Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

duced the Editor of this publication to annex in an Appendix to the first part of his Calm Inquiry into the Scripture Doctrine concerning the Person of Christ, a brief review of the controversy between Dr. Priestley and Dr. Horsley, in order to show how little foundation there was for the bishop's partisans to boast of their chieftain's triumph, and how manifestly and decidedly in all material points victory had declared herself on the side of Dr. Priestley.

The reverend Heneage Horsley, Prebendary of St. Asaph, and son of the late bishop, piously solicitous for his father's reputation, with more zeal than discretion stepped forward to resist the attempt of the Calm Inquirer to rectify the judgement of the public, and republished his Father's Tracts, with an adulatory Dedication to the Prince Regent, an acrimonious Introduction bitterly inveighing against the Unitarians, and a laboured Appendix, in which, to the best of his ability, he endeavours to falsify the representation

and to invalidate the arguments of the Calm Inquirer. The reverend Prebendary, though not deficient in parts and learning, was totally unacquainted with the subject upon which he professed to write: and the principal advantage resulting from this publication was, that it gave occasion to the Calm Inquirer to restate the claims of Dr. Priestley to victory in his controversy with Bishop Horsley, and to place them in a light which it is presumed cannot fail to satisfy every impartial judge.

As this defence of Dr. Priestley in some degree revived the attention of the public to the subject, it was thought desirable by many of the friends of freedom of inquiry, and particularly by the admirers of Dr. Priestley, that this learned and able champion of the primitive faith should be allowed an opportunity of pleading his own cause by the republication of his Tracts in controversy with Dr. Horsley, that so, those readers who interested themselves in the question, might be supplied with the means of judging for themselves, to which of

the learned champions the palm of victory belongs. And as it was not to be expected that a work of this nature should command a very extensive sale, it was thought advisable that it should be taken upon the Catalogue of the London Unitarian Society.

To this publication are annexed four out of six of the Letters addressed to the Bishops by Dr. Priestley, and which were left by the learned author with the present editor, to be published or suppressed at his discretion. And had it not been for this revival of the controversy they would probably never have seen the light. All the letters which have any bearing upon the present controversy are published in this volume. The second Letter contains Dr. Priestley's own abstract of the state in which the controversy was left when Bishop Horsley ceased to write; and supersedes the abstract which the editor had proposed to prefix to Dr. Priestley's Tracts. The third letter has no immediate relation to the controversy with Dr. Horsley, but contains Dr. Priestley's last thoughts upon his

controversies with Mr. Howes, Dr. Horne, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Geddes, Mr. Hawkins, and Dr. Davies, which cannot fail to be acceptable to many readers. The two unpublished letters were written at an early period of the French revolution, and refer to a state of things which is long since past, and the revival of which would by no means tend to promote that that spirit of conciliation which it is now the wish of every good man to cherish and encourage. Dr. Priestley particularly expostulates with the bishops of that day upon the subject of a clause which was understood to be proposed by them to be introduced into the Catholic bill, to exclude the impugners of the doctrine of the Trinity from the benefit of the Toleration. Happily, we live in better times; and have been witnesses to the repeal of those barbarous laws which were a disgrace to the statute book; which inflicted pains and penalties horrible to think of upon the conscientious worshipers of the one God, the Father only; which repeal was sanctioned by the unanimous deci

sion of the legislature, with the approbation of all good men, and without a single dissentient voice from the right reverend Bench. Though it is equally wonderful and lamentable to think that one of the learned prelates has since disgraced himself and his order, by calling upon the legislature to re-enact these inhuman statutes. But, fortunately, though in this enlightened age the bench of bishops exhibits the singular phænomenon of a Bonner, the throne of Britain is no longer occupied by a Tudor or a Stuart. We can now smile at the busy impotence of a bigotry which, in a former age, would have caused our pious ancestors to tremble.

ESSEX HOUSE, December 4, 1814.

T. BELSHAM.

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »