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Of Mr. Madan's Letter to the Author.
My generous Townsmen and Neighbours,
SI promised you the beft account that I could give
you of Mr. Madan's Letter to me, and you will prefume that before this time I must have perused it, you will naturally expect to know my opinion of it; and I will tell you in a few words. It is a very angry one, intended rather to hurt me, than to instruct you; and after all, as I fhall clearly fhew you, is nothing to his proper purpose, which was the vindication of himself from the most injurious and unjust aspersions of a large body of worthy men and good citizens.
He was charged with representing the principles of the Diffenters as inimical to government, and therefore, as unfit to be trusted in any place of profit, or power, even at the nomination of the crown itself; and he has neither retracted, nor sufficiently vindicated, his accufation. He has hardly fo much as noticed, or hinted at, thofe of my arguments in vindication of myself and my brethren, to which it behoved him most of all to have particularly replied; fo that he had much better have written nothing at all.
To judge from the tenor of the Letter itself, Mr. Madan's object in it was the fame with that of Bishop Horsley, and Mr. Burn, viz. to difcredit me, and throw an odium upon my character, that you might not think it worth your while to look into any of my writings, or regard any thing that I might fay. And that is certainly theshortest way with me, and the most effectual, next to hanging me up, to which Mr. Madan alludes in his Note p. 47, and collecting and burning all the copies of my publications, which might prove a troublesome, expenfive, and uncertain business.
As I have been much used to fuch charges as Mr. Madan brings against me, and fometimes amufe myself with them; and as they appear to most advantage when brought together, and properly difpofed, I have collected the different parts that Mr. Madan has given of his delineation of my character, that you may fee at once what kind of perfon it is that is addreffing you, and be upon your guard accordingly. If Mr. Madan had done the fame, it would have better answered his purpose, which was that of deterring you from reading my publications; but being a young writer, he might not be sufficiently aware of the effect of fentiments properly concentrated. Behold then, my friends, and neighbours, who it is that, according to Mr. Madan, writes these Letters.
I am infected, he says, p. 1, with a cacoethes fcribendi, or an incurable itch of writing. "Controverfy," p. 34, "is neceffary to my support, if not to my existence" (and yet I was near forty before I wrote any controversy at all) "I am perpetually immerfed and floundering, in the "troubled waves of controverfy*." I deal in "low wit"ticifms," p. 38. I am actuated by "a blameable and blind "impetuofity," p. 41. Notwithstanding my "artful mif"reprefentations and virulent invectives," p. 41. I am "a
paffionate and disappointed affailant," p. 39. I am "an "evafive Proteus," p. 17. I deal in "unjuft invectives, "and unfounded affertions," p. 37. My "blindness is "wilful," p. 27. My "perverfions artful," p. 23. I am even "killed in the art of mifreprefentation," p. 5, so that I might be able to teach this art to others. I have recourse to "the deliberate mifrepresentations + of an old and fubtle
* If there be any thing of a fifling nature in these muddy waters of controversy, it is a miracle that I furvive fo long as I have done. I fancy Mr. Madan fuppofes that I have the nature of a fish, or at least that of a frog, or perhaps he would fay a water ferpent.
+ Bishop Horley not only calls me a wilful liar, but also the great Origen, the moft eminent chriftian in all the early ages, because his account of things does not correfpond to his views of them. He fays, in a manner as folemn as that which Mr. Madan adopts, to make you believe that the Diffenters in general are rebels and hypocrites, that he would
"polemic, whofe only fettled principle is that of litigation,' p. 39, and to complete the whole, the motive that actuates me is nothing lefs than "malevolence," p. 35. The refult of all this is, that my "cenfure is innocent calumny," p. 38. Such is my obftinacy, that I "never acknowledged a single mistake," p. 38; and yet he describes me, P. 47, as an avowed wanderer in points of the first confequence, where uncertainty is at prefent dreadful, and "where error would in future be fatal *;" quoting what I have faid of my frequent change of opinion, and having no fixed creed, in my Letter to Dr. Price.
As Mr. Madan fays, in his Sermon, p. 9, that "few will say it was written with an uncharitable and unchristian cc temper†," as well as that what he delivered was from "the fettled principles and conviction of his heart," he would, no doubt, fay the fame concerning his account of of me in this Letter. You fee, therefore, who it is you. have to do with, and if you read any farther it is at your peril. You have fair warning both from Mr. Madan and myself. Well may he fay, p. 34, that I throw out “handsome and unneceffary sarcasms against characters at "least as refpectable as my own, and which I moft illiberally "introduce into my Letters." For if this picture be a just
would not take either my evidence, or that of Origen, upon our oath. To call their adverfaries wilful liars feems, therefore, to be a clerical fashion. But do not you, my good neighbours, imitate your fpiritual guides in this.
