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Of Mr. Madan's Letter to the Author.
My generous Townsmen and Neighbours,
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 shall clearly shew 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 Diflenters 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 accusation. He has hardly so much as noticed, or hinted at, those of my arguments in vindication of myself and my brethren, to which it behoved him most of all to have particularly replied; so 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 same with that of Bishop Horsley, and Mr. Burn, viz. to discredit 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 say. And that is certainly the shortest 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, expensive, and uncertain business,
As I have been much used to such charges as Mr. Madan brings against me, and sometimes amuse myself with them; and as they appear to most advantage when brought together, and properly disposed, 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 person it is that is addressing you, and be upon your guard accordingly. If Mr. Madan had done the same, 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 sentiments properly concentrated. Behold then, my friends, and neighbours, who it is that, according to Mr. Madan, writes there Letters.
I am infected, he says, p. I, with a cacoethes fcribendi, or an incurable itch of writing. “ Controversy,” p. 34, "is “necessary to my support, if not to my existence" (and yet I was near forty before I wrote any controversy at all) “I am perpetually immersed and floundering, in the « troubled waves of controversy*.” I deal in low wit“ ticisms," p. 38. Iam actuated by “a blameable and blind “impetuofity,” p. 41. Notwithstanding my “ artful mil
representations and virulent invectives," p.41. I am “a “pailionate and disappointed assailant," p. 39. I am “an “evasive Proteus," p. 17. I deal in “ unjust invectives, " and unfounded assertions," p. 37. My “blindness is “ wilful,” p. 27. My“ perversions artful,” p. 23. I am even“ skilled in the art of misrepresentation," p. 5, so that I might be able to teach this art to others. I have recourse to “ the deliberate misrepresentations t of an old and subtle
* If there be any thing of a siifling nature in these muddy waters of controversy, it is a miracle that I survive so long as I have done. I fancy Mr. Madan supposes that I have the nature of a fish, or at least that of a frog, or perhaps he would say a wate: serpent.
+ Bishop Horsley not only calls me a wilful liar, but also the great Origen, the most eminent christian in all the early ages, because his account of things does not correspond to his views of them.
He says, in a manner as folemn as that which Mr. Madan adopts, to make you believe that the Diflenters in general are rebels and hypocrites, that he
polemic, whose only settled principle is that of litigation,” p. 39, and to complete the whole, the motive that actuates me is nothing less than “malevolence,” p. 35. The result of all this is, that my “censure is innocent calumny,'
Such is my obstinacy, 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 conse
quence, where uncertainty is at present dreadful, and « where error would in future be fatal*;" quoting what I have said of my frequent change of opinion, and having no fixed creed, in my Letter to Dr. Price.
As Mr. Madan says, in his Sermon, p. 9, that "few will say it was written with an uncharitable and unchristian
temper ti” as well as that what he delivered was from " the settled principles and conviction of his heart,” he would, no doubt, say the same concerning his account of of me in this Letter. You see, 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 say, p. 34, that I throw out “un“ handsome and unnecessary sarcasms against characters at “ least as respectable 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 adversaries wilful liars seems, therefore, to be a clerical fashion. But do not you, my good neighbours, imitate your spiritual 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 so many. How can I “wander from one opinion to another,” with which Mr. Madan himself charges me, without, virtually at least, owning the opi. nion 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 necessary consequence of which, according to the Athanasian creed is, that I must without doubt perish everlastingly. But the scriptures say that hereafter all will receive according to their works, not their opinions.
† This reminds me of what is reported of the old duke of Marlbo. rough, who said, that whatever faults he had, his enemies could not charge him with ambition or avarice. The duchess (who knew him much better than he knew himself) said she was obliged to bite her lips when the heard him say it.
ene, and if I do throw out sarcasms against any person, it must be a character much more respectable than my own. For being possessed of such powers as he ascribes to me, and actuated by such 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 those prodigies that he was to exhibit. But even this is short of the tremendous idea that Mr. Madan exhibits of me.
You will naturally ask what foundation Mr. Madan can have for charges of so serious a nature as these, especially that of wilful misrepresentation, and perversion of his meaning. He gives two instances of this, and I will mention them both, that you may judge how so very heavy a charge is supported. When I quoted him as saying that the “ Diflenters were under no disability, which could pof“ fibly be avoided, consistently with our security,” 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 late arise, 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 misrepresentation at all; and certainly it is far from having the appearance of a wilful one.
The other instance is my inadvertently speaking of the corporation act as following the test act*, whereas it preceded it, when it was of no consequence at all to my argument which of them was the first. But fo high an opinion does Mr. Madan affect to have of my knowledge, and so little of my integrity, that he says, p. 26, “ I feel it justly “ due to your acknowledged learning, to confess, that when “I see any blindness in any point of history, I much suspect “it to be wilful.” This mistake I was soon sensible of, and corrected, as you will see 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 cale there could not be any at ail. Ir. Niadan often fars that, " when I consider what "I have written I thall be ashamed of it;" and I hope that te will be ashamed of. I am very far from fuppofing him to be 10 dertitute of all moral principle as he makes me to be; but, like many others, he has been miiled by popular opinions concerning my principles and character; opinions which, if he would read my writings himself, even my controverial ones, he would find to be void of all foundation
Ir. lladan charges me with want of respect to himself; when all that I have laid by way of disparagement of him, 2.nourts to nothing more than that he is a young man, ig. norant or some points of hitlory; and even in this he might purceire I was not serious; meaning only that he had been frattenir? to them, and did not properly apply them. I 210 hinred that his imagination was a little disturbed. But this applies to the whole body of the clergy; and wha: less can any man, in his lober ienfes, think of those who really apprehend the later of the church and state to be in imminent danger Tom the repeal of the Corporation and Teit fits, which I clearly demonstrated to you, could not do aos horai to either! Yet Jír. Mladan can say (Sermon p. }I that this repeal would be “ cpening the conititution to " the interference of the Dinlenters, 3.d eventually truling " to their aderation ;" 23 if upon this every thing would be in our power, though the king, the minisiers of date, the nobity, and almost all the members ci parliament, fhoold countinue to be on the eitabithaieri,
Can this be any thiegies than insanity?
As to lír. Vicdan himnieks, I cod give him lum cient evidence of the real reipet vith which I once contid=red L;. But this, I own, is much changed lince the pub..03tion of his Sermion; though he is br no means furk io !3* in mr areem as I ain in his, when he fars, p. 35, that in viewing me, he is experiences a mixed sentiment of pay