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THE Editor, in revising the first volume of Mr. Neal's " History of the Puritans," was greatly assisted by the author's “ Review of the principal faets objected to in that volume." In the voluine which is now presented to the public, such aid fails him, as it will also in the succeeding ones, since Dr. Grey's “ Examination” did not make its appearance till the declining state of Mr. Neal's health prevented bis further vindication of his work. The justice due to Mr. Neal's memory and to truth, required the Editor io attempt what could have been done by the author himself with much greater advantage than at this distance of time, from the first statement of the facts, by one who cannot coine at all the authorities on which Mr. Neal spake. He has endeavored, however, to ac, quit himself with care and impartiality in the examination of Dr. Grer's animadversions, and is not aware that he has passed over any material strictures, extended through a volume of 400 pages.
Though Dr. Grey's* “ Examination” may be now litile known or sought after, il received, at its first publication, the thanks of many divines of the first eminence ; particularly of Dr. Gibson, then bishop of London, and of Dr. Sherlock, then bishop of Salisbury. The latter prelate, writing to the Doctor, said, “It is happy that Mr. Neal's "account appeared when there was one so well versed in the history, and so able to correct the errors and prejudices. The service you "have done must be considered as a very important one by all the * friends of the constitution of the church of England.
From the notes in the following pages, the reader will be able to form a judgment whether the encomium bestowed on Dr. Grey's work proceeded from a careful investigation of his remarks, and a comparison of them with Mr. Neal's history and vouchers, or from bias to a cause. In the Editor's apprehensions, the value of Mr. Neal's history and its authorities is, so far as he has proceeded, heightened by the comparison.
In his advertisement to the first volume, he made a great mistake in aseribing the quarto edition of " The History of the Puritans” to the author himself; who died about twelve years before its appearance. It was given to the public by his worthy son, Mr. Nathaniel Neal, of the Million Bank, and is generally esteemed very correct.
Dr. Zachary Grey was of a Yorkshire family, originally from France; he was rector of Houghton-Conquest in Bedfordshire, and vicar of St. Peter's and St. Giles's parishes in Cambridge, where he wally passed all his
winter and the rest of his time ar Ampthill, the neighboring market.town to his living. He died Nov. 25, 1764, at Ampthill, in the 19th year of his age, and was buried at Houghton-Conquest. He was of a most amiable, sweet, and commonicative disposition must friendto his acquaintance, and never better pleased than when performing acts of friendship and benevokence. His publications were pumerous.
Anecdotes of Bow yer. p. 354.
There has been pointed out to the Editor a slight error of Mr. Neal, p. 21+; who says, that bishop Jewel was educated in Christ's College, Oxford ; whereas, aocording to Fuller and Wood, he was of Corpus Christi.
The Editor has been asked,t on what authority, in the biographical account of Mr. Tomkins, subjoined to p. 18 of the “ Memoirs of Mr. NEAL,” he charged Mr. Asty, on making an exchange with Mr. TOMKINS, one Lord's day, with alarming the people with the danger of pernicious errors and damnable heresies creeping in among the dissenters, and particularly referring to errors concerning the doctrine of Christ's divinity.”
On examining the matter, he finds that he has used the very words, as well as written on the authority, of Mr. Tomkins, who spoke on the information he had received concerning the tenor and strain of Nir. Asty's sermon; and adds, that Mr. Asty himself afterwards acknowledged to him, “ that the inforination in general was true, viz. that he
spake of damnable heresies, and applied those texts, 2 Peter ii. 1, Jude • verse 1, or at least one to the new doctrines about the deity of Christ, that were now, as he apprehended, secretly spreading.” Mr. Tomkins was also told, that Mr. Asty was very warm upon these points, but he subjoins, “I must do Mr. Asty this justice, to acquaint others, that he assured me had no particular view to me or suspicion of me, when he brought down this sermon among others to Newingtou. As "he had an apprehension of the danger of those errors and of the spreading of them at that time, he thought it might be seasonable to preach such a sermon any where.” When another gentleman, however, put the matter more closely to him, he could not deny that he had some intimation of a suspicion of Mr. Tomkins. But from the assurance Mr. Asty gave Mr. Tomkins, candor will be ready to conclude, that he did not greatly credit the intimation.