* In my last Part only I acknowledged four errors in the preceding, and all who are acquainted with my writings (which Mr. Madan is not) well know that no writer has more frankly acknowledged fo many. How can I "wander from one opinion to another," with which Mr. Madan himself charges me, without, virtually at least, owning the opinion that I abandon to be an error. The fatal error that Mr. Madan here speaks of must be my disbelief of the doctrine of the trinity, the neceffary confequence of which, according to the Athanafian creed is, that I must without doubt perish everlastingly. But the fcriptures fay that hereafter all will receive according to their works, not their opinions.
†This reminds me of what is reported of the old duke of Marlborough, who faid, that whatever faults he had, his enemies could not charge him with ambition or avarice. The duchefs (who knew him much better than he knew himself) faid fhe was obliged to bite her lips when she heard him say it.
ene, and if I do throw out sarcasms against any person, it must be a character much more refpectable than my own. For being poffeffed of fuch powers as he afcribes to me, and actuated by fuch malevolence, I can be no other than Satan himself. A Bishop in Ireland, as I have been credibly informed, very seriously maintained that I was antichrift, and that my experiments on air were thofe prodigies that he was to exhibit. But even this is fhort of the tremendous idea that Mr. Madan exhibits of me.
You will naturally afk what foundation Mr. Madan can have for charges of fo ferious a nature as these, especially that of wilful misrepresentation, and perverfion of his meaning. He gives two inftances of this, and I will mention them both, that you may judge how so very heavy a charge is fupported. When I quoted him as faying that the "Diffenters were under no difability, which could poffibly be avoided, consistently with our fecurity," I added, as thinking it to be his meaning, that of the church, whereas it appears that he referred to the state, or the civil government. But how did the infecurity to the flate arife, but through the church, which he supposed to be connected with it? Now, will this authorize the violent exclamations quoted above? It is not, in fact, any mifrepresentation at all; and certainly it is far from having the appearance of a wilful one.
The other inftance is my inadvertently speaking of the corporation act as following the teft act*, whereas it preceded it, when it was of no confequence at all to my argument which of them was the firft. But fo high an opinion does Mr. Madan affect to have of my knowledge, and fo little of my integrity, that he fays, p. 26, "I feel it juftly "due to your acknowledged learning, to confess, that when "I fee any blindnefs in any point of hiftory, I much fufpect "it to be wilful." This mistake I was soon fenfible of, and corrected, as you will fee in the third Part of these Letters.
This was in the first edition of one Part of these Letters.
Now the most notorious liar muit have fome motive for violating truth; and in this cafe there could not be any at all. Mr. Madan often favs that, "when I confider what "I have written I thall be ashamed of it;" and I hope that he will be ashamed of this. I am very far from fuppofing him to be fo deitute of all moral principle as he makes me to be; but, like many others, he has been misled by popular opinions concerning my principles and character; opinions which, if he would read my writings himself, even my controverfial ones, he would find to be void of all foundation.
Mr. Madan charges me with want of refpect to himself; when all that I have faid by way of difparagement of him, amounts to nothing more than that he is a young man, ignorant of fome points of history; and even in this he might perceive I was not ferious; meaning only that he had been inattentive to them, and did not properly apply them. I alto hinted that his imagination was a little disturbed. But this applies to the whole body of the clergy; and what lefs can any man, in his fober fenfes, think of thofe who really apprehend the fafety of the church and ftate to be in imminent danger from the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, which I clearly demonstrated to you, could not do any harm to either? Yet Mr. Madan can fay (Sermon p. 11 that this repeal would be "opening the conftitution to the interference of the Difenters, and eventually truding "to their moderation," as if upon this every thing would be in our power, though the king, the ministers of fate, the nobility, and almoft all the members of parliament, should countinue to be of the establishment. Can this be any thing less than infanity?
As to Mr. Madan himielf, I could give him fufficient evidence of the real refpest with which I once conûdered him. But this, I own, is much changed since the publication of his Sermon, though he is by no means funk io lɔw in my esteem as I am in his, when he fays, p. 35, that in viewing me, he "experiences a mixed fentiment of pity