Sidor som bilder

quence should be discussed in the freest and most public


I have waited in vain for the re-appearance of three other of my antagonists, viz. Mr. Howes, Dr. Geddes, and the Dean of Canterbury ; * but as they have been sufficiently urged to produce every thing that they had to allege, and they have all had sufficient time for the purpose, I must conclude that inclination is wanting. Whether this want of inclination has arisen from any consciousness of a want of ability to fulfil their engagements to the public, must be left to the conjecture of our common readers; for with respect to this also they are silent.

I have also waited to no purpose for the appearance of some Arian, learned in ecclesiastical history, to combat what I have advanced concerning the non-existence of their doctrine before the time of Arius ; so that the field of controversy is now divided between the two opposite parties of Trinitarians and Unitarians, neither of whom will allow that there is any just medium between their opinions.

I cannot help congratulating the friends of free inquiry on the attention that is given to the subject of this controversy, and the happy effects of this attention, indifferent, or distasteful, as it is to many. Though the superior orders of the clergy do not, for reasons that may easily be conceived, engage in the public discussion, it is frequently the subject of their charges to the clergy, of which that of the Bishop of Peterborought is one instance. But another proof of a singularly curious nature appears in a bill that was to have been brought into the House of Commons in favour of the Catholics the last session of parliament; for among the

provisos in this bill, the seventh in number, is the following, which I give verbatim from a printed copy put into my hands:

“ Proviso, that the act shall not extend to persons writing against the Trinity.”

This bill was not actually brought into parliament, but it had been settled with the minister, and the several articles of it had undergone much discussion. That this proviso was not inserted by the Catholios is very evident; nor could it have any meaning with respect to them ; since they can no more be suspected of a disposition to write against the doctrine of the Trinity, than against that of Transubstanti

• See Vol. XVII. p. 325, Note S.
† Dr. Hinchliffe, See Letter vi. to Rev. Mr. Hawkins, infra. (P.)

ation, both of them being equally fundamental articles of their creed. The real aspect of this clause, therefore, must be towards some persons who are known to disbelieve that doctrine, and who may be suspected of an intention to write against it; and the intimation it conveys is, that no favour is to be shewn by government to such persons. But what is sufficient to my purpose is, that it shews, in the strongest light, the extreme apprehensions of some persons in power, (no doubt either bishops, or statesmen influenced by bishops, on the subject of this controversy.

As to the intimation, given in so awkward and roundabout a manner, that no favour will be shewn by the present government to those who, like myself, write against the doctrine of the Trinity, it is sufficient to inform them of what they might have discovered themselves, that our silence is not to be procured by such means. If we be silenced at all, it must be by argument, not by such implied threats. Let ministers of state direct the bishops to defend their cause by writing, and let not bishops so evidently betray their want of confidence in argument, as to engage the ministry to oppose us by laws. Though both the methods will be ineffectual, there will be greater propriety in the former than in the latter.

This controversy having continued several years, and so much attention having been given to it, that there can be no doubt but that those who are most interested in the defence of the doctrine of the Trinity must have produced all that they could allege in its favour, both the parties may now be supposed to be come to an issue ; so that we may leave the decision to our proper judges, the learned public. As to myself, I do not wish to tire my readers with a repetition of the same answers to the same arguments; and I am as little ambitious of having the last word, for the sake of its being so, as the Bishop of St. David's ;* and it must be something more specious, at least, than any thing that I have yet seen from him, or any other of my antagonists, that will convince

Or this prelate's talents and his applicatiou of them to the purposes of theological controversy, Wakefield has left the following estimate:

“ It is most sincerely regretted by mc that the dispositions of Bishop Horsley should have been warped either by pride, ambition, or selfishness, to such an excessive obliquity as displays itself throughout his writings. The native vigour of his faculties, his various knowledge, his elegant and nervous style, and his ingenuity of invention, might have been happily employed to the advancement of science, and to the confirmation and recomiendation of the Christianity of the Scriptures. It is a miserable reverse to these glorious utilities, to sell one's self to a system, and to be occupied in the drudgery of an establishment for the sake of the rewards.” Mem. of Wakefield, I. p. 285.

me of the propriety of writing any more of these Defences. At a proper time I shall probably, in imitation of my antagonist, * reprint all my Tracts in this controversy, and then I shall have an opportunity of noticing any thing that I may think deserving of it. My backwardness to write, when I have been properly called upon, has not yet been complained of.

I had proposed to conclude this controversy with a serious Address to the Bench of Bishops, and to the Legislature of this Country.t But I do not know that it will be necessary; as nothing I could say would be materially different from what I have already and repeatedly advanced on several other occasions. In this, however, I shall be determined by the circumstances in which I may hereafter find myself. I particularly recommend an attention to what I have briefly urged in the conclusion of my “ History of the Corruptions of Christianity," my “ History of Early Opinions concerning Christ,” and my“ Letter to Mr. Pitt.”

Εχθρον δε μοι εςιν
Αυτις αριζηλως ειρημενα μυθολογενειν. .