Mr. Towle, who was a successor to Mr. Asty in the pastoral office, could scarcely suppose, that he could be guilty of a conduct so remote from the amiable and pacific character he always bore, and from the delineation of it in the funeral sermon for bim by Dr. Guyse ; who, I find, says of him, “I have with pleasure observed a remarkable ten• derness in bis spirit, as judging the state of those that differed from him, even in points which he took to be of very great importance."
It will be right to add Mr. Tompkins's declaration with respect to Mr. Asty's views : “ I never had a thought that he preached his sermon out of any particular personal prejudice against me; but really believed that he did it from a zeal for what he apprehended to be truth necessary to salvation. Though I am persuaded in my own
By the Rev. Thomas Towle, a dissenting minister of eminence among the independents, in an interview, at which the editor was very politely received, and which took place at Mr. Towle's desire, in consequence of a letter written to him by a friend on the subject of the above charge.
$ Mr. Asty was grandson of Mr. Robert Asty, who was ejected from Stratford in Suffoik. He bad good natural parts, and by spiritual gifts and considerable atlaidmenis in literature, was richly fur nished for his ministerial province. He was perceived to bave drunk very much into the sentiments and spirit of Dr. Owen, wbo was bis favorite author. The amiable traits of bis character were, a sweetness of temper, an affectionate sympathy in the afflictions and prosperity of others, a familiar ity and condescension of deportment, and a disposition to east a manile over the failings of others, and to ask pardon for his wun. He died January 20, 1720-30, aged 57.
Dr. Guyse's faneral sermon for him.
ó mind, that this zeal of his in this matter is a mistaken zeal, I do nevertheless respect him as a christian and a minister.”
In the memoirs of Mr. Neal, we mentioned his letter to the Rev. Dr. Frascis Hare, dean of Worcester. The Editor has lately met with this piece ; it does the author credit, for it is written with ability and temper. He is inclined to give a passage from it, as a specimen of the force of argument it shews, and as going to the foundation of our ecelesiastical establishment.
The dean contended for submission to the authority of the rightful governors of the church ; whom he defined to be “ an ecclesiastical con*sistory of presbyters with their bishop at their head.” Mr. NEAL, to shew that this definition does not apply to the church of England, replies: - Now taking all this for granted, what an argument have you put into the mouths of the dissenters to justify their separation from the present establishment."
"For is there any thing like this to be found there? Is the church of England governed by a bishop and his presbyters? Is not the KING • the fountain of all ecelesiastical authority? And has he not power • lo make ordinances which shall bind the clergy without their consent, under the penalty of a premunire ? Does not bis majesty nominate the bishops, suinmon convocations, and prorogue them at pleasure ?-When the convocations of Canterbury and York are assembled, can they debale upon any subject without the king's license ? Or make any canons that can bind the people without an act of parliament ? • The bishops in their several courts can determine nothing in a judicial
manner about the faith, there lying an appeal from them to the king, • who decides it by his commissioners in the court of delegates.
“ Now though this may be a wise and prudent institution, yet it can ·lay no elaim to antiquity, because the civil magistrate was not chris
tian for three hundred years after our Saviour; and consequently the dissenters, who are for reducing the religion to the standard of the • Bible, can be under no obligation to conform to it. We have a divine precept to oblige us to do whatsoever Christ and his Apostles have commanded us; but I find no passage of scripture that obliges us to be of the religion of the state we happen to be born in. If there be 'any such obligation on the English dissenters, it must arise only from the laws of their country, which can have no influence upon them at . present, those laws having been long since suspended by the art of • indulgence."