« VorigeDoorgaan »
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND
DR. RICHARD SMALLBROOK,
LORD BISHOP OF LICHFIELD AND, COVENTRY.
THIS trouble is occasioned by a passage in your Lordship's late printed Charge* to your Clergy, in which you have been pleased to censure me by name with some frankness, and, I am sorry to say, with equal injustice.
The regard due to your Lordship's Order, especially while in discharge of your function, would have certainly restrained me from complaining of aught that was a mere declaration of your Lordship's dislike of my Writings. It is your Lordship's right and duty to warn your Clergy against all ill books: and your Lordship is, in that place and on that occasion, an authorized denouncer of what are so. Had your Lordship therefore only said, that The Divine Legation was a very bad book, I had not attempted, by any address of this nature, to disturb you in the quiet possession of your opinion. But when a reason added to that declaration turns your vague censure into a formal accusation, then, my Lord, it becomes equally my right and duty to defend my character, if I find it mistaken.
To put the public therefore (which your Lordship has forced me to appeal to) in possession of the fact, it will be necessary to go so far back as to tell them what it is your Lordship says you propose to make the subject of
Printed in 1741, by J. & P. Knapton, Octavo.
your Charge. It is (in your own words) to lay before your Clergy some reasons, drawn from the Christian Revelation itself, which evince the pretensions of morality antecedently to divine Revelation, to be carried much too high, and vindicate the Christian Faith, as well as Morality, from those INVIDIOUS INSINUATIONS that have been CAST upon them by SEVERAL WRITERS, WHO will occasionally be ANIMADVERTED upon in the following Discourse. p. 2.
Your Lordship having gone through your Reasons, comes, in page 24, to draw your inferences from them. The second of which, you tell us, is, "That though "Christian Morality is much superior to that of all other
religions, yet it does not of itself (that is, abstractedly "from the facts recorded in the Gospel, with which it is "incorporated) evince the truth, though it does most clearly the excellency of the Christian Religion. It is certain (says your Lordship) that the reasonableness and sanctity of the moral precepts of the Gospel give "great advantages to Christianity, as compared with any other religion ancient or modern. And this of itself is sufficient to give a well-disposed mind very favourable thoughts of the Christian Religion, and to induce it to make farther enquiries into the truth of those facts which establish its divine authority. And this is as far r as the argument needs to be pushed; and in fact it is "as far as one of the best modern Apologists for the "truth of Christianity, the most learned Grotius, in
concurrence with the principal Apologists amongst the "Ancients, and more especially the famous Origen, "thought fit to urge it. It is clear that they thought themselves obliged only to shew, that the morality of "the Gospel does vastly excel that of all other religious "and moral institutions, and is most worthy of God in "all respects. But neither they nor any other thought
ful persons, that have formerly engaged on this subject *(as far as I can recollect) have thought it reasonable to lay so great a stress on the excellency of the morals of
the Gospel, considered distinctly from the facts of the "Gospel, and in their own nature solely, as necessarily
"to infor from thence the certainty of the Christian Re "velation. And much less have they asserted, as has "been done by some LATE WRITERS, that the morality
of the Gospel, which they call the internal evidence of "it (though indeed it has not the nature of evidence "properly so called), is the strongest evidence of the "truth of Christianity, and is highly superior to all its "external evidence, that is, the evidence which arises "from the facts recorded in the Gospel, and attended "with other attestations of ancient writers, which support "its divine authority." This is all from your Lordship; where at the word WRITERS we find a mark of reference to the following Note-See Mr. Arscot's Considerations on the Christian Religion, pp. 10. 51. 59, 60, &c. Part II. p. 63. Part IH. and elsewhere. SEE TOO MR. WARBURTON'S DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES, &c. pp. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5*.
So that here, my Lord, I find this proposition affirmed, That Mr. Warburton, in his Divine Legation of Moses, &c. pp. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, has asserted THAT THE MORALITY OF THE GOSPEL, WHICH HE CALLS THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF IT, IS THE STRONGEST EVIDENCE OF THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY, AND IS HIGHLY SUPERIOR TO ALL ITS EXTERNAL EVIDENCE.
This, my Lord, is your accusation; a very capital one it is; and such as, if true, would prove me devoid of common sense, as well as in all other respects unworthy the character I bear of a Christian, a clergyman, or a defender of Revelation. I am therefore necessitated to call upon your Lordship, in this public manner, either to make it good, or to give me reparation. Your Lordship confines the proof of your accusation to the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth pages of the First Volume of The Divine Legation. But as I am not disposed to chicane in so serious a matter, I hereby promise, that if either in those pages, or in any other pages of that work, or in any thing I have ever written, preached, or said, your Lordship produces the proposition in question as held and maintained by me, either in express terms, or deducible * Vol. I. pp. 193, &c,
by fair and logical consequence, I promise, I say, to submit to any censure your Lordship's self shall think fit to inflict. But if, on the other hand, you can produce no such proposition, I shall then expect so much from your Lordships's justice as to retract your accusation in the same public manner you have been pleased to advance it.
Nov. 17, 1741
I am, My LORD,
Most Obedient Servant,
SEVERAL OCCASIONAL REFLECTIONS:
IN ANSWER TO
The Rev. Dr. MIDDLETON,
The MASTER of The Charter House,
AND OTHERS; }
Serving to explain and justify divers Passages, in
"THE DIVINE LEGATION,"
"Objected to by those Learned Writers.
To which is added, A GENERAL REVIEW of the ARGUMENT of The Divine Legation, as far as is yet advanced: wherein is considered the Relation the several Parts bear to each other, and to the Whole.
Together with An APPENDIX, in answer to a late Pamphlet, entitled, An Examination of Mr. W's Second Proposit