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Review-Belsham's Letter to the Unitarians of South Wales

and liberal mind could proceed from a descendant of Dr. Edmund Law, it was with equal surprise and regret that I read, in page 17 of Bishop Burgess's work, the following letter from his son, Dr. George Law, the present Bishop of Chester, to the Bishop of St. David's: dated Palace, Chiester, Sept. 20, 1814.

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Save read Belsham's Memoirs of Lindsey, and have no hesitation in informing you that the Letters, concerning which you make inquiry, were published without the knowledge or assent of the family. Such permission, had it been requested, would certainly not have been granted. The publication of my brother's Letter was an act of ingratitude, as well as a breach of confidence: because he particularly requested in it, that his name might on ng account be mentioned to any one." With respect to the Letter of my father, I would observe, that at the time of writing it he was more than eighty years of age!!! and his health was greatly declining Surely, then, less stress ought to be laid on any change of opinion under such circumstances, and at such an advanced period of life. As the Divinity of our Saviour appears to me to be the very corner-stone of Christianity, and as it may be inferred from, or proved in, almost every page of Scripture, you may easily conceive how painful it must be to my feelings, to witness the advantage which is thus taken of this Letter of my revered father, and to think that his name may be handed down to future ages as an abettor of the doctrines of Socinus."

This Letter has much the appearance of being confidential: and, had I been the Bishop of Chester's friend, my regard for bim would certainly have prevented the publication of it, had I not been expressly required to print it. As it is, one cannot but admire that a doctrine, which, to the pious and learned paren, after a critical and diligent examination of the Scriptures for more than half a century, appeared to be erroneous and anti-christian, should be regarded by the son as the very cornerstone of Christianity, and what might be inferred from, or proved in, almost every page of Scripture. As to the insinuation, surely much to be regretted, that little stress is to be laid upon any change of baopinion at such an advanced period of life,

the observation would have been perfectly correct, had it related to a relapse of the learned prelate into the errors of his childhood; for that is the common retrograde movement of frail human nature. But, when the change alluded to appears to have been an advance upon preceding acquisitions in consequence of further and bd persevering inquiries, and when the work

which he published at that tide does not

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contain the slightest indication of a debili-
tated intellect, we cannot but conclude,
that, though his outward man was perish-
ing, his inward man was in full vigour :
and that at the age of fourscore the Bishop
was as competent to judge of the validity
of an argument, as others are in the prime,
or in the meridian of life. And if it is

right to boast of human authority in' a case
which must be decided by divine testimony
alone, the Unitarians may justly pride
themselves in the name aud character of
Dr. Edmund Law, Bishop of Carlisle.

But the Bishop of Chester accuses
Mr. B. of not having requested permission
of the family' to publish the letters of the
Bishops of Carlisle and Elphin. Most
certainly it never entered into Mr. B.'s
thoughts that it was at all necessary or
expedient to request any such permission.
Had the Letters contained any thing which
could be considered as disreputable to their
authors, Mr. B. would have suppressed
them altogether. Had they touched upon
private affairs, Mr. B. would never have
published the Letters without the consent
of the Bishop's highly respectable and
dignified family. But, when one of these
communications only mentions an omis-
sion in a work which is in the hands of
every biblical student, and the other only
brings to light an act of generosity which
deserves to be held up to the admiration
of mankind, Mr. B. did not conceive that
he was exceeding the limits of the most
scrupulous delicacy in exhibiting such
documents to the world.

But the Bishop of Chester is pleased to say that it was an act of ingratitude, as well as a breach of confidence,' to publish his brother's Letter, because he particularly requested in it that his name might on no account be mentioned to any one.'

"But why did the Bishop of Elphin desire this? Let the excellent prelate speak for himself. My name," says he,

must on no account be mentioned to him, [Dr. Priestley,] or to any one else, as it would involve me with some acquaintance here, and do me more mischief than you can imagine. But surely when the cause ceased, the restraint likewise ceased. And when the generous prelate was removed out of the reach of bigotry, malig nity, and envy, there can be no just reason why his liberality should not be proclaimed for the instruction and imitation of mankind. The charge of ingratitude,' can hardly be serious. The lame, the blind, the paralytic, and the insane, who were healed by Christ, could not Tefrain from publishing the blessings they received, though expressly prohibited by their great benefactor. Nor do we find that their disobedience in this particula

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Review.-Belsham's Letter to the Unitarians of South Wales.

was severely rebuked by our Lord himself, or that they are charged with ingratitude by the historians of his miracles.”—Pp. 88-95.

