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THE DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES, &c.
THE ASPERSIONS OF THE COUNTRY CLERGYMAN'S LETTER
of FEB. 24, 1737
AFTER having twice offered my Thoughts to the Public, on two very important Subjects, and had the honour to be favourably heard, it must needs be a sufficient mortification to me to be obliged to descend to so low a subject as myself. That, and the deference due to the Public, had certainly restrained this appeal to it, had the matter terminated there. But when the accusation intended against me appeared visibly designed to render a projected defence of Revelation suspected; which, I will presume (and, as the author of it, the Reader will excuse me for presuming) may be of some small service to our holy faith, I thought it my duty to vindicate myself, in this public manner, from the horrid accusations of a letter-writer in the Weekly Miscellany of the 24th of February last. Whether this was the true motive of this Vindication will be best seen by the temper in which it is written. The letter-writer begins with me in this manner, A late Writer, the Author of the Divine Legation of Moses, &c. is very severe upon ALL Clergymen who take the liberty of censuring the conduct of VOL. XI.
ANY OF THEIR BRETHREN. The passage, on which this accusation is founded, is in p. 21* of the Dedication -I appeal then to the Public, whether my severity falls. on those who censure the conduct of any of their brethren: or on those, who abuse the whole body of the Clergy, considered as an Order instituted by Christ, and established by the State.
He goes on,--If I am capable of understanding the meaning and drift of his Book, he had reason to apprehend it might draw upon him the censures of all the Clergy who are sincere friends to Christianity--therefore it might be politic to obviate the force of such animadversions beforehand. Had I been conscious of deserving the censure of any honest man, I had done, like those who delight in mischief; I had wounded in the dark. But when I chose to write without a name, it was for very contrary purposes. When I presumed to publish (in defence of the Established Clergy) a vindication of the Church of England, under the title of The Alliance between Church and State, which surely might deserve their pardon, lest the World should imagine I expected more, I put it out without my name. And now writing in the common cause of Christianity, I have publicly owned it. For if ever the suspicion of being ashamed of the faith of Jesus be more carefully to be avoided at one time than at another, it must certainly be in this, when infidelity is become so reputable as to be esteemed a test of superior parts and discernment.
He proceeds, I shall add, that if he really means to defend Christianity, he hath published the weakest defence of it that I have ever read. How are we to understand him here? Must we rectify the proposition thus,-If the Author gives this volume as a defence of Christianity, then it is the weakest?-The consequence will then indeed be true.-But I had cut off all pretence for begging the premisses. For I have formally and expressly said in the beginning, and repeated it towards the end, that the design of this volume† was only preparatory to the defence of Revelation, and to prove the use of Religion
* 1st Edit.
† Containing Books I. II. III.