meant by "the Holy Catholic Church," and "the communion of saints," in the Creed; and there only is perfect unity. It is rather exclusive of any particular Church, and extends to all Christian Churches, which make up the Catholic Church upon earth in such unity as our fallen state will bear.
AN ABRIDGMENT OF THE "TRUE NOTION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH," IN ANSWER TO THE BISHOP OF MEAUX'S LETTER TO MR. NELSON.
We esteem every bishop with his college of presbyters and deacons and the laity of his district to be a particular Church, wherein the bishop presides as representing the person of Christ, and to be the principle of unity in his Church as S. Ignatius speaks. And we think with S. Cyprian in his sixty-eighth Epistle to Pope Stephen), "there is a very large body of bishops joined together in the cement of mutual concord in the bond of unity, that if any of our college attempt to make a schism, and to rend and destroy the flock of Christ, the rest should assist, and, like good and merciful pastors, reduce the Lord's sheep into the flock." Hence all particular Churches, that is, every bishop with his proper flock, make up the whole, which is the Catholic Church. And all these are one flock, one Church of Christ, as S. Cyprian speaks in Ep. 55: "As there is one Church of Christ, distinguished into many members through the whole world, so there is one episcopacy of a great united number of many bishops diffused." And again, concerning the unity of the Church: "There is one episcopacy, of which part is committed to every bishop in full." "In full," is a law phrase, and signifies that part of this one episcopacy is so committed to every single bishop, that he is nevertheless charged with taking care of the whole Church. The learned Church of France always contested their liberties against the plenitude of papal supremacy. And we think it incumbent upon every bishop of the Church to assert his own inherent power given by our Lord, as S. Cyprian says: "How dangerous it is in divine things for any to relinquish his proper right and power!" Our blessed Saviour has told us that there will be divisions in His Church; and the experience of all ages has made it good. How many schisms have been in the Church of Rome--popes and anti-popes set up one against another, and some of them lasting for many years together? If those did not divide the Church of Rome, then we are cleared as to any schisms among us. Upon the pretended sovereignty of the pope, we charge the schism of those who have broken off subjection to their proper bishops. And others have proceeded to throw off episcopacy itself. What we plead for is the restoration of its original rights in the Roman communion, where, though the name is retained, the power is swallowed up in one.
Concerning the infallible assistance of the Holy Ghost in the Council of Nice, we know of no promise of such to councils or any particular Church. We doubt not the assistance of God's Holy Spirit to every man and assemblies of men who seek His glory; but this grace may be resisted by assemblies as well as by private men. The Church bears witness to the truth, and preaches and preserves that "faith which was once delivered to the saints," and in this sense is "the pillar and ground of the truth;" as the supporters and propagators of it, not the authors, or having dominion over it.
It cannot be strange that we should be at a loss about infallibility when there is variety and contradiction among those who assert it. But we have an infallible assurance of the faith, in its being delivered down to us by a universal consent of all ages and Churches. The rise of heresies does rather confirm it, because such were found to be novelties. And we rest assured of Christ's promise always to preserve a Church to Himself upon earth, though there is no promise to Rome, England, or any particular Church.
We must first find our Rule of Faith before we apply anything to it, or it to anything If it be Scripture, we know where we are; but if it be tradition, we launch into an ocean which has neither shore nor bottom, nor we any compass to steer by, where we must be driven about with every wind of doctrine. Different Churches have different usages, and we may like one better than another; but shall we make a schism for this? Our Saviour, who left us a form of prayer, left no form for the consecration of the elements, though He did for baptism. But the words that Christ spoke are spirit; and therein consists the life of all outward institutions, and not in the opus operatum of the letter, and a form of words of human invention to work like charms.
Suppose any priest now should revive the love-feasts and holy kiss at the Sacrament, and administer it after supper, and not in the morning; and give it to infants and even to the dead, which was forbidden in the Third Council of Carthage, canon 6?
The late Dean Hickes, at Barking, found the use of mixing water with the wine in the vestry, not at the Altar, to be the usage there; but this made no noise, not making it a term of communion.
Some always use unleavened bread at the Sacrament. And it has more foundation in the Passover and institution of the Sacrament, than mixing water with the wine. Old Mr. E. Stevens I took to be an honest, well-meaning man of great zeal but weak judgment; some thought him mad. He is the father of the new separation. And his fate may be a warning, for he had a mind to be of some Church or communion besides his own, and for that purpose he went to the chaplains of a Popish ambassador in London and desired to be admitted into the communion of Rome, but they would not receive him; unless he would come up to their terms, they would not go down to his, thinking him an enthusiast. He told me with joy, when a Grecian archbishop of Philippopoli was in England, that he would try to be admitted by him into the communion of the Greek Church; but was refused there also. And so lived a seeker. And his disciples of the new separation are seeking still.
If God has ordained outward things as means whereby we receive spiritual benefits, then ought they with reverence to be attended, and not laid aside, nay, vilified and spurned. God will not suffer His own institutions to be despised. The new separation make the water so absolutely and essentially necessary, that without it there is no Sacrament at all, and so we have had none ever since the Reformation. If so, they are greater enemies to the Church of England and at a greater distance from it than Rome itself, and have need to be reformed back again to Popery! They make more things necessary to salvation than God has made, which has been the great disturbance of the Church in all ages; while fanciful men, who are fond of their own imaginations, or of others before them, and proud of their discoveries, are not afraid, rather than they should fail, to mend and reform, not only our Liturgy, but the Scripture itself, and deny it to be a certain rule to us. They have also shown a disposition to revive the old tradition of communicating infants in the Eucharist; and then they can easily make it necessary. And send us new cargoes from time to time, which we have warning to expect, and we shall never have done, for tradition is a bottomless well.