The following are the letters referred to, accompanied by Mr. Belsham's remarks.

"It is not out of disrespect to the fa mily, but as an act of self-defence, that I here republish the letters of the Bishops of Carlisle and Elphin, the publication of which in the Memoirs of Mr. Lindsey has subjected the writer to such severe and unexpected animadversion.

"The first is from the late Bishop of Carlisle to the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, and is dated Cambridge, September 23, 1788. Let the reader judge how far it indicates any symptom of imbecillity of intellect in the learned and venerable prelate.

"DEAR SIR,

"I received the favour of your Historical View, and read it with satisfaction. You appear to have cleared up all the passages of Scripture usually alleged in favour of the contrary opinion, and to have exhausted the subject. As a small return for the obligation 1 must desire your acceptance of a new Cumberland edition of my Theory, purged of some antient prejudices relative to præ-existence, &c. I have recommended to my executors to procure a publication of Dr. Bullock's two Discourses which clear up the doctrine of atonement, and which I think I communicated to you formerly. The Bishop of Clonfert was returned to Ireland before your letter reached

us.

He would have been delighted with seeing your account of his favourite author A. Tucker, whose work I have often said wanted methodizing and abridging to be of more general use. My compliments to your worthy coadjutor and to my old friend Dr. Jebb. That all the success and satisfaction may attend your labours to which they are so justly entitled, is the most hearty wish of Your sincere Friend and Servant,

"E. C.'"

"The letter from Dr. John Law, Bishop, first of Clonfert and afterwards of Elphin, to Mr. Lindsey, appears in the Memoirs of that venerable man, p. 447, and is thus introduced by the author, who, in a note, is giving an account of a subscription which was set on foot to defray the expenses of Dr. Priestley's Church History, and Notes on the Scriptures. The reader will judge how far the author is chargeable with ingratitude and breach of confidence.

"And now that he is at rest beyond the reach of envy and of calumny, from which neither exalted station nor exalted merit could have protected him here, it

may be permitted to mention that by far the most liberal subscriber to this object was the late Right Reverend Dr. John Law, Bishop of Elphin. His letter is 'addressed to Mr. Lindsey, who had sent him a copy of his last publication: it is dated Elphin, October 7, 1802.

MY DEAR SIR,

"Want of health and indisposition have prevented me from thanking you for your letter and obliging present sooner. I have read your valuable work with as much attention as pains in the head and stomach, arising from a flying gout, would let me, and think it is calculated to do a great deal of good.

"Enclosed is a draft for one hundred pounds, which you will apply in aid of Dr. Priestley's publication in any way be chooses: but my name must on no account be mentioned to him, or to any one else, as it would involve me with some acquaintance here, and do me more mischief than you can imagine, and which I am sure you would not wish. Our religion hereabouts is evidenced chiefly-in hating and abusing those who differ from us: and, excepting this zeal, we scarce shew that in other things we have any. You will be surprised at it but neither popery nor methodism are losing any ground.

"Reprint any father's Life of Christ whenever you please, and believe me to be, with the sincerest esteem,

"Your very faithful and obedientServant, J. ELPHIN.'"

Note, pp. 95-97.

In the "Estimate of his Lordship's Character," Mr. Belsham uses the dissecting knife boldly but dexterously. This anatomical exhibition will be displeasing to the Bishop and his friends, but may be serviceable to them, or at least to theological science. Bishop Burgess appears to Mr. Belsham to possess great learning with little judgment:

"Having thus given his Lordship ample credit for his learning, his sincerity, and his zeal, truth constrains me to add that the learned prelate appears to labour under a marvellous debility of the discriminating and reasoning powers, and a great want of comprehension of mind. It was a maxim of my late revered friend Dr. Priestley, that the contemplation of great ideas creates and even constitutes greatness of mind. The reverse of this seems also to be true: that an habitual and close attention to ininute objects creates and constitutes littleness of mind; it incapacitates the intellect for expansion of thought, and comprehension of views. The microscopic eye, which discerns the

