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Tyrwhitt and Frend. The Petition was presented to the House of Commons on the 6th February, 1772, by Sir William Meredith, Member for Liverpool, seconded by Mr. Thomas Pitt, a nephew of the great Lord Chatham. It was warmly supported by Lord George Germain, Lord John Cavendish, Sir H. Hoghton, Sir George Savile, SolicitorGeneral Wedderburne, and Messrs. Sawbridge and Thomas Townshend. It was opposed by Sir Roger Newdigate, Member for Oxford, Lord Folkestone, Lord North, Burke, Jenkinson, Charles Fox and others. While no one in the course of the debate attempted to defend the Articles, it was generally acknowledged that the imposing of subscription on entering the Universities ought not to be continued; but on a division there were only 71 for receiving the Petition, against 217.
It was soon after this that Mr. Lindsey, in despair of obtaining relief, resigned his living in Yorkshire; while the subject of this memoir, then far advanced in life, kept hoping that a renewed attempt would be more successful, and employed himself in preparing for such further efforts, which, however, proved to be without any result. He continued hoping and agitating until the period arrived when he was called from the scene of his labours, and departed in hope that the work would be carried on by more youthful energies.
We may candidly hope there were others among the petitioners, besides Mr. Lindsey, who, if they thought the circumstances of the case demanded a relinquishment of their benefices, would have made the sacrifice, but who could not at once make up their minds to sever themselves altogether from the church in which they had been educated, with which they were associated by so many endearing ties, and in which they might hope they were performing a part useful to their fellow-creatures and acceptable to their Master, while there remained any hope of relief from the Legislature. It should be remembered that the love of a clergyman for his church, like that of a student for his alma mater, becomes to him as a part of his existence.
All hope of an effectual reform in the Church has, however, long since expired, and to those who conscientiously object to her doctrines, the voice of Heaven now distinctly cries, “ Come out of her, my people -touch no more the unclean thing!” Had Mr. Taylor lived in these days, it cannot be doubted that his clear and discriminating mind would no longer have hesitated. In the manly spirit which actuates his descendants, he would have said, Truth, thou art my sister: whither thou leadest, I will follow."
Mr. Taylor, after a life of great literary industry and exemplary devotion to his clerical duties, died April 27, 1785, aged 74 years, and was buried at Crawley.
The writer had the good fortune once to mention Mr. Taylor's name at the table of his venerable friend Mr. Thomas Naish, of Romsey, Hants, who immediately observed that he had lived as a boy in the parish of Crawley, and recollected that our latitudinarian divine always omitted reading on the proper days the Creed of St. Athanasius. At length a church warden of the parish insisted on the parishioners having the full benefit of that sublime composition. The rector resolutely refused. The church warden, who was a tailor by trade, though not by name, applied to the Bishop, and “ Quicunque vult” was at length delivered from the sacred desk, but not by our latitudinarian friend himself; he had prevailed on a neighbouring curate to do it in his stead, one who had no scruples of conscience standing in the way.
His eldest son, Peter, was vicar of Titchfield, Hants, and passed there the greater part of his life. While yet a young man, he had formed an attachment to a young woman, an attendant upon his mother, and whose parents were in humble life. He declared to his father the state of his feelings, who finding that his son's comfort and happiness were deeply involved, and knowing at the same time the great moral worth of the young woman, thought it his duty not to permit disparity of worldly circumstances to stand in the way. He accordingly placed her, at his own cost, under tuition where she might acquire such information as would make her a fit companion for his son and for the circle in which she would have to move. The plan was crowned with complete success. After a suitable interval, the young man's sentiments remaining unchanged, she became his wife, filled her station with the highest respectability, and, after the subsequent decease of her husband, presided over the household of his brother, the Rev. Henry Taylor. The union, although a very happy one, was not attended with offspring.
The Rev. Henry Taylor, the brother here referred to, was rector of Spridlington, Lincolnshire, and of Banstead, Surrey. At the latter place he spent the greater part of his life, and died there. He was a man of considerable learning, and published some of his father's theological tracts after the decease of their author. He was rather eccentric, and possessed of a vein of dry comic humour. He passed through life a bachelor, and, what is remarkable, could very rarely be prevailed on to perform the marriage ceremony, even for members of his own family, usually excusing himself by the assertion, that he would not be instrumental in making two fellow-creatures miserable for the rest of their lives. As he advanced in years, he became almost impenetrably deaf, and his eyesight failed him almost in as great a degree. Yet he was still fond of writing on his favourite subjects of theological inquiry and scriptural criticism. The late Rev. Russell Scott, Unitarian minister of Portsmouth, was sometimes favoured with his correspondence, and a few years before his death received from him a paper of considerable length, which he found it quite impossible to decipher. He accordingly returned it, with a request that it might be made more intelligible; but the writer could no more decipher it than he who was to have been the reader; all the light that could be thrown upon it was, that it was an attempt to elucidate some obscurities in the Book of Job, a subject in which both parties took great interest. Mr. Taylor had collected a large library, chiefly connected with his favourite pursuits, among which were found at his decease about 300 copies of the Bible, in about as many various editions. He was elected a burgess of Portsmouth, and visited the borough to vote for his friend Admiral Markham, in his contest with Admiral Sir George Cockburn for the Parliamentary representation.