Birmingham, January 1, 1790.

• Whose Tracts were again reprinted by his son, a publication of which Mr. Belsham gives the following account:

“ The Reverend Heneage Horsley, Prebendary of St. Asaph, and son of the late bishop, piously solicitous for his father's reputation, with more zeal than discretion, stepped forward to resist the attempt of the Calm Inquirer (in A brief Review of the Controversy between Dr. Priestley and Dr. Horsley) to rectify the judgment of the public, and republished his father's Tracts, with an adulatory Dedication to the Prince Regent, an acrimonious lotroduction bitterly inveighing against the Unitarians, and a laboured Appendix, in which, to the best of his ability, he endea. yours to falsify the representation and to invalidate the arguments of the Calm Inquirer.

« The Reverend Prebendary, though not deficient in parts and learning, was totally unacquainted with the subject upon which he professed to write; and the principal advantage resulting from this publication was, that it gave occasion to the Calm Inquirer to restate the claims of Dr. Priestley to victory in his controversy with Bishop Horsley, and to place them in a light which, it is presumed, cannot fail to satisfy every impartial judge." Preface to Dr. Priestley's “ Tracts in Controversy with Bishop Horsley,” 1815, pp. iv. v. See “The Claims of Dr. Priestley in the Controversy with Bishop Horsley, restated and vindicated, in Reply to the Animadversions of the Rev. Heneage Horsley, &c. By Thomas Belsham."

+ See Appendix, No. I.




Hæc qui sacrilegis ausit convellere verbis,
Schismaticus sit, et hæreticus ;-

et in mentem quicquid tibi splendida bilis
Suggeret. Huc omvis tonitrus, huc fulgura linguæ
Congere, proque focis hic depugnetur et aris.

Animi non mores exuit atros
Vestis Hyperboreas superans candore pruinas.



Of his Lordship's avowed Object to depreciate his Antagonist.

My LORD, AFTER waiting, I believe, nearly twice eighteen months, the interval between your two preceding publications in this controversy, I am happy to see you make your appearance in it once more. Your Lordship’s greatest admirers have not wished for this event 80 ardently as myself and my Unitarian friends ; because we consider your publications in this controversy as contributing in an eminent manner to the propagation of that great truth for which we think it glorious to contend, and which you oppose. The fact unquestionably is, that, since the commencement of this controversy, the progress of Unitarianism has been rapid, compared to what it ever was before ; and more within the Church of England than among the Dissenters, though among them the number of converts has been considerable.

Truth will never fail to recommend and establish itself, notwithstanding, and even by means of, all opposition; but your Lordship’s mode of opposing it is so singularly efficacious in promoting it, that of all my antagonists, I have always had the greatest satisfaction in replying to you. Besides, slow as your motions are, (owing to the natural indolence of which you complain,) your Lordship seems to

In “ Tracts in Controversy with Dr. Priestley, revised and augmented, with a large Addition of Notes and supplemental Disquisitions, by thc Author, Samuel, Lord Bishop of St. David's." 1789.

be the most alert of all the members of your church who are engaged on the same side of the question with you. Mr. Howes, whose expedition was the greatest at one time, has, I fear, wholly declined the contest, and Dr. Horne's great work, so long promised, and so eagerly expected, I now almost despair of ever seeing. * As to Dr. White, he seemed to promise, or rather threaten, much; but, alas ! he has performed nothing at all. He may want the aid of my quondam admirer, Mr. Badcock. f

On the whole, had I been permitted to choose my own antagonist, by exposing of whose arguments and manner of conducting the controversy, I might avail myself the most, I should certainly have made choice of your Lordship. After seeing your first set of Letters to me, I said to several of my friends, that if I could have dictated the whole of your performance myself, it should have been just what I found it to be ; your arguments were so extremely futile, and your manner of urging them giving me even more advantage than I wanted, or wished for.

The principle of your Lordship's attack upon me, and the object of it, avowed in your first publication, and repeated in the preface of this, is, indeed, most absurd. seemed," you say,

“ that the most effectual preservative against the intended mischief would be to destroy the writer's credit, and the authority of his name; which the fame of certain lucky discoveries in the prosecution of physical experiments had set high in popular esteem, by proof of his incompetency in every_branch of literature connected with his present subject. For this declared purpose, a review of the imperfections of his work in the first part, relating to our Lord's divinity, was made the subject of a charge delivered to the clergy of the Archdeaconry of St. Alban's.”

This curious plan of your Lordship's to destroy my reputation, will, probably, bring to the minds of many of our readers the story of Cræsus. When he formed the design of making war upon Cyrus, he sent to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi; and the answer he received was, that, if he engaged in that war, he would overturn a great empire. He did so, and an entpire was overturned; but that empire was his own. This, my Lord, would apply to your Lordship, if that could be said to be overturned which was never established.

[ocr errors]

* See Vol. XVIII. pp. 325, Note S, and 345. ť Ibid. pp, 276, Note t, 555, Note,

| Pref. p. iv. (P.)

« FöregåendeFortsätt »