Review-Belsham's Letter to the Uniturians of South Wales.

anatomical construction of a flea or a mite, cannot, like the Herschel telescope, penetrate the recesses of infinite space, er range over the structure of the heavens. It is difficult for the same person to be a minute verbal critic, and a liberal and comprehensive reasoner. A man of words is not often a man of ideas. And his Lordship, in the course of his studies, has so limited himself to the minutiæ of words, that it is not at all surprising that his ideas should be very indistinct, his reasonings proportionably confused, and his views uncommonly limited.”—Pp. 117, 118. A Postscript relates the history of the Horsleyan and Priestleyan controversy:

"As the controversy concerning the rival claims of Bishop Horsley and Dr. Priestley is now brought to a close, it may not be amiss to take a brief review of the manuer and spirit in which the advocates for the learned prelate have conducted their defence.

"Bishop Horsley himself was the most wary and guarded of all controversial writers. He knew his own strength, and he chose his own ground. Declining absolutely to enter into the general question concerning the belief of the primitive church, he merely undertakes to prove the incompetency of Dr. Priestley as an ecclesiastical historian. And the facts upon which he principally relies are, those which he borrows from Mosheim, viz. the sudden dereliction of the rites of Moses by the Hebrew Christians in order to enjoy the privileges of the Roman colony at Elia, and the wilful falsehood of Origen, whose testimony contradicts this representation. Had these facts been true, they must have been notorious; Dr. Priestley must have been struck dumb; and his credit as an ecclesiastical historian would have been lost for ever. But the facts being contested, Dr. Horsley soon discovered his mistake, and began his retreat, which, however, he conducts like a consummate general; first abandoning the posts which were occupied by Mo-, sheim, and afterwards giving up the entrenchments which he had himself thrown up: disputing every inch of ground, every now and then facing about, taking advantage of every oversight of the enemy, and at last quitting the field with a firm countenance, without any formal concession, or explicit acknowledgment of defeat.

609

practised arm was not equal to the management of the bow of Ulysses, and he wisely withdrew from the field. I hope the Prince Regent has not been unmindful of the pathetic expostulation of so pious, loyal, and dutiful a subject.

"Of Bishop Burgess it is difficult to know what to say. This venerable prelate, esteeming it his duty at all events to advocate the claims of bis learned predecessor, without giving himself leisure to study the controversy, and only assuming two principles, viz. that all which Bishop Horsley says must be true, and all which Dr. Priestley and Dr. Priestley's advocate affirm must be false, he rushes ding-dong into the field, dealing out his blows indiscriminately upon friend and foe, especially the former; all the while shouting Io Triumphe! and, after contradicting Bishop Horsley in almost every particular, be fondly imagines that he has laid the Bishop's opponents prostrate at his feet. The hero of La Mancha himself could not be better satisfied, when the whole flock of sheep lay bleeding under his puissant arm. His Lordship, however, has every appearance of being quite în carnest; and yet, so strangely ignorant is he of the true bearing of the controversy, that in his very last Address to the Unitarians he actually states that as the principal question in discussion between Dr. Priestley and Bishop Horsley, which Bishop Horsley formally, explicitly, and repeatedly, declares that he has not, and that he will not meddle with.

"Last of all come my old friends the wise men of the British Critic, who in their journal for November last, professing to review the Claims of Dr. Priestley,' &c. after writing four or five pages in their usual temperate style, at length come to this honest acknowledgment.

As infallibility is not the lot of man, Bishop Horsley, we fear, has suffered himself to be led into error. Deserting the footsteps of Bishop Bull, who marshalled his way with a steady and unerring light, for the conjectural wanderings of Dr. Mosheim, who, on many subjects of primitive antiquity, is not merely a blind but a treacherous guide, he made a false step at the outset, which, with all his ability, he was unable to reclaim.'

"By this memorable concession, thus reluctantly extorted from these champions of orthodoxy, the claims of Dr. Priestley are established-the whole fabric of the "The Reverend Heneage Horsley next famous church at Ælia, consisting chiefly advanced as the pious and zealous advocate of orthodox Hebrew believers, who, to of his father's disputed claims: and what obtain the privileges of the Roman colony, be wanted in knowledge and argument, had apostatized from the rites of their anhe abundantly made up in calumny and cestors, is overturned from its foundation abuse. But he soon found that his uu--the character of Origen is redeemned→→ VOL. XI.