The Rev. Francis Stone, who was expelled from the Church, after having advocated Unitarian sentiments in a visitation sermon, had for some years been curate to Mr. Henry Taylor.
William, a younger son of Mr. Taylor, was devoted to commercial pursuits, and many years leading partner in a manufactory of tin and plated goods in Tottenham Court Road, London. He was married to Miss Courtauld, of Braintree, in Essex, whose family, descended from the French refugees under the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, have been long engaged in the silk manufacture. Mr. William Taylor was also elected a burgess of Portsmouth in 1820, on the peremptory nomination of his friend, the late James Carter, Esq. He has a numerous family, all of whom occupy respectable stations in life, and through whom he has the happiness of expecting that his name will go down with credit to future ages.
A daughter of Mr. Taylor, distinguished for good sense and benevolence, lived to an advanced age unmarried.
His publications were,
1760. On the Beauty of the Divine Economy: a Sermon, preached before Bishop Hoadly, at his Visitation at the Cathedral, Winchester, Sept. 18, 1759.
1771. Answer to Soame Jenyns, on the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion.
1772. Confusion worse Confounded : Rout on Rout. By Indignatio. A tract against Bishop Warburton.
1777. Two Letters to the Earl of Abingdon, in which His Grace of York's Notions of Civil Liberty are examined. By Liberalis. And Vera Icon : a Vindication of His Grace of York's Sermon, proving it to contain a Satire upon the Ministry, and a Defence of Civil and Religious Liberty, upon the Principles of Whiggism. By Mystagogus Candidus.
1771 to 1774. The Apology of Benjamin Ben Mordecai for embracing Christianity.
Thoughts on the Grand Apostacy, with an Answer to Gibbon's Account of Christianity in the 15th Chapter of his History of Rome.
1783. Further Thoughts on the Grand Apostacy, and on the Laws concerning Heresy, Subscription to Articles, &c.
1788. Considerations on Ancient and Modern Creeds, the Supremacy of the Father, Personal Existence of the Holy Spirit, Pre-existence of Christ and his Divinity. Published after his death by his son, the Rev. Henry Taylor, Rector of Spridlington, Lincolnshire.
As Mr. Taylor's writings were voluminous, it may not be unacceptable to the reader, who may take an interest in his mental character, to be presented with a short sketch of their style and contents, proving the literary research, the acuteness and the benevolent spirit of their writer.
The work on which his literary character will chiefly rest is his “ Letters of Ben Mordecai to Elisha Levi, Merchant, of Amsterdam,” in which the aim of the supposed Israelite is to shew, that his objections to Christianity had been founded on ignorance of what Christianity really is. When, turning with dissatisfaction and disgust from the corrupt systems prevalent in the world, he seeks it in the New Testament, he finds that it not only harmonizes with, but is a proper sequel to the revelation by Moses, and he endeavours to present it in its pure state for reception by his friend; pointing out its several corruptions, and the time and circumstances of their origin. His own peculiar doctrine is in the Preface stated in these words :-" That Jesus Christ was the Angel of the covenant, or visible Jehovah, who so often appeared to the patriarchs in Shechinah, and gave the law. This was the opinion of the ancients before the Council of Nice, till it was rejected by Austin, to make way for the doctrine of the Consubstantiality, which has rendered the whole system of Christianity unintelligible, and undermined the Christian faith."*
The author, in a learned argument, undertakes to shew, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets, but that the predictions of those inspired men in regard to his reign are not yet accomplished, as regard the chosen people whom Moses led out of Egypt. Elias is yet to come, the precursor of a return of the Jews to their own land, and of a second coming of Christ to this world in glory and splendour unrivalled; previous to which the Turkish empire and the reign of mental darkness shall every where be overthrown.
In a forcible passage, in his 4th Letter, he laments that Protestant churches do not make that advance in the purity of their religion which might be expected from the great advantages they have enjoyed. He regrets the prevalent disregard of truth, when in competition with political views and worldly interests, and a determination to maintain errors, traditions and doctrines, the commandments of men, while in many particulars they know them to be false.
