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MAGAZINE AND REVIEW,
FOR DECEMBER, 1806.
Cam sit á Christo una Ecclesia per totum mundum in multa membra
divisa, item episcopatus unus Episcoporum multorum concordi numerositate diffusus.
Memoirs of the Right Reverend SAMUEL HORSLEY LL.D. F.R. and A.Ss. late Lord Bishop of St. Asaph.
(Concluded from page 328.) N 1782 Bishop Lowth presented his chaplain with the
rectory of South Weald, in Essex, to which was added, about the same period, the honourable distinction of Archdeacon of St. Alban's.
The publication of Dr. Priestley's History of the Cor ruptions of Christianity,.in 2 volumes 8vo. attracting con siderable notice, on account of the boldness of its positions, our Archdeacon took occasion at his visitation in 1783, to enter in his charge on a critical review of that history, of rather of that part which relates to the faith of the three first ages in the doctrine of the Trinity. This charge was soon afterwards published at the request of the reverend auditors; and its reception by the public justified that request, for it shook the Unitarian edifice, pompa ous and gaudy as it seemed, entirely to the foundation, and exposed the plagiarism and ignorance of the architect in the clearest manner. Dr. Priestley, however, was not to be convinced; and he immediately addressed a series of letters to the Archdeacon, in which, though his
Vol. XI. Churchm. Mag. for Dec. 1806. SF confidence
confidence remained, and his tone was elevated, his weakness and insufficiency to the contest were but the more apparent. Dr. Horsley replied in seventeen letters, in a style of iningled dignity and irony, teinpered with the manners of a gentleman, and the spirit of a Christian. The argument from tradition for the divinity of Christ was decided; and any other man than Priestley would have acknowleged his conviction and recanted, or been silent. But this would have been out of his character. The modern patriarch of Socinianism was become enfuriate, and, without consideration, issued from the press a second series of letters to the Archdeacon, in which he repeated all his former assertions, without refuting, and sometimes without noticing, the arguments and proofs by which they had been confuted. The spirit in which these epistles were composed, will appear from the following extracts. “At length," says he, “ you have condescended to gratify my wishes, and have® favoured me with a series of letters in answer to mine; but as they are written with a degree of insolence, which nothing in your situation or mine can justify, and indicate a temper that appears to me to be very far from being the most proper for the discussion of historical truth, I shall consider myself in this answer, as writing not so much to you, as to the candid part of the Public, to whom our correspondence is open; and I have no doubt but that I shall be able to satisfy all who are gratified to judge between us, that your ignorance is equal to your insolence; and therefore that there is no great reason to regret that you have formed a resolution to appear no more in this controversy.”
Of the Church established by law, and forming part of the Constitution, this liberal-minded polemic thus expressed his sentiment:
“ You, Sir, as Archdeacon of St. Alban's, may believe that the Church of England will continue to the end of the world, and that all nations (at least all that speak the English language, and can read the Book of Common Prayer in the original) will flow into it. On the other hand, it is my firm persuasion, that when Babylon the Great, the mother of harlois, shall fall, all her daughters, all the little Babylons, all the lesser establishments, of what I deem to be corrupt Christianity, will fall with her, or soon after; and therefore I apply to them, as well as to the
Church of Rome, that awful warning, Rev. xviii. 4, Conne out of her, my people, that ye partake not of ker plagues.".
After such a display of urbanity and Christianity, to say nothing of the intelligence and ability contained in these letters, the Archdeacon would have been warranted in den clining, as he had originally intended, all further contro versy with a writer of rbis description; bat conceiving that the interests of religious truth might be injured by his silence, he condescended still farther to notice the Doc tor's proofs and reasonings in support of his falling cause. He accordingly published another series of letters, wbich closed the dispute. On Christmas-day, in the year 1785, Dr. Horsley delivered a sermon in his church at Newingo ton, on the Incarnation of Christ, wbieh be stortly afterwards printed, as having an intimate connection with the controversy in which he had been recently engaged.
1789, the Charge, with the Letters and this Sermon, were ' collected together, and published in one very elegantly printed volume, from the press of the benevolent Ms. Kaikes at Gloucester. The service rendered to the cause of ore i bodoxy by the Archdeacon in these performances, procured for him, though unsolicited on his own belalt, or that of his friends, a prebendal stall in the cathedral of Gloucester. His patron on this occasion was the late Lord Thurlow, then chancellor, and the cause is said to have been this:-His lordship happened to be upon a visit to a nobleman in Norfolk; and being about to return
* As these tracts are now become very scarce, the possessors of thera, whether in the original, or the collected edition, will be glad to have an opportunity of seeing the following correction, written in the author's own hand in the margin of a presented copy of the Collection of 1789.