4 R.

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Review-Wilson's Dissenting Churches.

the testimony of that learned father to the Unitarianism of the Hebrew Christians of his own time remains unimpeached-the probability of a similarity of faith in the primitive Jewish believers is confirmnedand the conclusion, that the Unitarian doctrine was that which Christ and his apostles taught, is manifest and undeniable. Since, therefore, the mighty Dagon of these lords of the Philistines has thus fallen prostrate before the Ark of Truth, these illustrious critics are at full liberty to impute whatever share they please of this happy result to the restless and meddling confidence of Mr. B.'

"But why need they attack the character of the venerable Mosheim, to whose learned and indefatigable labours every friend of truth and biblical literature acknowledges unspeakable obligations, notwithstanding the error into which he has fallen in the present instance? will theological writers learn to conduct their inquiries with candour, and to dissuss their differences of opinion with good temper and good manners!"-Pp. 128132.

The able, learned and successful champion of the Unitarian cause thus concludes this interesting work:

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ART. 11.-The History and Antiquities
of Dissenting Churches, &c.
[Continued from p. 549.]

MR.

R. WILSON has great merit in bringing to light obscure but not uninteresting characters. One of these is Thomas Beverley, who about the close of the seventeenth century, of an Independent church, was pastor When meeting in Cutlers' Hall, Cloak Lane. He was a busy and adventurous writer on prophecy; and, unfortunately for his reputation, assigned dates to his predictions. Smitten with admiration of the Protestant Hero, William 11. and of the Revolution of 1688, he foretold in that year, that within ten years the papacy would perish and the millenium commence. The ap pointed period arrived and the Pope of the world as far as was yet in power and the kingdoms ever from Christian truth and purity and peace. Disappointed and mocked, Beverley retired from the world to indulge his speculations in private. Our author has enumerated thirty-two of his publications, chiefly`relating to his visionary expectations. (11.63—66.)

"To Bishop Burgess, I now once more bid farewell. In these discussions, into which I have been involuntarily dragged, I trust that I have not been deficient in that respect which is due to his Lordship's ac

knowledged talents and learning, to his private virtues, and to his elevated rank and station in society, and that upon all occasions I have treated him with as much civility and deference as was consistent with a supreme regard to truth.. If I have exposed the futility of his Lordship's arguments, and the great impropriety of his dictatorial and overbearing manner, it is no more than I intended. Against his person I bear no ill-will: I neither wish to offend, nor hope to convert the Bishop of St. David's. But I trust that I have succeeded in encouraging my Unitarian brethren not to be frightened at a few hard words,' and to their candour and the judgment of the public I commit these papers."-P. 127.

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We congratulate the Unitarians on their possessing such an advocate, and if our voice could avail we would intreat Mr. Belsham to continue those contributions to the cause of sacred learning and intellectual freedom which are expected by his numerous friends and admirers, from the resources of his mind and the eminence of his station in the church of Christ. Referring to that station, we venture to address him

The plan of the History obliges Mr. Wilson to confine his biography, for the most part, to the pastors of churches; but he has occasionally inserted notices of other distinguished individuals amongst the Dissenters. The following note relates to two eminently learned and virtuous men t

“JOHN EAMES, F.R.S. As this learned person never undertook the pastoral office, and, therefore, will not come regularly

under our notice, a brief account of him in this place, cannot prove unacceptable. Mr. Eames was a native of London, and received his classical learning at Merchant Taylors' School. He afterwards pursued a course of academical studies with a view to the Christian ministry: yet he never

* Adrianus Van Wena ad. Dithm Hackmannum, Fil.