His mind was much devoted to the study of prophecy; and one of his conclusions was, that the Turks will be driven from Europe, and erect their throne in Palestine: yet in another passage he lays it down as a rule, that no prophecy can be understood until after the event, and to build up hypotheses upon them beforehand is a presumptuous waste of time.
He makes the supposed Ben Mordecai say, that, since he has been convinced of the truth of Christianity, he finds in almost every page of the New Testament some hint, reference or type of what he found in the Old; and what appears to him wonderful is, that the more the world improves in the knowledge of truth, the more they find their sentiments agree with the writers of the New Testament: from which he is convinced that no men were capable of composing those writings without divine assistance. Had they been of human origin, we should have found them full of the errors of some old philosophy, and incapable of standing the examination of the present age.
In justice to Mr. Price, it should be stated, that several considerable extracts from Mr. Taylor's wri are of necessity omitted. The reader desirous of information respecting Ben Mordecai's seventeen proofs that Christ was the visible Jehovah in the Old Testament, will do well to consult Mr. Lindsey's “Sequel to the Apology on resigning the Vicarage of Catterick," Chap. vi. Mr. Lindsey thus expressed his disapprobation of the supposititious character assumed by Mr. Taylor :-"That worthy person will forgive me if I beforehand disclose his secret, and tell the world, that he is an ancient Christian, of the line of Japhet, and not a convert of the circumcision; because I have really found some whom his ingenious device has imposed upon; and also because, if this be not constantly attended to, his authority and assertions in his assumed character of a Jew, will have more weight than they ought to have, or than he would wish them. For it is beneath him to stoop to those unfair arts to support his system which Dr. Allix formerly practised in laying before the public the Judgment of the Jewish Church on the doctrine of the Trinity; when by a false muster of Jew-evidence, and by palming his own notions upon others, he contrived to make this most strict Unitarian church, from the earliest times to his own, equally well versed and perfect as himself in his creed of three uncreated beings or spirits.”—Pp. 298, 299. -Ed. C. R.
He makes his pious Hebrew express his benevolent hope and conviction, that all good men, whose principles shall fit them to promote virtue and happiness, shall be united in an eternal kingdom that shall never be destroyed.
In the 5th Letter he observes, “Whatever might be the external evidence of Christianity, if its doctrine did not appear consistent with the Old Testament, the attributes of God, and the nature of men, neither Jew nor Deist would stay to examine it, but would argue
that such a revelation could not possibly be divine, even though it should appear to be confirmed by miracles. If a revelation be divine, it must be agreeable to the nature of those beings to whom it is revealed; for a Being of infinite wisdom will always be consistent through the whole course of his Providence."
In his 6th Letter he maintains, “ It was the original design of God, from the beginning, to bring all good men to eternal life and happiness by his Son Jesus Christ; and the first cause and mover of this gracious design was the free grace and love of God. The salvation by Christ was decreed prior to any intercession or sacrifice made to God the Father. Christ came not of himself. God sent him. Can any one be said to be justified or forgiven freely, when a recompence or compensation is paid for the justification? How can that be a free gift that is paid for? There would be no appearance of any free gift, or any sign of mercy at all.”
In the 7th Letter he says, “If God is just, he will not extend punishment beyond guilt; for if he does, he punishes the innocent. Guilt is personal, and inseparable from the agent; it cannot be transferred from one person to another-consequently neither can the punishment. Therefore Christ could not be punished for us by a just God, because he could not be guilty of our sins. If the punishment of sin be understood to mean the punishment of the sinner (which is the only sense it is capable of), then the argument that sin must necessarily be punished that the laws of God may be vindicated, will extend farther than is intended by those who use it; for it will prove the necessity that the sinner himself should be punished; and then a substitute can be of no use at all.” “If we allow the sufferings of Christ to have been a punishment, we must allow that, in punishing him, the Supreme Being acted an unjust part; and as long as it is maintained to be a Christian doctrine, we can never expect that Jew, Mahometan or Deist will be converted to Christianity.
“ Christ was not literally a ransom, but he received power to ransom, or deliver from sin and death. He did not pay the debt, but he received power to forgive it. He was not punished, but he suffered, and thereby gained power to remit the punishment. His death was not an atonement, in the sense of that which influences God to save, but as the means by which God saves; and he did not reconcile God to the world—for God was never at enmity with the world—he loved the world; but he reconciled the world to God, by gaining it over to the worship of God and the practice of righteousness.
“ It is equally absurd to imagine, because the Heathens are spoken of in general as at enmity with God, that therefore every individual, such as Socrates, Heraclitus, Xenophon, Marcus Antoninus, &c., must have been at enmity with him, as to imagine every individual among