At page 442, line 11, for “ but what are read “ what might be.**
At line 12 of the same page, after the word “ Gnostics” add," From a passage, however, in Irenæus cap. xii. I am inclined to think the Ebionites were not included in that name. Having charged the Marcionites with the crime of rejecting a considerable part of the New Testament, he adds, that the other sects of the Gnostics received the whole New Testament, but perverted the sense by misrepresentation. Now the Ebinnites received only the Gospel of St. Matthew, and that they received according to a mutilated and corrupt edition of their own.
Yet the Ebianites were not Marcionites, consequently not Gnostics.”
It may not be amiss to add in this place, that the author of the Strictures on Dr. Priestley's Letters, forming No. III. of the appendix to the first Collection of Dr. Horsley's Letters was Dr. Townson, author of the Dis. course on the Four Gospels; and that Dr. Horsley's learned correspondentinentioned in the postscript to the seventh letter. was Dr. John Erskine, one of the ministers of Edinburgh. 3 F 2
to town, he requested the nobleman to lend him a pampha let to amuse bim on his journey. By chance or design, his lordship put into his hands Dr. Horsley's letters to Priestley. Lord Thurlow was so struck with the uncommon eloquence, deep and various learning, and acute and solid reasoning, exbibited in the letters, that he frankly said to a friend," that man deserves to be a Bishop, and he shall be one; for they who defend the Church ought to be supported by the Church.” The first fruits of this opinion was, as
we have said, the prebend of Gloucester, notice of which preferment Dș. Horsley received one evening at his parsonage of South Weald, immediately on which he set out for London to pay his respects to the chancellor, with whom he kept up a most friendly intercourse till death parted them, but only for a few weeks.
In 1787 Dr. Horsley preached a most admirable ser« mon in Gloucester cathedral at an ordination held there, and this discourse gave such satisfaction to that learned prelate Dr. Samuel Hallifax, then Bishop of that church, that he requested the doctor to make it public. The sermon was accordingly printed at Gloucester with this title, “ The Analogy between the Light of Inspiration and the Light of Learning as Qualifications for the Ministry.” 4to. The principle assumed and argued upon in this ingenious and profound sermon is, that human learning has been substituted by the Almighty since the cessation of the apostolic gift of inspiration, as a qualification for the Christian Ministry. To the sermon is appended a view and explication of the spiritual gifts mentioned i Corinthians xii. and in which exposition Dr. Horsley in the main follows the learned Lightfoot.
This discourse received two answers from quarters very opposite to each other. The irascible and conceited Gilbert Wakefield attacked it on the Socinian side, and a divine, then popular in London as one of the Evangelical or Calvinistical preachers, levelled a quarto pamphlet against the sermon, in which he endeavoured to maintain the notion that divine inspiration is still continued to the “ Elect."
On the translation of Dr. Smallwell from the see ot St. David's to that of Oxford, in 1788, Dr. Horsley was deservedlý elevated to the episcopal bench, and that entirely through the strenuous exertions of the Chancellor, who had on the occasion to contend against very
strong influence which was made use of in favour of some friends of the minister.
Being thus placed in a situation for which his virtues and his talents were so eminently adapted, he directly applied himself to the duties of a christian bishop. His diocese was large, and its condition was such as to stand 'in need of much correction and improvement. Great carelessness had prevailed with regard to the appointment and salaries of the curates : in consequence of which too many persons were admitted to holy orders whose qualifications were but indifferent. It had been very unwisely considered, that as the livings were in general small, and a knowlege of the Welch language was'indispensible in the officiating ministers, it was, therefore, necessary to admit persons as curates whose acquirements in other respects were very slender. Bishop Horsley was much concerned at this, and he took up the resolution, on which indeed he uniformly acted, of examining the candidates himself; he also looked very narrowly into the testimonials and titles of the candidates, as many abuses in both articles had prevailed till histime. And as he was thus circumspect, like his great predecessor Bishop Bull*, in endeavouring to prevent improper and unqualified persons from entering into the service of the sanctuary, so he was equally attentive to the comfortable condition and conduct of the clergy of his diocese. He raised the salaries of the curates, many of which were below ten pounds a year; and when some of the incumbents murmured at the regulation, the Bishop coolly informed them, that they had their remedy by residing on their livings, and performing the duty themselves.
His first charge delivered in 1790, was printed the same year, and attracted universal notice. It is, indeed, one of the best pastoral addresses that has been known since the apostolical age; and it ought to be carefully and repeatedly perused by every one who is engaged in the office of dispensing the word of lifet. The Bishop pointed his exhortation principally to the matter of instruction necessary for ordinary congregations, and which he forcibly stated ought to be doctrinal as well as practical,
* See Mr. Nelson's Life of Bishop Bull, page 414. + The excellent Society for promoting Christian Knowledge have most judiciously adopted this valuable Charge into their catalogue of tracts, and caused it to be printed in a cheap form.