Review-Wilson's Dissenting Churches.

preached but one sermon, when he was so exceedingly agitated and confused, that he was scarcely able to proceed. There was, also, unhappily, a great defect in his organs of speech, and his pronunciation was exceedingly harsh, uncouth and disagreeable. These circumstances discouraged him from renewing the attempt, so that quitting the pulpit entirely, he devoted himself to the instruction of young men, whose education for the ministry among Protestant Dissenters, was patronized and 'assisted by the Independent fund. His department included the languages, mathematics, moral and natural philosophy. On the death of Dr. Ridgley, who filled the divinity chair, in the same seminary, he was prevailed upon to add to his course on those subjects lectures in divinity, and to teach the oriental languages, assisted in the other brauches by a learned colleague, Mr. Joseph Deusham. Mr. Eames was a man of extensive learning, and a universal scholar. Dr. Watts once said to a pupil of his, (Mr. Angus) Your tutor is the most learned man I ever knew.' He excelled particularly in classical literature, and in a profound knowledge of mathematics and natural philosophy. His scientific learning procured him the acquaintance and friendship of Sir Isaac Newton, to whom he was on some occasions singularly useful. Sir Isaac introduced him to the Royal Society, of which be became a member; and he was employed, in conjunction with another gentleman, to prepare and publish an abridgment of their transactions. With his great talents, Mr. Eames united a diffidence and bashfulness of temper, that very much concealed his merits. He was of a candid and liberal disposition, and a friend to free inquiry, which exposed him, as it is said, to much opposition and uneasiness from some narrow-minded persons. He was instrumental in training up many persons of learning and worth; and, among others, the eminent Archbishop Seeker was some tine under his care. His death took place June 29, 1744. What a change (said Dr. Watts, who dedicated to him his Treatise on Geography and Astronomy) did Mr. Eames experience! but a few hours between his lecturing to his pupils, and his learning the lectures of angels.-Monthly Mag. April, 1803.

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short time, but afterwards relinquished the ministry, and continued in various secular employments, till disabled by old age.Among his pupils were, Mr. Collins, of Bath, who bequeathed him his library; Dr. Savage, Dr. Price, and the benevolent Mr. Howard; all of whom left him some token of respect. Howard, in particular, before his last journey, gave him an unlis mited order to draw upon his banker for whatever money he might want; but such was Mr. Densham's integrity, that, although at that time possessed of no more than twelve or thirteen pounds a year, in the funds, be chose rather to sell out, and diminish the capital, than accept a discretionary offer, which he could not do conscientiously while he had any thing of his own remaining. The late Mr. Whitbread hearing of his disinterested conduct, begged his acceptance of an annuity of twenty pounds during life. This be accepted, but to shew his gratitude, left Mr. Whitbread eighty pounds in bis will, by way of acknowledgment. It may be mentioned to the honour of the latter, that he relinquished the bequest to Mr. D.'s nearest relations. Mr. Densham died at his apartments in Kingsland Road, July 18, 1792, leaving behind him a pattern of integrity that has been but rarely equalled. He compiled Mr. Howard's first book on prisons, and was urged to draw up a life of that benevolent man, but, his infirmities prevented.-Gent. Mag. August, 1792." IL 73, 74.

Carter Lane, Doctors' Commons, is behind none of the churches in the value of its pastoral naines. The three first are familiar and endeared to every well-informed Nonconformist, viz. Matthew Sylvester, Richard Bac ter and Edmund Calamy. Dr. Samuel Wright enjoyed a respectability and popularity which after the lapse of more than half a century is scarcely forgotten. Thomas Newman (there were two persons, father and sou, of the name of Newnan, John and Samuel, about the same time at Salters' Hall,) is yet rentembered with great respect. His assistant, the late Mr. Edward Pickard, preached his funeral sermon, to which, when it was published, there was subjoined a paper, written and subscribed with Mr. Newman's own hand, in which there is the following good confession :

"Mr. RICHARD DENSHAM above-mentioned, was a pupil of Mr. Eames, whom Ire afterwards assisted in the academy. Such was his proficiency in the mathematics, and in classical as well as theological learning," I make no doubt but some of my own that upon Mr. Eames's death, Dr. Jennings, who succeeded to the office of principal titor, made it a condition of his accepting that situation, that Mr. Densham should be his co-adjutor. But this he declined. Mr. Densham preached occasionally for a

sentiments in Christianity might be errors. in judgment. I full well know I was fallible; but I can as truly say, that I was a sincere lover and searcher after truth; and upon the most impartial search into my own breast, I never could discern any degree of

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